2 upcoming personal finance webinars

first_imgThe Personal Finance group will be presenting a two-part webinar series in March on investments and mutual funds. Speaker Dr. Barbara O’Neill will discuss the basics of investing on Monday, March 4 at 11 a.m. ET. She will continue with part 2 on Thursday, March 14 at 11 a.m., ET and this session will focus on the management of mutual funds.Part 1, Investing for Your Future: Basic Concepts and Investment Products will cover: a discussion on finding ways to discover money to invest; an explanation of how to calculate net worth; review of compound interest using “The Rule of 72;” discussion of the risk-reward relationship and risk tolerance; an explanation of basic investment terminology; explanation of the characteristics of stocks and bonds; discussion of common investment frauds and scams; a review of state and federal investor protection resources.Part 2, Investing for Your Future: Mutual Funds and Tax-Deferred Investments will cover: a discussion of the characteristics and types of mutual funds; mutual fund fees and other screening factors; characteristics of annuities and exchange-traded funds (EFTs); a review of sources of investment information; a discussion of benefits and types of tax-deferred investing; a discussion of how to invest with small dollar amounts.These sessions will be hosted by the Department of Defense. Please review these instructions for connecting to the webinar prior to the event. This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on February 20, 2013.last_img read more

4 Tools for Keeping Camera Gear Safe from the Elements

first_imgYou don’t have to spend a lot of cash to keep your camera video gear protected.Often when shooting out in-the-field you have to deal with the elements. Exposure to water or dirt can be disastrous to your equipment. You’ve probably tried the old ‘put it under your shirt technique’, but if you’re wanting to protect your equipment the right way there are a few pieces of equipment that are worth the investment.Some of these tools are more ‘professional‘ than others, but all of them are guaranteed to give you a leg up on keeping your equipment out of the elements. The following list is ordered from least expensive to most expensive, or in other words ‘least reliable to most reliable’. These are designed to keep your equipment protected, but the best way to prevent water or dirt from getting into your gear is to avoid it altogether.Note: these tools are meant to protect gear that isn’t in-use. If you want to find some cheap ways to cover you camera for active productions I highly recommend checking out “4 Inexpensive Ways to Keep Your Camera Dry” by Digital Camera World.1. Ziplock BagsKeeping your gear protected doesn’t have to be rocket science. Ziplock bags are avaliable in an extra large size, perfect if you are looking for a cheap way to keep you gear dry. These do have their disadvantages, as the seal sometimes can come undone or worse, rip.Price: $5.992. Sea to Summit Dry SackThe Sea to Summit Dry Sack offers a rollable and foldable snap seal for added protection. The bags can be conveniently stored without the fear of rips or tears. They also happen to be much cheaper than other dry bags. Sea to Summit recommends double bagging particularly sensitive items.Price: $12-$403. SeaLine EcoSee Clear Dry BagIf you want to see what’s on the inside of your dry bag without opening them up, check out these dry bags created by SeaLine. Their EcoSee clear series offers the same protection as the Sea to Summit dry sack, but in a clear bag.Price: $20-$804. Dry BoxThe dry box is admittedly a much bulkier alternative to using a dry sack, but with  it you can rest assured that your equipment will stay 100% dry and clean, even when dumped under water. These cases are also bright orange so if they fall out of a boat  you will easily be able to find them.Price: $22The following video tutorial created by Richard Harrington with Lynda.com shows us how to use a few of these dry sacks.This video was first shared by Lynda.com. Thanks for sharing guys!If you’ve already accidentally dropped your camera in water it isn’t too late! Check out our “You’ve Dropped Your Camera in Water… Now What?” post.Have any other methods of keeping your gear safe? Share in the comments below.last_img read more

