23:32 Scientists officially declare 2016 the hottest year on record:
In a powerful testament to the warming of the planet, two leading U.S. science agencies Wednesday jointly declared 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year which, itself, had topped a record set in 2014.
Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015, and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agencys record began in 1880.
The average temperature across the worlds land and ocean surfaces was 58.69 Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th century average of 57 degrees, NOAA declared.
A delegation of ruling AIADMK MPs will call on President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Jallikattu issue to seek an ordinance to facilitate holding of the bull taming sport.
Amid raging protests seeking the nod for holding Jallikattu, AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala said party MPs would explain the “emotional agitations” in Tamil Nadu and the need for the Centre to bring in an ordinance to lift the ban on conducting the sport.
In a release, she said the party panel of MPs will call on both the President and the Prime Minister.
An AIADMK MP said a panel of parliamentarians will accompany Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Thursday when he visits Modi on the issue. AIADMK has 37 MPs in Lok Sabha and 12 MPs (together with Sasikala Pushpa, the party has 13 MPs in the Upper House) in Rajya Sabha.
22:41 Obama’s approval ratings at highest level since 2009:
As his time in the White House comes to a close, President Obama’s approval ratings are at a high not seen since the early days of his first term, according to a new poll.
The ABC News/Washington Post survey found that 60% of Americans approve of Obama’s job performance. The last time he saw approval ratings that high was five months into his presidency, in June of 2009.
Obama’s approval ratings upon leaving the office are relatively high for a modern president, akin to that of Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower, ABC reports.
But his all-time career average is relatively low at 50%, more akin to George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Fifty-one percent said Obama’s legacy would be above average, compared to 16% who said the same of Bush.
An ex-serviceman today sought to return his gallantry award received for his participation in the Kargil War, upset over non-conduct of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.
R Selvaramalingam, a former Indian Air Force personnel hailing from Konganapuram village in Salem district, met District Collector P Sampath in the Collectorate and wanted to return the medal to the central government through him.
However, Sampath told the ex-serviceman that he had no power to accept the medal, following which the latter left the collectorate, official sources said.
Earlier, Selvaramalingam, who had served IAF from 1995 to 2015, in a letter to the Collector said he was pained that the traditional sport jallikkattu was not allowed to be conducted in the last three years.
“I have decided to return the gallantry medal given by the Centre for 1998 Kargil war victory to the government. I will take it back only after the ban is lifted and jallikkattu is conducted,” he said in the letter.
22:19 US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard makes secret Syria trip: US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard made a rare secret visit to Syria as part of her effort toward ending the years-long conflict in the Middle Eastern nation, her office said.
House Democrat Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, made a fact-finding mission to the capital Damascus despite continued fighting in the war-torn country in contravention of a frail ceasefire.
“As an individual committed to doing all she can to promote and work for peace, she felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees and government and community leaders,” said Gabbard spokeswoman Emily Latimer.
The exact dates of the trip were not provided for security reasons, but her office said she was currently in the Middle East.
21:58 People are free to ask for my nursery records too: Irani: Unruffled by Central Information Commission ‘s order to CBSE asking it to allow inspection of her Class X and XII records, Union Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday said people are free to ask for her nursery details too.
Replying to question on the matter, an unperturbed Irani said: “Aap nursery ka bhi mang lo (you can ask for my nursery details too).”
The CIC had on Tuesday rejected CBSE’s contention that her educational qualification constituted “personal information”.
Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu had said it was not correct to say that once a student passed an examination and qualified to secure a certificate or degree, information about result will be his/her personal information or was “invasion of privacy”.
“If admit card contains personal information like address, contact number and email id, it is the personal information of the candidate and need not be given.
“But result or contents of certificate, division acquired, year and number along with father’s name cannot be treated as personal or third party information,” Acharyulu had said.
When a public representative declares his educational qualifications, the voter has a right to check that declaration, he had said in an order.
21:40 MHA provides 85,000 paramilitary personnel for poll duties: As many as 85,000 paramilitary personnel have been made available to the Election Commission for deployment in the upcoming assembly elections in five states, including in politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh, beginning February 4.
At a high-level meeting recently, the Union home ministry has committed to provide 850 companies for the polls, official sources said.
A company of paramilitary force comprises around 100 personnel. In addition to the central forces, a few lakh personnel belonging to state police forces and home guards of the respective state will also be deployed for election duties.
The home ministry is accumulating 150 companies, most of them from State Armed Police forces and India Reserve Battalions, from different states for election duties.
Rest of the forces will be from central paramilitary forces, the sources said. While majority of the forces will be deployed in Uttar Pradesh, where polling will be held in seven phases, a sizeable number will also be deployed in Manipur which continues to be on edge due to a blockade on a major national highway, the sources said.
Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will be held in single phase and Manipur in two phases from February 4.
After two IPS officers, it was the turn of a senior IAS officer to get sacked on grounds of non-performance, in a rare action taken by the government in ‘public interest’.
K Narasimha, a 1991 batch IAS officer of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories cadre, was served with a ‘premature retirement’ order without any notice.
The Appointments Committee of Cabinet approved the decision under Rule 16 (3) of All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules-1958 and allowed him to get three months pay and allowances in lieu of notice, official sources said.
He has been sacked for alleged non-performance and also due to corruption charges against him, they said.
