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Rajinikanth’s decision can change bipolar nature of TN politics


  • Rajinikanth’s recent speech triggered speculation as to whether he would finally choose the political path.
  • His association with PM Modi gives rise to conjectures that he may take the political plunge with BJP backing.
  • But, there are some who are convinced that the actor may chart his own course.

Actor Rajnikanth’s recent speech to fans, calling for changing “the system” and preparing for “a war”, though predictably ambiguous, has set off a fierce political debate. Will he emerge as the BJP mascot? Will he take the plunge, launch his own outfit and change the bipolar nature of Dravidian politics? Or, as he has done all these years, will he steer clear of politics?

The questions are churning the already turbulent Tamil Nadu politics.

His statements on Friday, tinged with political innuendos, have evoked strong feelings and triggered speculation as to whether he would finally choose the political path. What has added grist for the political rumour mill is the BJP element.

The actor’s close association with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his perceived saffron leanings have given rise to conjectures that he may take the political plunge with BJP backing.

“Rajnikanth has maintained contact with the BJP for a long time, but never political,” said senior BJP leader from Tamil Nadu and Rajya Sabha member L Ganesan.

“First let him decide if he wants to come to politics. BJP wants good people,” said Ganesan, who feels the actor, by making such statements, may be trying to feel the pulse of the people.

Post Jayalalithaa, new leaders have emerged on the horizon, but few with the kind of fan base and popularity that Rajnikanth boasts.

The actor’s entry into politics could change the fortunes of politicians like DMK working president M K Stalin and less tested leaders like O Panneerselvam and chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who head the two rival AIADMK factions.

With former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death and an ailing DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi retiring from politics, Rajinikanth could dramatically change the bipolar nature that marked Tamil politics for four or five decades.

Stalin is yet to prove himself as an election winner and a divided AIADMK is vulnerable.

“If Rajinikanth joins BJP, it will gain,” said senior journalist and Tamil writer P Sudhangan.

“The BJP does not want a new leader like Jayalalithaa to emerge in Tamil Nadu. They also want to to ensure that the DMK does not come to power. They are looking for a charismatic face,” said Sudhangan.

There are some like Sudhangan who are convinced that the actor may chart his own course.

“Rajinikanth is unlikely to join BJP as he may lose his individual identity,” said Sudhangan.

Twenty-one years ago, Rajnikanth raised his voice (against former chief minister J Jayalalithaa with his famous campaign slogan, “even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa is voted to power). “It was the right time. People wanted change.”

AIADMK was routed in the 1996 assembly election. Later, he patched up with Jayalalithaa and distanced himself from politics. Today, the actor appears inclined to dabble in it. Whatever he does, the Rajini-style politics could spice up Tamil Nadu in the coming days.

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Tejas Express set to begin the maiden journey today

Tejas Express set to begin the maiden journey today

Here are the top features of the luxurious train

The high-speed rake is capable of running at the speed of 200 kmph but due to track constraints will run at 160 kmph.

THE PREMIUM – LUXURY train Tejas Express is all set to begin it’s maiden journey starting Monday. It’s first ride has been scheduled at 3.25 pm from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to reach Karmali station within nine hours. It will be inaugurated by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu from Dadar by video-conferencing on Monday.

The high-speed rake is capable of running at the speed of 200 kmph but due to track constraints will run at 160 kmph. It includes modern amenities like onboard infotainment like Wi-Fi, CCTV, Fire & Smoke detection facilities. It’s journey has been scheduled for five days a week during monsoon period and three days a week during non monsoon period. The fifteen coach train consists of one Executive First AC coach and 12 Chair-car coaches. The coaches are manufactured in Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala.

Tejas Train Indian Railways

Indian Railways’s new train Tejas to be flagged off from Mumbai for Goa tomorrow, arrived in platform number 18 of CST on Sunday morning. Credit: Express photo by Nirmal Harindran, 21st May 2017, Mumbai.

