Friday, 13 December 2019

Nirmala Sitharaman ranked 34th in the world's most powerful women list: Forbes

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, HCL Corporation CEO and Executive Director Roshni Nadar Malhotra and Biocon Founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw have been named among the world’s 100 most powerful women by Forbes.
Ms. Sitharaman, a newcomer on the Forbes most powerful women list, is ranked 34th. India’s first female finance minister, Ms. Sitharaman has also served as the country’s defence minister. She is the first female to hold the portfolio full time. Before her, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi briefly took additional charge of the ministry.
The Forbes 2019 list of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ has been topped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, followed by President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde in the second spot and Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, ranked third. Also on the list is Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ranked 29th.
In 2019, women around the globe took action, claiming leadership positions in government, business, philanthropy and media. These trailblazers are not to be messed with, Forbes said.
Ms. Nadar Malhotra is ranked 54th on the list. As CEO of HCL Corporation, she is responsible for all strategic decisions for the $8.9 billion technology company.
Ms. Malhotra is also the chairperson of the company’s CSR Committee and is a trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, which is focused on education and has established some of India’s top colleges and schools, Forbes said.
Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw, ranked 65 on the list, is India’s richest self-made woman and founder of the country’s largest biopharmaceutical firm Biocon in 1978.
Biocon has successfully forayed into the lucrative US biosimilars market, catching the attention of investors and it also became the first company to gain approval from the USFDA for two different biosimilars of drugs used in certain cancer treatments.
Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw has invested in research infrastructure and scientific talent with the aim of building a deep R&D-based biotech firm, not a copycat generics maker, Forbes said.
The Forbes list also includes Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda Gates (6), IBM CEO Ginni Rometty (9), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (18), New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (38), First Daughter and Advisor to President Donald Trump Ivanka Trump (42), singers Rihanna (61), Beyonce (66) and Taylor Swift (71), tennis star Serena Williams (81) and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg (100).
Referring to Pelosi’s recent “Don’t mess with me” remark to a reporter, Forbes said that could be the mantra for just about every one of the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women.
“The top-ranked woman for the ninth year in a row, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is crusading against anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe; Taylor Swift is battling industry stalwarts and private equity firms over musician song-ownership rights; and 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg— one of 23 newcomers to the list— is fighting inaction on climate change and galvanizing millions of young people around the globe.”

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

After a heated debate, Rajya Sabha clears Citizenship (Amendment) Bill


The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955, and for the first time, will grant citizenship on the basis of religion to non-Muslim communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The debate saw fiery exchanges, with Opposition members accusing the government of violating the provisions of the Constitution. The Opposition also added that the legislation could be challenged on legal grounds. Several members also flagged the violent protests against the Bill in Assam and Tripura. 
Replying to the debate, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, “The Bill has no provision to snatch citizenship from anyone but to grant citizenship to the refugees. There is no need for Indian Muslims to live in fear. India has given respect to its Muslim population. This Bill does not discriminate against them. India will never be Muslim mukt I (free).” 
He said Muslims need not worry. However, he added, “...If you expect that Muslims from all over the world would be accommodated here, then you are mistaken. This country will not function like this.” 
He said he was mindful of the concerns of people in the Northeast, and all the (Hindu Bengalis) refugees from the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who came to West Bengal will be given citizenship.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government did not have authentic records on the number of persecuted people from the three countries. “While the Home Minister has been counting crores and lakhs of people..so far only 4,400 people have cited religious persecution as grounds to get citizenship,” Mr. Azad said.
The Congress’s Kapil Sibal asked how the government would differentiate between illegal migrants and those persecuted on religious grounds. 
He said the government was forcing people to lie that they had come from Bangladesh as they always claimed they are Indians.
To this, Mr. Shah said, “If you ask someone if they are illegal, they will say ‘No’. But we will tell them that you will be granted citizenship from the date you entered.”
“Had they disclosed earlier they would have been arrested, lost jobs, marriages would have broken. Earlier they couldn’t declare they are illegal; can’t you (Opposition) hear their pain,” the Home Minister said. 
Strongly opposing the Bill, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva asked the government why only one religion had been excluded for according citizenship to illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Participating in the debate in the Rajya Sabha, he said the Bill was polarising and that the government was targeting only one religion.
Mr. Shah said the statements given by Congress MPs were similar to that of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, leading to sharp retort from the party. Mr. Shah said any Muslim could apply for citizenship through the usual channels and in the past five years, 566 persons from Pakistan were granted citizenship.
He said anyone could move a legal challenge to the Bill but he was confident that it will pass the test of law.
He asked Congress to stop fooling the minorities adding that during Congress regime more than 13,000 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan became Indian citizens.

