Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Sudden spurt of violence and hate in Indian society

 Sudden spurt of violence and hate in Indian society, a new notion of nationalism based on fear and feelings of besiege and a process of exclusion to redefine the boundaries of social structure has corroded the very foundation on which the constitution of the country was based. The processes more pronounced in certain parts than the other have immensely disturbed intellectuals, artists and social activists.

 Marking the 15 years of Gujarat genocide, we believed that the urgency to intervene in defence of democracy, secularism and justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the country today. There is a recognizable change in the general tenor of public discourse; unlike in the past, it is informed more by the communal than by secular ethos. The prejudices against marginalised communities are widely shared as a result of motivated and sustained propaganda. In the face of concerted social mobilization mounted by communal organizations by invoking religious symbols and sentiments, liberal civil society has come under a siege. Nevertheless, the need for sustained and constructive action for strengthening secularism and democracy and for realising justice and peace is evident.
 Chaired by Prof Manoj Jha, Prof Apoorvanand, Harsh Mander, Nishrin Jafri, Shabnam Hashmi, Teesta Setalvad and Zakia Jafri will speak at the programme.

The remembrance in the form of memory plays a fundamental role in shaping future. Today ‘never forget’ and ‘never again’ are often used in relation to remember the events of mass violence, specially the genocides. It is very important for genocide survivors and activists to speak of a ‘war against memory’, as the perpetrators tried to destroy material traces of their crimes, and revisionists today seek to deny what happened. Today, the remembrance of 15 years of Gujarat Genocide is most crucial to defend the India and criminal justice system of the state, which is under attack. We can’t risk allowing them to happen again, therefore along with remembrance the struggle to seek justice is another crucial part, and it can only possible with extending support to the survivors and activists who are fighting this battle.
A Video Series Our Shared Cultural Heritage recorded a few years ago is being released at the programme.

 Cultures, civilizations grow and develop because they constantly take from each other. Civilizations borrow from others and give to others. And it is in this process of give and take that each civilization, each country, each nation constantly reinvents itself. It defines and redefines itself. The idea is not to purge what we consider alien but to recognize that it is impossible to say what is ours and what is not. What we need to do is to see what is relevant, living and robust in our culture as it exists today, to accept what will enrich our lives and help us to improve as human beings and to reject and discard all that is likely to sustain prejudice and malice towards other human beings. The search for the meaning of culture is a continuous process in the historical evolution of all societies. The dynamism of Indian culture is derived from its diversity, which molded the cultural practices of the people. We celebrate this diversity and we believe that the lectures will play a significant role in resisting the forces of hatred

The video lecture series being released online on Anhad India Youtube channel contain lectures by Dadi Padumjee on Puppetry, Gauhar Raza on Science, Javed Akhter on Cinema,K. Satchitanandan on Literature, K.N. Panikkar on Cultural Heritage, Kumi and Anil Chandra on Fabric, Mridula Mukharjee on People’s Movements, Prathibha Prahlad on Dance, Romi Khosla on Architecture, Romila Thapar on History as Heritage, Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan on Music, Sohail Hashmi on Food, Tripurari Sharma on Theatre and Yogi Sikand on Religious Spaces.
Two bookmarks will also be released with Ehsan Jafri’s poems and one with Gauhar Raza’s poem written in 2002.
TEL: 011-41670722
OVAIS: 9911016957/ SHABNAM- 9811807558

