Restaurants to Serve Dishes Named After UPA Scams


The drama hasn’t ended yet for the UPA government; after Hotel Aditi that had criticized the UPA government in its bills, now restaurants in Gujarat may serve dishes named after UPA scams.

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From “2G ka samosa” to a toasted “Coalgate sandwich”, restaurants in Gujarat may soon add some flavor of politics, reported Tushar Tere for TNN.

Further, members of the Gujarat Rajya Hotel Federation (GRHF) have decided to stand up for Mumbai eatery Aditi Restaurant that was asked to shut down by Congress workers for criticizing the UPA government in its bills. The GRHF has more than 6,000 members across the state.

Hotelier and GRHF member Ashwin Gandhi discussed the proposal with other federation members and said “Naming food and drinks after scams is an apt reply,” as reported by TOI. He added that “Every citizen has the right to express his views.”

The controversy sparked after Mumbai based Aditi Restaurant started issuing bills that had a message at the bottom of the printed receipt saying, “As per UPA govt eating money (2G, coal, CWG scam) is a necessity and eating food in AC restaurants is a luxury.”

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The GRHF was tense over the new service tax on restaurants that was imposed by the Centre a few months ago.

Sanat Relia, Southern Gujarat Hotel Association vice-president said “Bofors, 2G and other scams would appear on our menu once the proposal is approved.” He said that “We made several efforts to convince the Centre to remove the new service tax, but to no avail. Such a protest may help,” as reported by TOI.

However, the Vadodara city Congress has issued open threat to the restaurateurs in connection with the proposal. Vadodara Congress president Narendra Rawat said “This is not the correct way to protest. If any restaurant mentions about scams on their menu cards, we will protest in their premises. If the workers lose their temper and the restaurant is ransacked, we are not responsible for it.”

Rawat added that “Such hotel owners seem to be hand in gloves with BJP and they are making it a political issue. They should be ready to face ire of Congress workers.”

Rs.100 Crore: The Price for a Rajya Sabha Seat


A string of controversial remarks have been made by Indian MPs of late, which is landing them in some trouble. The most recent one was made by Birender Singh, Congress MP from Haryana, who said big money was buying seats in Rajya Sabha, reported the Times of India. This remark certainly brought focus on the menace gripping politics and also had the opposition accusing the ruling party of a plunge in political standards.

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Singh was reported to have said in a seminar at Narwana in Jind that he knew a person who had a budget of Rs 100 crore to become a Rajya Sabha MP but managed to accomplish his aim with Rs 80 crore.

Singh was quoted saying “Now, if a man succeeds in taking the membership of Rajya Sabha by spending 80 crore or 100 crore rupees, what will they think about the poor?” as reported by TOI. He added that “Not one, but I can tell you about 20 such people.”

This statement intended to indicate the recent trend of rich businessmen coming to the Rajya Sabha in the middle of allegations that money was playing a role in influencing the Electoral College.

However, the opposition lashed out at Singh accusing the Congress of “cutting deals”, forcing Singh to clarify. Singh went on to clarify that “Whatever is being reported has selective words and quotations that have been taken out of context.”

He added that the EC had analyzed the 2009 results and around 350 crorepatis and 18 billionaires had entered the Lower House, which shows a harmful trend. He said the same feature was gripping the Upper House as well.

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The BJP also accused the Congress of bringing corruption into politics, while the Indian National Lok Dal demanded the party clarify how many MPs had paid for their seats. MLA Abhay Chautala said “What Birender Singh has said is serious… Congress must make it clear to people,” as reported by TOI.

However, this statement follows a spate of controversies gripping the political parties. Most recently congressmen had defended the low expenditure poverty line benchmark by stating that meals were even available for 5 and 12. The party then dissociated itself from the controversies following a row.

UPA’s Monkey Business


‘Imagining the silence? Really?’ Pawan Khera’s (Indian Express, July 19, 2013) rejoinder to Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s exquisitely crafted article ‘While we were silent’ (Indian Express, July 11 2013), displays exactly how political sycophancy can distort perception enough to see a glass half full when it is actually empty. It is unremarkable that Congress Party members fall over each other to show loyalty. This is the Indira Gandhi Blueprint in practice here. When so much of each apparatchik’s future depends on how he is perceived by the Power, why should uncomfortable facts get in the way of making a pitch of personal devotion of servitude? Indubitably, these articles are not written to convince the reader, because even those of the lowest intellect must know today’s Indian is not buying their act. They are written to ensure their status in the Party.

