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Supreme Court Bars Triple Talaq For 6 Months Until Parliament Makes Law

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 11:22

NEW DELHI: Instant triple talaq, which allows Muslim men to leave their wives immediately by uttering "talaq" (divorce) thrice, has been barred for six months by the Supreme Court until parliament brings law.

In a landmark verdict today, five senior most judges called triple talaq "bad in law" and said: "We hope the legislature will consider and take into account Muslim Personal Law while making legislation. All parties must keep their politics away and decide this."

Triple talaq is legal for Muslims according to the constitution, but several Muslim women who have been divorced, including on Skype and on WhatsApp, had challenged the 1400-year-old practice.

Five judges of different faiths - Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer - heard the case over five days from May 12 to May 18. The court had framed questions that included whether triple talaq is fundamental to Islam and whether it is an enforceable fundamental right.

During the arguments, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board described the divorce practice as "horrendous", "sinful" and "undesirable" with no sanction of the Quran and the Shariat. However, India's largest Muslim body had also cautioned that "testing the validity of customs and practices was a slippery slope".

The Muslim personal law board issued an advisory that Muslim women should be given the choice to opt out of instant triple talaq before their nikah or wedding.

The government had backed the petitioners, declaring triple talaq unconstitutional, and derogatory and discriminatory for women.

But the government had argued that the court should first pronounce its decision on the constitutional validity of the triple talaq and other forms of talaq, only then it would bring a law.

Rajnath Singh Says China Tension To End Soon, Beijing Makes Angry Comment

Monday, 21 August 2017 20:16

NEW DELHI/BEIJING: Days after footage emerged of Indian and Chinese soldiers fighting at the border at Sikkim, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the confrontation will end soon. China offered no assurances, instead blaming India again for the altercation that has extended into its third month and for the clashes that erupted with soldiers from both sides throwing stones at each other.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that last Tuesday, Chinese border forces were carrying out "normal" patrols on the Chinese side of the Pangong Lake located in Ladakh in the western Himalayas.

"During this time they were obstructed by Indian border forces and the Indian side took fierce actions, colliding with the Chinese personnel and having contact with their bodies, injuring the Chinese border personnel," she told a daily news briefing. What India did went against the two countries' consensus to keep the peace on the border and it endangered the situation there, she added, stating, "China is extremely dissatisfied with this"

Indian military sources have disclosed that the clashes broke out after Chinese troops attempted an incursion. Some of the Chinese soldiers carried iron rods and stones, and troops on both sides suffered minor injuries, the sources have said.

"A deadlock is going on between India and China in Doklam. But I think a solution will come out soon. China will also take a positive step from its side," Mr Singh said as he addressed the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). "We want to maintain good relations with our neighbours. We don't want conflict, we want peace."

The ITBP guards India's 3,488-kilometre border with China along the northern Himalayan mountain range.

India and China have been dealing with their worst military tension in decades since Indian soldiers crossed the border at Sikkim to stop the Chinese from constructing a road on the remote Doklam plateau in the eastern Himalayas. China says it has every right to build a road on its territory, but Indian and Bhutan say the land belongs to the tiny Himalayan kingdom. Delhi has also said that it had warned that the road would be seen as a major provocation because it allows China access to the narrow sliver of land called the "Chicken's Neck" that links mainland India with northeastern states.

McDonald's Terminates Franchise Agreement For 169 Outlets In India

Monday, 21 August 2017 20:13

NEW DELHI: McDonald's India has terminated the franchise agreement for 169 fast-food outlets in north and east India run by Connaught Plaza Restaurant Ltd (CPRL) and said the outlets cannot use its brand for any operations.

CPRL is led by Vikram Bakshi, the estranged partner of the US-based food chain giant.

The decision comes weeks after 43 outlets run by CPRL in the national capital were shut due to non-renewal of eating house licences by local authorities.

CPRL was a 50:50 joint venture between Mr Bakshi and McDonald's India.

