Of Pakistan's double standards....

The Islamabad high court on Monday suspended Laskhar-e-Taiba terrorist and key 26/11 handler Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi's detention under the Maintenance of Public Order . The detention was ordered after Islamabad came under fire for leaving loopholes in the 26/11 case against Lakhvi (54) that allowed him to get bail on December 17. The bail provoked outrage and raised questions about Pakistan's resolve to fight terrorism a day after it suffered the worst terrorist attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in which around 150 people, mostly kids, were killed.
In Delhi, India summoned Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit to protest suspension of Lakhvi's detention. The Indian mission in Islamabad also took up the issue with the Pakistan foreign office. The high court suspended Lakhvi’s three-month detention in response to his petition, challenging it days after an anti-terrorism court ordered his bail.
The 26/11 attacks handler had moved the court on Friday after the government rejected his release plea. Lakhvi’s lawyer Raja Rizwan Abbasi told the high court his client’s detention was unlawful. “The court had previously accepted Lakhvi’s bail, but the government unlawfully detained him in Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail,” he told the court. “The granting of bail is an issue of fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution and the administration violates it through unlawful detention of my client.” Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi suspended Lakhvi’s detention even as his counsel requested the high court to annul his detention orders. He directed the government to file a reply at the next hearing in the case on January 15 even as the concerned law officer did not turn up for the hearing.
The 26/11 case has been moving at a snail's pace in Pakistan with almost no headway. Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist who was caught and later executed for the Mumbai attacks, had named Lakhvi as his trainer. Abu Jandal, an Indian national arrested and deported from Saudi Arabia in June 2012, too confessed he was in the control room with Lakhvi in Karachi monitoring the Mumbai attacks.
Pakistani-American David Headley, who had visited India ahead of 26/11, too had named Lakhvi for his role in 26/11. Observers believe Lakhvi’s issue highlights Pakistan’s doublespeak on terrorism while it claims its war on terror was against terrorists of all hues.

Somewhere in Bengaluru....

A woman was killed and three men injured when an unidentified device exploded on Church Street, off Bengaluru's showcase MG Road, on Sunday night. The explosion, in the middle of New Year revelry , prompted police to sound a red alert in the city . Alerts were sounded in Delhi and other metros as well.
The victim was identified as Bhavani, 37, of Chennai, who was on a vacation in Bengaluru with her family . One of those injured was her 21-year old nephew, Karthik. Police commissioner M N Reddi told reporters it was a “low-intensity explosion“ triggered by an improvised explosive device.
Chief minister S Siddaramaiah condemned the blast, saying: “The aim seems to spoil the mood in the city which is gearing up for New Year celebrations.High alert has been declared across the city and extra po lice forces have been deployed in public places, including bus stops, railway stations and airport. Special teams have been formed to nab those involved in the incident. Public are requested not to fall prey to any rumours.“Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the chief minister soon after and promised all help from the Centre.
Bhavani, who was rushed to hospital with injuries to her head and face, died around 11 pm. Her nephew was undergoing treatment after the shrapnel ripped off bits of flesh from his left shoulder. His injuries were minor, doctors said.
The other two inujred were identified as Sandeep H, 39, an iGate employee, and his friend, 39-year-old Vinay M R, an IBM employee. Sandeep suffered injuries in his left leg. A one-inch-wide metallic pellet that ripped through Sandeep H's calf was stuck in his knee. Since he had just finished dinner, he could not be operated upon immediately . Vinay M R's injuries were minor, doctors said.
Bhavani and Karthik were walking out of Coconut Grove, a popular eatery on the street, with six other members of the family when the explosive went off around 8.30 pm. The bomb, wrapped in a lungi, is suspected to have been planted between a row of plants and the compound wall of Coconut Grove.
Bhavani, who bore the brunt of the blast, was thrown to the middle of the road. Passersby bundled the injured into an autorickshaw and took them to Mallya Hospital. Police, who arrived 15 minutes after the explosion, found a pool of blood in the middle of road and a pair of slippers lying nearby .

Raghubar Das: Jharkhand's new CM

Dense fog in Delhi kept Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as BJP president Amit Shah away from the historic swearing-in of Jharkhand's first non-tribal chief minister Raghubar Das, who took the oath of office along with four ministers on Sunday . Das, 59, heads the majority coalition with All Jharkhand Students' Union party , and the new CM promptly announced his government's `Swachh Jharkhand' agenda.
Apart from Das, Governor Syed Ahmad administered the oath of office to five time MLA and former speaker Chandreswar Prasad Singh, Dumka MLA Louis Marandi who defeated JMM's ex-CM Hemant Soren, and Khunti MLA Neelkanth Singh Munda at the Birsa Munda Football Stadium. “ As part of the Prime Minister's `Swachh Abhiyan', the new government would work towards `Swachh Jharkhand',“ said Das, wearing a crimson `bandi' over white kurta. Within hours of his swearing-in, he was seen with a broom cleaning the streets of Karamtoli, a tribal-dominated colony in the state capital.
Although Modi couldn't make it to the event, Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Ram Kripal Yadav , Radha Mohan Singh and two MoS from Jharkhand, Sudarshan Bhagat and Jayant Sinha, were present. Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh CMs Raman Singh and Devendra Fadnavis were among BJP heavyweights at the event. The PM congratulated Das on Twitter.
Former minister and three time MLA from Ramgarh Chandra Prakash Choudhary was the only AJSU legislator to be sworn in as the fifth minister in the Cabinet. Marandi and Munda are the two tribal faces in the cabinet. The strength of the cabinet in Jharkhand with 81 MLAs should be 12. Das is likely to expand Cabinet after convening the first assembly session on January 1.
Security was tight given the 48-hour bandh called by over 20 tribal organizations in protest against BJP's decision to name a non-tribal CM. But barring a few roadblocks, the second day of the bandh received tepid response. There were some rallies on the outskirts of Ranchi and in Hazaribag that got indifferent response.

FMCG statz

Somewhere in Uttar Pradesh....

