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Goa is a safe destination, Ajgaonkar assures tourists

first_imgPanaji: Goa Tourism Manohar Ajgaonkar on Wednesday assured tourists that the State is a safe travel destination, and appealed to global visitors not to panic.“Certain countries may have concerns over safety and security of their nationals visiting Goa, but the State has taken every measure to ensure … the safety and security of tourists so that they enjoy a trouble-free vacation,” said Mr. Ajgaonkar. He said he has always insisted that rules and regulations be followed strictly, and that he appreciated travel guidelines given by the U.K. foreign office to its nationals that essentially direct them to follow these rules. The Minister also said that tourists should refrain from getting involved in illegal activities.The U.K. recently issued a travel advisory for its citizens visiting Goa. “We are taking stock of safety and security measures at regular intervals, on and off the coast … Our tourist police, local police authorities, Indian Reserve Battalion, lifeguards, all are doing their best to protect tourists day and night,” he said. Over six million tourists, foreign and domestic, visit Goa every year. A few months ago, families of 10 foreign nationals, including a British teenager, who were allegedly murdered in Goa had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding an investigation into what they claim are cover-ups by the police. Minna Pirhonen, mother of Finnish national Felix Dahl who was found dead in Goa in January 2015, had told The Hindu that the families had sent the letter to Mr. Modi’s office in May, but had not received any response.last_img read more

Old Jammu to be developed as heritage city: J&K Deputy CM

first_imgJammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh on Monday said the government will develop the old areas of Jammu as a heritage city through a string of projects initiated for traffic decongestion, sanitation and cleanliness.Addressing a function organised in connection with the disbursement of old age and other pension cheques to beneficiaries of the East Jammu areas here, the BJP leader said the target was to divert over one crore visitors coming every year to pay obeisance at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine to the Jammu city.“This city (Jammu) has a legacy of splendid political, social and economic history and the present government is endeavouring to elevate its stature to the deserving level. This is being done through showcasing the rich heritage and at the same time developing it as a modern class city,” Mr. Singh said.Mr. Singh said numerous upcoming and completed multi-storey parking projects around historical old city are path-breaking steps towards restoring its pristine glory.He said these projects, including the upcoming ambitious general bus stand multi-facility centre, aim to give a new look to heritage bazaars like Kanak Mandi, Purani Mandi, Ragunath Bazaar and other adjoining areas.Mr. Singh said the ground work for starting the Tawi river front development project was in a full swing.Detailed project report“All technical and safety and flood protection issues are being included in the detailed project report (DPR) to ensure that it may not face the fate of many past projects which have been left halfway,” he said.Mr. Singh said the geological survey has already been completed and the work on the project would be started soon after the formulation of the DPR and completing other ground works.On the occasion, the Deputy Chief Minister gave away pension and other assistance cheques to over 170 beneficiaries hailing from different parts of the old city.last_img read more

Rajasthan offers ₹5 lakh aid to slain labourer’s relatives

first_imgThe Bharatiya Janata Party government in Rajasthan on Saturday announced an ex-gratia assistance of ₹5 lakh to the family of the migrant labourer from West Bengal, Mohammed Afrazul, who was hacked and burnt to death in Rajsamand. The video of the horrific incident, circulated on social media, has caused a nation-wide outrage.Director-General of Police O.P. Galhotra, who arrived in Rajsamand to take stock of the situation, told reporters that the State government had decided to give financial assistance to the family, and that Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had sent him to the town to assure the minority community that she was with them.Civil rights groups in the State have demanded Ms. Raje’s resignation for what they describe as her failure to stop the lynching of Muslims for the past several months. A day earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had declared a compensation of ₹3 lakh to the victim’s family, residing in Malda district, and offered a job to one of his family members.Also Read Bengal MPs, Ministers meet Rajasthan victim’s family Rajasthan labourer killing not a case of love jihad: Naqvi  Mr. Galhotra, accompanied by Additional Director-General (Crime) P.K. Singh, inspected the site of offence and interacted with community members to assure them of full security measures. “I have supervised the investigation which is under way. The accused was promptly arrested. It was a very serious offence,” he said.The DGP said the police would file the charge sheet in the court within a month. “The investigating team has collected scientific and forensic evidence from the spot. The accused is being intensely interrogated,” he said.In the video of the incident, accused Shambhu Lal Raigar was seen hitting Afrazul, 48, with an axe and then burning him alive after pouring an inflammable liquid on him. After setting the victim ablaze, Raigar asked the minority community to leave the country and warned that those who indulge in faith-related violence would be met with the same fate.Also Read  Social activist and Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy on Saturday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemn Afrazul’s murder and assure the people of the country of firm steps to deal with the atmosphere of “fear and hatred”. “Mr. Modi, who talks on small issues in Mann Ki Baat, should also speak up on lynching of Muslims,” she said.Ms. Roy said at a press conference in Ajmer that the accused had deliberately chosen the day of 25th anniversary of demolition of Babri Masjid for killing the Muslim labourer. She demanded an immediate ban on “hate programmes” of Sangh Parviar outfits and strict action against the BJP leaders who she said were protecting the criminals involved in the lynching incidents.last_img read more

Fire breaks out at Navrang Studio in Mumbai’s Lower Parel

first_imgA major fire broke out on the fourth floor of an industrial complex at Lower Parel in Central Mumbai shortly after midnight, an official said on Friday. The fire broke out around 1 am at a dilapidated ‘Navrang studio’ — which was shut years ago — in Todi Mill Compound at Senapari Bapat Marg, he said. So far, no casualty has been reported, the official said, adding that fire fighters are trying to contain the blaze.Eight fire engines, seven tankers and an ambulance have been rushed to the spot.“The studio building is old, unoccupied and precious,” the official said, adding that the exact reason of the fire is not yet known. On December 29, a fire broke out in the Kamala Mills Compound in same locality of Central Mumbai in which 14 people were killed and more than 21 injured.last_img read more

ED plans money laundering probe against PFI activists

first_imgThe Enforcement Directorate plans to launch money laundering investigations against the alleged activists of the Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI) who face serious criminal charges, including cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The Prevention of Money Laundering Act’s schedule lists various UAPA provisions as predicate offences, empowering the agency to probe the money trail. The move, a senior official said, is on the lines of recent measures taken by the agency against terror funding in Jammu and Kashmir.The Directorate has also started a money laundering probe against Naxal operatives in coordination with the affected States. Earlier this month, it attached assets worth ₹86 lakh of an alleged Naxal leader operating in the Bihar-Jharkhand region. “Similar action is being taken against extremist elements in the north-eastern States,” said the official.As submitted before the court by the Kerala government, PFI activists have been allegedly found involved in over two dozen murder cases, 86 attempt-to-murder and more than 100 communal cases. The State police have also arrested a large number of activists.Under PMLA, the ED has powers to attach the properties that are detected as proceeds of crime. The initiative is expected to choke the funds being generated from, and used for, criminal activities, said the official. The National Investigation Agency has also registered cases against alleged PFI activists. In one case, in which Professor T.J. Joseph’s right hand was chopped off in July 2010, the agency alleged that the role of 54 persons has been detected. Another case pertained to an alleged criminal conspiracy to train some young men in the handling of weapons and explosives in April 2013. The NIA alleged that the training was being given with an intention to prepare them for terrorist activities and to “commit acts endangering the unity and integrity of the nation.” Last year, the NIA had submitted a report to the Union Home Ministry documenting the charges against PFI members. The organisation has refuted the allegations.last_img read more

