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    Prime Minister NarendraModi on Thursday raisedthe issue of cross-border ter-rorism emanating fromPakistan during his talks withChinese President Xi Jinpinghere and said India expects“concrete action” by Islamabadto create an atmosphere free ofterror for the resumption ofdialogue.

    Modi met Xi on the side-lines of the ShanghaiCooperation Organisation(SCO) Summit here and dis-cussed the full spectrum ofbilateral relations. This is thefirst meeting between the twoleaders after Modi’s re-electionfollowing the stunning victoryof the BJP in the general elec-tions last month.

    The meeting also comes amonth after the 1267 Al QaedaSanctions Committee of thepowerful UN Security Councildesignated Pakistan-based ter-ror group Jaish-e-Mohammedchief Masood Azhar as a glob-al terrorist after China,Pakistan’s closest ally, lifted itstechnical hold on the propos-al to blacklist him.

    After the delegation-leveltalks with Xi, Modi tweeted,“Had an extremely fruitfulmeeting with President XiJinping. Our talks includedthe full spectrum of India-China relations. We shall con-tinue working together toimprove economic and cultur-al ties between our nations.”

    The Modi-Xi meeting

    began with President Xi con-gratulating the Indian PrimeMinister over his election vic-tory. “After the election resultsin India, I got your message,and today again you wish meon the victory, I am very grate-ful to you for this,” Modireplied.

    Briefing the reporters afterthe meeting, Foreign SecretaryVijay Gokhale said that therewas a brief discussion onPakistan during the talksbetween the two leaders. He

    said India has a consistentposition with respect toPakistan that it wants peacefulrelations with Islamabad.Gokhale said Modi told Xithat he has made efforts toimprove ties with Islamabadbut these efforts have been“derailed”.

    “Pakistan needs to createan atmosphere free of terror,but at this stage we do not seeit happening. We expectIslamabad to take concreteaction” to resume talks,

    Gokhale quoted the PM astelling President Xi.

    Modi’s comments cameahead of President Xi’s meetingwith Pakistan Prime MinisterImran Khan, who is also herein the Kyrgyz capital to attendthe SCO summit. Khan hastwice written to Modi, seekingresumption of dialogue on allissues, including Kashmir.

    Responding to Khan’s over-tures, Modi told his Pakistanicounterpart that creating trustand an environment free of vio-

    lence and terrorism was essen-tial for fostering peace andprosperity in the region. Indiahas not been engaging withPakistan since an attack on theAir Force base at Pathankot inJanuary of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintain-ing that talks and terror cannotgo together.

    Early this year, tensionsflared up between India andPakistan after a suicide bomberof Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40CRPF personnel in Kashmir’sPulwama district.

    Amid mounting outrage,the Indian Air Force (IAF)carried out a counter-terroroperation, hitting the biggestJeM training camp in Balakotin Pakistan on February 26.The next day, Pakistan AirForce retaliated and downed aMiG-21 in an aerial combatand captured an IAF pilot,who was later handed over toIndia. China played a role ineasing tensions between NewDelhi and Islamabad.

    The 2018 Wuhan summitbetween Prime Minister Modiand President Xi was largelycredited to have turned around

    the bilateral relations soured bythe 73-day Doklam standoff,triggered by Chinese troopsattempts to build a road closeto Indian border in an area alsoclaimed by Bhutan in 2017.After the Wuhan summit, boththe countries stepped up effortsto improve relations on differ-ent spheres including the mil-itary-to-military ties. The twoleaders have met more than 10times in the last five years,including thrice after theirinformal summit in Wuhan --- first at the ShanghaiCooperation Organisation(SCO) summit held in June lastin China’s Qingdao, the secondtime at the BRICS summit inSouth Africa’s Johannesburgin July and third time inDecember last on the sidelinesof the G-20 summit inArgentina.

    Ahead of the meeting,China hinted that President Xiwould highlight the need toforge a united front against USPresident Donald Trump’s poli-cies of trade protectionism andunilateralism using tariffs as aweapon. China and the UShave been in an escalatingconflict over trade for the pastyear. The scope of the battle hasexpanded in recent months asWashington has tightenedtrade restrictions on Chinesetelecom giant Huawei.

    Modi also met RussianPresident Vladimir Putin hereand the two leaders reviewedall aspects of bilateral rela-tions to further strengthen thestrategic relationship.

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    All the 13 Air Force person-nel on board the AN-32plane that crashed inArunachal Pradesh on June 3are confirmed dead. The searchand rescue team that landednear the crash site on Thursdayfound no survivors but recov-ered the flight data recorder orblack box. This retrieval willhelp the IAF to ascertain thecause of the accident.

    “Eight members of the res-cue team reached the crash sitetoday morning. IAF is sad toinform that there are no sur-vivors from the crash of AN-32,” the IAF said in a tweet.

    The 13 personnel onboardwere identified as WingCommander GM Charles,Squadron Leader H Vinod,Flight Lieutenants R Thapa, ATanwar, S Mohanty and MKGarg, Warrant Officer KKMishra, Sgt Anoop Kumar,Cpl Sherin, Leading AircraftMen (LAC) SK Singh, Pankaj,Non Combatant EnrolledNC(E) Putali and RajeshKumar.

    The families of the per-sonnel have also beeninformed, officials said.

    For a week, relatives of the

    13 personnel were positionedat a Jorhat base camp waitingfor news about their lovedones.

    On Wednesday, the firstteam of mountaineers of theIAF reached the crash site aftergetting airdropped but couldnot get close due to rain. Onreaching the exact spot onThursday, the unit did notfind any survivors. Efforts arenow on to secure the remainsof the deceased and deliver theblack box safely to the IAFauthorities for examination,sources said.

    Meanwhile, ground troopsof the Army and Indo-TibetanBorder Police (ITBP) will reachthe site in day or two for sal-vaging the parts of the planeand other related activities.

    Continued on Page 4

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    The striking junior doctorsdefied Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee’s ultimatumon Thursday and decided tocontinue their protest till shewithdrew her statement inwhich she saw a communaland political agenda behindthe agitation and till theirdemand for adequate securityin Government hospitals aremet.

    Emergency wards, outdoorfacilities, pathological units ofmany State-run medical col-leges and hospitals and a num-ber of private medical facilitiesin the state remained closed forthe third day due to the strikeby the doctors who are protest-ing after two of their col-leagues were attacked and seri-ously injured at the NRSMedical College and Hospitalhere by a mob following thedeath of a patient.

    While visiting the SSKMHospital on Thursday morn-ing, Mamata directed the doc-tors to resume work within fourhours or face consequence

    attracting protest slogans fromthe agitating doctors. By theevening the medics decided tocarry on the agitation.

