Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Two gunmen opened fire in the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in central Paris. Eleven people killed when gunmen opened fire in the offices of French satirical weekly.
baseline;">Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015 (AFP Photo / Philippe Dupeyrat)
 Hollande,the french president said  the shooting at Charlie Hebdo is “undoubtedly a terrorist attack”.
The French president has confirmed that 11 people have been killed and four are critically injured, while at least 40 were “saved.” The numbers of victims is likely to rise, he added.
Hollande also spoke about "several terrorist attacks have been prevented in recent weeks."


Delhi will have country
Delhi will be developed into a "global city" and the country's first 'smart city' will be set up to decongest the national capital and facilitate it with all modern amenities, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.

Delhi will be developed into a "global city" and the country's first 'smart city' will be set up here to decongest the national capital and facilitate it with all modern amenities, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in New Delhi on Saturday. 

"We want to make Delhi a truly global city, having all latest and modern amenities and facilities that any other global city like London or San Francisco. We want to have world-class entertainment venues like Disneyland or Universal Studios here," Naidu said. 

"Delhi is the heart of India and the first smart city would come up here. The city of Barcelona in Spain has also promised technological support to us in our effort in this direction," he said. 

The Minister was speaking at a function organised by DDA at its headquarters in New Delhi to officially kick-start the allotment process of its 'Housing Scheme 2014'. 

Naidu handed over allotment letters to the first few successful applicants. Talking about the 'smart city' initiative further, he said the focus would be to build global educational and health institutes and entertainment facilities. 

DDA's Vice-Chairman Balvinder Kumar in a media briefing on Friday had outlined the plans for the 'smart city' in the capital. 

The 'smart city' will be a complete sub-city, which would be located in an area of 20-24 hectares, zoned out of Dwarka, Rohini and Narela, and will be equipped with latest technologies and waste-management techniques. 

"The smart city will have a world-class infrastructure, 24-hour power supply, complete wi-fi connectivity, and will employ green technology and latest water conservation techniques like rain-harvesting and waste management techniques, among other facilities," Kumar said. 

Naidu said the land for 'smart city' in Delhi would be acquired through land-pooling, on which the ministry and the DDA are currently working. He said besides increasing population, Delhi also has a problem of large number of vehicles and so there was a need to promote public transport
Europe sinks back into deflation. Ouch.

AAP submits proof of large-scale irregularities in Delhi voters lists

, 6 January  A delegation of the Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal met the Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners and also the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi. Please find attached copy of the memorandum submitted to the CEC and CEO of Delhi. (Hindi translation also attached).

 The AAP has also submitted data to show that 3,96,914 voters in Delhi have more one cards in their name. On camparing Delhi’s voter list with Haryana, it has been found that 14,71,025 voters in Delhi match with similar names in Haryana – their names, father/husband name and age are similar. Similar is the case in 12,53,779 voters in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh voters lists. The party has also brought to the notice of the commission that during last one month, names of genuine voters have been deleted from the voters list. The AAP has demanded that the commission must probe all these serious developments since it is an impediment to free and fair polls. (Please find attached the samples of irregularities submitted by the AAP).   Regards. AAP Media Cell

Will Global Recessions End ? As Global crude oil price US$ 49.22 per bbl on 06.01.2015

Global crude oil price of Indian Basket was US$ 49.22 per bbl on 06.01.2015
Will Global Recessions End ?
 Is there a new lease of life to industry? Global crude oil price US$ 49.22 per bbl on 06.01.2015 is lowest to achieve and this marks the oil to touch below half century. With oil price nose diving the economy which is in shambles will help to re-orient itself in process many bigwigs may feel the pinch but with new lease of life to industry specially the MSME sectors  which were in fiscal,marketing and production crunch due to high Oil cost  build up to new heights.
Global recessions shall improve in if the level at minimum are maintained for nearly next two quarters.

