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Saturday, March 31, 2018

US visa seekers could undergo social media screening

Visa seekers for the US could soon have to submit their social media identities, previous telephone numbers and email addresses, under a new plan proposed by the country's state department.

According to the filing, which was published on Friday and could affect 14.7 million people each year, visa-seeking visitors or would-be immigrants will be presented with a list of social media platforms.

Applicants will be required to disclose their social media identifiers so that five years worth of their online activity can be scrutinised.

Stephen Hawking(Jan 08,1942 - March 14,2018)'s funeral took place in Cambridge Saturday March 31,2018

Well-wishers filled the streets of Cambridge on Saturday March 31,2018 for the funeral of British physicist Stephen Hawking, hailed by another leading scientist as an imprisoned mind roaming the cosmos.

Hawking crippled since a young man with a degenerative disease. Confined to a wheelchair for most of his life after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease when he was 21, Hawking's towering intellect and sheer persistence struck a chord with ordinary people.

His work ranged from the origins of the universe itself, through time travel and probing black holes in space.

He achieved international renown after the publication of A Brief History of Time in 1988.

His coffin was topped with white Universe lilies and white Polar Star roses and carried by pallbearers from the University of Cambridge, where he worked.

The 76-year-old scientist was mourned by his children Robert, Lucy, and Timothy, joined by guests including playwright Alan Bennett, businessman Elon Musk and model Lily Cole.

Eddie Redmayne, the actor who played Professor Hawking in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything was one of the readers in the ceremony and Felicity Jones, who played his wife, Jane Hawking in the film also attended the service

Delhi becomes first city to roll-out Euro VI fuel

With an aim to combat the rising levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR region, petrol pumps in the capital from Sunday April 01,2018 started supplying ultra-clean Bharat Stage VI grade fuel (both petrol and diesel).

 This move makes New Delhi the first city in the country to switch from BS-IV grade fuels to BS-VI (equivalent to fuel meeting Euro-VI emission norms).

Other cities like Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Faridabad along with 13 major cities, including  Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune, will also switch over to cleaner BS-VI grade fuel from January 1 next year.

However, BS- VI fuel will be rolled out in rest of the country by April 2020.

Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI

The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur.

The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80 per cent, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.

As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70 per cent and 25 per cent from cars with petrol engines.

However, the introduction of higher grade fuel will be beneficial only if it is done in tandem with the roll-out of BS-VI compliant vehicles. Using BS-VI fuel in the current BS-IV engines or, conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel, may be ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution, and may damage the engine in the long run.

Price of the new fuel will be 50 paisa/litre more than present rate

The director of Indian Oil Corp (IOC), B V Rama Gopal while speaking to media in New Delhi on Saturday confirmed that state-owned oil firms will start supplying the BS-VI grade fuels (equivalent to fuel meeting Euro-VI emission norm) at all the 391 petrol pumps running in the national capital territory (NCT). He added, the price of the newly introduced fuel would cost around 50 paisa a litre more

Pointing out the investment and work being done to meet Delhi’s annual fuel consumption, which is 9.6 lakh tonnes of petrol and 12.65 lakh tonnes of diesel, the official said, Mathura refinery in Uttar Pradesh, Panipat refinery in Haryana, Bina in Madhya Pradesh and Bhatinda in Punjab have started producing Euro-VI grade fuel. The official also mentioned that around Rs 183 crore has already been spent on Panipat refinery alone for producing cleaner fuel.

Deadline for rest of the country

It was decided in 2015 that the country will switch from BS-IV grade fuel to BS-VI grade fuel by April 2020. While the deadline stands for the rest of the country, in Delhi the authorities were compelled to advance the introduction of a cleaner fuel looking at the deteriorating conditions of the air quality. The decision was taken by the Petroleum Ministry on November last year, where it stated that BS-VI grade auto fuels would be dispensed with effect from April 1, 2018 instead of the scheduled April 1, 2020. The ministry had then said the advancement was part of the government’s “concerted efforts to reduce vehicular emissions and improve fuel efficiency with an aim to reduce the carbon footprints and keep a healthy environment.”

Where will the supply come from?

A report in PTI states that IOC, the nation’s biggest oil firm controlling roughly half of retail fuel market, will source the BS-VI fuel to meet Delhi’s requirement from its Mathura and Panipat refineries, while Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) will do so from its joint venture refinery at Bhatinda. Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) will supply the fuel from its Bina refinery.
It must be noted that BS-IV grade fuel was first introduced in the country in April last year, but India subsequently decided to jump to BS-VI grade by April 2020 to meet international best practices. The petroleum ministry, justifying the move, had said, “This measure is expected to help mitigate the problem of air pollution in National Capital Territory of Delhi and surrounding areas.”

Mumbai Metropolitan Region to get four new Metro lines

The dream of a smoother commute in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) may soon be realised. For, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) plans to build four more Metros -- Wadala-General Post Office (Fort); the airport Metro; Kalyan-Taloja and Gaimukh in Thane to Shivaji Chowk in Kalyan.

DMRC is likely to submit the detailed project reports (DPRs) for the four lines to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), implementing agency for most Metro projects in the MMR, in a month. Once MMRDA, headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, clears the projects, they will be sent to the Maharashtra cabinet for clearance, after which tenders for the work can be floated.