The action came after a departmental review of the officer’s service allegedly found him unfit for the job.
In a similar action, the home ministry had on Tuesday sacked two senior IPS officers for alleged non-performance.
Mayank Sheel Chohan, a 1998 batch AGMUT cadre officer, and Raj Kumar Dewangan, a 1992 batch Chhattisgarh cadre officer, have also been given premature retirement under the same service rules.
20:47 Manmohan saves RBI Guv from grilling by Parl Panel on DeMo:
Reserve Bank Governor Urjit Patel on Wednesday escaped possible grilling by a parliamentary committee over the demonetisation issue but for the intervention of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Patel, who along with other RBI and finance ministry officials appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, was put to some tough questions by members, sources in the committee said.
He could not reply to questions like when normalcy would be back in the banking system and how much of demonetised currency was deposited during the 50-day window.
Before further grilling could start, Singh, who made a forceful speech against demonetisation in Rajya Sabha calling it a “monumental failure and organised loot”, intervened to say that the central bank and the Governor’s position as an institution should be respected.
An IndiGo plane, carrying 186 passengers and crew including two infants onboard, from New Delhi to Dibrugarh was diverted to Kolkata due to a technical snag, where it made an emergency landing.
The no-frill carrier, however, claimed that the commander of its flight 6E-3645 decided to divert the aircraft as a “precautionary” measure and did not seek any emergency landing from Kolkata air traffic control.
IndiGo has reported the matter to the civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, besides setting up an internal probe to ascertain facts, the airline said in a statement.
“IndiGo’s Captain-in-command operating Delhi-Dibrugarh flight 6E-3645, decided to divert aircraft to Kolkata due a technical snag as a precautionary measure.
“Despite that cockpit crew did not declare any emergency, ATC (Kolkata) declared full emergency on its own. The aircraft landed safely,” IndiGo said in the statement.
There were 178 passengers and two infants onboard besides six crew onboard its Delhi-Dibrugarh flight, an IndiGo spokesperson said.
19:36 Jallikattu ban: Sasikala calls special assembly session:
Amid massive protests over the SC ban on Jallikattu, AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala has called a special assembly session to remove the ban.
We will move and adopt resolution in ensuing Assembly session for removal of ban against Jallikattu, said Sasikala.
Faced with mounting anger on the streets, the top brass of the state government got into a huddle as Chief Minister O Panneerselvam decided to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday seeking an ordinance for conduct of the age-old sport. He will be accompanied by 51 MPs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
19:17 Lalu to campaign for Akhilesh Yadav in UP polls: Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad on Wednesday said his party would not field any candidate in Uttar Pradesh elections and he would campaign for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to ensure victory of socialist forces.
Addressing party workers after former Union minister Raghunath Jha joined the RJD, Prasad made a scathing attack on the BJP and said he would make all out efforts in the UP polls to ensure the defeat of saffron forces.
“The UP election is not an election of one state but of the entire country. After ensuring defeat of BJP in UP we would uproot the saffron party headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019,” Prasad said.
“I would campaign for Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to ensure victory of socialist forces,” he added.
18:40 No compensation provided to Burhan Wani’s family: Mehbooba:
No compensation has been paid to the next of kin of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani or his brother Khalid Muzaffar Wani, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today while revealing that such exgratia has been given to the next of kin of 77 soldiers killed in the state since January 2015.
In a written reply to a question in the legislative assembly, Mehbooba, who also holds the Home Portfolio, said,”No Ex-gratia/compensation has been paid to the next of kin of Khalid Muzaffar Wani and Burhan Wani”.
Some months back, there a major controversy after the state authorities listed Muzaffar Wani as a potential beneficiary of the ex-gratia despite his being killed by security forces when he was returning after meeting his elusive brother Burhan.
Burhan was also killed later in an encounter with security forces on July 8 last year.
18:30 Budget on Feb 1, no announcements for poll bound states:
Sweeping aside objections raised by opposition parties, the government will present the Union Budget 2017-18 on February 1 but will refrain from making any announcements pertaining to poll-bound states.
The government has before the Election Commission vehemently defended its move to advance Budget presentation by a month saying it had made clear its intention on this way back in September 2016 so as to help begin the investment cycle right from the first day of the new fiscal, April 1.
“Budget presentation on February 1 is a done deal, we will not make any specific announcement for poll-bound states,” a top source said.
Opposition parties including Congress and TMC had approached the Election Commission against presentation of the Budget just hours before the first of the five states goes to poll on February 4.
V K Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan today expressed hope that Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar will soon join the AIADMK, a day after she indicated to float a new political party.
“Both Deepa and her brother Deepak are our children and some politicians must have misguided her but I hope she will join the AIADMK soon,” he said.
V K Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan today expressed hope that Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar will soon join the AIADMK, a day after she indicated to float a new political party.
“Both Deepa and her brother Deepak are our children and some politicians must have misguided her but I hope she will join the AIADMK soon,” he said.
17:54 Trump wrote inauguration speech himself:
US President-elect Trump has written his inauguration address draft himself, two senior Trump transition officials told CNN Tuesday.
Last month, Trump told guests at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, as well as presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, that he planned to write the speech himself, but we’ve now been told that Trump has actually followed through.
