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G-20 Meetings Will Boost Local Economies Of Venues, Modi Tells Political Leaders

With elections behind them PM Narendra Modi and his team of ministers were back to some serious work. While he was himself briefing aspects relating to India’s G20 Presidency at the all-party meeting. Briefing the leaders, Modi stated that India’s G20 Presidency belongs to the entire nation, and is a unique opportunity to showcase country’s strengths to the world. Emphasisng on teamwork, he sought the cooperation of all leaders in organising various G20 events. He pointed out that the G20 Presidency would help showcase parts of India beyond the conventional big metros, thus bringing out the uniqueness of each part of our nation. Highlighting the large number of visitors, Modi took note of the potential for promoting tourism and boosting the local economies of the venues where G20 meetings would be organized. Before Modi spoke, various political leaders shared their insights and these  included former PM H D Deve Gowda, BJP president J P Nadda, Congress president  Mallikarjun Kharge, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik,  AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, TDP chief  Chandrababu Naidu, Tamil Nadu CM  M K Stalin, Rashtriya LokJanshkti Party leader Pashupatinath Paras,  Mahasrashtra CM  Eknath Shinde and IUML leader K M Kader Mohideen. The best part, of course, was that the MEA got to issue a release about the PM’s all-party meeting.

Border Dispute: Bommai Refuses To Relent, Warns Of Consequences

Although two Maharashtra ministers have ‘postponed’ their Belagavi visit on Tuesday following Karnataka chief minister S R Bommai’s public statements, his fresh reiteration that the dispute was no longer alive for his state has generated anger in the state. Moreover, Bommai’s warning that consequences would have to be faced if any attempt is made to enter Belagavi in connection with the dispute has incited opposition parties in Maharashtra again. Expressing his displeasure at Bommai’s outburst, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has chided him by saying that as the matter is before the Supreme Court, neither Maharashtra nor Karnataka can do anything in this regard. Ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraje Desai were scheduled to visit Belagavi on 6 December but have dropped it. Despite this, Bommai has continued his combative stand. He has once again said that the request of Jath villagers from Sangli district of Maharashtra for inclusion in Karnataka would remain under his consideration. In a bid to blunt Karnataka’s initiatives, Maharashtra industry minister Uday Samant visited Jath area to reassure villagers that no effort would be spared to end their grievances. Samant said an industrial estate would be developed at Jath so that employment opportunities are generated there. A decision in this regard would be announced in a week, he promised the angry residents.


Is ED Investigation A Setback For Nora Fatehi?

Actress-model-dancer Nora Fatehi got upset with the waiting photographers as she stepped out of the Enforcement Directorate’s office after her interrogation in the Sukesh Chandrashekhar money laundering case. She is the same Nora who is ever ready to oblige eager paparazzi but this time it was different. She is a witness in the case in which actress Jacqueline Fernandez is an accused. Thirty-year old Nora, a Canadian citizen, has made waves in Bollywood as an item girl. She is invited to reality TV shows either as a judge or as a guest. So what’s her claim to fame?  According to insiders, she is considered to be the hot favorite of a music baron and he has signed her for any number of item songs and music albums. She started with item numbers in south Indian films and then moved to Hindi films. Luckily for her all her item songs have been a hit and that was used to draw audiences to theatres. But, her rounds of ED’s office and her name dragged into the Sukesh money laundering controversy could be a temporary setback for her career. Many may not sign her for the fear of shooting dates clashing with her hearings. Incidentally, Jacqueline is still not out of trouble but has not vented her anger with the media who has been tailing her day in and day out.  
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Modi Hopes To Carry All Parties Along On G-20: Kharge, Mamata, Stalin To Attend His Meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting heads of various political parties at the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Cultural Centre to brief them about the significance of India’s G-20 presidency. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin are attending the meeting convened by the PM to rally domestic political support for events linked to G-20 through next year. Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao is skipping the event. At the meet, Modi will underline the significance of the G-20 presidency for the country, and brief leaders on how his government is approaching the “unique opportunity”. The leaders will get a glimpse of year-long activities that are being planned to showcase New Delhi’s soft power. Significantly, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge will be attending the meeting even as his party’s media-in charge Jairam Ramesh mocked PM Modi as an “event manager” and tried to point out that India’s presidency was rotational and wasn’t extraordinary. The CMs are taking interest in the PM’s G-20 tete-e tete because from the time India will be holding the G20 presidency from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023 and during this period about 200 meetings on 32 sectors at multiple locations will be held. Already, India hosted the first meeting for G-20 sherpas in Udaipur on December 4 and set the stage for important conversations including technological transformation, and spotlighting women-led development.
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Modi’s Visit To Maharashtra Revised, To Inaugurate Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway’s First Leg And AIIMS Nagpur On Dec 11

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nagpur tour programme has been revised as he is now scheduled to inaugurate the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) centre at the MIHAN complex in the second capital of Maharashtra. His scheduled inauguration of the first phase of the ambitious Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway will now take place from the same venue. Modi will also mark the beginning of the redevelopment of Nagpur and Ajni railway stations during the visit. It is also hinted that he will announce a Vande Bharat Express between Nagpur and Bilaspur. Modi will also inaugurate the two phases of Nagpur metro as decided earlier. The expressway, a dream project of then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, was to be ready much earlier but was delayed for various reasons, some of them political. The next phase, Shirdi-Mumbai, is expected to be commissioned early next year, cutting the travel time between Maharashtra’s capital and second capital to just eight hours. Modi will land at Nagpur at 11 am on December 11 and proceed to visit the expressway. He will then reach the MIHAN complex to declare the AIIMS centre opened. To ensure that all goes smoothly during the PM’s visit, Fadnavis and chief minister Eknath Shinde travelled the entire 520 km distance in about five hours with DCM at the wheel on Sunday.
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Deepak Chopra, Doug Roland Team Up With Chef Vikas Khanna To Make Social Impact Films

Michellin Star Chef Vikas Khanna is on a roll as far as directing social impact films are concerned. His film Last Colour produced by Jitendra Mishra on Amazon Prime has had good reviews. Not one to rest on his laurels, he managed to get the world renowned speaker-author Deepak Chopra and Oscar nominated social impact filmmaker Doug Roland as Executive Producer and Producer for his latest documentary Barefoot Empress co-produced by Mishra . The short documentary follows the journey of 96-year-old Karthyayani Amma as she joins a first grade class, to realize her lifelong dream of receiving an education. The film is inspired by Khanna’s grandmother who was not given an opportunity at an education. Khanna who has partnered with non-profit Leap to Shine, said, he will “use the film to raise funds in service of providing high quality education for girls in underserved communities in India.” Barefoot Empress has helped rehabilitate 11 classrooms in India. According to Dr Deepak Chopra, “Barefoot Empress carries a universal message of hope and perseverance that has the power to move viewers, and the momentum to impact the lives of thousands of girls in India.” Barefoot Empress has qualified for the Oscar shortlist, won at the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, where it picked up the Biogen Award and the Best Short Documentary at the Big Apple Award.
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Border Dispute: Bommai Asks Two Maharashtra Ministers To Shun Visit To Belgaum, But Duo Firm