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in excavations carried out at Chandyan village in Baghpat district of UP, have found remnants of a house that corresponds to the late Harappan period.
The discovery is important since, according to archaeologists, this is the first time that evidence of habitation pertaining to that period has been found in the Upper Doab region between Ganga and Yamuna.
The late Harappan phase pertains to the period starting around 1900-1800 BC when the Indus Valley Civilization, popularly known as the Harappan Culture, began to decline.
Earlier in August, a human skull with a copper crown corresponding to the late Harappan period, was discovered at a brick kiln site in the village. The ASI started excavating the area on November 27 and found a number of items that pertained to the 4,000-year-old era.
“Till date, we have excavated around 20 burial pots, a pelvic bone of the same man whose skull we had found and a few beads like carnelian, faience and agate. However, the most interesting development is the evidence of habitation. We excavated a mud wall with post holes where wooden pillars were probably fixed to support thatched roofs,“ said AK Pandey, superintending archaeologist, ASI.

National Mission For Clean Ganga


Dholera SIR snippets

The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) of the Central government will invest Rs.3,000 crore to boost the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR). DMICDC and the Gujarat government will sign an MoU and form a new special purpose vehicle to expedite the project.
A top state government official said, “In the SPV, 51% equity will be owned by the Gujarat government and rest by DMICDC. The corporation will fund Rs.3,000 crore for basic infrastructure projects like road, rail linkages and flood control while the Gujarat government will provide land of equal worth in a notified area of 900 sq km.“ The official said, “So far, this project failed to attract private investment as it lacks infrastructure.“
Now, the state cabinet has approved the development plan for Dholera SIR. The government has transferred 70,430 acres of land to the RDA (regional development authority) for phase-I implementation, cleared six town planning schemes and issued around Rs.1,800 crore worth of tenders for roads and other infrastructure development projects.
“These changes are likely to see investment projects worth Rs.1 lakh crore take off at the SIR. Several defense manufacturing units are expected. Expressions of interest are likely in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. Under the new plan, the state government has decided to only allow non-polluting industries,“ added the sources.
In the 2009 Vibrant Gujarat Summit, three investors had announced investments worth Rs1 lakh crore in Dholera SIR but they failed to turn up. After DMICDC's involvement, the project is expected to get a new lease of life.

India 2024: The World's 3rd Largest Economy

New figures from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) forecast the United Kingdom economy will pass Germany's post 2030, the first time since 1954.The report also places India as world's third largest economy by 2024. The CEBR survey forecasts that UK's lead economic role in the Commonwealth will soon end and India's economy is on course to overtake it within three years.
Britain's multi-billion pound sex and illegal drug industries have helped the UK leapfrog France to become the world's fifth largest economy . The latest global economic league tables include a £10bn boost in UK earnings from drugs and sex -which earlier this year led to Brussels issuing a £1.7bn bill to the Treasury . The UK's jump up the table comes with a caveat -as the French do not include prostitution or narcotics income in gross domestic product (GDP). CEBR chief executive Douglas McWilliams pointed to new evidence of “dramatic changes“ taking shape.
He said: “Slow-growing European economies are falling back and Asian economies, though their growth is slowing, are catching up, comparitively .“Although the US still tops world's economic league, revisions in the way China calculates its GDP means it is now set to overtake the US three years earlier than forecast. By 2030, the top six countries will be: China, the US, India, Japan, Brazil and the UK.

Calorific intake statz


Ready for Business

EsselWorld is 25!

UP readies Rs.3,000 crore plan for Gomti

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan for rejuvenation of Ganga in Varanasi may take some time to materialise, but the Uttar Pradesh government has already started working on Rs.3,000-crore plan for beautification of river Gomti in Lucknow, which is represented in parliament by Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
The vision document prepared after the recent visit of irrigation minister Shivpal Yadav to Japan and other countries, has been approved by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav who has given a go-ahead to creation of a Venice-like network in the state capital.
The beautification will comprise a 12-km long water body with 40-metre green belt on both sides with exotic plants and trees, swings and shades and an elevated road on each side. The river-way will be connected with Sharda canal and there will be modern and motorised boats, Gondolas for visiting tourists and facility for water sports too.
Irrigation principal secretary Deepak Singhal said that a delegation of his department led by minister Shivpal Yadav visited Japan and Malaysia to interact with professionals and government officials there for river rejuvenation. He said that the first phase is likely to be completed in the next two years. “Malaysian government and private companies have agreed to extend technical know-how for removing pollutants from the river and beautification of the river front. Priority will be increasing water level of the river by developing a new barrage at the Gomti aquaduct to divert water to the river.

56 new faces in Jammu-Kashmir Assembly

The 12th Legislative Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir will have nearly 65% new faces as only 31 of the 87 newly-elected MLAs have previously been member the House. As many as 56 winners have been elected to the Lower House of the state legislature for first time, while 26 MLAs managed to retain their membership. Five others have made a comeback to the House after staying out for six to 12 years.
The BJP , which won 25 seats, has the highest number of first-timers. Twenty-two BJP MLAs will experience their stint in the Assembly for the first time, while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs, have 19 new faces.
Six new faces will be part of the 12-member CLP in the new Assembly which will also have five new faces from NC and two from Peoples Conference.Two independent members -Pawan Kumar Gupta and Syed Bakir Rizvi -are also first timers in the Assembly .

Mumbai Metro One statz

Delhi Metro statz

Pile-up on Agra Expressway

Blinded by swirling fog, as many as 48 vehicles were involved in a horrific mega crash on the Yamuna Expressway on Wednesday morning that claimed the lives of two senior public sector officials and left 30 others injured, many of them critically . The pile up took place 2 km before Jewar toll plaza on the Agra-bound carriageway , between 9 am and 9.15 am.
Police said it all began with an Innova colliding with an unidentified vehicle and breaking down in the middle of the road. “Visibility was just 10 metres at the time. Car after car, travelling at high speed, kept smashing into the crashed vehicles,“ said Satish Chandra Shukla, SDM, Jewar.
Within 15 minutes, two tourist buses, a PAC vehicle, a private bus and 24 cars were badly damaged while 20 other vehicles suffered scratches and dents. R M Sinha and A K Das, BHEL general manager and deputy general manager, who were travelling in the Innova, died in the mishap. They were visiting a site in Agra with a colleague in the chauffeurdriven vehicle. Both lived in BHEL society , Sector 17, Noida.
The injured, which included a Canadian national, were rushed to Jaypee Hospital in Noida, Kailash and Naveen Hospitals in Greater Noida and other local hospitals. Cranes had to be brought in to removed the badly damaged vehicles.
The Jaypee Group, which operates the expressway , rushed many of the injured to its hospital in Sector 128. 


