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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Maruti Suzuki scores over nearest rival Hyundai, not just in volume

is not just the country’s biggest carmaker with a 50 per cent market share, it also makes higher profit on each car than the industry peers, including its nearest rival and Korean automobile giant

Carmakers do not share the profit they earn per car though they declare the total company profit earned in a year. This profit includes money made on sales of spare parts though it is a small part compared to vehicle sales. A back-of-the-envelope calculation, however, can give an idea of the profit these manufacturers make per vehicle by simply spreading the total profit over the number of cars sold to arrive at an average number. It is true that the profit on different cars would be different. The smaller ones, for instance, will yield lower profits.

Let us take the case of Maruti Suzuki, which sells every second car in the world’s fifth-biggest market, India. The Suzuki-promoted company made a record profit of Rs 77.21 billion in the year ended March 31, when it sold a record 1,779,574 vehicles, a fraction of these were the newly-launched light commercial vehicles. A simple calculation shows the company might have earned as much as Rs 43,386 on an average per unit.

This is an impressive profit, considering the average per unit realisation of Rs 397,000 for the year, announced by the company in April.

is not a listed company in India and its financial results are shared with the registrar of with a time lag. Information with the Korean parent, however, shows that it made approximately Rs 22 billion in profits in the year ended December 31, 2017. In the same year, it sold a record 678,221 cars. The annual profit translates into a per unit share of Rs 32,437.

A comparison of per unit profit of and shows the former makes around 33 per cent higher gains to its Korean peer. While is miles ahead in volume to Hyundai, which has a market share of about 16 per cent, the product portfolio of the two players are not very different. Both thrive on a strong hatchback and SUV product line up.

NDA Govt meets fiscal deficit target of 3.5% at Rs 5.92 trillion for 2017-18

The central government just about met its revised fiscal deficit target for 2017-18. The gap for the year ending March 31 was Rs 5.92 trillion, or 3.52 per cent of the full year’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Rs 167.73 trillion, showed official data released on Thursday May 31,2018

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his 2018-19 budget, had revised the deficit target to Rs 5.95 trillion or 3.5 per cent of GDP, upward from the earlier Rs 5.46 trillion or 3.2 per cent. The stated reason was disruption in economic activity from lingering effects of demonetisation and rollout of a nationwide Goods and Services Tax(GST).

The controller-general of accounts (CGA) also released the monthly income data for the first month of 2018-19. April 2018 fiscal deficit as Rs 1.52 trillion or 24 per cent of the full-year target of Rs 6.24 trillion, compared with 37.6 per cent for the same period last year. This was primarily due to lower revenue expenditure, arising from lesser carried-over arrears

The CGA data shows total spending in 2017-18 was Rs 21.43 trillion or 96.6 per cent of the revised estimates. Total receipts were Rs 15.51 trn or 95.6 per cent of the full-year revised estimates. The revenue deficit was Rs 4.43 trn or 101 per cent of the full-year target. 

FIFA World Cup Controversies: Head-butt, bites and match-fixing

Controversies at the FIFA World Cup have become the talking points over the years. From Zinedine Zidane's head-butt to Luis Suarez's biting incident, World Cup has witnessed some of the top controversial moments in the rich history of football.

Here's a look at the top contentious moments that have rocked the quadrennial showpiece in the last four World Cups.


Fresh from scoring two goals to help his team beat England 2-1 in a group match Uruguay needed to win, Luis Suarez was expected to play a prominent role against Italy to spearhead his team's advancement to the round of 16.

He did play a leading role -- only not in the way most had anticipated.

Toward the end of the match, Suarez inexplicably bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder following a tussle in the penalty area. The referee didn't see the incident, which proved costly for the Azzurri because Uruguay soon scored the only goal of the match.

Suarez faced severe retrospective action. He was suspended from all football-related activity for four months, slapped with a nine-match international ban and given a big fine.

Suarez wasn't new to biting. This was his third offence on the field following previous incidents for Ajax and Liverpool. Suarez's bad habit didn't put off Barcelona, who weeks later bought the striker from Liverpool for about $130 million.


In the last minute of extra time in a hard-fought 2010 quarter-final match between Uruguay and Ghana, Luis Suarez was sent off after he used his hands to keep out Dominic Adiyiah's goal-bound header. Asamoah Gyan hit the bar on the ensuing penalty, and Suarez was shown celebrating on the sideline.

Ghana went on to lose the penalty shootout, thereby failing to become Africa's first semi-finalist as the continent staged its first World Cup.


Zinedine Zindane's head-butt in the final of the 2006 World Cup between France and Italy overshadowed the Azzurri's title triumph. The legendary France striker head-butted Italian defender Marco Materazzi when the scores were locked at 1-1 in the extra-time.

Zidane was red carded soon after and Materazzi and his side went on to win the final 5-3 via the penalty shootout. Media reports suggested that Materazzi had insulted the French captain's mother but the Italian insisted it wasn't so.

The incident is believed to have cost Zidane the chance to bag the golden ball.


In one of the biggest refereeing goof-ups, English referee Graham Poll booked the same player three times in a league match between Croatia and Australia.

The player in question here is Croatia's Josip Simunic. He was shown his first yellow card in the 61st minute for a foul on Harry Kewell.

Moments later, Poll again booked Simunic in the 91st minute but did not send him off as he failed to keep a note of it. Two yellow cards are equal to one red card meaning a player cannot continue to carry on in the match and the team is reduced to 10 players.

However, two more minutes later Simunic got his third yellow and this time Poll sent him off leaving Croatia one man short


The World Cup co-hosts South Korea were helped by referees as they advanced to the semi-finals of the sporting spectacle.

En route to semi-finals, South Korea knocked Italy out in the last-16 before stunning Spain in the quarter-finals.

However, their charge was halted when runners-up Germany ended South Korea's dream run with a 1-0 win.

The referees of the matches against Italy and Spain were found guilty of match-fixing and were forced to retire after the tournament.

2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia June 14-July 15,2018 - A look at all the groups

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is just over two weeks away and it has one of the most fiercely contested group stages going into the history of the tournament ever.

Every year going into the World Cup, there is a group that can be clearly called the 'Group of Death' as it stands out in terms of competitiveness and the high-end teams stacked up together.

But, this year it is a tad different.

With the absence of Italy, Netherlands, United States of America, Chile, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, there is not a single group, where two or three big teams stand a chance to get knocked out in the initial stage of the tournament.

More than one group has teams that can upset the 'Big Dog' and progress into the Round-of-16s.

Here is a look at all the groups


Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay
Current rankings: Uruguay (14), Egypt (46), Russia (66) and Saudi Arabia (67)


Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran
Current rankings: Portugal (4), Spain (8), Iran (36) and Morocco (42)


France, Australia, Peru and Denmark
Current rankings: France (7), Peru (11), Denmark (12) and Australia (40)


Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria
Current rankings: Argentina (5), Croatia (18), Iceland (22) and Nigeria (47)


Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia
Current rankings: Brazil (2), Switzerland (6), Costa Rica (25) and Serbia (35)


Germany, Mexico, Sweden and Korea Republic
Current rankings: Germany (1), Mexico (15), Sweden (23) and Korea Republic (61)


Belgium, Panama, England and Tunisia
Current rankings: Belgium (3), England (13), Tunisia (14) and Panama (55)

Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan
Current rankings: Poland (10), Colombia (16), Senegal (28) and Japan (60)

2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia June 14-July 15,2018 - Peru captain Guerrero cleared to play 2018 FIFA World Cup Thursday May 31,2018

Peru captain Paolo Guerrero was cleared to play at next month's World Cup after a Swiss court on Thursday May 31,2018 agreed to temporarily lift his doping suspension while it considered his appeal against a 14-month ban.

In the latest twist to a long-running saga which has kept the Andean nation on tenterhooks, the Swiss Federal Tribunal acknowledged that it would be harsh for Guerrero to miss what is likely to be his only chance to play at the tournament.

