Category Archives: South Asia

Can beat anyone if I am fit, says Mary Kom

mary kom

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) Having won gold at the Asian Championships after returning to her favourite 48 kilogram category, star Indian boxer M.C Mary Kom asserted that she can defeat any opponent as long as she is fit.

“If I am fit, nobody can touch me. Nobody can beat me easily. As long as I am training hard and my body is fit, I can beat anyone, bring it on,” the five-time world champion told the media here on Thursday.

Farhan urges sexual harassment victims to open up

Farhan-Akhtar

Mumbai, Nov 8 (IANS) Multi-talented Bollywood celebrity Farhan Akhtar, who is vocal in his support for gender equality, says there is no point in targeting only the film industry for perpetuating sexual harassment as it exists everywhere. However, he urged the victims to come out and talk about it openly.

Farhan, along with film director Feroz Abbas Khan and Poonam Muttreja of the Population Foundation of India (PFI) were here together on Wednesday as a part of the social campaign ‘Bas Ab Bahut Ho Gaya’ that is organising a concert titled ‘Lalkar’ to address the issue of sexual violence against women.

At a time when several women in Hollywood have come forward to voice their experience with sexual harassment in the field, Bollywood has been fairly quiet about it. People have spoken about the casting couch and some women celebrities joined the #MeToo campaign, but not many men have spoken out and women, especially budding actors, who may have even faced it, fear taking names.

Himachal polls see 74% turnout, highest in four decades

Himachal

Shimla, Nov 9 (IANS) A record over 74 per cent, highest in four decades, of Himachal Pradesh’s 50.25 lakh electorate on Thursday exercised their franchise in the assembly elections where the ruling Congress and the BJP were locked in a straight contest.

“The percentage is expected to go up further. This is the highest poll percentage recorded by the hill state in assembly polls,” Dilip Sharma, Director General, Election Commission, told reporters in New Delhi.

Election officials said the polling was peaceful and no major untoward incident was reported from the 68 seats.

Odd-even scheme to be back in Delhi next week

odd-even

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) With the national capital facing an environmental emergency as pollution levels worsened, the Delhi government has decided to implement the third phase of the odd-even traffic rule from November 13 to 17, state Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said on Thursday.

“Air pollution in Delhi has crossed the ‘severe’ level. That’s why we are bringing back the odd-even plan,” Gahlot told media persons here.

He said the modalities of the scheme would be the same as earlier, with similar timings and exemptions: private vehicles with odd registration numbers would be allowed on odd dates and those with even numbers on even dates between 8 a.m and 8 p.m, and there would be no restrictions on weekends and public holidays.

“We don’t have a lot of time left to design the whole programme, hence we are going ahead with the rules that were imposed in the previous two phases,” he said.

The first phase of the odd-even rule was implemented by the Delhi government from January 1 to 15 and the second phase from April 15 to 30 last year.

The rule would not apply to the CNG and electric cars, two-wheelers and the cars driven by women with a male companion not above 12.

Vehicles for medical emergencies, occupied or driven by people with disabilities, VVIPs and enforcement cars would also be allowed to run on all days.

Gahlot cited increasing public transport facilities as one of the ways to help the public during the upcoming five-day traffic rationing scheme.

“DTC will hire 500 buses from private vendors at the previous rates. We have also requested the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to push the feeder bus service,” he said.

Gahlot informed that Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) stickers for cars would be available 2 p.m onwards from Friday at 22 CNG stations across Delhi and urged the people to cooperate in the implementation of the scheme.

“I appeal to the people, all agencies and the police to cooperate in these hours of crisis,” he said.

The Supreme Court-appointed environment body Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) and the Delhi Lt. Governor on Wednesday instructed the Delhi government to stay prepared to roll out the odd-even car rationing scheme, with air pollution levels reaching alarming levels.

Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh continues

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Dhaka, Oct 28 (IANS) The influx of Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Myanmar continued on Saturday despite the two countries signing an agreement to stop the exodus.

