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#* As a growing economy, India must play constructive role in climate talks: White House
“We’ll look for a variety of ways to do that. Certainly, one way to do that would be for India to play a constructive role in the climate talks in Paris,” Earnest said in response to a question. “That as a growing economy, India could make an important statement about the future of our planet, by making a serious commitment in the context of those negotiations,” he said. Earnest said US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have had the opportunity to talk about in the past. “I would anticipate that they will talk about again in advance of the Paris Climate Talks,” he said, indicating that a formal announcement for a Obama-Modi meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly could be made today. In response to a question, Earnest said there is no change in America’s endorsement for India as a member of the UN Security Council. “My understanding is that the President has previously stated that the United States would be supportive of including India in the United Nations Security Council, in the context of reforming the governance structure of the United Nations,” he said. “That was something that the President announced on his trip to India — his first trip to India back in 2010. And that continues to be the position of the United States, and I think it reflects the increasingly important role that we’re seeing India play around the world,” Earnest said. Modi, he said, shares Obama’s goal of a deeper strategic and economic ties between India and the US. “When the President travelled to India earlier this year, there was much discussion of the important economic ties between our two countries,” he said. “So there are any number of reasons why the President would work closely with his counterpart, Prime Minister Modi, who I know understands these kinds of dynamics, and shares the President’s goal of trying to deepen these ties with an eye toward expanding economic opportunity for the citizens in both the United States and India,” Earnest said.
#* Bihar Assembly polls: Grand alliance announces list of 242 candidates
Flanked by Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Choudhary and the RJD's state president Ram Chandra Purve, Chief Minister Nitish released the joint list of the 242 candidates of all the three parties in which the OBCs grabbed the biggest share of seats.Falling back upon the triedand-tested formula of electoral success in Bihar, the grand alliance of the ruling Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress on Wednesday announced the name of its 242 candidates for the upcoming state Assembly elections.
Flanked by Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Choudhary and the RJD's state president Ram Chandra Purve, Chief Minister Nitish released the joint list of the 242 candidates of all the three parties in which the OBCs grabbed the biggest share of seats.
Nitish said that all sections of society had due representation in the list. "We have taken a joint decision after long deliberations on the list of candidates without any dispute Candidates for all the seats except one (Rajgir) has been declared now," he said.According to the list, the alliance has given about 55 per cent seats to the backward castes, including the Yadavs, and 16 per cent to the SC-ST candidates. About 25 seats (about 10 per cent) have been given to women.
The list also comprises the names of RJD president Lalu Prasad's sons - Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav - who will be making their debut from the Mahua and Raghopur seats respectively.Speaking on the occasion, Nitish said that development would be their biggest agenda. He added that while the grand alliance had worked out its seat sharing formula without any row, the NDA had faced a lot of haggling over their deal.
The list, however, sparked protests immediately after it was released. Bihar's health minister Ramdhani Singh resigned after he was denied ticket by the JD(U). His supporters along with those of other leaders who had failed to get the tickets staged protests over the party decision.
Similar scenes were also witnessed at the state BJP headquarters where supporters of many leaders, who had failed to get the party tickets, staged protest. Supporters of Dilmani Devi, who did not get the ticket from Brahmapur seat in Buxar district, said the party had insulted her father-in-law, the late Kailshpati Mishra, who was the party's patriarch in Bihar.
Bahubali legislators of JD(U) missing
TWO well-known bahubali (strongman) legislators of the JD(U) are missing from its candidates list for Bihar elections but the party has left other legislators with criminal antecedents and their kin unscathed this time.
The candidates list released on Wednesday did not include the names of Anant Singh and Sunil Pandey. While Anant had resigned from the party after being jailed in an abduction and murder case, Sunil's name had figured in the Ranvir Sena founder Barmeshwar Singh Mukhiya's killing.
The party decided to give the Lalganj seat to Vijay Kumar Shukla. He could not contest the 2010 elections because of his conviction in two murder cases. The JD(U) has also retained other 'tainted' candidates from different constituencies.
