Hours after being convicted in a multimillion dollar fraud case, Indian American Suresh Mitta, of Richardson, Texas, died while in the custody of U.S. Marshals.Mitta was convicted by a federal jury of taking part in an elaborate fraud scheme that involved selling bogus MRI equipment to a North Texas hospital, according to news reports.Read it at India West Related Items
Sometimes history has such a sweet touch of irony, it is hard not to chuckle.The headlines buzzed recently: “India Lose to Britain in Olympic Hockey Qualifier.”The lord taketh what the lord giveth! Or at least some of it.We used to wonder why our fathers liked British habits so much. The tea, the clothes, the language, and yes, the sports. For years, we grew up with an aura of champions of hockey (we are talking field hockey for the uninitiated). We ruled the world in that sport. It was our only saving grace in the Olympic Games, always the gold; occasionally, when we slipped, the silver or at least the bronze. It was our sport and we had the oomph to win the world! We had what it took, the team spirit, the graceful dexterity and the skills to cut down opponents in thriller after thriller. Hockey wins helped erased the drubbing by China in the war of 1962, the miserable wheat shortage and the slow pace of the socialist revolution.We were world champions! Alas, Shah Rukh Khan’s Chak de India could not move things in the real world. My, how the world has changed. It is now cricket that rules India. We are the unofficial, and occasionally the official, world champions in cricket, from ODIs to plain old style test matches.We have mimicked another one of our colonial heritages and mastered it beyond the masters. Now we trade players like slaves, and give the process lofty names. Call it professional sports, but it is organized gambling and slave trading. Long gone is the spirit of Lagaan. We strive for the money first, the national glory is an afterthought. India is beloved by the cricket world, because it generates more revenue than any country thanks to the massive crowds, a burgeoning middle class, a booming economy, etc.. etc.Hockey does not have that luster. It never did. The medals were the result of great fitness, remarkable agility and team discipline. That is all gone.So is the bag of memories it brought us.We cannot go home again, not if you want to capture what you left behind. It is a changed world. It is damning that we had to lose to Britain to bring this chapter to a close. Funny thing is, the BBC sports page did not even list the trauma on its front page. Indian Hockey at the Olympics2008BeijingFailed to qualify2004AthensSeventh2000SydneySeventh1996AtlantaEighth1992BarcelonaSeventh1988SeoulSixth1984Los AngelesFifth1980MoscowGold1976MontrealSeventh1972MunichBronze1968Mexico CityBronze1964TokyoGold1960RomeSilver1956MelbourneGold1952HelsinkiGold1948LondonGold1936BerlinGold1932Los AngelesGold1928AmsterdamGold Related Items
It’s a life that many envy: plush salaries, international schools for the children and wine-soaked parties on weekends. But for New Delhi’s diplomatic corps, the sweet life is missing one key ingredient: clean, breathable air.Pollution levels in India this month are so bad that diplomats are fretting about whether to stay or leave. Some, like Costa Rica’s ambassador, have already left the city after developing respiratory problems. Others are calling in sick to work or worrying about their children’s health. Some missions, according to the Indian Express, have even moved nonessential staff to nearby countries such as Singapore.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has traveled extensively to boost India’s international image and attract foreign investment, including a recent trip to Manila, where he met leaders at the summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But his efforts may be getting scuppered on home ground, as diplomats gasping for air report home about the debilitating pollution crisis.“I’m a living proof that our planet is dying today, coughing as i write with my indian bronchitis,” wrote Mariela Cruz Alvarez, Costa Rican ambassador to India, in a blog post.Pollution levels in Delhi peaked in November. Levels of carcinogenic PM 2.5 particles in the air were 70 times over the safe limit as prescribed by the World Health Organization, and the air quality index reached 999 micrograms per cubic meter, the highest instruments can measure. A number of factors contributed to the spike, including crop burning in surrounding states, construction and vehicles in the city, and a lack of wind to blow the dust away.A recent study in the British medical journal Lancet linked 2.5 million deaths in India in 2015 to pollution.Responsibility for curbing the pollution quickly descended into a finger-pointing match, with state and central government ministers blaming each other for the crisis. Modi’s environment minister, Harsh Vardhan, in a television interview underplayed the impact of pollution, saying that it could not be directly linked to deaths. “No death certificate has the cause of death as pollution,” he said.In the end, little has been done and the main remedy still appears to be waiting for the wind to blow it away – a response that no doubt has also made it into the diplomatic dispatches home.By Thursday, the government had already rolled back several measures introduced over the weekend to curb the smog, as the haze lifted and air quality readings slightly improved. Trucks were allowed to reenter the city and construction was allowed to resume.Many among the diplomatic community remained concerned about their health as readings continued to show unhealthy levels of pollutants in the air.Although shielded from the smog that most Delhi residents live in by air purifiers and gas masks, diplomats said pollution hampered work. “You cannot sit inside a room and conduct diplomacy. . . you have to go out and meet people,” an unnamed French official told the Express.Thai ambassador Chutintorn Gongsakdi formally wrote to Bangkok requesting that Delhi be made a “hardship” posting, usually reserved for conflict zones, which would allow Thai diplomats posted here more perks, including air purifiers and medical checkups as well as trips back home and extra days off as compensation for having to live in smog.One unnamed diplomat told the Express that the length of postings to Delhi had been shortened by a year. Others said they were considering cutting short their stints. “I fought hard to come to India,” an unnamed European diplomat said. “After a year and a half, I don’t think I’m ready for any more. I will try to go to another place next summer, after I finish two years here.”In diplomatic schools, air purifiers are whirring at full speed. The Lycée Français reportedly has 65 air purifiers. The American school may introduce covered outdoor play areas for physical activity, the Express reported.© Washington Post Related Items