Karnataka chief minister S R Bommai’s missive to Maharashtra not to send its two ministers to Belgaum for holding talks with Marathi-speaking agitation’s leadership has aggravated the situation as both ministers are firm on their visit. Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraje Desai are scheduled to visit Belgaum on December 6 to meet leaders of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), which has been spearheading the agitation for merging Karnataka’s Marathi-speaking areas in Maharashtra over the past six decades. The two ministers will meet MES activists to understand their woes over the linguistic dispute. Ahead of the visit, Karnataka chief secretary has written to his Maharashtra counterpart at the instance of Bommai not to send Patil and Desai to Belgaum in view of the prevailing atmosphere. Patil, former state BJP president, said it has been Maharashtra’s consistent stand that the Centre should intercede to resolve the border dispute with Karnataka. Also, as the matter is in the Supreme Court, that factor also should be considered. In view of this, Karnataka should not try to prevent the visit.  A meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah could happen after Gujarat elections, Desai indicated while reiterating his resolve to reach Belgaum on December 6.
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Cong Policy Reversal: Gandhis May Let Kharge Remain As LoP In Rajya Sabha For The Winter Session

Looks like Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge will most likely continue as Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in Rajya Sabha at least for the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament as the party hasn’t yet decided on his replacement. If Kharge holds two posts, it will be a complete reversal of the “One Person, One Post” policy that was formulated in the Udaipur Declaration. In fact Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, who was hoping to keep his CM post, lost out on being Congress chief because of Rahul Gandhi’s insistence that he must adhere to one man-one post resolution. Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) “strategy group” on December 3, ahead of the Parliament Session that begins on December 7. Rajya Sabha MPs Jairam Ramesh, KC Venugopal and Kharge have been asked to attend. In keeping with the Udaipur Declaration, Kharge had resigned as LoP in Rajya Sabha before filing his nomination papers for Congress chief. But then he handed in his resignation to Sonia Gandhi as CPP chairperson. Which is why there is a lot of speculation that Sonia may ask Kharge to continue in the post. On his part even after getting elected as Congress president, Kharge has taken care not to disturb the Gandhis. Like he did not make his photos visible at AICC headquarters. His focus is to win back Karnataka when elections are held early next year.
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A Bitter Cong Takes Potshots At PM Over G-20, Calls Him An Event Manager

A day after India assumed the leadership of the G-20, trust the Congress to say the presidency was rotational and inevitable, and dubbed PM Narendra Modi as an event manager. It went on to point out that none of the countries that held the responsibility earlier had staged a “high voltage drama” as was being done now. India assumed the presidency of the G-20 on December 1 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a strong pitch for “fundamental mindset shift” to benefit humanity as a whole, saying the country will work to further promote “oneness”. Several centrally-protected monuments including UNESCO world heritage sites spread across the country were lit up with the G-20 logo to mark the start of India’s year-long presidency of the grouping. Attacking the government, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh via Twitter went on to point out that “Previous presidents of G20 have been from the USA, UK, Canada, South Korea, France, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Turkey, China, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Indonesia. None of these countries staged a high voltage drama as is being done around India becoming President of G20 for a year.”  Adding further he said, “I’m reminded of what LK Advani said in 2014 in Gandhinagar—he called Modi a brilliant event manager. That’s all there is to all the spin around G20.” India’s G-20 sherpa Amitabh Kant dismissed the Congress attack as “bizarre”.
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New Gold Blocks Detected In Maharashtra

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s disclosure that gold blocks have been detected in Vidarbha region is expected to attract many private sector players to the state’s mining sector. The expectation is heightened since, within hours, news began flashing that gold blocks could be existing in Konkan region’s Sindhudurg district as well. Thus, two extreme geographical locations in the state will open new avenues of development, it is felt. While addressing an investor conference in Mumbai, Shinde said that out of a dozen coal fields in Maharashtra available to the private sector through auctions, two can have deposits of gold and platinum group minerals. Shinde welcomed the news of the possible findings as a good omen for his government. He said he had appealed to the Centre for further studies and cooperation in developing the blocks. Chandrapur, a tribal district sharing borders with Telangana, is perhaps the lucky beneficiary since its Minzari and Bamni areas are likely to be the home to potential gold mines. Moreover, the belt is endowed with rich reserves of copper, according to preliminary reports of the Union Ministry of Mining. The existence of precious metals in Sindhudurg district, sharing borders with Goa, has been discussed for decades. However, a positive signal from the Centre is still awaited.
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BCCI President Roger Binny On A Sticky Wicket!

Roger Binny is on a sticky wicket. A genuine all-rounder who manipulated the red cherry in an expert way, bagged plenty of wickets and played his part in India’s 1983 Prudential World Cup win, has been issued a Conflict of Interest (COI) notice by the BCCI’s Ethics Officer, Vineet Saran. Binny, 67, was elected unopposed as the president of the BCCI in October. He succeeded former India captain Sourav Ganguly. He has been asked to reply to the COI related notice before December 20. The apparent reason for the COI charge is that his daughter-in- law Mayanti Langer has a contract with Star Sports, the COI rule which is part of Justice Lodha’s Reforms in Cricket report, is seen now as a nuisance by the administrators and people in general are appalled that a non-controversial person like Binny has to face the charge at the instance of vested interests. A former senior functionary of the BCCI, Prof. Ratnakar Shetty says: “The COI rules need to be reviewed in the interest of BCCI.’’ He believes many cricketers are deprived the opportunity to be part of the cricket administration at the State and National level. Recently the BCCI got relief for a number of issues related to the governance aspect from the Supreme Court. The time has arrived for the COI rule to be reviewed and the Apex Court appointed Amicus to step in.
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Is Superstar Rajini Scripting His Swansong?

His 73rd birthday is on December 12, and true to form, Rajini posters have mysteriously sprung up at vantage points of Poes Garden. This time with a difference. The swashbuckling film hero, larger than life images on the posters have given way…to a visibly aged man, sparse hair and spectacles, scoping out the horizon. But this poster is perhaps meant to hint at a new avatar? On closer scrutiny, this “misinformation poster “reads “, governor and people, our Thalaivar is worthy of worship”. The operative hook here is Governor! Who knows? This is typical Rajini, teasing, hinting, rousing expectations and when it comes to the crunch, backing out! After his last few films faring poorly, and Kamal’s Vikram zooming to the top, Rajini, intent on a super hit as his swan song, worked hard at choosing a new film, director and story for Jailer, now under progress. But the buzz is Rajini wanting a youthful comeback film, chose a youthful director Nelson, even as his old reliable director P Vasu coaxed him hard to accept Chandramukhi 2, to revive that 2005 hit which sent the cash registers jingling! Now Rajini is rumoured to be regretting saying no to Chandramukhi2. A theory doing the rounds is that the 2002 flop Baba may be re-released after it is cosmetically enhanced with more digital audio heft.
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This Mattress Company Reposes Faith In Sleep Solution

This one puts faith in innovation. Out-of-the-box thinking is the need of the day for business enterprises to not just grow but to also to stand out from the crowd. This Coimbatore-based mattress company is out on a mission: to promote the power of fresh thinking in the sleep solution space. The Rs 103-crore 10-year-old Repose Mattress Pvt Ltd is concerned that people take sleep for granted. That causes a lot of mental and physical health issues. Right mattress is not just a matter of luxury and comfort. Repose is convinced that the right mattress is vital for healthy living. Early this year, it introduced a smart grid mattress with patented technology from Japan. It has in its portfolio Song-Bird pillow — a memory foam pillow with in-built speakers into which music devices can be plugged into for a novel experience. It also has a Locker mattress – claimed to be the country’s first mattress with an in-built secret locker that can safely store items of value. This 400-plus employee company pines to become a pan-India player. Repose has roped in dance sensation and film star Prabhu Deva as its brand ambassador. Riding on his fan following across the country, Repose aims to aggressively get into the mind space of consumers across the country. Putting faith in a new sleep order, it appears.
Uddhav Thackreay

