Panaji: India has only two castes — the rich and the poor — and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to eradicate this difference with his slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Monday, while speaking at an awards function here. “We have to help develop people of every religion, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christians. Everyone in India, irrespective of caste and creed should benefit from development. Seventy years after India attained independence, political parties preserved differences between caste and creed in the country for their own benefit,” Sawant said.
Bulandshahr: Former Samajwadi Party MP Kamlesh Balmiki was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Khurja in Bulandshahr, police said. Prima facie it appeared to be a case of poisoning but the details would be known only after the post mortem report comes in, Khurja circle officer Gopal Singh told reporters. According to the police, they had received a call late on Monday afternoon from the former MP’s nephew Lalit Balmiki, who informed that his uncle was lying dead inside his room. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoC “His cousins had come down to check on him after he did not revert their calls. They had to force themselves through the first two doors, bolted from inside, before they could enter the room where Balmiki was lying dead,” said Manish Mishra, Bulandshahr Superintendent of Police. The police official said that the house was bolted from inside. It was somehow opened by four members of the family. The iron gate of the room, where Balmiki’s body was found, was also locked from inside and the family members had to open that as well. Balmiki, 52, had won from the Bulandshahr parliamentary constituency in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
New Delhi: Several leaders of the BJP and its allies received calls from Amit Shah on Thursday informing that they would be part of the new team of Narendra Modi, who is set to begin his second innings as prime minister after leading the NDA to an impressive win in the Lok Sabha elections. Among those Shah called at the end of his meeting with PM-elect Modi are BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari, DV Sadananda Gowda, Dharmendra Pradhan, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Giriraj Singh, Babul Supriyo, Mansukh Lal Mandaviya and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, according to news agency ANI. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist “I received a call from Amit Shah. He said that I should be there at-home office of PM at 5 o’clock and swearing-in ceremony at 7 o’clock. At 5 o’clock PM will have tea with cabinet and other ministerial colleagues and then we’ll go to Rashtrapati Bhavan to take oath,” DV Sadananda Gowda told ANI On Tuesday, the BJP’s Bihar ally Lok Janshakti Party passed a resolution picking party chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan as its representative in the Modi government, putting to rest speculation that his son Chirag Paswan may be inducted this time. The party won all the six seats it contested this time Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France The PM Modi-led NDA stormed to power winning 352 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats, restricting the Congress tally at 52. PM Modi and Shah have met twice already for discussions on the government formation, holding a three-hour meeting on Wednesday after four hours of discussions the previous day on the allocation of cabinet positions. The Wednesday meeting between Modi and Shah was followed by one between the latter and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, whose Janata Dal (United), with 16 seats, is the third largest partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). JD (U) was not part of the previous government, but is expected to be this time. The new council of ministers is expected to retain most veterans and speculation is also rife about Shah possibly moving to North Block if Modi decides to induct him in the government. Tamil Nadu’s information and publicity minister Kadambur C Raju said there was a chance of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) getting a berth in the Modi government. The BJP had an alliance with the AIADMK in the Lok Sabha polls, but the latter could win just one of the 38 seats that were contested. Leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC, will be present at the swearing-in together with the Prime Minister of Mauritius and President of Kyrgystan. BIMSTEC member-states are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Nepal and Bhutan. Several overseas friends of BJP from 15 countries, including the US, Australia, Germany and the UK, have been invited, along with prominent opposition leaders and chief ministers. Mamata Banerjee, who on Tuesday agreed to attend the event, did a U-Turn on Wednesday, accusing the BJP of trying to score political points by inviting the relatives of BJP activists who allegedly fell victim to violence in West Bengal.(With inputs from Hindustan Times)
New Delhi: Delhi Police arrested a person who shot a woman at her face in South West Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area on Sunday. Police identified the accused as Rahul Singhal, a resident of Devli.Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South West) Benita Mary Jaiker said that the accused used three different vehicles to hoodwink the police raiding parties and constantly changed his hideouts. “Finally the chase ended with the arrest of alleged Rahul from near Aggarwal Dharamshala, Chattarpur Enclave, New Delhi, based on secret information. His associates who provided him vehicles, money and place to hide have also been arrested,” said Benita. On June 7, a woman was shot by Rahul Singhal. She stated that she had given money to Rahul and today when she demanded her money back he shot her in the area of Vasant Kunj and ran away. In the last 48 hours, multiple raids were conducted at Kishangarh, Devli, Ranikhera, Harevli and Rohtak (Haryana).
Dhaka: Two coaches of an express train veered off the tracks and fell into a canal and another overturned in Bangladesh’s northeastern province, killing at least five people and injuring 67 others, authorities said Monday. The accident happened on Sunday when the Dhaka-bound Upaban Express train, coming from Sylhet, veered off the tracks at Baramchal in Moulvibazar’s Kulaura upazila after a culvert broke down, the Dhaka Tribune reported. “Two of the coaches fell into the canal and one of them overturned, while the other coaches remained tilted,” police and railway officials were quoted as saying by the paper. Also Read – Merkel warns UK Brexit deal ‘unlikely’ without compromise: LondonFollowing the derailment, rail communication between Sylhet and rest of the country has been snapped, the report said. Moulvibazar’s Civil Surgeon Shahjahan Kabir said that five people have been killed in the accident. “Two of the killed are females while three are males,” he was quoted as saying in the report. “Moreover, 67 passengers have been injured. 20 of them are in critical condition and undergoing treatment at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College,” he added. Also Read – India, China should jointly uphold peace and stability, resolve disputes through dialogues: Chinese ambassadorA senior official from the fire service department said that 11 units of rescuers are at the accident site along with the police personnel to help the survivors. Bangladesh’s Railway ministry has set up two probe committees to investigate the tragic accident. “A four-member committee led by the chief mechanical engineer has been asked to submit the probe report in the next three workdays,” the bdnews24.com reported.
