Today Picture

Sushma Swaraj epitomised dignity, decency and unwavering commitment to public service: PM Modi

New Delhi: Sushma Swaraj epitomised dignity and had an unwavering commitment to public service, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, as he paid tributes to the late BJP leader on her 68th birth anniversary.

Swaraj died on August 6 last year following a cardiac arrest. "Remembering Sushma Ji. She epitomised dignity, decency and unwavering commitment to public service," the prime minister tweeted.

Modi said the former external affairs minister was firmly rooted in Indian values and ethos, and had great dreams for the country. She was an exceptional colleague and an outstanding minister," he added.


On the eve of her birth anniversary, the government had renamed the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, a cultural centre in Delhi reflecting India's connect with its diaspora, as Sushma Swaraj Bhavan.

The Foreign Service Institute, a renowned institution in Delhi where diplomats are trained, has also been renamed the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service.


Mumbai: Glamorous high rises with glass facades can turn into death traps during fire incidents

Mumbai: A symbol of Mumbai's vertical growth -- glamorous high rises with glass facades -- have the dubious distinction of turning into death traps during fire incidents.

The fire that engulfed the second floor of a complex housing offices of Rolta on Thursday has put a question mark over the fire safety of these glass facade buildings.    

According to Fire Brigade officials, all mandatory fire-fighting equipment installed inside the glass façade, where the fire occurred, was found to be non-functional, making it difficult for the firemen to access the ill-fated floor.


"As per initial reports, the glass facade was blocking the fire escape. Many other violations have been pointed out. There could have been heavy casualties, but luckily no such thing happened. However, we will initiate an investigation. I have already called for details of the past inspection and notices issued to the building owner," said Prabhat Rahangdale, Chief Fire Officer.

"As soon as we clear the area we will investigate fire safety compliance in the said building. The investigation and the report will take at least a week’s time,” Rahangdale said.


In a bid to make these buildings safe, the Mumbai Fire Brigade, in January 2015, had drawn up a slew of guidelines for glass facade structures that came up before 2012.

The guidelines included criteria such as -- owners must provide smoke seal/ barriers between the building wall and the facade on every floor in the form of non-combustible material/vermiculite cement.

People should be able to open glass panes blocking staircases, lift lobby and corridors. The pressurised system of the staircase/ lobby should be synchronised with the glass facade window opening mechanism.

The rules also recommended that a minimum of 2.5 percent of the floor area of each compartment on every floor should be utilised in such a manner that they can be cleared immediately in case of emergencies.

The rules further stipulated that the refuge area should be built above the height of 1.2 metres from the flooring level. If covered with a glass facade, one should be able to access it from all directions.

The MFB is yet to document the number of glass facade buildings in the city.

Ranhangdale added that glass facade buildings are a problem, especially those without proper fire safety measures. “Glass façade and other high rises need to have proper fire safety measures in place. They need to follow guidelines stipulated by the fire department.

In the case of the MIDC building, I am awaiting the report and past inspection details from MIDC fire officer,” said Rahangdale. Pankaj Joshi, urban planner, and executive of Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), said that the problem is not with glass facade buildings but with all those commercial high rises with air conditioning, heavy ducting, cable work etc.

“These buildings are packed air tight to ensure the best performance and cooling. However, during a fire, it take no time for thick smoke to spread inside the building and inflict maximum human damage.

These buildings need proper fire safety equipment. Not just that, they need time to time maintenance of equipment and inspection by monitoring agency to ensure compliance, which doesn’t happen regularly, leading to such disaster."


Dolly Thakore And The Week That Was

Even sleeping pills have given up on me!

I am often greeted with: “You are everywhere”.

If one is interested and involved in life, then there is so much to see, study and understand.

Life for me includes current affairs, books, theatre, dance, music, film, poetry… and social activism. Each day introduces new challenges.

I can proudly claim I have not had a day’s boredom in my life.

