Now Modi attacks UPA's foreign policy
Attacking the Congress-led UPA government, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today termed the diplomatic row with Italy over two Italian marines as an "insult" to India and advocated a pro-active foreign policy.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, who has been inducted into its all-important parliamentary boards, was sharp in his criticism of the UPA government over the way it handled the issue related to the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala last year.
"Even Italy tries to frighten us. This was a diplomatic matter. But the Supreme Court had to get involved. Why? The way things were handled, it was an insult to the country," he said at a meeting of business chambers here.
Modi's reference was to the Italian government's refusal to send back the two marines to India accused of killing two Indian fishermen, after they were allowed to travel to Italy to vote in elections.
Five Indian Army personnel, including a Lt Colonel, all part of a UN peacekeeping mission, were today killed and as many injured when their convoy was ambushed by rebels in South Sudan.
The attack took place at 0930 hrs local time in Jonglei near Gumruk, Army sources said here.
A Lt Colonel and a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) were among those killed in the incident, they said.
"Peacekeepers from India in UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) attacked in Jonglei," an MEA spokesperson said here.
Arrangements are being made to bring back the bodies of the Indian peacekeepers.
Since South Sudan got independence in July 2011, it has witnessed ethnic strife, with Pibor county, the main base of UN peacekeeping force, being the centre of much of the violence.
Last month, an Indian soldier was shot there amid fears of a government crackdown.
India is a major contributor to UN peacekeeping forces around the world and has suffered losses in the past.
Mangalore: Tanker catches fire, 6 killed
A major fire broke out following a gas leakage from a tanker at Puttur Perne near Mangalore city of Karnataka on Tuesday, killing at least six people, including a woman and a child, said police.
"The fire broke out at around 10 am. The tanker driver is among those killed in the accident. But none of the bodies can be identified as they are charred completely," said a police official.
Date of birth to be incorporated in Aadhaar cards
Aadhaar cards will henceforth bear date of birth of the holder, facilitating people to avail benefits of several government and non-governmental schemes which require age validation.
Till now, only year of birth was mentioned in the card, but now, it has been agreed in-principle to insert the date of birth, said city-based RTI activist Avinash Prabhune, who pursued the matter with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and its chief Nandan Nilekani.
Queen Elizabeth II is set to attend Baroness Margaret Thatcher's funeral, breaking royal precedent.
Gunman Kills 13 People in Serbian Village
A 60-year-old man gunned down 13 people, including a baby, in a house-to-house rampage in a quiet village on Tuesday before trying to kill himself and his wife, police and hospital officials said.
Belgrade emergency hospital spokeswoman Nada Macura said the man, identified only as Ljubisa B., used a handgun in the shooting spree at five houses. The dead included six women.
Urinal named after Ajit Pawar
Days after Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar triggered a controversy with his 'urination' remark, some activists have named a urinal at Jalna district in Maharashtra after the leader, reports said on Tuesday.
The activists made the move in retaliation to Ajit Pawar's remark that had drawn widespread criticism against him.
"A poster with Ajit's photograph was pasted there following which some activists named it after the politician," CNN-IBN reported.
SFI activists attack West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra
The West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra was attacked by Students Federation of India (SFI) activists in New Delhi, media reports said.
Reports said that his shirt was torn in the attack.
Mitra was accompanying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to the Planning Commission.
US chopper crashed due to texting pilot? Probe on
Evidence gathered in an investigation of a fatal medical helicopter crash has raised questions about whether the pilot was distracted by personal text messages when he failed to refuel the helicopter before taking off and misjudged how far the aircraft could fly without more fuel.
The case, scheduled to be considered at a meeting today of the National Transportation Safety Board, underscores concerns the board has already expressed that use of cellphones and other distracting electronic devices has increasingly become a factor in accidents and incidents across all modes of transportation - planes, trains, cars, trucks and even ships.
Mob beats up, shaves heads of children accused of theft
In a shocking case of mob justice in Asansol in West Bengal, five children were allegedly tied to bamboo poles and kept in a hut overnight for alleged theft, CNN-IBN reported.
The children were aged between 10 and 12 years.
The next morning, the children were paraded in the streets, beaten up with electric wires and their heads were shaved off.
All this took place right in front of policemen who the kids were eventually handed over to. "They have admitted to stealing from the markets in the area. We have taken them to the Asansol police station," said a local resident.
Bihar Netas use social networking sites to woo youngsters
Politicians are increasingly using social networking sites as a tool to further their political agenda and the latest to join the bandwagon is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
When Kumar launched his campaign for special status for Bihar, he used social networking site Facebook to create awareness about the demand.