Sales Growth: An Interview with McKinsey’s Jon Vander Ark

first_img Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now Listen to interview here.Last Friday I interviewed Jon Vander Ark from McKinsey about their new book, Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders. Sales Growth is really aimed at sales leaders well above the first line sales manager. But I asked Jon to allow me to frame our conversation around ideas that would be valuable for salespeople and sales managers, and he agreed.I directed the questions around five ideas from the book, but they aren’t the five proven strategies. They are just parts of the five proven strategies.The first idea we riff on is getting to opportunities before your competitors. I believe this means you develop your business acumen, you know what challenges your clients are likely to face, and you bring them ideas. Some of McKinsey’s research bears this out.The second idea we discuss is targeting clients. It’s easy to believe that because some industry is generally down that you should spend your time somewhere else. Jon suggests that “Averages lie.” There may be serious pockets of growth in industries that are generally down.The third prompt I gave Jon was around pursuing customers relentlessly and getting there early. It’s easy to give up and look for more receptive clients. But that isn’t the answer. The new buying cycle makes it difficult to win unless you get to your dream clients early.The fourth idea is just fun. It’s a story from the book about a company that instituted what they call hunting days. Personally, I believe every day is a hunting day, but this story may give you one or two really good ideas.Finally, we tackle the value of coaching. McKinsey’s research shows that high growth sales organizations spend a lot of time coaching their salespeople. Listen to the podcast and discover the shockingly high percentage of time spent coaching and then ask yourself if you are spending too much time serving your organization.I hope I hooked you. Give the podcast a listen. Buy the book. Let me know what you think.last_img read more

How to Clean Your Pipeline

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now There isn’t a pipeline anywhere that isn’t a little cluttered. Some are full of non-opportunities, and many more are full of opportunities that aren’t anywhere near the stage being reported.You might think that cleaning up your pipeline is for management’s benefit. And management certainly needs reporting they can count on. But the real benefits of a pristine, well-maintained pipeline accrue to the salesperson. You know what you’re really working on. You can more easily manage your opportunities, moving them smoothly from target to close. And you have a real picture of where you are when it comes to making your number.Here is a simple two-step process you can use to clean up your pipeline. It will take you a half hour at best, and it will give you a truer picture of where you are now—and what you need to do to get where you are going.It’s A Lead, Not an OpportunitySome of what is in your pipeline doesn’t belong there. They’re not opportunities; they’re leads. Sometimes you call on a prospect, they express an interest, and you put them in your pipeline and you try to engage in your sales process. But for any number of reasons, there is no real opportunity there.Maybe your prospect had a need that never developed, and so they no longer need what you sell. Maybe they aren’t dissatisfied enough to move. Maybe they used to use a lot of what you sell, but because their business is no longer doing as well as it once was, they aren’t buying.There are any number of reasons that your prospect isn’t going to buy from you or anyone else anytime soon, but whatever the reason, they are no longer an opportunity. They may just be a lead that you need to follow up on later.You start to clean your pipeline by removing anything that isn’t really an opportunity. The age of the opportunity alone can be a good clue. If an “opportunity” is old, if it hasn’t moved from one stage of your sales process to the next, if there is no real activity, take it out of your pipeline. It’s a distraction at best, a false sense of security at worst.Push Opportunities BackSometimes you can get ahead of yourself. You can record an opportunity in a stage of your sales cycle that’s far beyond where you really are in the process.Your dream client asked you for a presentation, and you obliged them. Who wouldn’t take the opportunity to present their ideas when asked? But did you really complete all of the tasks and gain each of the outcomes you needed to in order to advance the opportunity to the presentation stage?The reason so many deals stall in the sales process is the salesperson skipping steps along the way. By not doing what you need to do at each stage, you increase the likelihood that the deal will stall in later stages. Just because you have completed some task or action in a stage doesn’t mean that the opportunity is in that stage. It’s really in the last stage in which you have obtained all of the outcomes of your sales process.After you’ve eliminated all of the non-opportunities from your pipeline, you continue you tidying up your pipeline by ensuring that every opportunity is in the correct stage of your sales process. If you haven’t completed all of the tasks and gained all of the outcomes of each prior stage, you need to move that opportunity down to the last stage for which you can check every box.The argument as to why this necessary is too long for this post, but I’ll summarize it by giving you an example: If you have presented without having built consensus around your solution, you still need to build consensus. Your sales process is your plan to stack the deck in your favor, to take the actions that lead to won deals. Don’t tilt the odds away from you by failing to do what you know works.This simple, two-stop process will clean your pipeline. It will help you know where you are really are now. And it’s more than likely that it will make you feel a great need to prospect.QuestionsWhat’s cluttering up your pipeline right now?Why do you hang on to non-opportunities? What’s the benefit of keeping non-opportunities in your pipeline instead of turning them back into leads?Is every opportunity in your pipeline in the right stage of the sales process?How many of your opportunities are stalled? What percentage?How does cleaning your pipeline help you to produce better sales results?last_img read more

