- Government initiates the process to select the 2G Auctioneer
- Anna Hazare begins 5 Week Campaign from Shirdi
- Subway to have 1000 openings in India in 3 years
- Vodafone to hike its Postpaid Tariff by 20 percent
- Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon to be freed on Thursday
- Over 270 people still missing in Assam Boat Tragedy
- 14 Year Girl foils Marriage attempt with her skills
- Planet Venus to cross Sun’s Face in June
- Sachin denies getting involved in Politics
- Indian caught watching Porn during Court Trials in UK
Posted: 01 May 2012 06:41 PM PDT
In a rush to meet the August 31 deadline set by the Supreme Court for auctioning 2G spectrum, an empowered group of ministers (EGoM) Tuesday approved the process to select an auctioneer and said that bids from stakeholders should be invited soon, a senior Department of Telecom (DoT) official said.
“EGoM has approved initiation for the process of selection of auctioneer,” DoT Secretary R. Chandrasekhar told reporters after the EGoM meeting called to discuss the telecom regulator’s recommendations for the auction as mandated by the Supreme Court.
At the meeting, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman J.S. Sarma gave a presentation on its recommendations which have been criticised by almost all the telecom players.
Among other things, the TRAI last month proposed an auction starting price that is 10-13 fold increase over what the operators had paid in 2008 and selling just 5 megahertz spectrum per zone.
TRAI was asked to give its recommendations as mandated by the Supreme Court which Feb 2 had ordered cancellation of 122 licences issued in 2008 and asked the government to re-distribute the licences through auction.
Following strong objections from the industry and sector watchers alike, the telecom commission Monday so sought more information and clarifications from the regulator on its recommendations including spectrum pricing.
Posted: 01 May 2012 05:37 PM PDT
Anna Hazare yesterday started his five-week Maharashtra wide tour to demand a strong Lokayukta from Shirdi and took a pot shot at several Congress leaders, including general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
Accusing Chidambaram of trying to weaken his stir at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan last year, Hazare said that he conspired to foil his agitation but was not successful.
“I was produced before court saying peace would be disturbed (due to my agitation). I refused bail. I said I am ready to go to jail. I went to Tihar Jail,” Hazare said.
He added that it was not expected of him to agree to go to jail and hence Chidambaram’s plans failed.
“When the home minister of a country plans such schemes, where will the country go? Had the Jan Lokpal been there, Chidambaram would have been in jail now,” Hazare said.
Exuding confidence, Hazare said that within these 35 days of his tour, he will visit 35 districts and would motivate people to continue their fight against corruption.
Addressing a huge gathering after praying at the famous Sai Baba Temple in this town in Ahmednagar district, Hazare said that he will launch another massive movement once Lok Sabha elections were declared.
He also condemned the government by accusing it of not wanting to bring back black money stashed away abroad.
Earlier Tuesday, before leaving for Shirdi, Hazare lashed out at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and described him as an honest man, who is being remote controlled.
Criticising Rahul Gandhi for his recent visit to the drought-hit regions of Maharashtra, Hazare said the tour was a gimmick and added that visiting the area for a few hours would not solve the problem.
“Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the drought-hit Sarata region was highlighted in the media with long reports and photographs. But one has to understand that by just taking pictures and being in the area for a few hours, it is not going to solve any problems,” Hazare said.
This is Hazare’s first major tour after the December 2011 agitation in Mumbai which failed to evoke much response.
Anna will be visiting Mumbai June 2 as part of his state tour. He will also visit New Delhi June 3 to take part in an agitation by yoga guru Baba Ramdev in the capital.
Posted: 01 May 2012 04:27 PM PDT
Restaurant chain Subway has said that it is targeting to raise the number of its outlets in India from the existing 263 to 1,000 by 2015 with an investment of $58 million.
The US-based company, present in 50 cities, will be targeting smaller Indian towns.
It aims to generate employment opportunities for another 15,000 people through this expansion in India.
“India is a promising business destination with a young, educated population having growing disposable income. Increased awareness and purchasing power are making the people seek quality products and aspire for better lifestyle,” Fred DeLuca, president and co-founder of Milford, Connecticut, US headquartered Subway, said in a statement.