    The doctors’ strike hastaken a pan-Indian proportionwith Indian MedicalAssociation calling for a “ceasework” nationally. The doctorsof All India Institute of MedicalSciences too would strike workas mark of solidarity on Friday.

    The large group of juniordoctors who got moral supportfrom their seniors and thepan-Indian doctors’ associa-tions as well as world forum ofdoctors, demanded an apologyfrom Mamata for her state-ments.

    Meanwhile, ProfessorSaibal Kumar Mukherjee andProfessor SaurabhChattopadhyay resigned as thePrincipal and MedicalSuperintendent/vice principal,respectively, of NRS MedicalCollege and Hospital where thejunior doctors were brutallyassaulted by hooligans after thedeath of a patient.

    At least 18 senior doctorsworking in various medical

    colleges, including Sagar DuttaMedical College, tendered theirresignation in protest againstthe Government’s “insensitivehandling of a delicate and sen-

    sitive issue.”While the Chief Minister

    accused some doctors ofenquiring the patients’ reli-gious background before giving

    them treatment, the medicsdenied the charges saying it was“not clinically possible to asksuch questions during the dutyhours without being chal-lenged.”

    Calling upon the doctors,Mamata said “on the first day,things were not political, lateron it was given political andcommunal colours as a politi-cian said the Muslim doctorsbeat up the Hindu doctorswhen it was just another caseof hooliganism.”

    The Monday’s attack on thedoctors was so grievous thattwo of them had to be shiftedto ICU at Institute ofNeurology with severe braininjury. “One of them sustainedserious injury as his frontalskull bone had pierced thebrain following an attack sup-posedly with some heavy sub-stance.”

    More attacks followed onThursday both at NRS MedicalCollege and Burdwan MedicalCollege with alleged TMC sup-porters assaulting the strikingdoctors with bricks and bottles.

    Continued on Page 4

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    The BJP is to continue withAmit Shah as party presi-dent until Assembly polls inMaharashtra, Haryana andJharkhand by the year-end.The party on Thursdayappointed former MadhyaPradesh Chief Minister ShivrajSingh Chouhan as incharge ofthe mammoth membershipdrive for the organisationalelections that will culminate inelecting Shah’s successor.

    The decision to initiatemembership drive was taken ata meeting headed by the BJPpresident and attended byparty’s national office-bearers,general secretaries and presi-dents of the State units at theparty headquarters.

    According to sources, Shahis likely to continue as partypresident till the organisation-al elections get over. Shah’sextended tenure would end inJanuary 2020.

    Shah may later pave theway for the new party chief touphold the party’s stated poli-cy of one-man-one-post.Sources did not confirmwhether any discussion took

    place on appointing a workingpresident.

    The meeting also discussedchanges in the party and vacan-cies created on account of anumber of party leaders join-ing the Modi Government,including State unit presidentsof Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

    Party’s coordination withthe Modi-2 dispensation andeffective propagation andimplementation of flagshipGovernment policies was alsodeliberated by the meeting,the first after Shah becomingthe Union Home Minister.

    Addressing a Press confer-ence after the meeting, BJP’sgeneral secretary BhupenderYadav said the party presidenttold the organisational officebearers that “the party has stillnot peaked in terms of its elec-toral performance despite win-ning the highest ever 303 seatsin 2019”.

    The party’s reach is need tobe further expanded to newregions and sections of thesociety, Yadav said quotingShah.

    Yadav said Shah creditedthe hard work of the crores ofparty supporters for the BJPgetting more than 50 per centvote share in 220 seats in theLok Sabha elections.

    Shah said in the Lok Sabhapoll, party succeeded in spread-ing its wings in West Bengal,Telangana, Odisha and North-East States.

    Continued on Page 4

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    India is planning to launch itsown space station, ISROchief K Sivan announced onThursday about this ambitiousproject which will enable theagency to send more humansto space when executed.

    He also said India will notjoin the International SpaceStation (ISS). AfterChandrayaan Mission 2, alsoknown as Moon Mission 2, theIndian Space ResearchOrganisation (ISRO) willlaunch another mission to theSun by launching Aditya-L1 inthe first half of 2020, Sivan said.

    Another interplanetarymission to Venus will belaunched in the next 2-3 years,Sivan, who is also the Secretary,Department of Space, said.

    Elucidating on the spacestation project, Sivan said themission will also be an exten-sion of the Gaganyaan project.

    “We have to sustain theGaganyaan programme. So,subsequently, as a long-termplan, we are planning to havethe space station in India. Weare going to join the interna-tional community in mannedmissions to moon, asteroids.We have a clear plan for thespace programme,” Sivan said.

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    Farmers will have to con-tribute �100 per monthunder the Pradhan MantriKisan Pension Yojana(PMKPY) that seeks to providethem a minimum fixed month-ly pension of �3,000 on attain-ment of 60 years.

    The Central Governmentwill also contribute an equalamount to the pension fund tobe managed by the LIC, whichwill be responsible for the pen-sion payout.

    In its first Cabinet meetingafter returning to power, theModi Government hadapproved a separate pensionscheme for farmers with an aimto cover 5 crore beneficiaries inthe first three years, whichwould cost the exchequer�10,774.5 crore per annum.

    Discussing the new schemewith State Agriculture

    Ministers through a video con-ference, Union AgricultureMinister Narendra SinghTomar urged all States andUnion Territories to roll out theprogramme at the earliest.

    Tomar urged the States tostart enrolling farmers in theage group of 18-40 years,besides taking measures to cre-ate awareness about thescheme, an official statementsaid.

    Under the PMKPY, theMinister said, “The beneficia-ry would be required to con-tribute �100 per month atmedian entry age of 29 years.”

    Under the Pradhan MantriKisan Pension Yojana, a mini-mum fixed pension of �3,000per month will be provided tothe eligible small and margin-al farmers subject to certainexclusion causes on attainingthe age of 60 years.

    Farmers can also opt toallow contribution to be madedirectly from the benefitsdrawn from the PradhanMantri Kisan Pension Yojana .There will also be an onlinegrievance redressal system forcomplete transparency.

    The Union AgricultureMinister also discussed thePradhan Mantri KisanSamman Nidhi Yojna (PMK-SNY), and Kisan Credit CardCampaign (KCCC).

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    The University of Petroleumand Energy Studies (UPES)has received the Great Place ToWork (GPTW) certificationfrom the Great Place to WorkInstitute, San Francisco, USA.This institute is the globalauthority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cul-tures.

    It recognises outstandingworkplace cultures through itsdiligent and meticulouslydesigned certification pro-grams.Chairman ofHydrocarbon EducationResearch Society, the promot-ing body of UPES, SharadMehra shared that the univer-sity has over the years adoptedthe philosophy of “people first”

    while also making con-certed efforts to incorporatesome carefully selected globalbest practices in the organisa-tion which now also form thefive core values of UPES --

    respect, trust, inclusivity, inno-vation and passion.