Bharat Ratnas for Atal Bihari Vajpayee & Malviya

BJP veteran L K Advani became emotional as he hailed the announcement of Bharat Ratna for his long-time colleague and senior Atal Bihari Vajpayee with whom he has shared over five decades of close relationship. Describing Vajpayee as an “outstanding patriot“, Advani said the 90-year-old leader was the only former Prime Minister with a “longish“ tenure whose term was “without any blemish“. He regretted that the former UPA government had not honoured Vajpayee with the award as he recalled that he had written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard in 2008.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the decision of the government to honour two outstanding patriots with the Bharat Ratna,“ he told reporters soon after an official announcement was made.Vajpayee and Advani, founding members of the BJP, worked in tandem to assiduously steer the party into the mainstream of Indian politics and then propelled it to power in the 1990s. Vajpayee has withdrawn from active public life due to ill health.
Recalling that he had written to Manmohan Singh urging him to give Vajpayee the Bharat Ratna, Advani said, “I had given 10 reasons as to why Vajpayee was eminently suited to receive the award.“
The veteran BJP leader added that he received an acknowledgment of his letter to Singh but never heard from him on the issue again.
“Because it is my own government ... I can convey rather than write formally . It was Manmohan Singh's government, therefore I wrote that letter.“ He also lauded the conferment of the highest civilian award on educationist Madan Mohan Malviya, posthumously. Even TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in the midst of a running political battle with BJP , described it as wonderful news. Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien said his party and its chief have a “very special bond“ with Vajpayee.
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who is also a Bharat Ratna recipient, said he was “absolutely delighted“ to get the news.
JDU chief Sharad Yadav also hailed the decision saying, “Malviya had a great role in Indian independence and he established a great institution like Benaras Hindu University. I have been associated with Atalji for many years ....even being in the BJP he respected the composite culture of India.“
The Congress seized upon the Bharat Ratna to Madan Mohan Malaviya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to follow their principles of “inclusiveness“ and “raj dharma“. Welcoming the honour for the two personalities, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said, “We hope that the government acknowledges the ideals of inclusiveness that Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya stood by and follows the principles of `raj dharma' enunciated by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.“ The Centre's decision on the highest civilian honour could be seen as Modi appropriating another public personality in Vajpayee but the Congress chose to remind how the BJP stalwart ticked off the then Gujarat CM for his role during the 2002 riots.

Fadnavis gifts Nagpur an IIM

The Devendra Fadnavis government gave Maharashtra and Nagpur an early New Year gift by announcing an IIM in the city that could start as early as the next academic session.
Senior officials said the IIM will begin operations from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, which will charge Rs.6 lakh a month to rent out two buildings. A campus is planned at l Mihan near the airport. Higher and technical education minister Vinod Tawde made a formal declaration of opening the state’s first Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in the legislative council on Wednesday. According to prescribed standards for IIMs, Nagpur emerged as the best location in all aspects, he said.
Addressing the media later, CM Fadnavis confirmed that the institution, proposed in the Union Budget this year, was likely to begin operations from the next (2015-16) academic session. The final decision on the launch would be taken by the Union human resources ministry after the government sent its proposal.
The CM, himself from Nagpur, has been taking a special interest in the IIM project and in November finalized 293 acres of Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation land at Mouza Dahegaon in the non-SEZ area of Mihan (Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur) for setting up the IIM’s permanent campus, the officials said. PM Narendra Modi is likely to perform the groundbreaking ceremony of the IIM campus on January 4, along with that for AIIMS in Mihan, they said.
Academicians and officials said the announcement would add a new feather in Nagpur’s cap.
The institute comes as a major victory for local legislators as those from other centres like Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad had been lobbying for it. In fact, MLAs from Aurangabad, cutting across party lines, had even campaigned with banners in front of Vidhan Bhavan

Of ordinances to push coal auction, insurance reform....

The government got moving and recommended the promulgation of ordinances for auction of coal blocks and increasing the foreign investment ceiling for insurance from 26% to 49%, seeking to get around the resistance to its reforms agenda from the opposition which stalled the functioning of Rajya Sabha and passage of key bills during the winter session.
Sources said while the government would try to get the bills passed in Parliament, it was prepared to convene a joint session if lack of numbers in Rajya Sabha proved an obstacle. The government will push for a joint session sometime in June if the opposition doesn't allow a discussion and clearance in Rajya Sabha during the Budget session that usually begins in late February and continues till early May with a recess of three weeks.
The Congress and the Left protested the move to rush in legislations through the ordinance route but government sources defended it saying the UPA had promulgated an ordinance thrice to give more powers to Sebi, the market regulator. Replying to a question as to what was the urgency to bring an ordinance a day after the winter session concluded, Jaitley said, “There has been too much delay . That is why there is urgency .“
Claiming that a “lot of good things“ had happened since the Narendra Modi government assumed office in May , Jaitley said while BJP won two states in October, it won a third in December and got its highest tally in another state (Jammu and Kashmir).“The obstructionists (opposition) could not open their account. The Janata Parivar also could not open their account,“ he said, noting that BJP would increase its presence in the upper House.
On a lighter vein and using business journalists' parlance, he said “there is a creeping acquisition in the form of change of membership in the upper House“, suggesting that BJP numbers in RS would go up with the victory in these states.


The Dam Sham in Maharashtra

Aviation snapshotz

Somewhere in Hyderabad....

A Metro Rail trial run being held between Uppal Ring Road and Mettuguda.