Shashi Tharoor’s ‘Note to UPA-bashers’ (Indian Express, July 24, 2013) is even worse. Chanting reams of statistics that show utter obliviousness to the reality on the ground of the hazards of implementation, Congress vassals see every article that exposes the real problems real people are struggling with, as a personal attack on the Congress. Neither Mehta, nor Shekhar Gupta in ‘National Interest: The deformists’ (Indian Express, July 20, 2013) hold any loyalty to the opposition or any political party – and both were refuted by Tharoor. Their articles have clearly been written in pain at the direction the country has slipped. Spokespersons for the Congress Party spout statistics from their documents showing successful schools, medical centres, electrification and clean water programmes, which they so gullibly believe exist because they ordered them. This, of course, belies all reports that have shown most of what they claim has not been implemented.

A verisimilitude of ratiocination cannot convince people who are trying to survive in a quicksand economy and struggling through daily life. Tharoor claims, “They (Mehta and Gupta) have apparently failed to notice that today’s India boasts a thriving, entrepreneurial and globalised economy, with a dynamic and creative business culture”. Oh! So India is Shining yet again? It might be time for the Congress Party to listen to farmers, weavers, unemployed youth, miserable businessmen, who incidentally are too afraid to be outspoken. Sadly, around the world, it is repeated that the India Story is over. It has not been “one bad year” as the Prime Minister said in his speech at ASSOCHAM (July 19, 2013). It was not a lightning bolt. It has been a slow, painstaking, careful destruction of a progressive India.

Tharoor adds, “To this over-the-top indictment, (Shekhar) Gupta adds his own: the UPA’s ‘welfarism’ has betrayed the promise of reform and created a doctrine of ‘povertarianism’, which condemns Indians to perpetual poverty”. Over the top? Mr Tharoor, there are enough economists including your Prime Minister, who believe handouts without the dignity of work destroy individuals and society. Tharoor adds: “When the UPA promotes food security, it is emboldened by its own efforts to strengthen agriculture, which have led to record production of food grain”. Good logic. If you feed someone for not working, the grain grows by itself, stupid.

Let’s look at some real statistics. “Suicide rates among Indian farmers were a chilling 47 per cent higher than they were for the rest of the population in 2011. In some of the States worst hit by the agrarian crisis, they were well over 100 per cent higher. The new Census 2011 data reveal a shrinking farmer population. At least 270,940 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1995, NCRB records show. This occurred at an annual average of 14,462 in six years, from 1995 to 2000. And at a yearly average of 16,743 in 11 years between 2001 and 2011. That is around 46 farmer suicides each day, on average. Or nearly one every half-hour since 2001.” (P Sainath, The Hindu, May 18, 2013) What has the Congress party done to arrest this desperate trend? There have been enough stories of food grain rotting while people starved and the Congress Party did nothing.

In a brilliant sleight of hand in the craft of writing, Mehta takes us through every area of incompetence, miscalculation, bad economic decisions, insensitive responses, bull-headed stupidity, self-serving vote seeking policies, romancing the poor to their disgust, exposing how the UPA has destroyed 15 crucial vertebrae of the spine of India. They have broken, cracked and crushed it. What Mehta did not include, was the last final one: they are succeeding in crushing the spirit of India and Indians. Young people are facing unemployment for the first time in a decade. More and more leaders of business and industry are moving their capital abroad and shoring up their NRI status. Every day there are newsbreaks of companies firing hundreds of their employees and shutting down factories. Even a company like Mahindra laid off 400 employees last week and has suspended production for eight days during this month to cut down inventory pile up.  Maruti asked about 400 workers to go on leave, is producing about 40 per cent less than its maximum capacity of 4,400 units a day. Tata Motors is to also cut production of the Nano at the Sanand plant by over 80 per cent this year and for other vehicles at the Pune plant by 30 to 40 per cent.  (moneycontrol.com) Motorcycles have piled up at factories because retail sales are barely there. Media companies are not only firing employees but also cutting programming because the advertisements are just not coming in, even at the lowest rates. NDTV has fired hordes and CNBC is reportedly in the process of doing so.

According to a Reuters report: “India’s economic gloom deepened on Friday with a surprise drop in industrial output, a fall in exports and higher retail inflation, adding to the Reserve Bank of India’s challenge of reviving the economy and supporting the rupee. A global sell-off has made the rupee the worst-performing emerging Asian currency so far this year. It hit an all-time low of Rs 61.21 per dollar this week and is down more than 8 per cent against the dollar so far this year.”

Mr Khera and Mr Tharoor, are you aware of all this?