Here are some of the salient features of the Tejas Express :

1. Coaches is of LHB coaches which have relatively higher carrying capacity
2. Ergonomic seating with improved cushioning and upholstery
3. Automatic entrance and interior doors
4. Entertainment screens for each passenger along with head phone socket
5. LED board for advertising and communicating safety instructions
6. GPS bases passenger information display system
7. Improved aesthetics with new colour scheme and futuristic look
8. Smart windows with automatic venetian blinds
9. Dust sealed gangways.
10. Fire and smoke detection and suppression system
11. CCTV system with remote control and monitoring capability
12. Concealed LED lighting
13. Adjusting reading light
14. Passenger Announcement System

15. Mobile, Laptop charging points
16. Provision of Wi-Fi facility
17. Integrated Braille display
18. Individual magazine, bottle holder, snack table, etc.
19. Bio-vaccum toilets
20. Sensorised taps, flushing system, hand driers, tissue paper dispenser and soap dispenser in toilets
21. Water level indicators
22. Accessible dustbin with garbage compacting feature for higher capacity
23. Digital destination boards and electronic passenger reservation chart.

According to the fare-chart released by the railways, its rates are there times higher than other trains like Jan Shatabdi express running on the similar route. The railways had maintained due to better facilities it’s rates would be 20 per cent more than a Shatabdi train catering to different destinations. As the train would take 2-3 hours longer during monsoons to cover the journey, passengers preferring catering service will be charged more for an extra meal served.

What has also excited commuters is the choice of food menu being served on the train. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) would handle the catering service of the train.

With wider choices like croissant and French fries in breakfast and lachcha paratha and chicken kolhapuri for the main course, train meals are not going to be boring any more.

The Express was inspected by senior Railway authorities on Sunday morning.Glass panes of one of the coaches of the 20-seater train was damaged on its journey from Delhi-Mumbai. D K Sharma, General manager, CR said the damaged coach has been sent back to Delhi.

” We will take further care to ensure the train remains intact with no damage caused in the future,” he told the press on Sunday.

Train No. 22119 Superfast Tejas Express will leave Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai at 05.00 hrs on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 24.5.2017 and arrive Karmali at 13.30 hrs same day. Train No. 22120 Superfast Tejas Express will leave Karmali at 14.30 hrs on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 23.5.2017 and arrive Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai at 23.00 hrs same day.

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Indian woman reaches Everest summit twice in a week

Indian woman reaches Everest summit twice in a week
An Indian climber on Sunday reached the summit of Mount Everest for the second time in less than a week, her expedition team said, setting a women’s record for a double ascent of the world’s highest mountain in a single season.

Anshu Jamsenpa, 37, returned from the 8,848-metre (29,028-feet) peak on May 16, before turning around after a short rest to repeat the feat.

“Anshu reached the summit of Everest at 8:00 am today (local time) for the second time this season, setting a new record,” said Dawa Lama of Dream Himalaya Adventures.

Jamsenpa, a mother of two, was blessed by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama before leaving for the expedition.
The current female record, certified by Guinness World Records, is held by Nepali climber Chhurim Sherpa, who in 2012 become the first woman to scale the peak twice in a season.

Jamsenpa has climbed Mount Everest five times.

She intended to make the summit in 2014 but the climbing season was canceled after an avalanche killed 16 Nepali guides.

Another attempt the following year was foiled after an avalanche — this one triggered by a massive earthquake that left swathes of Nepal in ruins — killed 18 people at Base Camp.

Last week Nepali climber Lhakpa Sherpa broke her own record for the greatest number of summits by a woman after scaling the peak for the eighth time.

More than 120 climbers have made the summit this season, with the first ascents delayed by high winds, a fresh snowfall, and unusually cold temperatures.

There are concerns a high number of summit permits issued by Nepal could cause dangerous “traffic jams” on the mountain as climbers target a brief window of favorable weather before the monsoon in June.

This year’s climbing season has already been marred by two deaths, including legendary Swiss climber Ueli Steck who fell from a ridge during an acclimatization climb.