●  India-Central Asia Relations

Political Developments●  Economic Developments
Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar
Turkmenistan’s incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was convincingly re-elected as President for a third term of seven years, securing 98% of the votes polled in a heavily one-sided election on 12th February, 2017. He demolished eight other token candidates that included subordinate regional officials and director of a government-owned oil refinery. Turkmenistan’s official news organization reported that international observers found only minor voting problems, which did not affect the election results. Independent election monitors have however not declared any of Turkmenistan’s elections free or fair since the country gained independence after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991.
Berdymukhamedov was sworn in on 17th February in a grand ceremony. All eight candidates vigorously applauded him at the ceremony. He promised to create a human rights ombudsman in a country where abuses are cited as being systematic by rights groups, and strengthen the fight against drug trafficking.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev signed into law constitutional changes approved in a referendum in early December, 2016. Many of the changes were controversial with some international experts commenting that the changes would “negatively impact the balance of powers.” Many analysts have stated that rebalancing of powers between President and Prime Minister was deliberate: either Atambayev was envisioning “a Putinesque term as Prime Minister when his single presidential term concludes” or he’s interested in installing a loyal colleague in the office.
Kyrgyz President Atambayev has declared that he would not seek political office, including the post of Prime Minister, after his 6 year presidential term ends at the end of 2017.
According to Kyrgyz Constitution, President can occupy this position for only one term. Elections for the next President are scheduled for 19th November, 2017.
The Respublika—Ata-Jurt party of Kyrgyzstan, on February 14 2017, nominated its leader Omurbek Babanov, former Prime Minister as its candidate in the forthcoming presidential election. Two other prominent politicians — former Prime Minister Temir Sariyev, who leads Ak-Shumkar (White Falcon) party, and Onuguu-Progress party leader Bakyt Torobayev, have also announced plans to run for the post of President.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan in his nationwide televised address on 25th January, 2017 outlined a dramatic dilution of his own powers and a shift to a more parliamentary form of government. He described the strongly presidential model in force since independence as necessary to “overcome the enormous difficulties of forming the state,” but said that time had arrived for a new model. Under this, the president will give up some of his powers to parliament and the government. The new arrangement would however still leave the President with a veto over the most sensitive matters of state in foreign policy, defence and homeland security.
International human rights organization Freedom House in its annual report “Freedom in the World 2017’’ ranked Kyrgyzstan (37 points) as the only country in Central Asia which is “partly free.” Uzbekistan which received 3 points in the ranking has the worst indicators of freedom in Central Asia.  Turkmenistan got 4 points. Tajikistan with 11 points and Kazakhstan with 22 points were ranked among the 49 “not free” countries.
At the instance of Russia, Turkey and Iran, Kazakhstan hosted the Syrian Peace Talks in Astana on 23-24th January 2017 and on 16th February, 2017. Syrian delegate accused Turkey of continuing to facilitate the entry of “tens of thousands of mercenaries” to Syria.  He also accused Jordan of sponsoring rebel factions that have been clashing with government forces in the southern city of Daraa for the past few days.
In addition to the prestige of hosting the Talks, Kazakhstan seeks to prevent spread of Islamist extremism at home and in the region. Kazakh authorities estimate that several hundred of their citizens have joined Islamist militant groups in Syria and Iraq.
Kazakhstan neutralized two radical groups and six religious extremists in the city of Almaty and Almaty region through a special operation carried out over 13-24thJanuary 2017 by the National Security Committee together with Interior Ministry.
On 15th February 2017, Moscow hosted consultations on Afghanistan with participation of senior officials from six nations — Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Iran, and India. It was decided to invite the Central Asian countries to the next Round of consultations.  Participants also agreed to further increase efforts towards peace and stability in Afghanistan under an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Governments of Uzbekistan and Russia plan to sign two agreements in the field of labor migration in April, 2017 during Uzbek President’s visit to Russia. They will cover organized recruitment and employment of citizens of Uzbekistan for temporary work in Russia and establishment of migration offices in each other’s country. The leaders will also discuss trade and military co-operation.
Kazakhstan “strongly condemned” the ballistic missile launch conducted by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 12th February as “a blatant violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolution.’’
Economic Developments
Pipeline construction and gas-field development on the 1,680 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline commenced in Turkmenistan in 2015. Commissioning of the project is likely to be delayed by one year from 2019 to 2020 because of inability of Turkmenistan to achieve financial closure on the project. It was earlier scheduled to attain this by December 2016, but now it has been moved forward to June 2017. The four countries have signed a US$10-billion investment agreement for the pipeline. The Tapi pipeline is projected to export up to 33bcm/yr from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India over 30 years.
China is falling well short of Turkmen expectations regarding the amount of gas it imports, in the process damaging the latter’s economy. Turkmenistan has supplied China with a total of 160bcm of gas since deliveries started in December 2009. This indicates that deliveries in 2016 totalled 30bcm or less. Such a level falls far short of Turkmenistan’s export target and casts a long shadow over goals set out by president Berdimukhammedov in May 2014, when he declared that “annual export of natural gas to China will amount to 40bcm by 2016 and up to 65bcm by 2021.”