As part of the termination, CPRL is ceased to use McDonalds's name, system, trademark, designs and its associated intellectual property, among others within 15 days of the termination notice.

"Today, we have issued the CPRL board a notice of termination of the franchise agreement between McDonald's India Pvt Ltd and CPRL for 169 McDonald's restaurants operated by CPRL in north and east India," the fast food chain said in a statement.

The termination of agreement includes all restaurants impacted by the recent failure to renew the eating house licences, the company said.

The popular food outlet, known for leading the expansion of American fast food in India, has seen its fortunes declining since past few years over a tussle with Mr Bakshi for the management of CPRL, after he was ousted from the post of managing director of the McDonald's franchisee in 2014.

"We have been compelled to take this step because CPRL has materially breached the terms of the respective franchise agreement relating to affected restaurants and has failed to remedy the breaches, despite being provided with an opportunity to do so in accordance with the agreements," McDonald's India said.

McDonald's India further said that it is "committed to finding the right 'developmental licensee partner' for north and east India and taking steps to do so".

'20 Seconds Of Burning': Partly Blinded After Viewing Solar Eclipse

Monday, 21 August 2017 20:12

It was a clear day when Louis Tomososki's science teacher mentioned that a partial solar eclipse would be visible from their hometown of Portland, Ore., that afternoon.

So after classes let out, Tomososki, then 16, found Roger Duvall, his friend since the fourth grade and a fellow science buff. The pair ambled up the steps to their high school's baseball field and planted themselves about 10 feet behind third base.

They stood and waited, squinting toward the sky. Sure enough, the teenagers eventually spotted what they had been looking for: a partial eclipse of the sun.

"And yeah, there it is! You could see the moon taking a bite out of the sun," Tomososki remembered thinking then.

That was more than 50 years ago. Both men, now 70, say they wish they had known about the long-term harm that afternoon would do to their eyesight.

Amit Shah's Changed Travel Plans Seen As Giveaway Of Cabinet Reshuffle

Monday, 21 August 2017 20:10




NEW DELHI: A day before Amit Shah was meant to depart for Chennai, the BJP confirmed that its president's itinerary has been revised and that he will remain in Delhi because of "a greater need to have him in the capital over the next few days."

A senior party leader confirmed that the change in plans could be due to an anticipated reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet. Mr Shah has been meeting one-on-one with ministers of state like Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Upendra Kushwaha, triggering talk of a new flow chart.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's party, the Janata Dal United, is joining the PM's national coalition and will be entitled to union ministries. Sources said that Mr Kumar has been asked to travel to Delhi next week and that after being offered the choice of one union cabinet minister or two junior minister positions. KC Tyagi, a leader from his party, told that it seeks a "prominent position", hinting at a preference for a cabinet berth.

Similarly, the Shiv Sena, a cranky constituent of the BJP's national coalition, is allegedly coveting either the Home Ministry in Maharashtra, where it is a member of the state government, or one cabinet post and two Ministers of State. In 2014, senior party leader Anil Desai had famously refused to emerge from the airport in Delhi after flying down from Mumbai because he was not included in the cabinet; he flew back to the financial capital on the orders of his boss and party chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The political climate in Tamil Nadu has also changed dramatically today. The AIADMK, which governs the state, has sided with the union government on key legislation and is seen as a "friendly party", which is why PM Modi made time recently to meet with the leaders of its two rival wings. They reunited today months after a fracture caused by the death of its charismatic and supremely powerful leader, J Jayalalithaa.

There was substantial talk in Chennai about the reunification being announced ahead of Mr Shah's arrival in Chennai, a move that would allow him and the BJP to be seen as a driving force in Tamil Nadu's politics, even if behind the scenes. The state has been largely barren for the BJP, and Mr Shah has included it in his plans for expanding the party's footprint.