Of the four, two Metros – Wadala-GPO and the airport corridor – will be partially underground. The 14-km Wadala-GPO line will be an extension to Metro-4 (Wadala-Thane-Kasarvadavli). According to MMRDA’s estimates, the corridor will cater to 7 lakh passengers a day. The airport corridor will connect the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Santacruz to the proposed Navi Mumbai International airport. It is expected to cost around Rs15,000 crore.

The 25-km Kalyan-Taloja and Gaimukh-Shivaji Chowk lines, along with two other corridors – Metro-5 (Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan) and proposal Mira-Bhayander line through Dahisar -- will boost connectivity in the MMR.

Linking Thane, Bhiwandi and Kalyan was originally planned a decade ago, as part of monorail corridor. However, the project was shelved years later, citing lack of sufficient ridership. The Metro will offer an additional mass transport option, in addition to the suburban railway network. It will also spur growth in MMR.

Reliance Jio Prime membership extended for another year at no cost

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd has extended for another year membership to its Jio Prime loyalty programme at Rs99 for new users, a step that is expected to allow the company to acquire more customers in the future.

“All Jio Prime members who have subscribed to the exclusive membership benefits till 31st March 2018 will get another year of complimentary Prime benefits at no additional fee,” Reliance Jio said in a statement.

“The continued availability of the Jio Prime Membership to new subscribers reiterates Reliance Jio’s commitment to deliver a differentiated Digital Life experience to Indians and will propel this into the world’s largest loyalty program,” the statement added.

Jio Prime subscribers are those who have taken up one-time annual membership with the telecom operator to get additional benefits like access to exclusive content, and other facilities.

Reliance Jio, which currently has over 175 million customers, doubled its telecom market share to 13.71% as on 31 December 2017 from 6.40% a year ago, regulatory data shows

While Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai’s) latest order on tariff rules has given the green signal to Reliance Jio to continue with its promotional offers, the company could find it challenging to acquire new customers unlike a year ago when it garnered most of its subscriber base from small telecom players. With most of the consolidation already completed or on the verge of completion, large telecom firms could find it challenging to acquire new customers at the same pace as before.
“Incumbents must do a lot more to become the data SIM of choice for a large mass of their sub-base; Jio may have well established this positioning,” JPMorgan India said in a 22 January note to clients

Why South Indian states are objecting to Finance Commission’s mandate

A political storm is brewing in South India over what is normally a largely unnoticed bureaucratic exercise undertaken once in five years to determine how India distributes its pooled tax revenues among its many states.

Several chief ministers and opposition leaders of southern states have expressed vehement opposition to one particular mandate of the present Fifteenth Finance Commission: to use 2011 census population figures instead of 1971 for the purpose of tax devolution.

It makes sense to use the most recent data which would give a snapshot of the nation as it stands today. But the Indian union made a compact with all its states in the mid-1970s to freeze federal allocations based on population size at 1971. This was done to ensure states which had managed to tackle their population growth were not penalized by way of lower allocations.

The move worked—to an extent. While India’s population stabilization programme is the oldest in the world (launched in 1951), the real impact was visible only after 1970, particularly in South India.
The growth rate in population dropped uniformly across all states, but the fall in South India was rapid, creating a distinct divergence between the number of people in the North versus the South (See Chart 1). For example, while there were 12 Malayalis and Tamils for every 100 Indians in 1951, the share had dropped to 8 by 2011

Thus, a demographic transition over the past 40 years has created a union of states characterized by fewer, more affluent people in the South and poorer, greater number of people in the North. The political compromise to freeze population figures at 1971 took the population divergence out of the picture, while allowing the Indian union to focus on economic disparity.

Redistribution of pooled taxes has been progressive for years, ensuring poorer states get a larger share, both per person and in absolute terms (See Chart 2). Since the present finance commission has a mandate to use newer population figures, which brings both economic and demographic divisions into the picture, the fear among southern states is that the degree of redistribution would increase.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said as much in a recent Facebook post, in which he wrote: “The states of the South have nearly reached replacement levels of population growth. Yet, population is a prominent criterion for devolution of central taxes. For how long can we keep incentivizing population growth? While I recognize the need for correcting regional imbalances, where is the reward for development?”

While the politics of the moment, with a neat split in the political landscape between a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled North and a non-BJP ruled South, may have amplified the grievance, significant sums of money are involved. Preliminary estimates show if the previous finance commission had used 2011 population figures entirely —instead of as a sub-component —southern states would have received about Rs20,000 crore less over the 5-year period from 2015-2020 (See Chart 3). To put that in context, Tamil Nadu’s flagship health insurance programme which covers roughly 60% of the population costs the state about Rs1,000 crore per year

The dispute over revenue sharing is only setting the stage for a larger fight in 2026, when India’s Lok Sabha seats will be reallocated among states for the first time since 1971. The share of political representation among states was frozen at 1971 for the same reasons as given above. If, in 2026, population figures from upcoming census 2021 are used without considering any other factor, southern India will lose political representation even as it remains the dominant source of the country’s tax revenues

Now, for the first time, leave travel concession for railway employees

Railway employees, for the first time, can now avail Leave Travel Concession (LTC), the government has said. In a circular issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on March 27, the ministry said as per existing LTC instructions, government servants and their spouses, working in Indian Railways, are not entitled for the facility of LTC as the facility of "Free Pass" is available to them.