CBI takes over murder case in Manipur

first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had taken over yet another murder case in connection with the alleged fake encounters in Manipur, pursuant to the Supreme Court directive. The agency had re-registered 30 such FIRs so far.The latest FIR had been registered against CDO personnel of Imphal West and 39 Assam Rifles, following the the death of Nameirakpam Gobin Meitei and Nameirakpam Nobo Meitei on April 4, 2009.The Supreme Court-appointed Commission headed by Justice (retired) Santosh Hegde, in its report submitted on March 30, 2013, concluded that the incident in question was not an encounter, but an operation by the security agencies causing the deaths.The CBI had so far filed three charge sheets in the alleged Manipur fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and the State Police. Among those arraigned were about two dozen officials and personnel, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police and two Sub-Inspectors.The Supreme Court was to take up further hearing on the issue on September 4. A separate petition filed by more than 300 Army personnel, challenging registration of the FIRs related to the operations carried out in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is in force, was also under consideration.last_img read more

Smart fencing will end infiltration: Rajnath Singh

first_imgUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday inaugurated the first phase of hi-tech ‘smart fencing’ of a 11 km stretch on the International Border (IB) in Jammu. The Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) would provide for round-the-clock laser-guided surveillance of the borders, he said at the BSF Headquarters in Jammu’s Ploura. Mr. Singh said border security was his top most priority.“The smart fencing project will initially be implemented to cover gaps in the physical fencing. Eventually, this technology will be implemented across the entire border,” he said.The smart fencing is a web of surveillance, communication and data storage devices. It will enable surveillance during difficult weather conditions and reduce the need for physical patrolling of the borders. It will rely on thermal imaging, infra-red and laser-based intruder alarms to stop infiltration.A total of 2,026 km border was vulnerable.“Digital fencing will make it virtually impossible for terrorists to infiltrate,” he said.The Minister stressed the need to upgrade the border infrastructure. “More than 600 km of roads have been built in border areas and hundreds of border outposts have been built already,” he said.The Home Minister also reviewed the situation along the IB with the top brass of the BSF.Civic body pollsMr. Singh appealed to political parties to participate in the upcoming civic bodies elections, even as the CPI(M) too joined the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in boycotting the polls. Both the NC and the PDP have decided to boycott the urban local bodies and panchayat polls, accusing the Centre of mixing the issue of Article 35A, the State subject law that is being heard by the Supreme Court (SC), with the polls and fuelling apprehensions among the people.The CPI(M) has said the decision to go ahead with the elections despite opposition from the majority of the mainstream political parties “shows the arrogance of the Centre.”“It was wrong on the part of the Government to use polls as a reason to seek deferment of Article 35A in the SC. It would have been better for the Centre to assure the people of J&K that it was serious about defending Article 35A. Participation of the people in these polls is doubtful. Our party has decided not to participate,” said a CPI(M) spokesman.last_img read more

Orissa HC quashes FIR against former Minister

first_imgSenior leader and former Minister Damodar Rout heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday when the Orissa High Court quashed an FIR registered against him over alleged anti-Dalit statements during a public meeting in August 2010.“The Orissa High Court has quashed the FIR registered against Dr. Rout and ordered to drop all the related proceedings,” informed his advocate Biswajit Maharana. A criminal case was registered against Mr. Rout, then a BJD MLA, at the Kujanga police station under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for allegedly making casteist remarks against the then Jagatsinghpur Collector, local MLA and MP.While Mr. Rout had immediately obtained bail from a local lower court, he had approached the Orissa High Court challenging the FIR and seeking to quash the entire proceedings in the case. “Justice A.K. Mishra accepted our argument that a false case was registered against the senior political leader and the honourable court was pleased to quash the FIR and drop the proceedings,” Mr. Maharana said. Mr. Rout was expelled from the BJD in September last year for his alleged anti-party stand. He had been making serious allegations of irregularities in various State government departments and schemes, thereby evoking strong criticism from party workers against him.last_img read more

Centre’s stand and BJP word differ on countrywide NRC

first_imgThe ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s election promise to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country, if voted back to power for a second term, contradicts the Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court and Parliament.Responding to a petition calling for implementing the NRC in Tripura, the Centre had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in January that it was not required as adequate laws existed to identify and deport illegal immigrants, The Hindu has learnt. On October 8 last year, a petition was filed by the Tripura People’s Front and others in the Supreme Court to update the NRC in Tripura as is being done in Assam, to detect and deport “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. The petition asked the SC to direct the authorities to update the NRC by taking July 19, 1948 as the cut-off date. The SC had subsequently issued a notice to the Centre and State government on the petition.In its response, the Centre’s affidavit said sufficient laws were in place to deal with illegal immigrants.On December 19 last year, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir also informed Lok Sabha that there was no plan to extend the NRC to States other than Assam. Not beyond Assam“The exercise to update NRC 1951 is being conducted under the special provisions in respect of State of Assam under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and the Citizenship Rules, 2003. At present, there is no proposal to extend the NRC to States other than Assam,” Mr. Ahir said. However, in March, BJP’s national president Amit Shah began his election campaign in West Bengal with a promise to introduce NRC in the State. The BJP’s election manifesto released on April 8 clearly says the NRC will be implemented in a phased manner across the country.A senior government official said provisions like the Citizenship Act, Foreigners Act and the Passport Act existed to detect and deport illegal immigrants in the country. “The NRC is unique to Assam. It is being conducted under the supervision of the SC,” said the official. As per fiats of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General of India published the final draft list of NRC on July 30 last year to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971. Nearly 40 lakh people were excluded from Assam’s final draft of the NRC.last_img read more

US Congress Warned Against Imposing Sanctions on India

first_imgThe US Congress has been warned against imposing any sanctions on countries like India and Indonesia, said a top US admiral on Wednesday. He has warned the Congress to not put sanctions on the mentioned countries for purchase of defence types of equipment from Russia and said that a move of such nature would raise concern for America’s defence relations in the Indo-Pacific. This would also lead to its partners’ to depending on Moscow. Admiral Philip S Davidson is a nominee for the US Pacific Command Commander.Read it at Times Now Related Itemslast_img read more

British Indian Artist Anish Kapoor Sues NRA for Including The Bean Sculpture in Video

first_imgThe artist behind Chicago’s famous bean-shaped sculpture has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the National Rifle Association of copyright infringement by using an image of his work in a video advertisement in 2017.Read it at India West Related Itemslast_img

Modi Won’t Let Amazon Crush India’s Retailers, For Now

first_imgIndia’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to crush Amazon before it crushes his country’s mom and pop stores. At least until the upcoming elections are over, that is.Amazon is growing big and powerful. But some governments are already bigger and more powerful than any individual company, and the means to spoil Amazon’s ambitions to take over the world — ie dominate world e-commerce, crushing mom and pop stores in the process.Read it at Forbes Related Itemslast_img