Not just his own account, there are at least three accounts set up by the chief minister's followers on the Facebook with 1.33 lakh supporters following him on these accounts and exchanging views about their leader.
Delhi tycoon Deepak Bhardwaj's son Nitesh has been arrested in connection with his murder. The police had questioned Deepak's younger son for the last 24 hours. Police say that a property dispute may be the motive behind this murder.
Nitesh's lawyer has also been arrested.
Bhardwaj was shot dead at his farm house in south Delhi on March 26th.
Modi wraps up his speech with an appeal - "There is great energy in Bengal. I appeal to all Bengalis. You have been at the forefront of this nation for two centuries now, without your leadership this country will be held back. Join us and take this country forward."
Modi on the Italian marines issue - In this country, merely an accused - not yet sentenced, not yet proven guilty - is denied permission to attend the funeral of his own mother. And yet these men were allowed to go back to just vote in their elections. Was this sort of insult to India necessary?
Electricity, another favourite of Modi, gets its time in the sun. Modi explained that once having electricity to eat dinner itself was a big deal in Gujarat but today there was electricity in every village 24 hours a day.
However he could not resist taking a dig at the media. “When the mere presence of electricity for five minutes in the day is an event in the rest of country, if the power goes for five minutes in some village in Gujarat, the next day a box item appears in the papers demanding to know from me why I had allowed it to happen!”
"It hurts me to see the sheer amount of wastage in the country. We have the resources and we have the ability, but the inaction at Delhi is keeping us back, keeping us in darkness" - Taking a leaf from Mamata's book, Modi is laying on the anti-Centre statements rather thickly today. It has been his most political speech so far.
Modi stated that he took Gujarat from a deficit state to a revenue surplus state. The statement raised loud applause. Considering Bengal’s own revenue conditions, this point definitely struck home. Modi further clarified that he id this not by increasing taxes (always a good idea) but merely by plugging leaks.
"Even though the Centre has a cheaper solar power pricing system, belief in Gujarat is strong that even though the Centre failed to generate even 100 megawatts through their policy, we have developed projects worth 3000 megawatts in Gujarat, even with our more expensive pricing model." - Modi has struck the Centre in nearly every single point, his overall theme seems to be that a state can be developed despite the actions of the Centre.
Solar energy is an old bugbear of Modi, who believes that it is the best way to break India’s dependency of foreign oil.
Moving on tourism sector, Modi claimed that although originally Gujarat was not a tourism state at all, tourism had doubled every year for a few years.
"Amitabh Bachchan now goes to every home and asks you to spend a few days in Gujarat" he said smiling, referring to the popular Gujarat tourism ads starring the Big B.
"My farmers will be killed if we are at the mercy of Central government policies. To defend my farmers we have come up with our own textile policy." says Modi. He went on to extol his own state textile policy that is aimed at streamlining the entire process from growing cotton to creating fabrics and fashion to exporting them to foreign countries.
"In Gujarat we conduct free health camps for cattle - including cataracts and dental issues. This has led to the elimination of 106 animal diseases from my state"
Modi brings out his early statistics about micro-irrigation (from the India Conclave speech), stating that this has lowered the worry of farmers about their produce. Stating that Government intervention is a must in farming sector, Modi said that the results of the Gujarat farm growth were only possible due to Government institutions, colleges, research institutes and co-operative societies. Modi said that he would soon hold a farmer's fair where he would bring every single farming technology of the world to Gujarat.
Though for twenty years governments have been hoping for a 4% growth in agriculture sector, none have reached this target. Despite having desert-like conditions, the ten-year average in Gujarat is 10% - Modi tosses off another growth-related number amid applause.
"This country can advance despite all of these files, these treatments, these governments and such acts"
"If you are a UPA-ruled state, you are treated one way. If you are a non-UP state then you are treated unjustly. Rememeber when Bengal was ruled by Communists and BJP's Vajpayee was running the Centre, even then there was never a cry from Bengal of unfair treatment. However today discrimination is the norm."
"The UPA government is frozen. Files are piling up but no one is prepared to even look at them for fear of a spy camera or a CBI raid. Like a ill person just looking to pass the time, the Delhi government spends all its time looking at their watches, wondering what will happen in the evening." - One of the most direct digs by Modi at the Centre yet. Anti-Centre stances will certainly go down well in Mamata's Bengal.
