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Construction worker turned ganja trader’s Rs.40 lakh income claim does him in

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Bengaluru. In 2015-16, Ranga Rachappa filed his income tax and showed an annual income of Rs.40 lakh.

 While scrutinising his income, the income tax officials found that he had not declared the source of his income and asked the police to keep a track of him.

Two years later, on Monday Bangaluru police arrested Rachappa after seizing 30 kg ganja and Rs.5 lakh cash from him following a raid on his house in the city. Police said that Rachappa, a former construction labourer, sold over 30 kg ganja in a month at the rate of Rs.35,000 per kg. His clients mainly comprised college students and professionals working in private companies. The police, which also arrested an accomplice of Racchapa, are probing if the racket involves more people.

According to police, Rachappa, who has studied up to class 10, came to Bangaluru from Pushpapura village in Chamrajnagar district of Karnataka in 2011 to work in building construction sites. However, when someone offered him a business deal of getting ganja from his native village and supply it to customers in Bengaluru, he jumped at it.

In a matter of months, his “business” became exceptionally profitable, he told the police. In 2013, he chucked up his job at a construction site to fully concentrate on his ganja racket. He employed few youngsters to expand the supply network.   

With the new found wealth, he rented a villa in the city at the rate of Rs.40,000 per month and purchased a car. He also purchased properties in Pushpapura. On the advice of his lawyer, Rachappa registered himself as a class I contractor with some government departments to camouflage his drug business.

IT officials got suspicious of his Rs.40 lakh annual income showed in his IT return as he had not mentioned about any income from any sources including contract works.  

Oxfam survey: 1% richest Indians hold 73% of the nation’s wealth

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New Delhi. The richest 1% of India cornered a whopping 73% of the total wealth generated in 2017 in the country, a survey by international rights group Oxfam said. This is much higher than the rights group’s survey last year that had revealed that 1% of India’s richest had 58% of its total wealth.

Globally the situation seems to be grimmer with 1% richest holding 82% of the wealth generated across the world, the survey said.

According to the Oxfam survey, last year the richest 1% Indians’ wealth increased by Rs.20.9 lakh crore – equivalent to the total budget of the Indian government in 2017-18.

On the other end of the spectrum, the wealth of the poorest Indians numbering 67 crore rose just by 1%, the survey said, indicating the deepening economical inequality in the country.

The report said that India added 17 new rich persons to the list of billionaires in 2017. The list now has 101 billionaires. This year, the Indian billionaires’ wealth rose by Rs.4.89 lakh crore – enough to fund 85% of the health and education budgets of all states in the country.

Economic experts say that the growth in number of billionaire is not a good sign of the economy as a whole. On the other hand, it is a sign of an economy failing the common people.

Oxfam’s report titled “Reward Work, Not Wealth” reveals the worldwide trend of concentration of wealth and natural resources in fewer hands while billions of poor people struggle to make ends meet. “(The year) 2017 saw an unprecedented increase in the number of billionaires, at a rate of one every two days.

Billionaire wealth has risen by an average of 13% a year since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2%,” said the report, a result of surveys of 120,000 people in 10 countries globally.

The annual survey about economic inequality in the world by Oxfam is hotly debated at the World Economic Forum’s meet at Davos every year.

Padmaavat still faces opposition despite SC order for its release

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Patna. While the Supreme Court on Thursday imposed a stay order on the ban on the release of controversial movie Padmaavat by four BJP ruled states, members of Shree Rajput Karni Sena vandalised a cinema hall in Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

Protesting against the film’s release, the Karni Sena members destroyed properties at the cinema hall by throwing stones and tearing down posters.

“Yeh sirf trailer hai, pura picture baki hai (this is only a trailer, the full picture remains to be seen),” a group of around 40 Karni Sena members shouted after vandalising the theatre.

Padmaavat, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and starring Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukene, is scheduled to be released on January 25 across the country. Despite the order of the Supreme Court order, which has also restrained other states from banning the film, cinema hall owners have become apprehensive about the security of their properties and movie goers due to the upper caste fringe group’s protest for the past few months.

Padmaavat – earlier named Padmavati – ran into obstacles since it was announced by Bhansali a couple of years back. Karni Sena alleged that his film showed the imaginary Rajput queen, Padmavati, in bad light. A group of the feudal outfit members also ransacked his set and assaulted him when he was shooting in Rajasthan.