Dharamsala: Permanence Of Exile

first_imgFifty years after tens of thousands of refugees streamed out of Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese occupation, their hopes of returning to their homeland are fast receding and the Himalayan town of Dharamsala — the de facto capital and home to nearly 20,000 Tibetans in exile — is taking on all the trappings of permanency.Exiled Tibetans have become one of the world’s most visible refugee communities and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, a Nobel laureate, has become a global icon celebrated for his humanity and Gandhian, non-violent struggle for a Tibetan homeland. But as Tibetans worldwide on March 10 marked the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s 1959 flight from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, there was no escaping the hopelessness of their quest to reclaim their homeland. Even the Dalai Lama has admitted: “I have spent most of my life in this hill station. Now I feel like a citizen of Himachal Pradesh.”  Monks at the main templeBeijing’s hard line against the exiles, as well as its brutal repression of the nearly 5 million Tibetans in China perceived as separatists or sympathizers of the Dalai Lama, makes it increasingly unlikely that any exile will ever return to Tibet. Instead, an estimated 2,000 Tibetans risk their lives crossing the treacherous Himalayan ranges to escape Chinese control every year.Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru offered the Dalai Lama and the nearly 8,000 Tibetans in his Central Tibetan Administration political asylum and a section of the British Raj hill station in Himachal Pradesh of Dharamsala (religious abode), which now serves as the seat of the exiled government.Over the years, Dharamsala has been transformed into Little Lhasa, as the original Shangri-La eludes their grasp. It is now an internationally renowned Tibetan community, pulsating with Tibetan architecture and cultural rhythms, where thousands of monks mingle comfortably with international tourists and long-term foreigners, many of whom have spent years in monasteries and voluntary organizations.Set in the verdant Kangra valley in the Dhauladhar mountains, nearly 20,000 Tibetans have settled in and around Dharamsala, including Mcleod Ganj, Sidhbari, Chauntra, Bir, and Tashi Jong, making it the largest settlement of overseas Tibetans. In all, an estimated 140,000 Tibetan refugees are scattered all over India and Nepal in 36 communities in small towns in Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Bylakuppe in Karnataka and Gangtok in Sikkim. Bylakuppe is the second largest Tibetan settlement after Dharamsala with 10,000 Tibetan residents, with numerous monasteries, nunneries and temples, including the famous Lugsum Samdupling and Dickyi Larsoe monasteries, which like the Norbulingka Institute and Gyuto Monastery in Dharamsala, seem like they were transported brick by brick from Tibet. Both Dharamsala and Bylakuppe were established on land leased to the Tibetan authority by the Indian government. Ana, a tourist from Madrid, Spain: “These mountains and Buddhist are veryattractive and give me peace of mind.”Another 80,000 Tibetans are settled in the West, including Canada and Switzerland. Massive Tibetan temples have sprouted in the remote regions of Northern California above San Francisco and in New York. Scores of small Tibetan communities thrive all over Europe and the United States.But the heart of exile Tibetan life beats in Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama, the Karamapa Lama, who is third in line, as well as other high-ranking Lamas and monks. Dharamsala has two distinct sections. Upper Dharamsala, or McLeod Ganj, popularly known as Little Lhasa, is where most Tibetans live in crowded streets and where the Dalai Lama has his residence, just opposite the Tsuglag Khang, the central cathedral. The largely Indian Lower Dharamsala, 8 kms down the main road (but which locals navigate using a 3 km steep hill road named Khara Danda), is remarkably different from Upper Dharamsala. Nearly 20,000 people, almost all Indians, live in and around lower Dharamsala, while Mcleod Ganj is home to some 12,000 Tibetans and permanent westerners residents.Mcleod Ganj’s tiny streets are packed with tourists, mostly westerners, but also domestic visitors on weekends. Lower Dharamsala, by contrast, is a typical Indian hill town, reflecting pahari (Himachali) culture and crowded bazaars, which Tibetans and Westerners frequent for grocery and household supplies. The semi-nomadic Gaddi, the locals, once the dominant ethnic group, have struggled to hold on to their culture and language. At first poverty-stricken and jobless, the Tibetans have slowly swamped the local population with their rich and colorful cultural traditions, religion and the Dalai Lama, attracting the attention of the world and thousands of enlightenment seekers who swarm the Tsuglag Khang — the main temple just opposite the Dalai Lama’s residence. Tibetan monasteries, schools, refugee camps and education centers in Mcleod Ganj have put their distinct architectural and cultural stamp on the town. Tibetans protest on the 50th anniversary in exile The Little Lhasa section of Dharamsala is a unique ecosystem of Tibetan schools, monasteries espresso cafes, guesthouses, Web-surfing monks and tourism related industries, serving as a global node for pilgrims, backpackers and Tibetan Buddhism seekers. Tibetan prayer flags flutter atop homes and in the hills, and maroon-robed chanting monks and other symbols of Tibetan life are visible everywhere. The town seems like a throwback of another Lhasa, where monks and nuns perform their daily religious duties and other Tibetans remain preoccupied with their daily lives, some working for the Central Tibetan Administration, while others work in Internet cafes and other tourism sectors. Tibetans in Dharamsala seem to sustain a tourist economy simply by being Tibetan for the benefit of nearly 350,000 foreign and an equal number of domestic tourists every year.Says Rachel Bubu, a journalism student from Quebec, Canada, who has been volunteering at the Tibetan Women Association (TWA) Center in Dharamsala for nearlytwo months: “This place is very different. Dalai Lama’s Dharma teachings in the snow-capped hills makes it so special. The mix of Indian and Tibetan culture makes it so special. Here it’s not like a vacation, but like a place where one loves to stay for long.” Ana, a tourist from Madrid, Spain, adds, “These mountains and Buddhist are very attractive and give me peace of mind.”  Tibetan activist TseringChavi Chamish, a backpacker from Tel Aviv, Israel, who is staying in the Bhagsu section of Dharamsala, which is popular among Israeli backpackers and hippies, many of who are taking tabla, yoga and Hindi classes, says: “Dharamsala has so many colors. It’s a place for living and learning. There is no doubt Tibetans have made this tiny town a heaven with international presence and a home away from home.”There is surprisingly little animosity between Indians and Tibetans, notwithstanding their religious and cultural disparity, even among the Gaddi, the local tribe, who have lived here for generations and seen Tibetans move into a position of economic dominance. In part this is because they too are beneficiaries of the tourist economy, which is powered by the presence of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan culture.Ajay Sharma, a businessman who runs a money exchange shop in Mcleod Ganj, says, “Currently there is nothing much we both communities complain about and it should remain like now, where both earn mutually, sharing hands.” A monk read the Dalai Lama’s message at the 50th anniversary Dharamsala recently opened a new international cricket stadium overlooking the snow-capped mountains, which residents hope will drive further economic growth in the region. Says Ramesh, an Indian taxi driver in the city, “Hum sab aage badh rahe hain, sabko saath chalna hoga ek ghar ki tarah hai tabhi sabh kush hai (We all are growing, all of us have to proceed together, like a family, then only will we all live happily).”Tibetans revere the Dalai Lama and most credit him for keeping their culture and identity alive. They support his initiatives for a dialogue with China and his advocacy of compassion and non-violence, which has made him an international diva. When at his exile residence in Dharamsala, he is preoccupied with public and private meetings and his tight schedule of pujas and other religious duties as a monk. The Dalai Lama dismisses his global celebrity: “I am just a simple Buddhist monk — no more, nor less.” But even after 50 years in exile, he remains a tireless advocate of a Tibetan homeland: “My body and flesh is all Tibetan. I remain committed to the Tibetan cause.”In recent years, the Dalai Lama has steered a “middle way” for an autonomous Tibet within China. “I constantly look back at the last 50 years. I always feel I made the right decision,” he said in his the 50th anniversary exile speech. He remains optimistic about returning to his homeland and takes comfort in the fact that the Tibetan cause remains alive and is even finding growing support among the international community. “Seen from this perspective, I have no doubt that the justice of