#* Swami Dayananda Saraswati's demise a personal loss: PM Narendra Modi
New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has mourned the death of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, whom he considered as his guru.
"Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji's demise is a personal loss. I pray that his soul attains eternal peace," Modi wrote on Twitter, soon after he landed in New York today.
"My thoughts are with the countless people inspired by Dayananda Saraswati ji. He was a powerhouse of knowledge, spirituality & service," Modi said.
The spiritual guru had been ailing for a long time and breathed his last yesterday.
On September 11, Modi had travelled to Rishikesh to meet Swami Dayananda Saraswati to enquire his health.
#* After uproar, Chhattisgarh government withdraws ‘working women’ chapter from textbook
After a huge uproar, BJP ruled Chhattisgarh government has reportedly decided to withdraw a chapter from its class X social science textbook, which cited that 'working women are one of the causes of unemployment in the country'.
The controversial chapter was in a textbook published by the Chhattisgarh Board of Secondary Education said. The chapter on economic problems and challenges in the textbook explains that the percentage of unemployment after independence increased as women in all sectors started working.
A young teacher Soumya Garg in tribal Jashpur district had confronted the government over the issue and petitioned the state women's commission.
Speaking to the daily, Garg had questioned whether the percentage of unemployment was measured on parameters that kept only men in mind. She also said that women had as much right to jobs as men.
Garg has, however, not received any reply from the women's commission to the letter she had written a month ago. A women's commission member had told the daily that she would personally write to Chief Minister Raman Singh and Education Minister Kedar Kashyap to consider the matter.
#* Pope Francis wows Washington but takes on controversy; addresses church sex abuse and immigration
Washington: Pope Francis received a rapturous welcome to Washington on Wednesday but did not shy away from controversy, addressing church sex abuse and urging action on immigration and climate change.
President Barack Obama was clearly delighted to welcome to the White House a pontiff who can lend moral and spiritual force to his own priorities, but others may be left uncomfortable by the pope's stances.
File photo of Pope Francis. AFP File photo of Pope Francis. AFP
Meeting Catholic bishops in Washington, he praised their handling of the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the US church.
"I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you," he said.
"And I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims... and to work to ensure such crimes will never be repeated."
The Argentine pontiff waded into another bitter US political debate when he urged the church to embrace new immigrants, speaking "not only as the Bishop of Rome, but also as a pastor from" the developing world.
"Perhaps it will not be easy for you to look into their soul. Perhaps you will be challenged by their diversity. But know that they also possess resources meant to be shared," he said.
He later moved on to conduct his first mass in North America, a ceremony to canonize a Franciscan friar who brought Christianity to California, Junipero Serra -- a figure also shrouded in controversy.
Native Americans hold Serra responsible for the suppression of their centuries-old culture and the death of many thousands of their ancestors.
Consternation over his elevation to sainthood did not overshadow the visit, however, and Francis was cheered by euphoric crowds with breathless wall-to-wall televised coverage as he toured Washington's stately boulevards.
'Welcoming the stranger'
Obama, America's first black president, gave the first Latin American pope an effusive welcome to the White House, praising his moral leadership.
"I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities as a person," Obama said, praising Francis' humility, simplicity and generosity of spirit.
Though Francis has inveighed against the materialism that the United States seems to embody like no other country, he is also a potential political ally for Obama, sharing many of his progressive goals and bringing along many of America's 70 million Catholics.
Speaking in fluent, if accented, English, the 78-year-old returned the warm blessings of his host.
"As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families," he said.
Francis said he would address Congress "to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation's political future in fidelity to its founding principles."
That may come as good news to a five-year-old American-born girl whose parents are from Mexico, who caught the attention of Francis -- and of the world.
As Francis drew nearer and nearer in his open-sided popemobile and the crowd in Washington whooped and squealed, little Sofia Cruz clambered over a metal barrier, darted out onto stately Constitution Avenue and headed straight for the pontiff -- Secret Service agents be damned.