India’s Uranium production dips 15%

At a time when India is trying to ramp up its uranium export, domestic production of the yellow cake has declined 10-15% after operations in the country's oldest and richest uranium mine in Jaduguda in Jharkhand was stopped by the state government. DAE sources said the department has taken steps to increase production from other mines to maintain the supply and demand, but the low quality of ore from other mines has led to increase in production cost.
The government has often cited “mismatch between demand and supply of domestic uranium” as the reason for under-functioning of the nuclear power reactors. Of the 20 reactors, 10 use domestic fuel and generate 2,840 mw of electricity.
Apart from importing uranium from Kazakhstan and Russia, India is in the process of getting the ore from Australia, with which it inked a pact for the same few years back.
Jaduguda uranium mine, India’s deepest operating underground mine, has been operating uninterrupted since 1968. It is nearly 3,000 feet deep. Of its daily production of 5,000 tonnes, UCIL mined 700 tonnes of the ore from Jaduguda.
Although, UCIL has other mines in Bhatin, Narwapahar, Bagjata, Turamdih, Bandhuhurang, Mohuldih in Jharkhand and Tummalapalle in Andhra Pradesh, ore from Jaduguda has high content of uranium. On a stretch of 60 km, there are six mines in and around Jaduguda of which five are underground.
The Jharkhand government stopped mining of uranium from Jaduguda since September 6 this year as UCIL’s lease got over. It had been renewed twice before.
UCIL, a PSU operating under aegis of DAE, mines and processes uranium. The mineral is later sent for the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad, where it further converted into pellets for using it as fuel.

AP capital plan gets going

Andhra Pradesh municipal administration and urban development minister P Narayana on Saturday introduced the much awaited Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) Bill-2014 in the assembly . The bill, meant to create the CRDA with the authority to prepare a perspective plan for 100 years, a concept master plan for 20 years and a detailed master plan for 10 year for the new capital near Guntur and Vijayawada, will be taken up for debate on Monday .
Since Hyderabad will cease to be the joint capital after ten years as per sub section (1) of section 5 of the Andhra Pradesh Re-organization Act-2014, the bill said the CRDA was being established to ensure the comprehensive development of the capital area and for the location of the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
The CRDA is to be the supreme authority as far as controlling every activity down from the development of the concept to the administration of the capital region in the future. As per the 91-page bill, the functions of the CRDA include preparation and implementation of developmental schemes namely land pooling scheme, town planning scheme and special areas development scheme. The principal objective of the CRDA is to ensure planning, coordination, execution, financing, funding, and for promoting and securing the planned development of the capital region.
The bill reserved 10 per cent of the total area of the land pooling scheme for parks, play grounds, gardens and open spaces. Thirty per cent of the area goes to roads and utility services while five per cent has been earmarked for social amenities such as schools, dispensaries and other community facilities.
About five per cent of the area is expected to be allotted for providing affordable housing for the poor.The authority will later specify the share that goes to the land owners.
Similarly, a share of land in lieu of the cost of development of infrastructure goes to the government which may be used for the development of capital area or residential or commercial, public or semipublic or any other purpose approved by the authority.
The CRDA is also authorized to declare the “Capital Area” for the state of Andhra Pradesh and undertake the construction of the new capital and work towards improving the quality of life of citizens residing in the capital area. The bill provides for the creation of a capital region development fund with a seed capital of Rs.1,000 crore for the purpose of administering the Act. The bill also authorizes the CRDA to create a revolving fund with Rs.250 crore for the development of amenities and infrastructure facilities in the capital region.
The bill gives absolute power to the CRDA to acquire, sell, transfer, or grant license or in any way alienate to use or occupy the belonging to the authority for the purpose of development or redevelopment of the land. To look after the plans and proposals, projects and policies related to transportation in the capital under the provisions of the Act, a unified transport authority will be created. A competent authority for land pooling (CALP) is to be also created soon to notify the process of land pooling.
The bill also authorizes the state government to constitute the CRDA with chief minster as chairman.
The minister for municipal administration and urban development under whose jurisdiction the subject falls and the finance minister are the members from the cabinet. From the officials, the chief secretary, principal secretaries of MAUD, finance, TR&B and energy are the members while the CRDA commissioner will be the member convener. The committee will have four experts national or international, who possess knowledge in urban governance. The bill also has room for the induction of any other officer or expert whom the government thinks necessary as special invitee. The bill also provides for the creation of an executive committee for the authority headed by secretary MA&UD.

Delhi Metro update

With over 95% of civil work done on the Jahangirpuri-Faridabad line, Delhi Metro is hoping to complete the 13.87 km-long stretch by May next year. The first part of the stretch--till Badli in Delhi--is expected to be completed by March.
On the Jahangirpuri-Faridabad corridor, 80% of the track work and more than 70% of electrification of overhead line has been finished.Work on signalling will go on simultaneously. The corridor will have three stations in Delhi--Badli Mor, Rohini Sector 18 and Samaipur Badli. The line till Badli will be commissioned soon after.
The extension till Badli is 4.3 km long and will cover areas like Jahangirpuri, GT Karnal Road, Rohini, Transport Nagar and Badli
There will be nine more stations: Sarai, NHPC Chowk, Mewala Maharajpur, Sector 28, Badkal Mor, Old Faridabad, Neelam Chowk Ajronda, Bata Chowk and Escorts Mujesar. The ridership for this line is expected to be 1.94 lakh by 2016.This corridor as well as other corridors under Phase III will be on a standard gauge. The cost of the project--estimated at Rs.2,533 crore --will be contributed by the government of Haryana (Rs.1,588.60 crore), government of India (Rs.544.60 . crore) and DMRC (Rs.400 crore).
In Phase IV , the Badli Mor station will be an interchange station with the proposed RK Ashram-Mukundpur­-Janakpuri (West) section.

News Corp buys BigDecisions.com

Rupert Murdoch controlled global media giant News Corp has acquired Mumbai-based startup BigDecisions.com that helps consumers take investment calls through decision-making tools backed by sophisticated algorithms and data.Started in early 2013 by Manish Shah, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, and Gaurav Roy , who passed out from IIT-Bombay , BigDecisions.com has already helped about 40,000 people make decisions ranging from life and health insurance, retirement planning, buying and renting real estate to planning for a child's education. The deal value, that included acquisition of the site's parent FinDirect Services, was not disclosed.
This is News Corp's second major investment in the startup space. In November, it had acquired a 25% stake in PropTiger.com, a residential real estate platform for accurate and independent data and information for homebuyers in the country .
Post the acquisition, the co-founders, who have management as well as technology backgrounds between them, will help expand BigDecisions.com's operations.The company will not be merged into any of News Corp's existing businesses in India which include Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal, Factiva and HarperCollins Publishers.

Goodbye Sheru!