Protests did not die down even after the film was ready for release. Supported by the BJP and other RSS affiliates, Karni Sena held demonstrations against the film across the country amidst assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Buckling under pressure, the producers of the film first postponed the release from December last year to January 25. They also changed the name of the film from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmaavat’. However, it did not satisfy Karni Sena and Hindutva fringe groups.

Though the film got clearance from the censor board, four BJP ruled states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat banned its release in their respective states.

The producers moved to the Supreme Court against the ban and succeeded in getting a court order for the release of the film across the country. However, threats against the film continue from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. Some Rajput women from Rajasthan have threatened to commit mass self-immolation while some Hindutva fringe elements have threatened to burn down cinema halls across states.

Attacking Modi, actor Prakash Raj says the PM is not a Hindu 

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Hyderabad. Actor Prakash Raj on Thursday launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged silence over recent attacks on minorities, Dalits, artistes and critics in the name of religion and nationalism.

“They (BJP leaders) call me anti-Hindu. I am not anti-Hindu, I am anti-Modi, anti-Shah (Amit Shah), anti-Hegde (Union minister from Karnataka Anantkumar Hegde).
They are not Hindus. A person who supports killings is not Hindus,”

Raj said while speaking at the India Today South Conclave in Hyderabad.
Raj, a national award winner, was on a panel discussion on censorship along with Tamil actor Vishal, director Sashidharan, whose Malayalam film Sexy Durga faced the ire of Hindutva groups, and writer Kancha Illaiah.

The national award winner, who has acted in numerous Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi films, said that some people celebrated the murder of Bangalore based journalist Gauri Lankesh and the same people were followed by Modi in social media.

“He (Modi) is my Prime Minister, whether I have voted for him or not. Why my Prime Minister is not saying do not celebrate. His silence…he may think it is silence, but it speaks… A true Hindu will not support such activities,” Raj said.

Raj said that the Prime Minister should speak against these people (celebrating Lankesh’s murder) and must reprimand his minister (Hegde) for saying that they would change the Constitution and a religion should be wiped out from the earth.

“This is not Hinduism. If my Prime Minister does not ask his minister to shut up, then I am asking my Prime Minister: you are also not a Hindu. The person who supports killing cannot be a Hindu,” the actor said.

Hegde had created a stir recently by saying that the BJP had come to power to change the Constitution and a religion should be wiped out.

Referring to the controversy relating to the release of Padmavaat, Raj said that the four BJP ruled states that imposed ban on the film on law and order grounds had no right to stay in the government. If they did not quit, people should vote them out of power, he said.

He also backed Sasidharan on the controversy relating to naming his film Sexy Durga. “This film is not about Hinduism or Hindutva. But still they (fringe elements) insist it is about Hinduism,” he said.

As India stares at a farm crisis, will Modi government tide over it?

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New Delhi. On Wednesday Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with over a hundred economists to discuss about the present crisis in farm sector and unemployment, days ahead of his finance minister presenting the last budget of the National Democratic Alliance government headed by him.

Modi has reasons to be worried. His government’s own data shows a depressing picture of agriculture and farm economy, as agriculture is projected to grow at just 2.1% in 2017-18 compared to 4.9% in 2016-17. And this is despite a more or less normal monsoon across the country, which in fact followed two successive rough monsoons.

The NDA government’s Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income, headed by Ashok Dalwai, points out that the country’s farm sector is in a deep crisis at the moment.

The Dalwai committee’s first report, which has been prepared by inputs from over 100 experts says that the agricultural sector grew at an annual rate of around 4% between 2004-05 and 2014-15 as compared to 2.6% per during the preceding decade between 1995-96 and 2004-05). So the projected growth of 2.1% in 2017-18 is a cause of concern.

The data is embarrassing for Modi, who is gearing up for the next general elections to be held in 2019. First, as the data shows, the best growth rate in agriculture coincides with the Congress led United Progressive Alliance’s two successive terms between 2004 and 2014.

The Dalwai committee report acknowledges the better agriculture growth between 2004-5 and 2014-15 to better intervention by the then governments. “The most important factor for improved performance of agriculture, post 2004-05 period, has been the price received by the farmers caused by a number of underlying factors: hike given to MSP (minimum support price), increase in food grain procurement, increase in global agricultural prices and strong domestic demand for food,” the report noted.

