|NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2018
At least six women journalists have come on record to accuse Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour when he worked as a newspaper editor. Akbar, on a visit to Nigeria with a trade delegation, is yet to respond. He is the first political public figure to feature in the growing list of men — so far largely from the media, film and entertainment — named in India’s own #MeToo movement that is gathering momentum since it broke on social media last week.
Responding to the allegations on social media, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters that it is an “extremely serious matter and the minister concerned needs to speak up”. Tewari added that “silence cannot be a way out” and that the matter should be investigated.
Writer-producer Vinta Nanda Tuesday accused actor Alok Nath of sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions 19 years ago when they worked together on the sets of the 1993 TV show Tara. Nanda detailed the account on Facebook Monday in which she referred to Nath as “the most sanskaari (cultured) person”, before naming him the next day.
Nath has responded thus: “Neither I am denying this nor do I would agree with it. It must have happened, but someone else would have done it. Well, I do not want to talk much about it as for the matter if it has come out, it will be stretched.”
BSP supremo Mayawati asserted on Tuesday that her party will rather fight elections on its own than “beg” for seats in any alliance. Her comments assume significance as she had last week called off talks with the Congress to fight the upcoming Assembly polls in three states together as it did not agree to part with as many seats for the BSP as she demanded.
A BSP statement quoting her also lashed out at the Congress and the BJP, saying the BSP will never compromise with the self-respect of the Dalits, tribals, backwards, Muslims, other minorities and the upper castes’ poor irrespective of the “malice and torture” of the governments run by these two parties.
Mayawati, however, also added that her party will continue to strive to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party government, describing it as casteist, communal, arrogant, malicious and narrow-minded.
Representatives of the palace in Kerala’s Pandalam, where Lord Ayyappa is believed to have grown up, and People for Dharma, an association of women devotees, have sought an open court review of the Supreme Court verdict lifting age restrictions on the entry of women into the Sabarimala shrine, saying it “has the effect of Abrahamising the core of the Hindu faith, namely diversity, and altering its identity”.
Three other review pleas were already filed on Monday.
The petition by palace representatives said its stand had all along been that age restrictions on women in the hill shrine “are based on and draw from the celibate nature, namely Naisthika Brahmacharya of the Deity in that Temple, and not on perceived notions of menstrual impurity as claimed by the Writ Petitioner”.
It said the court should have enquired “whether the practice is essential to the identity of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple, and not whether it is essential to Hindu religion since the latter approach completely ignores and does grave injustice to the diverse practices, traditions and schools which exist within the Hindu faith”. The review petition added that “unlike Abrahamic faiths, there is no one Book which codifies and homogenises the various beliefs and practices which exist in the Hindu fold”.
The petition by People for Dharma contended that the majority view had not considered why the practice was restricted only to Sabarimala and not other Ayyappa temples. The fact that it was restricted to the Sabarimala temple “only reinforce and demonstrate the fact that the central reason for the restriction is directly traceable to the celibate form of the Deity and not to some misplaced sense of menstrual impurity”, it said.
Senior BJP leader and Union minister for road and surface transport Nitin Gadkari’s comments on a TV show aired recently may cause the ruling party much embarrassment, giving ammunition to the opposition to target it for having made “tall promises”.
“We were very confident that we would never come to power, so we were advised to make tall promises,” he said in a lighter vein during the show. “Now that we are in power, the public reminds us of those promises made by us. However, these days, we just laugh and move on.”
The interview was aired on a Marathi channel a few days ago.
The Congress was quick to respond, sharing the video clip on Twitter and saying that Gadkari had proved that the BJP government was “built on jumlaas and fake promises”. AICC president Rahul Gandhi also tweeted the video, stating: “You are right. Even the people now started thinking that the government used their aspirations and faith for satisfying party’s needs.”
In a sudden move, Indian-American US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley resigned on Tuesday, becoming the latest casualty in the dysfunctional Trump administration just weeks ahead of the crucial mid-term elections.
President Donald Trump, who met Haley in the Oval Office Tuesday, said she had done a “fantastic job” and would leave at the end of the year.
“She told me probably six months ago,” Trump told reporters, “I want to take a little time off.” Trump said there are a number of people who would like to do this job and that this is a more glamorous position that it was a couple of years ago, appreciating her work.
Haley, considered as a moderate Republican alternative to Trump, in her remarks insisted that she is not going to run for president in 2020 and will campaign for Trump.
Haley, 46, was the senior most Indian-American official in the Trump administration.
Her resignation just ahead of the crucial mid-term elections in November came as a shock and surprise to the American foreign policy and national security experts who believe it was a big loss to the Trump Administration. She is latest Republican to exit the Trump administration.