    The university’s vice chan-cellor Deependra Jha, whilesharing the Indian scenariodisclosed that 3000 organisa-tions had applied for “GPTW-2019” out of which only 350qualified for this certification.

    UPES is the first and onlyuniversity in India to havebeen awarded this certification,he said.

    UPES HR director MonikaJain said that every year, morethan 10,000 organisations fromover 58 countries apply toGreat Place to Work Institutefor this certification but lessthan 10 per cent are able toqualify.

    Great Place to WorkInstitute’s methodology hasbeen recognised as rigorousand objective oriented and isconsidered as the gold standardfor defining great workplacesacross business, academia andGovernment organisations.

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    Adelegation led byHimachal Chief MinisterJai Ram Thakur on Thursdayheld discussion with Jan-KeesGoet, Secretary General atMinistry of Agriculture, Natureand Food Quality, atAmsterdam in Netherlands onco-operation in the fields ofagriculture, horticulture andallied sectors.

    The Chief Ministerapprised the Secretary Generalabout the immense potentialthat Himachal Pradesh hasbeen bestowed by the nature inthe fruit production.

    He said that HimachalPradesh is known as 'FruitBowl' of India and producesvaried types of fruits due to itsdifferent climatic conditions.He said that there is a vastscope of investment in fruitand food processing.

    Thakur said that Dutch hasperfection on water manage-ment and good innovative

    practices in agriculture andhorticulture by using less land,which can be very beneficialfor a state like Himachal.

    He invited the DutchSecretary General and hisMinistry to Global InvestorsMeet being organized atDharamshala in November2019, shortly after World FoodExpo on November 3-4 atDelhi.

    Secretary General atMinistry of Agriculture,Nature and Food Quality Jan-Kees Goet said thatNetherlands has created thegolden triangle of collabora-tion between three main stake-holders viz-Government,Research centres and agricul-tural businesses. He alsoaccepted the Chief Minister'sinvitation to attend the GlobalInvestors Meet.

    Later, the Chief Ministerheld discussion with King’sCommissioner of SouthHolland, Provinciehuis, ZuidHollandlaan, Hague Jaap Smit

    on scope of cooperation in thefields of Agriculture andHorticulture etc. Jaap Smitassured his cooperation withHimachal Pradesh in organiz-ing its maiden Global InvestorsMeet at Dharamshala and tolead Dutch business and trademissions to this mega event.

    The Chief Minister andother members of the delega-tion also visited Greentechexhibition in Amsterdam RAI.Greentech is globally thelargest horticulture based exhi-bition and Chief Ministerevinced keen interest in it.

    Industries Minister BikramSingh, Ambassador of India toNetherlands Venu Rajamony,Additional Chief Secretarycum Principal Secretary toChief Minister Dr. ShrikantBaldi, Additional ChiefSecretary Industries ManojKumar, Director IndustriesHans Raj Sharma, SpecialSecretary Abid Husain Sadiqand other senior officers werepresent on the occasion.

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    The Congress on Thursdayraised apprehensions thatelections to the Rajya Sabhaseats falling vacant fromGujarat due to the resignationsof BJP leaders Amit Shah andSmriti Irani following theirwins in the Lok Sabha pollswill be held separately toensure the ruling dispensation’svictory on both the seats. Theparty demanded elections tothe two Rajya Sabha seats beheld together.

    Congress spokespersonAbhishek Manu Singhvi saidthey came to know that therecould be a bid to hold the elec-tions for the two seats sepa-rately. “This would be a mock-ery of our constitutional ethos.It would be completely con-trary to conventions.Whenever there are two seatsof a State going vacant, you

    have elections together. It isobvious to everybody that thepurpose of that is to ensurethere is a fair exercise of fran-chise of each MLA,” Singhvisaid at the AICC press briefing.

    “If you have one electiontoday and one after two weeks,four weeks, six weeks then youwill enable the ruling partyMLAs (lawmakers) to simplycross 51 per cent in the assem-bly of Gujarat and elect him inthe first round and him in thesecond round which is heldafter weeks,” he said.

    The BJP has 99 legislators

    in the Gujarat Assembly andthe Congress 77. If the electionto each seat is held on differ-ent days, the BJP is expected towin both, while if the voting isheld on the same day, theCongress could win one of theseats.

    Any such “games” shouldbe throttled at the inceptionbecause they are “unconstitu-tional games”, the Congressspokesperson said. “We willdemand from the ElectionCommission complete vigi-lance to ensure that wheneveryou want to have elec-tions...They have to be heldtogether. You cannot use atechnicality to hold them sep-arately,” Singhvi said.

    He said the party willapproach the ElectionCommission with its demandof holding of the elections ofthe two Rajya Sabha seats inGujarat together.

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    The CBI has booked formerSamajwadi Party MP AteeqAhmed and others for alleged-ly orchestrating the abductionof a Lucknow-based business-man Mohit Jaiswal from DeoriaJail to extort money from himand take over his business.The case was initially registeredby the Uttar Pradesh Police,and the CBI took over theprobe on Wednesday followinga directive from the SupremeCourt.

    The CBI has bookedAhmed on the charges of crim-inal conspiracy, extortion,cheating, forgery, robbery andcriminal intimidation amongothers.

    Real estate dealer Jaiswalwas allegedly abducted fromLucknow and taken to DeoriaJail, where he was assaulted byAhmed and his aides, whowere lodged there, and forcedto transfer his business tothem, sources said.

    Jaiswal, whose real estatebusiness is based at the poshGomti Nagar area in Lucknow,

    had alleged in his complaintthat Ahmed was threateninghim for extortion for the lasttwo years.

    Jaiswal had said he hadmade some payments toAhmed, after which thedemands for money hadstopped for a while, but Ahmedagain started asking for moneyfrom him in 2018.

    He had alleged thatAhmed’s goons had taken overhis business forcibly by obtain-ing his and his sister’s digitalsignatures.

    Jaiswal further alleged thaton December 26, 2018, he wastaken in his own sports utilityvehicle (SUV) by one ofAhmed’s goons to Deoria Jail,where the former MP waslodged.

    Ahmed’s son Umar and 10-12 other gang members werealso present in the jail, who beathim up, causing serious injuriesto him, Jaiswal had alleged.

    Four of his companies,including MJ Infra HousingPrivate Limited, were trans-ferred in the name of Farooqand Zaki Ahmad, both goons

    of Ahmed who had beenthreatening him, he hadalleged.

    The combined assets ofthe firms were worth �45 crore,according to the FIR.