The writing is on the wall of every business, every farmer, every builder, every graduate, every recently unemployed person. Yet the writing on Pawan Khera and Shashi Tharoor’s wall is different. Khera calls Mehta’s article “hypnotic pamphleteering”! Some of Khera’s gems: “There are more to roads than highways.” “There’s more to the aviation sector than just Air India.” “Coupled with the midday meal, RTE will prove to be a game changer.” “MGNREGA has revolutionised the rural landscape and changed the destinies of 48 million households.”  The romanticising of the Food Security Bill for which there was no allocation in the Budget: “No one with any experience of seeing a poor man eat will oppose this scheme”.

A simple question: who will pay for it and how? It is indeed ironical that when the Supreme Court (Sept 9, 2010) ordered the government to distribute grains (that were rotting in FCI and government godowns) for free to families living below the poverty line, PM Manmohan Singh rebuked the SC saying it should not interfere in policy issues. The PM argued that he was against the idea of giving away food for free, saying it would kill farmers’ incentive to produce.

And the pièce de résistance is this: “Never before has any government faced the kind of assertion that the UPA did. When was the last time anyone saw protesters laying siege to Rashtrapati Bhawan? Swati, the girl who entered Rashtrapati Bhawan, is not behind bars for entering a high security area, because the government understood the anger of the people”. No, you did not understand the anger of the people. You were too afraid to touch Swati because you knew the anger would spiral into violent fury. Never before have people laid siege to Rashtrapati Bhavan because never before have people been so frustrated and furious by the government’s inaction, ineptitude and corruption. The Congress Party has so easily dismissed the urban and the middle class whilst plying their carrots to the rural poor. The Congress Party may even return to power in the next election with a jigsaw puzzle coalition with any available partners, but will it be because they deserve it for governance or because of arithmetic?

Mr Khera wrote, “Never before has any government faced the kind of assertion that the UPA did”. What is obvious to most, this was not mere “assertion” but the desperate outrage of a deeply wounded, despairing public. Khera wrote, the government acknowledged the right of the people to be angry. Did even one politician of the ruling party ever come to meet or address the people on the streets of protest? All the government did was wring their hands in panic and blame the media. It is sheer arrogance to assert that it was the government who gave the people a voice that could be heard without waiting for elections. This exposes twisted and self-serving logic. It is like saying: “When I beat my wife, she screamed at me to stop. See, she is free and has a voice. She can tell me to stop. She has freedom”. But you will go on beating her.

Khera’s rather petty remarks about “Neemrana intellectuals” do him no favour. In all the 15 points made by Mehta, in each one of them there is a segment of India that you have destroyed and we bristle against you for doing it. Yet Khera pats the ruling Party on the back with: “The last four years of India’s democracy have been promising — an exciting chapter where citizens and the state have been locked in a loud and healthy debate”. Debate? Water cannons and lathi charge constitute a debate? Where Was Mr Khera? In Neemrana?

It is clear that the Congress party has taken Mahatma Gandhi’s three monkeys proverb literally, yet partially. They have shut their eyes. They have shut their ears. Now, if only they would shut their mouths.

This is the complete version of Madhu Trehan’s article, “A people in despair, a government in wonderland” which appeared in The Indian Express on July 27, 2013

Five Ways How Smoking Can Affect Your Insurance Policy


Smoking is injurious to health this is not just said by medical practitioners but is also imprinted on the cigarette packs. Studies found out that there is an increase in the consumption of tobacco in India in one form or the other, with 57 percent males and 10.8 percent females.
Research shows that cigarette smoking in India has increased, since more number of youths in India are getting influenced by their favorite film personalities. But, it’s time to understand that the amount of medical expenses you will incur will be more than the amount you spend on cigarettes in a year. Even the medical premium paid by the smoker is more than the non-smoker. 
Here are five different ways how smoking can affect your term insurance policy, listed by Moneycontrol.com

1. How Smoking Affects Your Insurance

Term insurance is a life insurance policy that gives coverage at a fixed rate of payments within a limited period of time. If the insurer dies during that fixed period, the death benefit will be paid to the beneficiary.

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Term insurance is considered to be the least expensive way to get a significant death benefit. Infact, there are more number of people who are opting for term insurance, as there is an increase in the awareness and low life insurance premium.

It is always a better option to inform your insurer; if you have developed any addiction like smoking and drinking, since there will be increased risk factors on you.

There are 3 types of smokers, categorized by the insurance companies. They are:

a) Typical Smoker (a smoker with little health risks)

b) Preferred Smoker (an otherwise fit smoker)

c) Table Rated Smoker (a smoker with a noteworthy physical condition)

If you are a person who falls under “preferred” and non-tobacco category, you will not have to pay as much premium as the person who falls under “typical” tobacco category. Thus, the person who smokes will have to pay higher premiums because of high health risks.