Monday, 9 December 2019

JNU students lathi-charged by police during march to Rashtrapati Bhavan


Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students who were marching towards Rashtrapati Bhavan were stopped by police and baton charged near the Bhikaji Cama Place metro station in New Delhi on December 9.
JNU students began a march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan seeking an appointment with the President, the visitor of the varsity, to urge him to intervene to ensure that the hike in hostel fee is rolled back.
Heavy deployment of police was in place ahead of the students’ march against the hostel fee hike.
When the students reached the cordoned off area, they tried to jump across the barricades and were lathi charged by police.
In view of the march, security was beefed up around JNU since morning.
Roads leading to JNU were shut for traffic and appeals made to students to protest peacefully, a police official said.
The students circulated photos, claiming police have closed all gates of the university before beginning the march. As they began, they raised slogans like “Delhi Police go back” and “Education must be free for all”.
Entry and exit points at Udyog Bhavan, Lok Kalyan Marg and Central Secretariat metro stations were closed by authorities fearing protests there.
“As advised by Delhi Police, entry & exit at Udyog Bhawan, Lok Kalyan Marg and Central Secretariat have been closed. Trains are not halting at Udyog Bhawan and Lok Kalyan Marg,” the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said on Twitter.
The Delhi Traffic Police said Baba Gangnath Marg has also been closed for vehicular traffic.
The students have been protesting for over a month inside the campus against the hostel fee hike and have also called for boycott of the upcoming semester exams, despite repetitive appeals by the administration to them to return to classes.
The HRD Ministry had set up a three-member committee to look into ways to restore normal functioning in the JNU and mediate between the agitating students and the administration.
The panel submitted its report to the Ministry but no call has been taken yet.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

India-U.S. partnership evolving fast: Shringla

Inherent in India’s growth story is a natural partnership with the United States. This partnership is evolving fast both in strategic and economic domains,” India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Vardhan Shringla told students and faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday.

“Our defense procurement relationship has gone up from almost nil 15 years ago to nearly 20 billion today. India is now a major defense partner of the United States. We have signed a number of foundation agreements and our militaries exercise regularly with each other,” he said.
India-US bilateral trade, he said, has been growing at 10 per cent year-on-year basis to reach USD 142 billion in 2018 and has also become more balanced, Mr. Shringla said.
The investment relationship is also bi-directional with 2,000 US companies investing around USD40 billion in India covering almost every sector of the modern economy. At the same time, 200 Indian companies have invested USD 18 billion dollars in the US creating more than 1,00,000 jobs directly, he told the audience.
“Our strategic energy partnership has also grown with India importing nearly 8 billion dollars of oil and gas this year,” he said.
“We have long term cooperation in health technology with US agencies such as National Institute of Health and a range of collaborative research projects focussed on understanding chronic and infectious diseases at basic molecular/clinical level and development of new therapeutics and diagnostics to address healthcare-related issues, including development of new vaccines and treatment of multi drug-resistant tuberculosis,” Mr. Shringla said.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Sport

South Asian Games | India claims 10 medals in athletics

India dominated the track and field events of the 13th South Asian Games (SAG) by clinching 10 medals
Archana clocked 11.80 seconds to emerge the fastest woman, leaving behind Sri Lankans Thanuji Amasha (11.82) and Lakshika Sugand (11.84), who won the silver and bronze respectively. In women’s high jump, Jashna cleared 1.73m for the gold while Rubina Yadav bagged a bronze with an effort of 1.69m. Kushare cleared 2.21m to win the men’s high jump gold while compatriot Chetan Balasubramanya claimed the silver with an effort of 2.16m.
Saroj won the men’s 1500m gold in a time of 3.54.18 while Ajeet Kumar took the silver by clocking 3.57.18. The bronze went to Tanka Karki (3.50.20s) of Nepal. Kavita won the women’s 10,000m silver in 35m 7.95s. 
Earlier, Chanda (4.34.51) won the silver in women’s 1,500m while compatriot Chitra Palakeez (4.35.46) claimed the bronze. Sri Lanka’s Uda Kuburalage (4.34.34) won the gold.

Indian shooters swept all the medals on offer in the women’s 10m air rifle event, with Mehuli Ghosh winning the gold with a score better than the World record. Mehuli’s effort, however, will not be considered as a World record as the SAG’s results are not recognised by the ISSF for the purpose of records.
India also won the team gold in the 10m air rifle event.
The 19-year-old Mehuli scored 253.3 in the final, 0.4 more than Apurvi Chandela’s current World record of 252.9. Shriyanka Sadangi took the silver (250.8) while Shreya Agrawal (227.2) clinched the bronze.