"The President of the court took into account the setbacks of all types that the appellant, already aged 34, would suffer if (he) was prevented from participating in a competition that will be the culmination of his career as a footballer," it said in a statement.

It also recognised that Guerrero, who tested positive for a cocaine byproduct -- contained in a tea he drank -- in October, "did not act intentionally or with significant negligence."

The court, the last course of appeal in the sporting judicial system, said it would consider the merits of the appeal itself once it had the full reasoned decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which imposed the ban earlier this month.

Guerrero, who will almost certainly not have had another chance to play at the World Cup even if Peru qualified again, is now free to lead his country in their first appearance at the tournament for 36 years.

They face France, Australia and Denmark in Group C at the finals which start on June 14,2018

Guerrero said in a statement issued by his lawyer that "justice has been done, at least partially", and said he would continue the fight to clear his name.

He thanked the "millions of compatriots who have united with me, in thousands of different ways but with one common denominator; their undying affection."

Guerrero has been on an emotional rollercoaster since the positive doping test following a World Cup qualifier away to Argentina in October.

He was initially given a 12-month ban, starting in November, by soccer's world governing body FIFA, which ruled him out of the World Cup. That was reduced to six months on appeal, putting him back in the tournament.

However, less than two weeks after the six-month ban ended in May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport's highest tribunal, increased the ban to 14 months, again ruling out of the finals.

That decision followed an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which considered six months as too lenient.

Guerrero has said that benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, was found in his system because of a herbal infusion he drank that was contaminated with coca leaf, an ingredient in cocaine which is also widely used as a non-narcotic traditional remedy in South America.

The world players union FIFPro and the captains of Australia, Denmark and France backed Guerrero, pointing out that CAS itself recognised that he did not seek to gain an advantage.

FIFPro said it was delighted with the result but added: "It is unfortunate that he has to endure such a protracted legal wrangle that is still not over."

West Indies thrash ICC World XI to win Hurricane relief T20 at Lord's Thursday May 31,2018

West Indies rode on an all-round effort to thrash a star-studded World XI by 72 runs in one-off the Hurricane relief T20 match at the Lord's cricket ground in London on Thursday May 31,2018

The match was organised to raise funds for the refurbishment of five cricket stadia in the Caribbean that were damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Put in to bat, the West Indians rode on a solid 75-run opening stand between Chris Gayle (18) and Evin Lewis (58 from 26 balls; 4x5, 6x5) and vital contributions from Marlon Samuels, Dinesh Ramdin and Andre Russell to put a strong 199/4 in their 20 overs.

In reply, only three World XI batsmen could manage to reach the double figures to be bundled out for a meagre 127 in 16.4 overs.

The World XI lost their top four wickets with just eight runs on the board even as Sri Lankan Thisara Perera raged a lone battle with a 37-ball 61, containing seven fours and three sixes.

Perera found little help from the other end as the Pakistan duo of Shoaib Malik (12) and Shahid Afridi (11) were the only other batsmen to cross the double figures.

Earlier, with the West Indians cruising to 51/0 in the powerplay, Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan managed to draw first blood with the wicket of the dangerous Lewis in the 8th over before off-spinner Malik packed back Gayle, who failed to get going.

World XI skipper Afridi struck immediately with the wicket of Andre Fletcher (7) but the Caribbean side recovered thereafter with Samuels (43 from 22; 4x2, 6x4) and stumper Ramdin (44 not out from 25; 4x3, 6x3) forging a 52-run stand.

Rashid Khan then came back to dismiss Samuels but Russell's 10-ball unbeaten 21, laced with three sixes ensured West Indies reach a challenging total.

West Indies 199/4 in 20 Overs
World XI     127/10 in 16.4 Overs
Match Result - West Indies won by 72 Runs
MOM - Evin Lewis(West Indies)for his 58(26 Balls 4x5 and 6x5)

Indian Weightlifter Sanjita Chanu,who won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games fails dope test

Indian Weightlifter Sanjita Chanu, who won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, has been handed a provisional suspension for an anti-doping rule violation. The Indian weight lifter, who competes in 53kg category, has tested positive for Testosterone.

She has the right to challenge the reports before an anti-doping disciplinary panel but if confirmed, she will be stripped of her Commonwealth Games gold medal. India had won 26 gold medals at the Gold Coast Games.

Chanu won Gold in the Commonwealth Games in weightlifting in the 53kg category.

Chanu, who lifted a total of 192kg to win her second Commonwealth Games gold medal, had finished on top even in Glasgow 2014 with a total lift of 173 kg, making the Gold Coast medal her second Commonwealth Gold.

New Zealand orders culling of 1.26 lakh cows, here's why

New Zealand, the world's biggest dairy exporter, will spend more than 880 million NZ dollars in a bid to eradicate the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday May 28,2018

About 126,000 cows are expected to be culled, mainly over the next two years, as government and industry work to depopulate all infected farms, the government said in a statement.

The disease, which is common in many countries, was first detected in New Zealand at a farm in the South Island last July and some 37 properties have now tested positive for the illness.

"Today's decision to eradicate is driven by the government's desire to protect the national herd from the disease and protect the base of our economy, the farming sector," Ardern said in a statement.

Mycoplasma bovis can lead to conditions such as udder infection, pneumonia and arthritis in affected cattle, but does not pose a food safety risk or any risk to humans.

The initial outbreak led to concerns that the disease could affect market access for New Zealand's dairy products, and caused a brief dip in the New Zealand dollar.

The government would contribute about 591 million NZ dollars to the eradication programme, while the rest would be borne by industry bodies and farmers, Ardern said. The bulk of the work would take place in the next two years.

New Zealand's dairy sector contributes about 7.8 billion NZ dollars annually to the country's gross domestic product and accounts for around a fifth of the country's exports.

How Savita Halappanavar. united Ireland against abortion law held on May 25,2018

Six years after Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar lost her life after an Irish hospital refused abortion citing existing laws and "Catholic" belief of the country, the people of Ireland have overwhelmingly voted against the 1983-law. A referendum was held last week following a relentless campaign after the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Over 66 per cent voters of the Republic of Ireland favoured removal of the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution that gave the unborn an equal right to life as pregnant woman. Now, the government will present a bill before Irish parliament, Dail for its approval that will scrap the 35-year-old law.

The story began in October 2012, when 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar was admitted to a hospital in Ireland's Galway city. She was 17-week pregnant and had developed serious complications putting her life at risk.

The Eight Amendment of the Irish Constitution effectively banned abortion in Ireland. Termination of pregnancy was allowed if the pregnant woman's life was at serious risk. Doctors attending the patient had to take that call.

The doctors at the Galway hospital decided against it saying that the foetus had an active heartbeat. Miscarriage had begun yet the hospital refused abortion terming it illegal.

One of the hospital staff told Savita and her husband that abortion was not possible "because Ireland is a Catholic" country. The Catholic belief does not support abortion. Savita succumbed to multiple infections on October 12, 2012.

Medically, the cause of Savita's death was attributed to septic shock, E coli in her bloodstream and a miscarriage of 17-week-old foetus. But, the death built a public opinion against the abortion law of Ireland.

Savita's death saw huge protests in Ireland. Over 2,000 protesters assembled outside Irish parliament in Dublin. Candle-lit vigils were taken out across Ireland mourning Savita's death and calling for amendment in abortion law.
The protests led to enactment of a new law in 2013 allowing abortion when doctors deemed that the pregnant woman's life was at risk due to medical complications. Interestingly, the Supreme Court of the country had ruled for same in 1992.

Two years later, in 2015, the United Nations called for a referendum on the abortion law saying that it was "concerned at the criminalization of abortion, including in the cases of rape and incest and of risk to the health of a pregnant woman".

In 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) said that the Ireland abortion law that led to Savita Halappanavar's death during miscarriage subjected her to discrimination and inhuman cruelty. This set the tone for Citizens' Assembly, a public body set up to advise the Irish government on the policy matters relating to ethics and politics.