New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday outlined a host of measures to boost infrastructure, digital economy and jobs creation to achieve USD 5 trillion economy target and said a massive push to all forms of physical connectivity is helping bridge the rural-urban divide. Tabling the Modi 2.0 government’s maiden budget in Parliament, Sitharaman said infrastructure financing needs have been estimated at around Rs 20 lakh crore (USD 300 billion) a year and proposed to enhance the sources of capital for infrastructure financing including setting up a Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation for which regulations have been notified by the Reserve Bank of India. Also Read – Balakot strikes show major shift in govt’s handling of terror attacks: IAF chief Terming the connectivity as the lifeblood of the economy, the minister announced a slew of steps to scale up India’s infrastructure programmes including augmenting 1,25,000 km of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana at a cost of Rs 80,250 crore and creating a national highways grid. Stressing the need for an estimated investment of Rs 50 lakh crore for augmenting railways infrastructure, she said that steps were taken to boost infrastructure in sectors like roads, waterways, metro and rail besides emphasising on the measures for a self-reliant aviation industry. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps, 20 launch pads along LoC Asserting that physical and social infrastructure has to be built, Sitharaman said: “The common man was served even as major transformational reforms were being rolled out. And for this to continue we need to invest heavily in infrastructure, in digital economy and on job creation in small and medium firms.” The finance minister said the government has given a massive push to all forms of physical connectivity through Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, industrial corridors, dedicated freight corridors, Bhartamala and Sagarmala projects, Jal Marg Vikas and UDAN Schemes. While the industrial corridors would improve infrastructure availability for greater industrial investment in the catchment regions, the dedicated freight corridors would mitigate the congestion of railway network benefitting the common man, she said. “The ambitious programme of Bharatmala would help develop national road corridors and highways, while Sagarmala would enhance port connectivity, modernisation and port-linked industrialisation. If Sagarmala is aimed at improving the infrastructure for external trade, equally it is the poor man’s transport too. Waterways are proven as a cheap mode of transport,” she said. The Jal Marg Vikas project for capacity augmentation of navigation on national waterways is aimed at smoothening internal trade carried through inland water transport. These initiatives will improve logistics tremendously, reducing the cost of transportation and increasing the competitiveness of domestically produced goods, she added. Sitharaman said with the changing economic scenario, it is important to upgrade roads connecting villages to rural markets and for this PMGSY-III is envisaged to upgrade 1,25,000 km of road length over the next five years, with an estimated cost of Rs 80,250 crore. Saying that the schemes like UDAN were bridging rural-urban divide, She said as the world’s third largest domestic aviation market, the time was ripe for India to enter into aircraft financing and leasing activities from Indian shores. About metro rail projects, she said a total route length of 300 kilometres have been approved during 2018-19 and 657 km of metro rail network has become operational in the country. The finance minister said India’s first indigenously developed payment ecosystem for transport, based on National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) standards, launched by the Prime Minister in March, 2019 will enable people to pay multiple kinds of transport charges, including metro services and toll tax, across the country. About highways, she said the government will carry out a comprehensive restructuring of National Highway Programme to ensure that the National Highway Grid of desirable length and capacity is created. On waterways, she said the country needs to develop it to shift a significant portion of inland cargo movement from road and rail. This government envisions using the rivers for cargo transportation, which will also help to decongest roads and railways, she added. As part of the Jal Marg Vikas Project for enhancing the navigational capacity of Ganga, a multi-modal terminal at Varanasi has become functional in November 2018 and two more terminals at Sahibganj and Haldia would be completed in 2019-20, Sitharaman said. “The movement of cargo volume on Ganga is estimated to increase by nearly four times in the next four years. This will make movement of freight, passenger cheaper and reduce our import bill,” Sitharaman said. The budget estimated railway infrastructure would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore between 2018-2030. The minister also said that large public infrastructure can be built on land parcels held by central ministries and Central Public Sector Enterprises across the country. Stressing the need for innovative financing for infrastructure, she said India has had a reasonable success in brownfield asset monetisation and aditionally, NHAI carried out one ToT (toll operate transfer) transaction garnering Rs 24,000 crore. Highlighting PMGSY, Sitharaman said it has brought many socio-economic gains in the rural areas and all weather connectivity has now been provided to over 97 per cent of such habitations.
Peshawar: The wife of radical Pakistani cleric Maulana Sufi Muhammad has died of shock, a few hours after the 92-year-old chief of a banned extremist outfit passed away here due to protracted illness, police said. Muhammad, who fought against international forces in Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion, died on Thursday. His wife Barkhanay Bibi, aged between 60-65 years, could not bear the shock of his death and passed away late Thursday night, police said. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi JinpingShe was the third wife of Muhammad. He married for the the third time few years ago after the death of his two wives. Muhammad was the father-in-law of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief, Maulana Fazlullah, who led the rebellion against Pakistan Army from 2007 to 2009. The cleric founded the extremist group, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), with an aim to enforce Sharia law in Pakistan in 1992. The militant group took over much of Swat in 2007, despite being banned by then Pakistan president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in January 2002. Also Read – US blacklists 28 Chinese entities over abuses in XinjiangMuhammad had termed Pakistan’s Constitution “un-Islamic” and demanded enforcement of the Sharia law. He had been imprisoned since his arrest when the final phase of a military operation against militants was launched in the Malakand region. He was released from jail in January 2018 on health grounds. A number of cases were registered against him. However, in each case, witnesses against him had either died or could not be traced.
New Delhi: In a major change, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Saturday re-appointed BJP national General Secretary (Org) Ramlal as Akhil Bharatiya Sahsampark Pramukh (national co-communications head) and deputy of Aniruddha Deshpande.After the appointment of J P Nadda as working president last month, there was a buzz in the power corridors of the BJP of an organizational reshuffle. The job of national general secretary (org) is coordination between BJP and its parent RSS. It is a practice in Sangh to send its representatives to all associate organisations for coordination.