Tibet’s cause will prevail, if we continue to tread the path of truth and non-violence.”Dolma, an elderly Tibetan exile who fled to Dharmasala in the 1960s with her family, embraces the Dalai Lama’s approach: “Tibetan people’s resistance is not against Chinese people, but to display their desire to protect the legitimate rights of the Tibetan people and their rich and valuable culture. Everyone knows His Holiness is the Gandhi of our time and we accept his approach of non-violence. We are refugees and one day or another we must go back.” Woman praying in the streets. Woman praying in the streetsHer sentiments are shared by Tenzin Delek, an elderly monk: “We Tibetans have left our homeland in search of freedom and the desire to live our lives as we see fit. We did so to avoid political oppression and religious persecution. Living in exile has strengthened the resolve of Tibetans to regain their homeland.”Adds Gompu, a Tibetan born exile, “No matter where I live now, but if you ask me my true home it will always be Tibet. ”However, over the past decade fissures have developed in the community over the Dalai Lama’s approach toward China. Most elders agree with his “middle way” strategy, which seeks an autonomous region of Tibet inside China. But many youth are growing impatient with the lack of progress and are rallying instead for rangzen, or full independence, and have begun targeting the Bejing government with public protests in India as well as in the West, provoking complaints from Beijing. There is a general sense that many of the young radical Tibetans in exile, such as those represented by the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), are presently constrained because of their reverence for the Dalai Lama, but they may feel freer to pursue more drastic action once the Dalai Lama, who is aging, passes away.“This is the time for uprising, to raise the issue of Tibet at the international level,” says a young Buddhist monk. “The people of the world support us because we have true injustice.Yonten, a young Tibetan who fled to India in 2000, is equally impatient: “I now dream of my homeland every day. Fifty years are enough, its time for us to get back to our home.”TYC president Twesang Rigzin says:”No doubt, no one will be able to replace the Dalai Lama and we Tibetans won’t be able to repay him. But we are struggling for an independent nation and our struggle will continue.” Tibetan monks debate at the main templeBut the exiles have seen their free Tibet hopes flicker and die countless times. Protest flags against the Chinese and Free Tibet posters are everywhere in Dharamsala. Monks and nuns outnumber revelers, performing hunger strikes on every major event, hoping to bolster world opinion to their cause. Tsering, a young Tibetan, says: “I feel the same as other Tibetans born in Tibet. I am eager to see my homeland, meet my people and glimpse the stories told of our old people. As a Tibetan born in exile I have more responsibilities to make every effort possible to help my people back in their own homeland.”Meanwhile, Tibetan children learn both Hindi and Tibetan in school, the first to prepare them for a life in which they may never go to the homeland they have never seen and likely never will. While daily life embraces endless obeisance to Tibetan religion, with prayer wheels spinning endlessly, most Tibetans have begun assimilating with their Indian identity. Although presently there are few intermarriages between Tibetans and Indians, given the proximity of the two communities, these will no doubt grow.“I live more like an Indian now, the only difference I see is just my religion, the rest is the same,” says Lobsang Dundrup, a middle-class Tibetan in his mid-30s, who runs a local café. The Dalai Lama established a democratic government in exile, with a prime minister and legislature elected directly by exiled Tibetans in a bid to create enduring social and political institutions for exiles (see box). Tibetan exiles receive a renewable two-year residency permit from the Indian government, which, after securing visa clearance from the Foreign Registration Office in Lower Dharamsala, also permits them to travel overseas.There is growing, unspoken anxiety over the future of Dharamsala and the Tibetan independence movement after the Dalai Lama, who is 74. There is no question that once Tibet’s most iconic figure retires or departs, Tibetan Buddhism will change dramatically and the Tibetan cause could fade from the international spotlight. Many Tibetans are resting their future hopes on the third highest Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, 23-year-old, 17th Karmapa Lama Ogyen Trinley, who was born and raised in Tibet, but escaped to India in 2000 in a dramatic trek that took him across Nepal to Dharamsala. Hopeful monks await their God-king LamaAlhough the exiles fear talk about the succession, the Dalai Lama himself has not shied from the subject: “If people feel that the institution of the Dalai Lama is still necessary, then this will continue.”He has speculated about the possibility of appointing a new Dalai Lama during his lifetime or even a female Dalai Lama, both of which will break tradition. But the Dalai Lama said: “The point is whether to continue with the institution of the Dalai Lama or not. After my death, Tibetan religious leaders can debate whether to have a Dalai Lama or not.”There is widespread apprehension that when a new, reincarnated Lama assumes the position of the 15th Dalai Lama he may be targeted by China as occurred with the Panchen Lama, the second highest Lama, who was kidnapped by the Chinese government in 1995 shortly after he was named to the post by the Dalai Lama and whose whereabouts still remain unknown.The uncertainties over Tibet and their future notwithstanding, Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala have managed to more than survive: they have created a mini Tibet in exile, which in many ways is more Tibetan than the occupied homeland that eludes their grasp.Photos: Saransh Sehgal “It looks like Tibet”Chamiywangde, a 38 year old Tibetan monk born in Kham province, fled Chinese-controlled Tibet to study Buddhism with other monks in India. Sitting inside the main temple in Dharamsala, Chamiywangde recalls in broken English that he was only 14 when he crossed the high mountains and roads: “I come from Chamdo Kham province inside Tibet. I flee in 1985, first in trucks from Lhasa to Tashi Lumbo and crossed the borders by walk. It took 15 days to reach Nepal and then it was easy reach India.” He lives in a monastery in Bylakuppe, near Mysore, and is currently in Dharamsala for additional learning. On Indian support for Tibetans: “I thank the Indian people and the Indian government for making us survive. I’m very happy being in India. Tibetan people inside Tibet won’t be much happy as Tibetans in India. Even as I’m in India I feel like I am in Tibet and with hills around Dharamsala. it looks more like Tibet.”On the prospect of returning: “I won’t go back to Tibet alone. When our mighty God Dalai Lama will return, then I will return.”His apprehension on succession: “At present, it would be difficult to tell, but as monks we fear this a lot.”Will the Karmapa Lama take over from the Dalai Lama? “It is for the Dalai Lama to make his successor; so it is for him to decide. I’m sure he will decide taking in view the best for the Tibetan people inside and as well outside Tibet.”  “I dream of it almost everyday”  Sonam GuardsSonam Gyaltsen 27, who provides security outside the Dalai Lama’s residence and often travels with him, was born in Darjeeling to parents who fled Tibet and settled in Darjeeling. He says, “I have not seen Tibet in real life, but living close to the Dalai Lama I dream of it almost every day.”Life After Dalai Lama: “ I fear talking about the afterlife of Dalai Lama. I know one day I won’t be guarding him, but I always hope of returning and if we go back I would be more happy to guard my Lama inside Tibet … or even guard the next Dalai Lama.”Western appeal of Dalai Lama: “ He’s a living God. His attraction is so beyond, and the reason I see is because Buddhism is exploding very much.”India: “It’s like our own country now. Since I am born here and my parents died here, my affinity is more.”Accusation that Dalai Lama spends more time with celebrities than locals: “It’s not that. All the people who come from Tibet, they meet the Dalai Lama and the rest in public as well as private teachings. He likes it more when he meets a Tibetan who comes from inside Tibet and feels their pain.” “Getting some leg” Jamphel Sichoe, 24, owner of the Coffee Talk café close to the Dalai Lama’s temple, was born in Dharamsala and completed his education in India. He says, “This Tibet issue will never end. It’s like a pain within us.”Return: “I will go back, but do not know how. Middle way or Independence? ”Life after Dalai Lama: As far as economy is concerned, “probably less western tourists, unemployment both to Indians as well as Tibetans will happen.”Culture: “Miss Tibet is now kind of global thing. If someone calls it un-cultural it’s his personal statement, not the entire exiles. From Miss Tibet at least one is getting some leg.”Culture Mixing: “It was to happen, probably being more Indian. Indian + Tibetan culture mixed is also another culture. Both cultures get more rich.”