The international crude oil price of Indian Basket as computed/published today by Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas was US$ 49.22 per barrel (bbl) on 06.01.2015. This was lower than the price of US$ 51.53 per bbl on previous publishing day of 05.01.2015.
In rupee terms, the price of Indian Basket decreased to Rs 3120.06 per bbl on 06.01.2015 as compared to Rs 3266.49 per bbl on 05.01.2015. Rupee-dollar exchange rate remained unchanged at Rs 63.39 per US$ on 06.01.2015 as compared to 05.01.2015.

Citizenship (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 Promulgated

The President of India has promulgated the Citizenship (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 on January 06, 2015 with immediate effect which provides for the following amendments to the Indian Citizen Act, 1955:

• At present one year continuous stay in India is mandatory for Indian Citizenship which is relaxed stating that if the Central Government is satisfied that special circumstances exist, it may, after recording such circumstances in writing, relax the period of twelve months specified upto a maximum of thirty days which may be in different breaks.

• To enable for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) by a minor, whose parents are Indian Citizens.

• To enable for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) by a child or a grand-child or a great grandchild of such a citizen.

• To enable for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) by such spouse of a citizen of India or spouse of an OCI registered under Section 7A and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application under this section.

• In respect of existing PIO card holders central government may, by notification in Official Gazette, specify a particular date from which all existing PIO card holders will be deemed to be OCI card holders.

The Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for acquisition, termination, deprivation, determination of Indian Citizenship and other related aspects. The Act provides for acquisition of Indian citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalization and incorporation of territory under certain circumstances, and also for the termination and deprivation of citizenship. 

UN-African Union mission peacekeepers attacked in spate of violence

Darfur: UN-African Union mission peacekeepers attacked in spate of violence

‘MSG - The Messenger of God’ Releases Today


Mumbai, January 07, 2015:  The much awaited music album for Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan’s upcoming film ‘MSG - The Messenger of God’ releases today, January 06, 2015 in New Delhi. The grand evening will see the presence of Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan along with various actors from the film, the Sony Music India Management and the film’s production team.

This album is a musical treasure comprising of songs like Never Ever, Ram Ram, Raatan – Baatan, Daru Ko Goli Maro, Desh, Papa The Great, Never Ever (Remix). The videos for the tracks Never Ever (Remix), Raatan – Baatan and Desh which released recently have rocked the music industry with their catchy and peppy tunes. Their #Hashtags were trending in India and worldwide, crossing more than a million views on YouTube in a short period. The song Raatan - Baatan has already crossed 1.3 Lack views on YouTube in 12 hours.

These songs have stolen every listener’s heart and have been topping the music charts ever since their release. The songs have been composed, written and sung by Guruji and his powerful yet melodious voice transports listeners to a different world. These songs send across a social and patriotic message to every citizen of the country. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the album’s release so much that it has been pre-booked on with the maximum numbers of advance order till date for any music album on the portal.

Women’s golf adds colour to vibrant Gujarat

Women’s golf adds colour to vibrant Gujarat
Kensville Golf & country club all set to host the season opener
Ahmedabad, 6 January 2014: Following a dream season that included some memorable moments on the course, the Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour is all set for a new beginning in 2015. The state of Gujarat already known for its vibrancy has in the past hosted a few international golf events, but this year it is all set to host its first ever Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour event from the 7th – 9th January. The INR 7,00,000 event will see 11 professional golfers fighting for the top honours at the par 72 Kensville Golf & country club, Ahmedabad.
The entry of Gauri Monga and Amangeep Drall, the two new entrants to professional golf, will add further excitement to the events this year and lead to a healthy mix of experience and youth. Chandigarh’s Amandeep Drall is the latest addition to the growing list of professionals in the country and she will mark the beginning of her rookie year with the season opener. Amandeep who has just turned professional, was ranked third in the country as an amateur golfer according to the IGU Ladies Merit List, made headlines during the Hero Women’s Indian Open’14, carding the only hole-in–one of the tournament. Delhi’s Gauri Monga who turned professional just before the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2014 will skip the first leg at the Kensville Golf & country club.
Delhi’s Vani Kapoor who won six out of 13 events last year with a total earning of INR 12,39,100 as the Hero Order of Merit leader for 2014, would be aiming to continue with her stellar form in 2015. Vani can expect stiff competition from veteran Smriti Mehra who finished second on the Hero OOM 2014 with total earnings of INR 8,29,400. Kolkata’s Neha Tripathi will be another golfer to watch out for this season, especially after a quiet 2014. Other golfers to look out for are Delhi’s Ankita Tiwana, Pune’s Shweta Galande and Chandigarh golfer Saaniya Sharma. Hero Motocorp sponsored Sharmila Nicollet who missed out on her LET card for the 2015 season will be missing from action in the first leg.