Sunfeast Kolkata School Football League, one of the most awaited school football tournaments is all set to commence its second edition in Kolkata. The league will be held in NKDA Football Stadium from July 23 to August 10, with budding footballers battling it out for the top spot. This year, the league has witnessed a strong surge in participation from U-18 football teams in top 24 schools in Kolkata. As a larger outcome from the league, Sunfeast endeavours to provide a strong and effective platform to young footballers and foster fresh sports talent in the country. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainOrganised by Sports Connect in association with ITC Sunfeast Biscuits, the second edition of Sunfeast KSFL promises action-packed sporting moments. Each team will be mentored by renowned personalities in the football circuit such as Prasanta Banerjee, Gautam Ghosh, Bhaskar Ganguly, Monoranjan Bhattacharya, Sumit Mukherjee, Krishnendu Ray, BikashPanji, Md Fareed, Debasish Mukherjee, Sangram Mukherjee, Mihir Bose, and Pradip Dutta, to ensure that the players perform their best in every match. The league will be conducted under the rules and regulations of the Indian Football Association. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardThe first edition of KSFL generated a lot of excitement for football enthusiasts in Kolkata. The platform provided immense exposure for the winning team St. James School as they played against national level footballers at Mohun Bagan in a friendly match. This year’s winning team will play against a reputed football club in India. Sports Connect will also be arranging an advanced level football camp under renowned International and National Football Stars for the selected players in this KSFL tournament. The first leg will witness a battle among participants to be the top 12 qualifiers. The qualifying teams will be split into 4 groups constituting of 3 teams each, one from each group will win to reach the semi-finals. The last leg will witness the semi-final winners clash at the finals. “ITC Sunfeast is delighted to announce the 2nd edition of Sunfeast Kolkata School Football League. We received an encouraging response in the first edition of the tournament and many talented players were benefited with an all-round development in the sport. We aim to identify budding talent from the grass-root level and enable an environment of all-round development in football. It is encouraging to see Sunfeast KSFL progress as a platform for many promising players in India. We, at ITC, are proud to create a football ecosystem to nurture young talents of the game, who will surely make India proud in the future. We endeavour to empower more young players and contribute meaningfully in developing tomorrow’s footballers for the nation.” said Paritosh Wali, COO –Confections, ITC Ltd. Foods Division Sharing insights about the tournament, Joy Duttagupta, CEO, Sports Connect said, “ITC Ltd has supported this initiative immensely last year by sponsoring the league. Sunfeast KSFL has become a significant football tournament to develop the skills of young talent in Kolkata. This year has seen a huge surge in participation and we are expecting thrilling performances from the young champions” The winning teams would receive a total cash prize of INR 50,000/- and the runners up INR 25,000/- from the league.
Kolkata: Mayor Firhad Hakim said on Wednesday that the ‘Talk to Mayor’ programme is yielding good results and 100 percent of the problems that have been brought to his notice by Kolkata citizens, have been solved.”Problems related to water, drainage, conservancy and allegations of illegal construction that have been informed by citizens in the three earlier editions of ‘Talk to Mayor’ have been solved and ‘action taken’ reports have been submitted to me,” Hakim said after the fourth session of the weekly event. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersIn this programme, people can directly call up the Mayor and state their problems to him on the toll-free number 1800-345-1213, every Wednesday from 4 to 5 pm. Hakim reiterated that allegations of misbehaviour with the people will also be strongly dealt with and if somebody is found guilty of the same during probe, he/she can be given transfer order. Reacting to allegations of promoters acquiring vacant land illegally, Hakim said that the building plan of the concerned person will be cancelled in case of such irregularity. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe Mayor attended 42 calls on Wednesday and gave necessary instructions to the concerned officials to solve them. Issue of inadequate streetlights was reported from ward 127 in Behala, regarding which Hakim said that a tender has already been floated and the work will be completed before the Pujas. The problems that surfaced also involved social sectors like the Banglar Bari scheme from Baghajatin area, clogged drainage leading to waterlogging in ward 143, water supply line problem from Smith Lane in ward 53, irregularity regarding receipt of widow pension from ward 9, cutting of trees in Kumartuli area etc. Senior civic officials including the municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed, special municipal commissioner Tapas Chowdhury, all director generals, chief engineers and senior officials of various departments were present during the session. The phone was connected to a loudspeaker to help the senior officials listen to the calls.
New Delhi: The Delhi BJP has enrolled over nine lakh new members even before the official month-long membership campaign concludes on August 11, party leaders said on Saturday. The nationwide drive has received great success and Delhi BJP is a frontrunner, said Kuljeet Chahal, Delhi BJP general secretary and in-charge of the campaign in the city. “We have enlisted over nine lakh new members so far and we will easily achieve the target of making 10 lakh new members in view of assembly polls in Delhi,” Chahal said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder The membership campaign was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi on the birth anniversary of party ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, on June 6. In Delhi, the campaign was launched with fanfare at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium by senior party leader and national in-charge of the campaign Shivraj Singh Chauhan on June 7. The month-long campaign in Delhi will conclude on August 11. The party will hold special drives next week to enrol more members by setting up desks at malls, educational institutions and temples in the city, said Delhi’s co in-charge of the campaign Harsh Malhotra. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings “On Monday evening our Mahila Morcha will carry out the campaign at malls in the city. Our SC Morcha workers will set up desks outside prominent temples on Tuesday morning and the youth wing activists will enrol new members outside colleges in the city on Wednesday,” he said. Delhi BJP leaders hoped to boost the party’s membership by 57 per cent as people were showing “much interest”. Former national general secretary (organisation) Ramlal had urged Delhi unit leaders to boost membership by 57 per cent, the vote share of party in the city in Lok Sabha elections. Currently, Delhi BJP has around 26 lakh registered members out of which over 14 lakh are duly verified, party leaders said.