    They had also taken hissignatures on his company let-terhead in the jail, Jaiswal hadclaimed.

    The businessman had alsoalleged that Ahmed threat-ened him, saying he could notbe killed inside the jail andhence, he was being allowed togo. But the politician hadforcibly kept his SUV in the jail,Jaiswal had alleged.

    The matter was handedover to the CBI by the SupremeCourt, which had also orderedAhmed’s transfer to a jail inGujarat.

    During the hearing in theSupreme Court, the UttarPradesh government had con-firmed the incident and saidthe CCTV cameras in the jailcomplex were tampered with atthe time of Jaiswal’s abductionand forcible visit to Deoria jail.

    As many as eight casespending investigation were reg-

    istered against Ahmed between2015 and 2019, of which twowere murder cases.

    Ahmed was an SP MP inthe 14th Lok Sabha fromPhulpur in Uttar Pradesh from

    2004 to 2009 and a five-timeMLA. He has been in jail sinceFebruary 11, 2017. In the past,he was also associated with theApna Dal (Sonelal).

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    The CBI has filed a chargesheet against fugitive self-styled ‘godman’ Virendra DevDixit for allegedly raping aminor at his ashrams in UttarPradesh and Delhi in 1999.

    In its chargesheet filed inthe Rouse Avenue special courthere, the CBI has pressedstringent charges of rape andcriminal intimidation on Dixit,who is absconding. The hasannounced a reward of �5lakh for any information lead-ing to his arrest.

    The agency had registeredthe case on January 3, 2018 on

    a directive of the Delhi HighCourt.

    The CBI has alleged thatDixit, as the head of AdhyatmikVishwa Vidyalaya, which isnow renamed AdhyatmikVidyalaya, and spiritual leader,was in a position to control anddominate over the complainant,a minor girl at that time, andraped her repeatedly in May-June 1999 at his ashrams inKampil, Uttar Pradesh, andVijay Vihar in Delhi.

    The accused had alleged-ly threatened to “cause injuryto her reputation” and alsoissued “life threats” to herfamily, according to the FIR.

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    In a major relief to lakhs ofpeople of Gujarat, thecyclonic storm ‘Vayu’ did notmake its scheduled land fall onThursday as it changed itscourse and drifted towardsOman. The IndiaMeteorological Department(IMD) said that the storm hasmade a small deviation, skirt-ed the Gujarat coast.

    “It is moving over north-east and adjoining east centralArabian Sea. Heavy rains whichlashed the coastal areas werelikely to continue,” the IMDsaid. According to privateforecaster Skymet Weather, thecyclone which at present isCategory 2 storm may weakeninto a Category 1 storm.However, strong winds andrough seas are expected tocontinue and may cause dam-age. The cyclone may impactthe arrival of monsoon in Goa.

    For his part, DefenceMinister Rajnath Singhreviewed the Navy’s prepared-

    ness along the Maharashtraand Gujarat coast in view ofVayu. “Senior Navy officialsbriefed Singh at a meeting innaval headquarters duringwhich he was apprised aboutvarious measures being takenby the force to deal with pos-sible scenarios,” officials said.The railways has cancelled 86trains and short terminated 37others as a precaution eventhough the cyclone changed itscourse and is unlikely to makelandfall in Gujarat.

    “The cyclone is likely tomove north-northwestwardsfor some time and then north-westwards, skirting theSaurashtra coast (and) affect-ing Gir Somnath, Diu,Junagarh, Porbandar andDevbhoomi Dwarka with windspeed of 90-100 kmph gustingto 110 kmph during the next12 hours,” the IMD said in arelease.

    Pankaj Kumar, AdditionalChief Secretary, Gujarat, saidthat although the IMD has

    informed that the cyclone haschanged its course, “it may stillcause heavy winds and rains,and so we are still on stand-bymode”.

    “Cyclone Vayu is 110 kilo-metres from Veraval to thesouth-west and 150 kilometresfrom Porbandar to the south.The cyclone is moving towardsthe north and was crossing overSaurashtra,” he said.

    The Chief Minister’s Officein Gujarat said Prime MinisterNarendra Modi spoke to ChiefMinister Vijay Rupani imme-diately after reaching Bishkekfor the SCO Summit andinquired about the cyclonepreparedness and assured allassistance and support fromCentre to mitigate the effects ofthe storm.

    Skymet Weather had earli-er stated that the ‘Very SevereCyclone’ might weaken into aCategory 1 Cyclonic Stormfrom Category 2, though thewind speed will be 135-145kms per hour gusting up to 175kms per hour.

    Gujarat has, meanwhile,already evacuated over 3.1 lakhpeople and the Union Territoryof Diu that touches theSaurashtra coast has movedover 10,000 people to safety.

    The Coast Guard has stat-ed that the cyclone would takeup to Saturday before it com-pletely moves over into the seaat Dwarka.

    Besides taking help of thearmed forces and the CoastGuard, the state governmenthas deployed 33 teams of theNational Disaster ResponseForce (NDRF) (each having 90to 100 personnel) and nineteams of the State DisasterResponse Force (SDRF) in 10coastal districts of the state, hesaid.

    In addition, 11 columns ofthe army (each having nearly70 personnel), two companiesof the Border Security Force, 14companies of the State ReservePolice and 300 commandos aredeployed at different locationsin the Kutch and Saurashtraareas.

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    Bihar cadre IAS officer Kundan Kumar willbe Private Secretary to Defence MinisterRajnath Singh. As per an order ofDepartment of Personnel and Training,Kumar, a 2004 batch officer, will have atenure up to February 3, 2020.

    Navneet Mohan Kothari will be PrivateSecretary to Agriculture and FarmersWelfare, Rural Development and PanchayatiRaj Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Kothariis a 2001 batch IAS officer of MadhyaPradesh cadre.

    IAS officer Sachin Shinde has beenappointed PS to Youth Affairs and SportsMinister Kiren Rijiju. Rijiju is also theMinister of State for Minority Affairs.

    Manoj Kumar Singh will be PrivateSecretary to Power, and New and RenewableEnergy Minister Raj Kumar Singh. ManojKumar Singh is a 2009 batch IAS officer ofBihar cadre.

    IRS officer Raj Kumar Digvijay has beenappointed PS to Animal Husbandry,Dairying and Fisheries Minister GirirajSingh.

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    People in rural areas will soon beable to access Aadhaar-relatedservices at the common service cen-tres (CSC) following the UIDAI’sauthorisation to these centres toresume such services. The CSC hadearlier stopped providing Aadhaar-related services after the UniqueIdentification Authority of India(UIDAI) withdrew authorisationfrom them following debates arounddata security of the 12-digit uniqueidentifier.