Arunachal gets a security package

first_imgUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the Centre has sanctioned a special package for strengthening security in three eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh to tackle the insurgency problem there.“The special package for Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts will also include creation of new posts, purchase of vehicles and equipment for police,” Mr. Singh said, addressing the 31st Arunachal Pradesh statehood day programme here.He said necessary funds would be given at the earliest for construction of over 20 police stations in the three districts and asked the State government to expedite the work. Mr. Singh said his Ministry was actively considering the proposals submitted by the Arunachal Pradesh government for strengthening the security system in the State.The State government had sent a proposal for setting up an ITBP battalion here, Mr. Singh said, adding he had asked his Ministry’s officials to immediately examine it. He also promised to sanction a forensic science laboratory in the State.“We will do whatever is possible in the interest of the State for development. There is no dearth of funds. But every penny from the Centre should be judiciously utilised to maintain transparency so that nobody could point a finger,” he said.Hydro powerReferring to the hydro power potential of the State, Mr. Singh said a robust connectivity infrastructure was a must to tap this and turn it into a money spinner. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had already announced a ₹50,000 crore project for roads and bridges in the State. Four State roads have been announced as national highways and the State government should send proposals for early sanction, Mr. Singh said. He said the foundation stone for a railway line to Pasighat would be laid soon. To boost telecom and IT connectivity, work on band line for 5035 km is on. Ducting has been completed for 2300 km, while cables have been laid for 1300 km.Referring to the aviation sector, the Union Minister said the Centre had already given 75% subsidy for two MI-75 choppers in operation in the State, while subsidy for another small chopper would be approved soon. “Commercial flights will be made operational from Pasighat Advance Landing Ground (ALG) soon,” he added.On CM Pema Khandu’s decision to make official work paperless, he said it would bring efficiency and transparency . In the recent Vibrant Gujarat Summit, many investors wanted to invest in Arunachal, he said.last_img read more

No infighting in BJD, party not weak: Naveen

first_imgBJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that there is no infighting in the party.“I do not feel any infighting in the party. Where is infighting?” Patnaik aksed while replying reporters on his return from his five-day visit to the national capital.When the Chief Minister was asked whether infighting in the regional outfit has been making the party weak, he said .“Who says the party is going weak? I don’t think its going weak at all? We are the largest party in the state. and have won four terms in a row.” When his attention was drawn to a news article written by BJD MP Bhartuhari Mahatab where he indicated infighting in BJD, .Patnaik said he has not gone through the article.On his visit to the residence of former prime minister A B Vajpayee during his stay in Delhi, Patnaik said “I heard Mr Vajpayee was not feeling well. So I paid a courtesy visit.” On claims made by a section of BJP leaders in Odisha that he wanted an alliance with the saffron party ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Chief Minister said “That is not correct.” Asked whether he has any plans to join the non—BJP parties to field an united opposition candidate in the ensuing presidential elections, he said “There are no plans yet. There were no discussions in Delhi as far as I am concerned.” Replying to a question on the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s proposed meeting with the chief ministers of Naxal—hit states, Patnaik said “It (the killing of 25 security personnel in Sukma) is very tragic. We will wait for the invitation for the May 8 meeting from the Union Home Minister on this.”last_img read more

After 56 years, Sardar Sarovar project officially ‘complete’

first_imgMembers of Narmada Bachao Andolan protest against the closure of Sardar Sarovar Dam at Shram Shakti Bhavan in New Delhi on May 17, 2017.  “It’s a historic day for Gujarat as the Narmada project, known as Lifeline of Gujarat, gets final approval to shut the gates to allow storage of water to its full capacity. The Modi government in the Centre gave this landmark gift to the people of Gujarat,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, said announcing the decision.On Saturday, Mr Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and top officials visited the dam site in Narmada district to supervise the works to be completed by June 30 as per the NCA’s order. The State will also organise a Narmada festival in every district to celebrate the completion of the project.In February this year, the Apex Court had cleared the decks for the completion of the project by ordering monetary compensation to the tune of ₹60 lakh per family for the project affected families, who will be displaced in Madhya Pradesh with the raising the dam’s height in Gujarat.Prior to the NCA meeting on Friday, its Environment Sub-group, chaired by Union secretary of environment and forests had reviewed implementation of environment safeguard measures and recommended lowering of the gates for completion of the project.The Resettlement and Rehabilitation sub-group chaired the Union Secretary of Social Justice & Empowerment had also reviewed the rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected families as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award and the Supreme Court order delivered in February 2017. | Photo Credit: PTI center_img In a major boost to the ruling BJP before the Assembly polls, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has given the final go ahead to the Gujarat government to close the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) gates, almost 56 years after the dam’s foundation was laid in South Gujarat by the then Prime Minister M. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961.In its meeting held on Friday, the NCA permitted increasing the dam’s height by lowering of 30 gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 metres.The latest and final clearance for the project that has faced environmental issues, displacement of tribals and a protracted legal battle, will lead to the completion of the project and result in an increase in the dam’s storage capacity from 1,565 million cubic metres (MCM) to 5,740 MCM and also increase hydro power generation from the current 1,300 MW to 1,450 MW.According to the Union Water Resources Ministry, this additional storage would irrigate about eight lakh hectares. Additionally, about one crore population will get assured drinking water. The SSD is primarily aimed at meeting the water requirements of the drought prone and desert areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan.last_img read more