Next Maharashtra CM Could Be A Woman, Uddhav Thackeray Stirs Speculation

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s indication that the next Maharashtra chief minister could be a woman has created ripples as various names are circulating as a possible incumbent. At the same time, he is facing flak with charges that he is trying to promote his wife Rashmi. Uddhav said at a function in Mumbai on November 30 that the joint efforts by three dominant forces in Maharashtra polity – Shiv Shakti (meaning Sena), Bheem Shakti (Dalit factions) and Lahu Shakti – would aim at installing a competent chief minister, man or woman. This statement is interpreted variously to either support Uddhav or criticize him. The function was organized to commemorate the armed struggle launched by freedom fighter Ustad Lahuji Salve against British over a century ago. The names of NCP MP Supriya Sule, former minister Pankaja Munde and Uddhav’s wife Rashmi Thackeray immediately began circulating. Although no prominent leader has so far reacted to this idea, independent MP Navnit Rana has alleged that Uddhav is trying to promote the prospects of his wife. “What he says and what he does are two different things,” Rana quipped. While Sule has been in parliament since 2006, Pankaja shot to prominence after 2014 when she publicly said she was an aspirant for the CM’s post. Critics say that Rashmi can enter the arena just like dark horse Uddhav grabbed the post in 2019.
Arwind Kejriwal

Kejriwal Upset As He Finds BJP Has Made A Remarkable Recovery In The MCD

As the campaign for December 4 elections to Municipal Corporation of Delhi peaked, frustration of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal became all too obvious. Not only was he forced to abandon his last-ditch campaign in Gujarat but he found in Delhi too the BJP has made a remarkable recovery on ground. Ideally, it should have been an AAP advantage as the BJP has been in power in the civic body for the past 15 years. However, the BJP recovered much of its lost ground by deploying its leaders and karyakartas in community specific areas. “We sent out leaders such as CM Pushkar Dhami and MP Ravi Kishen for a campaign to reach out to specific communities,” said a party source. BJP also reached out to Kejriwal’s vote bank of slum dwellers by showcasing houses built under PM’s housing scheme for urban poor in Kalkaji. Clearly upset with the BJP’s election strategy, a dejected Kejriwal lamented how the BJP had brought in CMs from other states and 17 Union ministers for the campaign. “There would have been no need to bring so many high-profile leaders if the MCD had done any work in the previous 15 years,”, Kejriwal lashed out at a public meeting. He blamed the BJP-led MCD for clogging the city’s sewers and for failing to resolve the problem of the overexploited landfills. Even as his government was caught in a liquor scam, he promised to make MCD corruption free within four months.
Varun Dhawan

Is Varun Dhawan Losing Foothold In Bollywood?

Being an insider Varun Dhawan always had a foot in the door. Son of Bollywood’s most successful director David Dhawan, he worked with Karan Johar as an assistant director before he was launched in Student Of The Year by Karan Johar in 2012. Lady Luck was benevolent; he had 11 consecutive box-office successes between 2012 and 2018 but close industry watchers are saying that the 35-year old star may lose his edge given the kind of films he is signing these days. Says an insider, the kind of films he is choosing is not really working in his favour. His latest outing Bhediya has been appreciated by the critics but hasn’t really translated into big numbers. His well-wishers feel that he needs to reinvent himself; focus on the kind of cinema his father is known for. Remake of Judwaa, Coolie No 1 was liked as one saw a Govinda in him. Varun is a sincere and emotional actor and is keen to do something out of the box and that has not worked in his favour. Badlapur was good but October failed and in the case of Bhediya his fans don’t really want to see him playing those kinds of roles. They are looking for a Govinda in Varun. Varun, darling of the media, needs to buckle up as newcomers like Kartik Aaryan, signed by his own brother Rohit Dhawan, have raced ahead of him. About time Varun does introspection.
Pant with Sanju Samson

Is This The End Of Rishabh Pant As White Ball Striker?

The rebuilding of Team India after the crash in the T20 World Cup has not gone smoothly enough. All the faults of a bowling attack without sting and batsmen not getting out of the starting gates smartly enough in the first powerplay were also seen on the tour of New Zealand. The greatest disappointment, however, lay in Rishabh Pant still being unable to crack the white ball code. He may have all the striking talent in the world as seen in many of his Test innings. But his tendency to overhit the white ball brings about his downfall too often as he often skies the ball into the deep. Team India has lost a lot of time in trying to get its stars to find their top form as we saw in the case of Virat Kohli and as we will see in the case of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. But what happens to the team as selectors celebrate backing the stars is becoming clear enough. Indian cricket would be better off If only the selectors can see the damage to team performances as individuals try to justify their places. As Sanju Samson sat on the bench, the failure of selection policies was all too clear. Building a new team seems the best option now.
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Sex Scandal Case Rocks Odisha Assembly, Chief Minister Patnaik Maintains Stoic Silence

When Odisha’s high profile film producer Akshay Parija played the victim card in the sensational honey trap scandal, filing a police complaint for extortion, he possibly had no idea how his action would implicate BJD and embarrass Naveen Patnaik’s government. Odisha Assembly is now rocking with BJP and Congress questioning BJD’s hand in this sex scandal racket. BJP says Patnaik’s government is trying to protect the culprits as a cover up since his own party members were involved. Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra is now demanding Naveen babu’s resignation on the controversial honey-trap issue implicating senior BJD members in the sex racket. Clearly, BJD is in a tight spot because ED is now looking into the money laundering aspect of blackmailing by Archana Nag and her husband Jagabandhu Chand which has the possibility to expose influential BJD politicians of their intimate moments. Naveen’s stoic silence on controversial issues involving BJD politicians is sending a signal that Naveen is too embarrassed to admit follies. The opposition is also saying that ED’s powerful noose on BJD’s misdeeds is already evident, wherein, the Commissionerate Of Police had let off suspects but ED reversed CoP’s earlier decision and arrested the suspects. Again, BJD’s Dhenkanal MLA Sudhir Samal’s brother Gangadhar, who owns a car showroom, deposed before the ED recently. He was grilled for suspicious financial transactions worth around Rs 35 lakh with accused Archana. As of now Patnaik’s BJD is on the backfoot.
Bhagatsingh Koshiary

Maharashtra Governor Looks Isolated, BJP Distances, Lodha Complicates

Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari appears isolated due to a reference he made about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja as state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule has made it clear that his party is not on the same page with the Uttarakhand leader on this issue. At the same time, Maharashtra tourism minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha invited a fresh controversy. His reference to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s escape from Aurangzeb’s Agra custody while describing CM Eknath Shinde’s exit from the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) was the trigger. Sena leader Sanjay Raut and others complained that this was an attempt to compare Chhatrapati’s brave action for Swarajya with Shinde’s political move. Bawankule was addressing the media after Chhatrapati’s descendant, Udayan Raje Bhosale, had boycotted a function to commemorate Chhatrapati Shivaji’s valour. Udayan Raje said he was offended by the governor’s remarks and upset that Koshyari was not removed by the Centre. CM Shinde’s request to attend was ignored by Udayan Raje. Shinde’s efforts to end the imbroglio by saying that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was revered by everybody and comparison with him in any way was unthinkable did not make any dent. The Sena has intensified its broadside against the ruling alliance over Koshyari’s statement and taunted Shinde that he has no right to occupy office as the governor continues in the post.