The Citizens' Assembly voted to ease abortion laws last year by a majority of 64 per cent.

The Ireland Government then opted for referendum that was held on May 25,2018

A woman writes a note on the Savita Halappanavar mural on May 26, 2018 - the day of referendum results for amedning abortion law in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar had become the symbol of the Yes campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment that bans abortion in Ireland.

Saudi Arabia outlaws sexual harassment Tuesday May 29,2018

Saudi Arabia's Cabinet on Tuesday May 29,2018  approved a measure criminalising sexual harassment

The legislation, which awaits an expected royal decree to become law, is the latest in a series of reforms that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has initiated in a bid to modernise the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

Prince Mohammed is also trying to diversify the Arab worlds largest economy away from oil exports and open up Saudis cloistered lifestyles by easing strict social rules and promoting entertainment.

The anti-harassment measure, which was approved on Monday by the Shura Council advisory body, introduces a jail sentence of up to five years and a 300,000 riyals (80,000 USD) fine.

The legislation  aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual's privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations, a statement from the Shura Council said.

Andhra Pradesh cabinet clears Rs 1,000 unemployment allowance for youth

Unemployed graduate youths in Andhra Pradesh would soon get a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 each, the TDP government today announced, fulfilling the party's 2014 election-eve promise.

The state Cabinet which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu decided to pay Rs 1,000 a month to each unemployed graduate in the state with an upper age limit of 35.

In the run-up to the assembly elections in 2014, the TDP had assured to give an allowance of Rs 2,000 for unemployed youths.

The government estimated that there were about 10 lakh unemployed people as per the "Pulse Survey data", ministers N Lokesh and Kollu Ravindra told

The scheme would cost Rs 1,200 crore a year to the public exchequer, they said adding the launch date would be announced soon.

"A group of ministers studied similar schemes being implemented in various states in the country as well as some foreign countries. No other state in India is paying Rs 1,000.

Though Uttar Pradesh paid Rs 1,000, the scheme was discontinued in six months, Lokesh said.

2018 Petrol Price REvision - Petrol price cut by 6 paise per litre, diesel by 5 paise Friday June 01,2018

Petrol, diesel prices cut marginally for third day in a row

Prices for petrol and diesel have fallen by 6 paise and 5 paise per litre respectively today.

The fuel price was slashed for the third day after it remained high for 16 consecutive days.

In Delhi, petrol now costs Rs 78.29 per litre, while diesel price has been revised to Rs 69.20 a litre.
Besides Delhi, the revised petrol prices in other metro cities are - Rs 80.92 in Kolkata, Rs 86.10 in Mumbai and Rs 81.28 in Chennai.

Meanwhile, the revised diesel price was Rs 71.75 in Kolkata, Rs 73.67 in Mumbai and 73.06 in Chennai.

Over the 16-day period, petrol prices rose by almost Rs 4 across the country while diesel rates went up by around Rs 3.3.

The 16 days of hike came after a mysterious 'freeze' in the daily revisions of fuel prices across the country.

Oil corporations stopped their usual practice of revising fuel prices daily on April 24 and only resumed it on May 14.

The companies offered no explanations for where fuel prices remained unchanged between April 24 and May 14. However, many linked the unofficial freeze to the Karnataka election.

Voting in Karnataka was held on May 12 -- just two days after, on May 14, oil companies reverted to the practice of daily revisions in fuel prices.

Prices had been going up since then and the Centre faced a lot of flak for allowing fuel to get more expensive by the day.

Farmers in 7 states start 10-day strike, stop supply of milk, other commodities Friday June 01,2018

Farmers in 7 states are on a 10-day protest, starting today, and are demanding that the government should pay them the promised minimum support price (MSP) at the earliest.

The 7 states where the protests will be held are: Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.

The protests are being held under the banner of Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKM), a federation of 130 farmers' organisation. Under the protests, farmers will suspend supplies of vegetables and diary produce to nearby cities for 10 days and stage roadside dharnas along 30 major highways in the country.

"Farmers will not block any roads. The protests will be peaceful. Around 200 organisations have extended support to the protest," said Abhimanyu Kohar, national general secretary of RKM

The protest also coincides with the first anniversary of the tragic killings of farmers in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, where five farmers were allegedly killed in police firing during protests on June 6 last year.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea soccer club Takes Israeli Citizenship

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea soccer club who has found himself without a visa to Britain, took Israeli citizenship on Monday and will move to Tel Aviv where he has bought a property, an Israeli media report said.

Abramovich has been counted as one of the richest men in Britain since he bought the English Premier League soccer club in 2003. His British visa expired last month and sources have told Reuters it was taking longer than usual to get it renewed. The British government has declined to comment on his case.

The Ynet website that belongs to Israel's biggest selling daily, Yedioth Aharonoth, said Abramovich, who is Jewish, jetted into Tel Aviv on Monday and had received documents confirming his status as an Israeli citizen.

An Israeli immigration absorption ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the report citing individual privacy but a spokeswoman for the Population Administration which oversees border control confirmed that Abramovich was in Israel.

A spokesman for Abramovich also declined to comment on the report.

Israel grants citizenship to any Jew wishing to move there, and a passport can be issued immediately. Israeli passport holders can enter Britain without a visa for short stays, although they require visas to work there.

Relations between Moscow and London have been strained since the poisoning of former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in March, an act Britain has blamed on Russia but in which the Kremlin denies any involvement.

Abramovich has been a regular visitor to Israel and Ynet said he had bought a property that was formerly a hotel, in an old Tel Aviv neighbourhood close to the Mediterranean shore. 

14-Year-Old Indian-American Wins National Spelling Bee Championship

Karthik Nemmani , a 14-year-old Indian-American boy, today won the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee, taking home more than USD 42,000 in cash and prizes after correctly spelling "koinonia" to become the 14th champion from the community in 11 consecutive years.

An eighth-grader from McKinney, Texas, Karthik won the spelling competition after numerous rounds against Naysa Modi, another Indian-American student, underscoring the overwhelming dominance of Indian-Americans in the competition. Karthik and Naysa were the last two standing of the initial 516 spellers.

"I had confidence, but I didn't think it would really happen," he said, adding that he knew he would correctly spell the word meaning Christian fellowship or communion as soon as he heard it. Karthik received USD 40,000 and a trophy from the Scripps Bee, a USD 2,500 cash prize (and a complete reference library) from Merriam-Webster, trips to New York and Hollywood as part of a media tour, and a pizza party for their school, the Washington Post reported.

Forty-one spellers advanced to the finals on Thursday out of a field of 516 by far the largest in the 93-year history of the competition at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland to battle it out for the title of champion.

The 16 finalists ranged in age from 11 to 14 and included nine girls and seven boys. Karthik said he went 20 rounds toe-to-toe with Naysa in their local Bee, only to be invited to the National Spelling Bee through the RSVBee programme where they would again square off on stage, the Spelling Bee said in a statement.

"It's pretty cool to be on stage. It's what I've been dreaming of for years now," he was quoted as saying by the statement. It's a lot of work, Karthik said, but worthwhile. "I had confidence," he said. "I wouldn't say I expected it. It was a dream come true."

When not spelling, Karthik likes to play tennis and watch the Chicago Bulls and the Denver Broncos. He also likes robotics and is looking forward to getting some rest, it said. Another Indian-American, Atman Balakrishnan, the 12-year-old son of 1985 champion Balu Natarajan, did not advance to the finals.

Karthik also continued a longtime trend by becoming the 14th champion or co-champion of South Asian descent the bee has had in 11 consecutive years. The National Bee is a high-profile, high-pressure endurance test as much as a nerd spelling match and spellers spend months preparing for it.