Cabinet approves ordinance for auctioning of non-coal mines


The Cabinet has approved an ordinance for auction of iron ore and other minerals, therefore opting the emergency route that was adopted earlier for coal, insurance and land acquisition reforms. The ordinance would pave the way for introduction of competitive bidding for allocation of iron ore and other non-coal mines. The ordinance will amend the mining laws to pave the way for more transparent allocation of minerals. Further, it will also enable creation of District Mineral Funds for the welfare of the project-affected people and enable greater decentralisation of power to states for allocation of resources.

The need for taking the ordinance route was felt as the government was finding it difficult to allocate mines, because the Mines Ministry could not table a Bill in the winter session of Parliament to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 : Greater Integration of Diaspora Needed

India must take immediate steps to integrate its diaspora spread across the globe in millions to be partners in country';s progress. Their participation in both economic and political activities, particularly in the decision-making process is essential. Sadly, not much effort has been made to foster greater integration of overseas Indians, who should not only have the right to vote and also be represented as nominated members in the Upper House of Parliament, Rajya Sabha. Suitable amendments to the Constitution should be initiated to give dual citizens to overseas Indians. The decision to allow political participation of overseas India will give them added impetus to invest in economic activity in the country.
Unfortunately, there is no correct estimate of overseas Indians. The Government estimates the number at 25 million, others say it is 26 million and some say 27 million. The estimates are based on 19th century and early 20th century migrations. It does not take into account the number of Indians settled in the immediate neighbourhood and beyond, particularly in South-East Asia, Sri Lanka and other places where native Indians settled in course of trade and cultural relations and establishment of early Hindu kingdoms. This process began as early as between 1st to 4th century.
The diaspora services division, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has categorised Indians settled or working abroad into four distinct categories. These are: Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who are Indian citizens working abroad, majority of whom are in West Asia and North Africa. The NRIs, being Indian citizens, have their right to cast their franchise in the country. The next two categories are Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). The distinction between the two is narrow, both being legal citizens. The PIOs and OCI are not qualified to vote the country as the Constitution does not recognise extension of dual citizen status to anyone. The last and fourth category of overseas Indians recognised by the Government is “those overseas Indians whose forefathers migrated from India in the 19th and early 20th century.”
One of the major challenges to integrate the diaspora into the political and economic mainstream of the country is to give them the right to vote and thus make them equal partners in the decision-making process. While there is no legal problem for NRIs to cast their franchise as they continue to be Indian citizens, only technical hurdles remain that need to be removed to smoothen the process. First, the NRIs need to be registered as voters in their constituency.
Next, the provision should be made that they can cast their vote in the place of their work. The suggestion of Minister of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Sushma Swaraj for placing electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Indian missions abroad doesn’t really look as a practical and rational solution as a busy NRI in a far-flung area has to cover distances to reach the Indian mission. Rather, online voting through smart phones and computers could be a logical and rational solution.