Sheru, a stray dog who took a terrorist's bullets at CST during the 26/11 attack, died of a cardiac arrest at the Parel animal hospital around 7.30 am on Saturday. Said to be around 14, Sheru had suffered a leg injury recently, said Dr Mayur Dangar, manager at the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). “While this leg injury had not been healing for quite a long time, it was not the cause of death,“ Dangar said. “Sheru died of a cardiac arrest.“
Sheru's remains were consigned to the flames at a crematorium on the hospital premises. The hospital staff and associates were in attendance at the special funeral ceremony .
The stray canine had been living on the streets outside the CST till it was hit by two bullets when the station be came one of the targets of terrorists on November 26, 2008. Admitted to the hospital soon after, the dog was christened Sheru at the facility. While the bullet that had pierced Sheru's back was extricated in a surgery conducted at the hospital, the other one remained lodged in his neck till the end.Dangar said the reason the second bullet was not removed was that it had lodged itself in the respiratory tract.
Sandip Chavan, a ward boy at the veterinary hospital who regularly tended to Sheru, described the dog as a friend and member of the family . “He was extremely attached to me, just as much as I was to him,“ Chavan said in a voice choking with emotion. Chavan used tofeed Sheru milk, rice and chicken, but he said the dog had been put on a drip a couple of days ago as it had stopped eating.
A committee member of the hospital, Thrity Gazdar, recalled how traumatized Sheru was when brought to the hospital six years ago.“But after that, as he came around, he came across as an extremely dignified and well behaved dog,“ Gazdar, who regular visited Sheru, said.
Sheru was sponsored by a benefactor whose identity could not be revealed, said a hospital official.


ISL: Kerala Blasted

Not as lavish as the opener at Salt Lake Stadium, but yesterday's Indian Super League grand finale did hold its own. It served up an atmosphere worthy of a final with the DY Patil Stadium, Nerul, packed to the rafters to witness Sourav Ganguly's Atletico de Kolkata land a cruel blow on Sachin Tendulkar's Kerala Blasters to become the first-ever ISL champions.
Kerala dominated the park from the opening whistle, but were left wanting in front of goal on many occasions. Striker Ian Hume was not at his firing best and his partner up front, Michael Chopra, was too slow, and not clinical enough in the final third.Chopra missed a host of chances, and one in particular will haunt him for some time to come as he flopped from barely a few yards out. It was the 85th minute and the former Newcastle United striker had done well to dribble past a couple of defenders inside the penalty area. His point blank strike, however, failed to beat outstretched Atletico goalkeeper Edel Bete.
Hindsight is a strange thing and Chopra will be kicking himself for blasting it rather than trying to place it into the side netting.
That would have been the killer blow, and Kolkata, who were muscled out of the game throughout would have struggled beyond imagination to get back into the match that late. With Kolkata and Kerala both being wasteful, the match seemed destined for extra time.
But late in injury time, Kolkata won a corner and substitute Mohammad Rafique made the most of the set piece routine. He rose majestically and glanced the ball into the bottom corner of David James's goal to score the tournament's most valuable goal.The crowd erupted as ecstatic Kolkata players piled themselves in a heap in the centre of the pitch, Kerala being left to rue a wasteful night.
Kolkata have won the first ISL and more importantly the tournament has concluded on a successful note.
Few months back, who would have guessed that football would be received so well in the land of cricket? Even the bravest would have refused to indulge in an act of clairvoyance such as this back then.
After last night's game it finally sank in that Del Piero was here and so was Robert Pires, the Arsenal legend, and many other big household names, who ruled the world of football in the last two decades.
This elite group has forever etched their names in the history of Indian football. Pioneers of this sporting revolution. The match in itself, was unfortunately not as extravagant as the night. Like most finals often tend to pan out, this too began as a very cagey affair. The quality of football too left a lot to be desired. Too many misplaced places, a lot of untidy football.
Player-cum-coach David James, one to have featured in many high adrenaline, nerve-wracking finals during his long and illustrious career, named himself in goal ahead of Sandip Nandy, who was a regular in the team of late. And the 44-year-old Englishman, showed that he still has ice in his matured veins, as he denied ATK forward Arnal Llibert on more than one occasion, the only real chances Antonio Habas' men managed to create in 90 minutes.
Kolkata got the win without their star player and captain Luis Garcia, who warmed up on the sidelines in anticipation of extra time when James's defence was breached, and his heart broken, late in the 93rd minute.
Garcia, nursing an injury, did not come on as a substitute, but he did stride on to the pitch to gloriously hoist the ISL trophy.

Of Exit Polls in Jammu-Kashmir & Jharkhand....

Exit polls for a fresh round of state elections suggest BJP could be poised to form the next government in Jharkhand, while People's Democratic Party could come tantalizingly close to regaining power in J-K.
The exit polls were nearly unanimous in predicting an outright win for BJP in Jharkhand, which will mark the first instance of a party getting a majority on its own steam since the formation of the resource-rich state in 2000.
In J-K, PDP was far ahead of its rivals, but it may end up 5-12 seats short of the majority mark in the 87 member assembly . In case Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's party fails to win the majority , it could look forward to support from a much-diminished Congress which was part of the outgoing coalition with National Conference. BJP , which ran a strong campaign and made a serious bid to snatch a few seats in the Muslim-majority Valley , could emerge with between 25 and 30 seats in J-K because of its likely sweep of Hindu-dominated regions in Jammu, exit polls have said. Pollsters were unanimous that the saffron party will, for the first time, get to play the opposition in the Muslim-majority border state which, because of its autonomy , occupies a very important place in nationalist narrative.The ruling National Conference is headed for a rout.
The trend underlines the consolidation of BJP's political domination since the Lok Sabha polls under PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. A win for it in Jharkhand and Jammu will represent yet another chance where it has trumped Congress which continues to slide. Exit polls pointed to a possible tally of 3-7 seats in Jharkhand and 4-10 in J-K for Congress. While this could still help the party play kingmaker in J-K, a share in power with a different partner can hardly conceal the diminution of the party .
The results will set the tone for the elections in Delhi where BJP aims to score a majority which eluded it in last year's assembly elections.

Exit polls on Saturday predicted a near complete victory for the BJP and its alliance in Jharkhand and a hung Assembly with upper hand for the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. Soon after polling concluded for the fifth and final phase with record turnouts (76% turnout in the last phase in J&K; 66% overall), most private news channels published varied exit polls for both states that revealed a broad pattern of results that could be expected on December 23, the counting day. While both the C Voter poll for News X and Axis-APM for CNN-IBN predicted a huge jump in vote share and number of seats for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led People's Democratic Party in J&K, the BJP's expected rise was not enough to form a government on its own, though that party will emerge as the second largest party. The CSDS' poll on perception of voter preference for the post of J&K CM was topped by PDP's Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at 34%.