Srinagar: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Jammu and Kashmir has issued a notice to former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti asking her whether she had verbally or otherwise endorsed the recommendations made by some ministers in the PDP-BJP government for appointments in JK Bank. “During the course of investigations of case FIR No. 10/2019 police station ACBK dated 08/06/2019, it has surfaced that some appointments were made by chairman JK Bank on references of recommendation of few ministers. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”It may please be clarified that whether such references had your endorsement, verbal or otherwise, for appointments in JK Bank,” read the ACB notice to Mehbooba issued on Saturday. Mehbooba posted the notice on Twitter, saying she was not surprised by the development. “Not surprised to receive a letter from the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Concerted efforts are being made to browbeat mainstream leaders & thwart potential efforts for a collective response. I am too small an entity vis a vis the cause that unites us today. Such tactics won’t work,” she wrote.
Many in India may not have heard of Tajikistan and yet fewer know that its Capital is a place called Dushanbe. This, even though Dushanbe is much closer to Delhi than say Cochin where I live. The distance from Cochin to Delhi for a crow would be about 2,700 Kilometers, whereas the distance from Delhi to Dushanbe is half that, about 1330 Kilometres. But I am not a crow and if I have to fly from Delhi to Dushanbe I have to first get a visa – which is the easy part I got in 48 hours online – and then fly from Delhi to Almaty, which is another 300 Kilometres north of Dushanbe, and double back that 300 Kilometres south to Dushanbe. Or travel to Tashkent, the Capital of Uzbekistan which is 250 Kilometres north-west of Dushanbe and then fly that extra distance back to Dushanbe. Also Read – A special kind of bondI had chosen the Tashkent route. Tashkent has a special fascination for me. It was in Tashkent that our PM Lal Bahadur Shastri – who had decisively won the 1965 war with Pakistan for us – had died. The 1965 war was, like others of its genre, a Pakistani misadventure that its then Prime Minister General Ayub Khan had started through invading our Rann of Kutch. After winning the war, Lal Bahadur Shastri had, at the invitation of the then USSR, gone to Tashkent to secure the peace. A day after signing a peace deal with Pakistan in Tashkent, an agreement that came to be known as the Tashkent Peace Accord, Lal Bahadur Shastri died of a heart attack. I do not generally believe in conspiracy theories but it always seemed such a strange coincidence that our Prime Minister should have died just like that, so suddenly after having signed the peace deal. Leaves me wondering if there was more to his death. Also Read – Insider threat managementWith that fascination for Tashkent, I had chosen the Tashkent route to reach Dushanbe. The flight, a sparse Uzbekistan Airlines Jet, landed in Dushanbe past midnight. The airport was small but well kept. Even at that midnight hour, it was crowded many times beyond capacity, not with passengers but with their relatives and friends and well-wishers and a whole lot of others who had come to receive or see them off. As in India, there were warm home-coming hugs and kisses and tearful goodbyes. Equally familiarly, taxi drivers accosted me for my custom. I could have been in any of the airports in the smaller towns of India. Or in Delhi, before Terminal 3 was built. The first surprise had come at the emigration. The officer looked at my passport and looked up at me and asked ‘Name, es te?’. I thought he was asking me my name, no doubt to make sure that I was not a smuggler impersonating me. I said as politely as I could that my name was Joseph. He shook his head and repeated, ‘Name es te’. Having slept through the flight, groggy and tired, it took me more than a few seconds to realise what he was saying. He was wishing me ‘Namaste’. They love India, Indians even more. But most of all, they love Indian movies. If there was another superlative I could come up with, I would say they love old Bollywood songs the most. And they sing it so well too, certainly much better than I can. Dushanbe sits on the river Varzob, and there is a town by the same name some 40 Kilometres upriver from Dushanbe, that has developed into a tourist spot. The river which is quite small by Indian standards, is however very full and quick flowing, with very strong currents. It cuts through rocks, hills and mountains on its way down from the upper heights. There is a quickly developing picnic spot beyond Varzob town where the 15-room hotel I stayed in Dushanbe arranged a day trip for me. The manager of the hotel arranged the car with a driver and a hamper with lunch. And he insisted on coming along with me as my guide. The driver turned out to be a young woman in her early 30s! When she realised that I was from India, she took out a cache of old Bollywood songs and blared them out one after the other like a Disc Jockey, from one of the most powerful car stereos that I have ever listened to. Then, with the glass window on the driver’s side pulled down – they drive on the wrong side of the road there, the right side – she stretched her left hand out of the window and let the onrushing wind caress her arm and palms, which was okay, but when those hit numbers from DDLJ came up, she turned 180 degrees around to face me – I was sitting right behind – and began to act and dance out the song sequence, taking off even that one right hand on the steering. She had a very expressive face and could have easily found a role in a Bollywood movie. And I would have loved to watch her. But the car was moving at a good 110 Kilometres/hour along a winding uphill road. My heart sank, and my eyes were fixed on the road ahead watching the oncoming traffic. I could not show her my anxiety, for here she was, showing off her love for India and its songs, putting on her best dancing driver’s moves for me. Torn between not wanting to dampen her enthusiasm for Bollywood, and my fear of oncoming death, I tightened my seat belt and squirmed in my seat. That was a wrong move, for she thought I was dancing in my seat too, and redoubled her dance moves with her face turned towards me, with dangerous enthusiasm. How could I tell her that driving and dancing don’t mix? Thankfully, I remembered the ruse that I had often used as a kid on our annual summer drive from Madras to Kerala. My mother who had just got her license would insist on driving part of the way. My father would have to give up his driver’s seat for her (pun intended) and sit on the pillion seat beside her. But he would be incessantly jittery about her driving and incessantly keep telling her what to do and what not. Side-seat driving, if ever there was one! A holy row would soon ensue between the two of them. Peace would prevail when over their duel I would shout that I was hungry. My mother would then soon stop the car under the nearest tree and open the lunch hamper she had brought along. After the feed, my father would be back in the driver’s seat and peace would prevail. The ruse worked with my dancing driver too. I said I was hungry and could we stop and have our lunch? The manager who was sitting in the front seat and was more scared than I was, immediately asked her to stop at the next rest area on the road. Like my mother, after lunch, she did not insist on dancing while driving. Tajikis love India. And every Tajiki knows Amitabh Bachhan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. Their love for Bollywood is gender-neutral. They love Sridevi, Karishma, Madhuri, and Deepika just as much as they love Amitabh Bachhan. I had landed in Dushanbe on a Saturday morning. The following day I decided to attend a Sunday Mass. I searched for a church on google and realised that in a population of about 800,000, Dushanbe has less than 3,000 Christians, of which Catholics like me would be about a hundred. And that there was only one Catholic Church in the city, the St. Joseph’s church. The Sunday morning mass in that Church was in Russian, as most of the Christians in Dushanbe, as well as in Tajikistan, are descendants of Russians whom the former Communist USSR – of which Tajikistan was a ‘Soviet Socialist