2. Impact of Smoking on Term Insurance Policy

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If you have decided to buy a life insurance policy, you have to give your insurer the complete details of the usage of tobacco products from past 12 months. Products such as cigars, cigarettes as well as chewing tobacco and you will also be inquired about how frequently you have used the product.

Every insurance company has the right to know whether their applicant is a regular smoker or an occasional one. This is an important factor on which the company will charge on the premium.

The insurance company will ask their customers whether they smoke and will also ask them to undergo physical examination. They might also ask for a recent medical history.  

Always remember that it is easy to make your insurer believe you through paper records, at the same time, it is very difficult to hide the traces of nicotine content in the test. So, be honest about your smoking habit because insurance companies will take into account, smoking as a very important factor to be considered.

If you are giving wrong information to your insurer, because you fear of high premium, the insurance might end u being risky and ineffective.

3. What If The Insured Quits Smoking?

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Life insurance companies use very specific questions to classify you as a smoker or not. Infact They Usually Cross Question the customer to know if he is a regular or occasional smoker.

Since, “Term Insurance” offer their customers will lower premiums, they will charge a little higher premium on a person who is a smoker. So, if you are on the urge to quit smoking you can inform your insurance company to reconsider the position of the policy. This will help you lower your premium rate which will depend upon the amount of time elapsed since the individual last smoked.

Depending on the different categories allotted for regular, occasional and non- smoker, you can reduce your insurance premium amount.

4. Reasonable Term Insurance for Smokers?

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Term insurance has many categories under it that are specially made for smokers. Firstly, you can take help from someone who has good knowledge about the field. And secondly, you can take quotes from insurance companies that are offered for those who use smokeless tobacco or an occasional cigar but not cigarettes.

Usually if you have quit smoking completely, you can apply for non- smoker term insurance. Another advantage some insurance companies offers is that if you are trying to quit smoking, the will reduce your premiums and there are also companies which ask for you to wait for 2-3 years. Shopping for different insurance policy is a good option, before choosing one.

5. Tell the Truth

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It is always better to tell the truth to your insurance company. if in case you take the insurance policy by holding back certain information about your smoking habit and if the insurance company gets to know about it later, you will have to pay certain fixed amount to your insurer since, you have incurred loss to the company and your insurance can be later considered as invalid. Apart from this, it will affect you from taking the insurance from another company as well.

 

End Of Dots And Dashes, India To Send Last Telegram On July 15 #INDIANTELEGRAM


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Thousands of Indians crammed into telegram offices on Sunday to send souvenir messages to friends and family in a last-minute rush before the service shuts down after 163 years.

Sunday is the last day that messages will be accepted by the service, the world’s last major commercial telegram operation, and the Central Telegraph Office in New Delhi said it was geared up to tackle the expected rush.

“We have increased the number of staff in the expectation that the number of people will grow at our counters,” telegraph senior general manager Shameem Akhtar told AFP.

“We will take the final telegram at 10:00 pm (1630 GMT) Sunday and try to deliver them all the same night and the remaining would be sent on Monday,” he added as dozens waited to hand over messages handwritten on slips of paper.

Leave for all staff has been cancelled in a bid to handle the volume of messages, which cost a minimum of 29 rupees (50 US cents) and are hand-delivered by delivery workers on bicycles.

On Sunday morning joggers, housewives and students were among those sending messages to loved ones. Many were seen making calls on their mobile phones to get the postal addresses of their friends so they could send the last dispatch.

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“I have never seen such a rush before. They are some people who are sending 20 telegrams in one go,” said Ranjana Das who is in charge of transmitting the telegrams.

“The service would not have been killed had there been this kind of rush through the year,” added worker Vinod Rai.

The service, known popularly as the “Taar” or wire, will close on Monday because of mounting financial losses.

“While we communicate with improving modern means, let us sample a bit of history,” said one of the last telegrams sent.

“Keep this safely as a piece of history. Mom,” read another.

In the days before mobile phones and the Internet, the telegram network was the main form of long-distance communication, with 20 million messages dispatched from India during the subcontinent’s bloody partition in 1947.

At its peak in 1985 the state-run utility sent 600,000 telegrams a day across India but the figure has dwindled to 5,000 at present, telegraph senior general manager Shameem Akhtar told AFP.

Most of these are believed to be sent from government departments.