However, Seventh Pay Commission recommended that they be included in the LTC fold. "The matter has been considered in this department in consultation with Ministry of Railways. It has been decided that Railway employees may be allowed to avail all-India LTC once in a block of four years..."The 'All-India LTC' will be purely optional for railway employees," the ministry has said.

Railway employees shall continue to be governed by the Railway Servants (Pass) Rules and availing of the "All India LTC" under the CCS (LTC) Rules by them will be facilitated through a special order under the relevant provision of the said Pass Rules, it said

The DoPT order also states that railway employees will not be eligible for "Home Town LTC" and will have to surrender the Privilege Passes (concessional or free tickets) admissible to them in the calendar year in which they intend to avail the LTC facility, the ministry said.

However, they would continue to be eligible for other kinds of passes such as the duty pass, school pass and special passes on medical grounds, as admissible under the pass rules, the order stated. If the railway employee has already availed of a Privilege Pass, then LTC will not be allowed in that year, it said.

The railway employees on deputation to any other organisation, including railway PSUs, would also continue to be eligible for optional LTC in lieu of Privilege Pass entitlement, the order said.

India's largest single-pier elevated road inaugurated in Gaziabad,Uttar Pradesh Friday March 30,2018

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath inaugurated a 10.5-km elevated road in Ghaziabad on Friday March 30,2018

The 10.3-kilometre flyover will cut down the travel period between Delhi to Ghaziabad to merely 18 minutes. The elevated road is situated on the National Highway 24, allowing the commuters from Meerut region to use the corridor for travelling to the NCR.

The Hindon Elevated Road project is the longest single-pier elevated road in the country and has been built at a whopping cost of Rs 1147 crore.

The road connects UP Gate at Delhi-Ghaziabad border to Rajnagar Extension and is expected to provide big relief to commuters going to Meerut.

The construction of the road was completed one year back, and was one of the initiatives of previous Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh. It is believed that the inauguration of the elevated road might lead to a war of words between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the SP over taking the credit for the same

2018 Miami Open Women's Singles Final - Sloane Stephens Downs Jelena Ostapenko To Win Title Saturday March 31,2018

Sloane Stephens held her nerve in an error-strewn WTA Miami Open Final to beat Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 and lift the prestigious title for the first time on Saturday March 31,2018

Florida native Stephens, who has now won all six finals she has competed in, had been determined to win the last tournament at Key Biscayne before it moves next year. However a nervy final was not easy on the eye with both players appearing to be struggling to get to grips with the occasion. There were eight breaks of serve in the first set alone -- that total eventually ended up at 12 -- with French Open champion Ostapenko hitting 48 unforced errors compared to US Open champion Stephens making 21 during the entire one hour and 32 minutes.
The triumph for the American, however, capped an impressive campaign which saw victories over grand slam winners Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka before Ostapenko was also dispatched.
"I knew I would have to run a lot of balls down, you have to accept she will hit great shots so I didn't worry about that too much," said a delighted Stephens, who will be named in the WTA top 10 for the first time when the new rankings are released on Monday April 02,2018

Income Tax (I-T) law changes in Budget 2018 that takes effect from April 01,2018

Income Tax (I-T) law changes in Budget 2018 that takes effect from April 01,2018
1. Long term capital gains (LTCG) on equity: After a hiatus of 14 years, the government re-introduced long term capital gains amounting to Rs. one lakh and above at the rate of 10% on the sale of equities and equity mutual funds if they are sold any time after one year of their purchase. This means even if you sell your equity on April 2, you will be liable to pay the tax at the rate of 10% on account of long term capital gains. The tax will not have indexation benefits also. However, the capital gains made before January 31 will be grandfathered. This means any rise before January 31 will not be taken into account while calculating the capital gain for the financial year 2018-19.

2. Corporate tax rate: Corporate tax rate that is currently 30% has been reduced for a set of companies. The corporate entities that have a turnover of upto Rs. 250 crore are meant to pay only 25% corporate tax instead of 30% earlier.

3. Interest Income exemption:The finance minister offered a bounty of benefits for the senior citizens this year. The most important of them probably is the one that allows the senior citizens to avail exemption on account of interest income earned from the bank. The current amount of interest income of Rs. 10,000 that is allowed to be exempted has been raised to Rs. 50,000 in case of senior citizens. For the purpose, a new section 80TTB has been introduced.

4. Exemption under section 80D: The income tax exemption under section 80D of the income tax act, allowed for payment of health insurance premium and medical expenditure, has also been raised from the current limited of Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 for senior citizens.

5. Education and health cess: The education and health cess has been raised from the current rate of 3% to the new rate of 4%. This is the only additional levy on the small tax payers this time.