Republic’ – deported to this place, far off from Moscow, for being religiously inclined. With that previous Communist background and being an overwhelmingly Muslim country, it is no surprise that the Christian population here is tiny. I counted. There were just 43 persons for the Mass that Sunday morning. And yet the Mass was celebrated by the Russian speaking Argentinian Priest with great solemnity and majesty as if he had a congregation of thousands in front of him. What was most amazing to me was to see in the Church that Sunday morning, the Indian Sari, white and blue in colour, worn the traditional Bengali way, by two nuns of the Missionaries of Charity. Neither of them were Indians, one was a Rwandan and the other was from Madagascar. It was heart-warming that Mother Teresa had brought the Indian sari and her Indian sense of service to the poor, to a landlocked, far away land like Tajikistan, and that too, through distant Rwanda and Madagascar. India in Tajikistan did not end there. Visiting the Hisor Fort, 30 Kms west of Dushanbe, which my manager-cum-guide explained was 3,000 years old, was another experience altogether. What absorbed me was not the Fort itself – majestic though it was – but what seemed like a wedding baaraat with girls, boys and uncles and aunts, all-dancing on the road to Bollywood music and leading the bride and groom up to the ramparts of the Fort. Though the groom was not on a horse and the bride also joined in the procession, otherwise, it could have been straight out of a Delhi baaraat. Seeing an Indian face taking photos, they insisted I join in the dance. I did. I felt I was in Delhi. What is most ubiquitously Indian in Tajikistan is the way the Tajiki women dress. They wear what seems like salwar kameez, except that the salwar does not come down to the ankles, but comes only up to 6 to 12 Centimetres above the ankle. Dushanbe could be mistaken for Delhi. Even the temperature there was a hot Delhi-like 40 degrees Celsius. India also has a very strong diplomatic, cultural and political presence in Tajikistan. We even have an Air Base at Farkhor, some 130 Kilometres south-east of Dushanbe, India’s first airbase outside the country. There is much more India in Tajikistan than perhaps in India itself. (The author is a former Indian and UN Civil Servant. He belongs to the 1978 batch of the IAS and worked with the ILO in India and abroad for 20 years. The views expressed are strictly personal)
Kolkata: Tension ran high at Imambara Sadar Hospital in Hooghly after the family members of a boy, who died of alleged medical negligence, beat up a junior doctor and heckled some on-duty nursing staff.Hospital authorities registered a complaint at the local police station. The family members of the victim later withdrew their complaint of negligence and sought an unconditional apology from the doctor, whom they manhandled earlier on the day. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThose who attacked the junior doctor and nurses evaded arrest by seeking the apology. The incident triggered panic among other patients, who were admitted to the hospital. The patient, Suvam Paswan, (7), was shifted to Imambara Sadar Hospital from Chandannagar Sub-divisional hospital on Saturday as he faced some acute problem while passing urine. Family members of the victim alleged that the patient was left unattended for a long time. They informed the matter to the Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayon-duty nursing staff, who told them that the doctor will attend the patient later. The patient eventually died at the hospital late Saturday night. As the news of his death reached the family members of the patient, they staged a protest inside the hospital alleging negligence on the part of the hospital. They beat up a junior doctor and some of the nursing staff who came to the rescue the junior doctor were also heckled by the irate mob. Hospital authorities informed the matter to the local police station. The police reached the spot and brought the situation under control. Hospital authorities lodged a complaint with the police. Apprehending arrest, family members, who attacked the doctor and nursing later tendered an apology from the doctor following which the police complaint was withdrawn. Hospital authorities claimed that the patient was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition.
OTTAWA – Friends, family and hockey dignitaries joined together at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday to celebrate life and legacy of Bryan Murray, whose signature sense of humour and ability to reach people defined his decorated career as an NHL coach and general manager.Murray died at age 74 on Aug. 12 after a three-year battle with colon cancer.Many of the NHL’s elite were on hand to pay their respects, including NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock as well as numerous players including Daniel Alfredsson, Luc Robitaille, Dion Phaneuf, Marc Methot and Mike Hoffman.Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said it’s simply an extension of the impact Murray, a native of the nearby town of Shawville, Que., had on those who knew him.“He’s someone that’s touched so many lives for the better,” said Dorion. “The organization was a better one with Bryan in it. This loss is monumental for our hockey team for his guidance, his direction. I think he’s touched every one of us who’s ever encountered him.“Bryan was able to resonate with people.”The ceremony featured a video montage, a collection of favourite songs by local singer Gail Gavin as well as speeches by Murray’s niece Lynn Hearty-Coutts, former Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, Senators assistant general manager Randy Lee as well as Dorion and Bettman.Bettman spoke of Murray’s numerous accomplishments throughout his 36-year NHL career that included time in Washington, Detroit, Florida, Anaheim and finally Ottawa.Career highlights included winning the NHL’s coach of the year award with Washington in 1984 and executive of the year award with Florida in 1996, and coaching the Senators to an appearance in the 2007 Stanley Cup final.“Every one of those owners saw that Bryan could take something and provide the structure and the discipline and the pride of workmanship that is required to succeed,” Bettman said of Murray, whose 620 career wins as a coach are 10th highest in NHL history. “If you look back at the rosters, his teams weren’t all-star teams, but in many instances they achieved great things because of the closeness Bryan helped build in the dressing room. Bryan ran teams in the ultimate sense of the word – and he always tried to make those teams better.”A common thread throughout the afternoon was Murray’s sense of humour, sarcasm and ability to get the best from his players.“One of the biggest things was he made it fun, it was fun to come to the rink,” said Phillips. “His meetings were legendary.”Phillips told a story of one meeting where Murray asked Mike Fisher, who was in a scoring slump at the time, “are you ever going to score again?” Fisher laughed at the comment and Murray went on to say, “No, seriously are you?”Coincidentally, Fisher scored that same night.Humour was just one of the many great ways Murray connected with his players.“There was no question that when you played for Bryan he had your back,” said Phillips. “I believe that many times he even knew he was in the wrong about arguing a call, but every player knew that we were in it together.”As great a hockey man as he was Murray always made family a priority. He remained deeply entrenched in Shawville and returned home to spend summers by the Ottawa River.In a conversation with Hearty-Coutts about a month before he passed Murray said his greatest joy was being by the river and hearing his granddaughter’s laughter as they played on the beach.“Uncle Bryan brought people together, he had that intangible quality,” said Hearty-Coutts. “People loved being in his circle. He had a gift. He made you feel like you were the most important person in the room when he spoke to you. You always left a conversation wanting to be a better person.”Murray had numerous accomplishments in hockey, but his willingness to make his battle public and raise awareness was also notable.“His body might have lost the battle, but his spirit never did,” Hearty-Coutts said. “His courage will continue to save others.”