"She handed the pope a letter asking him to support the drive to legalize undocumented migrants living in the United States," her family's parish in Los Angeles said, contacted by AFP. More than 11 million people without legal residency, like her parents, could be deported unless immigration reform is passed.
Obama lauded Francis for reminding the world that "the Lord's most powerful message is mercy."
"That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart, from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life," Obama said.
Their message may also resonate strongly in a Europe convulsed by a refugee crisis.
And, as many US conservatives question the very existence of man-made climate change, Francis and Obama made a de facto joint appeal for action.
"Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet, God's magnificent gift to us," Obama said.
Francis took up the call.
"Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation," Francis said.
Pomp and circumstance
The pope was afforded a full ceremonial welcome and a 40 minute one-on-one meeting with Obama in the Oval Office.
But the White House held off a planned 21-gun salute that would not have chimed with the pope's stature as a man of peace.
That was the only expense spared during a historic first visit to Washington -- a political city that shrugs when presidents, queens and sheikhs roll through.
The visit was a political mirror of pope Benedict's 2008 visit to George W. Bush's White House. Those two leaders were as conservative as their successors are progressive.
Still, the White House insisted it is not co-opting a holy man in order to batter Republican foes in Congress.
"The goal of the pope's visit, and certainly the goal of the meeting was not to advance anyone's political agenda," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
The Vatican played a crucial role in brokering talks between Cold War foes Havana and Washington that led to the recent restoration of diplomatic ties.
But the pope told reporters that he would not specifically bring up Washington's embargo of Cuba in his speech Thursday before American lawmakers, who largely favor a tough line with Havana.
Republicans are already crying foul.
Congressman Paul Gosar, who is Catholic, declared he would boycott the pontiff's address to protest his "leftist" views.
'The people's pope'
Nevertheless, there is no mistaking the political value of enlisting a popular pope's moral authority.
Seven out of ten Americans have a favorable impression of Francis, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll.
The pontiff will make two speeches during his visit, the address to Congress and another to the United Nations on Friday.
He will wrap up his historic six-day US trip on Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia at an international festival of Catholic families.
#* Google (GOOG) Beefs up Google Drive Security
Google has boosted security in Drive, the latest in a line of improvements for the cloud service.
The trio of changes include enhanced eDiscovery, a new privacy standard, and updates to mobile device management. Earlier this year, Google Drive also rolled out information rights management, custom audit alerts, password alerts, and more.
The enhanced eDiscovery tool in Google Apps Vault will give businesses more visibility over employee files, Google said. "Retention policies and legal hold capabilities, similar to those currently available for email and chat, have been extended to cover files in Google Drive," said Scott Johnson, director of product management, in a Google blog post. "These capabilities help you meet your legal obligations and ensure that employee files are archived and available as long as needed, even if employees delete those files from their Drive."
The new tool is currently in limited rollout, and will be fully available in the next few months.
Google also announced compliance with a new privacy standard, ISO/IEC 27018:2014. "This audit validates our privacy practices and contractual commitments to our customers, verifying for example that we don’t use your data for advertising, that the data that you entrust with us remains yours and that we provide you with tools to delete and export your data," Johnson said.
Mobile device management also saw an update, with Google noting use of Drive on handheld devices was increasing. "With mobile device and application management, you can monitor usage, enforce strong passwords and enable device encryption," Johnson said. "If an employee phone is lost or stolen, you can wipe all of the data. Or if an employee leaves the company, you can selectively wipe corporate data while leaving personal data untouched."
Johnson added that a million organisations were now paying to use Google Drive.
To find the best business apps for your needs, visit the GetApp store.
#* Netaji death mystery deepens, another theory says Subhas Chandra Bose stayed in China in 1949
New Delhi: Ever since the West Bengal government released the top secret files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the debate over the veteran freedom fighter's mysterious death has intensified further.
Researcher and writer of 'India's Biggest Cover-up', Anuj Dhar has come forward with a new theory that Bose might have stayed in China around 1949.
Dhar has also mentioned Netaji's China connection in his upcoming book 'What Happened to Netaji?'