Twenty Madhya Pradesh villages face submergence

first_imgFarmers from 20 villages of the Narmada valley have gone on a fast in protest against the administration’s instructions to vacate villages that are in the submergence zone of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. After getting permission from the Narmada Control Authority to close the floodgates of the Sardar Sarovar dam, the Gujarat government has closed all 30 gates of the dam, causing the water level to rise to 133 metres from 122 metres. This is expected to generate hydel power, water fields and take drinking water to parts of Gujarat. But the raised level also brings many villages in the submergence zone, necessitating their abandonment.“There is at present a relay hunger strike. About 200 people across 20 villages are fasting each day to make the point that they do not want to abandon their villages,” said Rahul Yadav of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. “They want rehabilitation at a place that has facilities like their villages, and not land that does not have basic facilities.”“The Supreme Court had said that the villages concerned should be vacated by the end of the month. Rehabilitation has been offered to them and officials have visited the sites and expressed satisfaction with the facilities offered,” Barwani PRO Swadesh Silawat told The Hindu over phone.The villages that are witness fasts include Bagud, Picchodi, Avalda, Chikhalda, Kadmal, Kharparkheda, Bajararkheda, Nisarpur, Kothada, Karodia, Bodhwada, Gopalpura, Gangali, Kavathi, Ekalbara, Semalda, and Parkhed.“The government is asking us to leave our villages but it has not provided proper rehabilitation yet. We will vacate our villages only when the government provides proper rehabilitation with basic facilities,” Mr. Yadav said.As The Hindu had reported a few days back from Barda in Barwani, villagers complained that they had been allotted land 7 km away from their villages, which was not easily accessible from their fields that were outside the submergence zone. Also, about 70 families had not been surveyed, villagers claimed, meaning that they had not got any alternative land.last_img read more

Curfew relaxed in Sirsa between 6 am and 11 am

first_imgHit by large-scale violence following the verdict against Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh earlier this week, the life in Sirsa town started limping back to normalcy with people stepping out of their houses on Sunday morning to buy essential items after the administration allowed five hours relaxation in the curfew till noon.Parshuram Chowk in the heart of the city was teeming with activities around 9 a.m. with the men and women turning out in large numbers to buy groceries, vegetables and medicines. “It was anticipated and we had stored vegetables and groceries for almost a week. But the supply of milk was hit,” said Rohit, who had come to buy fruits after he came to know about the relaxation in curfew from morning newspaper.Rajan Khurana, who had come to buy medicines for his diabetic mother, said that though chemist shops inside hospitals were open he preferred not to come out because of curfew. “Though everyone’s life is hit by curfew, the patients and the children bear the brunt,” said Rajan.The past two days were particularly difficult for Tek Chand, a cobbler. Hoping to make a few bucks during the curfew relaxation, Tek Chand, 65, had come early today. He said that he had to borrow money to meet his basic needs.Ajay Sachdeva, who owns a mobile shop, said that he had come to dust off the premises since it was lying closed for the past two days. “I do not expect any business because the priority now is the items of everyday use. But a friend called me in the morning saying that the market was open. So I also decided to come,” said Mr. Sachdeva, adding that the local administration had managed to control the situation well and not allowed the violence to spill over.Narender Kansal, another shopkeeper, said the he hoped the situation to become normal in the next couple of days after the quantum of sentence was announced on Monday. “It was good for us that the judgement was pronounced in Panchkula. Had it been in Sirsa court, the situation could have been worse,” added Shankar.The administration also allowed the locals to go past the barricades on the road leading to Dera headquarters in a bid to normalise the situation. But a team of ETV news channel was attacked allegedly by Dera followers after they went too close to the Dera headquarters in the morning to take shots. The Dera followers allegedly surrounded the team’s vehicle and one of them even threw a brick on it. The driver accompanying the team was beaten up. However, the followers could be seen relaxing on both sides of the road outside the Dera headquarters in the morning during relaxation in curfew.last_img read more