Kamal with director Shankar

Overworked Universal Hero Kamal Haasan In And Out Of Hospital

Last week Kamal Haasan had just returned from a trip to Hyderabad when he felt uneasy and feverish. He got himself admitted to the Ramachandra Medical Centre in Chennai. Though the Ulaganayagan tried to play it down as just fever and cough, no one was taking a chance with a 68-year old who constantly flits from super busy work schedules in films, his weekend shoots for the hugely popular reality show Bigg Boss 6 and his political commitments. The recent success of his film Vikram which totted up Rs 450 crore business worldwide came through as a big shot in the arm for the star who had been smarting under recent cinematic and political setbacks. So Kamal had a rip roaring occasion to celebrate his 68th birthday by announcing a team up with ace director Mani Rathnam, a reunion after 35 years. With A R Rahman creating music, jointly produced by Kamal and Udhayanidhi Stalin. Even this announcement sent his fans into a tizzy of feverish anticipation. As much as the resumption of shooting for Indian 2, much delayed and much-awaited even as magnum director Shankar anticipated this film’s restart. Whatever bug sent him to hospital, his fans, family and financiers must be praying for a quick recovery. Bouncing back with energy to health and back to back action is what Kamal loves best. Hospital sojourns are intermissions during a show.
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Outburst Against ‘Kashmir Files’, Reveals More On Jury's Views On Politics Back Home

The Kashmir Files was amongst the 24 films that did not win any award at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held in Goa. Which is why utterances of the Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, the head of the IFFI jury, describing The Kashmir Files as “vulgar” and “propaganda” has completely taken the I&B ministry by surprise. While ministry sources point out that the film was one of 25 films short-listed for competition on the recommendation of Indian Panorama Feature Jury, only one film Cinema Bandi by Praveen Kandregula (Director) won Special Mention. So then why did Nadav Lapid pick only The Kashmir Files at the closing ceremony? If The Kashmir Files did not bag any award was there compulsion on the jury to give some award to the film? The film directed by Vivek Agnihotri has been backed by the BJP. Absolutely no pressure, said jury member Sudipto Sen. “In fact, we never even got to meet the festival director. We were left to ourselves,” he said. Which means it was clearly Lapid’s own politics. As Israeli ambassador Naor Gilon contended that Lapid may have been influenced by his views on Israeli politics. He cited Lapid’s interview with Israeli news website Ynet. “From your interview to Ynet the connection you make between your criticism of “Kashmir Files” and your dislike to what is happening in Israeli politics is quite evident.”
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Is KCR Building Up Sharmila With Arrest To Divide The Opposition & Attention From BJP?

No one familiar with Telangana politics is surprised by the high political drama that erupted in Hyderabad on November 29; the police dragging  away the SUV of YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) President YS Sharmila with the help of a crane, even as she sat inside it to protest against Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao. Sharmila, who is the sister of Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, was later arrested by the Hyderabad Police as she proceeded to gherao along with her followers Pragathi Bhavan, the CM’s office. Action against Sharmila is being seen more as a coordinated act between KCR and her brother Jagan. Both the Telugu-speaking CMs have always supported each other. They have a common bond which is forged by their spiritual seer based in Visakhapatnam — Swamy Swaroopanandendra Saraswati. It is felt KCR is deliberately making it difficult for Sharmila as she has taken an adversarial position against her brother. BJP sources, however, feel Sharmila’s side show may have been propped up by KCR just to “subvert the political narrative” which is favouring the BJP.  By arresting her, Sharmila is being made to be someone who can divide the Opposition in the state and subvert BJP’s narrative. After all, Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay is on a padyatra and KCR is playing the politics of distraction to hijack focus on the BJP.
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Maharashtra Likely To Face Pincer Situation, Disputes With Karnataka & Telangana Resurface

Even as the old border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is assuming serious tones, the issue of 14 disputed villages between the state and Telangana has been revived by activists to highlight what they call a ‘forcible action’ by the erstwhile part of Andhra Pradesh. As if two border disputes are not enough, residents of some villages along the border in Gadchiroli district, too, are expressing their dissatisfaction with the government over similar demands. Shiv Sena (Uddhav) leaders have been repeatedly blaming Karnataka CM S R Bommai for ‘stoking fires’ by his various statements to demand inclusion of various parts of Maharashtra in his state. The Sena votaries are talking of starting an agitation over the issue. About the dispute with Telangana, former MLA Wamanrao Chatap (Shetkari Sanghatana) has articulated the ‘plight’ of the 14 villages along the border by alleging that the villagers’ declaration that they wish to remain in Maharashtra has been ignored by Telangana authorities. As Telangana has refused to implement a SC order in favour of Maharashtra, various facilities like gram panchayats, dispensaries and anganwadis of both states continue to function in the villages, he has alleged. Incidentally, villagers appear in voter lists of both states. Villagers also lament that the Maharashtra government has not taken cognisance of their genuine grievance. Indications are available that Maharashtra will find itself in a pincer dilemma unless the disputes are resolved soon.
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So Far So Good By FIFA And Qatar!

Once the Qatar22 FIFA World Cup got rolling on November 20 with the match between Qatar and Ecuador, millions of fans have been engrossed in watching all the action with great relish. There would be disappointment among the locals because Qatar — which got an entry into the draw 32 because it had won the rights to be the host country — has been knocked out even before playing the last group match against the Netherlands. But the fans are having their fill of joy seeing the stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi scoring goals in their last World Cup. There have been quite a few thrillers like the match between Cameroon and Serbia, and Ghana and South Korea displaying the African brand of football. The FIFA and Qatar which has delivered an outstanding World Cup so far needs to be contended; there have been minor irritants, but these can happen in a tournament as humongous as the quadrennial event itself. The tournament will soon enter the Group of 16 from whereon elimination of teams will begin. But the happy news for the fans is Brazil, France and Portugal with six points have entered the Round 2 where the matches will turn into a real skirmish.  Argentina’s fate will be known on Wednesday — it plays Poland — and England known on Tuesday night after its match against Wales.
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Chennai-Based Companies Gift BMWs, Swiss Holidays Plus Bonuses To Retain Talent

Talent retention is a tough art. It is tougher still in the modern business world. Ipso facto, business enterprises have to think out of box to retain the talent. Ideas2IT and Kissflow are software companies in Chennai. They were trend setters in a way for employee recognition and retention. Sometime ago, Ideas2IT and Kissflow rewarded talent at the workplace in a unique way, giving ‘moving property’ to recognise these contributions.  While Ideas2IT gifted 100 cars to 100 employees “for their constant support and unparalleled contributions to the company’s success and growth,” Kissflow gifted luxury BMW cars to its senior leadership team. Five senior executives of Kissflow were given the new 5 series BMW cars. Real estate developer Casagrand has hit upon a different route to keep its folks happy. It has chosen to take 700 of its employees for a 7-day long trip to Switzerland. The entire trip cost which includes air tickets, accommodation, sight-seeing, meals et al will be borne by Casagrand. It calls it the ‘Big Bonanza’. Each employee who has contributed her/his best effort to the company is rewarded with a trip abroad along with two months’ salary as bonus! Casagrand claims that it had arranged similar outings to its deserving employees earlier, too. Is this a sustainable formula for an enterprise to ensure that talent won’t move out?
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Indian Doctors In UK Gear Up To Save National Health Service; Forge Ties With Indian Hospitals

There is an estimated shortfall of 12,000 doctors and 50,000 nurses in the UK. To meet this shortfall the country is exploring various avenues.  Thus, between September and November 2022 two MoUs were signed between the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and BAPIO Training Academy (BTA) UK and Bengaluru-based hospitals – Gleneagles and Vydehi Superspeciality (formerly Mallya hospital). This tie-up demonstrates the fact that the vast Indian medical community that serves the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has been an active and conscientious supporter of the NHS system. The tie-ups are with the aim of developing and providing world-class training and exchange programs for doctors and nurses in India to meet the growing demands of effective and safe delivery of emergencies. BAPIO with its Education Academy in the UK has actively geared up its resources to mitigate the current crisis faced by the NHS system. Chandru Iyer, Deputy High Commissioner UK in Bengaluru says, “Such tie ups will enhance collaborative training avenues for Indian medical students and professionals in the UK.” According to Prof Parag Singhal, Executive Director- BTA and National Secretary, BAPIO this training initiative is designed specially to help International doctors gain experience at core and higher levels in UK hospitals. The BTA Indo-UK Training Programme has been developed in partnership with University of South Wales and Kingsway Hospitals.
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Baba Ramdev Apologises For Comment On Women, Amruta Fadnavis Defends Him