6. Standard Deduction: Another change that has been introduced in this year's tax law is the imposition of standard deduction of Rs. 40,000. However, with the introduction of standard deduction, the tax payer will no longer be able to avail exemption on account of transport allowance and medical expenditure to the tune of Rs. 19,200 and Rs. 15,000, respectively, allowed earlier. Standard deduction was earlier allowed for salaried individuals until it was removed from assessment year 2006-07.

7. Medical Treatment: Exemption for Medical treatment of senior citizens has been raised to Rs. one lakh. Earlier the limit was Rs. 60,000 and Rs. 80,000 for senior citizens and very senior citizens, respectively

Toyota, Suzuki agree to produce cars for each other in India

Toyota Motor Corp and Suzuki Motor Corp on Thursday March 29,2018 announced a basic agreement to produce cars for each other in India as Toyota aims to increase its market share in the fast-growing country dominated by its smaller rival.

The automakers said in a statement that the agreement would cover vehicles including gasoline hybrids. Suzuki will supply its Baleno hatchback and Vitara Brezza compact SUV to Toyota, while Toyota will produce the Corolla sedan for Suzuki.

Toyota and Suzuki will produce the models for each other as original equipment manufacturers, and these will be included into each others` branded offerings, the companies said.

The agreement deepens a partnership announced by the two Japanese automakers a year ago, under which they will share expertise on new technologies and parts supply. In November, Toyota and Suzuki said they would cooperate in selling electric cars in India from around 2020.

2018 West Indies Tour of Pakistan - First T20 @ National Stadium, Karachi Sunday April 01,2018

Jason Mohammed will captain a notably weakened West Indies side set to tour Pakistan for a three-match T20I series.

West Indies squad: Jason Mohammed (capt), Samuel Badree, Rayad Emrit, Andre Fletcher, Andre McCarthy, Keemo Paul, Veerasammy Permaul, Rovman Powell, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Marlon Samuels, Odean Smith, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams

The three T20Is will be played consecutively from April 1-3, all at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Pakistan thrash West Indies by 143 runs in first T20

Pakistan thrashed a depleted West Indies side by 143 runs in the first Twenty20 on Sunday at the National Stadium in Karachi, the first international match in the city for nine years.

Pakistan, the world's top-ranked T20 side, equalled their highest total in the format of 203-5 in 20 overs before bowling the West Indies out for their lowest-ever T20 total -- 60 runs -- in 13.4 overs.

The West Indies, missing their regular skipper Carlos Brathwaite and stars like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, could not handle Pakistan's varied bowling attack.

Only Marlon Samuels (18), Rayad Emrit (11) and Keemo Paul (10) reached double figures.
Pakistan's margin of victory is the second-biggest in T20s, behind Sri Lanka's 172-run win over Kenya in Johannesburg in 2007.

Previously, the hosts' biggest victory in T20s was a 102-run win against Bangladesh in Karachi in 2008, after scoring 203-5.

Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz and Shoaib Malik got two wickets each.

Debutant Hussain Talat top-scored for Pakistan with a 37-ball 41, hitting a six and two boundaries. He added 75 for the third wicket with skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, who scored a 22-ball 38 with a six and four boundaries.

Opener Fakhar Zaman hit a 24-ball 39, while Shoaib Malik played a fiery knock of 37 not out, facing 14 deliveries and hitting two sixes and four boundaries.

The charge helped Pakistan get 66 in the last five overs.

Despite this being the first international match in Karachi -- Pakistan's largest city -- only 18,000 people watched the match in the 33,000-capacity stadium.

The three-match T20 series against the West Indies is seen as a big step towards reviving international cricket in Pakistan, which was suspended in 2009 following a 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

Pakistan hosted five limited over internationals against Zimbabwe in 2015 before last year's final of the Pakistan Super League, followed by a T20 series against a World XI and a T20 against Sri Lanka.

This year Pakistan staged two PSL play-offs in Lahore before last Sunday's final of the T20 tournament in Karachi.


2018 Australia Tour of South Africa - Fourth Test @ Johannesburg March 30 - April 03,2018

2017-18 Premier League Sunday April 01,2018

Arsenal Vs Stoke City

Chelsea Vs Tottenham Hotspur

2017-18 Premier League Saturday March 31,2018

Crystal Palace Vs Liverpool
Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-1

Brighton & Hove Albion Vs Leicester City
Leicester City beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0

Manchester United Vs Swansea City
Manchester United beat Swansea City 2-0

Newcastle United Vs Huddersfield Town
Newcastle United  beat Huddersfield Town 1-0

Watford Vs AFC Bournemouth
The Match ended in a 2-2 draw

WBA Vs Burnley
Burnley beat WBA 2-1

West Ham United Vs Southampton
West Ham United beat Southampton 3-0

Everton Vs Manchester City
Manchester City beat Everton 3-1

2018 Indian Premier League(IPL)Season 11 April 07 - May 28,2018

The 11th edition of the Indian Premier League is set to kick start on April 07,2018 and the first match is scheduled to take place between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbai Indians are the defending champions as they lifted the trophy for the third time in 2017.

CSK on the other side are making a return back after they facing a two-year ban on themselves.

 CSK skipper Dhoni was the part of the Rising Pune Supergiant who ended their IPL 2017 campaign as runners up after losing to MI in the final.