“I do not see that the Rohingya influx has stopped. Normally, 1,000 to 2,000 Rohingyas enter Bangladesh daily, and it is continuing,” Shah Kamal, secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, told Efe news on Saturday.

“The influx did not stop. We cannot even say it has slowed down.”

According to the official, at least 500 Rohingyas entered the county on Friday.

He said that in the last four to five days, 500-700 Rohingyas had been arriving every day.

“We do not see any change in the number of Rohingyas entering Bangladesh after the agreement.”

In its latest report on Friday, the UN Inter Sector Coordination Group said that around 605,000 Rohingyas had arrived in Bangladesh in the last two months, excluding around 1,125 who had arrived a day before and had not been counted as they were still in transit.

The crisis began on August 25 when an insurgent group of the Rohingya Muslim minority staged a series of attacks on police and army posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, to which the Myanmar military responded with an ongoing large-scale offensive.

Myanmar does not consider the Rohingyas to be citizens, while Bangladesh, where around 300,000 Rohingyas were living before the start of the current crisis, also treats them as foreigners.

Prabhu takes up H-1B, L-1 visa issues strongly with US

suresh-prabhu

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu strongly took up Indian concerns over the H-1B and L-1 visas with the US, and pointed out the contribution of skilled Indian professionals to make US companies more competitive, an official statement said on Saturday.

“The minister for Commerce and Industry strongly took up the Indian concern with regard to problems faced by Indian services companies in obtaining H-1B and L-1 visas. He requested the US to ease the movement of skilled professionals, which has over the years contributed towards making US companies more competitive,” the statement said.

During the 11th Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting, held in Washington on Thursday, Prabhu also took up the issue of mismatch between the US visa and the US social security regimes, wherein Indian professionals making social security contributions do not receive their due benefits upon their return to India.

Prabhu urged the US to revisit its position and work towards achieving a “totalisation agreement”.

The Minister discussed the issues with US Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and his team.

Prabhu pointed out that as the Indian economy grows, and with the renewed emphasis on reviving US manufacturing, there will be greater opportunities for US exports to India.

“In this context, he pointed out that India has already started to import crude oil and new Liquefied Natural Gas exports are expected to commence early next year,” the statement said.

On market access in areas of interest to each other, Prabhu noted progress on issues like ground handling operations, import regulations relating to poultry, export of pork to India, that have been raised by the US side. He also sought easing of procedure for export of Indian mangoes and pomegranates and market access for table grapes from India.

While responding to the US concerns on price controls on medical devices, the Minister explained the need to bring about a balance between the demand for optimum medical facilities and affordable healthcare to Indian citizens.

Note ban, GST destroyed economy, says Chidambaram

PC

Rajkot, Oct 28 (IANS) Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday asserted that demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST) have had a “sledgehammer” impact on the small and medum businesses as well as slowing down job growth in the country.

In “Samvad”, an interaction with businessmen in Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupanis’ hometown, he said the twin measures had destroyed the economy completely.

Questioning the description of demonetisation as “a bold step”, he said it was actually reckless and foolish.

“What’s a bold step? A farmer who commits suicide is also a bold step? Do you welcome it? Committing suicide also requires courage. I call it rash, reckless and an adventurous step. Demonetisation has destroyed lives.

“For two to three months, millions of people stood in queues to exchange notes. Nearly, 140 people lost their lives. Carpenter, rickshaw pullers, plumbers, who depend on daily cash earnings, went without business for two months. Demonetisation was a foolish step.”

The Congress leader said the note ban had failed to achieve its much-touted objectives like ending black money and curbing terror funding, adding India did not have black money but a tax-evading “shadow economy”.

“There is nothing like black money but merely income which is taxed and income that is taxable but escapes the tax net. India’s shadow economy is around 12 per cent. There are many European countries whose shadow economy is more than 12 per cent. Even the US has around eight per cent shadow economy. What is shadow economy? It is income that your tax system is not able to capture,” he said.

“The answer to shadow economy is to make your tax system more efficient. If you put cruel tax rates, people will avoid it. People will say why should I pay. If you make the tax system friendly, they will pay.