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev has sought pardon for his objectionable statement in regard to women’s attire by clarifying before the Maharashtra Commission for Women that it was not his intent to insult womanhood. Ramdev has been facing a barrage of criticism for saying that “women look nice wearing a sari or salwar suit; in my view, they look lovely even if not wearing anything.” The offensive remark was condemned all over and Amruta, wife of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, also faced trolling due to her presence on the dais with Ramdev. Seeking pardon, Ramdev has conveyed to the Commission that what he meant was that women looked beautiful even in simple clothes. “I have not violated any provisions of the Commission’s guidelines,” he said. According to Ramdev, he had always been active for women’s empowerment. In his defence, Amruta told a daily that Ramdev wanted to support women’s emancipation but could not articulate those views in proper terms. He could have used different words and expressed them in a decent manner, she felt. After Ramdev’s remarks made at Thane went viral, a notice was served on him by the Commission, which warned him that it had taken a serious note of his remarks and directed him to file a reply. After his response, Commission chairperson Rupali Chakankar has tweeted Ramdev’s letter of apology.
President Murumu

When President Droupadi Murmu Got A Standing Ovation For Speaking Up For Undertrials

At the Constitution Day valedictory function on November 26 evening, while reading out her prepared English speech, President Droupadi Murmu digressed a bit to speak extempore in Hindi. From her expressions it was evident these words came from her heart. She got a standing ovation which no judge or lawyer got in the two sessions at SC additional building complex auditorium. She spoke about doing something for undertrials in our prisons. What President Murmu said, could best be summed up in these words, “You judges and lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced. You should do something for the people languishing in jail. Neither do most of them know about their fundamental rights, nor their fundamental duties. People who may have just slapped a person during a fight sometimes languish in jail for many years without any legal help. But people who take other’s lives sometimes roam free….people say more jails are to be built as there is overcrowding in jails.. You say we are progressing (“vikas? kaisa vikas”) …then what is the need for more jails? Bringing down crime rate is also part of vikas…it is just my thought…saying this much I am leaving it you…give a thought on what all I said. When I was an MLA, I had the opportunity to visit jails. I wanted to know how the prisoners lived there… especially undertrials. I tried to make changes, but I couldn’t do much”.
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Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers Resent Govt Mandate To Link Bill To Aadhaar

Aadhaar linkage has always been a hot subject of political debate in the country. The DMK government led by M K Stalin has chosen to make it mandatory for the power consumers – of common kind – to link their Aadhaar numbers. The move must help it weed out bogus connections. What has surprised many, however, is that not much time has been given to the power users to do this. Power consumers who tried to pay their bi-monthly bills are directed to a separate site for Aadhaar linkage. Unless linked to Aadhaar, the system does not allow them to pay their bills. What has irked the power users is that they are unable to execute the action as the system trips more often than not. Also, there is a lot of confusion. What if a person has more than one house and hence more than one power connection? What about power used for common facilities in a residential apartment? The government says that for commercial use, no Aadhaar linkage is required. How will the power used for common facilities in a residential apartment be considered?  How will the poor – who don’t have a computer facility in their home – get this linkage done? The Tamil Nadu government will do well to create an e-seva facility to sort out the very many glitches coming in the way of Aadhaar linkage?

Baba Ramdev’s Remarks On Women Offensive, Praises Shinde-Fadnavis

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev has done it again. He has stirred a hornet’s nest due to his objectionable remarks about women at a function in Thane, outside Mumbai at a yoga event. Several opposition leaders and prominent women have condemned his remarks. In his speech, Ramdev had said, “Women look nice wearing a sari or salwar suit. In my view, they look lovely even if they are not wearing anything.” The women present for the event had come with yoga dresses. As part of the event, a gathering for them was arranged. Many had brought saris for it. But hardly any time was left for the change since a yoga camp was held in the morning and was followed by a yoga training session. Within moments, the gathering began. Hence, the women did not have time to drape saree. Commenting on this, Ramdev passed the offensive remarks. Eyebrows were raised when Ramdev showered praise on chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. On an earlier occasion, he had described Shinde as a glory of Sanatan Dharma and a true disciple of Shiv Sena icon Balasaheb Thackeray.  About Fadnavis, the yoga campaigner said that he is a great personality. Shinde and Fadnavis together have created history, and will be doing so in the future, too.
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Giant Cut Outs Of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar Spring Up All Over Football Crazy Kerala

There is no end to the football frenzy in Kerala. Huge cut-outs of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar have sprung up at street corners across Kerala. What takes the cake this World Cup are the cut-outs in the middle of paddy fields much to the consternation of municipal corporations. It is estimated that Keralites spent over Rs 4 crore on cut-outs in the Malabar region alone during the 2018 World Cup. This year the figures are expected to double. And if this is not enough the frenzy has moved on to another level. Around 17 football fans pooled their resources to pick up an old house for Rs 23 lakh at Mundakkamugal, near Kochi to watch the World Cup matches with friends. The house has been converted into a viewing gallery with the walls adorning flags of the 32 teams participating in the Doha World Cup and also portraits of Messi and Neymar. No match is enjoyable without loud cheering, fun and friendly banter, says P H Harris, one of the house owners. Following up on their elders, school kids from Perambra in Calicut and Shoranur in Palghat petitioned their Principals to wrap classes early so as to enable them to watch their favourite matches. At Doha Keralites make up the fan clubs of England, France, Brazil and Argentina. In fact, Keralites have their own football league in Doha, with teams named after each district of Kerala.
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NCP Leader Jayant Patil’s Son To Marry Industrialist Kirloskar’s Daughter, Many VVIPS Expected

Over two lakh invitation cards have been distributed for the Sunday wedding of NCP leader Jayant Patil’s son Prateek with industrialist Rahul Kirloskar’s daughter Alika at his home base Islampur in Sangli district. VVIPs like chief minister Eknath Shinde, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, opposition leader Ajit Pawar and others have been sent special invites. The venue will be a pandal spread over thousands of square feet. All access roads have been resurfaced. Arrangements are being made to feed a large number of guests at any given time. The preparations for the wedding in one of the most influential political families in western Maharashtra have been discussed with a sense of awe for nearly a month. Jayant is the son of erstwhile political giant late Rajarambapu Patil, who controlled Maharashtra politics by taking on his rival, Vasantdada Patil, both belonging to the same district. Presently heading NCP’s state unit, Jayant has handled many important portfolios like home, finance and water resources in the state cabinet. The muhurta has been fixed at 5.35 pm on Sunday for tying the knot. Over the past few days, pre-wedding events like musical nights have taken place and some audio-video clips have become viral of the festivities. The newly married couple will accept good wishes from the guests at a special enclosure erected at Rajaram Nagar. Presence of various leaders is eagerly awaited since it would provide indications for future political formations in Maharashtra.
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Is OTT Killing The Film Festivals?

