Lok Sabha ex-speakers may get better retirement benefits

The government may soon provide post-retirement facilities to former speakers of the Lok Sabha at par with former presidents, vice presidents and prime ministers. The facilities include free housing, transportation and also expenses on maintaining office and some staff.

Such a proposal, as requested by former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, is “under the active consideration” of the government, according to sources in the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the central government.

Rupee ends at nearly 4-mth low vs dollar, down 19 paise

The rupee Monday dropped by 19 paise to close at nearly four-month low of 52.73/74 against the US currency on continued capital outflows and month-end dollar demand from importers.

Firm dollar overseas also weighed on the rupee while rally in local equities capped the fall to some extent, a dealer said.

At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, the domestic unit opened higher at 52.45/46 a dollar from last weekend’s close of 52.54/55 and immediately touched a high of 52.43 on firm local stocks.

Government allows further export of cotton

The government on Monday decided to allow further cotton exports in 2011-12 marketing year ending September as production estimates have been revised upwards.

“A decision has been taken to remove suspension of cotton exports registration. Registration of cotton exports will be allowed by the government,” Commerce and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here after meeting Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Rajya Sabha passes to key education bills

The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed two key bills to enable students of Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research get their degrees and give 8 new IITs their status through an Act of Parliament.

The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2011, already passed by the Lok Sabha, seeks to set up eight new Indian Institutes of Technology in Bhubaneshwar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Indore, Jodhpur, Mandi, Patna and Ropar and integrate the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, within the ambit of the Act.

Sensex gains 132 points; IT stocks in limelight

Moving up for the third day in a row, the BSE benchmark Sensex Monday gained nearly 132 points on funds buying in bluechips led by IT stocks amid a weak rupee and renewed expectations of US Fed easing monetary policy to boost growth prospects.

The Sensex, which had gained 57 points in last two sessions, advanced further by 131.47 points, or 0.76 percent to 17,118.81 on back of steep rise in Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services which notched up smart gains in the 2.75-3.5 percent range.

‘Wrong perception of Islam in UK big challenge for Muslims’

The core challenge that Muslim community is facing at the United Kingdom was the wrong perception of the Islam prevalent among British and other communities,” said United Kingdom Islamic Mission (UKIM) chief Dr Zahid Pervez.

Dr Pervez, who was recently on a visit to Pakistan, said this while exclusively talking to Daily Times, at a local hotel.

Maya sticks to promotion quota demand

BSP supremo Mayawati on Monday demanded that the Centre bring a Constitutional amendment bill during the current session of Parliament to provide for reservation to SC and ST government employees in promotions.

When Rajya Sabha met for the day, Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) stated that his party has given a notice for suspension of Question Hour to raise the issue of Supreme Court judgment overturning reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs in promotion.

He requested Chairman Hamid Ansari to allow his party leader Mayawati to raise the issue, to which he agreed.

NCTC would help to deal with hostage situation: PC

Faced with frequent incidents of abduction, the Centre today said if the controversial National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) comes into existence, it would help in the long run to deal with hostage situations in a better way.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said he was not sure whether NCTC would come up or not and if it comes up, then the proposed anti-terror body should be allowed to build capacity and lay out its own standard operating procedures (SOPs) and gain experience.

Sarkozy to file complaint in Gaddafi funding claim

French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed on Monday to file a complaint against a news website that claims to have evidence he was offered campaign financing from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for his first presidential bid.

Sarkozy has vigorously denied the allegation, which was first levied by one of Gaddafi’s sons last year as France was pressing for international airstrikes against Gaddafi’s forces to end a crackdown on rebels.

BJP backs APJ Abdul Kalam for President

The race for the Presidential elections has been hotting up with the main Opposition the BJP reportedly rejecting the name of Congress backed candidates on Monday. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s name has been doing the rounds for the next Predident.

“BJP will never favour the candidature of Ansari and Mukherjee,” Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha said today. The BJP also said that if Mulayam Singh Yadav favour the name of Kalam then thy will support the Sanajwadi Party.

BJP rules out backing Pranab, Ansari in Presidential race

Giving a new turn to the Presidential race, BJP today ruled out supporting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari or any other candidate who may be put up by the Congress but is open to supporting anyone chosen by the non-Congress parties.

“We will not accept any Congress candidate, including Pranab Mukherjee, for the President’s post, ,” she told
reporters here.

The names of Mukherjee and Ansari have been doing the round as being among the probables in the Presidential election.

Nawaz Sharif a ‘confused’ person: Gilani

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has called opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif a “confused” person who is confusing the people over the Premier’s conviction of contempt by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

“Mr Sharif is confused. And he is trying to confuse the public over the court’s decision in my case,” Gilani said while talking to a group of lawyers at his Lahore residence late last night.