On the other hand, since the Modi government came to power, just about 10% of the farmers could get MSP for their produces. Besides, though farmers across the country got bumper harvest they sold their produces at 30-50% less than the MSP in the last three years. In 2013-14, the year before Modi came to power, agriculture contributed 18.3% to India’s GDP. In 2014-15, however, it declined to 17%.

All these have adversely affected the farm sector at the grassroots and several parts of the country have witnessed intense farmers’ protests. Around 22% farmers are below poverty line, while the income of many farmers has declined.

There are speculations about finance minister Arun Jaitley’s last budget being focused on providing relief to farm sector. Will it help the farmers to get over the farm crisis and the Modi government to come back to power after 2019?

After all, the electoral loss of the first NDA government, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had been attributed to farm crisis.

In an unprecedented move, 4 SC judges publicly challenge the authority of CJI

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New Delhi. In an unprecedented move in the history of India’s judiciary, four senior-most justices of the Supreme Court after the Chief Justice of India on Friday held a press conference to talk about the issues plaguing the apex court.

The press conference was held at the residence of Justice J. Chelameswar, who was accompanied by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

The senior judges, who publicly challenged the authority of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said that they were compelled to address the media because the apex court was “not in order” and unless the institution was preserved “democracy will not survive in this country”.

The contentious issues that triggered the press conference included the roster of justices at the Supreme Court and a case relating to the death of special CBI Judge B.H. Loya.

Just before his death, Justice Loya was hearing the Sohrabuddin encounter death case in which BJP president Amit Shah was the main accused.

The SC senior judges shared with the media a letter that they wrote to the Chief Justice. Here is the full unedited text of the letter:

Dear Chief Justice,

It is with great anguish and concern that we have thought it proper to address this letter to you so as to highlight certain judicial orders passed by this Court which has adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivery system and the independence of the High Courts besides impacting the administrative functioning of the Office of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India.
From the date of establishment of the three chartered High Courts of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, certain traditions and conventions in the judicial administration have been well established. The traditions were embraced by this Court which came into existence almost a century after the above mentioned chartered High Courts. These traditions have their roots in the anglo saxon jurisprudence and practice.
Once of the well settled principles is that the Chief Justice is the master of the roster with a privilege to determine the roster, necessity in multi numbered courts for an orderly transaction of business and appropriate arrangements with respect to matters with which member/bench of this Court (as the case may be) is required to deal with which case or class of cases is to be made. The convention of recognizing the privilege of the Chief Justice to form the roster and assign cases to different members/benches of the Court is a convention devised for a disciplined and efficient transaction of business of the Court but not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues.
It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the Chief Justice is only the first amongst the equals nothing more or nothing less. In the matter of the determination of the roster there are well-settled and time honoured conventions guiding the Chief Justice, be the conventions dealing with the strength of the bench which is required to deal with a particular case or the composition thereof.
A necessary corollary to the above mentioned principle is the members of any multi numbered judicial body including this Court would not arrogate to themselves the authority to deal with and pronounce upon matters which ought to be heard by appropriate benches, both composition wise and strength wise with due regard to the roster fixed.
Any departure from the above two rules would not only lead to unpleasant and undesirable consequences of creating doubt in the body politic about the integrity of the institution. Not to talk about the chaos that would result from such departure.
We are sorry to say that off late the twin rules mentioned above have not been strictly adhered to. There have been instances where case having far-reaching consequences for the Nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justices of this Court selectively to the benches “of their preference” without any rationale basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs.
We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged the image of this institution to some extent.
In the above context, we deem it proper to address you presently with regard to the Order dated 27’ October, 2017 in R.P. Luthra vs. Union of India to the effect that there should be no further delay in finalizing the Memorandum of Procedure in the larger public interest. When the Memorandum of Procedure was the subject matter of a decision of a Constitution Bench of this Court in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Anr. vs. Union of India [(2016) 5 SCC 1] it is difficult to understand as to how any other Bench could have dealt with the matter.
The above apart, subsequent to the decision of the Constitution Bench, detailed discussions were held by the Collegium of five judges (including yourself) and the Memorandum of Procedure was finalized and sent by the then Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India to the Government of India in March 2017. The Government of India has not responded to the communication and in view of this silence, it must be taken that the Memorandum of Procedure as finalized by the Collegium has been accepted by the Government of India on the basis of the order of this Court in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (Supra). There was, therefore, no occasion for the Bench to make any observation with regard to the finalization of the Memorandum of Procedure or that that issue cannot linger on for an indefinite period.
On 4′ July, 2017, a Bench of seven Judges of this Court decided In Re, Hon’ble Shri Justice C.S. Karnan [(2017) 1 SCC 1]. In that decision (referred to in R.P. Luthra), two of us observed that there is a need to revisit the process of appointment of judges and to set up a mechanism for corrective measures other than impeachment. No observation was made by any of the seven learned judges with regard to the Memorandum of Procedure.
Any issue with regard to the Memorandum of Procedure should be discussed in the Chief Justices’ Conference and by the Full Court. Such a matter of grave importance, if at all required to be taken on the judicial side, should be dealt with by none other than a Constitution Bench.
The above development must be viewed with serious concern. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India is duty bound to rectify the situation and take appropriate remedial measures after a full discussion with the other members of the Collegium and at a later stage, if required, with other Hon’ble Judges of this Court.
Once the issue arising from the order dated 27th October, 2017 in R.P. Luthra vs. Union of India, mentioned above, is adequately addressed by you and if it becomes so necessary we will apprise you specifically of the other judicial orders passed by this Court which would require to be similarly dealt with.
With kind regards,
……………………,J