One thing was loud and clear at the 53rd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held in Goa from November 20, 2022 that the crowd is thinning. The craze and eagerness among film buffs to attend such festivals seem to be waning. So this raises the question: Is digital viewing killing the film festival market? According to one of the film enthusiasts seen in this circuit, “I have been attending film festivals for ages now, and I can say that this year the crowds were less. Some of the regulars were missing too.” The opening day didn’t have much of the enthusiasm one has seen in the past. Has the pandemic changed everything for the festival? Another regular at these festivals says “The magic has gone out of the festival. Netflix and others seemed to have kept quite a few cinema-goers away. Why would anyone come to the festival when they can see it at home?” Also, the focus at IFFI has now shifted to marketing India as a shooting destination and not about the experience of cinemas. One could see a huge pavilion which had stalls of countries like Russia, France and others trying to sell their country as a “shooting destination”. It seems to have become a B2B marketplace not a place to showcase talent and creativity. This year’s edition of the film fiesta showcased a collection of 280 films from 79 countries.

Gehlot's Diatribe Against Pilot On Eve Of Rahul's Yatra Entering Rajasthan Raises Eyebrows

The infighting in Rajasthan Congress got a fresh lease of life with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot renewing his attack on his challenger Sachin Pilot. He not only called Pilot a ‘Gaddar’ but also accused him of taking money from the BJP to rebel in 2020. For some reason, Gehlot’s latest outburst was more a dare to the Gandhis to oust him from office. He threw the gauntlet at the Gandhi family barely 10 days before Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is to enter the state on December 3. So why is Gehlot precipitating a crisis? Has Gehlot heard anything from Kharge about imminent change? After all he had defied the Gandhis in the most unimaginable way possible and survived so far. He had refused to move to Delhi and become the AICC President.  So why is he now trying to jeopardise Bharat Jodo Yatra?  Gehlot claimed Pilot and MLAs supporting him were paid Rs 10 crore by Home Minister Amit Shah to rebel in 2020; he even claimed he had evidence of it.  On his part, Pilot tried to be deferential and on the use of the word Gaddar, he said: “Such language doesn’t suit him… In the past too he called me useless.” Pilot’s MLAs are pinning hope on Jairam Ramesh’s statement that the differences between the two leaders will be resolved in a manner that strengthens the Congress. Will that happen?
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Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Dispute: Bommai Responds To Shinde’s Feeler For A Dialogue But Uddhav Smells Conspiracy

Although Karnataka chief minister S R Bommai has indicated that his state will decide its stand over the border dispute with Maharashtra in an all-party meeting next week, Shiv Sena (Uddhav) feels the issue has been revived to divert attention from the statewide protests occurring against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for his utterances regarding Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde had sent a feeler that the issue can be resolved through dialogue and Bommai has responded to it. But Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there was a deep-rooted conspiracy to rake up the border issue. Bommai’s earlier statement that areas like Solapur district of Maharashtra should be merged with Karnataka has led to a wave of anger in the state. Against this backdrop, his readiness to consider Shinde’s offer is viewed as a signal to wait and watch. But the Sena (Uddhav) is viewing it differently. The interstate border dispute is now before the Supreme Court following a petition by Maharashtra to challenge the inclusion of Marathi-speaking areas like Belgaum, Nipani and Karwar in Karnataka. Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, representing Marathi-speaking population’s interests in Karnataka, has been agitating for the past six decades peacefully to press its demands. However, leadership in Karnataka has declared its intent to make Belgaum the state’s second capital. Incidentally, Belgaum is at the core of the dispute.
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India Frowns On US Referring To Waiver For Saudi Crown Prince And PM Modi Together

India has expressed its displeasure after a US state department official referred to PM Narendra Modi while talking about waiver to Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman to travel to the US. At its weekly briefing on November 25, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi frowned upon remarks made by the US state department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel in citing examples of immunity given to several heads of state including Indian PM Modi along with that of Saudi Crown Prince. “Frankly, I fail to understand how the comment on PM Modi was either relevant, necessary or contextual. Our two countries enjoy a very special relationship which is growing from strength to strength and we look forward to working with the US to further deepen it,” said Bagchi. Significantly, he also flayed attempts in the social media to downplay the outcome of the bilateral meetings at G-20 summit at Bali between US President Biden and PM Modi. “We’ve seen some social media stuff. So let me just say the PM did meet President Biden on a number of occasions during the course of the Bali Summit, including a brief bilateral meeting and trilateral meeting that involved President Widodo (Indonesia). During these interactions, they exchanged views on a number of issues. Our press releases and tweets as well as you would recall foreign secretary’s briefing in Bali, encapsulates all these conversations.”
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Brazil, A Class Apart, Rocks The Lusail With 88103 Spectators

Brazil, popularly known as Selecao, proved it is a class apart! For decades the many stalwarts of the South American country – a five-time World Cup Trophy winner (the Jules Rimet Trophy/ FIFA World Cup) — have proved to be the prime crowd pullers of the game and on Thursday (Nov 24) put out a number that validated its undisputed claim. The stunning Lusail Stadium awash with Brazil’s yellow top was packed with 88103 spectators, which was a few thousands shy of the 92000 plus spectators who filled the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the India versus Pakistan match of the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup on October 23. While the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador was seen by 67372 spectators here at Doha that can take pride in having created a fantastic Metro Network to make the transportation of the public easy and comfortable, Thursday was always marked as the `D’ Day for the 22nd edition of the competition here. Lionel Messi’s Argentina had already triggered interest with a spectator count of 88102 in the match it lost to Saudi Arabia at the Lusail, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal attracted a crowd of 42662 in its first appearance with a 3-2 triumph against Ghana in the third match on Thursday, Neymar’s Brazil team with a 2-0 win against Serbia made it a perfect day for its fans and for the FIFA too!
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Photo from @Samanthaprabhu2 when she was admitted on October 29, 2022

Is Samantha Ruth Prabhu In Hospital Again?

Suddenly, Samantha Ruth Prabhu (35) has faced a number of personal setbacks. The much publicised marriage with Nag Chaitanya ended on the rocks. In Koffee With Karan show, Samantha was candid to say, “If you put us in a room, better hide all sharp objects “. Whew! It couldn’t get any more cathartic! And then came the gut wrenching diagnosis that she had Myositis, an auto immune disease. Even as the stars were shining on her, the evil eye had cast a dark cloud on this beautiful, talented star. Her latest release Yashoda did good business, grossing Rs 30 crore in 10 days. Rumours are rife that she is in Apollo, Hyderabad though people close to her deny it. This Kollywood comet streaked across the filmy firmament, fiery and feisty, the envy of many South Indian film peers. Making her entry in 2010 in Tamil cinema, she quickly rose with hits like Kathi, Mercel, Theri, Mahanadi and the recent one, Kaathuvakkile Oru Kaadal. In this film, she stole the show from right under the nose of South siren, lady super star Nayanthara. Her sizzling solo dance number in Pushpa: The Rise was over the top hot, justifying the astronomical Rs 4 crore rumoured to be her remuneration. Her OTT serial, The Family Man Season 2 brought her global acclaim. Will this femme fatale get back her fame and fortune?