The 2018 IPL will see the return of the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royalsafter serving two years of suspension for the involvement of their respective owners in the 2013 IPL Betting Case

This would be the first season with DRS

8 teams are scheduled to play in 2018

10 venues - Mohali,Delhi,Jaipur,Indore,Mumbai,Pune,Benglauru,Hyderabad,Chennai and Kolkata were selected to host the matches.

2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast,Queensland,Australia April 04 - April 15,2018

The 21st edition of Commonwealth Games will begin from April 4, 2018, to April 15, 2018, in Gold Coast, Queensland district of Australia.

 It is the fifth time the tournament is being held in Australia.

A total of 70 countries will compete across 18 sports disciplines in the tournament.

It is for the first time, in history, that Commonwealth Games will see an equal number of events for men and women

India will field a total of 227 athletes across various sports disciplines in the Commonwealth Games 2018.

1. The majority of the events will be held in three clusters on the Gold Coast, with the opening and closing ceremonies and athletics at the Carrara Stadium.
2. Track cycling and the shooting competitions will be held in Brisbane.
3. Preliminary round games in the basketball competition will be held in Townsville and Cairns, in the far-North of Queensland.

* 18 sports; seven para-sports
* 10 core sports (athletics, badminton, boxing, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby sevens, squash, swimming, weightlifting)
* Eight optional sports (basketball, beach volleyball, cycling, gymnastics, shooting, table tennis, triathlon, wrestling)
* 275 gold medals
* 6,600-plus athletes
* 71 nations and territories

1. Fifth Australian city to host the Commonwealth Games (Sydney 1938, Perth 1962, Brisbane 1982, Melbourne 2006).
2. Games' mascot 'Borobi' is a blue koala with indigenous markings on its body. Borobi is an Aboriginal term for koala.
3. Beach volleyball and women's sevens are making their debut.

1. First contested in 1930 as The Empire Games (a title that lasted until in 1950) in Hamilton, Ontario. Just 400 athletes from 11 countries attended.
2. Contested every four years, except for 1942 and 1946 due to World War Two, until 1950. Was renamed as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1952 with the 1954 event in Vancouver the first to use the title.
3. The last BE&C Games were held in Kingston in 1966, the first time they had been held outside of Britain, Australia, Canada or New Zealand.
4. Renamed the Commonwealth Games for the 1978 Edmonton event.
5.  Kuala Lumpur becomes the first Asian city to host the Games in 1998

BSNL unveils STV 118 with unlimited voice calling, 1GB data

BSNL has introduced its new STV-118 that gives customers unlimited voice with 1GB data.

The company’s Rs 118 recharge vouchers is for prepaid users and includes benefits such as unlimited voice (local/STD) in home LSA (licensee service area) as well as national roaming in except Delhi and Mumbai.

Users also get access to Personalised Ring Back Tone (PRBT) and a total of 1GB data for 28 days.

The prepaid recharge offer has been rolled out on PAN India basis.

Russia expels diplomats from 23 countries Friday March 3,2018

Russia expelled diplomats from 23 countries on Friday March 3,2018 in retaliation against the West in a spy row, in the biggest wave of tit-for-tat expulsions in recent memory.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned the heads of missions from 23 countries -- almost all of them European Union member states -- to tell them that some of their diplomats had to leave.
The diplomats from France, Canada, Germany, Australia and other countries were earlier seen arriving at the Russian foreign ministry in flagged official cars.

France, Germany and Poland each said that Russia was expelling four of their diplomats. Among the other countries that had similarly been told to pull their envoys were the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania and Norway.

Thirteen Ukrainian diplomats should also leave Russia

The moves came in retaliation for the coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats by Britain and its allies over a nerve agent attack against former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

CBSE Paper Leak - CBSE will conduct re-examination of the Class 12 Economics paper on 25 April Friday March 30,2018

The government on Friday March 30,2018 announced a re-examination date for the CBSE Class 12 economics paper and said a decision on conducting a re-exam for the Class 10 math paper will be taken later, amid protests, politics and an ongoing investigation.

The Class 12 economics re-exam will be held on 25 April, while the Class 10 maths re-exam, if needed, will be held in Delhi and Haryana only, and that too only in July, said Anil Swarup, secretary in the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry’s department of school education and literacy. He added that the decision was taken because there isn’t much time for inquiry and keeping the students’ future in mind. Swarup said there was no paper leak outside India and that the police and departmental enquiries have been initiated.

ISRO successfully launches GSAT-6A communication satellite Thursday March 29,2018

India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-6A was on Thursday  March 29,2018 launched onboard Geosynchronous rocket GSLV-F08 from the Sriharikota spaceport and successfully placed in the designated orbit, in yet another achievement for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08), fitted with indigenously developed cryogenic third stage, injected the satellite into orbit about 18 minutes after its lift off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here.

The satellite would provide a thrust to mobile communication through multi-beam coverage facility, the Isro said.

Isro chairman K Sivan described the mission as a success and congratulated the scientists behind the mission. Sivan said the communication satellite was successfully placed in the designated orbit.

This marks the 12th flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV-F08 and sixth flight with indigenous Cryogenic upper stage.