NANAIMO, B.C. – A British Columbia law designed to protect emergency responders and Good Samaritans has been used for what’s believed to be the first time against a man who vomited on a firefighter’s face.Provincial court Judge Brian Harvey issued an order for the man to be tested after he overdosed on a street in the Vancouver Island community of Nanaimo in early August.The five-year-old Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act allows a judge to order a blood sample from a person if there’s a chance disease could spread to a first responder or someone offering emergency care.“It’s a landmark decision for us, it’s the first time it’s been tested in a court of law,” Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief Karen Fry said of the legislation. “It’s going to give us the peace of mind, that we know this individual will now be required to be tested.”The man, who Fry said was “brought back to life,” has seven days from when he is served to get a blood test or face fines, according to lawyer Sean Smith, who is representing the firefighter.Fry said the man being sought for a blood sample refused medical attention and left a hospital before a doctor could see him.Firefighters wear protective gear, including gloves and goggles, during medical aid calls, but there’s always a risk of transmitting disease, she said.The firefighter remains on duty and has undergone a series of blood tests, Fry said. Results are not yet known.Smith said the legislation allows testing for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. He said blood tests on the firefighter in this case can’t solely be relied upon because diseases can take time to manifest.“It’s a legislation that was never intended to be regularly used,” he said, adding it provides first responders with a “security blanket” to seek a court order. (Nanaimo News Now)
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – A recent visit to two paleontology museums in northeastern British Columbia was all it took to turn a local woman into a dinosaur sleuth with a significant discovery to her credit.Nicky Taylor, her husband and a relative visiting from New Zealand, spent two days touring paleontology exhibits around the Peace River region in August and then decided to explore the Tumbler Ridge area hoping to spot interesting rocks and fossils.It didn’t take long for Taylor to spy something she thought was similar to exhibits she’d seen in the museums.They took pictures of the find and forwarded them to the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre, which confirmed the item is indeed from a time when dinosaurs roamed the world.Scientists Richard McCrea and Lisa Buckley say the fossilized bone is unlike anything yet discovered around Tumbler Ridge and probably belonged to a marine reptile from the Cretaceous period, ending over 66 million years ago.Further study and consultation is needed but it’s expected the bone will eventually be displayed in the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge.Taylor credits her brief exposure to the paleontology museums for inspiring the find.“I would have thought nothing of it normally,” she says. “I would probably even have ignored it, but given our experiences the previous two days it was of a lot more interest.”Taylor picked up the fossilized remains after spotting them and says they were much heavier than she expected.Northeastern B.C. has a rich history of fossil discoveries. In 2008, scientists uncovered a 100-million-year-old dinosaur highway containing hundreds of fossilized prints west of Hudson’s Hope and kept it a secret until last year.The find was kept under wraps until the area could be properly protected and excavated.Researchers have also confirmed several other recent and unique discoveries, including a piece of a tyrannosaurus skull unearthed in June and believed to be about 75 million years old. (MooseFM)
TORONTO – From coffee grounds, to leftover fettuccine alfredo, to the slimy, brown head of lettuce forgotten at the back of your fridge, the Ontario government is aiming to keep all organic waste away from landfills.It’s an ambitious target for a province that generates nearly 12 million tonnes of waste a year — more than 850 kilograms per person — and only recycles about a quarter of that amount.If improvements aren’t made, the province’s landfills could run out of capacity within the next 20 years, the government warns.In 2004, the Liberal government promised to boost the rate of waste diversion — through recycling and composting programs for example — to 60 per cent in four years. But 13 years later, the rate hasn’t changed. Now, the government has set its sights on an even more distant target of 100 per cent.Hence the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, which aims to create a “circular economy,” where waste is considered a resource that can be recovered, reused and reintegrated.One area of focus is organic waste, which decomposes in landfills producing gases, such as methane, that contribute to global warming. Ontarians generate 3.7 million tonnes of organic waste per year, and greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector — mostly organics in landfill — account for six per cent of the province’s total emissions.The government’s organics action plan, to be implemented next year, includes the possibility of a ban on sending organics to landfills.More than half the food waste in the province is generated at home, but the residential sector has steadily improved how much of that is diverted from landfills, with a rate now just over 50 per cent. In contrast, only a quarter of the food waste produced by the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors is diverted.Fundamental changes are required in how people think of and treat organic waste, said Environment Minister Chris Ballard.“Tinkering isn’t working,” he said. “This is as revolutionary, I believe, a plan as the original (recycling) blue box when we rolled it out and got everybody excited.”Organics should be the next target on the waste frontier, experts say.“We’re at a bit of a plateau in terms of diverting that waste,” said food and organic waste consultant Paul van der Werf. “We’ve probably tapped out just about everything that people will do on a voluntary basis.”Zero waste sounds like an “aspirational goal,” but Ontarians have to decide if that’s something worth aspiring to, van der Werf said.