According to a report in 'The Times of India', Netaji's brother, Sarat Chandra had run a story in his newspaper 'The Nation' with the headline 'Netaji in Red China' in 1949.
The article said that then Nehru government had specific information that Bose was in Red China of Mao Tse-tung.
In an recent interview to 'OneIndia', Dhar stressed that the truth about Netaji lies in Uttar Pradesh's Faizabad district.
Dhar, while praising the Mamata Banerjee government for making the files public, said it is a big achievement for all who have maintained that Netaji was alive after 1945.
It is also for the first time that a big political leader has acknowledged that Bose didn't die in Taiwan air crash, he added.
Further commenting on Netaji's death mystery, Dhar told OneIndia, “The second important part is the Chinese angle. I have been saying this all along and the files suggest that he may have been in China in 1948. This basically disproves the theory that he died in Russia in the year 1945.”
However, Dhar stressed on digging deeper in Faizabad where Netaji had reportedly stayed as 'Gumnami Baba'.
Dhar also rejected the claims that Bose was a Communist, however, he said, 'He was pro-Russia, but not a Communist'.
The researcher also denounced the then Congress government and said former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was master at snooping.
Adding to the Netaji death mystery, West Bengal Chief Minister last week said that some letters in the declassified files indicate that Bose was alive even after 1945.
The Trinamool Congress chief's comments came after sixty-four secret files relating to Netaji that could help throw light on his mysterious disappearance--an enduring enigma for seven decades --were released by her government.
An August 22, 1945, Tokyo Radio announced the 'death' of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in an air crash in Formosa (now Taiwan) on August 18, 1945, en route to Japan.
The recent release of 64 files by West Bengal government has revealed that the Indian government had snooped on Netaji's family even after 1945, when he was believed to have died in an air crash.
Meanwhile, family members of Bose on Sunday said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi must ask governments of other countries to declassify files in their possession about his disappearance, as they feared that some secret documents that could have solved the mystery might have been destroyed.
To connect all the dots relating to his disappearance, he said his family would appeal to PM Modi to write to the heads of the countries of Russia, Japan, China, America, UK, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia to declassify all Netaji files lying with them.
In his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat', Modi said he would host over 50 Bose family members at his residence next month.
#* Indira Gandhi's close aide dismisses claim that RSS supported Emergency
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's close aide R K Dhawan on Wednesday dismissed claims by former Intelligence Bureau chief T V Rajeswar that the RSS had supported Emergency.
"How could RSS say that they could support Indira Gandhi for the Emergency or support her during the post-Emergency elections leaving behind the Jan Sangh party. There was no such mention of RSS supporting Gandhi," Dhawan said. He stated this in an interview in India Today when asked about Rajeswar's claim in his newly-released book 'The Crucial Years', dismissing it as a mere "self-glorification" and for creating sensation.
In the book Rajeswar claimed that the RSS had supported several measures taken during the Emergency and the then chief of the organisation Balasaheb Deoras had tried to contact then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. To a pointed question on whether Deoras wanted to meet Gandhi, Dhawan wondered why Rajeswar was making such claims "which did not happen at all". "He (Deoras) did make a direct contact with Mrs Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi or the PM's house," Dhawan said.
He also dismissed several other charges made in the book against Indira Gandhi, including allegations that she had told IB to snoop on Congressmen or that she was aware of the excesses committed during Emergency.
Dhawa also maintained that Gandhi was visibly relieved on losing the 1977 General Elections so that she could spend time with her family.
In an interview with Karan Thapar for programme 'To the Point', Rajewar had said, "Not only they (RSS) were supportive of this, they wanted to establish contact apart from Mrs Gandhi, with Sanjay Gandhi also."Rajeswar, who served as Governor of Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim after his retirement from service, was responding when asked about certain passages in his book which talk about RSS supporting the Emergency, a statement issued by the interviewer had said.
#* Former PM Manmohan Singh's daughters voluntarily give up SPG security
Daughters of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have decided to give up the security cover provided to them by elite Special Special Protection Guard (SPG).
