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'Disrupters Have Lost': Arun Jaitley on Supreme Court's Rafale Verdict

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The government on Friday hailed the Supreme Court verdict dismissing the need for a probe into the Rafale deal.

“Falsehood has very short life, in this case it was a few months… The disrupters have lost and lost on all counts,” Finance minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference.

 

 

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the matter had been “completely laid to rest”.

Sitharaman said that the top court had made clear pleas against the decision-making, pricing and choice of offset partner in the Rafale deal did not hold.

“The court has clearly stated that the process has been complied with,” Sitharaman said.

In its verdict on Friday, the apex court had said that a detailed review of the Rafale deal was not required. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also said that it was satisfied with the decision-making process.

The Centre has defended the multi-billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and opposed public disclosure of the pricing details.

India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment. The estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore.


Why Can't I Orgasm? Experts Explain What's Really Going On.

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No one is born magically knowing how to orgasm. Some people take years of being sexually active before they can get off with a partner ― or at all.

In one study, only 18.4 percent of people who identified as women said they could orgasm through intercourse alone, and clitoral stimulation was often necessary for a chance at it. Having a penis doesn’t necessarily make things more straightforward either ― although the pressure to climax is certainly there. In a study published in the Journal of Sexual Research, a quarter of people who self-identified as men claimed they’ve faked it.

Curious why you can’t you get off? There could be a huge variety of factors at play, according to Sarah Hunter Murray, a sex researcher and relationship therapist. Below are some of the most common reasons, broken down by physical and mental roadblocks:

Physical Reasons You Can’t Orgasm

If you can’t get off, more than likely you haven’t found the best technique for you. The most common physical reason cisgender women don’t orgasm, for example, “is because of lack of clitoral stimulation,” Murray said. “Most sexual positions ― particularly in heterosexual penetrative sex ― do not adequately stimulate the clitoris.”

People may also feel they are simply just having difficulties reaching orgasm, but it might be because “the most sensitive and erogenous part of their body” needs more stimulation, Murray added.

According to Sunny Rodgers, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach, you typically need to do a little research or chat with an expert or mental health professional to finally orgasm effectively. Something “as simple as pelvic rocking can make a climax easier to reach during both sex and masturbation,” she explained.

You also have to relax and take your time: It could take 20 minutes of clitoral stimulation (or more) to climax, Rodgers said.

Pain can also prevent you from getting all the way there. Medical conditions like endometriosis or vaginismus, or a partner’s technique that isn’t creating the intended effect, can all keep you from enjoying sex enough to orgasm. The type of birth control you’re on can also mess with your libido and sexual functioning.

Additionally, if cisgender men “experience any issue that would prevent them from being interested in sex, or from having sex ― say a lack of sexual desire, or difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection ― then of course [they] would have a harder time reaching orgasm,” Murray said.

A whole host of things can cause erectile dysfunction, or ED, alone, from health conditions to tobacco use to certain medications. It’s important to check in with your doctor if you start having issues with desire or your erection.

Mental Reasons You Can’t Orgasm

Murray said mental blocks can prevent you from achieving orgasm. It can be difficult for some to remain mentally present during a sexual encounter and focus on the sensations, she explained.

“This could be for a host of reasons, from feeling emotionally disconnected from their partner, feeling stressed or worried about life demands, feeling insecure about their body, or a history of sexual trauma,” Murray said. Something as simple as a fight with your significant other, which you’re still angry or upset about, could stop you from getting all the way there.

Rodgers said that shame also plays a factor in failing to reach climax. “Even though we seem to be living in a sexually heightened society with sex used in advertisements, movies and social media, these overly sexual themes can have a negative effect on many men and women,” she said.

“Unrealistic expectations” for how you need to look and behave during sex can have a “psychologically debilitating outcome,” which can prevent the big O, Rodgers added.

Rodgers has also worked with clients who live with “a deep-seated fear of orgasming,” which also can prevent them from experiencing pleasure during sex. “They can be afraid of a range of outcomes from experiencing an orgasm, like becoming addicted to sex, or to feeling like they’re cheating if they orgasm solo [during masturbation],” she said. If this is the case, Rodgers recommended reaching out to a therapist who can help you work through it.