The BJP's Muralidhar Rao, who is in-charge of southern states, had landed in Chennai to organize a large welcome for Mr Shah, giving away the last-minute nature of the cancellation.

'Clown's Cap On The Head Of Tamilians': Kamal Haasan Mocks AIADMK Merger

Monday, 21 August 2017 20:07

CHENNAI: Actor Kamal Haasan has mocked the merger of Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK with a sardonic tweet, accusing the party's leaders of "fooling the people."

"Gandhi cap, Saffron cap, Kashmir cap, now a clown cap on the head of Tamilians. Enough? Or do you want more?" said the actor in his tweet in Tamil, accusing the AIADMK of a "drama of splitting and now uniting." The actor has been sharply critical of Chief Minister E Palaniswami's government, which he has alleged has done little to curb crime and corruption in the state.

Just days ago, in an Independence Day message, the actor had asked why there were no demands for the resignation of the Chief Minister despite accusations of corruption in his government.

Last month he had said that everyone has to face corruption in Tamil Nadu; when a minister threatened to sue him for what he called "misleading comments," the actor had asked his fans to flood the state's ministers with emails, exposing their experiences of corruption, and dared the government to arrest everyone.

His political comments, run-ins with the AIADMK and his presence at an event hosted by chief opposition party DMK have led to speculation that the 62-year-old could be weighing a political career and could be looking at joining the DMK.

But in recent tweets, Kamal Haasan has also tried to signal that he has no favourites among political parties. He said recently that parties like the AIADMK and DMK are "tools to help" achieve his objective of a better Tamil Nadu. "If those tools are blunt, find others," he tweeted.

Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United To Join BJP-Led NDA

Saturday, 19 August 2017 13:33

PATNA: Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United is back in folds of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or NDA after nearly four years of separation. A patch-up between the long-lost partners was announced at the party's national executive meeting this morning in Patna.

The BJP and the JD-U, partners for nearly two decades, unchained acrimoniously in 2013. However, when last month Nitish Kumar ended his mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance with Lalu Yadav's RJD and the Congress and formed the government with the help of the BJP, the reunion seemed inevitable.

On July 26, Nitish Kumar had quit as Chief Minister after Lalu Yadav's son, Tejashwi Yadav, refused to quit the Bihar government despite being caught in a corruption scandal. "My conscience told me to quit," said Mr Kumar, who was praised by PM Modi for his "fight against corruption" minutes later. Hours later, PM Modi's party, the BJP came out in support of Mr Kumar. The two staked claim to form government soon after.

A few years ago, Nitish Kumar had ended a long alliance with the BJP. He partnered with the Congress and former bitter rival Lalu Yadav to stop the BJP from winning the Bihar assembly elections in 2015.

But it was an uncomfortable alliance, made more uneasy by Nitish Kumar repeatedly breaking ranks with his allies to back the BJP-led Centre on issues like demonetisation and the roll-out of the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST), which were criticised by the rest of the opposition. It was seen to signal that Mr Kumar was open to switching sides ahead of national elections in 2019.

The corruption charges against Lalu Yadav and his family gave Nitish Kumar the exit route he needed.

Indian IT Hits Worst Slump In 7 Years: Foreign Media

Saturday, 19 August 2017 13:33

The resignation of Vishal Sikka as chief executive officer of India's bellwether technology company masks the rot in India's once feted export sector.

While Sikka cited heightened acrimony with a cohort of founders at Infosys Ltd., the malaise is much deeper, and threatens to become a faultline for Asia's No. 3 economy. Software services exports are experiencing their longest slump in seven years, which could blow the current account deficit to the widest since 2013 and pressure the rupee. Policy makers are also bracing for a hit where it hurts the most: jobs.

"Indian service companies gained scale over the last decade as the disrupters, creating the modern offshoring industry, but they are now the incumbents, challenged by a slew of specialized and niche start-ups bred in this new environment," Arvind Subramanian, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's top economic adviser, said in his economic survey published this month. Growing anti-globalization tendencies "in the U.S. during and after elections and the Brexit referendum" also threaten Indian jobs, he said.