Early this week, I was in Chennai – where we had eventually been invited and stormed the conservative portals of Chennai. After eighteen years of resistance from their powers-that-be, we performed ‘The Vagina Monologues’ before an enthusiastic audience that couldn’t have enough of us even after the closing time of the Phoenix City Mall, where we performed in their expanse of open space.

The next morning, en route to the airport, I decided to visit the Krishnamurti Foundation (KFI) exhibition in Vasanta Vihar on Greenways Road. This great philosopher and thinker had made the most profound impact on human consciousness. I never met the man. But two years after his death, I enrolled my son Quasar in the Rishi Valley School in Madanapalle. The exhibition was celebrating 125 years of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) and his association with education. On this day, a number of principals and teachers from the various Rishi Valley Schools around the world had congregated there for a conference. I had the privilege of meeting Dr Radhika Herzberger, Principal Dr Shirali, and the most popular Alok Mathur who had taught my son 30 years ago! It was as though I was paying obeisance to the school!

Six hours later, the Air Asia flight landed me in Mumbai and I rushed to G5A - the gem of a space tucked away at the end of a lane off Tulsi Pipe Road - that has become a very selective cultural hub for contemporary culture, offering stimuli to the discerning in diverse disciplines.

‘Lal Ded’, about the Kashmiri mystic poet, was being performed by the film, television, and theatre artist Mita Vashisht, who has been doing so for 15 years, and is finding the core of ‘Kashmiriyat’. The Kashmiri ‘Vakhs’ of Lal Ded’s poems cut through all the ‘isms’ of religion, form, and time… and reveals the pure self, which is within each one of us, till we are indoctrinated into a religion and sect.

Among the audience that night were Ruby Ahluwalia and her husband Anil – who agreed to drop me home. She introduced herself as a cancer survivor and invited me to her book launch at the Bombay Gym three days later. I had never heard of her before but I thought I owed it to her to attend her book launch. And what a surprise it was… ‘The Fragrance Of A Wild Soul’ is truly unputdownable. I read it in a single sitting.

Ruby Ahluwalia is a bureaucrat – an IRAS officer of the 1986 batch and is the finance advisor and chief accounts officer of the Indian Railways. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Life is full of surprises. There is not one of us who has not experienced cancer directly or indirectly. Her book is truly inspirational.

You have to read the book to fully understand when she writes: “All we need to do to heal a wound, to close an open chapter in life, to end misery, to get over a bad experience – is silent but active listening and a little bit of empathy in the end.”

I share a special relationship with the Mumbai University Academy of Theatre Arts. It is celebrating the 12th National Vasant Natyotsav in the open-air Muktakaash Rangmanch in Kalina, with plays in Marathi, Hindi, Bundeli, Bhojpuri, Manipuri and a multilingual ‘Dr. Faustus’ in Bengali, English and Sanskrit - from Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, West Zone Culture Centre, Udaipur, South Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur, and Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata.

The play ‘Nangeli’ in Hindi, written and directed by Dhananjay Laxmanrao Sable blew my mind! I had never heard of the breast tax (Malakkaram or Mula-Karam in Malayalam) - a tax imposed on the untouchable women in Travancore (now Kerala) until 1924. A tax was enforced on the covering of breasts of untouchable women. The outcast men had to pay a similar tax, called Tala-karam on their heads. Those belonging to the varna (Suvarna) from Brahmins to the Shudras were exempted from the taxes.

Women of the lower caste were not allowed to cover their breasts at all. In keeping with the tradition of Travancore, bare breasts were a symbol of respect to people of the higher caste.

The Nairs bared their breasts to the upper-caste Nambudiri Brahmins, while the Brahmins bared their breasts only to the images of deities. The people of an even lower caste, like the Nadars or Shanars were not allowed to cover their breasts at all.

With the spread of Christianity in the 19th century, the Christian converts among the Nadar women started covering their upper body. Gradually, even the Hindu Nadar women adopted this practice.

After a series of protests, the Nadar women were granted the right to cover their breasts in 1859.