“If we (do), then we need to put some pretty strong measures in place to change what we’re presently doing and change our behaviours,” he said. “If we kept the status quo in our system and just tinkered a little bit, would we get to zero waste? No, not in a million years.”At homeWhile nearly all households in the province have access to recycling programs, not all municipalities have organic waste programs. Most of the larger ones — covering around two-thirds of the population — have green bin programs, but not everyone is using them properly.“In Toronto, audits consistently show that even though people use their green bins, 40 per cent of what they’re putting in the garbage actually should have gone in the green bin,” said Emily Alfred of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.The City of Kingston consistently has one of the best organic diversion rates, but still battles resistance, said its manager of solid waste.“Most of the reasons why people don’t want to use it is this perception that it smells and that it’s gross or it attracts rodents,” said Heather Roberts. “(But) consider that all of the things that would go into your green bin would still go into your garbage bag.”Kingston is also one of just nine municipalities that has extended green bin programs to condos and apartment buildings, but it’s not mandated, so there isn’t a lot of uptake, Roberts said.The City of Toronto offers organic collection at about 65 per cent of its multi-residential buildings, and a few receive private pick-up, officials said. But most Ontario municipalities still send their food waste from multi-residential buildings to landfill.Municipalities with more than 50,000 people are required to have a leaf and yard waste program, but there is no such requirement yet for green bins.Mandating collection of food and organic waste is another tool Ontario is considering, but smaller municipalities say that’s not feasible.Dan Finnigan, environmental services manager for the town of Mattawa, said his community would need provincial support for a composting program.“For the Town of Mattawa itself it would be a great program, but to be quite honest I think I would need some assistance from the government to maybe get it going and get it started up,” he said.As Ontario considers a disposal ban on organics, it is looking to the examples of Nova Scotia and Metro Vancouver, which already have them in place.Nova Scotia banned organics from landfills two decades ago. Even with a disposal rate much lower than the Canadian average, about half of what’s in the waste stream is still banned material, said Robert Kenney, the province’s recycling development officer.“A disposal ban is…an incentive for municipalities and the private sector to act,” he said. “You don’t get everything. You can’t get everything.”Metro Vancouver’s recent ban was eased in, with inspectors targeting only loads with more than 25 per cent visible food waste and issuing surcharges, said Andrew Marr, the director of solid waste planning.“What we were trying to target was, if you will, the worst offenders right off the bat,” he said. “We weren’t so concerned with getting every single apple core that somebody might be throwing out.”It has been successful so far, Marr said. In the first year, 60,000 more tonnes of organics were diverted away from landfills and the garbage stream dropped from 36 per cent organics to 28 per cent.On the commercial side, just a quarter of restaurants diverted organics before the ban, and now that figure is about three quarters, Marr said. But that represents an added cost, which isn’t easy for all to absorb.At restaurants, grocery stores, food producers and institutions“The line you have to cross is: is it more cost effective to compost this material or to throw it in the trash?” said James Rilett, the Ontario vice-president of Restaurants Canada.The cost for the industrial, commercial and institutional sector to dispose of waste is $118 per tonne to the U.S. and $134 per tonne in Ontario, but $205 per tonne to divert.The Provision Coalition works with food and beverage manufacturers to integrate sustainability into their business model, aiming to save businesses money by preventing food waste in the first place.It’s common for food producers to turn waste into animal feed, but Cher Mereweather of the Provision Coalition said her organization will point out the energy, labour, water and raw ingredient costs that went into making that product.“We really need to move away from this concept of, ‘Well, it’s OK, it gets composted,’ because there’s a significant cost and environmental impact of that wasted food in the first place,” she said.Some manufacturers send product that won’t sell or is mislabelled to food banks, which is where organizations such as Second Harvest come in.The food rescue charity picks up the food and delivers it to social service agencies, to the tune of about 4.7 million kilograms this year. But they won’t pick up anything less than 45 kilograms worth of food, said executive director Debra Lawson.To ensure smaller food donors can participate in similar programs, Second Harvest is developing a web-based platform that would connect them to the closest agencies in need. Lawson said it’s hoped a pilot can be running next spring.The Retail Council of Canada said grocery stores have a number of initiatives for trying to prevent food waste, including partnering with food banks, selling blemished fruit at a discount, and educating customers.The restaurant industry points to customer behaviour as a major challenge as well.Luc Erjavec, the Atlantic vice-president of Restaurants Canada, said Ontario should focus its attention on restaurants’ kitchens. In Nova Scotia, owners found it easier to control the back-of-house waste stream.“When you get on the customer side it gets very different,” he said. “We can’t start tipping over garbage cans and trying to sort through the waste to make sure it’s not contaminated.”Universities face the same dilemma too, said Dave Cano, the sustainability manager at Western University.“If there’s no proper signage or proper education around how to use a composting program, then you most likely will find people putting things in the wrong stream,” Cano said.Ballard said he sees a large role in the waste-free plan for the private sector, which can come up with innovative solutions and create jobs.“We need to turn it into an industry,” he said. “Let’s not look at it like waste. Let’s look at it like a resource and treat it like a resource like anything else we pull out of the ground or from the air.”