[U. CHELAMESWAR]
……………………,J
[RANJAN GOGOI]
……………………,J
[MADAN B. LOKUR]
……………………,J
[KURIAN

WhatsApp brings new features in the latest beta update including quick switch to video call

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NEW DELHI: WhatsApp, a Facebook owned application introduced many new features last year in order to enhance user experience. Now, at this year also it seems that the company is set to bring some more features. The WhatsApp’s Android beta version 2.17.443  brings a numbers of new features such as new sticker icons, quick switch voice to video call, removal of show all contacts tab, group calling and many more.

According to a report by WaBetaInfo (Twitter account) which tracks changes in WhatsApp beta, revealed that WhatsApp will soon bringing stickers like Facebook to its app. Presently the new stickers will be available only for group chats.

The popular messaging app throughout the world is also considering of removing the ‘show all contacts’ tab from the app. However, WaBetaInfo is not sure of this feature and they think that it can be some kind of a bad bug.

Earlier, the company also confirmed that it is working on the group voice calls. Now, the latest beta update clearly hints of group video and voice calling feature in the app. At present, the update doesn’t enable the users to switch between voice and calls that suggests that the app might get the group voice and group video call option as it has stopped support to switch the voice and video calls.

If user is in an audio call and wanted to convert it into video call in WhatsApp, you couldn’t do it quickly. To do so, one has to hung up the audio call and make the video call which is really a tedious process.

But, this new great feature of quick switch button to video call does this job easily and quickly. Once user tap the button, a request will be sent to the receiver. If the other person or receiver accepts the request, then the audio call will automatically convert into video call.

The new update also shows that a new layout for the GIF button and also a new option to manage groups which enables the group admin to  demote or remove a person from a group.

Last month, WhatsApp mistakenly rolled out the new feature in a beta update. WaBetainfo also told that the whatsapp accidentally activated the private reply feature that allows the users to send messages privately in individual or group chats.

In a tweet, WABetaInfo, said, “In the new WhatsApp beta for Windows Phone 2.17.344 the private reply feature is disabled. Probably WhatsApp has wrongly enabled in it 2.17.342.”

Sony’s mid-range Xpreia XA2 and XA2 Ultra smartphone launched at CES 2018

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NEW DELHI.  In Annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 Japanese smartphone maker Sony has unveiled its two selfie centric smartphones in Las Vegas. The company has introduced Sony Xperia XA2 and  Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra  smartphones.

Talking about this smartphones, the Sony Xperia XA2 and Xperia XA2 Ultra differ in terms of some of the specifications.

The Sony Xperia XA2 is the successor of the last year launched Xperia XA, and Xperia XA2 comes with a 5.5 inch full HD display with a resolution of 1080×1920 pixel and Sony’s Image Enhance technology. The device runs Android 8.0 Oreo operating system and is powered by a 2.2GHz octa core  Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor.

The dual SIM smartphone offers 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage which can be expanded up to 256GB through a  microSD card.

The smartphone sports a 23MP rear camera with 1/2.3″ Exmos RS sensor and LED flash and 120° super wide angle lens with a 8MP front shooter. Measuring 142 x 70 x 9.7 mm, the smartphone comes equipped with a fingerprint sensor and it is backed by a 3300mAh battery with a Quick Charge support.