The decision is a departure from how Trump tackled speeches during the campaign, when he either delivered off-the-cuff remarks or relied on text prepared by his senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller.
17:36 JUST IN: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam to meet PM Modi tomorrow to urge ordinance on Jallikattu. The CM has also requested the youth and protesters to give up their agitation.
US President-elect Donald Trump, whose sensational announcements and criticism on Twitter has the world hooked on, has said he does not like tweeting but has to use the social media platform as a defence against “dishonest” media.
“Look, I don’t like tweeting, I have other things I can be doing. But I get very dishonest media, very dishonest press. And it’s my only way that I can counteract. When people make misstatements about me, I’m able to say it and call it out,” Trump told Fox News.
“Now if the press were honest, which it’s not, I would absolutely not use Twitter,” the US President-elect said.
17:04 Budget printing gets going, Jaitley to visit press tomorrow: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will visit the Government Press located in the basement of North Block where printing of the Union budget 2017 is underway. The Economic Survey has been printed and the binding work has also been completed.
As part of the annual ceremony Jaitley will also prepare carrot halwa and distribute it to top officials of the finance ministry.
Sleuths of the Intelligence Bureau have already been amassed near North Block to prevent any breach in data security.
16:52 Sneak peak: Deepika Padukone on ‘Ellen’:
Deepika Padukone has made her debut on hit American TV series, The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The Bollywood beauty will be going on the show to talk about her latest Hollywood release xXx: Return Of Xander Cage, which opens up in cinemas in America on January 20, 2017. She has been promoting the film across the US with fellow stars, Vin Diesel and Ruby Rose.
16:38 Demonetisation process began in January 2016: RBI governor tells MPs:
Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel today told a parliamentary panel that the process of demonetisation started in January last year. This was an apparent contradiction of his earlier written response to the panel that said the government “advised” the central bank to cancel high-denomination notes on November 7, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the ban on high denomination notes of 500 and 1000.
While refusing to divulge how much of the demonetised currency had been deposited in the banks, Patel said told the Parliamentary panel that Rs. 9.2 lakh crore have been introduced in new currency so far.
Governor Patel today took questions today from parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance which is led by Veerappa Moily of the Congress. On Friday, he will meet with another committee, headed by KV Thomas of the Congress, who had controversially announced that if needed, he would summon Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well to answer questions.
16:17 Obama passes the baton of global leadership to Xi Jinping: Who would have thought that a communist country will ultimately turn out to be the flag carrier of globalisation, which was originally designed as a smart way of reallocating the world’s resources that kept the industrial world chugging along as the locomotive of world growth and helped sustain the prosperity of the Western economies?
16:15 Note ban a ‘nuclear bomb’ which Modi dropped on country: Sena: In a vitriolic attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said he had dropped a ‘nuclear bomb’ on the country through the decision and turned the economy into ‘Hiroshima-Nagasaki’, the Japanese cities devastated by the United States during the World War II.
‘Modi appears to be not in a mood to listen to anybody today… Deaf and dumb parrots have been installed in the council of ministers and a similar RBI Governor has been appointed, who have let the nation’s economy shake in its roots,’ an editorial in Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana said.
The junior partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party compared the fallout of demonetization on the country’s economy to the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
‘Even ASSOCHAM has concluded that 40 lakh jobs have been lost post-demonetisation and that the number will rise in future. This means that by dropping the nuclear bomb of note ban, Modi has turned the Indian economy into Hiroshima, Nagasaki. We are very worried about the nation’s future,’ it said.
Recalling Modi’s statement during a recent visit to Maharashtra that he used to seek Sharad Pawar’s advice on matters of governance, Sena said that had the PM consulted the Nationalist Congress Party chief on demonetisation, he would have advised him not to insult the co-operative movement, which is the backbone of rural economy.
‘The backbone of farmers has been broken and nobody is there to ask about their condition. By barring district co-operative (DCC) banks from exchanging old notes, all such banks have been labelled corrupt,’ the editorial said.
The Sena noted that beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who allegedly owe banks crores of rupees, had never had his loans from DCC banks.
16:01 2 Dec 16 convicts shifted to another cell following threats: Two of the four death row convicts in the December 16 gangrape and murder case have been shifted to a separate cell in Tihar jail after they alleged threat from a co-prisoner, prison authorities told a Delhi court today.
The response came on a plea by two convicts Pawan Gupta and Akshay Kumar Singh saying that on December 24, 2016, they were shifted to a common cell with another prisoner, who has been allegedly harassing them physically and mentally.
Special judge Sanjeev Aggarwal was told by deputy superintendent of police Sanjay Gupta that both inmates were shifted to a separate cell on January 11.
“In these circumstances, as the grievance of both the inmates has already been addressed and to the satisfaction of their counsel, the application is disposed of,” the court said.
During the hearing, the jail officer said the inmates were shifted to another cell where cameras were installed following the anniversary of December 16, 2012, incident, and keeping in mind the suicide of accused Ram Singh.
15:33 Collector’s office seals Mumbai’s Eros cinema: The legal row involving Cambata Aviation has resulted in one of Mumbai’s landmarks, Eros cinema in Churchgate, being sealed by the collector’s office on Wednesday.
Phone calls to the iconic cinema confirmed that the theatre has been sealed and all shows have been cancelled on Wednesday.