There are also mental health conditions that can impact your ability to enjoy sex and reach orgasm, including anxiety and depression. If you’re having trouble orgasming for an unknown reason, it’s worth checking in with a doctor or mental health professional.

How To Finally Get Off

Now on to the good news: There are ways to fix both the physical and mental barriers to orgasming so you can have the most pleasurable experience possible.

If you’re dealing with a lack of emotional connection or you’re still harboring resentment about a fight, experts recommend talking it out with your partner before you hit the sheets the next time. Research shows open communication leads to more sexual satisfaction.

Aside from that, try not focusing on the orgasm itself. It may sound counterintuitive, but anxiety over the lack of climax may also just put it further out of reach, Murray said. Instead, try to savor the other parts of sex, like foreplay.

“While orgasm tends to be treated as the main event of a sexual encounter, putting too much pressure on having an orgasm is often found to be detrimental to sexual enjoyment,” Murray said. “That’s because focusing on orgasm is essentially putting our attention on the outcome versus the journey.”

Stimulation isn’t always solved on the first try either. It may take some attempts to feel results. “Prostate massage can have no physical response for the first two or three times it’s performed, for instance,” Rodgers said. “My best advice is to not put too much pressure on yourself and to be patient. Keep the saying in mind: ‘Good things come to those who wait.’”

And speaking of stimulation, keep in mind that clitoral stimulation is the easiest way to achieve peak for people who have one, Rodgers said ― and that goes for both a solo session or with a partner.

“It will be easier to reach climax using a vibrator,” Rodgers said. “But whether a vibrator or finger is used, be sure to use lubricant. ... Lubrication will help make the experience smoother and more enjoyable.”

Then as you’re getting closer, you may also want to try tightening and releasing your Kegel muscles. “Sometimes the body needs to have some help and inspiration” to finally get off, she added.

“Rhythmic rocking or lifting and lowering your pelvic region helps [cisgender] women to activate muscles in the pelvic floor and can aid in reaching orgasm,” Rogers continued.

If you’re with a partner, Murray said you might also want to try being “curious, experimental and open” to new experiences that might allow you to reach climax easier.

“Try experimenting with different sex positions during intercourse to see if some positions offer more or better stimulation,” she said. “Try masturbating on your own to learn how you like to be touched, and figure out how to share that information with your partner. See if a sex toy with vibrations or different stimulation might work too.”

Finally, the biggest fix might lie in your head space outside of the bedroom: Anxiety can definitely inhibitsexual satisfaction, according to research. Attempting to destress (there are a variety of ways to do it!) may help you when you’re in the bedroom.

“Try various relaxation techniques, consider the practice of mindfulness to stay more present and in the moment during sexual stimulation, or consider ways you might connect more romantically and emotionally with your partner before you get busy,” Murray said. “Maybe try something new or exciting that increases your arousal and sexual enjoyment.”

It may be just what you need to finally push you over the edge.

Mumbai Police Quickly Called Out Sonam Kapoor's Elitism After A Bizarre Twitter Exchange

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That Mumbai police is known to crack witty one-liners on its social media page is quite well-known. Every now and then, Mumbai Police’s Twitter handle promptly calls out celebrities if they are caught committing minor traffic violations.

Earlier in the day, Sonam Kapoor shared a video of her co-star Dulquer Salmaan busy on his phone while being on the driver’s seat of a moving car. While the shot was from a film set (cars are often rigged to trucks or trailers that manoeuvre them around), Mumbai Police jumped the gun, based on visual evidence.

Here’s how the exchange went:

While she wasn’t really in the wrong, Kapoor calling other citizens of Mumbai ‘regular people’ didn’t sit well with Mumbai Police, who quickly called out Kapoor’s (seemingly unintended) condescension. 

Later on, Dulquer Salmaan explained to the cops that the vehicle couldn’t possibly be moved on its own (he even shared a video, asking their social media team to check some ‘facts’).

However, by now, it appeared that this had entirely become besides the point. 

Kapoor, however, wanted to have the last word. 

So she tweeted back saying:

Writer Amitav Ghosh To Get Jnanpith Award

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Ghosh has also received the Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi Award.