The Indian men’s and women’s table tennis teams claimed gold medals after defeating Nepal and Sri Lanka 3-0 in the respective finals.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were awarded a bronze each in the men’s event. Among women, Nepal and Maldives got a bronze each.
Santoo Shrestha gave a tough time to A. Amalraj before the Indian rallied to win 12-10, 14-16, 11-5, 11-8 to put his team in the lead. Soumyajit Ghosh then accounted for Shiva Sunder Gothe 11-3, 11-2, 12-10 and Harmeet Desai finished it off with a 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 win over Purushottam Borjacahrya.
In the women’s final, Sutirtha Mukehrjee beat Sri Lanka’s Ishara Madhurangi 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 and Krittiwika Sinha Roy won 11-6, 11-4, 11-2 over Erandi Waruswithana before Sreeja Akuka accounted for Hansini Piumila 11-5, 11-5, 11-3.


Saturday, 30 November 2019

Hyderabad

Hyderabad police patrol teams miss the killers?




Amid allegations that their response was not swift, Hyberabad police are now introspecting if they failed to prevent the gory rape and murder of the 27-year-old woman veterinarian.
Section in-charge of the RGIA police station, Venugopal Reddy was the first policeman who interacted with the family. On learning about the incident, he informed the night round officer Satyam, a head constable.
The HC and a Blue Colt patrolling team first went to the Kishanguda toll plaza. As no clue was available there, they drove to the Thondupally toll plaza point where the woman was actually abducted.
Though they examined video footage of the surveillance cameras there, nothing suspicious could be found. There, the Shamshabad Night Division Round Officer Ravi Kumar, sub-inspector of Shamshabad, joined them. The SI told them if the woman was abducted from that point, the crime would come under Shamshabad rural police station, police higher-ups said.
Later, the victim’s family came back to the RGIA police station and left, stating that they would come back to file a formal complaint, Shamshabad ACP Ashok Goud said.

My daughter is very innocent. I want the accused to be burnt alive. We were not aware that she made a call to my younger daughter informing her that a few strangers had taken her bike away saying the tyre had punctured,’’ the woman’s mother said.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Entertainment

Making amends: 'Calcutta, I’m Sorry' takes us on a cross-country bicycle ride

Amanda Wright is an Anglo-Indian music teacher who lives on her own in a quaint cottage in Coonoor — her husband left her for another woman many years ago and moved to Melbourne, where he died. Amanda habitually takes long cycle rides around the hills and dales. 
Her peaceful life is turned upside down when she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she is suddenly overcome by the urge to hug her granddaughter she has never met.
Amanda, 60, sets out — on her trusty bicycle — to search for her estranged daughter and granddaughter, who live in Kolkata. When a friend tries to stop her from making the 2,200-km long journey, she tells him: “I need to prove to myself that I can do it. It’s my way of making amends with my daughter and granddaughter.”
This isn’t a true story — though it may well have been — but is the gist of Calcutta, I’m Sorry, an English feature film written and directed by Chennai-based Harry MacLure, a well-known face of the Anglo-Indian community. As a road film and human interest story, Calcutta, I’m Sorry has something for everybody — those who love unusual road trips, those who have an emotional connect with Coonoor or Chennai or Kolkata (or all three), and particularly those who have vivid memories of the days when members of the community were more visible in their cities.
“The germ of the idea came from an old aunt of mine who loved cycling. She had always nursed the idea of cycling from south India to Calcutta, but sadly never got down to doing it,” says Mr. MacLure, who was in Goa last week to attend the 13th edition of the NFDC Film Bazaar, South Asia’s largest film market. His was one of the 213 films showcased in the Film Bazaar’s Viewing Room.
“Many movies have been made with Anglo-Indian characters, such as George Cukor’s Bhowani Junction, Aparna Sen’s 36 Chowringhee Lane and the Merchant-Ivory production Cotton Mary. While all these films were made by non-Anglo-Indians, Calcutta, I’m Sorry has the distinction of being made by a majority of an Anglo-Indian cast and crew,” says Mr. MacLure.

Kolkata-based Priscilla Corner, who plays Amanda Wright, says: “Amanda and I are about the same age, so the physicality of the role was a cinch. The emotional landscape of her character was richly imbued with a variety of emotions, ranging from determination to disappointment, elation to uncertainty, and so, living, as I have, three years short of three score, naturally afforded me a vast bank of experience — of mine and others — from which to draw.”

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Maharashtra

Devendra Fadnavis announces his resignation After Ajit Pawar resignation


Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Mr. Fadnavis said his Deputy Ajit Pawar had tendered his resignation earlier in the day.
“After Mr. Pawar’s resignation we don’t have the majority. We will not do any horse-trading,” Mr. Fadnavis said, adding that he would be meeting Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari to submit his resignation.
Blaming the Shiv Sena again for playing the “number game”, Mr. Fadnavis reiterated that there had been no agreement with the BJP’s former ally on the Chief Minister’s post.
Ajit Pawar, who only last week crossed over to the BJP camp and was sworn in along with Fadnavis in the early hours of Saturday morning, resigned earlier in the day.

Fadnavis made the announcement a day ahead of the floor test his government was supposed to face on Wednesday as per the Supreme Court's directions.