Goa-Howrah train delayed by engine fire

first_imgPANAJI: The Vasco da Gama–Horwah Amaravati Express train was delayed for nearly two hours on Sunday, after the rear engine of the train caught fire near Cansaulim railway station in south Goa.A South Western Railway spokesperson said no one was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after the Amravati Express (18048) left Vasco da Gama railway station. He said a fire engine was requisitioned to the site. “There was a delay of two hours during which the engine was replaced,” the spokesperson said.last_img

Dineshwar Sharma reaches out to J&K parties

first_imgThe Centre’s Special Representative Dineshwar Sharma, who is on a three-day visit to Srinagar to interact with various stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), is reaching out to political parties in the State. He has so far met delegations that were sent invitations for talks by the State government.Mr. Sharma met representatives of the Janata Dal(U), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) on Tuesday and is expected to meet Congress and CPI(M) representatives on Wednesday.A women’s delegation, the first of its kind, apprised Mr. Sharma of problems faced by women, while another delegation underlined the “urgency to talk to Pakistan and separatists”.The delegates said Mr. Sharma hinted at widening the dialogue to other stakeholders too, hinting at the possible inclusion of Hurriyat leaders. Thirty-six delegations met the Special Representative on Tuesday, including a group calling itself the ‘Rahul Gandhi Fans Association’.Channels blamedMr. Sharma has been tasked by the Centre to initiate and “carry forward a dialogue” with the elected representatives, various organizations and concerned individuals in J&K.Sanjay Saraf, spokesperson of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) said some news channels were vilifying Kashmiris for TRPs and said this needs to be stopped.“We told the Special Representative that the youth of Kashmir has seen violence for the past 27 years and this needs to stop. The news channels are sending out a wrong message of Kashmir by portraying them in a negative light,” Mr. Saraf said.Abid Jan, president of the State Employees Working Women Association (SEWWA), said she met Mr. Sharma to focus concerns of women affected by the prolonged conflict.Bearing the brunt“We have 35,000 widows, especially in Kupwara. We have a huge chunk of women folk in Kunan Poshpora who are widows. We discussed about rehabilitation of women affected by the conflict,” she said.Calling for peace centres in every district in Kashmir, Ms Jan said they should be “headed by peace officers. Women also need a platform to put forth their view point.”Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, a Srinagar-based transporter who was part of one of the delegations, said prolonged strikes called by separatists had caused huge losses.“We don’t want that our people become militants and pick up guns. A one day strike impacts our business for the next four days, some people are maligning the entire State,” Mr. Lone said.last_img read more

Court postpones decision on Kulkarni’s interim bail plea

first_imgA special court on Tuesday deferred its decision on the interim bail plea filed by builder Deepak S. Kulkarni by a day. Mr. Kulkarni, popularly known as DSK, and his wife have been accused of cheating hundreds of investors across the State.Special court judge J. T. Utpat, who heard the arguments of Additional Public Prosecutor Sunil Hande on Tuesday afternoon, said the court would decide whether Mr. Kulkarni’s interim bail plea was accepted or rejected on Wednesday.Mr. Hande said that Mr. Kulkarni would not be able to repay investors as the DSK Group had bank liabilities of ₹1,458 crore. The developer, who faces the possibility of arrest if his bail is rejected, was not present in court. More than 8,000 people are believed to have invested in the fixed deposit scheme of the DSK Group. While the exact sum of money invested is yet to be ascertained, sources estimate the amount to be anything between ₹500 and ₹1,100 crore.Last week, Mr. Kulkarni and his wife, Hemanti, were accorded temporary respite after Mr. Utpat directed the Crime Branch not to arrest them until the next hearing. Mr. Hande had requested the court to grant him additional time to study the evidence furnished by Mr. Kulkarni’s lawyers.Mr. Kulkarni’s lawyer, Shrikant Shivade, reiterating his client’s interest to repay all investors, argued that the DSK Group’s assets were more than the amount of liability it is facing. Mr. Shivade had earlier said that the process of repaying investors had begun and that some depositors had already been compensated.‘Vague claims’However, Right to Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar has cast aspersions on these claims. “What is the basis of such vague and unsubstantiated claims? At a time when banks have been instructed not to deal with the DSK Group, his lawyers say some investors have been compensated through RTGS. I do not believe that any of the duped investors have received their money back,” said Mr. Kumbhar.Since the Pune Police registered an FIR against the Kulkarni couple on October 28, more than 1,300 complaints have been lodged against the developer in Pune, Mumbai and Kolhapur. An FIR has been filed in Mumbai as well. Last week, a police team from the Economic Offences Wing had raided the developer’s home and corporate offices in Pune and Mumbai.last_img read more