Australia plans to restrict some new migrants from living in its largest cities — Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — for “at least a few years” in an effort to ease urban congestion, a minister said on Tuesday.
With immigration expected to be an issue in the next election in May, the plan aims to help ease infrastructure problems in cities struggling with population pressures. Critics worry the proposed new visa rules could lead to labour shortages.
Nearly 70 per cent of the 186,000 migrants who settled in Australia last year arrived on skilled migrant visas, and nearly all moved to Sydney or Melbourne, according to government data.
The new plan would affect the roughly 40% of migrants who have the desired skills and are looking for work on arrival.
It would class five cities — Darwin, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra — as regional centres for migrants to settle in. Some regional centres and rural politicians have lobbied for years for more skilled residents to ensure their towns survive.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose centre-right coalition is trailing in opinion polls, has adopted a series of populist policies since coming to power in August after a backbench revolt ousted his predecessor.
The spate of attacks in Gujarat against migrant workers from north India — a fresh wave was reported Tuesday — has pushed Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor and his party into a corner, with fingers being pointed at the alleged role played by the Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena (GKTS), an organisation he heads, in instigating the violence.
A video clip purportedly showing Thakor allegedly inciting people in north Gujarat to act against migrants has added fuel to the allegations against the Radhanpur MLA and the GKTS. “I have never asked anyone to drive away or attack migrants. Also, it is an old video,” Thakor said.
But he admitted that “there could be some instances” (of GKTS members being involved in the attacks). “I am not denying it. They will face punishment. However, that does not mean that the entire organisation is responsible for it. This is a conspiracy to finish me and my organisation. After the fast, I will go to Bihar and instill faith in its people,” he said.
On Tuesday, as BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel asked the Congress to take action against its MLA, Thakor claimed that the allegations were part of a “conspiracy to defame” him, and threatened to resign and quit politics.
Thakor is also the Congress’s co-incharge for Bihar.
Thakor, 43, joined the Congress in the run-up to the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections. He had come to prominence in 2015 as an OBC leader opposed to the Patidar quota stir led by Hardik Patel. Thakor later raised various demands, including 85 per cent jobs for Gujaratis in the state’s industries, once even threatening to “lock down” the Nano car manufacturing plant near Sanand.
Thakor claimed the allegations were also an attempt to disrupt the Congress’s attempts to forge a Mahagathbandhan ahead of the 2019 elections.
Days after a woman journalist alleged that Gautam Adhikari had “kissed” her without consent while he was editor-in-chief of DNA newspaper in Mumbai, Adhikari has resigned as senior fellow of the Center for American Progress, a Washington DC-based policy institute.
The Editors Guild of India issued a statement on the #MeToo movement, stating that it has noted the “incidence of sexual harassment and assault on women journalists by their male colleagues” with “concern and dismay”. “A fair, just and safe working environment is essential if press freedoms are to flourish. The newsroom in our profession is a relatively informal, free-spirited and hallowed space. It must be protected,” the Guild said in a statement.
After multiple women accused The Times of India’s Hyderabad resident editor K R Sreenivas of sexual harassment and misconduct, the organisation sent him on an “administrative leave”.
The Business Standard reporter against whom allegations emerged on October 4 also resigned. Shyamal Majumdar, the newspaper’s editor, stated, “Mayank Jain has resigned and we have accepted it with immediate effect.”
The Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), meanwhile, dropped films by comedy collective AIB and actor-filmmaker Rajat Kapoor from the line-up of MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, beginning October 25, following allegations of misconduct.
Recent allegations against comedian Utsav Chakraborty, and in turn AIB’s admission of not handling the complaints against him led to co-founder Tanmay Bhat stepping down. Another AIB member, Gursimran Khamba, has been placed on temporary leave after allegations emerged against him. Rajat Kapoor has apologised after being accused of behaving inappropriately with a journalist and an assistant director on separate occasions.
The SBI on Tuesday offered to bail out the liquidity-starved non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), hit by a series of debt repayment defaults by crisis-ridden IL&FS and its subsidiaries, with its proposal to buy good quality assets worth Rs 45,000 crore from NBFCs.
SBI, which earlier planned to purchase assets worth Rs 15,000 crore, has decided to buy additional assets of up to Rs 30,000 crore. “SBI steps up target for purchase of good quality portfolio of assets from NBFCs, as it believes that there is good opportunity to expand its loan portfolio at attractive rates. The bank is looking for opportunities both in priority and non-priority sectors,” SBI said.