On the other hand, the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra sports a 6 inch full HD display with 1080×1920 pixel resolution. The display is protected with a Corning Gorilla Glass in front. The smartphone is powered by a 2.2GHz octa core Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor paired with 4GB RAM. It offers 32GB and 64GB of internal storage which can be expanded up to 256GB through microSD card. The device comes with dual SIM functionality and runs Android 8.0 Oreo operating system out of the box.

The smartphone comes with a 23MP rear camera with 1/2.3″ Exmos RS sensor and Hybrid AutoFocus and LED flash. The smartphone flaunts a dual selfie camera setup. The device offers a 16MP primary shooter with Exmor RS sensor and LED flash and 120 degree wide angle lens with a 8MP secondary shooter. The smartphone packs a 3850mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge support.

The company has not yet revealed any information about the pricing of the both devices but they will go on sale starting late January.

Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani’s history and science lessons

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Jaipur. Vasudev Devnani, a former professor of Sanskrit, is the education minister of Rajasthan. But his recent comments about history and science have left many educationists flummoxed.

On Monday, Devnani said that it was Brahmagupta II, a seventh century Indian mathematician, who actually discovered the law of gravity a thousand years ago, and not English scientist Isaac Newton as widely believed.

“We studied that Newton gave the law of gravitation. But if we go deeper, we’ll find that it was Brahmagupta II who gave the law of gravitation 1000 years before that,” Hindustan Times quoted him saying at the 72nd Foundation Day celebrations of the University of Rajasthan.

Devnani , the BJP MLA from Ajmer having a long association with RSS, went a step further saying “Bramagupta II’s discovery” should be included in the curriculum in India.

Newton is widely acknowledged by physicists across the world to have discovered the law of gravity in 1686.  

After assuming the charge of the state education ministry in October 2014, Devnani has been regularly in the limelight for his remarks and action. He has restructured Rajasthan’s education along Hindutva line and stressed on more focus on Indian scientists Aryabhatta and Bhaskaracharya in the text books than the theories of foreign born Newton and Pythagoras.

In 2015, Devnani’s ministry directed all model schools in the state to make the students do surya namaskar and meditation before the class and announced that the state government would provide copies of Bhagwat Gita to all libraries in higher secondary schools.

The minister also announced that Mughal emperor Akbar would lose his nomenclature of “The great” to his Rajput rival Rana Pratap in the school text books.

In January last year, Devnani had claimed that the cow was the only animal that inhales as well as exhaled oxygen! “Gai ekmatra prani hai jo oxygen graham karta hai aur oxygen hi chodta hai,” he said in a function, adding that people should understand the scientific significance of cows.

He also claimed that cow dung has an abundance of Vitamin B and persons with diseases could be cured if they were brought near cows.  

 

Photo Courtesy: Facebook

Lalu Yadav gets 3-and-a-half years in jail in fodder scam case

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Ranchi. A special CBI court in Ranchi on Saturday sentenced former Bihar chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to three and a half years of rigorous imprisonment and fined him of Rs.10 lakh in a 21-year-old fodder scam case.

Special CBI judge Shivpal Singh also sentenced 15 other convicts jail terms ranging from three and a half years to seven years and fined them Rs.5 lakh to Rs.10 lakhs for their involvement in the scam related to fraudulent withdrawal of funds from a government treasury. Those who were handed out sentence included Jagdish Sharma, the then Public Accounts Committee chairman, former RJD leader R.K. Rana and three IAS officers.  

“Rather than practising BJP’s Simple Rule – “Follow us or We will Fix you”, I will die happily fixing myself for Social justice, harmony & equality,” Yadav tweeted immediately after the verdict.

On December 23, the court had held Yadav and others guilty of corruption, cheating and criminal conspiracy relating to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.89.27 lakh from the treasury in Deoghar between 1991 and 1996. Since then, Yadav has been lodged in the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi.

The court had acquitted six of the 22 accused including another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, whose son is now in BJP.

Yadav’s lawyer told reporters that they would move the Jharkhand high court for bail for Yadav after going through the judgment.

Yadav had earlier been convicted in another fodder scam case and sentenced to five years in jail in 2013, which prevented him from contesting elections for 11 years.

But despite his conviction, Yadav remained one of the most popular political figures of Bihar. He was the key person in the formation of a “grand alliance” with chief minister Nitish Kumar during the 2015 state elections. The alliance came to power defeating the BJP but last year Kumar deserted Yadav’s RJD to go back to BJP. 

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