Harvard School's Global Leaders' List

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the No. 1 global leader when it comes to citizens approving the development strategy of their respective countries, says a study by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Modi, with 87.8% approval for his policies, comfortably pipped US President Barack Obama who is ranked 20th with 44.8%.
The report is based on a survey of citizens across 30 nations on 10 influential leaders having a global impact. When the feedback from all 30 countries is put together, Modi comes No. 3 in handling domestic and international affairs, only behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The popularity of Modi is greater than that of Jinping in 18 of the 30 nations where the survey took place.
The study describes Modi as one of the four leaders who enjoy high levels of confidence in handling both domestic and international affairs. 


Of National Highways....

SmartCity Kerala update

After controversies and uncertainties plagued the project for over a decade, the first IT building of SmartCity is expected to become operational in June. The building is fast nearing completion, and SmartCity authorities will start work on the second IT building with a built-up area of 6.3 lakh sq ft in a few months.
The director board, which held a meeting in Kochi, has approved Rs.250 crore for the project to be utilized before March 31, 2015.Of this, Rs.100 crore will be used for developing infrastructure such as roads and bridges and Rs.150 crore for the construction of the first IT building complex.
The construction of first IT complex with a built-up area of 6.5 lakh sq ft will be over by March next year. Chief minister Oommen Chandy said the date for inauguration of the first building would be announced later. An agreement has been reached with three IT firms for starting their operations from the first IT building, industries minister Kunhalikkutty said.
While the first complex is being constructed in 11 acres, the second tower will require lesser area, thanks to the allocation of increased floor area ratio (FAR).
The second IT building will only require around five acres. The chief minister said that the project would generate about 12,000 to 14,000 IT jobs in the first phase which includes both these buildings. The project is coming up in 246 acres at Edachira near Kakkanad.
SmartCity chief executive officer (CEO) Gigo Joseph said the construction of infrastructure facilities for the first phase would be over by mid-2015. The water and power supply network, roads and bridges inside the IT park will be constructed utilizing Rs.100 crore. “Work on these projects has already started.The construction of Gems International School will also begin next year,“ he said.
Kunhalikkutty said the government would organise roadshows in major cities of the country to attract more IT firms to SmartCity . “As we already have environmental clearance for the entire project, it's easy to go for joint developments to expedite the project. Talks are on with many companies in this regard,“ he said.
Abdullatif AlMulla, vicechairman, SmartCity , Kochi, said that a major international builder was in Kochi to discuss joint development in the non-IT sector. Though the project was mooted by the UDF government in 2004, it took eight more years to lay the foundation stone for the project.
According to the agreement signed by government of Kerala and Tecom Investments, the project is expecting an investment of Rs.5,000 crore. The whole project with a built-up area of about 88,00,000 sq ft will generate 90, 0000 IT jobs on completion.

Tejas snippets

Thirty-two years after the light combat aircraft project was sanctioned, IAF will finally get its first homegrown Tejas fighter in March 2015. But before you pop the bubbly , consider this: the multirole jet is ready to fly in all weather conditions but cannot yet fire long-range missiles or undergo mid-air refuelling to double its strike range.
The first Tejas will be delivered to IAF at Bangalore in its initial operational clearance (IOC) configuration, which means it's fully airworthy now.But the fighter's final operational clearance (FOC) to make it combat-ready-with integration of all weapons like guns, laser-guided bombs and BVR (beyond visual range) missiles as well capable of air-to-air refuelling -has once again been delayed.
The Tejas Mark-II, the fighter IAF really wants with more powerful engines for greater thrust and drag reduction, will start to come only by 2021-2022.With the first preliminary design review for the Mark-II version now over, the plan is to fly its first prototype by 2017 or so.
“The first of IOC standard aircraft has been built and successfully completed its maiden flight on September 30 this year.This aircraft will be handed over to IAF by March 2015 after some upgrades,“ defence minister Manohar Parrikar told Lok Sabha on Friday .
“The second aircraft will also be ready by March 2015 for its maiden flight. The first 20 aircrafts will be built by 2017-2018...FOC is likely to be achieved by end of 2015,“ he added. The delivery of the first Tejas will certainly be a red-letter day in the project's meandering saga, with IAF now confident of the lightweight fighter.

Government pushes for reforms

Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Friday introduced in the Lok Sabha the much-awaited bill to amend the Constitution for introduction of goods and services tax (GST), which he described as the biggest tax reform in Independent India.
The bill was originally planned for introduction on Monday but the government rushed in to introduce it on Friday to signal its eagerness to pursue reforms. It raised the prospects of an ordinance to amend the insurance Act in case opposition parties don’t let the government discuss the second bill that NDA is trying to push in the current session of Parliament.
“It is expected that introduction of GST will foster a common and seamless Indian market and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy,” the finance minister told reporters, adding that the government is planning a switch to GST from April 2016.The bill, finalized after a week of intense consultations with the states, addresses most of the concerns including allowing the states to tax petroleum products, which accounts for close to half the revenue for some of them, till they decide.Alcohol for human consumption is the only item that is being kept out.
At the same time, Jaitely promised that the Centre will compensate states for the losses incurred by them after the introduction of the tax to create a unified market.
In addition, service tax will also be included in the pool. Al though the finance ministry does not expect significant loss due to a more robust system, it has agreed to provide 100% compensation during the first three years, 75% in the fourth and 50% in the fifth year.

