Time to address disruptions in Parliament: President

Expressing serious concern over the menace of disruptions in Parliament and legislatures, President Pranab Mukherjee today said time has now come to address the issue which cannot simply be brushed aside as necessary to bring a recalcitrant administration to its knees.

“In my younger days we were taught that the essence of democracy is 3D–debate and discussion, dissent and finally decision. But when I retired from Parliament in July (after over four decades in public life), I find there was another D–disruption of proceedings of the House,” he said.

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There are no ‘bad Muslims’ in my film: Kamal Haasan

Actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan Thursday said there are no “bad Muslims” in his movie “Vishwaroopam” but added there was no way he could portray terrorists as “white” characters.

“I have not shown bad Muslims in my film. The good Muslims in my film are Indian Muslims and the bad ones are terrorists,” he told the media here.

“How can you expect me to paint terrorists white?” Kamal Haasan asked, a day before the release of the Hindi version “Vishwaroop”.

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Allow Vishwaroopam screening: Malaysia’s ethnic Indian party

Malaysia’s largest ethnic Indian political party MIC has asked the government to allow the screening of Kamal Haasan’s controversy-hit film Vishwaaroopam, stressing that the spy thriller was not against any religion.

Haasan’s film was removed from local cinemas a day after its release following a directive from the home ministry, much to the disappointment for ethnic Indian fans of the superstar here.

He joined the call by local NGO Hindraf Makkal Sakti for the Government to allow the screening of the movie.

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UPA govt has survived on CBI’s lack of integrity: Jaitley

Alleging that the UPA has survived on the strength of CBI’s lack of integrity, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Thursday said a parliamentary panel has made recommendations which will liberate CBI partly from the clutches of the government.

“The government at the Centre has survived on the strength of CBI’s lack of integrity,” Jaitley said while delivering a lecture on ‘Challenges India needs to overcome’ at the K C College here.

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Samajwadi Party not for ‘Vishwaroop’ in UP

The ruling Samajwadi Party Thursday said it won’t let “Vishwaroop” – the Hindi version of the Kamal Haasan movie – to release in Uttar Pradesh until it ceased to be controversial.

“We will not allow the film to be released until there is a final decision on it in the courts and the controversy around it settles down,” party general secretary Ram Asrey Kushwaha said.

He said the authorities would first watch the film and only then would the government consider its release in the state.

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Multi-barrel rocket launcher Pinaka test-fired

For the second consecutive day, India’s indigenously developed multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) weapon system, ‘Pinaka’ was successfully test fired on Thursday from a defence base at Chandipur-on-sea, about 15 km from here.

“Three rounds of Pinaka rockets were successfully tested today. Four rounds of trial were conducted yesterday,” a defence official said.

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Vasudeva Rao new atomic research centre chief

Distinguished scientist P.R. Vasudeva Rao took over as the new director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) from S.C. Chetal who retired Thursday.

IGCAR, involved in designing a fast breeder reactor (reactor that breeds more fuel than it consumes), is located at Kalpakkam, around 70 km from here.

According to a statement issued by IGCAR, Rao was earlier director of the chemistry group at IGCAR. He is a specialist in the area of actinide chemistry and in particular in the area of chemistry of nuclear fuel cycle.

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‘Centre has asked states to rehabilitate manual scavengers’

The Centre has directed all the states to provide alternate employment to those involved in manual scavenging so that they can leave the “dirty job”, Union Minister Krishna Tirath said on Thursday.

“I would like to urge you to leave this work (manual scavenging) right now. The central government is with you. An order has already been sent to the state governments to provide alternative employment to you under MNREGA and other government schemes,” Tirath told a group of manual scavengers from across the country.

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Afzal Khan’s tomb be thrown open to public, PIL demands

A public interest litigation filed in the Bombay High Court has sought revocation of the decade-old ban on the entry into the premises housing the tomb of Afzal Khan at Pratapgad Fort in Satara district of Maharashtra.

Petitioner ‘Maharashtra Lokarpan’, a social organisation, stated that the ban at Dargah Hazrat Afzal Khan, located at the foot of the Fort, was imposed after some Hindu right-wing organisations threatened to demolish the structure.

The tomb was built in 1659, after Maratha king Shivaji killed Afzal Khan, a Bijapur sultanate general, near the Fort.

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President unhappy over disruptions of parliament

Unhappy over disruptions in parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday said it was “unfortunate” that not enough time was being devoted to discussions on financial matters in the House.

“It is unfortunate that disruption has become a part of parliamentary functioning. It is not clear whether this disruption puts any serious pressure on the government,” he said inaugurating the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy via video-conferencing here.

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2 men given 10-yr jail for raping handicapped girl

Two men have been sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment by a Delhi court for gangraping a handicapped girl after kidnapping her here three years ago.

The special fast track court, constituted to try cases of sexual offence against women, held Delhi residents Sunil and Sanjeev Kumar guilty of gangraping a 21-year-old girl relying on the testimony of the victim who had said that on January 25, 2010, when she had gone out of her house both of them had kidnapped and raped her.

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Delhi women’s helpline restarts after disruption

After a 12 hour disruption, the Delhi government’s 181 helpline for women in distress resumed functioning early Thursday, an official said.

The service was disrupted due to damage to underground telephone cables near the Income Tax Office in central Delhi.

“The helpline is up and running since 5 a.m. today (Thursday). The underground telephone line was damaged Wednesday around 6 p.m. due to which services of the helpline were affected,” said a Delhi government official.