“Subway will continue to evolve and adapt its product offerings to suit the Indian taste. Our focus however would always be health, freshness and quality,” DeLuca said.
He said the company aimed to expand its presence in India through franchise route. “Indians are entrepreneurs par excellence. That is what makes Subway positive on achieving its targets for India.”
Posted: 01 May 2012 03:24 PM PDT
Vodafone India Tuesday hiked its post-paid tariffs by 20 percent to 1.2 paise per second in the Mumbai circle.
“Vodafone had hiked its call tariffs for pre-paid customers last year, however the same was not done for the post-paid customers. This is just a step in that direction,” an industry source familiar with the development told IANS.
The firm has increased the tariffs to 1.2 paise per second from 1 paisa per second with effect from May 1.
Last year Bharti Airtel had increased call tariffs by 20-50 percent in some regions of the country. The move was followed by almost all the leading players. Vodafone too had hiked the call rates by 20 percent for its pre-paid customers.
The companies had cited declining margins and high 3G and BWA auction prices as reasons for the hike.
Posted: 01 May 2012 01:22 PM PDT
Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon, will be freed on Thursday according to a late night statement released by Maoists.
“We are ready to hand over Menon on May 3 in front of people of Tadmetla.” The 32-year-old IAS officer, who was abducted on April 21, will be handed over to the two mediators of the Maoists. “Our mediators B D Sharma and G Hargopal had come to an agreement with the Chhattisgarh government for release of our prisoners from various jails of Chhattisgarh”, it said.
We are thankful to our mediators who did their level best,” the statement said. The breakthrough to ensure the safe return of Menon came in the form of an agreement between the mediators of the two sides at their fourth round of talks yesterday.
Under this, Government has agreed to set up a high- powered committee headed by Nirmala Buch, one of the two Government mediators, to review the cases of all prisoners languishing in Chattisgarh jails including the cases demanded by the Maoists.
The Maoists had earlier demanded release of eight of their jailed leaders and an immediate halt to operations by security forces against them for the release of Menon. N Baijendra Kumar, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Raman Singh, told that the agreement has paved way for Menon’s release.
He said Sharma and Hargopal — met the Chief Minister this morning during which they were complimented for helping find a solution to end the hostage crisis. Sharma later said the naxals have been apprised about the agreement, under which the mediators nominated by Maoists have agreed as a “gesture of goodwill” to ensure the safe return of Menon within 48 hours.
This has now been extended by a day. Meanwhile, a worried Asha, who has been eagerly awaiting for the release of her kidnapped husband expressed happiness over the agreement and hoped that Menon will return soon to his family. Menon was taken captive from Majhipara village in Sukma district when he was holding a meeting as part of the government’s special Gram Suraj Abhiyan.
“Maoist interlocutors G. Hargopal and B.D. Sharma communicated to the Maoists Tuesday that they had signed an agreement Monday night with mediators appointed by the Chhattisgarh government, and it is believed the rebels have no objection to releasing Menon by Wednesday,” a top official source told IANS.
Chief Minister Raman Singh chaired a cabinet meeting Tuesday that approved the agreement signed between the two sides for release of Menon.
The mediators from the government as well as the Maoists had signed a two-page draft agreement Monday night and the chief minister hurriedly convened a press conference to announce that “Alex would be released within 48 hours”.
The Maoist interlocutors and government mediators Nirmala Buch and S.K. Mishra agreed to form a high-powered review committee headed by Buch, to consider cases of Maoists lodged in various jails in the state.
Meanwhile, the Maoists interlocutors met Chief Minister Raman Singh at state secretariat and he appreciated their role in reaching into agreement for brightening strong hope for Menon’s release.
The interlocutors later told media persons Tuesday evening that the agreement had been communicated to the Maoists and their reaction was keenly awaited.
Menon, 32, a 2006 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, has been held hostage by Maoist since April 21. The official was abducted at gunpoint by rebels from a forested location in Sukma district, some 500 km south from here, while he was interacting with tribals.