The stress of competing against the dictionary was etched on many spellers' faces as they took their turn at the microphone and in front of the television cameras. The spellers come from all over the US, plus one from Canada. And several had appeared at the national bee in previous years

Tabassum Hasan Becomes First Muslim MP From Uttar Pradesh in 16th Lok Sabha

Tabassum Hasan, whose victory in Kairana has given strength to opposition unity in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 general election, on Thursday May 31,2018 became the first Muslim MP from the most populous state in the 16th Lok Sabha.

Hasan (48) defeated her nearest BJP rival Mriganka Singh by a huge margin of over 46,000 votes as the Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate supported by the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The opposition also won the Noorpur assembly seat, where SP's Naimul Hasan defeated the BJP candidate.

Uttar Pradesh, which has Muslim population of about 20 per cent, elected no Muslim MP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Out of 80 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal won 73 in the 2014 elections. The SP got five seats and the Congress just two.

"My success is the victory of people of the state who have shown that they have stood up against the four-year-old misrule of the BJP," Tabassum Hasan said after her resounding victory.

"Had there be no EVM problem, my victory margin would have been more," she said referring to the complaints against electronic voting machines.

"I was confident of my victory as I had faith in the people," she said.

Hasan claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have no impact in next year's Lok Sabha polls.

"The BJP's arrogant people say there is no alternative to Modi, but the Almighty always finds a way out and the alliance of opposition parties will come out triumphant against the BJP in 2019.

"My victory has proved that the path of the united opposition is clear in 2019," she said.

Hasan took a plunge into politics in the 2009 Lok Sabha election on a BSP ticket, months after the death of her husband Munawwar Hasan in a car crash in Haryana and defeated BJP candidate Hukum Singh.

In 2014, her son Nahid Hasan fought the election on a SP ticket against Hukum Singh but was defeated.

Nahid won the UP assembly polls in 2017 against Hukum Singh's daughter Mriganka.

Kairana LS constituency has 16 lakh voters of whom Muslims account for a major chunk of five lakh voters. Dalits and Jats have two lakh voters each. Another major chunk is that of Gurjars who constitute one lakh voters.

The Kairana seat fell vacant after the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh, whose daughter Mriganka was the party candidate this time.

In Kairana, the opposition consolidated the anti-BJP vote and repeated its success in Gorakhpur and Phulpur bye-elections earlier this year when the ruling party suffered humiliating defeats.

Bye-elections were held for Gorakhpur and Phulpur in March as the seats fell vacant when UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya resigned after entering the UP legislative council.

The ruling BJP had campaigned hard in Kairana with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself wooing voters. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati stayed away from the campaigning.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited a neighbouring district, Baghpat, where he talked about development of western UP and also inaugurated the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, but voters appeared to have already made up their mind to back the opposition.

"The victory has sent a strong message to voters and party workers. The anti-people policies of the BJP stand exposed and voters are looking for an alternative," SP MLC Rajpal Kashyap said.

RLD national spokesman Anil Dubey said, "This victory is not of our party alone, but of the united opposition. With this victory we succeeded in uniting the society which the BJP attempted to fragment with its divisive politics."

Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said the BJP does not dabble in the politics of victory or defeat.

"We believe in working for development and we don't want to contest elections on communal or caste lines," he said, accusing the opposition of spreading the venom of communalism and casteism to win elections by hook or by crook.

The Kairana election is the fourth Lok Sabha bye-election in the state since 2014.

Apart from Gorakhpur and Phulpur, a bye-election was also held in Mainpuri in 2014.

SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav had resigned from Mainpuri after deciding to represent Azamgarh, the second constituency from which he won in 2014.

SP's Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, who is related to him, defeated the BJP there in that bye-election, retaining the seat for his party.

Vogue Cover of Saudi Princess Behind Wheel Spurs Controversy

A Vogue cover photo of a Saudi princess behind the wheel of a red convertible has ignited heated debate, as it follows a slew of arrests of women driving activists.

The image of Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud, in the driver's seat wearing leather gloves and high heels, is on the front cover of Vogue Arabia's June edition, published as the conservative kingdom prepares to lift a driving ban on women.

The issue is dedicated to the "trailblazing women of Saudi Arabia" and lauds the reforms launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has sought to loosen social restrictions in the conservative kingdom and curb the powers of religious hardliners.

"In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change. For many, it's all they have known," Princess Hayfa, the daughter of the late King Abdullah, was quoted as saying in the magazine

"Personally, I support these changes with great enthusiasm," added the princess, whose cover photo was shot in the desert outside the western city of Jeddah.

But the image drew scorn from campaigners protesting the arrests this month of at least 11 activists, mostly identified by rights groups as veteran women campaigners for the right to drive and to end Saudi's male guardianship system.

At least four of those activists were released last week, Amnesty International said, but the fate of the others remains unclear.
Reports in state-backed media branded some of the detainees traitors and "agents of embassies".

Many on social media posted the Vogue cover with images of the detained activists photoshopped over the princess's face.

"After @VogueArabia thought it'd make sense to feature HRH (her royal highness) in June 2018 issue on 'trailblazing women of #Saudi Arabia'... Saudi women have taken to Twitter to object & replaced her image with 3 of arrested activists labelled as 'traitors'," tweeted Saudi-American activist Nora Abdulkarim.

Analysts say the crackdown, which sparked a torrent of global criticism, has underlined the limits of reforms masterminded by the crown prince, who recently undertook a global tour aimed at reshaping Saudi Arabia's austere image.

The kingdom, long condemned for its human rights record, is set to lift its decades-old ban on women driving on June 24.

The Vogue Arabia issue also features other "inspirational" Saudi women, including women's rights activist Manal al-Sharif and Saja Kamal, a footballer working to establish the kingdom's first women's team. 

Madhya Pradesh Farmers Launches 10-day Strike Friday June 01,2018

Farmers’ unions in Madhya Pradesh will launch a mega 10-day protest on Friday June 01,2018, shutting down supply of milk, vegetables and essential farm produce to mark the first anniversary of the Mandsaur demonstration in which six farmers were killed in police firing.

The protest also coincides with the first anniversary of the tragic killings of farmers in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, where five farmers were allegedly killed in police firing during protests on June 6 last year.

Farmers will not take to the roads this time. Instead, they will simply not supply milk and vegetables to the state's markets. City-dwellers can buy directly from the villages if they so choose.

Among their major demands are one-time loan waiver, higher minimum support prices and higher prices for their produce in general.

Over a 100 outfits claiming to be farmers’ organisations had met at Gandhi Ashramin Wardha on May 11.
The meeting was convened by Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh — an umbrella organisation of all the outfits. Modalities of the 10-day agitation were discussed during the meet.

After By-election Debacle, BJP Now Left With Wafer Thin Majority in Lok Sabha

BJP retains 1 seat out of 3 in LS bypolls, has a wafer thin majority now

The BJP, which retained one seat out of three in the Lok Sabha bypolls, has a wafer thin majority now with its effective strength standing at 272 in the 539-member House.

The Lok Sabha has 543 elected members but its four seats are unrepresented. While three MPs from Karnataka resigned, the Anantnag seat in Kashmir is lying vacant after the bypoll was deferred indefinitely in May last year. It brings the majority mark down to 270

However, for all practical purposes the BJP's strength is 274 as two nominated members also belong to it. Counting them, the BJP has three members more than the 271 it needs to have a majority in 541-member House.

Due to losses in a number of by-polls, including in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the BJP's strength has come down in the Lok Sabha after it won 282 seats in the 2014 general elections.

However, it makes little difference to the government as the BJP-led NDA has around 315 seats

Bypolls to four Lok Sabha seats were held on May 28,2018

 The BJP had won three of them in the general elections but could manage to retain only one, losing one each in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh

Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia launches political party Thursday May 31,2018

Former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia on Thursday May 31,2018 launched his new political outfit, Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP), in his native state Sikkim.

The launch took place at a public meeting at Daramdin in West Sikkim, located 104 km away from the state capital Gangtok.