GSAT-6A, is similar to GSAT-6, a high power S-band communication satellite built on I-2K satellite bus with a mission life of about ten years, the Isro said.

World's Most Crowded Cities

most populous2

World's Most Densely Populated Countries And Territories

most populous

Just 7 States Produce Two Thirds of Doctors in India

Two-third of  Doctors in India are in just seven states including Karnataka,Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu  and Uttar Pradesh.

Because states with more medical colleges have more doctors and better medical facilities, a parliamentary panel has recommended opening new colleges where doctor-population ratio is lower.


World's longest sea bridge that connects Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China

Touted as an engineering wonder, the world's longest sea bridge, which connects Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, includes a snaking road crossing and an underwater tunnel and reportedly uses enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers.

Nine years after construction began on the 55-kilometre (34-mile) crossing, a preview organised by the Chinese government this week offered a first peek into the megaproject.

The bridge will link Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai and the gambling enclave of Macau, cutting across the waters of the Pearl River Estuary

Madhya Pradesh to Raise Retirement Age for Govt Employees to 62 Years

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday announced that retirement age for government servants in the state would be raised to 62 years from the existing 60 years.

“No government servant would retire without getting promotion, and for this, the state government has decided to increase the retirement age to 62 years from existing 60 years,” he said during an event in Bhopal.

Around 5.50 lakh government staffers are expected to be benefit from the move.

Google Celebrates India's First Woman Doctor Anandi Gopal Joshi on her 153rd birth anniversary(March 31,1865 - Feb 26,1887)With a Doodle Saturday March 31,2018

India’s first woman doctor Anandi Gopal Joshi’s 153rd birth anniversary was marked with a Google doodle on Saturday March 31,2018

The doodle has been created by Bangalore-based artist Kashmira Sarode, who portrayed Joshi celebrating her medical degree.

Google wrote in its blog, "In 1886, a young doctor stepped off a ship from America, eager to take up the role of physician-in-charge of the female ward at Kolhapur's Albert Edward Hospital. Not only was she India's first female doctor, but she was only 19 years old at the time. Her name was Anandi Gopal Joshi, and her story is one of courage and perseverance."

Born on March 31, 1865, Anandi was married at the age of nine to Gopalrao Joshi, a widower almost twenty years her senior. He was a progressive thinker and supported education for women, which was not very prevalent at the time.

At the age of fourteen, Anandi gave birth to a boy, but the child lived only for ten days because the medical care necessary for his survival was unavailable. This situation proved to be a turning point in Anandi's life and inspired her to become a physician

She went on to earn her medical degree from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, now known as Drexel University College of Medicine. In late 1886, Anandi returned to India, receiving a grand welcome. The princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital.

She died of tuberculosis early the next year on February 26, 1887. "Joshi's young life was tragically cut short when she died of tuberculosis before her 22nd birthday. However, her legacy and the path she paved for generations of women continues today. Interestingly, even a crater on Venus is named after her!" Google’s blog adds. 

2018 West Bengal Panchayat Election -West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) announce date Saturday March 31,2018

The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday  March 31,2018 announced three-phased panchayat polls in the state in May this year.

Panchayat polls will be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5, State Election Commissioner A K Singh told

Here's the polling schedule:

May 1 - Nadia, N24, S24, Howrah, Hooghly, WBrd, EBRD, Purulia, Jhargram, W Mindpaur, East Midnapur
May 3 - Murshidabad and Birbhum
May 5 - Coochbehar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Both Dinajpur, Kalimpong and Darjeeling and Malda 

The counting of polls will take place on May 08,2018

Kane Williamson Named Captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad for IPL 2018 Thursday March 29,2018

Sunrisers Hyderabad have named New Zealand captain and middle-order batsman Kane Williamson as their skipper for this season of the Indian Premier League. The decision comes in the wake of David Warner stepping down from his position as the captainof the franchise earlier, due to his involvement in the recent ball tampering controversy that took place during the third Test between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town.

Warner, who was banned by Cricket Australia for a year from any kind of cricketing activity on Wednesday, for his role in the fiasco, will not be a part of the Sunrisers squad as the ban automatically rules him out of the tournament.

Sunrisers Hyderabad made the announcement on their twitter handle on Thursday March 29,2018
Kane Williamson has been appointed as captain of SunRisers Hyderabad for IPL 2018.

2018 Indian Premier League(IPL)Season 11 - David Warner to be Replaced by Alex Hales in Sunrisers Hyderabad Squad

The Sunrisers Hyderabad have picked Alex Hales as the replacement for David Warner. The opening batsman was bought for his base price of INR 1 crore from the Registered and Available Player Pool (RAPP) list. The attacking batsman is the first and only England player till date to score a T20I century. He is also the top-ranked English player and the only one to feature in the top-10 list of the ICC T20I rankings.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have named New Zealand captain and middle-order batsman Kane Williamson as their skipper for this season. The decision came in the wake of David Warner stepping down from his position as the captainof the franchise earlier, due to his involvement in the recent ball tampering controversy that took place during the third Test between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town.

David Warner, who was banned by Cricket Australia for a year from any kind of cricketing activity on Wednesday, for his role in the fiasco, will not be a part of the Sunrisers squad as the ban automatically rules him out of the tournament.