Turkmenistan’s GDP growth slowed to 6.2% in 2016 from 6.5% in 2015. Economic growth has been slowing since 2015 as energy prices dropped and Russia halted imports of Turkmen gas, leaving China as its major buyer.
Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister stated that the country’s membership of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has been beneficial for the country. Opposition in Kyrgyzstan has charged that government has done nothing to improve economic situation in the country and create favorable conditions for local businesses to enter the EEU market. In 2016 Kyrgyzstan’s trade with EEU declined by 18.6% as compared to 2015 and amounted to US$1.9 billion. Imports from non-EEU countries increased: from China by 150%, from Turkey by 12.2%, and from USA 130%.  Kyrgyzstan’s transitional period with preferences will end in August 2017 and the country will then be required to obey common rules for all EEU member states. Farmers cannot export their products because they do not meet the requirements of EEU technical regulations. Despite criticism of MPs, Deputy Prime Minister expressed optimism focusing on a 3.8% GDP growth and an increase in customs duties by 8 billion soms in 2016. Exports in 2016 grew by 5.1% and reached US$1.54 billion, compared to a 22% decrease in 2015. Imports decreased by 3.7% in 2016, compared to a 29% decrease in 2015.
Government stated that Kyrgyz economy declined because of unfavorable economic situation in Russia and Kazakhstan, the main trading partners of Kyrgyzstan.  Kyrgyzstan’s economic growth is expected to be about 2.7% in 2017. In January-November 2016, remittances from Kyrgyz labor migrants working abroad amounted to US$1.493 billion, 20.9% more than in the same period in 2015.
Central Bank of Uzbekistan decided to keep the refinancing rate at the earlier level of 9% per annum. This was done to keep inflation under control, stimulate investment and promote economic growth. Inflation in the country in 2016 was 5.7% compared to 5.6% a year earlier. In 2017, inflation is expected to be between 5.7%-6.7%. Uzbekistan has been growing steadily on account of its vast natural resources of oil, natural gas and gold. Uzbekistan’s economy grew by 7.8% in 2016 compared to an 8% growth in 2015 reflecting a weaker external environment and slower growth in the industry. The government has forecast GDP growth of 7.8% in 2017.
President Nazarbayev in his state-of-the-nation address on 31st January, 2017, launched the third phase of Kazakhstan’s economic modernisation. The Plan looks beyond the current difficult global economic conditions to prepare the country for challenges and opportunities in years ahead to make it among the 30 most developed nations of the world by 2050. Nazarbayev emphasized the importance of expansion of business environment and improvement of conditions for mass business. To achieve that goal, it is necessary to minimize the state’s involvement in the economy and develop public-private partnership.
Position of Kazakhstan in the American Think Tank Heritage Foundation’s “2017 Index of Economic Freedom’’ moved up significantly by 27 positions from 69 to 42 with an improvement of 5.4% in overall performance. Amongst Central Asian States, Kyrgyzstan comes next at 89, Tajikistan stands at 109, Uzbekistan at 148 and Turkmenistan brings up the rear at 170 out of a total of 180 countries. For purpose of reference, India stands at 143 (a decline of 3.6% in performance and fall from 128thposition in the previous year), China at 111, Russia at 114, Sri Lanka at 112, Bangladesh at 128, and Pakistan at 141.
World Bank has forecasted that Kazakhstan’s GDP will grow from 0.9% in 2016 to 2.2% in 2017, 3.7% in 2018 and 4% in 2019. Much of this has to do with the government’s own infrastructure spending. As the economy opens up, Kazakhstan climbed the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index and is now ranked 35th. According to World Bank, 80% of all foreign money coming into Central Asia heads to Kazakhstan. World Bank has ranked it as one of the 20 most attractive countries in the world for investors.
Total value of exports and imports of Kazakhstan equals 53% of its GDP with average applied tariff rate of 3.3%.
Tajikistan’s trade turnover decreased significantly over 2016. Between 2003 and 2013, Tajikistan’s GDP grew by an average of 7.2% per year, while employment expanded at only 2.1% annually. The low level of product diversification and reliance upon natural resources makes the Tajik economy susceptible to volatile commodity prices. The country adopted a new National Development Strategy covering 2016-2030, which envisages Tajikistan transforming from a mainly agrarian based economy to an industrialized economy.
In 2016 Tajikistan’s foreign debt reached US $2.3 billion or 32.7% of the country’s GDP. Today, Tajikistan’s largest international creditor is China, accounting for more than half of the country’s total debt. Tajikistan’s other large creditors are the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Islamic Development Bank. In 2016, Tajikistan’s exports amounted to US$898.7 million and imports stood at US$3 billion.
India-Central Asia Relations
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched “Al-Farabi-1”, a 1.7 kg Technology Demonstrator nano satellite built by Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty along with 103 other satellites using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota on 15th February, 2017.  The successful launch of Kazakhstan’s nano satellite is expected to pave the way for further bilateral cooperation in the field of space.
India and Kazakhstan marked the 25th anniversary of establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations on 22nd February, 2017.
Technical assistance of 7.8 million tenge (US$ 25,000) was given by India to the Al Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty for establishment of a Mahatma Gandhi Centre and upgradation of the India Studies Centre in the Department of Indology of Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University.
A 30-member cultural and artisan troupe from Kyrgyzstan and an 8-member troupe from Kazakhstan participated in the 31st Surajkund International Crafts Fair in Haryana, India from 1st-15th February, 2017. The troupes showcased traditional arts and crafts of their countries to huge crowds at the Mela.
A two member delegation from Kazakhstan comprising of Dr. Erlan Gadletovich Batyrbekov, Director General,  National Nuclear Centre, Ministry of Energy, and Prof Laura Yerekeshava, Deputy Director, Institute of Oriental Studies participated in the Raisina Dialogue organised by Observer Research Foundation and Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi on 18-20 January, 2017.
 (The views expressed are personal)