Professor Errol D’Souza is new head of IIM-A

first_imgAhmedabad: The Centre on Wednesday cleared the appointment of Professor Errol D’Souza as director of the country’s premier business management school Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) on contract basis for five years.The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) cleared Prof D’Souza’s name and subsequently, the Department of Personnel and Training issued the notification regarding the appointment.He has been interim director of IIM Ahmedabad since September 2017, after Prof. Ashish Nanda resignation. His appointment was notified a few hours before the the IIM Act came into effect on Wednesday. Prof. D’Souza is a Professor of Economics and Dean (faculty) at IIMA. He studied Economics and Statistics at the University of Mumbai and obtained his PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.Before joining IIM-A in 2001, Prof. D’Souza was the IFCI chair professor in the department of economics, University of Mumbai, and was also a visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York, and a visiting senior fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.He has worked on academic committees of the University Grants Commission and the Indian Council of Social Science Research, and has been associated with the Planning Commission and Reserve Bank of India. “I am confident that Prof. D’Souza will be an excellent match for this position and a strong asset to the IIMA community,” said Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Board and IIMA Society.(With PTI inputs)last_img read more

Let there be a Lokpal for judges: Prashant Bhushan

first_imgAn independent ‘judicial Lokpal’ with power to take up complaints and initiate action against judges should be set up to ensure accountability of the judiciary, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan said here on Saturday. “There should be an independent institution for lodging complaints against judges. The institution should be independent from both the judiciary and the government like a judicial Lokpal,” said Mr. Bhushan.He was addressing a conference in the city’s Jadavpur University held for the launch of the West Bengal Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (WBCJAR). The WBCJAR will be affiliated to the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) led by Mr. Bhushan. “There should be an independent selection committee, similar to the one for selecting the Jan Lokpal, for appointment of the judicial Lokpal which will have complete power to entertain complaints against judges and take action,” he said.Mr. Bhushsan alleged that the independence of the judiciary was being undermined for several reasons: the absence of any concrete system to ensure their accountability; post-retirement jobs granted by the Centre and the government’s power to grant funding for foreign trips.Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre of “promoting and patronising” a culture of “telling lies and spreading fake information”, Mr. Bhushan said that ensuring the independence of the judiciary has become even more important in such a situation.“In such a situation the role of the Supreme Court becomes more important than ever,” said Mr. Bhushan.last_img read more

AIMPLB spokesperson booked for sedition

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh Police has booked AIMPLB spokesman Maulana Sajjad Nomani on sedition charges for allegedly hurting religious feelings during a speech in Hyderabad. The Hazratganj police registered a case on Wednesday against Mr. Nomani based on a complaint by Chairman, Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board, Waseem Rizvi.The complainant has alleged that Nomani in his February 9 speech in the general council meeting of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in Hyderabad had deliberately hurt religious feelings, police said.“Referring to Rohingya Muslims, Nomani said attempts are underway to make the situation of Indian Muslims like that of their Rohingya counterparts. He even said he had proof of arms, ammunition and training being given to all, even in the smallest of villages, to make Indian Muslims suffer.“This speech was widely broadcast by television channels, which had a mass impact,” Mr. Rizvi said. He also gave CDs as proof to the police to back his complaint. Mr. Nomani has been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 124-A (sedition) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language), police said. He also faces charges under the IPC section 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 298 (uttering, words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), they said. Nomani, however rubbished the allegations as false and baseless.last_img read more