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Over 150 killed in Karachi in January

A total of 155 people have been killed in separate incidents of violence in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi this month, a media report said Thursday.

At least three people were killed Thursday by unidentified gunmen who opened fire at a vehicle, Xinhua reported.

In January, five bomb blasts took place in the port city, leaving 16 people dead and over 50 others injured.

On Jan 1, a gathering of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) political party was attacked with a remote controlled bombing that killed four people and injured over 40 others.

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APMCC chairman on hunger strike for Kashmiri Hindu’s demands

All Parties Migrants Co-ordination Committee (APMCC) chairman Vinod Pandit’s indefinite hunger strike at Porbandar in Gujarat for various demands concerning Kashmiri Hindus entered the second day on Thursday.

Pandit began his agitation at the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi yesterday for six demands of Kashmiri Hindus, that included dialogue with Pakistan for facilitating visit to Shardha Peeth Temple in the occupied Kashmir.

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Russia scraps anti-crime deal with the US

Russia pulled out of an anti-crime accord with the United States on Thursday, the latest sign of rising tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order to scrap the 10-year-old agreement “because it was no longer relevant,” his office said.

The agreement covered fighting terrorism, corruption and cross-border crimes such as drug smuggling and human trafficking.

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Unesco to help protect Mali’s heritage

Unesco will do everything possible to safeguard and rebuild Mali’s cultural heritage, the UN agency’s director-general said Thursday following burning of ancient manuscripts and destruction of mausoleums by Islamist rebels in the west African nation.

Describing Mali’s cultural heritage as a “vital part of the country’s identity and history,” Irina Bokova said in a statement that the restoration and reconstruction would give people of Mali the strength and the confidence to rebuild national unity and look to the future.

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North Korea under ‘martial law’, troops told to ‘prepare for war’

North Korea has been placed under martial law and Kim Jong-un has told his troops to ‘be ready for a war,’ according to a report.

According to a report by Joongang Daily, in an emergency meeting of his top defence and security officials on Saturday, the North Korean leader issued a series of orders that included the conclusion of preparations for a new nuclear test.

North Korean state media has also reported that Kim ordered his officials to take “effective, high-profile state measures”, the Telegraph reports.

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Arab Spring gives rise to new challenges

The euphoria of the Arab Spring has given way to the sobering challenge of creating rights-respecting democracies, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

It said in its World Report 2013 that the willingness of new governments to respect rights will determine whether those uprisings give birth to genuine democracy or simply spawn authoritarianism in new forms.

In the 665-page report, its 23rd annual review of human rights practices around the globe, Human Rights Watch summarised major issues in more than 90 countries.

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EU concerned over Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ ban

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has expressed concern about a Russian bill making “homosexual propaganda” among minors an administrative offence.

“The implementation of this law could reinforce discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersex people as well as all those who support them and their choices, in particular by limiting their freedom of expression and their freedom of association and assembly,” the EU official said.

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Diversity of staff one of Obama’s ‘highest priorities’

US President Barack Obama sees bringing a diverse set of staffers into his administration as a key part of his legacy.

Obama was quoted as saying that one of his highest priorities as an administration is to make sure that they are identifying talent from every walk of life, from every ethnic group, reports Politico.

Obama said his administration would redouble their efforts to recruit talented and gifted Latinos that come from every walk of life.

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India’s monthly average income rose to Rs 5,130 in 2011-12

The per capita monthly income, a measure to assess standard of living, grew at a slower rate of 13.7 percent to Rs 5,130 in 2011-12 at current prices compared to Rs 4,513 in 2010-11.

“The per capita income at current prices is estimated at Rs 61,564 (per annum) in 2011-12 as against Rs 54,151 for the previous year depicting a growth of 13.7 percent, as against an increase of 17.1 percent during the previous year”, said the revised data of national accounts released here on Thursday.

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Core sector growth slows down to 2.6% in December 2012

Contraction in the output of natural gas, coal and fertiliser has slowed down the growth of eight core sectors in December 2012 to 2.6 percent, which may have a bearing on the overall industrial production.

However, the growth in the month under review has shown a marginal improvement over the previous month, when the sectors registered a growth rate of 1.6 percent.

The key infrastructure sectors had recorded growth of 4.9 percent in December 2011.

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OIL floor price fixed at Rs 510 a share; auction on Friday

Government has fixed the floor or minimum price for sale of its 10 percent stake in Oil India at Rs 510 per share, a 5.41 percent discount to its current market rate, to garner Rs 3,065 crore for the exchequer.

The government proposes to sell 6.01 crore shares or 10 percent stake in the state explorer through offer for sale (OFS) route and the auction would take place Friday.

The OIL public offer, the third disinvestment this fiscal, will help the government inch towards its Rs 30,000 crore revenue target from stake sales in profit making PSUs.

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British official in Sri Lanka for talks

A British minister arrived here Thursday to meet government officials after the US decided to move a resolution pulling up Sri Lanka over rights abuses at the upcoming UNHCR meet.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt flew into Colombo for what is tipped to be a crucial meeting with Sri Lanka officials, reports Xinhua.

The British embassy said it was Burt’s second visit to the country.

In his two-day visit, Burt will meet senior members of the government and opposition parties, the business community and international NGOs.

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Kargil War controversy: Musharraf hits back at Shahid Aziz

Describing former Pakistan chief of army staff Lt. Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz as an imbalanced personality who has indulged in uncalled for character assassination, former president and army chief General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, justifying the 1999 Kargil War, said there was absolutely no need to inform everyone about the operation.

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