Employment was Modi's key pledge when he swept to power in 2014 and will probably emerge as a top issue in 2019 elections. India's tech industry is the country's largest private sector employer, and Indian engineers had become ubiquitous to the point of parody in TV shows and books over the past decade. They are also crucial dollar-earners, with services exports helping offset a goods-trade deficit. But part of their appeal was that they came cheap, making them the target of public anger as wages plunged in developed economies.

India's economic survey cited President Donald Trump's 'Buy American, Hire American' executive order and the U.K.'s increase in visa costs as factors limiting the free movement of Indian engineers. Moreover, automation threatens 69 percent of jobs in India, according to a 2016 World Bank report. Executive search firm Head Hunters India estimates that 175,000 to 200,000 technology jobs will be lost in the country each year through 2020, and newspapers are rife with reports of mass layoffs in the sector.

"Hiring momentum remains slow," NASSCOM, which represents India's $154 billion information technology and business-process management industry, said in its review for the April-June quarter. However incremental revenue was the strongest in four years and global activity is recovering, it said.

The recovery won't be strong enough to meet India's needs. Teresa John, a Mumbai-based economist at brokerage Nirmal Bang, predicts the current account deficit will balloon to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product in the year through March 2018, potentially weakening the rupee.

"The invisibles surplus, which has traditionally offset India's trade deficit, is facing structural headwinds on account of the decline in software exports as well as remittances from oil-dependent Gulf countries," she said.

Infosys is India's second-largest software exporter. Started in 1981 by seven engineers, it's now a company with a net profit of $2 billion and revenue of over $10 billion this year and almost 200,000 employees -- mainly based in Bengaluru, India's Silicon Valley. The company has been trying to haul itself out of a growth slowdown through job cuts and investment into news areas such as data analytics.

Enraged Man Punches And Kicks Woman In Indore Gym. Caught On CCTV

Saturday, 19 August 2017 13:31

INDORE: In shocking CCTV footage that has been released from a gym in Indore, a man can be seen brutally assaulting a woman who was working out there.

The reason: she apparently had complained about his behavior, according to news agency ANI.

The man, wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, can be seen getting ready for exercise as another person adjusts the weights for him.

When the girl standing behind him says something, he turns around and punches her straight in the head. As the woman slumps over onto the squat rack, holding her head with one hand in pain, other gym members rush to restrain the attacker.

But he is not done yet. He then kicks her hard on the knee, and she slowly falls down.

A couple of men can be seen pulling the attacker aside, while the others attend to the girl.

The video of the incident has been released by news agency ANI.

It is not clear yet whether the man has been arrested or a case has been filed.

Vishal Sikka Resigns As Infosys CEO And MD Citing Personal Attacks, Shares Tank

Friday, 18 August 2017 12:59

Vishal Sikka has resigned as managing director and CEO of Infosys and the company's board has accepted his resignation with immediate effect, the IT major said on Friday morning. The sudden move came amid growing acrimony between the company's board and its founders led by NR Narayana Murthy. Infosys said chief operating officer UB Pravin Rao will be interim managing director and CEO. Infosys shares plunged as much as 9.4 per cent today after the announcement.

Dr Sikka, 50, has cited "increasingly personal attacks" on him as one of the reasons for his sudden decision to resign, saying they were "amplified" by people who should have supported him. He said the attacks had hit morale at the company, which has been trying to keep pace with rapid changes in the industry.

"For days, indeed weeks, this decision has weighed on me. I have wrestled the pros and cons, the issues and the counterbalancing arguments. But now, after much thought, and considering the environment of the last few quarters, I am clear in my decision. It is clear to me that despite our successes over the last three years, and the powerful seeds of innovation that we have sown, I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks," Dr Sikka, who took over three years ago, wrote on his blog.

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