The process of integration of PIOs and OCI into the political mainstream and in decision-making process can only be achieved through a suitable Constitutional amendment, which can also enable them to be nominated members of the Rajya Sabha. There should be an umbrella organisation of overseas Indians in each of the six inhabited continents and each such organisation should select or elect a person to be nominated to the House.
Recall, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured overseas Indians at Madison Square in US, Allophones’ Arena in Sydney, Nay Pyi Taw that the PIO card and OIC cards would be merged so that both the categories enjoy the same benefits. At present OIC card holders have many privileges over the PIO cardholders such as a multiple entry multi-purpose life-long visa for visiting India, while the latter are allowed only 180-day stay. The OIC cardholders enjoy exemption from registration with local police authority for any length of stay in India unlike the PIO cardholders.
Additionally, the OIC cardholders enjoy parity with NRIs in respect of economic, financial and educational fields, except in relation to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties, in entry fee for visiting national monuments, historical sites, museums, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries as well as in domestic air fares in India.
Further, they enjoy parity with NRIs to practice as doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects and chartered accountants as per the laws in the country. Like NRIs, the OCI cardholders can appear in All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) or such other tests in India to make them eligible for admissions in relevant institutes. They can file an affidavit to declare their address in India for purpose of availing services like securing admission of their children to educational institutions in India, obtaining driving licences, gas connections, residential telephones and mobile phones, electricity and water connections. They have preferences in matters of inter-country adoption of Indian children.
The merger of PIO card and OIC cards will enable the PIOs to enjoy benefits at par with the OIC. Further, there is a need to consider extending many of the benefits enjoyed by NRIs to PIOs and OIC so that greater integration of overseas Indians with the country of their origin is achieved at a faster rate.
There is also a need to do much for the welfare of the NRIs, who send back remittances amounting to $70 billion a year – this is a major source of external flow into the country as compared to the foreign direct investments (FDIs) the country has received since 1992 which amounted to $214 billion. India had rightly raised the issue of lowering the tax imposed on remittances to 5% at G20 Brisbane Summit. It should now take up the issue with each destination countries of NRIs.
Further, the issues of social security, labour issues and employment should be taken up with these countries through modifying existing agreements or striking new ones. Legal assistance and financial help should be extended in their times of need. At home, the Government should crack down on fake recruitment done by agencies for sending people for being employed abroad. Marriage frauds of NRIs and other overseas Indians should be discouraged.
The list is long raising the big question whether the Government will have more to offer at the ensuing 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 7-9, 2015, which commemorates the 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa. The Government’s programmes of Know India and Mano (accept) India, are good to generate pride in overseas Indian youth, who are expected to participate in large numbers. The integration of overseas Indians is critical for the country’s progress as it seeks their greater participation in economic activities.
(Ashok B Sharma is a senior Columnist who regularly writes on Strategic & Policy Issues in several Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at His mobile phone no 09810902204)