The ace footballer was accompanied by senior colleague and former minister RB Subba as he unfurled the party's flag before addressing the audience.

Launching a scathing attack on Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, Bhaichung said corruption is rampant in the state and there has been no development of Sikkim over the past four decades.

"Chamling is a dictator and his party, Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), is a dictatorial party," he said.
Bhaichung said that the people of the state are scared to question the ruling party's development claims as well as the "prevalence of rampant corruption" due to fear of retribution.

Questioning Chamling's claim that he has provided fruits of development to all corners of the state, the former India captain alleged that essential services like roads, water and electricity were not available to the people, particularly those living in rural areas.

"There are 30-32 hydel power projects operational in Sikkim even as the chief minister claims that the state sells electricity to foreign countries like Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the Sikkimese people do not get uninterrupted power supply," the Hamro Sikkim Party leader said.

"Power supply trips for hours during rains or circulation of windy air," he alleged.

Bhaichung said that his party will provide 24x7 electricity if elected to power in the next year's Assembly polls.

He also alleged that corruption ran into thousands of crores of rupees in hydel power projects that has even been mentioned by national auditor CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) of India) in its report, but the state government swept the issue under the carpet.

Bhaichung lashed out at Chamling for preventing the CBI from taking up corruption cases in the state. He blamed Chamling for communalising Sikkim's society by dividing the people on caste lines for votes.

Bhaichung also blamed Chamling for failing the aspirations of the tribal communities - Limboo and Tamang - by failing to get reservation of seats in the legislative Assembly despite having made the promise in 2004 elections.

"The Chief Minister has let down Limboos and Tamangs, but we will ensure that the two tribal communities get their dues once our party comes to power," he said.

The Hamro Sikkim Party leader also took exception to the SDF government's "arbitrary decision" to declare Sikkim an organic state and banning supply of non-organic vegetables from outside without making arrangements to meet the shortfall.

"We are all in favour of organic mission, but we also know that only 10-12 per cent of land is available for farming and in this background, it is not possible to meet local demand for vegetables without allowing supply from outside," he said.

Bhaichung was previously associated with the Trinamool Congress.

The 41-year-old Bhaichung, however, has decided to lie low in the party brass by remaining a mere vice-president along with eight other leaders.

Australia A squads named for India tour

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh was on Wednesday May 30,2018  named skipper of a star-studded Australia A squad for the four-day games during their tour of India later this year, while Travis Head will lead the one-day side.

The one-day side will compete in a tri-series against India A and South Africa A in Vijawada in August 2018 ahead of the four-day games in September 2018

Marsh, whose Test vice captaincy prospects got a boost, leads a 14-man squad packed with international experience, a group featuring Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Joel Paris, Matthew Renshaw and Chris Tremain

Australia A four-day squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain

Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth.

2018 Palghar Lok Sabha seat By-Poll Results - BJP managed to retain the Palghar parliamentary seat

In Palghar Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win came in a triangular fight in which the candidate of its sulking ally, the Shiv Sena, cornered a considerable chunk of votes. BJP’s Rajendra Gavit defeated Shiv Sena’s Srinivas Wanga by over 29,500 votes.

2018 Kairana Lok Sabha Seat Bypoll Results: RLD’s Tabassum Hasan beats BJP’s Mriganka Singh by huge margin Thursday May 31,2018

In a jolt to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, Tabassum Hasan of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) on Thursday May 31,2018 won the Kairana Lok Sabha seat by a huge margin over her BJP rival.

Hasan polled 4,81,182 votes, while Mriganka Singh of the BJP got 4,36,564 votes, a difference of 44,618 votes, the election office here said.

In the process, Tabassum (48) has become the first Muslim face from Uttar Pradesh in the 16th Lok Sabha.

The Kairana seat had fallen vacant following the death of Mriganka’s father and BJP MP Hukum Singh.

Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Tabassum Hasan was supported by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as the joint opposition candidate to take on the BJP

Air India Disinvestment - Govt gets zero bids for Air India sale, deadline ends

The NDA Government received no bids for sale of Air India as the deadline for submitting expressions of interest ended on Thursday May 31,2018

The offer for Air India sale included 76% in Air India Ltd, 100% stake in low-cost international carrier Air India Express Ltd and 50% in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt. Ltd.

Air India is currently on a bailout approved in 2012, under which it has so far received an equity support of over Rs26,545 crore till 2017.

The NDA Government will now take a call on whether to call off the sale or call fresh bids under revised terms.

“As informed by the transaction adviser (EY) , no response has been received for the Expression of Interest floated for the strategic disinvestment of Air India. Further course of action will be decided appropriately,” the civil aviation ministry said in a tweet.

Experts said that the terms of sale have to be revised to go ahead with the privatisation of the loss making national carrier.

One key concern of investors was the level of management flexibility available to them with the government retaining 24% stake and assuming all shareholder rights available to it under the law, rather than opting to remain as a minority financial investor. The terms that the government will set at a later stage in the sale process relating to protection of employees as well as the level of debt to be retained in the company are among the other key concerns of investors.

As per the current plan, Air India and Air India Express will retain Rs24,576 crore excluding net current liabilities after the sale. Investors have pointed out to government that this is not in line with the airline’s potential future earnings.

2018 Champions Trophy at Breda in the Netherlands - PR Sreejesh To Lead 18-Member Indian Men's Hockey Team For Champions Trophy

Seasoned goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh will lead an 18-member Indian hockey team in the final edition of the Champions Trophy at Breda in the Netherlands from June 23,2018

 Under the captaincy of Sreejesh ,the Indian team created history in the previous edition by clinching the silver after a tense final encounter with World No.1 Australia.

 It was India's first podium finish at the Champions Trophy in 34 years.

"I think that was the closest we came to winning the Gold and most importantly beating Australia. Though we had to settle for a second place, it was a memorable tournament.
 This time too, we want to make it a memorable one as it's the last edition of the prestigious event," said Sreejesh in a statement

Sreejesh will be joined by youngster Krishan Pathak as goalkeeper while India's defence will see the experienced Birendra Lakra make a comeback into the squad.
He will be joined by drag-flickers Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas along with Surender Kumar and debut player Jarmanpreet Singh who earned a place in the Core Group after a stupendous domestic season.

India's midfield will be formed by stalwart Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and the talented Vivek Sagar Prasad. The forward line will feature SV Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Sumit Kumar (Jr).

"The team is a good mix of youth and experienced players. The Champions Trophy 2018 is an extremely important tournament for the players to showcase their firepower as the team for the forthcoming Asian Games in Jakarta will be picked based on the performance there and the Commonwealth Games," Head Coach Harendra Singh told

India's aim will be to finish on the podium to set the momentum right ahead of major International events such as the Asian Games in August and the much-awaited Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 starting in November.

"While this team will be put to test against another Asian powerhouse Pakistan who we will face in the Asian Games, the Champions Trophy will provide the ideal platform to see where we stand against higher ranked teams like Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands and Argentina in the lead up to the World Cup in Bhubaneswar," Singh added.

India will begin their campaign at the Champions Trophy against arch-rivals Pakistan on June 23.

India Squad

Goalkeepers: Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran (Captain), Krishan Bahadur Pathak

Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas;

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (VC), Sardar Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad

Forwards: Sunil Sowmarpet Vitalacharya, Ramandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sumit Kumar (Jr.), Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh

Real Madrid sign young Brazilian forward Rodrigo Rodrigues

Young Brazilian forward Rodrigo Rodrigues has joined Real Madrid on a six-year deal from Gremio Novorizontino, his representatives have confirmed.

The 18-year-old was pictured at Real Madrid’s training ground with a club shirt and will join Real Madrid Castilla, the European champions’ reserve side, next season.

“It’s a dream to wear the shirt of the best club in the world,” said Rodrigo in an Instagram post from his representatives, NG Soccer.

“I am certain that I am in the best place to grow as a player. I hope to bring a lot of happiness to the fans and win titles.”