A pity the majority of the city’s theatre-goers seldom hear about the challenging work being done in areas other than South Mumbai. I wish more people could see this production…brave in its content, faultless in its depiction through dance, music and tribal setting. I would certainly see it again to grasp the full impact of its message.


No, Prime Minister: Modi contradicts govt data, claims only Rs 1.5 core Indians pay income tax

When quoting facts and numbers, it is perhaps best to get them right, or at the very least, to be more specific. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday found himself being criticised on social media after a video of him speaking at the Times Now Summit the previous day gained notoriety.


While the previous governments had hesitated to touch the country's taxation system, the current BJP-led dispensation was making it more citizen centric, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, urging people to pay their dues for the development of India.

Modi added that the concern was that as some people always found ways to evade taxes, the honest got penalised.

"All governments hesitated to touch the tax system. We are making it citizen centric.... India has become one of the very few countries to have a transparent taxpayers' charter that will clearly define the rights of taxpayers. I want to assure you that tax harassment will be a thing of the past in our country," Modi said.


He lamented that when a number of people did not pay tax and found ways to evade it, "the burden falls on those who honestly pay their dues".

The prime minister said it was unbelievable but true that only 2,200 people in the country had declared earnings of Rs one crore per annum.

"In the last five years, more than 1.5 crore cars have been sold in the country. Over three crore Indians went abroad for work or travel. But the situation is that only one-and-a-half crore people in our country of more than 130 crore pay income tax," Modi added.

Twitter was quick to fact check the PM, with many pointing out that there were a lot more taxpayers than the Prime Minister believed.

शिक्षित बेरोज़गार
 · 2h
Looks like the Finance Ministry clearly sold prime minister Narendra Modi a dummy when it comes to number of people paying income tax is concerned. The PM said only 1.5 crore people in a country of 130 crore pay tax. 
Not true.

शिक्षित बेरोज़गार
In AY 2018-19, the number of people who filed income tax returns stood at 5.52 crore. Of this, 2.62 crore did not pay any tax. So 2.9 crore did. This is nearly double the 1.5 crore number. …

8:46 PM - Feb 12, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
36 people are talking about this
To quote a PIB press release from October 2018 that cites data from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), "There is a growth of more than 80% in the number of returns filed in the last four financial years from 3.79 crore in FY 2013-14 (base year) to 6.85 crore in FY 2017-18."

The number of people filing return of income, the release added, had increased by about 65% during this period from 3.31 crore in FY 2013-14 to 5.44 crore in FY 2017-18.

Coming back to the Prime Minister's second claim that only 2,200 people in the country had declared earnings of Rs one crore per annum, the CBDT in 2018 had had slightly different figures.

From 88,649 taxpayers disclosing income above Rs. 1 crore in AY 2014-15, to 1,40,139 for AY 2017-18, the total number of taxpayers (including corporates, firms, HUFs, etc.) showing income of above Rs. 1 crore had risen sharply.

The number of individual taxpayers disclosing income above Rs. 1 crore also increased during the period under reference from 48,416 to 81,344.

Rupa Subramanya

In AY 2017-18:
Indians who paid taxes: 3.3 crores
Total number of taxpayers who declared income over 1 crore: 140139.
Number of individual taxpayers disclosing income above Rs.1 crore: 81344.
Why is @narendramodi contradicting his government's own numbers? … …


In the last 5 years, over 1.5 crore high-end cars have been sold & over 3 crore Indians have gone abroad.

Only 1.5 crore Indians pay taxes. Out of this, only 3 lakh people have declared their income over Rs 50 lakh & 2,200 people over Rs 1 crore. 

It is shocking: PM Modi

Embedded video
4:29 PM - Feb 12, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
567 people are talking about this
BJP IT cell Chief, Amit Malviya however was not having it.

As he clarified, the PM "specified 2,200 ‘professionals’".

Responding to a comment by MK Venu, the founding Editor of The Wire, he wrote, "The other day you quoted former CMs of Delhi, when none are alive, to make an argument against the BJP. Today again you are making a fool of yourself by misquoting what the PM said... He specified 2,200 ‘professionals’ but why let facts come in the way of your hate propaganda?"