Udayan Mane hits the front in round two of bti Open

Feroz Singh Garewal’s 66 is day’s best

28.02.2017 14:11:18 – Feroz Singh Garewal’s 66 is day’s best; 19 Bangladeshi golfers make cut
(live-PR.com) – Dhaka, February 28, 2017: Bengaluru’s Udayan Mane hit the front with a five-under-67 in round two of the bti Open 2017. Mane’s two-day total of seven-under-137 placed him one shot clear of the rest at the Rs. 40 lakh event being played at the Kurmitola Golf Club (KGC) in Dhaka.
Khalin Joshi, another Bengalurean, signed for a 69 to be 
placed second at six-under-138 at the halfway stage. The Chandigarh duo of Feroz Singh Garewal (66) and Harendra Gupta (69) were a further shot back in tied third. Garewal’s six-under-66 was the best round of the day.
The halfway cut was set at five-over-149 with 50 professionals and one amateur making it through to the last two rounds. Nineteen Bangladeshi golfers made the cut.
Udayan Mane’s (70-67) top-class 67 propelled him from overnight tied sixth to first position. Mane, a two-time winner on the PGTI, fired six birdies against a lone bogey on Tuesday to rise into contention.
The 26-year-old Udayan, playing his third season as a professional, had it all going for him on day two as he sank three birdie putts from a range of 10 to 15 feet and also made a couple of chip-putt birdies. The only blemish on his card was a bogey on the second where he missed an up and down.
Mane, the 2015 PGTI Emerging Player of the Year, said, “After a terrific rookie season in 2015 where I won two events, I think I expected a bit too much from myself in the following season. I did have a decent 2016 but not as per my expectations.
“I see the past year as a learning curve and am now just working at getting the process and the basics right without thinking too much about the results. I’m just looking to improve in all aspects of the game. That’s the new approach I have for this season.
“I feel I’m carrying forward the good form from the last event in Hyderabad where I finished tied 11th despite being unwell on the last two days,” added Udayan, who finished tied 10th at the Asian Tour’s Bangladesh Open played at the same venue earlier this month.
Khalin Joshi (69-69), a three-time winner on the PGTI, moved up from overnight tied third to second after posting a second straight 69 that featured five birdies and two bogeys. Joshi had lost in a playoff and finished runner-up at the last PGTI event two weeks back.
Khalin said, “I’ve been close to winning for some time now. I feel my game is getting better with each passing week. I’ve done well at the KGC having been the joint runner-up at the Asian Tour’s Bangladesh Open staged here back in 2015. I was also ninth at this year’s edition of the Bangladesh Open held earlier this month. So I feel I have a good chance this week.”
Feroz Singh Garewal produced the best round of the day, a six-under-66, also the best round of the tournament so far, to make his way up from overnight tied 27th to tied third at five-under-139. Feroz’s error-free round included four consecutive birdies from the second to the fifth. Harendra Gupta’s second round 69 meant that he too took a share of third place.
Round one leader Md Sanju of Kolkata dropped to tied fifth at four-under-140 as a result of his second round of 73. The Delhi duo of Rashid Khan (71) and Naman Dawar (70) also closed the day in joint fifth.
Rabin Miah (71-72) was the highest placed Bangladeshi golfer in tied 13th at one-under-143.
PGTI Order of Merit leader Ajeetesh Sandhu (71) of Chandigarh was also placed tied 13th at the halfway stage.
Md Zamal Hossain Mollah (71-75), the leading golfer from the host nation, occupied tied 29th place at two-over-146.Indian stars Rashid Khan and Khalin Joshi as well as Sri Lanka’s top golfer Mithun Perera started well with matching scores of 69 to be tied third.
Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta, Naman Dawar of Delhi and Bengaluru’s Udayan Mane were all placed tied sixth at two-under-70.
Md Zamal Hossain Mollah, Rabin Miah and Md Dulal Hossain were the highest placed Bangladeshi golfers in tied ninth with scores of one-under-71.
PGTI Order of Merit leader Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh, also the winner of the last event in Hyderabad, was in tied 17th place at even-par-72.
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Constantine announces list of 31 probables


NEW DELHI; 28th February 2017: The Indian Senior National Team will be camping in Mumbai prior to their crucial Group A match against Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers UAE 2019. India are slated to play Myanmar in their first Group match in Yangon on March 28, 2017.
Even as National Coach Stephen Constantine announced his list of probables for the Camp, he said that he chose Mumbai over other venues because the “weather conditions in Mumbai will be closest to Yangon.”
“Mumbai will be hot and humid much like what we will experience in Yangon when we play Myanmar in our first match,” he said. “The last time we camped and played in Mumbai, the Western India Football Association headed by AIFF President Mr. Praful Patel and Mr. Aditya Thackeray were so supportive and helpful, arranging and providing all what the National Team needed and asked for. I appreciate their passion and feeling for the National Team.”
The boys would be assembling in Mumbai from March 12 onwards as per their Club commitments in
the Hero I-League and the AFC Cup.
Constantine’s list of 31 probables has four new faces – Nishu Kumar, Subhashish Bose, Jerry Lalrinzuala and Milan Singh – all of whom who would reporting to any of his National Camps for the first-time ever.
“We have recruited players on basis of their consistent performances both from the Hero I-League and the Hero Indian Super League. I reiterate that the door is open for anyone who is eligible to play for India. But for that he must be prepared to do the work we need. We have selected the players from what we have seen over the last few months,” he stated.
India are slated to play Cambodia in an International Friendly in Phnom Penh on March 22 as part of their preparation for the crucial against Myanmar.

The list of probables stay as follows:

GOALKEEPERS: Subrata Paul, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, TP Rehneesh.

DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Sandesh Jhingan, Arnab Mondal, Anas Edathodika, Dhanapal Ganesh, Fulganco Cardozo, Narayan Das, Subhashish Bose, Jerry Lanrinzuala.