Eros is owned by the Cambata family which also runs the aviation company Cambata Aviation and Bird Worldwide Flight Service.
The firm had an FIR registered against it by the Maharashtra government last week for non-cooperation with its officials who had gone to the airline’s premises to seize its equipment following a court order to do so for non-payment of dues to its employees.
15:15 Former US Prez Bush senior hospitalised: Former United States President George H W Bush has been admitted to a hospital in Houston Texas.
The Houston Chronicle quoted his chief of staff Jean Becker, as saying that the 92-year-old former 41st President of the United States is doing fine and is responding to the treatment offered by the medical staff at the Houston Methodist Hospital.
Bush, who lives in Houston, is expected to be discharged in the next couple of days. He was president from 1989 to 1993.
He has had his share of health issues in recent years. In July 2015, he was taken to a hospital in Portland, Maine, after he fractured a bone in his neck in a fall at the family’s summer home in Kennebunkport. He was ‘up and talking and out of bed’ within a day after the fall.
The fall happened about six months after he was taken by ambulance to Houston Methodist for what his spokesman called ‘shortness of breath’. He was released from the hospital about a week later.
In late 2012, Bush was admitted to the hospital for a bronchitis-related cough. He was later released but returned the day after Thanksgiving because of a persistent cough.
Bush was later admitted to intensive care and spent nearly two months at the hospital until his release in mid-January 2013.
14:53 Comic Con India to hold all-India Cospay contest: To provide pop-culture buffs an international platform to showcase their fandom, Comic Con India today announced a nation-wide costume play contest, the winner of which will represent India at Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo to be held on later this year.
Cosplay is a practice where comic fans dress up as their favourite characters from the world of pop culture — comics, television, films or video games.
According to the organisers, the ‘Indian Championships of Cosplay’ seeks to encourage local cosplayers to go professional while providing them an international platform as well.
The event will see the best cosplayers from across the country battle it out, with the grand prize winners of Cosplay contest of Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai Comic Cons 2016 competing against each other.
The final leg of the Championship will be held on February 12, 2017, between 12 noon and 8 pm at Ansal Plaza in New Delhi at a gala event that will also have live performances by popular band ‘Classic Collective’ and DJ Nisheeth Rao.
Photograph by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters.
14:50 Sidhu files nomination; says not fighting ‘personal battle’: Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday filed his nomination from Amritsar East seat, while Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh filed from Lambi on the last day for filing of nominations for the February four assembly polls in Punjab.
Besides the two, Aam Aadmi Party leader Bhagwant Mann submitted his nomination from Jalalabad seat.
Congress heavyweight Amarinder will take on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal from his pocket borough Lambi seat.Also in fray from Lambi is former Delhi legislator and AAP leader Jarnail Singh.
Asserting that he is not here to fight ‘personal battles’, Sidhu said Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat need to win in the upcoming assembly polls.
“I want to tell all the Congressmen and the Punjabis to cast their votes for Punjab…to establish religion. Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat need to win this time. He who joins gets respect….and he gets insulted who divides,” Sidhu said.
Stating that wrong policies have drowned Punjab, the cricketer-turned politician said that those who divided Punjab have to be taught a lesson.
“This time voting should not take place for Rs 500 or for selfish motives. Those who want to unite Punjab have to win. The Punjabis must gain 100 per cent interest. This fight is for every Punjabi…every Punjabi will win this time,” he added.
Dr Shakil Afridi, hailed as a hero by US officials, was arrested after US forces killed bin Laden in May 2011.
Pakistan has accused the doctor of running a fake vaccination campaign in which he collected DNA samples to help the CIA confirm bin Laden’s identity.
14:35 Andre Agassi in Mumbai: Tennis legend Andre Agassi was named ambassador for the True North Brand at an event in Mumbai on Wednesday.
True North is one of India’s largest equity firms.
This is the American tennis star’s second visit to India — he came to Mumbai in December 2012 when he partied with Bollywood biggies.
IMAGE: Tennis legend Andre Agassi at Hotel Trident in Mumbai on Wednesday. Photograph: Sahil Salvi
14:34 Just In: Delhi HC refuses to restrain AAP government from going ahead with its 2-day assembly session commencing today.
14:30 Intel sharing must for combating terrorism: Raheel: Former Pak army chief General Raheel Sharif (retd) said 2016 witnessed a significant decrease in terrorism and that ‘intelligence sharing is a very important component of strategy to combat terrorism’.
Addressing a session at the World Economic Forum titled ‘Terrorism in the digital age’, he said: “Terrorism is a global issue and the global community will have to get united if it wants to defeat terrorism,” Dawn reported.
Raheel Sharif went on to say that terrorism has become a “gangrene for the world”. He added that terrorists attack in a well planned manner and intelligence sharing is a very important component of strategy to combat terrorism.
Pakistan bears tragedies such as the Army Public School (APS) because of terrorism, he added.
13:59 Is Mamata worried over CBI’s next move in Rose Valley scam?: Did a senior TMC leader visit Sudip Bandyopadhyay in jail to verify whether he had taken the names of TMC’s top leadership in the Rose Valley scam?
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee apprehends that the CBI will go to any length to implicate her in the case.
So will Sudip sing the CBI’s tune to save his skin? TMC leaders are keeping their fingers crossed.