After assessment of their security and a decision to continue the SPG cover for another year till May 2016, the two daughters-- Upinder Singh and Daman Singh-- have communicated verbally to the SPG officials requesting for discontinuing the protection by the elite force.
The SPG commandos have since been withdrawn from the security of Daman, a writer by profession, and the process for taking out the SPG cover for her sister Upinder, who is Professor in Delhi University, is on, official sources said.
"We had made a request and it has been withdrawn," says Daman whose husband is an IPS officer. They are, however, provided with a cover of Delhi Police as a precautionary measure.
"At present they are still there but we have already told them to withdraw it. This will be done after completing the required procedures," Upinder, a professor of History at Delhi University said.
After necessary formalities, SPG will be replaced by Delhi Police, the sources said. SPG, a force carved out from various para-military and state police forces, was formed in 1988 by an act of Parliament for "providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and former Prime Ministers and members of their immediate families. The need for such a force was felt after assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.
Singh's another daughter Amrit Singh stays in the US and was provided with SPG cover whenever she visited India. However, now she will be provided with Delhi Police cover.
As per rules, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members cannot get the SPG cover beyond a year of leaving office unless a yearly assessment on their threat perception warrants it. The elite force has six protectees now--Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former PMs Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra.
#* Companies can approach SWFs, pension funds for ECBs: RBI draft
In order to encourage overseas funding, RBI today proposed to allow domestic companies to borrow money from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and insurance funds as part of the ECBs.
The draft framework on External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs), however, proposed to lower the all-in cost borrowing by 0.50 per cent to ensure that the funds are borrowed from abroad at a reasonable interest rate.
The modification in the ECB guidelines on which RBI has invited comments till October 1 are aimed at replacing the ECB policy with a more rational and liberal framework, keeping in view the evolving domestic as well as global macroeconomic and financial conditions, challenges faced in external sector management and the experience gained so far, the draft guidelines added.
The basic thrust of the revised framework, RBI said, is to retain more qualitative parameters for the normal (foreign currency denominated) ECB and to provide more liberal dispensation for long-term borrowings in foreign currency.
According to the draft guidelines, there will only be a small negative list which include stock market operations, real estate activity and purchase of land. They will not be allowed to raise resources through ECBs and rupee denominated borrowing.
The framework for the rupee denominated bonds will be announced separately, it said, adding the real estate investment trust and Infrastructure Investment Trust will be permitted to raise funds through these instruments.
The currency risk with regard to rupee denominated ECB lies with the lender or investor and hence the modified framework provides for minimal control for these borrowings.
RBI proposed to expand the list of recognised ECB lenders by including overseas regulated financial entities, pension funds, insurance funds, sovereign wealth funds and similar other long-term investors.
It also allowed Indian banks to act as ECB lenders subject to norms.
It proposed to cap the minimum maturity of ECB up to USD 50 million at 3 years and 5 years for amount exceeding USD 50 million. The minimum average maturity for long term ECB should be 10 years.
With regard to all inclusive cost, it said, interest rate for normal ECB should be 50 basis points less than the existing rate which LIBOR plus 350 basis point.
As per the proposed guidelines, ECB funds can also be used to repay trade credit up to 3 years, payment towards capital goods already imported, purchase of secondhand domestic capital goods, plant machinery, on-lending to infrastructure Special Purpose Vehicle and Overseas Direct Investment in JVs.
The guidelines also proposed part pre-payment by existing borrower by raising fresh ECBs. It also allowed refinancing of existing ECBs with a fresh one.
The basic objective of the ECB policy is to supplement domestic capital for creation of capital assets in the country, limited by considerations for capital account management, it said.
With above objective in view, the ECB regime has been progressively liberalised over the years, allowing different entities to raise ECB, it added.
Earlier in the day, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said RBI will soon come out with a draft paper on liberalising external commercial borrowings (ECB) norms.
ECB has implications for monetary stability as it adds to the country’s overall external debt and future repayment liability.