“Global Cause”Sonam Tsering, 20, a student at the Tibetan Homes School in Mussoorie, was 3 when he fled Tibet with his mother, reaching Nepal after trekking for 27 days.Succession: “I’m too young to answer this. It’s about our country, about 6 million people. Who knows who will take the responsibility in exile.”India: “I’m thankful to Indians and Westerners who support us and even feel our eagerness to return to our homeland.”Dalai Lama’s Western appeal: “He is doing all this for us. Our cause has been global because of his humanity.”Tibetan Exile Authority Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.The Dalai Lama serves as the head of state of the Tibetan Exile Authority, which has an assembly and a cabinet led by a prime minister, elected every five years. The exile government generates most of its revenues from the Indian and Western governments, contributions from non profits and celebrities. Roughly 10 percent of its $16.5 million annual revenues come from tax levies on Tibetan exiles.2009 – 2010 Budget Administration Rs. 336,982,052 Education Rs. 157,664,431 Health Rs. 102,906,527 Home Rs. 163,166,478 Religion and Culture Rs. 41,868,875 New arrivals from Tibet Rs. 24,443,101 Total Rs. 827,031,464 ($16.5 million)BUDGET DISTRIBUTION Culture of Tibetans in exileFearing Tibetan culture would be lost in exile, the Dalai Lama established many monasteries and educational institutions in his exile base in Dharamsala, as well as other Tibetan settlements. Today Dharmasala has transformed into a Little Lhasa, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists and devotees worldwide.Tibetan arts and crafts, multicolored Thankas and singing bowls are now a common sight even in the West and traditional Tibetan dresses have even become a fashion statement.In Dharamsala, saffron-robed monks and nuns are a common sight, as are Tibetan art, paintings, clothing, trademark curled-up rooftops of Tibetan temples, prayer wheels and flags. Preserving their identity, religion, traditions and culture are articles of faith among Tibetans. Says Lobsang, one of thousands of monks in Dharamsala: “Buddhism came from India. And we Buddhist monks learn more and more each day. The presence and preserving is in our hands.”Tsering, another monk, welcomes the modern world and even has an e-mail account: “Our culture is our strongness, and even if we be modern, by preserving our culture and religion it would be the maximum a community can look for.” Tibetan beauties at the Miss Tibet contest Tibetan culture is increasingly rubbing up against modernism, reflected perhaps most dramatically in the divide among the youth and elders over the annual Miss Tibet Pageant, which many in the younger generation believe is a symbol of defiance against Chinese rule.When the contest was first held in 2002, the Tibetan prime minister in exile called it “un-Tibetan” and “aping Western culture,” prompting many participants to pull out under the pressure. The Dalai Lama, with his characteristic humor, was more accommodating: “If there is Miss Tibet, why not Mister Tibet? He could be handsome. Then it would be more equal.”This year’s Miss Tibet Pageant pit four young women from Dehradun, Dharamsala, Darjeeling and Bir before a cheering crowd at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and featured a swimsuit round, which in past years has stirred a minor storm. 20-year-old Tenzin Choezom from Dharamsala, who was crowned Miss Tibet 2009, said: “From childhood, I always have big dreams for my life, and winning this beauty contest is one of my dreams come true, said the new beauty queen. Being a Miss Tibet for me is like holding an ambassadorial post to represent Tibetan people, and especially Tibetan woman.”Tibetans fear that Tibetan culture is at greatest risk in Tibet, where the Chinese government has adopted increasingly repressive policies to subjugate the Tibetan population. The Dalai Lama has said: “The preservation of our cultural identity is a primary concern for all Tibetans. Growing international support for Tibet is a source of much encouragement to us. Still, the situation inside Tibet remains extremely grave. Though we continue our efforts to ensure Tibetan cultural survival.” A Day in the Life of The Dalai LamaThe Dalai Lama sees himself as a “simple Buddhist monk,” who says he devotes 80% of his time on spiritual activities and the other 20% on Tibetan affairs. Entrance to the Dalai Lama’s residence,opposite the main templeThe Dalai Lama spends only a few days every month at his exile residence in Dharamsala as he travels extensively to advocate for the Tibetan cause. When at his residence, he’s busy performing daily pujas, meeting the public, as well as conducting private teachings at the temple and scheduled interviews with the media. He regularly mixes with new refugees, listening to their stories and feeling their pain. In his public teachings he’s accessible to all nationalities. His public discourses are in Tibetan, with simultaneous English translation, which visitors listen on headphones.As one of world’s most respected religious leaders, his charm and god-like character is commonly acknowledged by Tibetans, Indians and many tourists. Locals understand that the Himalayan town is thriving because of his appeal and they fear that his passing will be a major setback for the community.Tourists often get a glimpse of the Dalai Lama, typically when he commutes between the airport and his residence, when the road leading to the temple comes to a standstill as Tibetans, tourists and locals line up for a peek of his ever smiling face as he waves from his car, guarded by a large convoy.In recent years, his other public appearances have diminished, as with aging health problems he leads fewer prayers at his temple complex. He is more commonly visible at big inaugurations or state functions. Tibetans do not begrudge his accessibility to foreigners, believing it helps him attract Western support, funds and campaigners to their cause.When in Dharamsala, he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. After his morning shower, he begins the day with prayers, meditations and prostrations until 5 a.m. He then takes a short morning walk around the residential compound. If it is raining outside, he uses a treadmill. Dalai Lama at the Main Temple in Dharamsala Breakfast, typically hot porridge, tsampa (barley powder), bread with preservatives, and tea, is served at 5:30 a.m. Regularly, during breakfast, he listens to the BBC World News in English on radio. From 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. he continues his morning meditation and prayers, then from around 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. he studies various Buddhist texts written by great Buddhist masters.Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. His kitchen in Dharamsala is vegetarian. However, during visits outside Dharamsala, he is not necessarily vegetarian. As an ordained Buddhist monk, he does not have dinner.Should there be a need to discuss work with his staff or hold audiences and interviews, he visits his office from 12:30 p.m. until around 4:30 p.m. Typically, during an afternoon at the office one interview is scheduled along with several audiences with both Tibetans and non-Tibetans. Upon his return to his residence, he has evening tea at 6 p.m. He then has time for evening prayers and meditation from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. He retires for bed at 8:30 p.m.He travels often both within India and abroad. During these travels, his daily routine varies, depending on his engagement schedule. However, he is an early riser and retires early to bed.The Western Connection Actor turned Buddhist Richard Gere in the streets of Dharamsala The Dalai Lama’s international fame, charm and global profile has thrust the Tibetan independence movement on the world stage and attracted legions of Western followers. Buddhism is the fastest growing Eastern religion in the West and the Dalai Lama is the world’s most renowned Buddhist teacher, whose life has been depicted in the popular Hollywood movies Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet. The Dalai Lama frequently travels to the United States and Europe, where he has met world leaders, such as Nicholas Sarkozy of France, U.S. President George W Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has attracted a particularly strong following in Hollywood, including the actress Sharon Stone, composer Philip Glass, and actors Orlando Bloom and Steven Seagal.Many celebrities make short, secret, private pilgrimages to Dharamsala. Some others stick around for several days, visiting Tibetan schools, dining at local restaurants and taking in tourist sites. Until recently, most locals were unfamiliar with many of these celebrities, but in recent years awareness about them has grown and many visiting stars are approached for autographs or photos by locals or other tourists.Perhaps the best known Hollywood devotee of the Dalai Lama is Richard Gere, who is active in the Tibetan freedom movement and travels to Dharamsala three times a year to attend Buddhism classes, most recently in April, when he participated in a mind and life conference at the Dalai Lama’s residence.  Related Itemslast_img read more