"Bengal is the doorway for the Indian revival. Even the English entered India through Surat (Gujarat) but choose to settle in Kolkata. Even they acknowledged that unless they had a firm foothold in Bengal, they had no stand in India"
"Though the media wants a political fight so that they can fill the airwaves, I am not here for political reasons or for a political discussion. If it will make the media feel better, let them forget that I am in Kolkata and imagine that I am speaking in Ahmedabad". - Modi seems to be taking the media's assumptions and questions of his presence in Bengal to heart."
Modi showers Bengalis with praise, speaking about the strength and efficiency of its industry leaders and how "good" it felt to meet them all.
He claimed that though the world might say the 21st century is the era of knowledge, Bengal could be considered knowledgeable from centuries.
"The whole world could be lit by the light of Bengali intellectuals"
Modi is in Kolkata to address Bengal industry leaders. The entire meet is shrouded in whispers. Some industrialists refused to attend the meeting, presumably to not anger Mamata Banerjee. The Bengal CM's presence looms large over the whole event. Modi is there to share the Gujarat model of development. This is his third major speech in two days.
Pyarimohan Mohapatra floats political party 'OJM'
Pyarimohan Mohapatra, the long-time former political advisor of Biju Janta Dal (BJD) president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, floated a political party ‘Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM)’ on Tuesday.
The OJM, which was floated by Mohapatra earlier, has now been converted into a full-fledged political party to bring reform in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Jaya Bachchan to be presented Deenanath Mangeshkar Award
Legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar will confer the Deenanath Mangeshkar Award to veteran actress Jaya Bachchan on April 24.
Jaya will be presented with the Master Deenanath (Vishesh Puraskar) Award, for her dedicated services to Indian theatre and cinema on the death anniversary of Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar.
US uses lottery to choose recipients of H-1B visas
The US, which received about 124,000 applications for the 85,000 H-1B visas up for grabs this year, has used lottery to determine who all would be given the most sought after work visas among IT professionals.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Monday said that the lottery was done on April 7.
The federal agency had started receiving applications for H-1B visas on April 1 and five days later on April 5 it announced to have reached the cap.
India uses drones to protect rhinos from poachers
Wildlife authorities are using aerial drones to oversee a sprawling natural game park in northeastern India to protect the one-horned rhinoceros from armed poachers.
Security officers conducted flights of the unmanned aircraft over the Kaziranga National Park on Monday and will fly drones at regular intervals to prevent rampant poaching in the park in the remote Indian state of Assam.
The drones are equipped with cameras and will be monitored by security guards, who find it difficult to guard the whole 480-square kilometer (185-square mile) reserve.
Korean crisis could be worse than Chernobyl: Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for calm on the Korean peninsula, saying the escalation of tension in the region could lead to a nuclear disaster far worse than the Chernobyl incident.
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the world's worst such accident, took place in 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union).
An explosion and fire at one of the reactors released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of western Russia and Europe.
Another sarpanch killed in Kashmir
A village head affiliated to the ruling National Conference (NC) in Pulwama district of south Kashmir was gunned down by suspected militants, police said.
Ghulam Mohammad Lone, 45, was shot by the militants inside his residence at Kulpora village, 35 km from Srinagar in the latest such killings that have shown an alarming rise recently.
Lone was the sixth elected village council member to be killed by militants in the Valley after the 2011 panchayat elections, held across Jammu and Kashmir after a gap of over 28 years.
No militant outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the shooting that killed Lone on the spot.
Sanjay Gandhi’s Maruti sought to be an agent for British Aircraft Corporation, says U.S. cable
A day after diplomatic cables alleging the role of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi as an "entrepreneur" for a Swedish aviation company emerged, another set of WikiLeaks documents reveal how two firms - where Sonia Gandhi, now chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, was a director in one, and her deceased brother-in-law Sanjay Gandhi was on the boards of both - sought the help of American diplomatic channels to successfully enter the aviation business.
With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi set to address Bengal industry honchos at a special session today, the organisers said around 800 representatives from the business community would attend the meet.
Modi, widely touted as the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) likely prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, will speak at the special session of businessmen in the city on how he transformed Gujarat into one of the fastest growing states in India.
The event has been organised jointly by MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Bharat Chamber of Commerce at a plush five-star hotel of the city.
MCC Chamber of Commerce president Deepak Jalan said a total of 800 businessmen and entrepreneurs would be present for the show, where the high-profile BJP leader was expected to share his strategy and ideas on initiating a 'Vibrant Growth Model'.
Modi may even hold a closed-door meet with some industry captains following the session.
"A closed-door meet with some industrialists of the city may take place, but it has not been finalised till now," Jalan said.