    “UIDAI has authorised CSCs tostart printing of Aadhaar cards. Userswill be charged standard fees as pre-scribed by UIDAI. This work isexpected to start in a week,” CSC e-Governance Services CEO DineshTyagi said. There are 3.9 lakh villagelevel entrepreneurs (VLE) that arerunning common service centres inrural areas across the country.

    VLEs provide Government ser-vices like train ticket booking, pass-

    port application, birth certificate,registration for Ayushman Bharatscheme etc. “CSCs will also be able toupdate demographic details ofAadhaar users like address, photo etc.This work is expected to start by theend of this month,” Tyagi said.

    Apart from CSCs, people canaccess Aadhaar-related services atbank branches, post offices andUIDAI authorised centres located ingovernment premises. Earlier, CSCswere also allowed to process Aadhaarenrollment as well but it stopped inSeptember 2017 after privacy anddata security-related debates in thecountry.

    VLEs had threatened to protestagainst the government if they are notallowed to conduct Aadhaar-relatedwork. IT Minister Ravi ShankarPrasad had assured them that theywill soon be allowed to do Aadhaarrelated processes. “We are graduallystarting Aadhaar related works. I amhopeful more projects will come toCSC,” Tyagi said.

    Noida: The I&B Ministry hasissued a notice to the owners ofNation Live, the news channelthat aired content allegedlydefaming UP Chief Minister YogiAdityanath, for operating underthat name without Governmentapproval, officials said.

    The Information andBroadcasting Ministry issued theshowcause notice on June 10 tothe managing director ofUttarakhand-based Bharat HydelProjects Private Limited, whichowns the TV channel.

    Three senior journalists ofthe Noida-based TV channelhave been arrested in recent daysfor allegedly airing defamatoryremarks against Adityanath andalso charged with fraud andforgery.

    The I&B Ministry has soughtresponse from the channel own-ers within seven days, failingwhich it said ex parte proceedingswill be initiated against them.

    The company has been askedas to why action should not beinitiated against them as perrules.

    Nation Live owners could notbe reached for comments.

    The Ministry also informedthe Uttar Pradesh Governmentthat the company was given per-mission to operate under thename of “Network 10” in 2011,officials in the state said.

    The district administrationhad last week written to the I &BMinistry to apprise it about thesituation.

    “It has been ascertained thatthe said news channel is beingrun by Bharat Hydel Projects PvtLtd, which was given permissionin February 2011 touplink/downlink news and cur-rent affairs by the name ofNetwork 10,” the ministry said ina letter to UP Chief SecretaryAnup Chandra Pandey on June11.

    The ministry said it had notgiven “any approval” to the com-pany for the use of the name“Nation Live”.

    “The company by using thename and logo of Nation Live hascontravened the provisions of theuplinking/downlinking guidelinesof 2011,” it added in the letter.

    Earlier, two separate FIRswere registered against NationLive.

    One of the FIRs includedcharges like promoting enmitybetween different groups andcirculating rumours, officialssaid.

    The second complaint overthe illegal operation of the chan-nel was made by the district addi-tional director, information, at theNoida Phase 3 police station fol-lowing which an FIR underSections 420 (fraud), 467 (forgeryof documents) of the IPC andrelated offences was registered,police said.

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    New Delhi: A PIL was filed inthe Supreme Court onThursday seeking urgent stepsto protect forests, wildlife andbirds from wildfires inUttarakhand, saying forestblazes have increased over theyears causing huge loss to theenvironment.

    The petition sought direc-tions to the Centre, theUttarakhand Government andthe principal chief conservatorof forests in the state to makepre-fire arrangements andframe policy to prevent forestfires.

    The plea, filed by advocateRituparn Uniyal, also soughtinvestigation into the matter byan independent agency anddirections to declare the animalkingdom as legal entities hav-ing a distinct persona with cor-

    responding rights, duties andliabilities of a living person.

    “Forest fires inUttarakhand have been regularand historic feature. Every yearforest fires in Uttarakhandcauses great loss to the forestecosystem, diversity of floraand fauna and economicwealth. Forest fire is one of themajor disasters in the forests ofUttarakhand.

    “Despite a consistent his-tory of forest fires the igno-rance, inactiveness, negligenceand unreadiness of the respon-dents (Centre, StateGovernment and chief conser-vator of forests) have rendereda great loss to forests, wildlifeand birds in Uttarakhand andthus caused ecological imbal-ance,” it said.

    The plea claimed one of the

    prominent forest research cen-tres was at Uttarakhand but theauthorities have not consultedthe institution for remedies totackle wildfires.

    “Uttarakhand has one ofthe prominent forest researchcentres, that is, Forest ResearchInstitute Deemed to beUniversity, Dehradun.Surprisingly, the respondentshave never consulted the insti-tution for the reasons and solu-tions of devastating forest firesin the State. This clearly showsa lackadaisical approach of therespondents in tackling theforest fires,” it said.

    The plea further said for-est and wildlife were the mostimportant natural resourcesand played significant role inthe human life and environ-ment. PTI

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    New Delhi: The SupremeCourt on Thursday agreed tohear on June 14 a plea ofMaharashtra MLC DhananjayMunde against the BombayHigh Court order directingregistration of a case againsthim in an alleged illegal pur-chase of Government land case.

    A vacation bench of justicesIndira Banerjee and AjayRastogi said it will hear the pleaon Friday in which the NCPleader has sought stay of thehigh court order which direct-ed police to file a case againsthim for allegedly purchasing aland at Pus village in Ambajogaitehsil of Beed district.

    The high court’s order waspassed on Tuesday by a divisionbench on a plea filed by oneRajabhau Phad, who alleged

    that the land which belonged tothe Government was purchasedand given to the BelkhandiMath in Beed as gift.

    As per the law, the landcannot be transferred withoutthe Government’s permission,the initial petition had said.

    Heirs of Ranit WyankaGiri, the mahant of theBelkhandi Math when the landwas given as a gift, transferredit in their names and claimedthat they were its owners andthe Government was notinformed about it.

    The land was then laterbought by Munde on the basisof a general power of attorneyin 2012. Munde applied fornon-agricultural status (NA) ofthe land and got it, the petitionhad alleged. PTI

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    �������������4-��������0������������-��������� New Delhi: The Supreme

    Court agreed on Thursday tohear tomorrow a plea of med-ical aspirants, who claimed thatthe answer key of five questionsasked in NEET(UG)-2019exam was wrong and the paperneeds to be quashed.

    A vacation bench of JusticesIndira Banerjee and AjayRastogi agreed to hear the pleafiled by four students whoappeared for the exam.