Arvind Singh, Tourism Secretary

Indian Tourist Sector Moves In The Fast Lane; Gears Up For G20 Meetings

India is emerging as a popular tourist and business destination against the backdrop of the Free Trade Agreement between India and UK to be signed soon. The MICE industry is flourishing with several business delegations travelling to India not just to Tier 1 but to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street who led the West Midlands, UK delegation to India, did not confine his visit to New Delhi but travelled to Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. He played Kabbadi and has promised to host the World Kabbadi tournament in Birmingham in 2024. Global Tech Advocates hosted their global meet with the Tech India Advocates led by British citizens Ani Kaprekar, Af Malhotra and Nilesh Gopali. The 40-plus delegates visited Bengaluru, Hubballi (Hubli), and Deshpande’s Tech Foundation. The global organisation TiE will host their annual summit in Telangana. About 3000 entrepreneurs are expected to attend. Bill Gates, N R Narayana Murthy, Gautam Adani, Telangana Minister K T Rama Rao are expected to take part in the summit. At the recently held World Travel Market in London, Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India and Rakesh Kumar Verma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism stated that “India is  gearing up for the G20 Presidency to start from December 1, 2022. India is expected to host over 200 meetings across 55 cities in the country.”
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Clarifications Apart, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde’s Astrologer Visit Goes Viral

Maharashtra Chief minister Eknath Shinde’s unscheduled detour in Nasik district on Wednesday (Nov 24) has become the talk of the town following media reports that he had dashed to Eeshanyeshwar temple in nearby Sinnar to consult an astrologer. ‘Shinde came only for darshan in the temple, not to know his future,’ astrologer Ashok Kharat has clarified. Shinde had visited the famous Shirdi Saibaba temple amidst tight security on Wednesday. On way back to Mumbai, his convoy suddenly turned to Eeshanyeshwar temple in adjacent Sinnar taluka. This diversion in his schedule resulted in his criticism in which NCP president Sharad Pawar and many Shiv Sena (Uddhav) leaders joined. Workers of the anti-superstition groups, too, hit out at Shinde ‘for this anti-scientific act.’ Education minister Deepak Kesarkar, who had accompanied the CM and his wife to the temple, has explained that Shinde had made a donation some time ago to the astrologer who wished to develop a shelter for cows. Kharat had requested Shinde to visit the temple and the CM acquiesced. Kesarkar said, “Kharat is my friend. Revenue minister Radhakrishan Vikhe Patil and I were present with the Shinde couple.” Disapproving the spread of ‘wrong’ information, Kesarkar quipped, “Had Shinde wanted to know his future, he would have called Kharat to Mumbai.” One of Shinde team’s ministers remarked, “Shinde creates futures. He does not need to know his future from an astrologer.”

Odisha’s Gopalpur Locals Oppose Smartchem's Ammonium Nitrate Plant On Environment Concerns

The familiar battle ground again haunts Odisha just like successful opposition to the National Test Range at Baliapal in 1980’s. The villagers at Gopalpur and its neighbouring six panchayats fearing impact of pollution have collectively decided not to allow Smartchem Technologies Ltd to set up a 377 KTPA ammonium nitrate plant at Tata Steel Industrial Park. Smartchem Technologies is a 100% subsidiary of Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemicals. The villagers are asking what guarantee the company can give to assure that there will be no accidents at SEZ Gopalpur. There are examples galore worldwide of explosions because of poor storage and handling of ammonium nitrate. According to locals, the company has done very little to educate the local people about the robustness of their hazard handling process and thereby allay their fears. Though the government promoting chemicals is part of industrial development strategy, villagers are determined not to allow hazardous chemicals in their area and are asking to replace it with environmentally-friendly industries instead. With assembly elections due in 2024 the Odisha government headed by Naveen Patnaik may not want to take a chance and is trying to find the middle path in the best interest of all stakeholders. Surely, for Petrochem major Deepak Fertiliser which was ready to invest Rs 2200 crore via its subsidiary this is a temporary setback.
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Didi’s National Ambition Sees TMC Making Serious Bid To Make Inroads In North East States

Trinamool Congress (TMC) is trying to gain a foothold in the North-eastern states. It has seriously started campaigning in Meghalaya which goes to poll in March 2023. Having bitten the dust in Tripura in the last Assembly polls held in 2018 and by-poll in 2021, TMC’s focus on Meghalaya came to fore after the former chief minister Mukul Sangma switched camps from Congress to Trinamool in November 2021. Interestingly, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s mission to evolve from a regional party to a national party is being shaped in the north-east. It may be recalled that her Goa experiment failed miserably. Didi, who is personally focusing only on West Bengal, has asked her nephew, party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee to oversee the North-eastern states affairs. And he has got into the new role quickly. He has already addressed a rally in Tura and is expected to do more in the coming months. Besides, he has launched a scathing attack against the present state government led by Conrad Sangma, chief of National People’s Party, who is in alliance with the BJP. Abhishek has claimed that the NPP government is shadow governed by the Centre and Assam chief minister Hemant Biswa Sarma. He announced that “sons of the Meghalaya’s soil Chief Minister Mukul Sangma would be the party’s chief ministerial face in the upcoming polls and that the TMC will not run the new government from Bengal if it comes to power.
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Why Modi's Aggressive Campaign Is Crucial To Breach Threshold For BJP in Gujarat

After a day’s break, if PM Modi was back in Gujarat for electioneering it should not be a surprise; he is scheduled to address 35 more rallies in 93 assembly segments that are going to polls in the second phase on December 5.  Over the next two days, he will address rallies at Mehsana, Dahod, Vadodara, Bhavnagar, Palanpur, Dehgam, Matar, and Dholka. He has already addressed 16 rallies during his first visit, taking his overall tally of meetings to 50. It is apparent that Modi’s aggressive campaign is crucial to breaking his own record of 2002 when BJP won 127 seats. In fact, at the end of his speeches Modi appeals to people to help CM Bhupendra Patel break his record so that Modi could go “back to do his work in Delhi” — that is to hand the BJP 150 seats. Gujarat takes a lot of pride in Modi’s achievement as PM. It is for this reason Modi hit out at Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry’s remark about showing “aukat” to him. Taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi for hand-holding social activist Medha Patkar as someone opposed to Narmada Dam, Modi said those who stalled the Narmada project for 40 years through litigation had kept Gujarat thirsty for 40 years. “The people of Gujarat will punish those who are doing padyatra to get back to power and punish those who were against the Narmada project”.
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Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Row Hots Up, Both BJP Governments Adamant

The age-old border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka has pitted BJP governments in both states against each other again. On the other hand, all political parties in Maharashtra have come together to oppose any move by the neighbouring state Karnataka in this direction. The dispute was born with the formation of Maharashtra and Karnataka (then Mysore) states on linguistic basis over 60 years ago. Several Marathi-speaking areas were included in Karnataka. Since then, the two states are at loggerheads even when both have had governments of the same parties, first the Congress and now the BJP. The dispute at present is before the Supreme Court. After an all-party meeting in Mumbai a couple of days ago decided to jointly fight the matter, Karnataka chief minister Basavraj Bommai has asserted that his government was considering a demand by 40 villages in Jath taluka of Sangli district along the border to merge them with his state since they were facing water scarcity. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the demand was made way back a decade ago. During his chief ministership, the problem of water shortages was handled by him. If the remedy is held up due to some reason, it will be implemented soon, he promised. Fadnavis has emphatically declared that not a single village from the state will go to Karnataka. 