Stars Vs Actors

first_imgIt’s not just the weather that’s hotting up in India. It’s also the season of salacious video-watching and angry high-decibel television debates over the people’s right to satiate their eye-balls with such stuff.Shahrukh Khan once told film critic Anupama Chopra, in a moment of rare seriousness: “The star-system is really the reason for Bollywood being so big. Without stars, the industry would have been flattened by Hollywood, like most other film industries across the globe.”A case of delusion of grandeur? Over-the-top importance accorded to B-town? Supreme, egoistical arrogance, super-star talk? Another, flamboyant, attention-grabbing Sharukh-ism from King Khan? Take your pick, but if you really think about it, the guy has a point. If you ignore the art-house diwanas and a select few film-critics, the general Bollywood-crazed public is star-struck as hell, everywhere star-studded movies play.It is an acknowledged fact (despite all the snide remarks and not-so-subtle put-downers from self-styled pundits that stars dominate, rule and call the shots in the heart and minds of their swooning fans.An SRK, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan or Ranbir Kapoor (preferably with a Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra or Deepika Padukone as accompanying eye-candy) is much more likely to zoom past the Rs 100 crore mark in record time than the combined talent of Naseerudin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Pankaj Kapoor, Om Puri, Irfan Khan, Manoj Bajpai, Konkana Sen Sharma, Rahul Bose, Abhay Deol, Vinay Pathak and gang. Outstanding as they are, they don’t have that magical quality to seduce the popular imagination that stars do. Nor do they have the glamour and sex-appeal that forces you to drop everything, rush to that darkened theatre and reverentially witness enchanting fantasy being played out on screen.In the early 1980w, I had the opportunity to conduct a lengthy interview with movie moghul Yash Chopra. It was fascinating to hear him rave about the finest actor in the land, Naseerudin Shah. The movie tycoon had just witnessed one of his plays and seemed totally besotted. At one point, I broke in to politely enquire whether this would induce him to cast him in any of his forthcoming mega-projects. He expressed total willingness “the moment I have a script that will demand or suit the talent of this genius.” At that precise point, Silsila was completed and Chandni, as well as other star-driven projects were on the anvil. Shah, a hugely admired artist, was put on the “the active” file which till date has remained “passive” as hell.Yash Chopra can’t be blamed. The question that begs a response is: What makes stars such blinding objects of desire, worship and fantasy. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Rajesh Khanna was at his height, it was not uncommon to see his car blitzed with lipstick imprints or insane female fans getting wedded to his photograph. What elusive quality do they possess that makes them so completely irresistible?Hollywood, where the star-system was born and bred, has had an ambivalent relationship with stardom. 1970s Golden Boy Super Star Robert Redford laments that Hollywood “throws the word star at you loosely… and takes it away loosely too. You are meant to take responsibility for all those crappy movies!”Robert Stack disagrees, “What’s wrong in going through the front door with roses than sneaking through the back door, carrying garbage?” Marlon Brando was acerbic in his criticism: “Once you are a star, people go wild. They ask you questions about politics, astronomy, archaeology, even birth control. In short, everything except your craft or challenges of your profession, in a semi-intelligent manner!” Dustin Hoffman was equally unenthused, “Once you are a star, you stop being afraid of death, because you are dead already!” Ethel Barrymore described the requirements memorably. “A star must have the face of Venus, brains of Minerva, grace of Terpsichore, memory of Macaulay, figure of Juno and hide of a Rhino!”A grizzly veteran Hollywood agent defined the five stages of stardom. “First stage is – Who is Hugo O’Brien? Next, get me Hugo O’Brien! Then, can you get me a Hugo O’Brien type? Followed by Hey, I am looking for a young Hugo O’Brien and finally back to square one, who is Hugo O’Brien?”Respected Art-house director Aparna Sen, 36, ofChoranghee Lane, Mr & Mrs Iyer, Japanese Wife fame, articulates the difference between stars and actors: “A star uses his/her personal attributes, like maybe a tilt of the head, smile, voice deflection or some endearing trait over and over again to charm the audience who love the persona of the actor. An actor, on the other hand, is engaged in re-inventing himself/herself in the light of the character being played and tries to slip under the skin of the character. In the case of the actor, the audience reacts to the character rather than the persona, which plays a secondary role.”The iconic veteran film director Shyam Benegal likewise sees clear cut distinctions: “It’s very simple. Commercial and mainstream cinema is about the ability to make money and hence the pre-occupation with box office records and the magical Rs 100 crore target remains the driving force! A star’s (who is the centrepiece of this exercise) worth is equated to his mass-draw, appeal, pull. An actor is a different creature. His focus is on identifying and portraying the linear truth as honestly as possible through a journey to the center of the character’s soul. Since props and externals like looks, glamor, sex-appeal, armpit rhetoric or hi-pitched posturing — all popular audience-friendly baits — don’t feature in the actor’s scheme of things, mass-appeal is unlikely to ever come his way. Respect, admiration, honor and prestige… certainly…. But can a Naseer, Irfan, Shabana, Smita or Konkana ever hope to get the masses as charged and excited as an SRK, Salman, Aamir, Priyanka, Bebo, Katrina or Bipasha? It’s the nature of the animal and comes with the territory.”Eminent Film Critic Saibal Chatterjee concurs. “Benegal is right. Mass appeal is the USP (unique selling proposition) of the star — the cutting-edge advantage he/she has over the actor. Balraj Sahani, Sanjeev Kumar and Irfan Khan are classic examples of outstanding actors, across generations, right? However, Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan & SRK towered over them in the popularity & pay-check department, right?”Saibal believes that Hollywood, however (unlike B-town) always had stars who were also excellent actors too, pointing to Marlon Brando, Dean & Clift & today’s Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, even Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Leonard Dicaprio, when challenged. “In Bollywood, except Dilip Kumar, I wouldn’t rate any star as also an actor, not even the much hyped Bachchan. It’s at best tokenism and play-acting. I think it has to do with the play-safe, risk-free mentality of both the filmmaker and the star as also the lack of real true-blue ability and talent to courageously explore and get inside the skin of the character to make it come alive.” Chatterjee argues that Bollywood is unlikely to produce a star-actor anytime soon. “India is a hassled nation where tensions, complications and problems chase the common man, all the time. Entertainment is the great simple, divine intervention — three hours in the darkened hall, without being challenged! No wonder the Dabangg’s & Agneepath’s have rocked.”What about Kahaani & Pan Singh Tomar, two very unlikely films — no glamor, item songs, exotic locales, hi-tech gizmos or brute force fights – that have done well at the box office and garnered great media attention too? “There will always be sleeper hits and dark horses, as there will be enlightened, enthusiastic niche audience, waiting for engaging and entertaining fare. Smart story-telling and superb acting, were the main drivers of these two wonderfully courageous films. Also, since the budgets were modest and the ROI (return on investment) almost doubled, it augurs well. Interestingly 2012 has slew of interesting edgy, non-formulae films — Kahaani & Pan Singh being only two — waiting to explode. That is indeed a good sign, but let’s not get carried away. One big Salman-growler Ek Tha Tiger or SRK-Katrina starrer from the YRF camp… and stardom will be back with a bang!” says Chatterjee.He is spot-on. Dibarkar’s Shanghai, Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, Reema Katgi’s Talash and Anurag Basu’s Barfi do indicate feisty thrusts into new, exciting terrain, but we will need many more off-beat, engaging, films, showcasing our brilliant gifted actors to get things on track and give the genuine actors their due recognition in terms of talent and pay-checks.At the end of the day, as Benegal says, stardom is, unfortunately, about mass appeal — grabbing eyeballs of more people at more places than ever before. Igniting popular imagination through that very special, unique, individualistic X-factor, impossible to define, but instantly recognizable. Naseerudin Shah may continue to dismiss stars as being boringly repetitive and “after a while being caricatures of themselves,” but despite his astonishing and acknowledged talents, can he ever hope to attract a fraction of the crazed mobs that the Khans can?It’s not a value judgement, but a clearly demarcated divide between preferences of real and make-believe; posturing, going over-the-top with all the sexy, glam trappings against rooted, slice-of-life portrayals of everyday realities; navigating disturbing, cathartic journeys to the center of souls in distress, way beyond starry orgasmic flight to that magical never-never-land- of happy ever-after. Sure, there will be glorious exceptions, but as Chatterjee so perceptively pointed out, as did Shahrukh Khan, in India, stars will dazzle and rule, while actors will invite respect, admiration and awards — and the twain shall not meet. Related Itemslast_img read more

