Project self-employment as respectable: President Kovind


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Mumbai, Jan 14 (PTI) President Ram Nath Kovind today said the government and NGOs should project self-employment as a “respectable profession” and also urged young Indians to generate employment instead of seeking jobs.

He said it was very important for the country and the society to strengthen “economic democracy” through entrepreneurship.

“People should take up self-employment not due to compulsion but because they choose to. Many programmes, such as the ‘Mudra Yojana’, ‘Startup India’ and ‘Stand Up India’ are helping the youth in empowerment to make them job givers instead of job seekers,” he said.

The president was speaking at the inauguration of the Economic Democracy Conclave organised by the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, a charitable organisation linked to the RSS, located in neighbouring Thane district.

He said the political democracy cannot be strong in the absence of economic and social democracy.

“Improvement in the economic condition of deprived sections is imperative,” Kovind said.

He said many initiatives were taken up in the country with the aim of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ and ‘Sabka Samman, Sabka Utthan’.

“These have a singular goal of strengthening economic and social democracy. The idea behind these programmes is that if anyone has to really help someone, then he/she should be made financially self-reliant,” he said.

The president said the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture in the country was not the sole responsibility of the government.

“Family, educational institutions, private sector banks, entrepreneurs, NGOs, etc. all have the responsibility to create an environment where private enterprise is encouraged.

“Together, we should create a culture in which self- employment is not chosen just due to the compulsion of not getting a job. The idea of becoming a job-giver instead of job-seeker should be embraced,” he said.

Government departments, NGOs and semi-government bodies should push for a culture where self-employment is seen as a respectable profession, he said.

“It should be encouraged. The decision of opting for self-employment should not be based on some compulsion but one should choose it,” Kovind said.

He said an important outcome of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’ was that out of 30 crore new bank accounts, more than 50 per cent were opened by women.

“It is a welcome step and an empowering development for working women,” the president said.

Later in the day, Kovind addressed the ‘Gratitude Day’ function at the Global Vipassana Pagoda at Gorai in suburban Borivali here.

The day commemorates the death anniversary of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, a renowned Vipassana teacher from Myanmar, and the ‘pagoda’ is built as a token of gratitude to him.

On the occasion, the president observed that the message of Lord Buddha was essential for the society to move from violence towards mercy.

“For the sake of humanity, we need to move from violence towards mercy and therefore it is essential to expand the message of Lord Buddha in society. Vipassana helps us in teaching such messages and principles to the people,” he said while addressing the audience.

Tourism will help promote dialogue, ensure peace: Mehbooba


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20:5 HRS IST
Srinagar, Jan 14 (PTI) Tourism is one of the best means to promote dialogue as it gives ample opportunity to people to know each other better, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said.

“Tourism promotes interactions at people’s level, removes misgivings and creates bonds of amity among various sections of society. That is why every tourist visiting the state is a step towards peace,” Mehbooba said while interacting with a group of tourists on the sidelines of a three-day snow festival at the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg last evening.

Mehbooba asked the guests not to get carried away by what they see on TV channels, but come to experience the truth on their own.

“The impression about the state will improve consequentially with more and more tourist arrivals as they will be judging the place for themselves rather than relying on newsroom discussions of some news channels,” she said.

The three-day festival is expected to showcase winter attractions at the famed tourist resort.

During the festival, events such as snow cycling, snow zorbing, snow tubing and ATV race would be held at Gondola base station.

Minister for Tourism Tassaduq Mufti, Afghan Ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Additional Solicitor General of India Pinki Anand, well-known columnist and British parliamentarian Meghnad Desai, filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, and writer Rakhshanda Jalil were present on the occasion.

Mehbooba Mufti govt has failed on all fronts: Omar


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Jammu, Jan 11 (PTI) Attacking the Mehbooba Mufti led dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said today that the state government had failed on all fronts and claimed that recent comments by Governor N N Vohra certified this failure.

“The government has failed on all the fronts in all the ways and that certificate (of failure) has been given to it by the Governor,” the National Conference (NC) leader told reporters here.

Governor Vohra had on Monday, while delivering the ‘The First Mufti Memorial Lecture’ to commemorate the Mufti Sayeed Day, said that the entire polity and public services of the state, and the people must work together to protect the student community and youth.

“We have not been able to do so and I regret to say that,” the governor had said.

Abdullah said that as far as welfare schemes were concerned, people would not have been on the roads if they were getting their due.