    The petition filed by fourHyderabad-based students —Kayathi Mohan Reddy andthree others through advocateMahfooz Nazki, said thatNational Testing Agency (NTA)which conducted the examissued wrong answer keys andtherefore jeopardised the careerprospects of the aspirants whosat for the exam.

    The exam was conducted

    on May 5 and the officialanswer key was issued on May29 to the questions asked in theexamination. “Upon perusal ofthe key, the petitioners wereshocked to note that answers toa number of questions weredemonstrably wrong,” the pleasaid.

    The students said they gavethe representation about theerrors in the official answer keyon May 30 and subsequently onJune 5, a revised answer key waspublished.

    “Pertinently, no option wasgiven to the candidates to fileany objections. To the shockand chagrin of the petitioners,not only did the key continueto have errors, some answersthat had been correctly notifiedearlier, stood changed to awrong answer,” the petitionsaid. PTI

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  • Afew days ago, a fight broke outin the city of Ranchi whichresulted in the stabbing of atleast six people. The brawl wasnot about an alleged theft orsome form of disagreement that escalatedquickly or any other incident commonlyassociated with a serious fight in broad day-light. Instead, it was over water.

    Jharkhand, as also the rest of India, issuffering from an acute water crisis in thehigh heat of summer. This is why it was notsurprising that while residents in a partic-ular locality in Ranchi were standing in linepatiently for hours to draw water, a fightbroke out when an individual allegedly filledwater in large quantities, leaving little tospare for other residents. While fortunate-ly no one died in the incident, such waterriots will only rise unless we tackle this seri-ous problem with the sincerity and commit-ment it demands.

    Benjamin Franklin had once said,“When the well is dry, we’ll know the worthof water.” While he meant to use this phraseas a metaphor, this quotation is now truerthan ever in its literal sense. Water is anessential component of our lives. Justimagine a single part of your day withoutit. From the moment we wake up and washour faces before having a cup of tea till thetime we sit down for dinner: Water makeseach of these activities possible.

    However, today, we stand at a crucialcrossroad: To survive using judiciousnessor perish due to ignorance and recklessness.Villagers from all over the country havebeen forced to evacuate their homes insearch of newer water sources and habitats.The current water crisis, which has onlybeen aggravated due to this year’s unrelent-ing summer, has forced a number of peo-ple to leave their homes and abandon theircattle and sheep since they do not havewater to provide for them. It is no surprisethat food production, too, has been severe-ly hit.

    In Chennai, IT companies are askingtheir employees to work from home becausethey do not have enough water to sustainoperations. In other firms, employees arebeing asked to bring their own drinkingwater since employers cannot guaranteedrinking water during work. It is, therefore,obvious that a lack of water will soonenough stop our daily lives as we current-ly know it.

    Let me give some other worrying sta-tistics, which I hope, will jolt one into actionjust as it has affected me. By the end of May,it was reported that 43 per cent of India wasexperiencing drought conditions.Furthermore, the country has witnessed adrought every year since 2015 (other than2017). In many parts of the country, peo-ple are falling ill and are being admitted tohospitals, sometimes at huge expenses,because they are being forced to drinkuntreated water.

    In terms of groundwater,the situation is even more grim.Ground water, which serves 40per cent of India’s needs, isbeing depleted at a frightening-ly unsustainable rate. The NITIAayog, a Government think-tank, has said in its report in2018 that 21 Indian cities,including Delhi, Bengaluru,Chennai and Hyderabad, willrun out of ground water by2020 and that 40 per cent ofIndia’s population will have noaccess to drinking water by2030. The year 2030 is less than11 years away. This means thatin a little more than a decade,more than one in three peoplein the country will not haveaccess to drinking water.

    To bring this point closerhome, if you are a family of fouror five, it is likely that only twoor three of you will essentiallyhave access to drinking water by2030. I must apologise forsounding apocalyptic but thetime for sugar-coating is over.India is facing a ticking time-bomb and all of us, includingour future generations, willface a disastrous scenario unlesswe get our acts together andstart taking hard decisions.

    A good start has alreadybeen made by the Government.The BJP has decided to inte-grate all Ministries dealing withwater-related issues into one

    Ministry — the ‘Jal ShaktiMinistry’ — and has promisedto provide clean drinking waterto all households in the coun-try. Unlike other promises madeby the Government like ‘SmartCities’ or ‘Make in India’, thispromise cannot afford to fail.

    Even though I am from anopposing party, I sincerely hopethat it does not turn out to beanother jumla, reserved only forrallies of the Prime Minister.The Government, however, hasnot started out on the right foot.Asked about water scarcity,Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, theJal Shakti Minister, respondedby saying, “Water crisis is not asbad as the hype created by themedia.” This comment was allthe more surprising becauseonly last month the BJPGovernment had issued adrought advisory to six Statessince water storage levels indams had dropped to a “critical”level.

    Irrespective of whetherShekhawat thinks this is all“media hype” or not, it will nottake much to figure out that weare suffering from a water cri-sis. Just look around. Our wellsare drying up, getting drinkablewater is becoming more andmore expensive, we often endup standing in long queues forwater. Are these not obvioussigns of a crisis? Therefore, I

    urge you to take charge yourself.There is no doubt that Indianeeds a comprehensive andwell-thought out policy to tack-le this issue. The Governmentneeds to adopt a multi-facetedapproach which examines thekind of crops we should grow,the kind of resources we needto set aside and invest amongother things.

    However, merely ignoringthe problem because it seemstoo big can be disastrous. I urgeeveryone as a concerned citizenof India to take full responsibil-ity to help avert this water cri-sis. There is enough of animpact you can create if youcare enough about the situation.

    For example, at home,where we often leave the tapsrunning or consume morewater than is necessary, wemust encourage family mem-bers and helps to use water judi-ciously. We can adopt water-saving techniques that are eas-ily available online. At theoffice, too, you can ask youremployers to use more water-efficient toilet stalls and hostawareness sessions for fellowemployees. All of these stepsmay eventually help us win cru-cial battles and ultimately winthe war against drought.

    (The author is president ofJharkhand Pradesh CongressCommittee)

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    It’s great to see so many Indian and Americanbusiness people coming together to talk abouthow to draw our two nations closer together,and to talk about big ideas. That project has beenin the forefront of my mind too, in preparation formy upcoming trip. I want to give you a sneak pre-view of my mission, and tell you why I truly believethat our two nations have an incredibly uniqueopportunity to move forward together, for the goodof both of our peoples, the Indo-Pacific region, andindeed the entire world.

    The idea of a US-India partnership franklystretches back a long way. When the Indian peo-ple first courageously won their independence over70 years ago, a strong relationship between ourcountries was something people talked about. Ourtwo democracies and a close relationship seemedinevitable, a matter of “when” not “if.” But for toolong — indeed, for decades — we found ourselveson different trajectories. The US was fighting theCold War. And India was asserting itself, its new-found, cherished independence through its non-aligned movement, trying not to take sides. Wecooperated when we could, but frankly I think mostwould agree that we mostly fell short of our poten-tial.