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India to enter high-speed internet era with Isro’s new satellites

India to enter high-speed internet era with Isro’s new satellites

Despite overtaking the US last year to become the world’s second largest internet user base after China, India is still behind many Asian countries when it comes to internet speed. But things are set to change in the next 18 months when Indian Space Research Organisation+ (ISRO) plans to usher in an age of high-speed internet in the country with the launch of three communication satellites.

Speaking to TOI, Isro chairman Kiran Kumar said, “We will launch three communication satellites. GSAT-19 in June and GSAT-11 and GSAT-20 thereafter. GSAT-19 will be launched by GSLVMk III, Isro’s next-generation launch vehicle boosted by an indigenous cryogenic engine that is capable of carrying a four-tonne satellite to the geosynchronous transfer orbit. These satellites will use multiple spot beams (a special kind of transponder that operates on a high frequency) that will increase internet speed and connectivity. These multiple spot beams will cover the entire country.”

A spot beam is a satellite signal that is specially concentrated (sent by a high-gain antenna located on the satellite) so that it covers only a limited geographic area on earth.

The narrower the beam, more is the power. The three satellites will reuse “beams” (signals) several times over smaller areas. In contrast, traditional satellite technology uses a broad single beam to cover wide regions.

Tapan Misra, director of Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre, told TOI, “These new satellites, once operational, will be capable of providing high-quality internet, phone and video services.”

Misra said the effective data rate of earlier-launched GSAT satellites is one gigabyte per second. GSAT-19, on the other hand, will be able to transfer data at four gigabytes per second, thus making it equivalent to four satellites. This satellite will use eight beams.

“GSAT-11, which is heavier than GSAT-19, will be launched by the year-end and will use 16 beams. It will be able to transfer data at the rate of 13 gigabytes per second. GSAT-20, whose launch is set at the end of 2018, will use 40 beams. Each beam will have two polarisations, which will effectively make them 80 beams. This satellite will have data rate of 60-70 gigabytes/sec,” he said.

The number of internet users in the country is expected to reach 450-465 million by June, up 4-8% from 432 million in December 2016, according to a report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India. However, India, with just 4.1 Mbps average connection speed, ranked a poor 105th on the world’s fastest internet connectivity speed list, said a report by a US-based cloud service provider.

India is way behind South Korea (the leader with 26.3 Mbps) and Hong Kong ( 20 Mbps), Sri Lanka (6 Mbps), Vietnam (6.3 Mbps) and China (5.7 Mbps).

The three satellites will be the game-changer for India.

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24×7 “One Rupee Medical Clinics” Launched In 14 Mumbai Railway Stations

The Central Railway has teamed up with medical consultant organisation Magicdil to launch “One Rupee Clinics” in all major central railway stations in Mumbai. These will be provided in Emergency Medical Rooms (EMRs).

  • These clinics will be open 24×7.
  • They will provide swift medical assistance to rail accident victims for a token charge of Rs 1.
  • They will have three to four MBBS doctors.
  • They will be accompanied by pharmacies and pathology clinics.
  • Blood pressure and blood sugar checkups are also provided at discounted prices (BP check is free).

The installation of EMRs was thanks to the efforts of rail activist Samir Zaveri. Mr Zaveri’s PIL in the Bombay High Court on the issue of lack of prompt medical help in case of accidents on railway tracks resulted in the Court ordering the Railways to set up EMRs at all stations on the Central and Western Line in a phased manner.

Along with One Rupee Clinic, there will also be a Magicdil Pharmacy at every station. These pharmacies will provide 10% to 21% discount on all medicines and also a Magicdil Pathology Clinic which will provide 10% to 40% discount on all tests.

Based on the frequency of rail accidents, five of the city’s most crowded stations have been selected. The first five EMRs have been launched at Dadar, Kurla, Wadala, Mulund, and Ghatkopar stations.

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18-year-old from Tamil Nadu designs world’s lightest satellite


  • The satellite was selected through a competition called ‘Cubes in Space’, jointly organised by NASA and ‘I Doodle Learning’
  • This will be the first time an Indian student’s experiment – a 64 gm satellite – will be flown by NASA

Eighteen-year-old Rifath Sharook, belonging to a comparatively unknown town of Pallapatti in Tamil Nadu, is all set to break a global space record by launching the lightest satellite in the world, weighing a mere 64 grams.