Holding a press conference here, Fadnavis said the BJP had decided from the first day that it would not poach MLAs to prove its majority.
He also accused the former ally Shiv Sena of being desperate for the chief minister's post and surrendering its "Hindutva" at the feet of Congress president Sonia Gandhi only to keep the BJP out of power.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Supreme court result

SC orders floor test before 5pm on Nov. 27




The move came hours after the leaders of the three parties submitted a letter to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari claiming that they have the requisite numbers to form government.
Mr. Bhagwat had said earlier in the day, "Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat has received a letter from the NCP claiming that Jayant Patil is the Legislative Party Leader for NCP. However, the Speaker has yet not taken a decision on it. I repeat, no decision has not been taken."
Maharashtra Legislative Assembly is yet to elect a Speaker. In the absence of the Speaker, the Secretariat or secretary cannot take a decision as is being claimed by reports, Mr. Bhagwat said.
We request Maharashtra governor to ensure floor test be held on November 27
* All elected members in Maharashtra assembly to take oath on November 27

* Exercise be over by 5 pm on Wednesday, no secret ballot during floor test in Maharashtra assembly

* Live telecast of entire proceedings in Maharashtra assembly

* Floor test to be conducted by Protem Speaker after he administers oath to MLAs

* There is need to respect separation of jurisdictions of legislature and courts. The courts should intervene only as a last resort. "This (Maharashtra) is one such case

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Maharashtra

 Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine moves Supreme Court against ‘illegal’ government in Maharashtra











“There is nothing in public domain in what manner Shri Devendra Fadnavis and/or the BJP had staked claim power between the intervening night of 22.11.2019 and 23.11.2019. Further there is no material in the public domain to show that Shri Devendra Fadnavis had carried letters of support of 144 MLAs (which in any event was not legally possible to do). The Petitioners categorically assert that all the MLA’s of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress are completely and solidly with the alliance except for Shri Ajit Pawar,” the petition contended.
The petition said the Governor’s action show his partisanship. He has made a “mockery of his high constitutional office”.

The combine also said that it was 'betrayal and annihilation' of democracy that government has been allowed to be formed when 41 NCP MLAs are not with the BJP. "If Devendra Fadnavis has numbers to prove majority, let him prove it on the floor of House, else we have numbers to form government in Maharashtra," senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the combine, submitted before a bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna.
Shiv Sena tells the court that if Devendra Fadnavis has the numbers, let him prove it on floor of House, otherwise, we have the numbers to form govt in Maharashtra.

Stating that it was even doubtful whether the Governor had applied his mind to the claim, if any, made by Mr. Fadnavis, the petition said he should have proceeded carefully especially in the light of the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena combine commanding 154 MLAs had made their intention to form the government clear only the previous night.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Maharashtra

Maharashtra government formation:



Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Friday said that NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena have unanimously agreed on Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s name for leader of the new government. Mr Pawar’s statement after the meeting of three parties at Nehru Centre makes it clear that Mr. Thackeray will be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra of the tripartite government that is set to be formed.
“We have unanimously agreed that Uddhav Thackeray will lead the government,” he said, while leaving the meeting.
Mr. Thackeray, who left a few minutes after the NCP chief, said that the discussions were positive. “The discussions on all the subjects were positive. We have sorted out the majority of the issues and certain small issues are yet to be solved. Once those are cleared all three parties will hold a joint press conference,” said Mr. Thackeray.

There will be a press conference tomorrow after everything is finalised," said the former Union minister, who is at the centre of government formation talks in Maharashtra, where assembly poll results were announced nearly a month ago.

Thackeray, who emerged from the meeting soon after Pawar, said the talks were held in satisfactory manner.

"The talks (on government formation) are progressing in the right direction. Nitty gritties are being discussed now. All the three parties will come before you and all details will be shared after finalisation," he said.

Shinde, Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut (all Shiv Sena), Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, K C Venugopal, Avinash Pande, Balasaheb Thorat, Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), Praful Patel, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar (NCP) took part in the meeting.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Akshay kumar

Akshay kumar Touch 1000 crore in 2019



With a list of blockbusters slated to release next year, Akshay Kumar will be coming face-to-face with Salman Khan and Aamir Khan at the box office in 2020. But with an outstanding year with releases like 'Kesari', 'Mission Mangal' and 'Housefull 4' doing excellent business at the box office, Akshay is all set to create a historical box office record.
With 'Kesari' which released in March this year minting Rs 203 crore, Akshay's box office business graph was off to a good start. Post that the actor headlined Jagan Shakti's multi-starrer 'Mission Mangal' which was loosely based on the life of scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation and showcased India's first interplanetary expedition. The film went on to collect a total of Rs 277 crore and took Akshay's total collection to a total of Rs 480 crore in the first half of the year itself.