RIL in World’s Top 3 Energy Firms, Mukesh Ambani Still the Richest Indian

first_imgMukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd. climbed up five places to rank as the third biggest company in the Platts list of top 250 energy companies. Ambani also figured on top of Hurun’s richest Indians list for the consecutive sixth year, with net assets of Rs 2,57,900 crore.According to the Platts list, Reliance Industries Ltd. is now trailing behind Russian gas giant Gazprom and German utility E.ON. In 2016, Reliance Industries was at the seventh spot in this list.South Korea’s Korea Electric Power is in the fourth position followed by China Petroleum and Chemical in the fifth spot.The Losers and GainersPublic sector firm Indian Oil Corporation climbed seven spots to reach the seventh position in the list. IOC has been climbing up in the list steadily for the past two years; it was ranked 66 in 2015.Another Indian company, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, also got an edge this year to be placed at the 11th position, up from the 20th spot last year.Fourteen Indian companies made their way to the list of 250 energy companies from all around the world. Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd are placed at the 39th and 48th spot, respectively.“While 14 Indian energy companies made it to the S&P Global Platts Top 250 Global Energy Company Rankings, they were one short of the tally held last year,” Platts said in a statement.Other Indian companies in the list are Power Grid Corp (81) and GAIL India Ltd (106). The only Indian company, which faced a slip in the ranking is Coal India Ltd, the world’s largest coal producer. The company is now at the 45th spot, while it was ranked 38 last year.“Coal’s troubles were especially acute in Asia, with China’s production falling by 7.9% or 140 million tons of oil-equivalent (mtoe), a record decline. Those headwinds translated into swings in this year’s Platts rankings for coal interests,” Platts described as the reason behind Coal India’s slip in the list.The top spot grabbed by Russian giant Gazprom turned out to be a big achievement, as it ended ExxonMobil’s 12-year reign at the top of the list. The biggest gainer in this year’s list is German utility company E.ON. The company, which was at the 114th spot last year, climbed 112 spots to take the second place.Analysis of Four Key MetricsPlatt formulates the list of top energy companies after analyzing four key metrics — asset worth, revenues, profits, and return on invested capital. All the companies mentioned in the list had assets greater than $5.5 billion.The overall profit made by the top 10 companies in the list witnessed a fall, as this year’s $63.7 billion is 14 per cent lower than the combined profit of $74.3 billion recorded in 2016.S&P Global Platts is a leading independent provider of information and benchmark prices for commodities and energy.Hurun India Unveils Rich ListAmbani is the richest Indian, according to the Hurun list, followed by Dilip Shanghvi and LN Mittal at the second and third spot, respectively.The surprise inclusion in this year’s list is Acharya Balkrishna, the head of Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda. The 45-year-old businessman set up Patanjali 11 years back, and the company had a turnover of Rs 10,561 crore in FY2017. He is placed eighth on the list.“Demonetisation, the implementation of the GST… have not impacted wealth creation in the organized sector. In fact, going by the trend in the list, these factors seem to have positively impacted the mega-rich and their companies. Despite the solid performance of the corporate entities, a decline in national gross domestic product growth points to the impact of such schemes on the unorganized sectors,” Anas Rahman Junaid, the managing director of Hurun India, said.Shiv Nadar is placed at the fourth spot, while Azim Premji ranks fifth. Other names in the top 10 list are Cyrus S Poonawalla (06), Gautam Adani (07), Uday Kotak (09) and Sunil Mittal (10). Related ItemsAcharya BalkrishnaGautam AdaniHuruns India rich listMukesh AmbaniPatanjaliPlatts list of 250 top energy companieslast_img read more