American card payments major Mastercard has told Reserve Bank of India, India’s banking regulator, about a “certain” date from which it will start deleting data of Indian cardholders from global servers but warned that it would also mean a weakening of “safety and security” over a period of time.Porush Singh, India and Division President, South Asia, MasterCard, told Indian news agency PTI that the company is operating in over 200 countries, and nowhere else it has been asked to delete data from global servers.According to the Indian press agency, the RBI had issued a new regulation in April, which came into effect from Oct 16, requiring payments companies to store all information about transactions involving Indians completely on servers in India.Mastercard told PTI that all Indian transaction data is being stored at its technology center in Pune as of Oct. 6, as required by the RBI directive on data localization.Mastercard, which is one of the world’s largest card issuer, said it has given a proposal to the RBI to delete back data from a certain date but is wary of consequences of such a move, including disputes over transactions.“The proposal we have given (to RBI) is that we will delete it (data) from everywhere else, whether it is the card number, transaction details. The data will only be stored in India … we will start deleting that…,” the PTI quoted Singh as saying.He also told the PTI that the company has proposed to the RBI that Indian data would be stored locally and not elsewhere.The company has informed the Indian banking regulator about the impact of data deletion from its global server.“But we have also said that it does have an impact. No other country has asked us like that. No other country in the world has asked us the data to be deleted from the global server and the reason why it is a concern for us because that would be weakening of the safety, security over a period of time,” PTI quoted Singh as saying.When the news agency asked the company if it was complying with the RBI directives, Singh said from October Mastercard has started storing a copy of the data it is deleting or has deleted.“…the date of (data) deletion (from global servers) is something which is not yet decided as we are waiting for the RBI to confirm back to us,” he said and added “we have proposed a certain date on which we will start deleting the data on a running/regular basis.” Related Items
A doctor in the United States has been charged with groping a teenaged female co-passenger on board a United Airlines flight. The accused is a doctor from India, according to ABC News, though some other news reports said his country of origin is not clear.A Student from USThe incident is said to have taken place on July 23 when the 16-year-old girl was travelling alone from Seattle to Newark, and woke up during the flight to find the co-passenger’s hand on her thigh, according to the complaint. The girl identified the man as Vijakumar Krishnappa, 28, who is studying in the US under a fellowship, after she was shown a line-up of photos compiled from the flight manifest during the investigation.The federal complaint says that the man removed his hand when she woke up, and she went back to sleep, but woke up again to find him touching her “groin and inner thigh”. The girl informed the airline crew about the incident and changed her seat. However, United Airlines apparently did nothing to prevent the accused from leaving the airport, Johnny McCray, an attorney for the girl’s family, told The Washington Post. She informed her parents of the assault on her after landing, and the FBI was contacted to probe the case.‘Airlines Did NothingA complaint describing the charge against Krishnappa was filed in federal court in New Jersey on July 24, following which he was arrested and charged with knowingly engaging in sexual contact with a minor female. The accused has been released on $50,000 bail and placed under electronic monitoring. He has also been ordered not to have any contact with minors while the criminal case is pending. His court-appointed attorney, John Yauch, said his client “adamantly denies the charges and deserves to be considered an innocent man,” and declined further comment, The Washington Post reported.The girl’s family has also filed a complaint against United Airlines for failing to act against the man, according to NJ.com. The airline is reviewing the case with authorities, Fox News reported. “The safety and security of our customers is our top priority,” the airline said in a statement. “We take these allegations seriously and continue to work closely with the proper authorities as part of their review.” Related ItemsIndian doctor molests girl UnitedIndian sexual molestation USLittle IndiaTeen groped on United AirlinesUnited AirlinesUnited Airlines controversyVijakumar Krishnappa United flight
The Gauhati High Court has ordered a villager in Assam to plant and take care of 25 trees as punishment for poisoning as many vultures to death three months ago.The State Forest Department had filed a case against Dhanpati Das of Kamalpur, about 40 km north of Guwahati, for lacing a goat carcass with pesticide that killed the 25 rare vultures.Initial reactionOn April 4, the High Court granted him bail after he had spent 28 days in custody under Section 429 (mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming animals or rendering them useless) of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 51(a) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.Hearing the case a month later, the court made an ecological statement by asking him to plant saplings and nurture them. The man, though, said he did not poison the carcass in the first place.Green activists welcomed the judgment. “The man could have been sentenced to six months in prison. But this form of punishment should have a positive impact on the person and make him contribute to nature,” Bibhab Talukdar of NGO Aaranyak said.Tree per citizenMeghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Saturday announced on social media the launch of the One Citizen One Tree campaign ahead of the World Environment Day for re-greening the State affected by unregulated coal and limestone mining. “With the State fast losing its forest cover, the campaign aims at people’s involvement in planting more trees. All districts will be covered in the mass plantation drive wherein all indigenous plants raised by the communities across the State will be provided to citizens who want to participate in the campaign,” a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said.