Now, his recent release 'Housefull 4' which revolves around the concept of reincarnation, has been doing good business at the box office in the fourth week as well. The film has managed to collect a stupendous total of Rs 290 crore in a span of just 25 days. With an accumulative total of Rs 770 crore at the box office and 'Good Newwz' yet to release, Boxofficeindia.com's latest report suggests that Akshay could become the first actor to surpass the 1000 crore mark at the box office in a year.

As per the report, if Akshay's 'Good Newwz' manages to rake in around Rs 225 crore then, the actor could create history of collection Rs 1000 crore in a year. With Salman reaching close to the milestone in 2016 with Rs 970 crore approximately with 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' and 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' doing a great business at the box office, Akshay is sure to beat the Bhaijaan of Bollywood this year.
Talking about 'Good Newwz' which also stars KAreena Kapoor Khan, Kiara Advani and Diljit Dosanjh, the Raj Mehta directorial's trailer promises to be a total entertainer.

Entertainment

Rajinikanth honoured with Icon of Golden Jubilee award at IFFI, dedicates awards to Tamil people


The opening ceremony also saw the IFFI Lifetime Achievement Award, the festival’s highest honour, presented to French actor Isabelle Huppert 
The 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) honoured actor Rajinikanth with a special Icon of Golden Jubilee award today in Goa.
The Tamil superstar took the stage along with friend and actor Amitabh Bachchan to light the lamp at the opening ceremony, and then later again to accept the award from Bachchan.

“I thank the honourable Chief Minister of Goa (Pramod Sawant), as well as honourable Minister Prakash Javadekar, my inspiration Amitabh Bachchan, and all the other dignitaries on stage,” said Rajinikanth, while accepting the award. The Darbaractor also thanked the government of India and said that he was “extremely happy” to receive this prestigious award.
Bachchan in turn, remarked that, "Rajinikanth has been inspiring us every day."

Rajinikanth dedicated the award to all the producers, directors and technicians he’d worked with in his films, and “most importantly, above all, my fans and the Tamil people who have given me my life.”
Rajinkanth’s wife, Latha, was also present with the actor at the ceremony in Goa.

Bollywood actor-producer Karan Johar hosted the ceremony, that also saw the IFFI Lifetime Achievement Award, the festival’s highest honour presented to French actor Isabelle Huppert, who has appeared in more than 120 films and is the most nominated actress for the César Award, with 16 nominations, and has won it twice.
IFFI 2019 is scheduled to be held from November 20 to 28.

Chandrayan

Chandrayaan-2: Vikram hard-landed within 500 metres of landing site
Chandrayan


Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander hard-landed as reduction in velocity during its descent did not match with the designed parameters, the government said on November 21 throwing more light on ISRO’s dashed hopes of making a soft landing on the lunar surface in its maiden attempt.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office who looks after the Department of Space, said the first phase of descent was performed nominally from an altitude of 30 km to 7.4 km above the moon’s surface and velocity was reduced from 1,683 metres per second to 146 metres per second.
“During the second phase of descent, the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value. Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine-braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 metres of the designated landing site,” he said.
Mr. Singh, however, said most components of technology demonstration, including the launch, orbital critical manoeuvres lander separation, de-boost and rough braking phase were successfully accomplished.


Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Entertainment

Midnight Hotel review: What happens when a butler, two guests and a vengeful ghost turn up at once

In this play, find out what happens when a family butler, two guests with peculiar connections to the past and a vengeful ghost turn up at the Midnight Hotel
What happens when Hari, a charming young man, returns home years after his brother’s death, to find out that it has been turned into a hotel by his sister-in-law, Usha? However, this mysterious hotel set in Puducherry keeps losing customers due to inexplicable spooky incidents. Enter Ronnie, the family butler, two guests with peculiar connections to the past and a vengeful ghost.
What ensues is a comic murder mystery revolving around the ghost, who terrorises residents until the case is solved. In The Madras Players’ latest production Midnight Hotel, get ready for a theatre experience packed with mystery, entertainment, romance and wit.
Directed by Victor Paulraj and written by author and playwright Shreekumar Varma, the play was first performed in 2009, when it was directed by veteran theatre director, the late Mithran Devanesan. At that time, Victor assumed the role of set and backstage manager. “I was drawn to the play as it has been written by a local writer and it was fun. It has taken 10 years for me to bring it all together and is a tribute to my mentor, Mithran,” says Victor.
The cast comprises PC Ramakrishna, Denver Anthony Nicholas, Balaji K Moorthy, Deepa Nambiar, Shakthi and Manoj Menon. Interestingly, Ramakrishna is the only actor who was also in the the original play, with a character that was specially written for him by the playwright.
This is Victor’s directorial début. A light and set designer who is well-versed in the technicality of theatre, he mentions that he had no qualms about the process, “Since I work in the realm of visualisation, it is easier for me to understand how the audience experiences theatre. I have retained the earlier script, only bringing modifications to the spacing, position and lighting.” The special effects and the set also actively participate in the narrative and the play is further supplemented by a challenging script that helps actors to push their boundaries.
A ‘whodunit’ with a twist, the evening promises a hilarious encounter with a ghost, filled with a riot of laughter, thrills and twists.