Warner's loss is a big one for the franchise as he has been a prized asset for the Sunrisers over the years. The southpaw has led the team with the bat, scoring 2579 runs in 59 innings at a whopping average of 52.63 and destructive strike rate of 147.70. He was also the man who led the team to IPL glory in the 2016. Sunrisers had used their right to match card in this season's IPL to retain the Australian.

Williamson, who has failed to cement his place in the playing XI as the franchise has mostly played bowlers as part of their foreign player quota, has been associated with the franchise since 2015. The Kiwi doesn't boast of a great T20 record with a sub-thirty average and a career strike-rate of under 120. But he is an established international captain and that must have prompted the Hyderabad based franchise to hand over the reins of the team to him.

2018 Indian Premier League(IPL)Season 11 - Aussie Pacer Mitchell Starc to Miss Tournament Due to Injury

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have suffered a huge blow ahead of the eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as star Australian pacer Mitchell Starc will miss the tournament due to injury, Cricket Australia announced on Friday.

The injury also kept Starc out of the fourth and the final Test between South Africa and Australia in Johannesburg and he was replaced by 31-year-old debutant Chadd Sayers in the playing XI.
BREAKING: Mitchell Starc has a 'tibial bone stress in his right leg'.

He will return home for further assessment after the Test and will miss the IPL.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ethiopia's ruling party picks new leader, set to become PM

Ethiopia's ruling coalition late Tuesday March 27,2018 named a chairman set to become the country's new prime minister amid the latest state of emergency in Africa's second most populous nation.

The young, outspoken Abiy Ahmed is now poised to take power, as the ruling coalition and its regional affiliates hold all parliament seats. A vote by lawmakers is expected on Wednesday.
The announcement followed months of the most severe anti-government protests in a quarter-century and the surprise decision by Prime MinisterHailemariam Desalegn  early this year to release prominent politicians, journalists and others from prison to free up political space.
But Hailemariam later announced his intention to resign and a new state of emergency, the second in less than two years, was imposed in one of Africa's fastest growing economies. Earlier this week, a number of recently freed politicians and journalists were re-arrested and accused of gathering without authorities' prior knowledge.
Abiy will be the first person from Ethipia's largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to hold the post of prime minister since the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. Credited with co-founding the National Intelligence and Security Service, he was elected last month as chair of the Oromo People Democratic Organization, one of the ruling coalition's four core parties, paving the way for his premiership.
The new leader, who is in his 40s, is widely seen as a fresh face in the ruling coalition, which long has been dominated by the smaller but more powerful Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.
The ruling coalition on Tuesday also decided to keep Demeke Mekonnen as deputy prime minister.
Ethiopians had eagerly awaited news of their new leader for days. This will be the third prime minister since the current ruling coalition came to power close to 30 years ago after overthrowing the Derg military regime by force.
Many hoped the development would bring calm to the nation of 100 million people after the months of protests demanding wider freedoms. "A fair justice system works only when human rights are respected," Abiy said during a recent meeting in the Oromia region.
"I believe that the Oromia region president, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is the answer to Ethiopia's youths' questions," Yonas Alemayehu, an activist in the restive region, told The Associated Press. The Oromo people, despite their numbers, have long felt marginalized and have played a main role in the demonstrations.
The outgoing prime minister at times had been labeled as weak and in the shadow of former strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012. Others argued that Hailemariam successfully continued the late leader's core policies: economic transformation and repression.
In a 2016 interview with the AP, Hailemariam acknowledged that good governance was in decline in Ethiopia, a key security ally of the United States.
"That is the main reason why people are protesting," he said at the time. "This is really a positive sign. I have recently apologized in front of the parliament for our mismanagement and lack of responsibility that have generated these dissents. We are now taking measures to address those grievances."
However, the protests have continued to this day.
Yilikal Getnet, a prominent opposition figure, said the declaration of two separate states of emergency and now the change in leadership showed that the tight grip that ruling elites once had over the public was now deserting them.
"This change in leadership is an indication of how unstable the government is," Yilikal told the AP. "It has got nothing to do with opening up for democratization or a peaceful transfer of power. It's time for the ruling party to admit that solving Ethiopia's current woes are beyond its capacity."

Ireland to hold referendum on legalizing abortion on May 25,2018

The Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum on May 25 on whether to alter its constitution to legalise abortion, Health Minister Simon Harris said on Wednesday  March 28,2018

The move follows the Irish Senate voting in favour of holding the poll by a wide margin Tuesday night.
"Referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment will take place on Friday, 25th May. The people will have their say," Harris tweeted.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar last year won leadership of the governing centre-right Fine Gael party after campaigning on same-sex marriage and liberalising abortion laws in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.
The election of Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay leader, was seen as a watershed moment on the socially conservative island.
The referendum will take place exactly three months before the visit of Pope Francis, the first visit to the country by a pontiff since John Paul II went there in 1979.
The Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution recognises the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother.
Abortion is illegal unless there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, and a woman convicted of having an illegal termination faces 14 years imprisonment.
However, women are free to travel abroad for abortions and thousands do so every year, mainly to England.
Amnesty International welcomed the announcement, calling it "a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Ireland to put in place laws which respect the #humanrights of women & girls".
Leaders from the Church of Ireland, an Anglican denomination, urged voters "to think through the issues involved carefully".
"There is, for Christians, a very clear witness in the Scriptures that all human life, including before physical birth, has a sacred dignity in the eyes of God," they said.
There have already been five referendums related to the issue, the first in 1983.
But in recent years the Irish parliament had stalled proposals to hold another poll, as well as legislation to relax the laws allowing abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