Amit Malviya

The other day you quoted former CMs of Delhi, when none are alive, to make an argument against the BJP. Today again you are making a fool of yourself by misquoting what the PM said... He specified 2,200 ‘professionals’ but why let facts come in the way of your hate propaganda? …

M K Venu

At Times Now event PM said only 2200 people show taxable income of Rs1 crore plus annually. Fact is 97,689 persons declared income of Rs.1 cr and above in 2018-19 AY. Such gaffes, also seen in past, represent  chaotic governance at some deeper level! And this from strongest PMO!

7:50 PM - Feb 12, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
752 people are talking about this
This is not Prime Minister Modi's only gaffe in recent times. Speaking at the Lok Sabha recently, he quoted a satirical article to justify the detention of J&K politician Omar Abdullah.

"Omar Abdullah had said that the abrogation of Article 370 would bring a massive earthquake and will divide Kashmir from India. Farukh Abdullah had said the removal of Article 370 will strengthen the road of freedom for Kashmiris," the BJP Twitter handle quoted the speech to say.


Omar Abdullah had said that the abrogation of Article 370 would bring a massive earthquake and will divide Kashmir from India. 

Farukh Abdullah had said the removal of Article 370 will strengthen the road of freedom for Kashmiris: PM Modi #PMInLokSabha

12:26 AM - Feb 6, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
253 people are talking about this
Tracing the comment back, many soon realised that the Prime Minister had been quoting a 2014 article by a sitirical site called 'Faking News'.

Abdullah for his part had mentioned that "long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won't be part of India or Art 370 will still exist", the day before the fake news article was published.

However, this seems to be the closest he has come to expressing such a sentiment.

Omar Abdullah

Mark my words & save this tweet - long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won't be part of India or Art 370 will still exist 2/n

5:20 AM - May 27, 2014
Twitter Ads info and privacy
5,340 people are talking about this
(With inputs from agencies)

Mumbai: Nine injured after LPG gas leak triggers fire in Kandivali house

Mumbai: Nine people including a 10-year-old boy, sustained burn injuries when leaking LPG caused fire in a house at Vikas Mandal chawl in Kandivali (East) in the early hours of Thursday.

The victims were identified as Mehul Surti (30), Devyani Surti (46), Jayesh Sutar (30), Nishant Panchal (10), Sandeep Kanade (28), Sharda Kanade (56), Omkar Chile (18) Divesh Patel (22) and Rajesh Dubala (40).

All injured were rushed to Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivali.

Of the nine injured, four people: Mehul, Devyani, Jayesh and Nishant who suffered minor injuries were given basic treatment and were discharged. Meanwhile other five people sustained 35 to 45 percent burn are undergoing treatment. Condition of the victims is stable according to the Assistant Medical officer on duty at Shatabdi hospital.

Fire too was brought under control by the Mumbai Fire Brigade team.

This however is the second LPG gas leak incident in the city in a span 12 hours. Six people were reportedly injured after an LPG leak triggered an explosion at house in a chawl at Bandra east on Wednesday evening.

13 dead, 31 injured in bus-truck collision on Agra-Lucknow Expressway in UP

Etawah: At least 13 people have been killed and 31 injured as a bus collided with a truck on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway on Wednesday.

Dr Vishwa Deepak, Medical Officer, Emergency Ward of Saifai Mini PGI said: "At least 31 injured patients have been admitted to the hospital and 13 were brought dead."

"A double-decker private bus rammed into a stationary truck on Agra-Lucknow expressway at around 10 pm in the night on Wednesday. The bus driver did not take notice of the truck and hit it from behind. There were 40-45 passengers on the bus.


There are many casualties and several people got injured. Around 10-14 casualties may be there," Sachindra Patel, SSP, Firozabad had earlier said.