Pakistan condemns US strike after drone ban

Pakistan on Monday condemned a US drone strike that killed three suspected Islamist militants in the northwest, the first since the country’s Parliament demanded that Washington end the attacks two weeks ago.

US officials have indicated in private that they have no intention of stopping the covert CIA drone program in Pakistan, which could imperil the Obama administration’s attempts to get Islamabad to reopen supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan.

IPL 2012: Dhoni-Gambhir showdown today as CSK take on KKR

A cracker of a contest is on the cards when in-form Kolkata Knight Riders take on faltering defending champions Chennai Super Kings in their 10th preliminary league match of the IPL here on Monday.

Both the teams are meeting this season for the first time and the Gautam Gambhir-led KKR hold the advantage after having won five of their nine matches so far.

Comparatively, Chennai are faltering because of their batting woes and lost by seven runs to tournament laggards Kings XI Punjab on Saturday.

Manchester prepares for biggest derby ever

Today will be a manic Manchester Monday that barely needs any hype and frenzied build-up to emphasise the importance of a night that is likely to determine the destination of the Premier League title this season.

On Sunday, around 8,000 people took part in the Greater Manchester marathon but the epic title race between the city’s two football teams always looked destined to come down to a sprint finish.

Hat-trick hero Torres inspires big Chelsea win

Fernando Torres scored his first hat-trick for Chelsea to power his team to a huge 6-1 win over Queens Park Rangers in the English Premier League on Sunday.

The win will allow Chelsea to keep their hopes alive for a top-four finish along with Tottenham Hotspur, who beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at White Hart Lane with goals from Rafael van der Vaart and Kyle Walker.

Maria Sharapova clinches Stuttgart title

Maria Sharapova defeated world no. 1 Victoria Azaraneka 6-1, 6-4 in the Stuttgart clay court final to clinch her first title of the year on Sunday.

The second-ranked Russian had lost two finals–Australian Open and Indian Well– against the Belarusian and by winning the title broke Azarenka’s 26-match winning streak this year.

In a match that saw Azarenka being treated for a wrist injury at the beginning of the second set, Sharapova was the dominant one racing to a 3-0 lead in just 30 minutes during the first set.

Titanic II to set sail from England to New York in 2016

An Australian mining magnate today unveiled plans to build Titanic II, which may make its maiden voyage from England to New York in 2016, a century after the luxury ship sank on its first trans-Atlantic voyage.

Billionaire businessman Clive Palmer said that he had signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the replica of Titanic, heralded as the world’s largest, most luxurious and safest ocean liner before it set sail in April 1912.

‘iPavement’ brings Wi-Fi under your feet

A Spanish tech company has come up with sidewalk paving stones, dubbed iPavement, that are Wi-Fi hotspots.

The avant-garde innovation could allow wireless internet access to people as they are walking down the street.

The stones are wired to 1,000-watt cables and contain a 5GB microprocessor that will connect with devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to provide coverage, the Discovery News reported.

Earth-like rocky planets ‘may be common in universe’

Earth-like rocky planets that humans could live on may be more common in the universe than stars, says an international team of planetary scientists which included an Indian-origin researcher.

Aditya Chopra at Australian National University and colleagues claim that determining whether these planets are habitable has become the new holy grail of astronomy.

China launches two navigation satellites

China today successfully launched two more satellites for its proposed Beidou global navigation and positioning network being built to counter the US Global Position System (GPS).

With the two, China has so far launched 13 satellites to form part of the Beidou system.

The Beidou-2 satellites, launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan, was boosted by a Long March-3B carrier rocket and has entered the scheduled orbit, the center said in a statement.

Why Vidya’s beau doesn’t want her to do ‘Vettai’ remake

If you thought exes could be friends for life then think again. Friendship might not seem an appropriate step when the world has once seen you as a couple. Hence UTV’s head honcho Siddharth Roy Kapoor is doing all possible things to not let his ladylove Vidya Balan share screen space with her alleged former beau Shahid Kapoor.

Emraan gets his first ‘U’ certified film, thanks kids

Actor Emraan Hashmi, known for his serial kisser image, has revealed that he has signed his first ‘U’ certified film and gives credits to children for doing it.

“There is an untitled, Universal film, it would be my first ‘U’ certified film,” said Emraan.

“Actually, I was shooting in Jaipur three-four years back and some children told me that we watch your songs, but our parents don’t allow us to see your films. So I said, one day when I get a good script, I’ll definitely make a film for you all.”