News today

Trump calls his impeachment proceedings as 'Kangaroo court'

The Democrat-led inquiry is establishing whether the U.S. President withheld aid to Ukraine in return for an inquiry into ex-Vice President Joe Biden. 
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday described his impeachment proceedings as a “Kangaroo court” and alleged that the Opposition Democrats are using this for political gains. 
In his first Cabinet meeting after the initiation of the impeachment proceedings against him by the House of Representatives, Mr. Trump said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is using the USMCA, a trade pact between US, Mexico and Canada, to rope in lawmakers for a vote in the impeachment proceedings against him. 
“I think the woman is grossly incompetent,” Mr. Trump said. 
“All she wants to do is focus on impeachment, which is just a little pipe dream, he said.
“She can keep playing that game. And I’ve been told that she’s using USMCA because she doesn’t have the impeachment votes. She is using USMCA to get impeachment vote, Trump said.
The Democrat-led inquiry is establishing whether Mr. Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in return for an inquiry into ex-Vice President Joe Biden. 
“It doesn’t matter, because right now you have a Kangaroo court headed by little shifty Schiff, he said.
A kangaroo court is a court that ignores recognised standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides. 
Mr. Trump claimed that the Democrats are using the impeachment hoax for their own political gain to try to damage the Republican Party. 
“But it’s had the opposite effect,” he asserted.

Sabarimala

SC asks Kerala govt to come out with exclusive law for administration of Sabarimala temple




SC asks Kerala govt to come out with exclusive law for administration of Sabarimala temple The counsel appearing for the state said it has formulated amendments to the law that would deal with the temples and their administrations. The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Kerala government to come out with an exclusive legislation regarding the administration of the historic Sabarimala temple. A bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana asked the state to place before it by third week of January next year the legislation, also covering the aspects of welfare of pilgrims visiting there. The counsel appearing for the state said it has formulated amendments to the law that would deal with the temples and their administrations which are presently being governed by the Travancore Devaswom Board. The draft law also proposes to give one-third representation to women in the temple advisory committee, the counsel said. This aspect triggered a debate in the courtroom with regard to September 2018 apex court verdict allowing entry of girls and women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple. The state government said that for the time being, it proposes to give representation in the temple advisory committee to only those women who are above 50 years of age. One of the judges of the bench referred to the September 28, 2018 verdict and observed that the direction allowing girls and women of all ages holds the field. The top court was hearing a plea filed in 2011 which has raised the issue of administration of Sabarimala temple. In August this year, the state government had told the top court that it was considering enacting a “separate legislation” with regard to administration of the Sabarimala temple. A 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in a 3:2 majority verdict, had referred to a larger 7-judge bench the pleas seeking review of its historic 2018 judgement allowing women and girls of all ages to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, along with other contentious issues of alleged discrimination against Muslim and Parsi women. The top court had not stayed the 2018 verdict that had allowed entry of girls and women of all ages into Sabarimala temple.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Siachen

Six killed after getting hit by avalanche at Siachen


Army sources said the eight member team was proceeding to rescue someone who wasn't well in a post ahead when they were hit by the avalanche.
Four Army personnel and two civilian porters were killed after an eight-member team was buried under an avalanche about 20,000 feet on the Siachen Glacier on Monday.
“Despite best efforts, six casualties, which include four soldiers and two civilian porters, succumbed to extreme hypothermia,” the Army said in a statement. The eight personnel were operating in the northern sector of Siachen Glacier at an altitude of 19,000 feet.
Avalanche rescue teams from the nearby posts were rushed to the location for rescue work, the Army said. “All eight personnel were pulled out of the avalanche debris.”
Seven individuals who were critically injured, accompanied by medical teams providing critical care, were evacuated by helicopters to the nearest military hospital, where resuscitative measures were initiated, the Army added.

Army sources said the team was proceeding to rescue someone who wasn’t well in a post ahead.