Eco review

The Indian economy is expected to end the current financial year (2014-15) with a growth of around 5.5% and meeting the fiscal deficit target is a major challenge, a mid-term review of the economy revealed on Friday .
Prepared by the finance ministry , the review said despite sprouting of green shoots, a robust recovery is yet to set in and private investment had not picked up and was being held up by the legacy of the distressed corporate balance sheets. But, the mid-term review said India's medium-term growth prospects were promising and the trend rate of 7-8% should be within reach.
It said in the short-term, the performance of indirect tax receipts -which grew 5.6% in the first six months of the current fiscal -and the muted pickup in credit also point to ongoing weakness relative to potential.On the upside, inflation has come down dramatically and the monsoon failed to take as much of a toll on growth as expected.
Elaborating on fiscal challenges, the review said the tax base was weaker than expected thanks to unanticipated moderation of inflation, revenue projections were over-op timistic and the Budget was unduly burdened by a legacy of carried over expenditures.
“Above all, the deficit target represented strongly procyclical fiscal policy-consolidation when growth was below potential, which is ambitious at the best of times and also unusual amongst the major economies. Adhering to the fiscal deficit target of 4.1% of GDP in 2014-15 is a major challenge. The government, with its commitment to fiscal consolidation, is addressing the challenges on various fronts that impact the fiscal deficit. A pickup in activity in the second half of the fiscal is critical to prevent a slippage and to meet the overall fiscal deficit target during 2014-15,“ the report said.
It said the backlog of stalled projects needs to be cleared more expeditiously . “Where bottlenecks are due to coal and gas supplies, planned reforms of the coal sector and auctioning of coal blocks de-allocated by the Supreme Court as well as increase in gas price to boost supply will help.“
The review called for reviving public investment as one of the key engines of growth. It called for accelerating reforms and urged states to follow. “On many issues, of which GST is just one example, the impact of sound policies can only be realized if states also implement reforms with a zeal. India needs the strength and stability of cooperative federalism, while harnessing the dynamism and energy of a competitive federalism. In sum, there is growing ground for hope but narrowing room for complacency ,“ said the review.

Samajwadi Janata Dal

It will be a litmus test for the resurrected Samajwadi Janata Dal when it stages its first demonstration against a formidable BJP-led NDA government in Delhi on December 22. How much heat it generates will decide the future course of action for the former Janata Party constituents.
Apart from the protest at Jantar Mantar, SP's five members in LS and 15 in RS will also oppose NDA for `not fulfilling its pre-election promises and siding with the corporate and business houses only'.
The SP chief, who heads the newly-formed front, is busy with the leaders of its various constituents and its national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav is holding meetings with the MPs to decide the strategy for the planned protests in both Houses.This is the first major show by the SP after Lok Sabha elections in which it lost all ground to the BJP .
The SJD has given a call for protest against the NDA government for its `failures to fulfill its promises The front is a loose formation of six political parties--Samajwadi Party , Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal.
If Mulayam and Ram Gopal are busy preparing for the showdown in Delhi, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is also SP's state president, is busy in motivating the rank and file to march to Delhi on December 22 to make an impressive show.

Somewhere in Pakistan....

Lashkar commander and key handler of the 2611 Mumbai attackers, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, was on Friday sent to Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail for up to three months, upturning a bail granted on Thursday by an anti-terror court. Lakhvi was booked afresh under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) in a move that appeared aimed at quelling domestic criticism and strong global condemnation that saw the bail verdict as dilution of Pakistan's resolve to wage war on terror.
Lakhvi, 54, had been granted bail due to lack of evidence by an Islamabad anti-terrorism court on a surety bond of Rs.5 lakh. The Pakistan government has decided to challenge the verdict of the trial court in the Islamabad high court on Monday . Prosecution chief in the 2611 trial in Pakistan, Chaudhry Azhar, said the Nawaz Sharif government would challenge the bail granted to terror mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi in the Islamabad high court on Monday. Following outrage across the world over his bail, Lakhvi has now been booked under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) following a direction from the interior ministry .
Shocked by Lakhvi's release, home minister Rajnath Singh had urged the Sharif government to get it cancelled.“Despite repeated assurances that have been received, we have seen both the prosecution of the seven accused in the anti-terror court in Islamabad as also the investigation by the authorities into the larger conspiracy surrounding the Mumbai attack case proceeding at a glacial pace,“ said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman of India's external affairs ministry . The bail verdict could not have come at a worse time, just two days after the bloody massacre in an Army school in Peshawar, where militants killed at least 132 children and nine adults.
The decision was also widely condemned in Pakistan social media. Due to fear factor, moderate and progressive Pakistanis often remain silent over activities of non-state actors, but the brutal killing of schoolchildren in Peshawar has given them the courage to speak. The reaction against Lakhvi's bail and the protest in front of Islamabad's Lal Masjid indicate that the public perception about activities of non-state actors and their apologists has significantly changed in the country. Lakhvi is among the seven Pakistani nationals accused of planning and abetting the brazen terror attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 that left 166 dead, including foreigners.

Somewhere in Maharashtra....


Vistara's Ready for Takeoff

Vistara, the airline joint venture between the Tatas and Singapore Airlines, started selling tickets on Thursday.The airline will start flights on January 9 on the Delhi-Mumbai route and follow it up with flights in the Delhi-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Ahmedabad sectors.“The airline's inventory is on its Amadeus global distribution system, but isn't showing up yet on the online travel portals,“ said an executive at a travel company , who didn't want to be named.
Vistara's Ahmedabad flights will be launched days before the Vibrant Gujarat festival, the biennial investors' summit to be held between January 11 and 13.
The full-service carrier, which got its air operator permit or AOP on December 16, is expected to start flights within a month on the Mumbai-Delhi route with two Airbus A320 planes, with a third set to join the fleet. With SpiceJet floundering, this would be a good time for Vistara to start operations as the cancellation of flights by the stricken Kalanithi Maran-owned carrier, has led to fares surging.
This start of operations comes shortly after budget carrier AirAsia India, in which the Tatas also hold a stake, began flights in June. Both carriers mark the realisation of a long held dream of Tata Sons chair man emeritus Ratan Tata to get into the airlines.
The Tatas started the country's first airline in 1932 with JRD Tata piloting a De Havilland Puss Moth from Karachi to Bombay, now Mumbai. The Tata-owned Air India was nationalised in 1953.
Vistara plans to add 20 aircraft during the first five years of operations. This could change if the government goes ahead and implements proposals to relax the five-year, 20-aircraft minimum flying eligibility norm for international flights. At the time it unveiled the name, the company said that the name Vistara is derived from Sanskrit “and draws inspiration from the brand's domain -the limitless sky“.