Circa 2014 ends with assurances for Indian diplomacy, better hopes in 2015

Circa 2014 ended with an assuring note for India’s foreign policy. In continuation in 2015, there are hopes for a better future. In 2014 there were a number of incoming and outgoing visits by the heads of Government and State. India’s interaction with powers like the US, Russia, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea took place. There was a gap in the activity at the top level in April and most of May due to the election process in the country. With the change of the Government in May 26 after the polls, some expected a definite change in the country’s foreign policy owing to ideological reasons. But belying their hopes this did not occur as it logically should. What happened was not a shift in the country’s foreign policy, but in the emphasis in certain areas.
The new emphasis in the country’s foreign policy is ‘Neighbourhood First’ Another emphasis is to engage with major political and economic powers for inviting investments. Prime Minister Modi even went out of his way to personally reach out to Indians settled abroad, particularly during his visits to the US and Australia and urged them to be partners in the ‘Make in India’ programme.
The exchange of visits between Modi and Prime Ministers of Australia and Japan in a calendar shows the assuring nature of relationships. Modi’s visit to the US is being reciprocated by US President Barack Obama on January 26, 2015. Following South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit to India in January, this year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj planned a visit to Seoul by the end of Circa 2014.
The most striking example to show there is no shift in the country’s foreign policy was India’s position on Israel’s attack on Gaza strip. Swaraj assured Parliament that there was no change in policy towards Israel and Palestine. India condemned the inhuman attack on civilian population in Gaza, called for restrain on both sides and restoration of peace and start of the dialogue process.
In fact, the noticeable change in the emphasis in foreign policy was marked from day one of the new Government on May 26, when Modi took his oath as Prime Minister. The leaders of all SAARC countries were invited at the swearing-in ceremony. Thereafter, the next day, Modi had bilateral engagements with all leaders including the Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament who represented the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The message that Modi gave was that India intends to make South Asian countries as partners in its economic development and present the region as a united bloc in the global fora.
But Modi’s ambition hit the roadblock when the foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan at Islamabad were called off as Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit went ahead to talk with the separatist Hurriyat leaders of Kashmir. New Delhi maintained that Kashmir issue can be resolved bilaterally between the two nations without involvement of any third party.
This had its impact on the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu. Pakistan refused to give its consent to the signing of three agreements – cooperation in power sector, motor vehicle agreement and regional railways agreement. Finally, with the intervention of Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala the agreement on cooperation in power sector was signed after the SAARC leaders met at the retreat, where Modi finally shook hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and exchanged pleasantries.
New Delhi has long being pleading with Islamabad to take action against terrorists operating on its soil and booking those involved in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. After the recent gunning down of innocent children at an Army school in Peshawar, Pakistan has declared to take firm against the terrorists. Many analysts believe this may be a turning point in Pakistan’s policy.
It is unfortunate that the SAARC process is being held up over political differences between India and Pakistan. SAFTA is being held to the hostage over the difference between two major countries in the region. Also the process of moving towards a South Asian Customs Union and South Asian Economic Union is being delayed.
India has border dispute with it’s another immediate neighbour, China. But the political differences between New Delhi and Beijing have as yet not held economic cooperation to hostage. Such should be the relations between India and Pakistan. Apart from allowing smooth entry of Indian goods, Islamabad should also give access to these goods to enter Afghanistan by land route. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit many agreements were signed, some of which are of economic and cultural cooperation. China assured $ 20 billion investment.
Prime Minister Modi has also cherished the idea of integrating South Asia with South East Asia. He has already sounded that if Pakistan is not willing to join the process, he will move forward with others – obviously suggesting the integration of the sub-regional group, BIMSTEC with ASEAN, which is moving towards an ASEAN Community by 2015. Modi has planned to engage with Buddha diplomacy with South and South-East Asian countries to strengthen the bonds of integration. He has garnered support for Nalanda University in East Asia Summit.
Giving momentum to his plans, Modi declared ‘Act East Policy’ and extended it to Pacific Islands by raising India-Pacific Islands’ Forum dialogue to Summit level. India is ready to join the Regional Economic Cooperation Partnership (RECP) agreement in the region that includes 10 ASEAN countries, Australia, New Zealand and East Asian countries. Australia has agreed to supply uranium to India’s nuclear power plants.
Modi has expressed India’s eagerness to join the proposed Eurasian Union during the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin. During his visit a number of agreements were signed, including cooperation on military training, nuclear power, joint exploration of hydrocarbons and joint study on India-Russia hydrocarbon pipeline.
At BRICS Summit in Fortaleza the agreement to set up a development bank under the first chairmanship of India was an achievement. During his Brazilian visit Modi had the opportunity to meet leaders of Latin American countries. At G20 Summit in Brisbane, India’s suggestions for dealing with base erosion and profit shifting by multinational companies, automatic exchange of tax information to curb the menace of black money was taken on board.
Modi’s Japan visit fetched 3.5 trillion yen public and private investment and financing within a span of five years. Prime Minister Abe also pledged ODA loan of 50 billion yen to India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd for a public-private partnership infrastructure projects in India.
It is to be seen that how much the appeals made by Prime Minister Modi to overseas Indians would materialise in the increase of foreign direct investment flow into the country. In the coming years Modi has lot to do to promote his ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
(Ashok B Sharma is a senior Columnist who regularly writes on Strategic & Policy Issues in several Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at His mobile phone no 09810902204)

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