BJP And Spin Doctors Pull Out All Stops To Hijack Tamil And Tamilians To Kashi

People are still shell shocked by the concentrated and concerted effort of the BJP’s Kasi Tamil Sangam show, presided over so eloquently as a hard sell by the PM, a month long event focussed on the Tamils. Thirteen religious heads of Mutts from Tamil Nadu are camping in Kashi, Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s much vaunted constituency. Maestro Ilayaraja and his group performed a mesmerising Shiva sthotram with the PM clapping in rhythm. A full trainload of religious Tamil Savants and assorted youth was seen off by no less than Governor of TN for back to back religious events and tours of Kasi .And oh! not to forget the 13 language translation and book release of the Thirukkural, a historic spiritual work of poet Thiruvalluvar, long hijacked by the Dravidian parties as their own. Topping this blitz cake was the PM’s address; he looked comfortable in a “Veshti and Angavastram”. Kashi is the second home for Tamils. Who scripted this eclectic show? When the PM’s chopper trip to Madurai airport was cancelled due to bad weather he took the road. And BJP’s Tamil Nadu K Annamalai was handpicked as a solo companion to accompany the PM on this hour-long drive. And the entire Kashi caper was scripted and presented to the PM. Kashi, the oldest city in the world is now the newest magnetic confluence of politics.
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Bitcoin Craze Has Badly Hit An Unexpected Target, The Direct Selling Business

The Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA), the apex body of companies like Amway, Herbalife, Tupperware, is going through bad times. Not due to regulatory issues and being badmouthed for being multi-level marketing rackets, as its members were branded in the past, but because of another factor that has generated a lot of hype and interest among entrepreneurs looking to make astronomical returns on their investments. With Bitcoin exchanges having mushroomed, and many of them having vanished after collecting money from investors, the cryptocurrency – touted as “the new oil – has lured many of the players’ younger elements away from direct selling. The impact of the Bitcoin frenzy is particularly severe in the direct selling, which is based on a self-entrepreneurial business model, leading many top leaders in the industry to brainstorm strategies to retain their sales field force in training which they have invested heavily. Emerging industries, like food, cab hailing services and e-commerce marketplaces, as well as direct selling and FMCG, which have adopted an aggregator business model using gig workers for last-mile delivery, are experiencing attrition. Industry leaders have also expressed concern about Bitcoin exchanges propagating their businesses as MLM. “We are all over the place,” says an IDSA official who doesn’t want to be named. “Sales have taken a hit because of Bitcoins – the lure of making quick money is attracting the youth.”

Corruption Charges, Bad Optics May Hit Kejriwal’s Election Campaign In Gujarat, Delhi

Even before AAP could make much headway in Gujarat, it has been caught into a trap of its own making in Delhi. Yes, the party that was founded by the Ghaziabad boys — Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia — and won its first election in 2013 on an anti-corruption plank has now lost its credibility over corruption charges. Allegations of selling tickets for the upcoming Delhi municipal corporation (MCD) elections are flying thick and fast and Kejriwal has no answers. Two videos purportedly shot by an ex-AAP member Bindu Sriram alleged that the AAP had sold tickets to candidates contesting the polls. Sriram claimed that she was asked to fork out Rs 80 lakh to get a party ticket from Rohini ward D. IIT-educated Kejriwal who won three back to back assembly elections (2013, 2015 & 2020) on power freebies, is a cornered man now. It appears he will not be able to easily wrest control of the MCD which has been with the BJP for 15 years. Besides, the AAP Government’s flawed liquor policy, and visuals of its jailed minister Satyendra Jain receiving massage from a rape accused Rinku in Tihar Jail have further dented Kejriwal’s image. On its part, the BJP has unleashed a mega campaign to reclaim the MCD. Senior leaders like Rajnath Singh, CMs of Haryana, Assam and Uttarakhand have all hit the road.

Industry Minister Uday Samant

Hope Dawns For Refinery Project At Barsu, Uddhav Sena MLA Supports It

The mega oil refinery project to be developed around Barsu village in Ratnagiri district is appearing to be taking off, involving an investment of over Rs 2 lakh crore and generating large scale employment. A positive prospect about the project’s revival became apparent after a meeting industry minister Uday Samant held in Mumbai. Significantly, it was attended by local Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MLA Rajan Salvi. In fact, previous chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had written to the Centre at the fag end of his tenure that nearly 13,000 acres of land could be acquired in Barsu and vicinity, in addition to over 2.000 acres at nearby Sakri-Nate village. Barsu is about 20 km away from Nanar, which was to be the original location but had been scrapped for political reasons.  The refinery project will require 6,200 acres of land. Consent letters for 2,900 acres from land owners have been obtained. Its fresh water requirements will be fulfilled by bringing supplies from the massive Koyna hydel project. Salvi had demanded deletion of a few villages from the refinery project lands. Samant indicated that a positive response would be forthcoming by considering local sentiments. Sena (Uddhav) MP Vinayak Raut did not attend the meeting for which he was specially invited, Samant said. Meanwhile, a local committee to oppose the project has decided to intensify its agitation.
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Volunteers at the main Press Centre Information Desk

Volunteers Give Impetus To Qatar22 FIFA World Cup

Nothing spectacular may have happened in two days — match wise — of the Qatar22 FIFA World Cup at Doha.  One of the smallest countries in the world area wise — the Persian Gulf country ranked as the 164th tiny-dot nation in the globe, higher than Jamaica, Gambia and Lebanon, and below Falkland Islands, Vanuatu, Montenegro and Bahamas — is hosting the greatest sporting event, having won the bid long long ago. Qatar and FIFA’s masterstroke was that it rostered the 29-day event in November and December when the weather bureaus would report cooler climes and not in keeping with the trend of scheduling the event between May and July.  So far four matches have been played and all have reported excellent numbers with the opening match between Qatar and the fourth qualifier from South America, Ecuador reporting a 60000 plus turnout at the Bedouin-tent shaped Al Bayt Stadium. As the FIFA president Gianni Infantino articulated, attention has riveted on the beautiful game’s spectators who have saved hard-earned money for years to be part of the celebration of football in the Arab World. Qatar has been held in awe and admiration by the football community, but one has to raise a toast to the thousands of volunteers whose polite department has played its part in giving Qatar an exalted place in the football map of the World.
KS Alagiri with Stalin

KS Alagiri with MK Stalin

DMK’s Grand Alliance Ambition Puts Big Question Over The Future Of Congress In Tamil Nadu

The Tamil Nadu branch of the Congress seems to be on a suicide mission. There is a rebellion against its chief KS Alagiri but then this is routine for a PCC that has a leader thrust on it from New Delhi. Worse is to come for the party as the DMK is on the road to forming a grand alliance against AIADMK and BJP and wants to corner as many of the TN (39)+ Puducherry (1) 40 seats as possible to take a leading hand in the government formation after 2024 polls. The DMK plan is to include PMK, DMDK and Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi besides old allies like VCK and MDMK in its coalition. The Congress share of seats may come down drastically from the 10 seats they had last time out. At best, DMK may allot 5 or 6 seats to the Congress as it must accommodate so many others. The DMK is also sweating after the new thrust of BJP under K Annamalai resulted in his being able to organise demonstrations against rising milk prices in as many as 1,200 places in the State with 25 to 1,000 workers at each spot. The AIADMK-BJP alliance is in trouble over unity issues in AIADMK that may lead to the Two Leaves symbol being frozen if Edappadi K Palaniswamy is not willing to compromise.
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Savarkar Effect: Rahul Calls Up Sanjay Raut, Indications Of Truce Ample

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut have given ample indications to signal a truce between the two parties following their open differences over some remarks by Rahul against Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who is revered by the Sena. Raut himself has revealed that Rahul called up him to enquire about his health and express concern over ‘the crushing of dissent’ around the country. Raut said he was thankful to Rahul for showing such magnanimity in the present milieu of political hatred. Rahul had criticized Savarkar in the last leg of his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra. Incensed at his remarks, Raut had threatened serious consequences for the Maha Vikas Aghadi for the ‘uncalled for’ utterances. Subsequently, Rahul totally skipped the subject of Savarkar at his Shegaon rally, which marked the conclusion of his march in Maharashtra. However, Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ did not spare him and lambasted the remarks in strong language. Raut made it a point that he was expressing the sentiments on behalf of Uddhav Thackeray. In a bid to prevent any further fallout after some Congress had maintained that their party had its own stand, Rahul called up Raut. Expressing gratitude, Raut said the call was like a breeze of fresh air whereas Sena’s former allies like the BJP and MNS had not bothered to find out how he was.


We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.