    We couldn’t trade much because India had aclosed economy. The Licence Raj kept businessesand innovators out of the black and covered in redtape. Five-year plans became the received wisdom,something like our 2 per cent growth here in thelast administration became sort of a new normal.We focussed our attention on other Asian tradingpartners, and what were once cubs grew up to betrue tigers in the region. But all that changed in1991, when India opened its doors to the world.Prime Minister Rao said that at the time his gov-ernment would “sweep the cobwebs of the past andusher in change.” India’s free-market reformsunleashed the innovation, the entrepreneurship, thesheer drive of its own people to do remarkablethings. First, we’ve had a seven per cent growth inIndia from 1997 to 2017, year-on-year. Millionsof Indians have been lifted out of poverty. Indiabecame a world leader in IT — IT services, engi-neering, pharmaceuticals, and so many more thingsthat you all know so well. The US-India bilateraltrade reached $142 billion just last year, a seven-fold increase since 2001. Additionally, more than500 American companies now successfully oper-ate in India. And of course, the US is a market forroughly 20 per cent of India’s exports in both goodsand services. Indian-Americans, too, have con-tributed mightily to things that happened here inthe US. We’ve watched Indians reach the heightsof industry, and academia, and government.People like Microsoft’s CEO and the FCC chair-man Ajit Pai, a great Kansan, have done remark-able things all around the world.

    US Presidents of both parties have seized theopportunity for closer ties. President Clinton’s visitin 2000 set a real marker, he set the table for clos-er cooperation between the two countries, and thenPresident Bush inked a historic civil nuclear deal.More recently, President Obama granted India“Major Defence Partner” status and supportedIndia’s quest for a permanent seat on the UNSecurity Council — a position that the US contin-ues to support. And under President Trump, we’vetaken our defence cooperation to new heights, solid-

    ified our common vision for the Indo-Pacific andtaken a far tougher stand on Pakistan’s unaccept-able support for terrorism in the region.

    Just a few weeks ago, in a truly historic elec-tion, 600 million Indians voted in the largest exer-cise of the franchise in history. And they gave MrModi a huge mandate. Not since 1971 has an IndianPrime Minister been returned to office with a sin-gle-party majority, and — to borrow a phrase – heenjoyed an awful lot of winning. Many observerswere surprised by the result, but, frankly, I wasn’t.I’ve been watching closely. And we knew that thePrime Minister was a new kind of leader for theworld’s most populous democracy. He is the sonof a tea seller who worked his way up to govern-ing a state for 13 years and now leads one of theworld’s truly emerging powers. He’s made econom-ic development for the poorest Indians a priority.And indeed, millions who once went without lightbulbs now have electricity. And millions who lackedcook stoves now have them. It’s interesting thatyoung Indians constituted one of the PrimeMinister’s largest voting blocks, one of his biggestgroups of support in this most recent election. Ithink that tells you something.

    For my part, as the Secretary of State, I knowI have a strong partner, a new, great counterpartin Minister Jaishankar — a former Ambassador tothe US. First, we have to build ever-stronger rela-tionships. In fact, we’ve sent some of our finestminds to New Delhi, thinkers like Daniel PatrickMoynihan and our current ambassador, Ken Juster.But forging stronger ties is more than that. It meansformalising these individual friendships, buildingout a diplomatic framework for our two countries.I think we’ve done that but there’s more to do. Lastyear we kicked off a 2+2 dialogue and I went toattend it alongside the Secretary of Defence. Wealso reinvigorated the Quad Dialogue among theUnited States, Japan, and Australia — all like-mind-ed democracies in the Indo-Pacific.

    But I want to talk about a couple other thingsI believe we can do together. We must embracethat strategic framework that works for both ofour nations. We respect India as a truly sover-eign, important country, with its own unique pol-itics and its own unique strategic challenges. Weget it. We realise it’s different to deal with thelikes of China and Pakistan from across the oceanthan it is when they are on your borders. That’swhy in this room, not so many months ago, Ielaborated on President Trump’s vision for a Free

    and Open Indo-Pacific. It starts from the premisethat we share a common set of values — the val-ues of democracy and freedom and a core beliefin the ingenuity of the human spirit.

    We also have to make sure that we have eco-nomic openness. We have to have a central themebeing the idea that we have liberty and sovereign-ty in each of our two nations, and build on thoseideas. These need to be places in which econom-ic growth reinforces our democratic values, and notdictatorship. It needs to be a place where our part-nership is one of true equals, not of domination.Based on my conversations in New Delhi last year,and in subsequent phone calls and meetings, Ibelieve this is a deeply shared vision.

    Third, we have to deliver. We have to execute.The Trump administration has already enabledAmerican companies to export more high-techitems to India. This includes cutting-edge defenceplatforms like armed UAVs and ballistic missiledefence systems. We’ve already launched theAsia-EDGE programme to help India raise privatecapital to meet its energy and security needs foryears to come. These are solid achievements butwe want to do so much more.

    We clearly have overlapping interests: defence,energy, space. The list goes on. The first batch ofApache helicopters is coming off Boeing’s produc-tion line in Arizona even as we speak. LockheedMartin’s F-21 and Boeing’s F/A-18 are state-of-the-art fighters that could give India the capabilities itneeds to become a full-fledged security providerthroughout the Indo-Pacific.

    On energy, we want to complete theWestinghouse civil nuclear project and delivermore LNG and crude. These steps will giveIndians reliable, affordable, diversified energyindependence. So they will no longer have to relyon difficult regimes like those in Venezuela andin Iran. On space, NASA is already working withthe Indian Space Research Organisation on theworld’s most advanced earth-observation satel-lite and India’s second lunar mission. I mean,how cool is that?

    Now, I’m sure we’ll broach some tough topicstoo. But as we democracies have come to know, thatwe work out our disagreements. We bring themto the table honestly and fairly. And we’ll proba-bly discuss the recent decision on the GSP pro-gramme. I do hope, and remain open – and weremain open to dialogue, and hope that our friendsin India will drop their trade barriers and trust in

    the competitiveness of their own companies,their own businesses, their own people, and pri-vate sector companies. We’ll also push for free flowof data across borders, not just to help Americancompanies, but to protect data and secure con-sumers’ privacy. And speaking of privacy, we areeager to help India establish secure communica-tions networks – including 5G networks as well.

    I know that these conversations that we willcontinue with the new government in India thathas so much promise for its people, for our rela-tionship, and for the world – I hope together, wewill finally fulfill the great promise of cooperationthat was present at India’s birth and which remainsevident today.