OTTAWA – First Nations, environmental groups and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver welcomed a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on wilderness lands Friday as a victory for the northern territory.The unanimous high court ruling is likely to ensure ecological protection of much of the Peel Watershed, a swath of unspoiled terrain that covers an area the size of Ireland.The Supreme Court said the Yukon government “thwarted” the land-use process by improperly rewriting a plan for the watershed, which features rugged mountains and taiga forests.Although Yukon lost the case that has been winding through the courts for years, the premier, who became leader only last December, hailed the ruling as an important step toward finalizing a plan that reflects a shared vision.The territory will aim to work in collaboration with First Nations to complete planning for the watershed, Silver told a news conference in Whitehorse.“Today, Yukon is closing a chapter,” he said. “And as we open a new one, we must not forget the lessons learned through this process.”Chief Roberta Joseph of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation, one of the Indigenous groups that pursued the matter in court, said she was “extremely pleased to arrive on a path of certainty” on the Peel land-use plan.The pristine region is a source of fresh water, food and natural medicines, Joseph said during a news conference in Ottawa. “Our ancestors have walked this land for centuries.”The Peel Watershed has no permanent residents and few roads. It is home to a wide range of fish, wildlife and plant species. There is potential to expand wilderness tourism, big-game outfitting and trapping, along with growing interest in mineral and oil-and-gas exploration.In 1993, Canada, Yukon and First Nations agreed on a consultative process for development of land-use plans in regions including the watershed.The process led to creation of a recommended plan for the watershed, but the process broke down when Yukon changed the final plan over the objections of First Nations, who argued the territory did not have authority to do so.The government’s changes drastically altered the final plan by removing protections for the vast majority of the watershed and opening up more than 70 per cent of the area to roads, mining and drilling.A trial judge ruled that Yukon had breached an agreement when it changed the plan, quashed Yukon’s final land-use plan and ordered that the process return to the point of final consultations between the territory and First Nations.The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s order to quash the government plan, but said the process must resume at an earlier stage — when Yukon first received the recommended plan.In its ruling Friday, the Supreme Court agreed with the trial judge, saying the Yukon government had a chance to propose changes to the plan earlier in the process but did not do so.In her reasons on behalf of the court, Justice Andromache Karakatsanis wrote that Yukon “did not have the authority to make the extensive changes” it made to the final plan.The high court said the government should not be allowed to take new positions it wishes it had taken earlier. In addition, it ruled the process did not permit the government to modify the plan so significantly that it effectively rejected it.It means the process returns to the later stage of the process, in which Yukon can approve, reject or modify the final plan.However, Silver indicated Friday that only tweaks could be expected following additional consultations.The Supreme Court clarified that any modifications at this stage must be based on those proposed earlier in the process or respond to changing circumstances, adding that modifications are by definition “minor or partial changes.”Christina Macdonald, executive director of the Yukon Conservation Society, said a vital democratic process had been defended. “Today is a victory for the land, for the water, for democracy and the people.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
BADDECK, N.S. – A devastating fire has levelled the main lodge of an historic, much-loved inn on Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lakes, even as it spared a unique chapel bankrolled by a Toronto hockey legend.“It’s a devastating fire for the community,” said Councillor Bruce Morrison, who said he got a call at about 3 a.m. notifying him of a “big fire” at the Inverary Resort.“For me, it’s tough — it’s one of those icons in our community that has been enjoyed by generations of residents in Baddeck.”The rustic retreat that has been a “cornerstone of the community” since it was built in the late 19th century by a Cape Breton man dubbed “Millionaire” MacNeil.Plumes of white smoke were still wafting above the charred wreck of the three-storey building that housed the dining room, lobby, pub and several units attached to it in an addition.A tiny brown chapel that was donated to the owners by legendary Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe was not damaged in the fire, according to Cape Breton musician Keith Mullins, who entertains at the Inverary a few nights every week.It’s believed all of the guests and staff got out without injury.Diana Weeks, a reporter for Ontario’s CHCH TV, was staying at the resort and tweeted about her escape.“Our hotel in Baddeck, N.S., is on fire and we’re all outside in our pjs. Good news is, it appears everyone got out safely,” Weeks tweeted overnight.“So so sad. Just grateful we got out in time and grabbed our valuables… Such a beautiful historic building.”Images and video on social media showed flames consuming the building, which glowed orange in the darkness. One video shows the whole building collapsing in on itself as flames poured out of the windows.Mullins said people had been singing and enjoying themselves late Wednesday: “Everything was amazing. We had a great time and everyone was singing.”He said he was devastated when he woke to hear the news.Mullins said he had not heard what the owners plan to do, but believes they could remain in operation, because there are other guest rooms on the property.“There are five or six large buildings. There’s another restaurant. There’s another kitchen in the conference centre. I don’t know exactly what their plans are but I do know that we all want to keep it going,” he said.According to the inn’s website, Smythe stayed at the Inverary in the early 1980s when he was in poor health, spending much of his time there in his room. The owner reportedly told Smythe that they were hoping to build a chapel when money allowed.“Someday, you’ll have your chapel,” Smythe apparently told the owners.Sometime later, Smythe died in Toronto and a family member contacted the inn’s owners to say that Smythe wanted to give them a chapel.The resort hosts a church service each week, although not in the chapel.Pastor Philip MacCormack said the 40-member congregation of the Baddeck Baptist Church doesn’t have its own building, and holds services each week in the inn’s convention centre.They are praying for the owner and staff of the inn, he said.“The owners have been very good to us,” he said.Morrison said the loss of the main building is a big blow to Baddeck, which sees hundreds of tourists trickle into the area every summer, swelling the full-time population of about 800 residents to about 2,500.“It’s a very difficult time for an event such as this to happen right at the start of our tourist season,” said Morrison, who is also the warden of Victoria County. “Baddeck is a very busy tourist destination.”It could also affect about 100 people who work at the sprawling four-hectare shoreline resort, he said.Several fire departments in the area answered the call. RCMP said they are working with the Nova Scotia Office of the Fire Marshal to determine the cause of the fire.The resort’s website says the original home was built by MacNeil “to show off the fortune he made in Boston.” Materials for the house, barn and wagon house were imported from the American city and became a showpiece for the Cape Breton community.Brothers Chad and Jamie Fownes bought the property after the Second World War and opened the Inverary Inn at the end of their military service, the website says.