ICMR

ICMR push to engage scientists in infectious disease, immunology research


Bill Gates on Sunday presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Cyrus S. Poonawalla, chairman and MD, Serum Institute of India; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and director, Biocon India and Prakash Baba Amte, director, Lok Biradari Prakalp. He also addressed the 108th Foundation day of the Indian Council of Medical Research.
“India’s make-in-India campaign has made a positive difference and though healthcare wasn’t my primary area of work in the initial years both me and my wife Melinda have made this our top priority. We want that every child has the right to reach his/her full potential in terms of physical and mental health,’’ said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
He was speaking on the occasion to mark the celebration of the 108th Foundation day of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) here on Sunday. He also
The awardees have been recognised for their efforts in providing better health care to people in the country and globally through innovative diagnostics, cost-effective life-saving tools and increasing access to healthcare at the grassroots.
Mr. Gates said “his Foundation is committed to working collaboratively with the ICMR to provide support in development of solutions to some of the major health challenges facing India and the world”.
The ICMR signed a Declaration of Intent (DoI) with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) of the National Institutes of Health, USA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). This Declaration builds on an ongoing collaborative research and training programme between India and the U.S., including enhancement of research capacity. The Declaration was exchanged in the presence of U.S. Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster and Mr. Gates.
The collaboration will establish a research fellowship programme for young scientists in India and the U.S. to expand research that will advance discovery to improve clinical practice and benefit public health in both countries. The initial focus is intended to engage scientists in infectious disease and immunology research, with an emphasis on diseases that affect women and children.
The Standard Treatment Workflows (STWs) of India developed with the goal of empowering primary, secondary and tertiary care physicians/surgeons towards achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage were also released on the occasion. The STWs will facilitate the successful implementation of Ayushman Bharat.
Commenting on the importance of the collaborative fellowship programme with the NIH and the BMGF, Balram Bhargava, Director-General, ICMR said: “There are great benefits in investing in research, especially in areas of infectious diseases and immunology, which will help the world in combating some of the debilitating diseases of the world. The ICMR is aggressively working towards major advances in preventing, treating and curing diseases. This collaboration will give us a boost in finding cures that will make lives healthy and productive, not only in India but across the world.”

JNU

JNU students defy Section 144, march to Parliament

Initially, the barricades outside JNU’s gates were removed and the students were allowed to march. The police later stopped the march around 500 metres from the varsity’s gates.
Demanding a complete rollback of the hostel fee hike, hundreds of JNU students on Monday started their protest march from the university campus towards the Parliament amid heavy police deployment. The varsity’s students have been protesting for nearly three weeks against the draft hostel manual, which has provisions for hostel fee hike, dress code and curfew timings.
The police said ten companies have been deployed outside JNU. One company comprises 70 to 80 personnel.

A senior official said police personnel are accompanying the agitating students during the march to ensure no untoward incident takes place.
Initially, the barricades outside JNU’s gates were removed and the students were allowed to march. The police later stopped the march around 500 metres from the varsity’s gates.

Former JNU Students’ Union president N Sai Balaji said, “Delhi Police stops JNU students peaceful march to parliamentarians! The Mhrd is fooling students by forming committee. Why didn’t the committee suspend fee hike till dialogue is happening? We are demanding a rollback of the fee hike.”
The protest march comes on the first day of the Parliament’s Winter Session.
Earlier, the HRD Ministry appointed a three-member committee to recommend ways to restore normal functioning of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Saturday, 16 November 2019

ENTERTAINMENT

Phoenix’s ‘Joker’ set to cross $1 billion global box office milestone


The Todd Phillips-directed film will become the first R-rated film in history to achieve the mark
Comic book movieJoker is poised to surpass $1 billion in global ticket sales on Friday, becoming the first R-rated Hollywood movie ever to overcome the milestone.
Joker, a dark origin story from Warner Bros. about Batman’s arch nemesis, had sold $999.1 billion as of Thursday despite not having been screened in China, which is projected to become the world’s largest movie market next year.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix as a mentally-ill loner who finds fame through a random act of violence, the movie earned warm reviews as it opened in early October but stoked controversy in the United States over fears it would encourage violence.
Box office analyst Gitesh Pandya said Joker would top the $1 billion level on Friday.
“Absolutely jaw-dropping achievement for an R-rated film with a moderate budget and no China release,” Pandya, founder and editor of Box Office Guru, wrote on Twitter.
Its nearest R-rated rivals are 2018 movie Deadpool 2 ($785 million) and 2016’s Deadpool ($783 million), both starring Ryan Reynolds as a foul-mouthed superhero.
Thanks to a modest production budget estimated at about $60 million, Joker is also the most profitable comic book movie ever, according to Forbes.com, due largely to the film’s focus on character rather than special effects and action scenes.
Joker is now the 7th biggest Hollywood movie at the 2019 box office, behind action-packed blockbuster Avengers: Endgame at $2.8 billion and family movie The Lion King at $1.6 billion, both from Walt Disney.
The movie is expected to land nominations in the upcoming Hollywood awards season and has inspired fans to visit the spot in New York’s Bronx district where Phoenix’s character transforms into the Joker, his face painted like a clown and with green hair, and dances triumphantly down a set of steep steps. 