“The answer is not demonetisation. It’s like saying there is a mosquito in my house, so I am going to burn down my whole house,” he added

On the GST, Chidambaram said it was a good move but hastily implemented, while the requirement to file three returns online every month had forced small and medium businesses to shut down.

Attacking the government over lack of employment generation, he said: “There are no jobs today. Jobs will be created only if small and medium businesses grow. To help them grow, small businesses should not be required to register. Medium businesses must be given the right to self-certification.”

Ridiculing the government’s claims that the economy was on a strong wicket, he asked why it had announced the Rs 5 lakh crore Bharatmala project and bank recapitalisation all of a sudden.

“In your heart, you know things are not good. In the last six quarters, the growth rate has gone down from 9.1 per cent to 5.7 per cent, a drop of 3.4 per cent.

“India doesn’t deserve growth rate below 5.7 per cent and it is possible to take it up by taking right steps and not taking wrong steps. But for that to happen, the government must acknowledge that they committed a mistake through demonetisation and GST. The government must hire someone from outside to correct the mistakes. Those in government can’t do it as they are the ones who have committed the mistakes.”

On agricultural distress in Gujarat, he claimed that 1,326 farmers committed suicide in the state over the last four years.

Sukhwant Thethi Nominated as Ontario Liberal Candidate in Brampton South

Sukhwant Thethi Brampton South Nomination Selection 1
Hundreds Of Supporters Joined By Premier Wynne And Provincial And Federal Ministers To Rally Around Newest Ontario Liberal Candidate
BRAMPTON — Community leader Sukhwant Thethi was nominated today to stand as the Ontario Liberal candidate for Brampton South in the next provincial election.
Thethi accepted the nomination surrounded by his family, hundreds of local supporters, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa, Ontario Minister of Seniors Dipika Damerla and federal Minister Navdeep Bains. In his speech to supporters, Thethi spoke passionately about his experiences as a new Canadian, the Ontario Liberal plan that is building a better, fairer province and the shameful things that Patrick Brown’s PCs are saying about Sikh candidates behind closed doors.
“I moved here in 1995 from India and waited tables. From an immigrant waiting tables to a successful banker standing here to run to be a Member of Provincial Parliament — this is what Canada is all about!” Thethi said. He added, “I look at Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal plan and I see the policies that will help even more people realize their dreams and seize opportunity, just like I did. As the father of two daughters in university, I know that by making college and university tuition free, the Ontario Liberal plan is going to help hundreds of thousands of young people secure their future.” Referring to the recent actions Ontario’s Liberal government has taken to deliver faster, better health care, new transit, a higher minimum wage and better protections for all workers, Thethi said “This Premier and her team are implementing a plan that supports our families and creates more fairness for people in Brampton and across Ontario.”
In enthusiastically welcoming Thethi to the team, Premier Wynne touched on aspects of Thethi’s life story, saying “Sukhwant knows what it is like to work your way to a better life in a new country. And I know how valuable it is to bring his perspective and ideas to Queen’s Park. One third of our team of Liberal MPPs were born outside of Canada. Every day I see how their different experiences help us in our quest to make life better for Ontario families. Sukhwant will be a strong voice for Brampton and a great help as we continue to fight for fairness and build Brampton up with the new transit, hospitals, schools and university campus that this exciting, growing community needs.”
Thethi also took aim at the recent Conservative nomination controversy in Hamilton, telling supporters it is now clear that Patrick Brown and his PCs will say anything to win votes from South Asians. Thethi was referring to an admission by the Conservative Party president that the PC Party blocked a turbaned Sikh candidate from winning the nomination in Hamilton because he was seen as “not reliable” and the “wrong demographic.” Thethi strongly condemned this as yet another incident that shows the PCs are not the inclusive party they claim to be, saying “Patrick Brown and his Conservatives pretend to reach out to the South Asian community when they want our votes, but this reveals their true colours. This is the kind of Conservative prejudice we must oppose. Whether you are a Sikh Canadian or a Muslim Canadian or someone whose family has been here for generations, there is no right or wrong demographic. We are all Canadians.”