Coronavirus Update: Death toll in Hubei surges by 242 in one day; at least 1,355 killed in China till date

Beijing: The number of fatalities and new cases from China's coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in hard-hit Hubei province as authorities changed their threshold for diagnosis.

At least 1,355 people have now died nationwide and nearly 60,000 have been infected after Hubei's health commission reported the new numbers.

In its daily update, Hubei's health commission confirmed another 14,840 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

The huge jump came as local officials said they were changing the way they diagnose COVID-19 cases. In a statement, the Hubei health commission said it would now include cases that were "clinically diagnosed" in its official toll.

This means lung imaging on suspected cases can be considered sufficient to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests.

Of the dramatic jump in figures Thursday, it said the new classification accounted for 13,332 of the cases and just over half the new death toll.

Hubei health commission said the change would mean patients could get treatment "as early as possible" and be "consistent" with the classification used in other provinces.

It said it had made the change "as our understanding of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus deepens, and as we accumulate experience in diagnosis and treatment".


Pakistanis, Urban Naxals, tukdey gang expletives fail BJP

Hyderabad: It is the curse of several Muslim-majority areas in Indian cities – large or small – that their names are conveniently interchanged with ‘Pakistan’. The Old City in Hyderabad has been called ‘mini-Pakistan’ by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s senior and junior members alike. But there is more. The Delhi elections and the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory has ensured that this vile epithet is now slapped across the face of the National Capital.

While some might dismiss this as a case of sore-losers-unable-to-digest-defeat, the malaise is deeper. Consider this: the Muslims have ideologically and electorally been the Bharatiya Janata Party’s opponents. The ‘mini-Pakistan’ jibe comes from a document penned by then Rashrtiaya Swayamsevak Sangh’s M S Golwalkar, who in his book Bunch of Thoughts states that Muslims are sitting in their areas with ‘transmitters’, working as informants for Pakistan. While many may not have read his book which makes sweeping statements, relies heavily interfacing between Golwalkar and anonymous mullahs, and is allergic to producing empirical evidence, his rhetoric clearly has served its purpose.

Both before, during and after the Delhi exit polls, which showed AAP forming the next government, the ‘Pakistan’ jibe, reserved solely for Muslim areas, was conveniently extrapolated to the Capital of India. And when the results were declared newsrooms and anchors of news organisations with a pro-BJP tilt lost their nerve. At least two declared that if Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan contests from the National Capital, and announced ‘freebies’, he too would win.
While some viewers could not control their mirth and termed the reaction of these anchors as them ‘having a meltdown’, the issue, if looked at closely is dangerous. It implies that the BJP, which has an umbilical connection with the RSS, and its supporters (anchors included), will go to any length to declare individuals, and in this case, voters, as traitors by associating them with Pakistan. All this, only because they rejected the BJP’s hate-goli-gaddar politics.

The slapping of a false Pakistani identity to Delhi and its voters in just one of the several vicious attempts of the BJP and its crores of supporters to cast aspersions on law abiding citizens. From Maoists in the forests, the BJP recently gave legitimacy to a failed film director’s book called Urban Naxals. So, an urban, educated individual who disagrees with the BJP is an Urban Naxal. To reiterate, the Ministry of Home Affairs on several occasion has noted that Maoist and Maoist-related violence remains a key concern.

Before this, it was the allegation that a ‘tukde-tukde gang’ exists which wishes to see the Balkanisation of India. Home Minister Amit Shah in one of his speeches blamed the Congress party for leading this gang. Interestingly, it was only recently in the Parliament, that his own Home Ministry said that it has no information about a ‘tukde-tukde gang’.

So, whether it is Muslims being labeled Pakistanis, or dissenters being slapped with an ‘urban naxal’ or ‘tukde-tukde gang’ member title or the National Capital being called Pakistan, what matters in just one thing: aap chronology samajhiye.