13:55 Kumar Vishwas to quit AAP, join BJP?: Kumar Vishwas, poet turned close aide of Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare, is likely to resign from the Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday and join the Bharatiya Janata Party, say sources.
Kumar Vishwas contested against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and had come a cropper.
13:51 Poll panel to get new space to hold hearings: The Election Commission has converted its meeting room into a makeshift judicial court to hear the petitions against the disqualification of 27 AAP MLAs over holding office of profit.
The EC has been reeling under a severe space crunch, which was brought home to it during the hearings over the battle for the Samajwadi Party’s election symbol, when advocates and senior politicians had to stand for hours together in a cramped space.
The CEC, Nasim Zaidi, has since ordered that there should be a spacious court-room to hear the 27 MLAs and the battery of advocates, following which the meeting room was turned into the venue for the hearing.
But this is only a temporary solution, as next month the Election Commission is likely to have an alternate building to hear cases involving political parties.
13:42 Note ban protest: Congress leaders detained; finance panel meet begins: Congress leaders and workers are holding a protest against demonetisation across the country today.
Reserve Bank of India offices in different cities are being gheraoed by the party.
Congress workers protested at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
In Ahemdabad, Senior party leaders Sushil Kumar Shinde, Shankersinh Vaghela and Bharatsinh Solanki have been detained by police during the protest.
Meanwhile, a crucial meeting of Parliament’s standing committee on finance over the issue has begun with RBI Governor Urjit Patel expected to brief it on the matter.
Senior bureaucrats, including Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikant Das, Banking Secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal and Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, and top bank honchos like Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank and Usha Ananthasubramanian of Punjab National Bank are also to appear before the committee headed by Congress leader Veerappa Moily.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is one of its members.
Patel will brief the parliamentary panel about demonetisation and its impact on the economy and the steps taken by the central bank to deal with the cash crunch post withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
The meeting will discuss the ‘demonetisation of Indian currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and the impact thereof’.
13:26 JUST IN: Former United States President George H W Bush hospitalised, says Reuters.
13:19 Err…Look who BJP lists among beneficiaries of nepotism: ‘Would you have been selling kites had your brother been the prime minister?’ asks a video posted by the Bharatiya Janata Party on their Twitter account.
The video shows how all the cousins of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are in ordinary jobs while other political families like the Gandhis, the Yadavs in UP and Lalu’s family in Bihar have most of their members in politics.
The video shows that one of PM Modi’s cousins sells kites, another is a helper in a gaushala, and another has retired as a fitter in a private company.
But while attacking ‘nepotism’ by other families, the video also makes a huge blunder.
The slides showing family trees of big political families also contain the names of Union minister Maneka Gandhi and her son, BJP MP from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi.
While that slide runs, the voiceover says, ‘Nepotism by the Gandhi family has led to the establishment of a big political empire in this country.’
The video was posted on January 7, and so far, it seems, no one has pointed this out to the BJP’s IT cell so far. Not even Maneka or Varun.
IMAGE: Screenshot from the video. Photograph: @BJP4India/Twitter
12:45 Thank you for your good wishes, tweets Salman after acquittal: Actor Salman Khan took to Twitter to thank fans and supporters after his acquittal in the Arms Act case related to the 18-year-old poaching case.
‘Thank you for all the support and good wishes,’ the actor tweeted.
Earlier, the lawyer of the Bishnoi Samaj, the community which holds the black buck sacred, said that they will decide on what step to take further only after reading the full judgment.
12:35 Priyanka Chopra is back on ‘Quantico’ sets: Actress Priyanka Chopra has resumed work on the sets of Quantico, after sustaining an injury while shooting for a scene on-location.
The 34-year-old star is getting back to normal post her hospitalisation and happy to be working again, Priyanka’s representative told E! News.
“Priyanka returned to work on Monday morning. While she is still sore and stiff from her fall, she is getting stronger every day and is happy to be back at work,” the rep shared.
Last Thursday the former Miss World was taken to a hospital after she slipped while shooting a stunt on the sets of her TV show and fell so hard on the floor that she suffered a concussion.
Priyanka was examined by a doctor and discharged thereafter.
12:16 Maximum cash, liquor seizures in UP; drugs in Punjab: Election Commission-appointed surveillance and expenditure monitoring teams have recovered over Rs 64 crore in cash, including Rs 56.04 crore from Uttar Pradesh alone, and liquor and drugs worth over Rs 8 crore from the five poll-bound states.
As per official data, Punjab has witnessed the maximum seizure of drugs worth Rs 1.78 crore (heroine and poppy husk) followed by contraband in Goa valued at Rs 16.72 lakh while such seizures in Manipur amounted to Rs 7 lakh.
Among other illegal inducements used to bribe voters during the polls, the maximum of 1.98 lakh litres liquor worth Rs 6.06 crore has been seized in Uttar Pradesh while 10,646 litres of spirit has been seized in Punjab, valued at Rs 17.54 lakh.
Officials said a total of ‘Rs 64.38 crore in cash, Rs 6.23 crore of liquor and over Rs 2 crore worth narcotics have been seized in the five poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, till data recorded up to January 17’.
UP has led the suspicious cash seizures tally with Rs 56.04 crore (Rs 31.65 lakh in old notes) followed by Punjab at Rs 8.17 crore, Uttarakhand Rs 10 lakh and Manipur Rs 6.95 lakh.