MIDFIELDERS: Jackichand Singh, Setiyesen Singh, Udanta Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Milan Singh, Pronay Halder, Md. Rafique, Rowllin Borges, Halicharan Narzary, CK Vineeth, Anthony D’Souza, Issac Vanlalsawma.

FORWARDS: Jeje Lelkephlua, Sumeet Passi, Sunil Chhetri, Daniel Lalhimpuia, Robin Singh.

India can grow at higher rate; job creation plans underway: FM Arun Jaitley

Feb 28
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said India has potential to grow faster and plans are underway to reduce poverty and create jobs in rural areas. Mr Jaitley, who is meeting top government officials and business leaders in London, told reporters in London that India still has the potential to grow at a higher rate than today. A series of action is needed to reduce poverty in the rural areas. The Minister said he does not see India becoming a cashless system immediately but he anticipates India becoming less-cash economy. Mr Jaitley hoped that the Goods and Services Tax would be implemented by 1st of July this year.
The Finance Minister said the Indian government takes the issue of defaulters very seriously. In response to a question, Mr. Jaitley said he may raise the issue of defaulters based in Britain with the UK government, in an apparent reference to liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Because of the strong steps taken by the government, the Finance Minister said, some defaulters are on the run. Being on the run, they find refuge in certain other jurisdictions, exploiting the systems in other parts of the world.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II yesterday hosted a reception at the Buckingham Palace to launch the UK-India Year of Culture 2017 with Mr Jaitley representing the Indian government at the historic event. The 90-year-old Queen was joined by her husband, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, and grandson Prince William and his wife Kate. It showcased the cultural diversity of India in the form of dance.

Hungary starts construction of second border fence

Hungary has begun building a second line of fence along its southern border with Serbia, a government spokesman said on Monday, a move likely to exacerbate criticism from some of the country’s EU partners. A barbed-wire fence is already in place, erected in 2015, when Hungary was part of the main overland route for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government considers migration to be one of the largest threats to the status quo in the EU. But officials in Brussels and some other EU centers are distressed by some of his go-it-alone policies. A European Parliament committee was due on Monday to discuss the state of fundamental rights in Hungary.

ANA to take on a majority stake in budget carrier Peach Aviation.

Japanese airline company ANA say they will take on a majority stake in budget carrier Peach Aviation.
ANA to inject spend 270 million dollars to raise its holding to 67 percent to make Peach a subsidiary.
ANA Holdings currently has a 39 percent stake. Two other Peach Aviation stockholders have stakes of about 30 percent each. They are a Hong Kong-based investment firm and a state-backed fund, Innovation Network Corporation of Japan.
ANA executives say they plan to buy about half of the shares held by these companies.
Peach Aviation was launched with ANA’s backing in 2012 as Japan’s first low-cost carrier.
Executives say the 2 airlines will be able to cut costs by combining aircraft purchases and pilot training.NHK

Volkswagen back into black in 2016

Volkswagen are back into the black in 2016, thanks to record global sales and decreased costs in addressing their emissions test scandal.
The German automaker released on Friday its group-wide earnings results for last year.
Volkswagen sales stood at 217.3 billion euros or around 230 billion dollars, up 1.9 percent from the previous year.
Volkswagen posted all-time high deliveries of over 10 million units, topping Toyota Motor for the first time.
But the costs were reduced on a scandal involving software designed to rig emissions tests. The amount shrank to 6.8 billion dollars from 17.1 billion dollars in 2015.
As a result, the group reported a net profit of 5.4 billion dollars, compared to a net loss of nearly 1.7 billion dollars a year before.
Volkswagen also announced it will limit remuneration for its executives, starting this year.
Annual pay for its CEO will be capped at 10 million euros or 10.6 million dollars. Other executives will be paid a maximum of 5.8 million dollars.
The company faced criticism about handsome salaries paid to board members despite a massive loss the company suffered in 2015.NHK

President Park named as bribery suspect

South Korea’s impeached President Park Geun-hye was named a bribery suspect on Tuesday as special prosecutors wrap up their four-month probe into an influence-peddling scandal centered on her.
The probe team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, claimed the president colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to receive bribes from the country’s largest conglomerate Samsung Group in return for business favors, its spokesman Lee Kyu-chul told a regular press briefing.
President Park, now awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision on her impeachment, will not immediately face charges as an incumbent president is immune from prosecution.
Prosecutors will indict Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung, later in the day on charges of giving or promising some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to the president’s jailed friend Choi in return for the government’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.
The business merger was seen as critical to the smooth management succession of the group from ailing Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee to his only son Jae-yong.
The investigation team was given 70 days with another 20 days for preparations to look into the allegations that President Park let her friend Choi meddle in state affairs and amass profits using her ties to the president..yonhapnews.