    I did business in India when I — before I lostmy mind and ran for Congress — ran a small busi-ness that made machine parts for the aerospaceindustry. And I spent a fair amount of time inBangalore and in Chennai working with HAL. I’lltell you what. It was tough. India was still open-ing up, it was still figuring its way through, but therewas a real value proposition there and we did well.When I think about that, when I think about whatbusinesses need when they go to invest in eachother’s countries, they need stability, they need aset of rules that they can understand, they need tomake sure that the efforts that we put forwardtogether from the US have sufficient bipartisanship,that they won’t be whipsawed as we have electionshere. That is, when you invest, your ROI oftenextends beyond any particular congress or any par-ticular administration.

    It’s already happening in technology andengineers. I know all of the amazing, brilliantIndian students that come to study in our schoolsat Wichita State University in my hometown, lotsof amazing people doing amazing things wantto come work in places where they can go makemoney and be successful. They don’t care somuch if it’s with an Indian company or anAmerican company. They want to go out anduse their skill set. If we can, at the StateDepartment, lay the foundation for that, then I’mconfident the folks in this room will knock it outof the park. They’ll take risk, they’ll invest cap-ital, they’ll invest capital here and in India, andwe’ll grow both sides of the relationship.

    (Excerpted from the remarks of the US Secretaryof State Michael R. Pompeo at the India Ideas Summitand 44th Annual Meeting of the US-India BusinessCouncil)

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    The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)Thursday adjourned the hearing on Jet Airwaysinsolvency case to June 20.

    By asking the two operational creditors — ShamanWheels and Gaggar Enterprises — who have taken JetAirways to NCLT, to again serve legal notices to thegrounded airline, the tribunal is yet to admit the bank-ruptcy pleas.

    These two companied had on June 10 dragged theairline to the NCLT seeking bankruptcy proceedings.The airline, which was grounded on April 17, owes �8.74crore to Shaman Wheels and �53 lakh to GaggarEnterprises.

    Jet Airways owes more than �8,000 crore to a con-sortium of banks led by the State Bank of India, whichnow run the airline, while it has a much larger debt pileby way of accumulated losses to the tune of �13,000crore and vendor dues of over �10,000 crore and salarydues of over �3,000 crore.

    The banks have appointed SBI Capital Markets asthe investment banker to find an investor to scoutinvestors.

    Bankers, after taking over the airline late March hadinvited bids on April 8 to sell up to 75 percent stake inthe crippled carrier that formally stopped operationson April 17.

    Though it had received initial bids from parties-Ethihad Airways, private equity players TPG Capital andIndigo Partners, and the sovereign wealth fund NIIF,none of them chose to submit the final bids.

    Currently bankers are trying to stave off bankruptcyeven as media reports said Etihad Airways, whichalready owns 24 percent in the airline, has teamed upwith the Hindujas to buy the airline.

    The Jet Airways counter plunged close to 17 per-cent to �91.95 on the BSE after the exchanges put manyrestrictions on trading in the stock last evening.

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    Shares of Jet Airways on Thursdaycracked nearly 18 per cent after stockexchanges decided to impose restrictionson its stock trading from June 28.

    The scrip plunged 16.71 per cent toclose at �91.95 on the BSE. During theday, it dropped 23.18 per cent to �84.80— its multi-year low.

    On the NSE, shares tumbled 17.72per cent to close at �90.75.

    In terms of traded volume, 35.05lakh shares were traded on the BSE andover three crore shares changed handson the NSE during the day.

    Led by the sharp fall in the scrip, itsmarket valuation fell by �209.47 crore to�1,044.53 crore on the BSE.

    Jet Airways shares have been falling forninth consecutive days, tumbling 39 percent on the BSE. Stock exchanges willimpose restrictions on trading in JetAirways shares from June 28 as part of pre-ventive surveillance measures to curbexcessive volatility, according to a circular.

    The cash-starved company suspend-ed operations in April and lenders areworking on ways for revival of the airline.

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    Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) to India grew by 6 percent to $42 billion in 2018, withstrong inflows in the manufac-turing, communication andfinancial services sectors, andcross-border merger and acqui-sition activities, according to aUN report that ranked Indiaamong the top 20 host economiesfor FDI inflows in 2017-18.

    The World InvestmentReport 2019, released by theUN Conference on Trade andDevelopment (UNCTAD)Wednesday, said global FDIflows slid by 13 per cent in 2018to $1.3 trillion from $1.5 trillionthe previous year — the thirdconsecutive annual decline.

    However, FDI inflows todeveloping countries in Asiarose by 3.9 per cent to $512 bil-lion in 2018, with growth occur-ring mainly in China, HongKong, Singapore, Indonesia andother ASEAN countries, as wellas India and Turkey. The Asianregion remained the world’slargest FDI recipient, absorbing39 per cent of global inflows in2018, up from 33 per cent in2017. FDI inflows to South Asiaincreased by 3.5 per cent to $54billion.

    “Investment in India - thesubregion’s largest recipient -rose by 6 per cent to $42 billionwith strong inflows in manufac-

    turing, communication, financialservices and cross-border merg-er and acquisition (M&A) activ-ities,” the report said.

    The report added that Indiahas historically accounted for 70to 80 per cent of inflows to thesubregion. Further, the growthin cross-border M&As for Indiafrom $23 billion in 2017 to $33billion in 2018 was primarily dueto transactions in retail trade($16 billion), which includes e-commerce, and telecommuni-cation ($13 billion).

    It said that notablemegadeals included the acqui-sition of Flipkart, India’s biggeste-commerce platform, byAmerican giant Walmart. Inaddition, telecommunicationdeals involving Vodafone (UK)and American Tower (US)amounted to $2 billion.

    The report added thatIndia and the UAE, not tradi-tionally in the top 20 outwardinvestor countries, were alsoconsidered as among the top 10most important sources of FDIfor the 2019 to 2021 period.

    Further, prospects for FDIinflows into South Asia arelargely determined by expecta-tions of growing investment intoIndia. Announced greenfieldinvestment in the country dou-bled to $56 billion in 2018, withprojects in a number of manu-facturing industries, includingautomotive, the report said.

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    Domestic equity benchmarkBSE Sensex ended mar-ginally lower after a see-sawsession Thursday as lack ofbuying triggers kept tradingsentiment at a low ebb.

    A depreciating rupee andweak global cues also weighedon the markets, traders said.

    After plunging over 300points intra-day, the BSE gaugepared most losses to settle15.45 points, or 0.04 per cent,lower at 39,741.36.

    However, the broader NSENifty inched up 7.85 points, or0.07 per cent, to close at11,914.05.

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