International

Sri Lankan presidential rivals welcome record turnout



Both Rajapaksa and Premadasa camps see high numbers as good augury 
As voting ended on Saturday, the rival political camps of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa in Sri Lanka’s presidential election appeared confident that the high turnout would push their candidate past the required 50% mark. A second round of counting will be undertaken to tally preference votes if neither contestant secures over half the vote share.
“Going by the high turnout, it looks like there is a very strong anti-incumbency sentiment,” said Namal Rajapaksa, legislator and nephew of Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa. “The fact that the whole country, including the north, has voted in large numbers shows that they all want to be part of this democratic process. It is a very healthy sign,” he told The Hindu.
Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan said it was “very encouraging” to see the large number of voters exercising their franchise.

“Sajith Premadasa is quite popular in the south and he has proactively reached out to the minorities across the island in his campaign. We are quite hopeful that he will win,” he said.
Mr. Premadasa is banking heavily on the minority vote which is widely expected to go in his favour, since prominent Tamil (north-east and hill country) and Muslim parties have backed him this election. Moreover, many Tamils and Muslims are still fearful of Mr. Rajapaksa, who is accused of war crimes — he has denied them — and is linked to reactionary Sinhala Buddhist groups that have stoked anti-Muslim violence in the past.

Boycott call rejected

The high Tamil turnout in the north and east is also seen as a rejection of repeated calls for a boycott from some political leaders.
“It [turnout] means that the Tamil voter is very pragmatic and knows what is really good for the Tamil people in the given context,” said M.A. Sumanthiran, Jaffna district MP and spokesman of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Post-war, engaging fully in the available democratic space is a “sine qua non”, he said, if the Tamils are to make any progress in achieving their political aspirations. “Our people understand this very well…boycott was never on the cards,” he told The Hindu.

News today

Ayodhya verdict: Ram Naam Bank announces ‘bonus’ for account holders











The Allahabad-based ‘bank’, which neither has ATMs, nor cheque books and its only ‘currency’ is Lord Ram, has announced the bonus for nearly one lakh of its account holders.
Also, an award will be given to devotees who have written the name of Lord Ram at least 1.25 lakh times by the midnight of November 9-10 and deposited in the ‘bank’ 
Ashutosh Varshney, the chairman of Ram Naam Sewa Sansthan which runs the bank, said the bonus means that the name of Lord Ram written by devotees -- either handwritten, typed on specially-designed pages or through mobile app -- will be considered double.
“If a devotee has written ‘Ram Naam’ one time, it will be considered as two. However, for the purpose of award/honour the minimum benchmark has been fixed as 1.25 lakh. Those who had written the name of Lord Ram at least 1.25 lakh times by midnight of November 9-10, were considered for the award,” he said.
“The booklet given by the Ram Naam Bank (a non-profit organisation) has 30 pages, and each page consists of 108 cells, where the name of Lord Ram could be written. The bonus was announced on November 10,” Ashutosh Varshney said.
Those selected for award will be given a certificate from Ram Naam Bank, a shawl and a ‘shriphal’ at a special function organised by it in Sangam area of Allahabad during the 2020 Magh Mela.
Those who have crossed the one crore mark, will be provided free accommodation at the bank’s camp located in sector-1 on Akshayvatt Marg. So far,more than 12 devotees have crossed the one crore mark, Ashutosh Varshney said.
Gunjan Varshney, one of the trustees of Ram Sewa Trust, which is also associated with the Ram Naam Bank said, “Around 1,200 devotees had pledged during Kumbh Mela-2019 that they will write Lord Ram’s name, and urge Him to show a path, which leads to peaceful and amicable settlement of the Ayodhya dispute.” 
She also said that devotees from different walks of life, from post-grad students to senior citizens took part in writing the name of Lord Ram during 2019 Kumbh Mela.
Ayushi Shukla, who works in an IT firm in Noida, said, “We had taken a pledge during the 2019 Kumbh mela that everyday we will fill at least 10 booklets by writing Lord Ram’s name in it... I wrote the name of Lord Ram over 10,000 times during this period. I am happy that there was peace in Ayodhya after the judgment.” 
Settling the fractious issue that goes back more than a century, the Supreme Court on November 9 backed the construction of a Ram temple by a government trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya, and ruled that an alternative five-acre plot must be found for a mosque in the Hindu holy town. 
Ashutosh Varshney, who manages the bank’s affairs, is carrying on the legacy of his grandfather who had set up the organisation in early part of the 20th century.
The bank has no monetary transactions. Its members have a booklet of 30 pages, containing 108 cells in which they write ‘Ram Naam’ 108 times everyday in red ink as it is the colour of love. This booklet is deposited in the individual’s account.
He said people write the name of Lord Ram in Urdu, English and Bengali.
“The divine name of Lord Ram is credited in the account of account holder. A passbook is issued like other banks. All these services are provided free of cost. Ram Naam Bank has ledgers and passbooks like any other bank, and maintains the records of its ‘depositors’ The only currency that works in this bank is the name of Lord Ram,” Gunjan Varshney said.
She also said the size of one’s account was determined by the number of times one was able to write the name of the Lord and deposit it in the bank.