Abe denies wife’s connection with Moritomo Gakuen

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Diet committee that his wife has received no payment from an elementary school that is scheduled to open in April in Osaka.
Akie Abe resigned as honorary principal of the school after it was revealed that the land for the school was purchased at a price much lower than its appraised value.
Opposition lawmakers raised questions about the sale of the state-owned plot of land last year to the school’s operator, Moritomo Gakuen.
Responding to questions from an opposition party lawmaker on Monday, the prime minister said neither he nor his wife Akie had anything to do with the deletion of her speech from the operator’s website.
He told the Lower House budget committee that suggesting he was behind the deletion amounts to “branding.” He criticized those using loaded terms to make it appear as though he was being manipulative.
Abe said his wife did not receive any fee from the school’s operator for delivering a speech or for becoming its honorary principal.
The opposition lawmaker also indicated that education policy at a kindergarten run by the same operator is too political and could pose legal problems.
The prime minister said he knows nothing about education at the kindergarten. He said Osaka Prefecture is in charge of the issue and that the Education Ministry should be in full control of what’s going on.
Abe said he believes it is inappropriate that children at the kindergarten were made to say “Stay strong, Prime Minister Abe!” in an oath of fair play at an athletic meet.
He said he absolutely does not want to hear such words from preschoolers.NHK

Monday, 27 February 2017

ZTE unveiled lightening-fast 5G mobile

Chinese telecoms giant ZTE unveiled Sunday what it said is the world´s first smartphone compatible with the lightening-fast 5G mobile internet service that networks expect to have up and running by 2020.
The company said the Gigabit Phone is the first smartphone capable of download speeds reaching up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) — up to 10 times faster than the first generation of 4G services widely in use today.
The device, unveiled in Barcelona in northeastern Spain on the eve of the start on Monday of the Mobile World Congress, the world´s biggest mobile fair, will allow for 360-degree panoramic Virtual Reality video and fast downloads of ultra Hi-Fi music and videos.
“With the new device, the way people stay connected will be changed forever.
Focusing on 5G technologies will be one of the key priorities of ZTE´s global development,” a ZTE spokesman said.
Tech firms are racing to develop products that will be compatible with 5G, shorthand for the fifth generation of networks, which promise blazing fast connectivity for a generation used to streaming movies and TV directly to phones.
South Korean carrier KT Corp aims to offer trial 5G services during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The first large-scale commercial deployment of the technology is expected in 2020.
Forrester analyst Thomas Husson said ZTE was using the phone to “showcase innovation” and “offer a glimpse into the future when people will be able to download full movies in seconds” but it was not likely to be a big seller.
“The sad reality is that this smartphone will not end up in consumers´ pockets because both 5G and Virtual Reality are still years away to be a mass-market consumer reality,” he added.
Founded in 1985, ZTE offers telecom equipment and services and has customers in more than 160 countries, according to the company.
It is the only Chinese smartphone vendor with a meaningful presence in the United States, where its 10 percent market share makes it the fourth-largest vendor.

Sri Lanka prison bus shooting

Attackers opened fire on a prison bus outside Colombo on Monday, killing five prisoners and two armed guards in the worst gang-related violence to hit Sri Lanka in decades.
Gunmen sprayed bullets at the bus as it drove through a wooded area, police said, adding that four guards escaped with gunshot injuries.
The prisoners were being driven to court for a hearing when the audacious daytime attack took place, police said.
“It is believed that the shooting was a result of enmity between two underworld gangs,” police said in a statement. “Investigations are under way.”
Security for underworld suspects had been tightened following a similar shooting on a prison bus that seriously wounded another suspected gang leader in the capital in March last year.
Six people were killed in two separate incidents on that day, but police said Monday’s bus ambush was the deadliest gang-related attack in Sri Lanka in living memory.
Automatic weapons are easily available eight years after the end of the country’s 37-year ethnic war.
Attempts to crack down on possession of illegal firearms have been largely ineffective.

Gender and Public Transport in India:

CPR and CSH are pleased to invite you to a workshop on
Gender and Public Transport in India: How do we move from women’s safety to gender equity?
Tuesday, 28 February 2017, 3:45 p.m.
Sonal Shah
Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research
Image: ITDP India
The increased policy attention to gender in public transport in India has focused on women and is largely circumscribed by technological and project level interventions aimed at addressing and preventing gruesome incidents of violence. The accounts of sexual violence in the public sphere and Nirbhaya’s death in December 2012 galvanized action by civil society and different levels of government in creating safer public transportation systems.
However, public transport planning remains gender blind as city mobility plans rarely collect gender disaggregated data, investigate gendered trip chaining patterns, the mobility of care, inequities such as daily harassment, time poverty, forced mobility and forced immobility, lack of access to non-motorized vehicles and employment and growth in public transport organizations.
This is compounded by fragmented information on existing initiatives undertaken by public transportation authorities. For example, bus-based authorities have created toilets for transgender persons at city bus stands (Mysore), installed GPS devices and CCTV cameras, provided segregated seats and women only doors, conducted gender sensitization trainings, created Women Safety Committees (e.g. Bangalore) and reserved jobs for women drivers and conductors (e.g. Karnataka). Some of these were initiated prior to 2012, often on political requests or on receiving complaints. The implementation challenges, impact of these actions or the extent to which gender equity is rooted within the transport organization’s vision and goals has not been explored. Thus a wide area of research themes on gender and mobility in India remain uninvestigated.
This paper situates women’s security within a broader goal of gender equity; and identifies research gaps in moving the policy discourse towards gender equitable public transport systems. The research focuses on city bus services as they form the back bone of urban India’s public transportation system. The research was conducted at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and was first presented at the conference on “Urban Planning, Governance and Design for Reducing Urban Conflicts and Violence: Critical Learnings and Possibilities”, March 2-4, 2016, Ahmedabad.
Sonal Shah is Senior Manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, where she coordinates urban planning projects, policy and research. She has 12 years’ experience in over a dozen cities in India, on city-scale to neighbourhood plans, transit oriented development and station accessibility planning to street design, historic precinct conservation, gender, urban redevelopment and housing policy research.
She wears dual hats as a practitioner and educator. In addition to co-teaching undergraduate urban design studios and graduate history and theory of planning courses, she has conducted capacity building sessions and workshops with professionals, government officials and practitioners. She has presented in numerous conferences such as Safe and Inclusive Cities Conference (Ahmedabad), Transed (Delhi), Walk 21 (Munich), Eco-mobility Conference (Changwon), Talking Transit (Bhopal) and ConnectKaro (Bangalore and Mumbai).
Sonal previously worked with reputed organizations such as the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, World Resources Institute and with the late Charles Correa at the Urban Design Research Institute. She completed a B.Arch from KRVIA, Mumbai University and MSc Urban Planning from Columbia University.
This is the eighty fifth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Christine Ithurbide at christine@csh-delhi.com , Partha Mukhopadhyay at partha@cprindia.org or Marie-Hélène Zerah at marie-helene.zerah@ird.fr 