Odisha to plant palms to arrest lightning bolts

first_imgThe Odisha government has decided to revive the traditional practice of planting palm trees to deal with the issue of deaths caused by lightning every year. Approximately 500 lives are lost annually due to lightning in the State. Palm trees, being the tallest ones, act as a good conductor when lightning strikes.Palm tree plantations will come up along the forest boundaries on National and State Highways and in common land in coastal villages. The State Forest and Environment Department has issued instructions to all regional conservators of forests and divisional forest officers in this regard.Traditional practice“Earlier, planting palm trees was a traditional practice in villages, but this has now been discontinued due to urbanisation and development. The tree has a wide range of uses — its fruits are eaten, the stem is valuable as wood, and baskets and mats are woven with the leaves. It is also learnt to be helpful as a bulwark against lightning casualties,” said D. Swain, principal chief conservator of forests.“Lightning usually hits the tallest object first. The palm tree being the tallest among other trees in its surroundings works as a lightning conductor, decreasing deaths by lightning,” said Mr. Swain. Palm trees also protect coastal areas from storms and cyclones, while its roots protect embankments from soil erosion.According to Bishnupada Sethi, managing director, Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), as many as 1,256 lightning deaths took place in the State in the last three years, most of them (about 85%) in the May-September period. Lightning deaths account for about 27% of the total number of ‘disaster deaths’. The OSDMA has taken up a massive awareness drive, educating people on how to react during a thunderstorm. The neighbouring Bangladesh, which also sees many deaths every year due to lightning strikes, has announced a similar programme to plant one million palm trees.last_img read more

All students fail Class X exam in Hisar school

first_imgAll students of a government girls’ school in Hisar district of Haryana have failed to clear their Class X examination this year. A total of 24 girls from the school in Kabrel village appeared for the exam but failed to score pass marks, said a State Education Department official. It was the only school to have fared so badly, he said. The Haryana Board of School Education, Bhiwani, declared the result last month.The villagers of Kabrel have held the State government and the Education Department responsible for the poor result. “On the one hand, the government is laying so much emphasis on ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ programme, and on the other hand, the authorities have done nothing to solve the problem of shortage of staff in the school,” a villager said.Staff shortageThe village panchayat members met the district administration officials several times demanding more teachers in the school but the administration failed to fullfil their demands, he claimed. The school had no teachers for Sanskrit, Hindi, science and mathematics in the last academic session, said Dharam Singh, the village head. “The students complained several times, but to no avail,” he said.There are no teachers for various subjects in the school for the last four years, said a village elderly. The post of the headmaster is lying vacant for the last four years, said a teacher of the school. He said out of 24 girls who failed in the exam, 15 have taken re-admission in the school. District Education Officer B S Sehrawat could not be contacted for a comment.last_img read more

Over 77% voting in Meghalaya by-elections

first_imgThe by-election to two Meghalaya Assembly constituencies on Thursday recorded a voter turnout of more than 77%. The seats were Ranikor in South West Khasi Hills district and South Tura in West Garo Hills district.“The turnout at Ranikor and South Tura was 82.1% and 72.87% respectively. Reports from a few centres are yet to come in, though,” Meghalaya’s chief electoral officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said.The by-election to Ranikor was necessitated after five-time winner Martin K Danggo resigned as a Congress MLA to join the National People’s Party (NPP), which rules the State in alliance with the BJP and other regional parties.Mr. Dangoo is the NPP’s candidate in Ranikor. His rivals are Pius Marwein of United Democratic Party, P.N. Syiem of People’s Democratic Front and Jackiush Sangma of Congress.The South Tura seat fell vacant after Agatha K. Sangma resigned to make space for brother and Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, who is an MP from Tura, one of two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya. He too has three rivals – Charlotte W. Momin of Congress and independents John Leslee K. Sangma and Chris Kabul A Sangma.Runners in serviceThe bypoll was marked by the engagement of 10 athletes as runners to relay messages between remote polling centres and the district election office. Ranikor is known for producing long-distance runners such as national champion Binning Lyngkhoi, who is in the armed forces now.Access roads and mobile phone network in at least five polling centres were damaged due to heavy rainfall, necessitating the appointment of these runners, South West Khasi Hills district’s deputy commissioner Isawanda Laloo said.The runners took turns to relay messages covering an average 20 km one way. They made four trips at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 4pm to report polling trends and turnouts.The day also saw the South West Khasi Hills launch a manhunt for an evangelist who had been preaching against voting and accepting welfare schemes. “I have asked the police to take action against this preacher trying to mislead the people by saying electoral politics is satanic,” the State’s Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said.last_img read more