“Whether it is in Jammu or in Kashmir. People are holding protests. People are demanding their rights. People are not getting their rights,” he said.

The former chief minister said that had the government undertaken development work, it would not have been forced to postpone elections in Anantnag.

Rupee drops 6 paise to 63.66 on dollar buoyancy


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Mumbai, Jan 11 (PTI) The overnight recovery proved to be short-lived as the rupee once again turned shaky against the US dollar and settled lower by 6 paise to 63.66 on fresh bouts of demand for the American currency.

Besides, the dollar’s recovery against some currencies overseas alongside sustained withdrawal of funds by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) largely weighed on trade.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold shares worth Rs 572.26 crore yesterday, as per the provisional data.

Forex traders moved cautiously ahead of the IIP data for November and Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) for December, to be released tomorrow.

Though, the home currency managed to withstand early dollar pressure after plunging to a low of 63.81 intra-day.

Overall forex sentiment remained buoyant on the hopes of more inflows from foreign investors, after the government announced FDI norms relaxation for some sectors.

The Union Cabinet yesterday permitted foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent in debt-laden Air India and eased norms for investment in single-brand retail, construction and power exchanges.

The domestic currency topped its fresh three-year high last Friday and strengthened by a healthy 50 paise for the first week of the new year.

On the international commodity front, global crude prices rebounded to the highest closing levels in more than three years fuelled by a surprise drop in US production and lower inventories.

Brent crude futures were at USD 69.56 a barrel in early Asian trading, the highest since May 2015.

Meanwhile, after a brief pause, equity benchmarks continued their record-breaking run led by gains in select frontline heavyweights on growing optimism surrounding corporate earnings despite weak global cues.

Most Asian stocks slipped following a softer Wall Street lead.

The BSE Sensex rose over 70 points to end at a new closing peak of 34,503.49, while Nifty rose 19 points to a record of 10,651.20.

At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the Indian unit resumed modestly weak at 63.65 against Wednesday’s close of 63.60.

It later touched a low of 63.81 on heavy dollar pressure.

However, the domestic unit staged a good recovery towards the fag-end session, as state-run banks stepped up greenback sales likely on behalf of exporters, limiting earlier losses despite rallying crude prices.

The rupee finally settled the day at 63.66, showing a small loss of 6 paise, or 0.09. It had bounced back yesterday after a two-day fall.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback’s value against a basket of six major currencies, was down at 92.02 in early trade.

Globally, the dollar held onto modest gains against other major currencies, as concerns surrounding news that China may halt its US bond purchases continued to ease.

India launches Cartosat 2 Series satellite, 29 others


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Sriharikota (AP), Jan 12 (PTI) India today successfully launched weather observation satellite Cartosat 2 Series and 29 other spacecraft onboard its dependable Polar rocket from here.

The successful orbiting of the satellites by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV C-40 comes four months after the Indian space Research Organisation s mission to launch backup navigation spacecraft IRNSS-1H onboard PSLV-39 ended in a rare failure.

A jubilant ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar announced that the Cartosat 2 Series satellite, the seventh in the series, a nano satellite and 28 commercial payloads were successfully injected into the orbit one by one by the PSLV C-40, in the space of about 17.33 minutes since lift-off.

A micro satellite of India would be orbited after about 90 minutes following the re-ignition of the fourth stage, Kumar said.

International customer satellites are three micro and 25 nano-satellites from six countries — Canada, Finland, France, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Earlier, at the end of the 28-hours countdown, the 44.4 metre tall PSLV-C40 in its 42nd flight, lifted off at 9.29 am and soared into a cloudy sky from the first launch pad.

The opening mission of 2018 was considered crucial for ISRO as the previous PSLV launch came as a setback to scientists as the backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H could not be placed in orbit following a snag in the final leg of the PSLV-C39 mission in August last year.

The heat shield of the rocket did not separate in the final leg of the launch sequence, trapping the satellite in the fourth stage of the rocket.

Modi, Rahul Gandhi pay tributes to Lal Bahadur Shastri


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New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to the country’s second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, on his death anniversary today.

Taking to microblogging site Twitter, the prime minister said Shastri’s “impeccable service” will be remembered for generations to come.

“We pay homage to Shastri Ji on his Punya Tithi. His impeccable service and courageous leadership will be remembered for generations to come,” Modi said.

Gandhi invoked the late leader to emphasise the importance of building up unity and solidarity of people.