Posted: 01 May 2012 12:08 PM PDT
The toll in Monday’s Assam ferry tragedy, possibly India’s worst such accident, is estimated to be around 270, with the search and rescue parties failing to recover even a single missing person Tuesday, an official said.
Only 80 people could be rescued during the search and rescue operations, on since the accident in Dhubri district Monday evening, and most of the other estimated 350 passengers remained missing till Tuesday evening, the official said.
“Some bodies were fished out till late Monday night by rescuers but it is difficult to estimate the toll as some relatives of the deceased have taken the bodies home for burial,” said a district administration official, adding that only 17 bodies were sent for post-mortem.
“It’s almost 24 hours after the tragedy now and there is hardly any chance that anyone is alive. Some of the survivors also told us that most of the passengers of the ferry were women and children,” said the official.
Another official said: “We are yet to ascertain the exact number of passengers on the ferry. As per our information, about 240 passengers bought tickets but there were passengers without tickets too.”
Abdul Aziz, a survivor, said there were over 300 passengers on the ferry.
A Border Security Force (BSF) official, overseeing the rescue operations, said it was possible that the bodies may have floated downstream.
“We have been continuing with the rescue operation since last evening. However, there is a strong undercurrent in the river and the bodies might have been washed away,” said S. Kumar.
“We are going to continue the rescue and search operation till evening and then we would have to call it off,” he said.
BSF water wing’s deputy commandant Rajesh Bhandoria told IANS that the search was on, though so far unsuccessful.
“Till 5 p.m. Tuesday, we were not able to find even a single body,” he said.
All border outposts (BOPs) of BSF’s 22 and 162 Battalions along the Brahmaputra have been alerted to look for survivors and search for dead bodies.
Apart from this, BSF has also established contact with the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) at Dhaka and also with its sector commander at Rangpur and battalion commander at Kurigram.
“We have also requested to sensitize their riverine BOPs for carrying out search for survivors and look for the dead bodies and make immediate arrangements to hand over the same to BSF,” said a BSF spokesperson in Delhi.
Apart from the 20 deep water divers of the BSF, the district administration had also used the services of helicopters to step up the search and rescue operation from Tuesday morning.
Two senior cabinet ministers, Chandan Brahma and Nazrul Islam, rushed to the Fakirganj area on Tuesday morning to take stock of the situation.
“We have already ordered an inquiry into the whole incident to find out as to what is the exact cause of the tragedy — whether it is the overloading of passengers or the weather,” said Brahma.
He also assured the local people of improving the communication infrastructure to Fakirganj.
“We have already arranged for technically sophisticated motor launches to ply between Dhubri and Fakirganj and the new motor launches will arrive by next week,” he said and added that the government had already sanctioned a bridge over the Brahmaputra river to connect Jaleswar and Dhubri.
“The construction of the bridge will start soon,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, expressed his shock over the tragedy and announced compensation of Rs.2 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased.
Apart from that, the Assam government has also an announced ex-gratia payment of Rs.1.5 lakh each to the next of kin of the victims. The kin will also get another amount of Rs.50,000 each from the Mukhya Mantrir Jibanjyoti Bima Achoni, a life insurance scheme of the state government that covers anyone in the age group of 3-80 years.
The state government had also announced that all the seriously injured passengers of the ferry will be given Rs.50,000 each besides making arrangements for free treatment to all the victims.
All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badaruddin Ajmal has also announced that the party will give financial assistance of Rs.2 crore to all the victims of the tragedy. All the 18 legislators of the AIUDF has also agreed to contribute their one month’s salary for the overall help of the victims of the tragedy.
Posted: 01 May 2012 10:50 AM PDT
She is 14 years old and a school dropout, but West Bengal resident Seema still mustered up the courage to stand up to her family and foiled an attempt to get her married by calling a helpline.
The Class 7 dropout, who was to tie the nuptial knot Wednesday, called up the helpline number urging them to intervene and stop her marriage, police said Tuesday. The incident took place in Purulia district.
“The girl, a resident of Beldi village under Arsha police station called up Childline, and informed them that she was being married off. Subsequently we intervened and rescued the girl,” district police superintendent C. Sudhakar said.