The satellite, called KalamSat, will be launched by a NASA sounding rocket on June 21 from Wallops Island, a NASA facility. This will be the first time an Indian student’s experiment will be flown by NASA.

Speaking to TOI from Pallapatti, Rifath said it will be a sub-orbital flight and post-launch, the mission span will be 240 minutes and the tiny satellite will operate for 12 minutes in a micro-gravity environment of space. “The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3-D printed carbon fibre,” he explained. He said the satellite was selected through a competition called ‘Cubes in Space’, jointly organised by NASA and a organisation called ‘I Doodle Learning’.

The main challenge was to design an experiment to be flown to space which will fit into a four-metre cube weighing exactly 64 grams. “We did a lot of research on different cube satellites all over the world and found ours was the lightest,” he said. Rifath said the satellite is made mainly of reinforced carbon fibre polymer. “We obtained some of the components from abroad and some are indigenous,” he said.

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PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate India’s longest bridge in Assam near China border

PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate India’s longest bridge in Assam near China border

India’s longest river bridge, capable of withstanding the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank, is seen as India’s attempt to shore up its defence requirements.

India’s longest river bridge, capable of withstanding the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank, will be inaugurated in Assam close to the border with China on May 26 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

With the inauguration of the 9.15-km-long Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river, the prime minister will kick start the celebrations of the NDA government’s three years in office from this eastern-most part of Assam.

The bridge is seen as an attempt by India to shore up its defence requirements along the Sino-Indian border particularly in the Northeast besides providing easy access to the people of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam with air and rail connectivity.

It is 3.55 km longer than the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai, making it the longest bridge in India.

“The prime minister will dedicate the strategically important bridge to the nation on May 26. It will bolster the road connectivity in the Northeast as the bridge will be used by people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh besides defence forces extensively,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said.

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Kerala government has planned to promote eco-friendly weddings

Kerala government has planned to promote eco-friendly weddings

Kerala government has planned to promote eco-friendly, green weddings in the state. As a first step, the government has started discussions with religious groups and social organisations.

Though a few individuals and organisations have been talking about the necessity of such weddings, this is the first time that the government has taken up the initiative. However, at some events like National Games, Attukal Pongala and Maalyatoor church feast, the government had tried to adopt eco-friendly steps like making the place a zero waste zone.

The program will come under the Suchitwa Mission and will be implemented through local bodies.

Kannur Idukki and Ernakulam districts have already started awareness campaigns in this regard, reports The Times of India.

It was also reported that the government plans to implement the project at religious events as well.

In Idukki, authorities have sought the help of church authorities while Minister for local self-government KT Jaleel, has sought the state Waqf board’s help.

“People should be aware of the environmental impact of the huge quantity of waste, including plastic products, generated in lavish weddings and other parties. They should be ready to stop using disposable items such as plates and water bottles,” CV Joy, state director (operations) of Suchitwa Mission, told ToI, adding that the mission is aimed at making religious festivals like an Iftar meet during Ramzan, go eco-friendly and waste-free.

It was in Ernakulam that the local administration first initiated the move to promote green weddings.

Ernakulam district collector Muhammed Y Safirulla had convened a meeting with auditorium owners, catering service agents and religious and cultural leaders. It was decided to cut down on the use of disposable items at weddings. The meeting had also decided to bring a protocol for green weddings.

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In a first, travel emerges as the top reason for Indians to spend money abroad

In a first, travel emerges as the top reason for Indians to spend money abroad

Foreign travel—for the first time—has become the number one reason why Indian individuals spend money overseas.

Until last year, the top reason for remittances was Indians sending money abroad for maintenance of close relatives and for studies.

These remittances are made under the Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme under which individuals are allowed to send up to $250,000 annually.

For several years, spending on travel ranked number three in the list of reasons for remittances. This has changed during the current fiscal.

In FY17 (up to February 2017), remittances towards travel increased 3.6 times to $2.3 billion, accounting for a third of total international spending by Indians.