CBSE to reconduct Class 12 Economics, Class 10 Maths examinations

The Class 12 Economics and Class 10 Maths examinations will be re-conducted and the dates will be announced within a week, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced on Wednesday March 28,2018
The decision follows complaints of paper leaks.
The CBSE issued a notice with reference to the two papers: “The Board has taken cognisance of certain happenings in the conduct of examinations as are being reported. With the view to upholding the sanctity of the Board examinations and in the interest of fairness to the students, the Board has decided to re-conduct the examinations...,” it said.
It added, “Dates of fresh examinations shall be posted on the CBSE website within a week.”
The Delhi Police on Wednesday registered two FIRs in the case relating to the leak of two question papers.
“We have registered two separate FIRs under IPC Section 420 [cheating] and 406 [criminal breach of trust]. The case has been transferred to the Crime Branch for further investigation,” Chief PRO of Delhi Police Deependra Pathak said.
Police said they received two separate complaints at the Madhu Vihar Police Station.

Ball Tampering Row - Steve Smith and David Warner Banned for one year,Cameron Bancroft for 9 months

Australia skipper Steve Smith and senior batsman David Warner were Wednesday banned from top-level cricket for a year over a cheating scandal that has rocked the sport and dragged their side’s reputation through the mud. A statement from Cricket Australia (CA) said Smith and Warner had been suspended from “all international and domestic cricket” while opening batsman Cameron Bancroft has been banned for nine months over the ball-tampering incident during the third Test in South Africa

“Steve Smith: suspension of 12 months from all international and domestic cricket.
David Warner: suspension of 12 months from all international and domestic cricket.
Cameron Bancroft: suspension of 9 months from all international and domestic cricket,” the CA statement read.
All three players will, however, be permitted to play club cricket “to maintain links with the cricket community.”
As per the CA code of conduct, Smith has been found guilty of having knowledge of a potential plan to attempt to artificially alter the condition of the ball; failure to take steps to seek to prevent the development and implementation of that plan; and directing that evidence of attempted tampering be concealed on the field of play, among other things.
Smith had also been charged for “seeking to mislead Match Officials and others regarding Bancroft’s attempts to artificially alter the condition of the ball; and misleading public comments regarding the nature, extent and participants of the plan.”
“In addition, all three players will be required to undertake 100 hours of voluntary service in community cricket.”
CA said Smith and Bancroft will not be considered for team leadership positions until one year after the end of their ban, while Warner will never be an option for captaincy role.
“Any consideration of future leadership would be conditional on acceptance by fans and the public, form and authority among the playing group. David Warner will not be considered for team leadership positions in the future.”
CA Chairman David Peever said the rather stringent penalties are a reflection of Australia’s current outrage at the actions of the players.
“These are significant penalties for professional players and the Board does not impose them lightly. It is hoped that following a period of suspension, the players will be able to return to playing the game they love and eventually rebuild their careers,” he said.
CA CEO James Sutherland echoed the sentiment.
“I am satisfied that the sanctions in this case properly reflect a balance between the need to protect the integrity and reputation of the game and the need to maintain the possibility of redemption for the individuals involved, all of whom have learned difficult lessons through these events,” he said.

ICICI Bank fined Rs 58.9 crore by Reserve Bank Of India(RBI)

ICICI Bank was penalised heavily by the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday March29,2018 for failing to comply with held-to-maturity guidelines. The RBI, in a press release, stated that it has imposed a penalty of ₹589 million on March 26 for failing to adhere to its directions on direct sale of securities from its HTM portfolio.
Without elaborating on how the bank failed to comply, the RBI said: “The penalty has been imposed in exercise of power vested in RBI under the provisions of Section 47A(1)(c) read with Section 46(4)(i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account failure of the bank to adhere to the aforesaid directions/guidelines issued by RBI. This action is based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.”
Banks need to disclose the amount of securities they keep under the HTM segment under which the papers are held until maturity and cannot be used for intraday trading. The RBI allows banks to sell securities from HTM subject to certain limits and disclosure rules.

NDA Govt to sell 76% stake in Air India, invites bids as it lays down rules

Along with a 76 per cent stake in Air India — with a fleet of 115 aircraft and over 2,500 prime international slots in markets including the US, UK, Europe, Southeast Asia and West Asia — the government, as per a preliminary information memorandum (PIM) issued on Wednesday, will also package Rs 33,392 crore of debt and liabilities of Air India and Air India Express.
Laying the ground rules for potential bidders, the government has mandated that the successful purchaser cannot sell the shares or cede management control for at least three years from the date of consummation of the transaction.
As of March 31, 2017, Air India and Air India Express had a total debt of Rs 51,379.60 crore.