While her father was remanded to 14 days’ judicial custody by a local court, the girl was sent to a government home.
“After we started the awareness campaign regarding child marriage in late 2008, at least 64 girls have resisted early marriage in the district, which is a great achievement,” said Prosenjit Kundu, assistant labour commissioner of the district.
Posted: 01 May 2012 09:32 AM PDT
On June 5 and 6, millions of people worldwide will be able to spot Venus crossing the Sun’s face in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Venus will take about six hours to complete its transit, appearing as a small black dot on the sun’s surface, in an event that will not happen again until 2117.
Jay M. Pasachoff, astronomer at Williams College, Massachusetts, US, explores the science behind Venus’ transit and gives an account of its fascinating history, the journal Physics World reports.
Transits of Venus occur only on very rare occasions when Venus and the Earth are in a line with the Sun. At other times, Venus passes below or above the Sun because the two orbits are at a slight angle to each other, according to a Williams statement.
Transits occur in pairs separated by eight years, with the gap between pairs of transits alternating between 105.5 and 121.5 years – the last transit was in 2004.
Building on the original theories of Copernicus from 1543, scientists were able to predict and record the transits of both Mercury and Venus in the centuries that followed.
Kepler successfully predicted that both planets would transit the Sun in 1631, part of which was verified with Mercury’s transit of that year. But the first transit of Venus to actually be viewed was in 1639 – an event that had been predicted by the English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks.
Pasachoff expects the transit to confirm his team’s theory about the phenomenon called “the black-drop effect” – a strange, dark band linking Venus’s silhouette with the sky outside the Sun that appears for about a minute starting just as Venus first enters the solar disk.
Pasachoff and his colleagues will concentrate on observing Venus’s atmosphere as it appears when Venus is only half onto the solar disk. He also believes that observations of the transit will help astronomers who are looking for extrasolar planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.
“We are fortunate in that we are truly living in a golden period of planetary transits and it is one of which I hope astronomers can take full advantage,” says Pasachoff.
Posted: 01 May 2012 09:24 AM PDT
Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar Tuesday broke his silence over his Rajya Sabha nomination, saying he was honoured by the Indian government’s offer but that he would always remain a sportsman and not a politician.
‘It is an honour when the President nominates your name. I was excited to be nominated,’ Tendulkar said at a ceremony here where he was felicitated for making 100 international hundreds.
The 39-year-old acknowledged that he was honoured for his outstanding contribution to cricket and said he will try his best to improve the standard of all sports in the country.
‘I would definitely like to contribute in the field of sports because that is my expertise and I will need your help.’
‘I believe President (Pratibha Patil) has chosen me after recognising what I have done for over 22 years,’ he said referring to greats in other fields like singer Lata Mangeshkar and actor Prithviraj Kapoor.
Tendulkar, who was also made Group Captain in the Indian Air Force in 2010, was nominated by the government for a seat in the upper house of parliament last week alongside actress Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga.
Posted: 01 May 2012 08:20 AM PDT
A Clerk of Indian origin was caught watching porn during a rape trial in a court in Britain.
Debasish Majumder viewed the explicit material while a sex attack victim gave evidence at the Inner London Crown Court, the Daily Mail reported.
He will now be supervised for 18 months and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years. His computer usage will also be monitored.
Majumder, a resident of Haringey, north London, had been working for the court service for 27 years.
He confessed he routinely watches internet porn when he was bored.
“I only looked at porn because the case was boring and did so once or twice a week since December 2009,” he told police.
The man was spotted by Judge Nigel Seed and he subsequently reported the incident.
Detectives then found indecent images of children and extreme porn on his home computer.
The Kingston Crown Court heard the man made a series of porn searches on the internet during the rape trial in December 2010.
The court sentenced Majumder to seven months in prison, suspended for two years.
The prosecutor told the court how the judge noticed “cartoon-like” images on his clerk’s computer but was unable to ascertain whether they were sexual.
Later, he found him looking at a list of pornographic websites.
Majumder admitted to charges of misconduct in public office, possessing indecent pseudo images of children and possessing extreme pornography.
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