Ola Autos

An app-based taxi service provider has roped in autorickshaws which will now be, literally , at your beck and call.
Ola, the service provider, has made a soft launch with about 1,000 autos. If initial commuter reactions are anything to go by, fleecing by auto drivers will soon be history . Ola autos, unlike cabs, can be booked only through the mobile app and not over the call centre. Ola representatives said this was not yet official. “This is a beta version we are trying out in three cities ­ Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune,“ said Ola marketing head Anand Subramanian.
Autos booked through the app charge Rs.10 more as `convenience fee.' The barter: A ride by the meter. It's a fair deal,“ said K Ashok, who took a ride on Thursday. “It saves me the haggle.“
Auto drivers who have signed up, not only get the fare amount, but also Rs.1,500 per week from the service provider. “I know it's a promotional deal,“ said Mohammed Ismail, a driver with Ola. “But I am not complaining.“
Another driver, Shiva, was a little suspicious. “I do not understand how they make a profit by paying us so much. Hope it stays this way ,“ he said.
Sources from Ola say this is a trial period. “The auto sector is completely different. Our cab services are much more curated as the drivers are trained and the cars are audited for maintenance. Auto drivers are on the hand are on their own.We have no control over them. We are essentially just a booking company . We are trying to see if this can go on,“ he said.
Ola runs the `Kaali Peeli' service in Mumbai where the yellow and black taxis are part of their network.“We were able to expand quickly as our role was just to get commuters for the taxi driver and a taxi for commuter,“ said the source.


This rocket didn't put a satellite in orbit.In fact, its payload plunged into the Bay of Bengal 20 minutes after the vehicle lifted off from Sriharikota. And that made it a success, for it was the first step to India's manned space mission.
Indian Space Research Organisation achieved success of a different kind when its GSLV Mark III on a suborbital experimental flight carried an unmanned crew module which was ejected at a height of 126 km. Re-entering the atmosphere, its parachutes ensured a soft-thud on the sea.
Recovered by the Coast Guard, the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) will be tested for its efficiency in bringing back astronauts. “Everything went as per plan,“ said Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan. After a decade of developing GSLV Mk II, we have tasted the first success of an experimental flight. The performances of the solid and liquid stages were as expected. The unmanned crew module worked extremely well.“
GSLV Mark III, weighing 630.5 tonnes -the heaviest rocket by Isro yet -lifted off from the second launchpad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 9.30 am. Designed not to take the payload to a higher orbit, the rocket had a dummy cryogenic engine. The rocket went through the stage separations as planned and, 20 minutes later, ejected the crew module at an altitude of 126 km at a velocity of 5.3 km per sec. The module reentered the atmosphere at 80 km and plunged into the Bay of Bengal, about 180 km from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
For once, there was something more exciting than the launch -the recovery of the payload. CARE was fitted with a system that eludes a chemical that turns the seawater at the point of impact a fluorescent green. This was for the overflying Dornier aircraft to spot it even if its beacon and GPS tracker failed.But the signals were loud and clear as the Indian Coast Guard vessel Samudra Paheradar made a deft approach.
A 17-member team from Isro on board the vessel recovered CARE at 4.30 pm. S Somnath, project director, GSLV Mark III, said the module looked intact, signifying that it had withstood the high friction and temperature during the re-entry into the atmosphere. The crew module, expected to reach the Chennai port on December 21, will be further developed to send India's first men in space, some ten years later.
Before that, Isro will test the emergency ejection (crew safety mechanism) system in 2015. “We plan to have the (full-fledged) development launch of GSLV Mark III after two years,“ said Radhakrishnan.

Mercedes-Benz Certified

Boosted by a 39% rise in used car sales till the September quarter at 1,700 units and sensing a huge opportunity in this space, Mercedes-Benz India has launched a separate brand to cash in on the pre-owned car market. The country's largest luxury car maker will sell pre-owned cars under the brand, Mercedes-Benz Certified.
Till September 30, the company has sold 1,700 old cars in India, a 39% jump over the same period last year. It still has around 300 units on offer, said Mercedes-Benz India MD and CEO Eberhard Kern. He was talking to reporters here after announcing the launch of Mercedes-Benz Certified. “There has been an increased demand for the pre-owned Mercs... Merc enjoys a strong equity in the market and with Mercedes-Benz Certified we will cater to this growing demand,“ Kern said.
The company on Thursday launched 12 pre-owned car showrooms.


Minorities Rights Day

Avian flu detected near Chandigarh's Sukhna Lake

One of several samples taken from dozens of domestic geese that died in Chandigarh's Sukhna Lake has tested positive for avian flu, triggering alarm across Punjab, a big supplier of poultry products.
As many as 35 geese have died in the past fortnight around the lake.Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases has confirmed the presence of H5N1.
The UT administration will launch several measures, including mass culling of the geese, to contain any outbreak as five more geese were found dead on Wednesday . Another three were in a critically-ill condition.
WHO states that most avian flu viruses do not affect humans, but the H5N1 found in poultry in parts of Asia and Africa has caused human deaths.

Cabinet clears amendment to GST bill

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill on Goods & Services Tax (GST), inching closer to the rollout of an ambitious indirect tax reform expected to raise revenues and boost growth.
The government aims to implement GST by April 1, 2016 and has been working overtime to get states on board. The tax reform is a centrepiece of the Narendra Modi government's economic agenda.
Sources said the government hopes to introduce the bill in the current session of Parliament. It may be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday . The tax reform measure has missed several roll out dates in the past due to lack of consensus between the Centre and states on a host of issues and the government is keen to get the bill approved in the current session.
On Monday night, the Centre managed a breakthrough after finance minister Arun Jaitley assured the states of a fair deal. Sources said initially, petroleum will be kept out of GST but will be included in the new tax set-up once states come on board. It may take two years but the government hopes to include it in the years ahead. Alcohol too is expected to be kept out of the comprehensive levy . Additionally , the Centre has devised a levy of 1% above the GST rate on select items and is assuring the states full compensation for revenue loss for three years, followed by 75% in fourth year and 50% in the fifth.
The Centre does not see a significant amount of compensation to be paid as it expects collections through GST to be better due to fewer exemption
In a bid to bridge the trust deficit between the states and the Centre, Jaitley had approved the release of Rs.11,000 crore as compensation for loss on account of central sales tax which had been pending since 2010. He had vowed to pay the pending amount as he moved to ensure that the states come on board for rolling out the tax reform measure which has the potential to add significantly to government revenues and overall economic growth.