Rasoolan Bibi, widow of 1965 Indo-Pak war hero and Param Vir Chakra awardee Abdul Hamid, passed away in her native Dhamupur village here on Friday afternoon. Company Quartermaster Havaldar Abdul Hamid was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military honour, for displaying exemplary courage during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Family sources said 90-year-old Rasoolan Bibi had been unwell for some time. Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed profound grief over the death of Rasoolan Bibi and extended their condolences to the bereaved family. “The Governor has condoled the death,” a Raj Bhawan release issued here said.‘Brave woman’ “It is a matter of pride that martyr Abdul Hamid belonged to Uttar Pradesh who displayed exemplary courage for which he was awarded the highest award posthumously and his wife was a brave woman,” Mr. Adityanath said in his message.Last rites The last rites of Rasoolan Bibi will be performed on Saturday. She is survived by four sons and a daughter, family sources said. As the news of her demise spread, a large number of people from different parts of the district visited her house to pay their last respects.
Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said that revoking the special status of Kashmir was the demand of time for the unity and integrity of the country. “Dilution of Article 370 would strengthen the security, safety and integrity of India and should not be viewed through any other narrow prism,” he said at the first Balramji Dass Tandon Memorial Lecture at Panjab University. “A section of the western media was indulging in false propaganda on the situation in Kashmir post dilution of Article 370,” he said. Mr. Naidu referring to a news article published by national dailies in 1964, said that MPs cutting across party lines including those from ruling party almost unanimously supported a non official resolution seeking abrogation of Article 370.Mr. Naidu said the Parliament took the decision that this transitory provision needs to go and Jammu & Kashmir must be fully integrated with the rest of India. “People across the country are rejoicing over the abrogation of Article 370. It is expected that this will pave the way for faster development of the State in the years to come,” he added.Calling for a need to tone up administration, speed up judicial reforms and promoteing healthy and meaningful debates in legislatures and Parliament, Mr. Naidu said, “‘Discuss, debate, decide, decentralise and deliver’ should become the agenda and the way forward for public representatives.”He also asked political parties to adopt a code of conduct for people’s representatives including MPs and MLAs for effective functioning of Parliament and legislatures. “Parties should incorporate such code of conduct in their election manifestos,” he said. Mr. Naidu stressed the need for taking immediate steps to reduce heavy pendency of cases in courts. “In order to streamline and make justice delivery more effective, there should be time-bound decisions on election petitions and criminal cases against sitting MPs and MLAs, including disqualification under the anti-defection law,” he said.He also suggested revisiting the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, containing anti-defection provisions, to ensure a time bound disposal of such cases and make it more effective by plugging loopholes.He added that expanding the Supreme Court bench and having separate benches in different regions on trial basis as suggested by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice would help address the problem of pendency in judiciary and would save huge amount of money and energy of litigants who travel miles to reach Delhi.
Shiv Sena’s Pradip Jaiswal won from Aurangabad Central. | Photo Credit: Yogesh Londhe The drought-affected Marathwada region delivered a decisive mandate in favour of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while also giving the Congress a much-improved tally. The allies together secured 30 seats in the region, compared to the previous tally of 24. However, the Congress also managed to pocket eight seats as opposed to just one in 2014. The party’s showing was largely on the back of a handsome victory for the Deshmukh brothers — Amit securing a win with over 40,415 votes in Latur City and Dhiraj winning the Latur Rural seat by a record 1.21 lakh votes.The Congress also won the Deglur, Nanded South, Bhokar, Jalna, Hadgaon and Pathri constituencies. Meanwhile, the BJP won the Ausa, Tuljapur, Aurangabad East, Umarkhed, Badnapur, Bhokardan, Gangapur, Georai, Hingoli, Jintur, Kaij, Kinwat, Mukhed, Naigaon, Nilanga, Partur and Phulambri. The region, bordering Karnataka and Telangana, witnessed several battles of prestige among prominent political families, including Rural Development Minister and BJP leader Pankaja Munde, who lost to her cousin Dhananjay Munde from Parli constituency with 30,701 votes. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s Sandeep Kshirsagar defeated his uncle and State Minister for Employment Guarantee Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who was an import into the Sena from the NCP. In Aurangabad, the Sena-BJP combine won all six seats, of which one was with the Congress since 2014. For the first time in the city’s history, Aurangabad will not have an MLA from the Congress. During the seat-sharing talks with the NCP, the Congress was allotted only one of the six Assembly seats, Aurangabad (West). The India Today -Axis poll had claimed that the saffron alliance will secure 29 seats in Marathwada, 29 in Konkan and 22 in western Maharashtra.