Former England captain John Terry leaves Aston Villa

Former England captain John Terry has left Aston Villa after the club failed to gain promotion to the Premier League.

Aston Villa lost the Championship playoff final 1-0 to Fulham at Wembley on Sunday.

37-year-old John Terry joined Villa from Chelsea in July 2017 on a one-year deal. He made 36 appearances for Villa in all competitions last season, scoring one goal.

“We would like to place on record our most sincere thanks for the effort and professionalism he showed with us last season,” Villa said in a statement on their website.

“John is a true leader and was everything and more that we hoped. Hugely popular and influential in the dressing room, he played a real captain’s role in creating the incredible bond the players shared with our supporters, and vice-versa.”

Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard appointed Derby County manager on three-year deal

Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has been appointed manager of Championship side Derby County, with the second-tier side announcing the 39-year-old had agreed to a three-year deal on Thursday May 31,2018

Lampard, who was capped 106 times by England between 1999 and 2014, won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and one Champions League with Chelsea, and will be taking his first steps into senior management by replacing Gary Rowett.

“I’ve always wanted to manage a club with a big tradition and history like Derby County, so this is a huge opportunity,” Lampard told the club’s website. Lampard’s move means that he did not wait long to follow former England team mate Steven Gerrard into management, with the ex-Liverpool midfielder taking charge at Scottish side Rangers earlier this month

“We want to build on the club’s top-six finish in the Championship last season, while at the same time bringing through some of the excellent youth and academy talent we have at Pride Park,” Lampard added. “I’m delighted to have someone of Frank’s calibre as our new manager,” Derby executive chairman Mel Morris said.

“Few players have achieved what Frank has in his career. He’s a winner, a leader who knows what it takes to succeed and who has the character and charisma to be a fantastic manager.” Rowett guided two-times English champions Derby to the playoffs last season, where they were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Fulham, who went on to earn promotion to Premier League.

The 44-year-old left Derby to take charge of Stoke City, who were relegated from the Premier League last season

Denmark bans full-face veil, burqa and niqab in public places Thursday May 31,2018

Denmark joined a list of European countries on Thursday May 31,2018 banning garments covering the face, including Islamic full-face veils in public places. The law, which was passed with 75 votes against 30, states, “Anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine.”

The Danish government had proposed to ban the full-face veil in February 2018

 “It is incompatible with the values in Danish society and disrespectful to the community to keep one’s face hidden when meeting each other in public spaces,” Justice Minister, Søren Pape Poulsen had said.

The law is popularly known as the “burqa ban”.

The Danish government cleared that the law does not ban headscarves, turbans and traditional Jewish skull cap and it has not been passed to take an aim at any religion.

AP news reported that the law allows people to cover their faces for “recognisable purposes” like in biting weather or using motorcycle helmets under the Danish traffic rules.

Denmark lawmakers have been mulling over the law since last year and despite fears of religious freedom, the three-party centre-right minority government, its ally the Danish People’s Party and the main opposition Social Democrats had supported the ban in 2017.

Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen left the decision on the “common sense” of the police officers to call out on people violating the law. The law will come into force on August 1, 2018.

First-time offenders of the law would risk a fine of 1,000 kroner which would amount to US dollar 156. People violating the law more than once would risk a fine of up to 10,000 kroner, which would amount to US dollar 1600 or imprisonment up to six months.

Addition to this, any person forcing or threatening another to wear a full-face veil or garments covering the face would risk two years imprisonment.

Similar laws are followed by Austria, France and Belgium.

In 2017, the European court of human rights upheld a Belgian ban on wearing full-face veils in public spaces.

Congress wins Ampati assembly seat, emerges single largest party in Meghalaya

The Opposition Congress on Thursday May 31,2018 won the bye-election from Ampati Assembly seat in Meghalaya,  becoming the single largest party in the north-eastern state.

The assembly seat had fallen vacant after former chief minister Mukul Sangma resigned from the seat early this year following his win in Songsak seat.

Congress candidate Miani D Shira, daughter of Sangma, won by a margin of 3,191 votes.

Chief Electoral Officer F R Kharkongor, speaking to PTI, said, “Congress’s Miani D Shira secured 14,259 votes against a total of 11,069 votes polled by NPP candidate Clement G Momin.” The official added that the voters’ turnout for the Ampati by-election was 90.42 per cent.

Following today’s results, Congress now has 21 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly. Ruling National People’s Party (NPP), which is currently heading the coalition government in the state with the support of regional parties and BJP, has 20 MLAs.

Seven MLAs from United Democratic Party, four from Peoples Democratic Front, two each from HSDP and BJP and an MLA from NCP and an Independent merged to form the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance.

2018 Assembly Bypoll Results Of Palus Kadegaon/Ampati/Chengannur/Jokihat/RR Nagar/Noorpur/Shahkot

Palus Kadegaon
 In Maharashtra’s Palus Kadegaon Assembly constituency, Congress candidate Vishwajeet Patangrao Kadam was elected unopposed today. The seat fell vacant after the death of Congress MLA Patangrao Kadam. Vishwajeet Kadam, son of Patangrao Kadam, was the lone candidate in the fray after BJP withdrew its candidate Sangramsingh Deshmukh.

 Continuing the winning streak, Congress secured Meghalaya’s Ampati Assembly seat. Miani D Shira, daughter of Mukul Sangma won the seat by a margin of 3191 votes, making the Congress the single largest party in the state. The seat fell vacant after former chief minister Mukul Sangma, who won from two seats in the last Assembly elections, vacated the seat. NPP’s Clement G Moin secured 11,069 votes against Miani’s 14,259 votes.

 With a huge margin of over 20,000 votes, CPI(M)-led LDF’s Saji Cheriyan secured a win in Kerala’s Chengannur Assembly seat against Congress and BJP. The bypoll was necessitated following the death of sitting MLA K K Ramachandran Nair of the CPI(M) in January this year due to illness. According to the Chief Electoral Office, Cheriyan polled 67,303 votes while the Congress-led UDF candidate D Vijaykumar got 46,347 votes and BJP’s P S Sreedharan Pillai came third with 35,270 votes. CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishna described the victory as the “achievement” of the two-year rule of the Pinarayi Vijayan led government. It was also a ‘rejection of the soft Hindutva policy’ of the Congress, Balakrishnan told

 In an embarrassment to the ruling Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), RJD candidate Shahnawaz Alam won the Jokihat Assembly seat in Bihar. Shahnawaz Alam defeated the JD(U)’s Murshid Alam with a margin of over 4,000 votes. Reacting to the win, RJD leader and former Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, in a press conference, said the loss is a lesson for Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

RR Nagar
 The Congress has won the RR Nagar seat in Karnataka. Congress candidate Muniratna won with a margin of over 41,000 votes over BJP rival Tulsi Muniraju Gowda. Polling for the seat was postponed by the Election Commission ahead of the Karnataka elections after the poll body found nearly 10,000 voter ID cards in an apartment in the constituency.

 The Samajwadi Party has won the Noorpur Assembly bypoll by 6,211 votes. SP candidate Naeemul Hasan enjoyed the support of the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the AAP.

 Congress candidate Hardev Singh Ladi won the Shahkot assembly bypoll in Punjab. He defeated Akali Dal’s nominee Naib Singh Kohar by a margin of over 38,000 votes. Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) candidate Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan was trailing far behind the Congress and the Akali Dal. The Shahkot bypoll was necessitated by the death of Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar, Naib Singh Kohar’s father, in February this year.

Congress' Munirathna Wins by Over 41,000 Votes Thursday May 31,2018

Rajarajeshwarinagar (RR Nagar) is a State Assembly/Vidhan Soudha constituency in the Bengaluru Urban district and Bengaluru region of Karnataka and is a part of the Bangalore Rural Parliamentary/Lok Sabha constituency.