In FY16, the total spending on travel, at $651 million, amounted to only 15% of the total remittances.
“We have seen good growth in travel to destinations like Thailand, Dubai and other places in the Gulf. A combination of affordable airfares and offers by intermediaries has brought international travel within the reach of a lot many people,” said M Hariprasad, senior VP and head of treasury at Centrum Direct.

The forex remittance limit was brought down from $200,000 to $70,000 in 2013 when the rupee went into a free fall. This limit was restored and then increased to $250,000 in May 2015.

According to Hariprasad, the spending on travel has nothing to do with the relaxation of ceiling on forex remittances as average spending is only in thousands of dollars.

More than the relaxation of forex limits, the firming up of the rupee appears to have boosted overseas travel. Travel companies are, however, seeing only normal growth because there is a shift to direct spending through credit cards and online bookings.

Total remittances by Indians have gone up from $4.3 billion in FY16 to $7 billion in FY17 (up to February), an increase of 63%. Interestingly, Indians sending money abroad for purchase of immovable property has shrunk from $90 million in FY16 to $82 million. Spending on medical treatment overseas has also marginally declined from $17 million to $15 million.

However, the numbers could still rise as data for March 2017 is not yet available.

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UAE visa on arrival for Indians with US visa from May 1

UAE visa on arrival for Indians with US visa from May 1

The visa will be valid for 14 days, extendable for a similar period one time only. Indian passport holders with a valid American visa or a Green Card will be eligible to get UAE visa on arrival at all ports starting May 1, officials said on Tuesday.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) this week circulated a letter to authorities to grant the UAE visa to Indians with valid America visa or Green Card following a Cabinet decision last month.

Shaikh Khaled Bin Essam Al Qassimi, Chairman of Department of Civil Aviation in Sharjah, told Gulf News on Tuesday that the circular followed the ministry’s instructions.

The circular was given to all UAE borders points, including airports and ports, he said. Officials at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai confirmed that they will start implementing the order on May 1. The decision to have a simplified visa process is aimed at advancing the UAE-India relations in economics, politics, and trade.

It also contributes to achieving UAE’s vision to be the leading country in attracting global tourism.

“Citizens of the Republic of India who are holders of normal passports with a six-month, or more, valid green card or visa issued by the United States of America shall be granted entry visas to the UAE from all ports for a period of 14 days, subject for a single renewal for the same period upon payment of applicable fees,” an official statement said earlier on March.

Trading partner

According to the latest figures, the UAE-India trade has grown to around $60 billion (Dh220 billion) per annum, making India the second largest trading partner of UAE. The UAE exports to India totaled $27 billion (Dh99 billion) while Indian exports to UAE totaled $33 billion (Dh121 billion).

The number of Indian tourists coming to the UAE last year reached about 1.6 million Indian tourists, and there were about 50,000 UAE tourists who visited India in the same year. There are about 143 flights a day between the UAE and Indian cities, at a rate of 1000 flights per week.

Strong bonds of friendship between UAE and India have found clear expression in the series of high-level bilateral visits between the two countries in the past two years, The move of granting entry visas to the UAE aligns itself with the close cooperation between the two countries.

UAE visa on arrival for Indians with US Green Card or US visa

  • Indian passport holders with valid America visa or Green Card will get UAE visa on arrival and valid for 14 days, extendable for a similar period one time only.
  • The validity of the passport must be not less than six months and the fee for an entry permit will be Dh100.
  • The fee for the one-time extension of the entry permit will be Dh250.
  • Currently, citizens of 47 countries apart from the GCC nations, can get visa on arrival.

Citizens of the following countries do not require advance visa arrangements to enter the UAE and can obtain a visa upon arrival for 90 days:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Holland
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • France

Citizens of the following countries do not require advance visa arrangements to enter the UAE and can obtain a visa upon arrival for 30 days:

  • Andorra
  • China
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • Hong Kong
  • Monaco
  • South Korea
  • Brunei
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • The Vatican
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • San Marino
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Russia Federation

— Source: VisaHQ

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