There has been no cash and illicit liquor seizure in Goa and Uttarakhand till now while Manipur has had no liquor seizure even as UP saw no drugs seizure till now. — PTI
12:08 Salman given benefit of doubt: Prosecution: Salman Khan’s acquittal: Prosecution lawyer said the actor was given ‘benefit of doubt’ by the court.
Salman’s lawyer said he was ‘acquitted after the prosecution failed to provide conclusive evidence’.
12:00 Mathura violence: DNA sample of mastermind’s son taken: The DNA sample of Raj Narayan, son of alleged mastermind of the Jawahar Bagh incident, which left 29 persons dead, has been sent for forensic examination, police said.
“The blood and hair sample of Raj Narayan, son of Ram Vriksha, has been sent to forensic lab,” SP Crime Rajesh Sonkar said.
M Bansal, CMS of district hospital said that the result may take a few days to arrive as the Lucknow-based forensic lab was the only lab of this kind in the state.
The single-member judicial commission investigating the Jawahar Bagh episode will hold a fresh hearing from 16 to 24 January. — PTI
11:49 Salman Khan acquitted in Arms Act case: Salman Khan has been acquitted in the 1998 Arms Act case. A case under sections 3/25 and 3/27 of the Arms Act was filed against Khan for allegedly keeping and using the fire arms with expired licence in the poaching of blackbucks in Kankani near Jodhpur on October 1-2, 1998.
Over the years, Salman Khan has faced multiple cases for allegedly killing two chinkaras and two black bucks on three hunts. In 2007, he spent a week in jail in Jodhpur before being granted bail.
11:23 Journalist booked for covering Rohith Vemula anniversary protest: Cyberabad Police has booked a journalist for allegedly ‘unauthorisedly’ entering into the University of Hyderabad campus on the first death anniversary of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
The journalist Kunal S, working with an English magazine, was booked on charge of trespass and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code following a complaint by the varsity security officials, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Madhapur Zone) P Vishwa Prasad said.
The complainant accused Kunal of clandestinely sneaking into the varsity and covering an event (protest) by a group of students in memory of first death anniversary of research scholar Rohith Vemula.
“We are investigating into the matter,” the DCP said.
Kunal, however, said he went inside the campus on official duty i e for collecting information with regard to the protest after being invited by a university faculty member.
“I was accosted by UoH security personnel and later taken to Cyberabad Commissionerate by local police where an ACP rank officer questioned me for hours together before being let off,” he said.
Kunal said he had entered the varsity after showing his ID card and that the varsity was ‘falsely’ claiming that he was not having visitor pass for entering the campus.
Image for representation only. Photograph: PTI Photo
11:01 Rift in UP BJP? Swami Prasad Maurya unhappy over ticket distribution: Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Swami Prasad Maurya on Wednesday expressed unhappiness over distribution of tickets for Uttar Pradesh polls by the saffron party.
As per sources, the leader might decide on party affiliation after candidates list is announced, ANI reported
Maurya has demanded tickets not only for himself, his son and daughter, but also for his supporters, which the party has yet not fulfilled.
It is expected of Maurya, after the announcement of candidates list tomorrow, to come up with a stern decision.
Maurya, former Bahujan Samaj Party member, joined the BJP around six months ago.
BJP Central Election Committee meet is to take place tomorrow at 11 am to finalise remaining list of candidates for Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand polls. — ANI
IMAGE: Swami Prasad Maurya with BJP president Amit Shah.
Tremors of 3.7 magnitude were also felt in Aizawl and elsewhere in Mizoram at the same time.
No reports of any casualty have been reported so far from New Delhi and Mizoram.
A low-intensity earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale had struck several parts of Karachi, Pakistan yesterday. The tremor lasted for 12 seconds but no loss of life or damage to property was reported from the city.
10:38 Ad guru Suhel Seth donates Rs 50 lakh to Partition museum: Indian advertising guru and author Suhel Seth has become one of the largest individual donors and supporters of India’s first Partition Museum, being set up at Amritsar Town Hall in Punjab.
Seth donated Rs 50 lakhs towards a gallery within the museum to be dedicated to his parents, Shub and Jogendra Seth.
“Partition has affected Punjab, Bengal and the world in so many ways — and this is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to the events of 1947. The ramifications of Partition continue till today,” he said.
The Partition Museum, a project entirely funded by public donations raised by UK-based Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, claims to be attracting up to 1,000 visitors daily ever since the inauguration of a curtain raiser exhibition on October last year.
The visitors include Partition survivors and their families, VIPs, and tourists, both foreign and Indian, the museum said in a statement.
10:25 Congress veteran N D Tiwari, son likely to join BJP today: Former Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh chief minister and senior Congress leader Narayan Dutt Tiwari, along with his son Rohit Shekhar, will join the Bharatiya Janata Party today, an ANI report said.
According to reports, Tiwari wants a BJP ticket for his son from Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and, therefore, is all set to change his loyalty.
The 91-year-old leader was thrice the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (1976-77, 1984-85, 1988-89) and once the chief minister of Uttarakhand (2002-2007).
In 1986-1987, he served in the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet as the minister for external affairs. — ANI
09:58 Bihar decides to shut down liquor units too: Almost a year after imposing prohibition in Bihar, the state government has decided to shut down liquor factories, too, reported Satyavrat Mishra in Business Standard.