There are a total of 4,54,909 voters in the constituency that include general voters, NRI voters and service voters. Amongst the general voters 2,38,015 are male, 2,16,821 female and 65 others. The electorate sex ratio in the constituency is 91.09 and the approximate literacy rate is 88%

INC won this seat in the 2013 Karnataka Assembly Elections with a margin of 18,813 votes (9.9%) securing 37.4% of the total votes polled. In 2013 the seat witnessed a voter turnout of 56.82%.

BJP won this seat in the 2008 Assembly Elections with a margin of 19,592 votes (13.61%) registering 41.82% of the votes polled.

Elections in the seat was deferred after the discovery of a huge cache of voter ID cards and other poll related documents from a flat. Voting for the seat took place on May 28, 2018 and counting/results on May 31, 2018.

Rajarajeshwarinagar went to poll with Congress, JD(S) and BJP locked in a triangular battle. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has declared a holiday on Monday in the constituency to ensure all 4,71,459 voters exercise their franchise. Fourteen candidates, including four independents, are in the fray.

Voting in RR Nagar was rescheduled for May 28 after 9,567 electoral photo identity cards (EPIC) were found in a flat in Jalahalli on May 9, three days before the state went to polls. Congress candidate and sitting MLA N Muniratna is an accused in the case.

The constituency is witnessing a ‘friendly fight' between the new alliance partners the Congress and JD(S), as talks between the allies over seat sharing in the segment failed. The BJP which has fielded Tulasi Muniraju Gowda as its candidate is trying hard to wrest the seat from Congress. Former BJP corporator GH Ramachandra, who switched sides just before the announcement of polls, is the JD(S) candidate.

Congress' Munirathna Wins  polling 108064 votes 'BJP's Muniraju Gowda got 82572 votes and JD(S)G H Ramachandra got G H Ramachandra 60360 votes

Zinedine Zidane Bids Emotional Farewell to Real Madrid Days After Champions League Hat-trick

Zinedine Zidane steps down as Real Madrid manager

Zinedine Zidane has resigned as manager of Spanish giants Real Madrid just days after guiding the team to the UEFA Champions League title in Kiev.

 Zidane claimed an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League title when Real beat Liverpool 3-1, capping a remarkable period in his first job in senior club management.

"I have taken the decision to not continue going into the next season. For me and for everybody, I think the moment to change has arrived. It was not an easy decision," said Zidane

"I love this club, I love the president. He gave me the opportunity to come as a player and now manager and I am eternally grateful. But we have to change," he added.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said Zidane's decision to leave was unexpected but the legendary Frenchman had made up his mind for anyone to change it now

"After winning the Champions League, the decision was unexpected. It is a sad day for me, the fans and the players, but he knows I wanted him as a player and as a manager. I wanted him to stay forever and I wanted to convince him to stay. But I know it was his final decision. All I want to do is remind him that this club is his home and family," said Perez

"I went to his house yesterday [Wednesday] to see if he was prepared. He told me that he was convinced he wanted to go. I want to thank him for his commitment and passion to Real Madrid. His behaviour has always been an example for all and representative of Real. I don’t want this to be a goodbye but a "see you soon". I have no doubt he will come back soon," he added.

The Frenchman took over a divided dressing room after the sacking of Rafael Benitez in January, 2016 and immediately set about uniting the squad.

He claimed the first of his hat-trick of European triumphs two years ago when Real defeated local rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the final. A year later he led Real to their first European Cup and La Liga double in 59 years.

Real finished three points ahead of Barcelona as they won their first league title since 2012 before crushing Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final to become the first side to win the competition in its current format in back-to-back seasons.

Zidane won nine major honours as Real coach and the 45-year-old’s crowning glory came last Saturday as he joined an elite group of managers including Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti by lifting the European Cup for the third time as coach

How Much Do Cigarettes Really Cost You?

In tobacco cigarette, there is combustion, a burning of an organic material that generates temperatures up to 900 degree Celsius. Chronic exposure to this tends to thicken blood vessels, making them weaker in the long run. This can lead to blood clots and ultimately result in stroke or peripheral heart diseases.
World Health Organisation(WHO) states that of the seven million lives that tobacco claims worldwide each year, almost 900,000 are passive-smokers.

Tobacco, whether smoked, swallowed, or chewed poses multiple hazards. In addition to affecting the lungs and heart, it also increases the risk of head and neck, lung, esophageal, pancreatic, and urologic cancers.

Smoking could directly damage the muscles by reducing the number of blood vessels in leg muscles, which in turn reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients the muscles receive.

This may impact the metabolism and activity levels.

Male smokers can suffer from decreased sperm quality with lower mobility and increased numbers of abnormally-shaped sperms.

Moreover, chain smoking might also decrease the sperm's ability to fertilise eggs.

Besides causing infertility, tobacco during pregnancy can also lead to multiple issues ranging from miscarriage to under-development of the foetus and making the child susceptible to various forms of disorder such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Lebanon's Saad Hariri set to become PM for third time Thursday May 24,2018

Lebanese lawmakers designated Prime Minister Saad Hariri for a third term in office Thursday May 24,2018 , less than three weeks after elections that saw his movement lose ground in parliament.

“The head of state summoned Prime Minister Saad Hariri and tasked him with forming a government,” said a statement posted on social media by the office of President Michel Aoun

The presidency made the announcement after Hariri was endorsed by enough members of parliament.
Hariri, 48, is now expected to start consultations to form a coalition government.

His Future movement lost a third of its seats on May 06,2018 , when Lebanon held its first legislative election in nine years and voters reinforced the weight of the Shiite group Hezbollah  and its allies.

Lebanon’s unique sectarian power-sharing arrangements provide for parliament to be split equally between Christians and Muslims and stipulate that the president be Maronite, the premier Sunni and the speaker Shiite.

Speaker Nabih Berri, who has held the position since 1992, was given a new term on Wednesday.
Hariri has been prime minister since December 2016 and served his first term from 2009 to 2011

2018 Colombian Presidential Election - Colombian presidential election is heading into a runoff vote

Colombia's historic presidential election is heading into a runoff vote, with right-wing candidate Ivan Duque leading the race but failing to secure the majority needed to win outright.

With nearly all of the votes counted,Ivan  Duque - who led opinion polls ahead of Sunday's election - was first with 39.1 percent.

He will now face leftist candidate Gustavo Petro, who finished second with 25.1 percent, in the second round of voting on June 17,2018

Former Medellin Mayor Sergio Fajardo, a centre-left candidate, came third with 23.8 percent

The winner of the second round will begin a four-year term in office from August onwards.

Around 36 million Colombians were eligible to vote. The final outcome of the elections is expected to shape the future of a controversial 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels.


Incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending a decades-long conflict with FARC, was ineligible to run for re-election having served the maximum two terms permitted by Colombia's constitution.

To win the presidency, a candidate must secure a majority of votes. Failing that, a second round will be held on June 17. The winner will begin a four-year term in August.

The presidential election vote follows congressional elections on March 11, which are often seen as bellwethers for the presidential elections. The candidate whose party wins most seats in the congressional elections often goes on to become president.

Right-wing and left-wing coalitions also held primaries on March 11, in which Ivan Duque and Gustavo Petro emerged as the candidates for each group respectively

Presidential Candidates

 Ivan Duque
  •  Currently the man to beat, the right-wing Centro Democratico (Democratic Centre) politician has been leading opinion polls since January.
  • A lawyer and senator, Duque is the protege of former President Alvaro Uribe, who led the country from 2002 to 2010. Uribe remains a highly influential figure in Colombian politics, with as many as one in five Colombians telling pollsters they would vote for the candidate backed by Uribe.
  • Duque has vowed to close the poverty gap, simplify the country's tax code and pursue the complete eradication of coca in line with his tough stance on drugs.
  • If elected, he wants to pass constitutional reforms to undo key aspects of the peace deal, including those that allow the FARC to participate in politics.
  • Critics say Duque lacks experience, having only entered politics in 2014, and fear he is too closely tied to both Uribe and big business.
 Gustavo Petro
  • The left's candidate is a former mayor of Colombia's capital, Bogota, and a one-time member of the M-19 armed group.
  • Petro has promised to fully separate the country's political and judicial systems, in a bid to strengthen democracy and tackle corruption.
  • Inequality is high on Petro's agenda: he wants to improve working conditions, nationalise healthcare and introduce land reforms to benefit the country's rural poor.
  • He supports peace with the FARC, but has criticised the deal, saying it ended the war without resolving its effects on society.
  • Petro's critics say his plans to shift Colombia's economy from oil to agriculture are unrealistic, but his supporters see him as the most credible challenger of the traditional power bases.