Beautification plan destroys oldest neighbourhoods in Varanasi

first_imgAround the temple of Lord Vishwanath — Shiva, the destroyer — in Varanasi, destruction is taking place on a scale this ancient city hasn’t witnessed in modern times.A strip of land — measuring 43,636 sq m — between the 18th century shrine and the River Ganga — is being cleared of all construction, many perhaps as old as the temple itself, so that pilgrims have an easier access through a wide and beautified corridor that has been planned under the Kashi Vishwanath Precinct Development Project.The project is being executed by Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust, under the Uttar Pradesh government, but the driving force behind it is thought to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi (or Banaras) in Parliament.Close to 300 houses — 187 already demolished and 90 waiting to be razed — are making way for the project, which has effectively wiped out some of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, such as Lahori Tola. The first to settle here migrated from Lahore during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who had donated the gold that adorns the temple’s dome. Today, their sixth-generation descendants find themselves uprooted — quite suddenly.  “We no longer call this place Lahori Tola, we call it Swargiya (Late) Lahori Tola. It has been wiped out by an earthquake — Modi earthquake,” says Ajay Kapoor, who sits on the steps of the building that served as the family house-cum-saree shop for generations. His employees are packing up the sarees, while the building awaits demolition; the houses around his are already rubble.With his business dead, Mr. Kapoor has plenty of time to kill, so he sits on the steps with some of his equally idle neighbours, having a chat over chai — a typical Banarasi pastime. They have always voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party, but now their anger against Mr. Modi is palpable. “Why should he care? By demolishing 300 houses, he will lose not even 10,000 votes. But Banaras is defined by its galis (narrow lanes), and by creating this corridor, he is robbing Banaras of its very identity,” says Mr. Kapoor.Mr. Kapoor and his family have received compensation — he refuses to reveal how much — but he says: “A house gets, say, ₹1 crore as compensation, but there are five brothers living in that house, so each brother gets only ₹20 lakh each. Can you buy a decent house for ₹20 lakh today? And what about our proximity to the temple — how can you compensate for that?”Since the project affects only those living in the 43,636 sq m of land connecting the temple to the river, opinion is divided on the irrevocable damage that has been caused by it. Many in the city, especially admirers of Mr. Modi, hail the move, saying it has rid the temple area of encroachments. According to them, the rightful owners were, in any case, not living in these buildings, which were occupied mostly by tenants paying a measly rent. Further, the emergence of old temples from many of the demolished structures has further strengthened their argument — and that of the government — that they had been constructed illegally over temples and that it was about time they were removed.“Change is always turbulent,” says Vishal Singh, the young bureaucrat who, as the CEO of the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust, is executing the project with an iron hand, “but if you tell me change can’t happen, I won’t buy that.”So exactly whose brainchild is the project? “It would be very difficult for me to pinpoint,” says Mr. Singh. “All I can tell you is that the plan was conceived in 2007. I would even say that the idea dates back to 1916 when Mahatma Gandhi visited the temple and was appalled by the filth and congestion around it. [Mr. Modi] has only provided a fillip to the project.” A labourer demolishes a residential building for the Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor project.  | Photo Credit: AP last_img read more

Private bodies to help promote family welfare programmes

first_imgThe Congress government in Rajasthan has decided to involve voluntary groups, industrial houses and private bodies in the implementation of family welfare programmes through the corporate social responsibility activities. The participation of private bodies is expected to give a boost to outreach of these programmes in the rural areas.Industries Commissioner Krishna Kant Pathak said at a workshop here earlier this week that the State expected to strengthen reproductive health rights and reduce high fertility rate as well as maternal and infant mortality ratios, which were above the national average, through the CSR intervention.Healthcare Dr. Pathak, who is also the State CSR Secretary, said the business houses could render a significant help in improving the health care infrastructure in the villages. He said the maternal mortality ratio in the State stood at 30% and infant mortality ratio at 10% largely because of poor infrastructure.Medical & Health Department’s Nodal Officer Dharmesh Arya said the State’s fertility rate at 2.4 was higher than the national average. The family welfare programmes could be taken to the targeted groups with the help of private bodies, he said.CSR activitiesRepresentatives of Chambal Fertilisers, NTPC Limited, Cairn India, Pathfinder and Mylan Pharma suggested the CSR activities which could make an effective intervention in the reproductive health sector.last_img read more