Manipur Candidates with Criminal Cases:

Criminal Background

·         Candidates with Criminal Cases: Out of 167 candidates analyzed, (5%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

Criteria for serious criminal cases

1.        Offence for which maximum punishment is of 5 years or more.
2.        If an offence is non-bailable
3.        If it is an electoral offence (for eg. IPC 171E or bribery)
4.        Offence related to loss to exchequer
5.        Offences that are assault, murder, kidnap, rape related
6.        Offences that are mentioned in Representation of the People Act (Section 8)
7.        Offences under Prevention of Corruption Act
8.        Crimes against women.

Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: 3 (2%) candidates have declared serious criminal cases, including cases related to attempt to murder, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property etc.
·         Party wise Candidates with Criminal Cases: 4 (11%) out of 38 candidates from Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP)2 (5%) out of 37 candidates from Indian National Congress (INC), 1 (10%) out of 10 candidates from Manipur National Democratic Front and 1(17%) out of 6 candidates from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
·         Party wise Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases 2 (5%) out of 38 candidates from BJP and 1 (3%) out of 37 candidates from INC have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

Financial Background

·         Share of wealth among candidates : The share of wealth amongst the candidates contesting in the first phase of assembly elections Manipur is as follows:
Value of assets (Rs.)
No of candidates
Percentage of Candidates
Rs.5 cr and above
Rs.2 crores to 5 crores
Rs. 50 lakhs to 2 crores
Rs.10 lakhs to 50 lakhs
less than  Rs. 10 lakhs
Table: Share of wealth amongst contesting candidates

·         High asset candidates:  The 3 richest candidates contesting in the first phase of the Manipur Assembly Elections are given below:
Party Name
Movable Assets (Rs)
Immovable Assets (Rs)
Total Assets (Rs)
PAN Given
Naga Peoples Front
13 Crore+
9 Crore+
8 Crore+
 Table: Top three candidates with highest declared assets

·         Crorepati CandidatesOut of the 167 candidates, 54 (32%) are crorepatis.
·         Party wise Crorepati Candidates: 21(57%) out of 37 candidates from INC, 21 (55%) out of 38 candidates from BJP, 5 (42%) out of 12 candidates from National Peoples Party, 2(25%) out of 8 candidates from North East India Development Party and 2(33%) out of 6 candidates from NCP have declared assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore.
·         Average assets: The average of assets per candidate contesting in the first phase of the Manipur Assembly Elections is Rs 1.04 Crore.
·         Party wise average assets: Among major parties, the average assets per candidate for 37 INC candidates is Rs. 1.73 crore, 38 BJP candidates is Rs 1.49 crore, 12 National Peoples Party candidates have average assets of Rs 1.06 crores, 10 AITC candidates have average assets worth Rs 32.74 lakhs, 6 NCP candidates have average assets worth Rs 58.74 lakhs, and 14 Independent candidates have average assets of Rs. 26.36 lakhs.
·         Low asset candidates: The three candidates with lowest assets are as follows:
Party Name
Movable Assets (Rs)
Immovable Assets (Rs)
Total Assets (Rs)
PAN Given
Manipur Peoples Party
7 Thou+
14 Thou+
14 Thou+
 Table: Candidates with declared lowest assets


·         Candidates with high liabilities: The top three candidates with highest liabilities are as given below:
Party Name
Total Assets(Rs)
Liabilities (Rs)
Imphal East
1 Crore+
6 Crore+
4 Crore+
2 Crore+
Imphal West
3 Crore+
1 Crore+
 Table: Top three candidates with high liabilities