According to the bank, this is a good commercial opportunity for it to increase the loan portfolio as NBFC assets are available at attractive rates. It will benefit both SBI and the NBFC sector, which will get much required liquidity while the bank will get good loan portfolio, said a bank official.
SBI’s move came even as housing finance companies and NBFCs said they were facing a severe liquidity squeeze ahead of the festive season as they are unable to raise funds from commercial paper and corporate debt market at viable rates.
Having allegedly duped thousands of home buyers, the Amrapali Group promoters/directors have landed in trouble with the Supreme Court on Tuesday sending three of them into police custody for playing “hide and seek” and avoiding to hand over relevant documents needed for forensic audit of 46 of the group’s companies.
A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit ordered them to be taken into custody and directed that they be taken to their offices, residences and other places where they must hand over all relevant documents to forensic auditors. It posted the matter for October 24.
The top court had earlier ordered the Amrapali statutory and internal auditors to audit the accounts of all companies of the group to find out how Rs 2,765 crore was diverted by its directors.
The Bench directed that its directors Anil Kumar Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar would remain in police custody till they handed over all documents.
The Bench, which has already ordered freezing of accounts of the Amrapali Group and directors, is seized of home buyers’ petitions seeking possession of 42,000 flats. The top court had earlier allowed National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC) to float tenders for selecting a builder to complete the stalled projects of the group.
At a time when life expectancy is seeing an upward trend, some Indian IT services companies have started reducing the retirement age of employees.
Recently, Tech Mahindra reduced the retirement age of its ‘U’ band of employees to 55 from 58. ‘The largest number of the company’s employees fall under this category.
Similarly, HCL Technologies has already reduced the retirement age of its employees to 55 some time ago.
Analysts are of the opinion that 55 may emerge as the new normal for retirement in tech services companies with other big firms following suit. This move would push the need for a younger workforce. Also, alteration in the established employee pyramid structure, with lesser uptake of freshers, is the other reason behind such a move.
The move of some IT companies is in stark contrast to the steps taken by a few state governments and central government agencies which have raised retirement ages in the light of increasing life span of the general population.
Google’s new Play Store policy, following the Google+ data leak, will have significant ramifications for top apps in India across shopping, news, payments, gaming and others.
The policy — designed to ensure greater privacy for users — makes accessing a user’s call log, reading an SMS or accessing calendar events tougher for apps. Today, many apps ask for these permissions once they are downloaded, even though these are not required for their core functionality. And users tend to give these permissions, assuming in many cases that the apps would not work well if they didn’t do so.
Henceforth, apps can only ask for permissions that are absolutely necessary for their core functionality. A phone app can ask for a contact list and phone callrelated permissions, and a messaging app can ask for messaging-related permissions. On the other hand, a shopping app like Flipkart or Amazon, or a travel app like MakeMyTrip cannot ask for call log or contact list permissions.
Payments apps cannot take SMS permissions, because it’s not part of their core functionality.
India’s next generation of athletes scripted history not once but twice in the space of 24 hours as weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga and shooter Manu Bhaker picked up the country’s maiden set of gold medals in the Youth Olympics.
The 15-year-old Lalrinnunga from Aizwal shattered the national record in the men’s 62kg category to claim the top honours and announce his arrival at the big stage. Manu, on the other hand, rediscovered the form that made her a sensation in the women’s 10m air pistol event. Lalrinnunga, who is also a world youth silver-medallist, lifted a total of 274kg (124kg +150kg) to finish on top in the Argentine capital on Monday night.
The Mizo sensation, who will turn 16 on October 26, is being touted as the next big thing in Indian weightlifting. Earlier this year, Lalrinnunga claimed a silver (youth) and a bronze (junior) in the Asian Championships, smashing two national records in the process.
The 16-year-old Manu shot 236.5 to finish on top of the podium on Tuesday, making up for the heartbreak at the Asian Games in Indonesia and the World Championship where she could not live up to her billing.
Test debutant Bilal Asif snatched six wickets to spark a spectacular Australian collapse from 142/0 to 202 all out and put Pakistan in firm command of the first Test. The 33-year-old off-spinner finished with 6/36 as his efforts, the third best figures for a Pakistan bowler on Test debut, derailed Australia on a pitch which started to assist spinners on the third day.
Despite being jolted by spinner Jon Holland’s two key wickets of Mohammad Hafeez (17) and Azhar Ali (4), Pakistan closed the day on 45/3, having an overall lead of 325 with seven second-innings wickets intact.
Scores: Pak: 482 and 45/3 ; Aus: 202 all out
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Newsletter Oct 10, 2018
October 10, 2018