Zimbabwe to hold first post-Mugabe elections on July 30,2018

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa  has announced elections will be held on July 30, the first without long-time former leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

Mnangagwa became president in November after an intervention by the armyremoved Robert Mugabe 

"The Zimbabwe election commission is hereby advised to fix Monday the 30th of July as the day of the election of the office of president, the election of members of house of assembly and election of councillors," Mnangagwa said.

His main opponent will be Nelson Chamisa, 40,  leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which lost its stalwart,Morgan Tsvangirai, to cancer earlier this year.

So far, opposition parties have been campaigning without the previous threats of violence and arrest. More than five million of Zimbabwe's 13 million people have registered to vote.

A runoff will be held on September 8 if none of the presidential candidates wins an outright majority, according to a proclamation by Mnangagwa.

Known by his nickname The Crocodile, Mnangagwa was a long-standing ally of Mugabe before the latter sacked him.

Mugabe was widely accused of violently suppressing the opposition and rigging elections during his more than three decades in power. Mnangagwa has promised that international election observers will be allowed back into Zimbabwe and the vote will be free and fair.

The European Union signed an agreement earlier this week with Zimbabwe in preparation for deploying election observers nationwide

2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia June 14-July 15,2018 - Golden Boot winners of the FIFA World Cup 1982 To 2014

An award for the top goal scorers of the FIFA World Cup was instituted in 1982 under the name Golden Shoe.

In 2010, the name was changed to Golden Boot.

1982 (Host: Spain)

Italy’s Paolo Rossi was awarded the first Golden Shoe award. He scored 6 goals in the World Cup. His good work earned Italy the title. Italy defeated West Germany in the final, 3-1. Rossi scored his team's first goal in the final at the 57th minute.


1986 (Mexico)

England’s Gary Linekar won the award for his consistent performance scoring 6 goals in the tournament. It was a forgettable World Cup for his team as England were defeated by Argentina in the quarter finals (1-2). Remember the 'Hand of God' goal from Diego Maradona during the match against England? Argentina won the world Cup.


1990 (Italy)

The Golden Shoe was won by the Italian forward Salvatore Schillaci for scoring 6 goals in the tournament. Argentina defeated Italy in the semifinals in a penalty shoot-out (5-4). Italy beat England in the third place match. West Germany defeated Argentina in the finals. 


1994 (United States)

This year, the Golden Shoe was shared by two: Russia’s Oleg Salenko and Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov. They both scored 6 goals each in the tournament. Hristo Stoichkov's heroics helped Bulgaria finish fourth in the World Cup. Sweden defeated Bulgaria 4-0 in the third place play-off.  Despite Oleg Salenko's heroics, Russia did not qualify for the knock-out stage. Brazil defeated Italy to lift the World Cup. 


1998 (France)

Croatia’s Davor Suker won the golden Shoe in this tournament for scoring 6 goals. Croatia finished third, while France defeated Brazil to lift the World Cup.  


2002 (South Korea/Japan)

Brazil’s Ronaldo won the golden Shoe for scoring 8 goals in the tournament. This was indeed Ronaldo's World Cup, as he scored both the goals in the finals in which Brazil defeated Germany to lift the World Cup.


2006 (Germany)

Germany’s Miroslav Klose scored 5 goals in the tournament and won the Golden Shoe award. Despite his performance, Germany was defeated by Italy in the semifinals. Germany defeated Portugal 3-1 to finish at No.3. Italy went on to lift the cup for the fourth time.


2010 (South Africa)

This year the Golden Shoe was rechristened as Golden Boot. Germany’s Thomas Muller won the award  but despite his five goals, Germany finished third. The eventual champion, Spain, beat Germany in the semifinals (1-0). Spain defeated Netherlands 1-0 to lift the World Cup.


2014 (Brazil)

Colombia’s James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot award for scoring 6 goals in the tournament. Colombia was beaten by Brazil in the quarterfinals (2-1). Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals and went on to lift the World Cup title.



2018 Petrol Price Revision - Petrol price cut by 7 paise per litre, diesel by 5 paise Thursday May 31,2018

Petrol price was on Thursday May 31,2018 cut by 7 paise a litre and diesel by 5 paise — the second reduction in as many days on the back of softening international oil rates.

Petrol in Delhi now costs ₹78.35 a litre, down from ₹78.42, according to a price notification issued by State-owned oil firms.

Diesel rates have been cut to ₹69.25 per litre from ₹69.30.

This is the second reduction in rates coming after a 16 day relentless price hike that followed lifting of a nearly three-week hiatus on price revision just before Karnataka went to polls.

Petrol and diesel prices were yesterday cut by 1 paisa a litre each. That reduction followed rates touching an all-time high of ₹78.43 per litre for petrol and ₹69.31 for diesel in Delhi on May 29,2018

Prices vary from State-to-State depending on local sales tax or VAT. Delhi has the cheapest price among all metros and most state capitals.

In the 16 consecutive increases since May 14, 2018 petrol price was hiked by ₹3.8 per litre and diesel by ₹3.38.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Pakistan To Hold General Election on July 25,2018

Pakistan will hold general elections on July 25, a presidential spokesman said Saturday, offering the prospect of what would be only the second ever democratic transfer of power in the nuclear-armed country.

General elections in the country will be held on July 25 this year.
Pakistan's President, Mamnoon Hussain has approved the date for elections signing the summary sent by the Election Commission of about it.

"The president has approved July 25 as the date for holding general elections in the country," a spokesman from Mamnoon Hussain's office told

The announcement comes as the current government enters its final week in office. It is expected to hand over power to a caretaker administration in the coming days.

Turmoil continues to rock the country after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court last July on corruption charges and later barred from politics for life.

Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan's seven-decade history -- roughly half of it under military rule -- to be removed before completing a full term.

After Sharif was ousted from power, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N) took over the premiership.

Pakistan completed its first ever democratic transfer of power following elections in 2013, when the government headed by the Pakistan People's Party handed over to the PML-N, following a landslide victory.

"This is the second consecutive parliament to complete its tenure and we are now looking forward to go to the people to get their verdict on our performance," Finance Minister Miftah Ismail told

The general elections are expected to pit the PML-N against its main rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by former cricket star Imran Khan.

PTI is vowing to clean up the country's rampant corruption, while investing in education and healthcare as Khan inches closer to his years-long dream of leading the country as prime minister.

With Sharif out, the PML-N continue to boast of their investment in the country's rickety infrastructure and courting billions of dollars in Chinese investment.

Since he was ousted, Sharif and the PML-N have become increasingly vocal in their confrontation with the country's military establishment and courts, claiming they are victims of a conspiracy to reduce the power of their party.

Despite the numerous court rulings against the PML-N, the party has won a string of recent by-elections proving it will likely remain a powerful force.

The PML-N continues to enjoy large swathes of support in the country's most populous Punjab province, but will enter the election under increasing pressure.

In April, a Pakistan court disqualified Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for violating the country's election laws, while interior minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot in the arm in a suspected assassination attempt in early May by an Islamist gunman.

Sharif also sparked a firestorm earlier this month after suggesting Pakistani terrorists were behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, approaching what is seen as a red line in the country by touching on criticism of Pakistan's armed forces.