·         Undeclared PAN:  A total of 9 (5%) candidates have not declared their PAN details.
·         Candidates with high income as declared in the ITR*: 10 candidates have declared total annual income of more than Rs 20 lakhs. The top 3 candidates  with highest income are as given below:
Party Name
Total Asset (Rs)
The financial year for which the last income tax return has been filed by candidate
Total income shown by candidate in ITR (Self+Spouse+Dependent) (Rs)
Self income shown by candidate in ITR (Rs)
Imphal East
8,92,65,173  8 Crore+
2,21,71,827  2 Crore+
7,50,500  7 Lacs+
68,63,400  68 Lacs+
28,11,749  28 Lacs+
11,31,749  11 Lacs+
4,38,21,788  4 Crore+
27,75,210  27 Lacs+
18,93,240  18 Lacs+
 Table: Top 3 candidates with high income as declared in ITR
*Total income includes income of self, spouse and dependents

·         Candidates who have not declared Income Tax Details*: 66 (40%) out of 167 candidates have not declared income tax details.
* Some candidates may be exempted from filing Income Tax Return

·         Candidates with high Assets who have not declared Income Tax Details*: 10 candidates with assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore have not declared Income Tax details. The top three candidates with highest assets who have not declared their IT returns are as given below:
Party Name
Total Income (Rs)
Total Assets (Rs)
PAN Given
Self Income
Naga Peoples Front
13,11,96,000 13 Crore+
ITR not filed
3,48,19,212 3 Crore+
ITR not filed
3,27,56,278 3 Crore+
ITR not filed
 Table: Top three candidates with highest assets who have not declared ITR details
* Some candidates may be exempted from filing Income Tax Returns

Other Background Details
·         Education details of candidates: 38 (23%) candidates have declared their educational qualification to be between 5th and 12thwhile 124 (74%)candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate or above and 1 candidate is illiterate.
·         Age details of candidates: 72(43%) candidates have declared their age to be between 25 and 50 years while 95 (57%) candidates have declared their age to be between 51 and 80 years 
Gender details of candidates: 7 (4%) female candidates are contesting in first phase of the Manipur assembly election this year.
Thanks & Regards
Media and Journalist Helpline

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National Election Watch,
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National Election Watch, Association for Democratic
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IIM Bangalore
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Association for Democratic Reforms
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SPIC MACAY International Convention at IIT Delhi

Dear Sir,
SPIC MACAY is a nationwide voluntary movement, is continuing its commitment towards creating awareness and a deep-rooted sense of pride in our rich cultural heritage across schools and colleges all over India. We are pleased to inform you that SPIC MACAY is organizing 5th International Convention at Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, from 5th June to 11th June, 2017.
We have had four International Conventions in the past 4 years at IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IIT Guwahati and at the IIM Calcutta. 
The highlight of the event is that about 1500 youth will be participating in the convention from all over the country and abroad. There will be week long series programs of Indian Classical Music, Dance, Folk, Theater, Films, Yoga and Talks by eminent artists.  There would be theater presentation performances of various folk forms. We would also be having intensives and workshops conducted by inspiring gurus and master craftsmen. We believe that one of the best ways of making students aware of the gentler, more aesthetic, and diverse, yet integrated, strands of India’s culture is by systematically introducing them to various forms of Indian classical music and dance in Schools, Colleges, and universities throughout the land. International Conventions are the congregation of the people associated with this Noble Cause, who spend one week in a unique ashram-like atmosphere.
The concluding day will have a ‘Classical Overnight’ concert beginning at 8 pm and ending at 6 am the following morning with non-stop concerts by India’s top performing artists. 
Padma Vibhushan Awardees: Vidushi Girija Devi, Vidwan Umayalapuram Sivaraman, Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia, 
Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt.Birju Maharaj, Vidhushi Sonal Mansingh, Shri  Adoor Gopalakrishnan; 
Padma Bhushan Awardees: Prof. T N Krishnan, Pt. Rajan and Pt.Sajan Mishra, Pt. Vishwamohan Bhatt, Begum Parween Sultana, Smt. Teejan Bai, Vidhushi Sudha Raghunathan; 
Padma Shri Awardees: Vidushi Malavika Sarukkai,  Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar, Pt. Venkatesh Kumar, Guru Ghanakanta  Bora, Ustad F Wasifuddin Dagar Smt. Anjolie Ela Menon,
 Vidushi Kanyakumari ,Shri Gurappa Chetty; 
Jnanpith Awardee, Dr. SatyavratShastri, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, Vidwan T M Krishna, Shri Margi Madhu, are some of the renowned artists who are expected to participate in the Convention.
We humbly request you to kindly grace the forthcoming 5th International Convention at IIT-Delhi on 5th June, 2017 at 1800 hrs as
a very

Special Guest
 This benign gesture will be a great inspiration to the morale of the young volunteers working for this movement and the whole cultural fraternity. 
We look forward for your support for news coverage and curtain raiser for publicity, press release and registration link.

Warm Regards,
Suman Doonga
Head-Media and Communication
Central State Facilitator(North India)
(Delhi and NCR)

The prejudices against marginalised communities