The state government on Saturday ordered that the licences of beer and extra-neutral alcohol units and Indian-made foreign-liquor bottling plants will not be renewed in the next financial year.
As a result of this decision, three beer manufacturing units, 12 bottling plants, and six ENA-making establishments will have to close the shutters before March 31.
“Six ethanol units would continue to function,” an official said, adding if the units whose licences would not be renewed, wish to make non-alcoholic products, that would be permitted.
Last year, the state government had imposed prohibition, which made sale, purchase, transportation, storing and/or consumption of liquor a non-bailable crime. The punishment begins from 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and goes up to life sentence.
09:55 RBI Guv likely to appear before finance panel today: Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel is likely to appear before the Standing Committee on Finance on Wednesday.
The committee, headed by former Union minister and senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily, has called Patel to brief the panel about governments demonetisation drive.
The secretaries of finance ministry will also appear and brief about demonetisation and its impact.
Patel has been summoned, days after the United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers and employees wrote a letter to him alleging that the image of the central bank has been dented beyond repair post the government’s demonetisation move.
Raising objection to the government ‘impinging on RBI autonomy’ the employee unions of the central bank also asked Patel to take action against the ‘unwarranted interference’.
The finance ministry, however, clarified that the government fully respects the independence and autonomy of the RBI. — ANI
09:22 Chennai see all-night pro-jallikattu protests, minister assures action: As pro-jallikattu protests across Tamil Nadu continued to gain steam, with a group of youngsters continuing their agitation in Chennai through Tuesday night, the state government held talks with agitators and assured them of its commitment to hold the bull-taming sport in the state.
The government also told the youths that it would even approach the President seeking an ordinance in the matter.
State Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, who along with his cabinet colleague K Pandiarajan held talks with representatives of the protesting youths in the wee hours of Wednesday, said the 50 AIADMK Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs will “exert required pressure on the Centre” for the conduct of jallikattu.
“Not just that, this government will also take steps to meet the President to seek an ordinance,” Jayakumar said.
Tamil Nadu has been urging the Centre repeatedly to issue an ordinance for the conduct of Jallikattu, held during the Tamil harvest festival Pongal that was celebrated over the weekend.
09:20 Nabha jail escapee arrested from Indore along with accomplice: One of the six inmates who had scaped from Punjab’s Nabha jail and carried a reward of Rs 5 lakh was arrested along with another person, who is accused of heinous crimes in Punjab, from Indore on Tuesday night, a senior police officer said.
“Kulpreet Singh Deol alias Neeta (the inmates who had escaped from the Nabha jail) and Sunil Kalra alias Shailla (a dreaded criminal in Punjab) were apprehended from Khajrana area in the city from a residential flat,” DIG Harinarayanchari Mishra said.
He said the duo were arrested after the interrogation of some suspected persons in the area. The police also recovered eight mobile phones, laptop and Rs 92,000 cash from them.
The Punjab police have been informed of the arrest of the prisoner, the DIG said.
The accused had reached Indore a few days ago and had rented a flat, he said.
Six inmates — Khalistan Liberation Front chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, Kashmeer Singh, Gurpreet Singh Shekhon, Vicky Gonder, Kulpreet Singh and Amandeep Singh — had escaped from the Nabha jail in November.
09:19 Delhi police to conduct DNA, brain-mapping tests on mass molester: To make the case watertight against Sunil Rastogi, who was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting several minor girls in east Delhi, the Delhi police is planning to conduct DNA and brain-mapping tests on him.
The accused has told the police he had sexually assaulted many minor girls in Uttarakhand’s Rudrapur, where he currently stays, Ghaziabad and New Ashok Nagar in east Delhi.
The police have been able to identify 58 girls who allegedly had been his victims, and said the girls who participated in the test identification parade broke down during the exercise as they were reminded of the incident when he had tried to sexually assault them.
Three other girls also came forward along with their families alleging that Rastogi had sexually assaulted them.
The Delhi police is providing counselling to all the three victims who came forward after he was arrested.
“With the help of an NGO, we are providing counselling to them and requesting them to file an FIR against him, but they have not given any complaint as of now,” said a senior police officer.
09:17 UAE’s promised mega investment high on PM-Sheikh talks: Rajeev Sharma tells us: Expect a concrete forward movement in the United Arab Emirates’s long-awaited pledge of investing $75 billion (Rs 5 lakh crore) in India when Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan comes calling to India on a State visit from January 25 to 27, during which he will be the chief guest at Republic Day parade.
The UAE had made that commitment one-and-a-half years ago when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the country, but unfortunately, according to New Delhi, no UAE investment has been known to have ploughed into India.
For Modi, who will complete 32 months of his 60-month tenure by the time the visit concludes, the promised UAE mega investment will figure very high on his discussions with the prince.
This will be the second State visit by the prince to India within a year.
During his last visit in February 2016, Modi had broken protocol to receive him at the airport and described him as a “visionary leader”.
Since then, India and the UAE have been working on breaking new ground in bilateral relations, including the production of defence equipment in India.
09:01 Florida airport shooting suspect says he was ‘inspired’ by IS: The man accused of shooting five people dead and injuring six others at a Florida airport has confessed that he was under the influence of Islamic State terror group, agency reports said.