“Among the major tasks before us, none is of greater importance for our strength and stability than the task of building up the unity and solidarity of our people,” the Congress chief said on Twitter.

“My tributes to former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri ji on his death anniversary,” he said.

Shastri was born in 1904 and held office between June, 1964 and January, 1966. He passed away on this day in 1966.

He led the country during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.

His slogan of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ (Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer) became a clarion call and is still remembered.

Now, Parrikar says Mahadayi issue to be fought before tribunal


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Panaji, Jan 10 (PTI) Making a U-turn on Mahadayi river water sharing issue, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that ongoing dispute with Karnataka will be fought before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal.

Parrikar, who has been facing flak over his letter on the dispute to Karnataka BJP president B S Yeddyurappa last December, today blamed the media for “making an issue out of a non-issue”.

In his missive sent to Yeddyurappa, Parrikar had said Goa could share the river water with Karnataka for drinking purposes and expressed his willingness for bilateral talks.

The letter created a controversy as it was addressed to the BJP leader instead to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who represents the state government.

The letter, which was viewed as a political gambit by Parrikar ahead of assembly polls in the Congress-ruled southern state, had evoked a sharp reaction from Siddaramaiah and various opposition parties.

Mahadayi river riparian states Karnataka and Goa, besides Maharashtra, have been locked in a bitter dispute over sharing of the water.

While addressing media persons today over his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, Parrikar blamed media for blowing the Mahadayi issue out of proportion.

“Mahadayi issue is created by you (media) for the sake of news. The fight over distribution of Mahadayi river water is before the tribunal and we will fight it there,” he said when asked if the issue came up for discussion during his meeting with the prime minister.

The Mahadayi (called Mandovi in Goa) originates in Karnataka and flows to Goa and Maharashtra.

The water sharing issue is politically sensitive one, especially in five north Karnataka districts.

The southern state is going to polls later this year.

Vice-Prez to offer prayers at hill shrine on Jan.11


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9:30 HRS IST
Tirupati, Jan 9 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will offer prayers at the hill temple of Lord Venkateswara near here, on Thursday, a temple official said today.

Arriving in the evening on Wednesday, he would pray at the shrine the next morning, temple Public Relations Officer T Ravi told PTI.

This would be Naidu’s first visit to the temple after being sworn in on August 11 last year.

An ardent devotee, Naidu had earlier visited the shrine in his capacity as Vice President-elect on August 7 last year, the officer added.

Jet Airways crew arrested for smuggling forex: DRI


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9:59 HRS IST
New Delhi, Jan 9 (PTI) A female flight attendant of Jet Airways has been arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for allegedly trying to smuggle out USD 4,80,200 out of the country, according to an official statement.

The accused was intercepted by DRI officials when she was on a flight to Hong Kong yesterday, it said.

The DRI officials found USD 4,80,200 (approximately Rs 3.21 crore) wrapped in foil in her possession, the statement said.

On investigation, it was found that she was working with an agent, named Amit Malhotra, a resident of Vivek Vihar area here, a senior DRI official said.

He said that Amit Malhotra was following a modus operandi of using crew members for smuggling of forex.

“Malhotra would collect money from some bullion dealers in Delhi and send it via some air hostess to select foreign destinations. The money was being used for purchasing gold abroad. The gold would then be sent to India illegally,” the official said.

Malhotra had befriended the Jet airways crew six months ago during a flight to India, he said.

The DRI suspected the role of some other crew members of Jet Airways in smuggling out forex, the official said.

“Malhotra has been illegally smuggling forex for the past over one year. There are some other crew members involved in the case. We are also trying to find out the details of bullion dealers involved in this syndicate,” he said.

Both Malhotra and the Jet Airways crew member have been arrested, the official said.

Rupee rebounds 6 paise against dollar in early trade


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9:47 HRS IST
Mumbai, Jan 9 (PTI) The rupee recouped by 6 paise to 63.45 against the US dollar in early trade today on fresh selling of the American currency by exporters and banks amid early gains in stocks.

Forex dealers said persistent inflows of foreign funds and weakness in the dollar against other currencies overseas supported the domestic unit.

Yesterday, the rupee had retreated from its near three- year high and ended lower by 14 paise at 63.51 against the US currency on fresh bouts of dollar demand amid concerns over the sluggish outlook for economic growth.

Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex rose 134.73 points, or 0.39 per cent, to quote at an all-time high of 34,487.52 in opening session.