San Francisco : Business Delegation expresses interest for investment in Chhattisgarh : Chief Minister Mr. Baghel's

Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Mr. Bhupesh Baghel today met select investors, including Indians, from Bay Area in San Francisco with an aim to attract more investment in Chhattisgarh. He had dinner with Trustee TiE Global and General Partner Monta Vista Capital Venktesh Shukla, who has roots in Chhattisgarh. Chief Minister Mr. Baghel along with his delegation discussed investment opportunities in Chhattisgarh with TiE President B J Arun and investors including Nitin Mehta, co-Partner  in GreenOaks Capital Management, one of the biggest venture funds and Raju Indukuri, who is a investor in a data center company in India that is setting-up a data center in Raipur.
TiE (The IndUS Entrepreneurs) is a Silicon Valley non-profit association dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship in the Bay Area as well as globally. It supports start-ups through networking and raising of capital for new and experienced entrepreneurs. It provides technology entrepreneurs with mentoring services, networking opportunities, startup-related education, funding, and incubating. Other investors at the informal meet were :
Sarvajna Dwivedi : sold his innovative breathing device to Astra Zeneca for $1.2 billion and now started a medical device company that seeks to eliminate stents for unclogging arteries.
Jag Kapoor:  Classic rags to riches story of Silicon Valley. Started working in the kitchen of restaurants when he first came here. Now owns a chain of grocery stores, restaurants (including Michelin 3 star Saison in SF) and a huge portfolio of real estate.
Sushant Patnaik: Active investor in India. Runs multiple companies in India that employ more than 1500 engineers in Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Also set up an incubator/ accelerator in Bhubaneswar and a few other cities.
Pallav Sharma:  Sr Vice President in the biggest pharma company in the world, Johnson and Johnson Krishna Yarlagadda:  Successful serial entrepreneur and former President of Imagination Systems (Apple uses their  graphic chip in its products). Now founder / CEO of a video collaboration company called Harshul Asnani: Head of Tech Mahindra in USA Yashwant Hemraj:  Partner, Benhamou Global Ventures Deven Varma:  Founder and Chairman, Edgewood Capital etc.



Najafgarh seat: AAP’s Kailash Gahlot sets record by re-election

New Delhi: The Najafgarh Assembly constituency, having a major population of farmers and traders, has never elected an MLA twice, but the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) sitting legislator and Cabinet Minister Kailash Gahlot sets a new record on Tuesday by being elected for a second time from the seat.

He has won the Assembly election with a margin of 6,231 votes, defeating Ajeet Singh Kharkhari of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Part of the West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, Najafgarh is located in the outskirts of Delhi, near the Haryana border.


Named after Mirza Najaf Khan, the commander-in-chief of the Mughal Army under Shah Alam II, the area is also famous for being a part of the First War of Indian Independence — the 1857 revolt. As a part of the Siege of Delhi, the Battle of Najafgarh took place between Indian rebels and British Raj soldiers.

Najafgarh become an Assembly constituency in 1993 when the Delhi legislative assembly was re-established.

The constituency includes Baba Haridass Enclave, Dharampura, Dichaon Kalan, Gopal Nagar, Gulia Enclave, Rajeev Vihar, Haibatpura, Jaffarpur Kalan, Jai Vihar, Jharoda Kalan, Prem Nagar, Roshan Garden, Roshan Vihar, Sainik Enclave, Samaspur Khalsa, Saraswati Enclave, Shiv Enclave, Todarmal Colony, Ujwa Village, and Vinoba Enclave.

It is one of the most populous constituencies with an elector base of 2,48,988 comprising 1,17,000 females. The gender ratio of the constituency is 886 — above the state gender ratio of 824.

Suraj Parshad Paliwal, an independent candidate was elected from the seat in 1993. Next time in 1998, Congressman Kanwal Singh Yadav bagged the seat.

In 2003, another independent candidate, Ranbir Singh Kharb, was elected from the seat. In 2008, Bharat Singh, also an independent MLA bagged the seat.

In 2013, when the AAP and Congress formed a 49-day government, BJP’s Ajeet Singh Kharkhari had won. Gahlot bagged the seat in 2015 with 34.62 per cent votes.