13 MPs Among Scores of Kenyan Patients Seeking Cancer Treatment in India

first_imgAmong hundreds of Kenyans seeking cancer treatment in Indian hospitals are 13 members of parliament of Kenya. Nine of them are members of the National Assembly while four are Kenyan senators, said Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu who returned home after successful treatment of brain cancer in India on March 16.Most of the Kenyan MPs are being treated at the Apollo Hospital outlets in New Delhi and other cities in India, reported the Star.Waititu, also known as Wakapee, stayed in India for seven weeks before he returned to Kenya. He said that he was surprised to meet hundreds of Kenyans in India, some of whom are, in fact, his colleagues in the parliament.The figures from the Kenyan ministry of health show that around 10,000 Kenyans travel overseas every year to seek treatment and spend at least Sh10 billion in the same period, the report added.“So many people are suffering in silence from cancer. Nobody wants to talk about it because of the stigma behind it. In India, I met hundreds of cancer patients from Kenya alone. Among them were nine of my fellow MPs and four Senators. The cancer scourge is enormous and we can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand. We must get out and talk about it,” Waititu was quoted as saying by added that many Kenyans who visit India for treatment, and their caregivers, have to live in sad conditions due to paucity of funds. He also met several of them as there is an existing network of sick Kenyans in India.“Those people you have been helping in fundraising to go for further treatment in India cannot find anywhere to lay down their heads, they are sleeping in trenches because they cannot afford renting the expensive houses in India. I personally spent Sh1.8 million on housing alone for the period I was there. How many Kenyans can afford that?,” he said.According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, more than 40,000 Kenyans are diagnosed with cancer annually. Cancer claims the lives of 15,000 people per year in the country, the Star said.In 2017, a total of 116 patients suffering from non-communicable diseases visited India between January and March seeking treatment, according to data from the Kenyan health ministry. Cancer patients made up 57.8 per cent of the total number, while 16.8 per cent sought treatment for renal diseases. Those seeking medical treatment for cardiovascular disease and skeletal disorders accounted for 7.8 per cent and 3.4 per cent of total patients, respectively. The data revealed that more number of men traveled overseas for treatment (54 per cent) as compared to women (46 per cent).Waititu stressed on  the need for prominent Kenyans to come out in the open about their cancer status to fight the stigma around the disease. “If they could have come out openly like myself, a solution would have been realized so far,” he said.David Makumi, the chairman of Kenyan Network of Cancer Organisations, pointed out that 75 per cent of cancer patients travelling for treatment in India could be treated in Kenya for less money. “The remaining 25 per cent would be patients needing specialized surgery or bone-marrow transplants,” Makumi said.In January last year, new guidelines made by health cabinet secretary Cleopa Mailu and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) stipulated that patients will only be referred to foreign hospitals if there is proof that the referral would be the most cost-effective option for him or her, Daily Nation reported.“A medical or dental practitioner may refer a patient for medical or dental management abroad where the patient has opted to seek medical intervention or management abroad where public resources are not used,” the guideline said.More than 2 lakh foreigners availed medical facilities in India in 2016, according to the Indian ministry of home affairs. As many as 1,678 Pakistani citizens and 296 Americans were among the foreigners who visited India to seek medical care in 2016. A total of 99,799 Bangladeshi citizens were issued medical visas in 2016, making up the highest number from a country. Medical tourism in India is worth around $3 billion and is estimated to grow to $7-8 billion by 2020.India is also becoming a preferred destination for Chinese nationals seeking treatments for various medical conditions. As many as 483,000 people traveled outside from China for medical care in 2015, and the figures are estimated to cross 800,000 by 2020, according to Global Growth Market. A sizeable number of the patients going abroad from the country for treatment come to India. Related ItemscancerKenyaMedical tourismlast_img read more

Five Indians Detained in Sri Lanka Over Match-Fixing Doubts

first_imgFive Indian spectators in a One-Day International match between the women’s teams of India and Sri Lanka were told to leave Katunayake Ground, near Colombo, after officials doubted their suspicious activities. They were later detained by the police for questioning regarding their excessive talks on phone during the match.Sri Lankan cricket’s anti-corruption officials were struck with the doubt of match-fixing when they noticed the five Indians talking excessively on phone during the match on Sept.16, AFP reported.They thought that these persons were perhaps talking to some bookies, since instead of enjoying the experience of watching the match on the ground or paying constant attention to the field, they were busy talking over their phones. This behavior of the persons alerted the officials, who felt that the whole communication was associated with betting or match fixing.“We felt their behavior was suspicious at the grounds and all of them were seen excessively communicating on their phones,” a Sri Lankan cricket official told the news agency on the condition of anonymity.“We exercised our right to remove them from the ground and the police took over the investigation,” the official added.An official told PTI that when they asked them about their phone calls, they were told that they were giving match details to people back home.After being removed from the ground, they were detained by the police for questioning, as it is sports betting is illegal in Sri Lanka.The Sri Lankan team beat India in the last match, but India won the tournament by 2-1.It is not the first time when Indians have been taken out of a match venue under suspicion in the country. In August, Sri Lankan officers detained two Indian men for questioning. Those men were also making frequent calls during a T-20 match.Sri Lanka has planned stricter laws to curb sports-related corruption, according to AFP. It has also announced a special police unit to deal with match-fixing. The crackdown was planned after an Al-Jazeera documentary that showed corruption in international cricket. It showed three Sri Lankan officials agreeing to influence the matches. Related ItemsCricketSri Lankalast_img read more

Fire will not impact schedule of Visakhapatnam: Mazagon Dock officials

first_imgA day after a fire on Visakhapatnam, an under-construction warship at the Mazgaon dockyard here, officials said it would be commissioned without any delays.Visakhapatnam is one of the four ships being built under Project 15B of the defence forces, the contract for which has been given to Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL). Once ready, it will be Indian Navy’s largest destroyer. A fire on the ship on Friday evening left one construction dead and another injured. MDL officials said the damage to the ship has not been evaluated yet, but it would not impact the deadline of the project. “The ship will be commissioned in 2021 as per schedule,” an MDL official said. “A committee has been formed to look into the matter. The source of the fire will soon be detected after which the damages and relevant costs of the incident will be evaluated. However, the evaluation will take some time,” the official added. Under Project 15B, MDL will build four ships which will feature cutting-edge advanced technology parallel to the best ships of similar class in the world.The four warships sanctioned under the Project 15B are 163 metres in length and 17.4 metres at beam. They will be propelled by four gas turbines, can achieve a speed of over 30 knots, and are equipped to carry two helicopters at a time.last_img read more

Watch | When Srinagar’s residents are not a phone call away

first_imgAmid the fifth day of the lockdown in the  Kashmir Valley, Srinagar residents are queueing outside a government office to access cellular services. People have been waiting for hours to talk to kin outside State.Three personal mobile phones of officials working at the Tankipora office were turned into helplines. The administration had shared the three numbers on local cable channels.The Hindu’s Vijaita Singh speaks to residents of Srinagar about their ordeal.last_img