“Since 2008 we started redeploying our telegraph staff… and at present more than 90 percent have been redeployed and only 968 telegraph staff remain,” Akhtar said.

One five-word telegram sent from the centre summed up the change.

“The End of an Era,” it read.

AFP

Equipment failure likely cause of French deadly train crash


1693345123French railway employees and rescue workers inspect the wreckage of a derailed intercity train at the Bretigny-sur-Orge station near Paris July 13, 2013. Rescue workers were busy on Saturday trying to find passengers in the wreckage of a train that derailed in central France on Friday, killing at least six people. (REUTERS)

Train carrying 385 passengers skidded and slammed into the station platform

A powerful crane on Saturday lifted the carcass of the most damaged of four train cars that derailed, killing six people and injuring nearly 200 south of Paris in what investigators believe may have been a case of equipment failure on a line some claim is neglected.

Authorities had feared more victims would be found under the wreckage but none was discovered, said the governor of the Essonne region, Michel Fuzeau.

“We are now assured that there are no more victims,” Fuzeau said after the start of the delicate operation by the 700-ton crane. The machine is to remove the cars damaged from the tracks at the small Bretigny-Sur-Orge station. On Friday, four cars slid off the tracks there as the train sped through town, which was not a stop on its journey to central France.

Human error has been ruled out by France’s transport minister and the focus of the investigation is on a detached piece of metal in a switching joint on the tracks. The national rail company, SNCF, has already taken blame for Friday evening’s crash, which occurred at the start of a busy holiday weekend.

“The SNCF considers itself responsible,” rail company chief Guillaume Pepy said. “It is responsible for the lives of its clients.”

The packed train, carrying around 385 passengers, was traveling below the speed limit at 137 kph (85 mph) when it derailed, skidded and slammed into the station platform in the small town outside the capital. It was 20 minutes into a scheduled three-hour trip to Limoges in central France.

The crane, sent from northern France, towered over the small buildings that surround the railway station. A smaller crane initially removed benches, street lamps and other urban furnishings to make place for the larger crane outside the station.

The operation is an “extraordinarily difficult technique given that we are in a train station,” Pepy said. “For the moment, we don’t know how long it could take.” He said the operation could last through Sunday, which is the July 14 Bastille Day holiday, and into Monday, stressing the crane’s operators will be careful and slow in lifting the cars.

It was not immediately clear whether the damaged cars would be lifted over buildings onto trucks as authorities had indicated — or whether the debris would be taken away by rail. There was no immediate sign that the damaged car that was lifted to check for victims had left the tracks.

Pepy, the train authority chief, said investigators found that a 10-kilogram (22-pound) piece of metal he compared to a staple between two rails in a switching system, which guides trains from one track to another, seems to have “detached itself from the rails, lifted and constituted the initial cause of the derailment.”

Investigators were looking into how this happened since another train had traveled safely through the station about 30 minutes before. In addition, they were trying to determine why the train’s third car was the first to derail.

Pierre Izard, another SNCF official, said the metal piece “moved into the center of the switch and in this position it prevented the normal passage of the train’s wheels and it may have caused the derailment.”

Although for now it appears track failure was the cause of the crash, Pepy added: “There can be no (definitive) answer in a few minutes, in a few days.” He also said that all of the approximately 5,000 metal pieces on switching systems around France will be checked.

The train was about 12 miles (20 kilometers) into its 250-mile (400-kilometer) journey to Limoges.

Passengers and officials in train stations throughout France held a minute of silence at noon to commemorate the accident. Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to take trains this weekend to the coast and mountains and to see family. Summer weekends are always busy on France’s extensive rail network, but this one is typically one of the busiest because of Bastille Day.

Fuzeau gave the latest casualty figures, saying that in addition to the dead, 22 people remained hospitalized, two of them in a life-threatening state. Nearly 200 people had initially been treated for injuries, either at the scene or at hospitals.

The crash was the country’s deadliest in years, but Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier said it could have been worse and praised the driver who sent out an alert quickly, preventing a pileup. However, Cuvillier acknowledged that there was some criticism that France hasn’t invested enough in maintaining infrastructure.

Willy Colin of the Rail Users Association was among those who claimed the Paris-Limoges inter-city line was neglected in favor of more high-profile fast-train lines. He said on BFM-TV that trains on the line were among the oldest, calling them “garbage trains.”

The transport minister said no link can immediately be made between the state of the line and the accident.

“For the moment we have no information that allows us to confirm that the dilapidation of the network was the cause of this derailment,” he said on French television.Equipment failure believed involved in French deadly train crash

REUTERS