The accused had earlier blamed his action on ‘government mind control’, but later accepted that he was ‘inspired by IS websites and chatrooms’.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Michael Ferlazzo testified at a bond hearing that 26-year-old Esteban Santiago mentioned after the shooting that ‘his mind was under some kind of government control’.
However, later during the interrogation, he claimed to have been inspired by Islamic State-related chatrooms and websites.
It is not yet clear if the FBI has been able to corroborate any terror-related claims.
Santiago could be sentenced to death if convicted of federal airport violence and firearms charges that resulted in death. — Agencies
Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
08:13 Obama commutes sentence of WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning: United States President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who is serving 35 years behind bars for giving classified US data and documents to Wikileaks, allowing her to go free nearly three decades early.
According to the commutation granted on Tuesday, Manning would now be released on May 17.
The transgender soldier has been lodged in prison after being convicted in August 2013. She also attempted suicide twice last year.
The White House said after Othe commutation, Manning, a military analyst, would now be released on May 17, 2017. She was sentenced to 35 years of imprisonment on charges of illegally obtaining and passing on the classified documents to WikiLeaks.
According to the White House, Manning’s offences included one specification of wrongful and wanton publication to the internet intelligence belonging to the United States, five specifications of stealing, purloining or knowingly converting US government records.
It also included six specifications of wilful communication of information relating to the national defence, one specification of wilful communication of information in unlawful possession; and one specification of wilful communication of information relating to the national defence by exceeding authorised access to a US government computer.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has welcomed the decision, while calling for an end to a ‘war on whistleblowers’.
He said Manning should never have been convicted and described her as ‘a hero, whose bravery should have been applauded not condemned’.
However, the White House ruled out a similar commutation to Edward Snowden, who is currently on a political asylum in Russia. — PTI
00:25 Court to deliver verdict in arms act case against Salman today:
A court in Jodhpur will today pronounce its verdict in the case under Arms Act against actor Salman Khan.
This is one of the four cases against the actor. While the Rajasthan High Court has acquitted him in two cases of poaching of chinkara, trial in the third case of alleged poaching of two blackbucks is on.
Khan and his sister Alveera arrived in Jodhpur on tuesday evening. He will be appearing in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
Besides the cases of poaching of endangered antelopes under Wildlife (Protection) Act, a case under sections 3/25 and 3/27 of the Arms Act was filed against Khan for allegedly keeping and using the fire arms with expired licence in the poaching of blackbucks in Kankani near Jodhpur on October 1-2, 1998.
Arguments by both the sides in this case were completed on January 9, after which magistrate Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit reserved the judgement for January 18 directing the actor to be present in the court.
The case had reached the stage of judgement earlier on February 25, 2014 but sudden appearance of an undecided prosecution application before the trial court, moved by the then prosecution counsel in 2006 put off the verdict for two flat years.
00:22 New York Times study calls for rapid change in newsroom:
The New York Times has deftly adapted to the demands of digital journalism, but it needs to change even more quickly, according to an internal report that recommends the company expand training for reporters and editors, hire journalists with more varied skills and deepen engagement with readers as a way to build loyalty and attract the subscriptions necessary to survive.
The report, released to The Times newsroom on Tuesday, is the culmination of a year of work by a group of seven journalists who were asked by Dean Baquet, the executive editor, to conduct a review of the newsroom and determine a blueprint for its path forward.
Titled ‘Journalism That Stands Apart’, and known internally as the 2020 report, it provides a set of broad principles to accelerate the pace of transformation while maintaining a commitment to high-quality journalism.
The report comes at a particularly sobering time for the legacy media industry.
00:21 How Donald Trump just sent the US Dollar diving:
The US dollar dipped after Donald trump raising a red flag over the currency’s rise.
The dollar first rose after Trump’s election win thanks in part to an idea the president-elect would increase infrastructure spending. But on Tuesday, the US Dollar Index slid 1.2% to 100.35 and hit a low it hasn’t since early December.
The index measures the greenback relative to a basket of six other major world currencies. The dip comes after Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that the US dollar was “too strong.”
Trump, revisiting a well-worn argument, said that the strong dollar came in part due to China holding its currency, the yuan, down.
“Our companies can’t compete with them now because our currency is too strong. And it’s killing us,” he told the Journal.
00:20 Full speech: What China’s Xi told the world at Davos:
Chinese President Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos:
“World history shows that the road of human civilization has never been a smooth one, and that mankind has made progress by surmounting difficulties. No difficulty, however daunting, will stop mankind from advancing. When encountering difficulties, we should not complain about ourselves, blame others, lose confidence or run away from responsibilities. We should join hands and rise to the challenge. History is created by the brave. Let us boost confidence, take actions and march arm-in-arm toward a bright future.”
00:19 Obama appoints 2 Indian-Americans to senior admin positions:
Less than 100 hours before demitting office, outgoing US President Barack Obama has appointed two Indian-Americans to key administration positions.
While Maneesh Goyal has been made Member of the J William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, D J Patil has been named as Member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.
Both the announcements came along with several other last days appointments made by the outgoing president.
“I am proud that such experienced and committed individuals have agreed to serve the American people in these important roles. I know they will serve the American people well,” Obama said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended Obama’s decision to make last minute appointments.