New Delhi—Noted English writer Amitav Ghosh has been honoured with this year’s Jnanpith Award, a literary award given to an author for “outstanding contribution towards literature”, Bharatiya Jnanpith announced on Friday.

“Amitav Ghosh is a path-breaking novelist. In his novels, Ghosh treads through historical settings to the modern era and weaves a space where the past connects with the present in relevant ways. 
“His fiction is endowed with extraordinary depth and substance through his academic training as a historian and a social anthropologist,” a statement from Bharatiya Jnanpith read. 
The decision was taken in a meeting of Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by eminent novelist, scholar and Jnanpith laureate Pratibha Ray.
Ghosh, one of the most prominent contemporary Indian writers, is known for a series of novels such as “Shadow Lines”, “The Glass Palace”, “The Hungry Tide”, and Ibis Trilogy—“Sea of Poppies”, “River of Smoke”, and “Flood of Fire” ― chronicling the Opium trade between India and China run by the East India Company.
The writer, in a tweet, said he was “honored and humbled”. 
In another tweet responding to a fan, he said, “this is an amazing day for me. I never thought I would find myself on this list, with some of the writers I most admire.” 
Born in Kolkata in 1956 to a Bengali family, the 62-year-old author currently lives in New York with his wife Deborah Baker.
Ghosh, who spent his formative years in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria.
His most recent book, “The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction”, was released in 2016.
Ghosh has also received the Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi Award.
Some of the biggest Indian writers have been awarded with this prestigious literary recognition. Major names among the 58 recipients include literary icons Krishna Sobti, Kedarnath Singh, Shrilal Shukla, Nirmal Verma, Girish Karnad, Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Pritam and U R Ananthamurthy.

 

Ashok Gehlot Promises 'Good Governance' After Being Chosen Rajasthan CM

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Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. 

NEW DELHI — The Congress on Friday named Ashok Gehlot as the next chief minister of Rajasthan and Sachin Pilot his deputy after party president Rahul Gandhi successfully brokered peace between the veteran leader and his younger colleague over several rounds of discussions lasting more than two days.

Congress observer to the state KC Venugopal made the announcement at a media briefing, ending the suspense over who would be appointed chief minister of the state — experienced hand Gehlot, who will be chief minister for a third stint, or the Pradesh Congress Committee chief who is credited for being instrumental in the party’s turnaround in the desert state.

Addressing the press conference, Gehlot (67) thanked Gandhi for giving him the opportunity to serve the people of the state for a third time and promised that he and Pilot will give “good governance”.

Pilot (41) exuded confidence that Congress’ good electoral performance will continue, saying the party will get a big mandate in 2019 polls and form government at the Centre also.

Mera aur Ashok Gehlot ji ka jaadu puri tarah chal gaya hai (Gehlot and I worked our magic in the state),” Pilot said.

The Congress went from 21 seats against the BJP’s 163 in 2013 to getting 99 seats (plus one of the Rashtriya Lok Dal) in the assembly elections the votes for which were counted on Tuesday.

Pilot said the party’s manifesto will be implemented immediately.

He put up stiff resistance and had staked his own claim for the top post, it is learnt.

Referring to Gehlot’s ‘kaun banega crorepati’ quip to a question on who will be Chief Minister at a press conference last month, Pilot jokingly said, “Who would have known that instead of one there will be two ‘crorepatis’.”

Venugopal said details of the oath taking ceremony would be decided after meeting Governor Kalyan Singh in Jaipur on Friday evening. Both Gehlot and Pilot would be present at the meeting.

They will arrive in Jaipur from New Delhi and will go to the Raj Bhawan to hand over the list of MLAs, sources in Jaipur added.

Gandhi has met Gehlot and Pilot thrice since Thursday itself. Hectic discussions were held between top party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, on the selection of chief ministers for Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Senior party leaders Venugopal, Avinash Pande and Jitendra Singh were also present during the meeting Friday.

According to Congress leaders, leaders should not challenge the high command and accept the decision once MLAs in the state have authorised Gandhi to take a call.

Pilot was apparently not on board on Gehlot’s name, which delayed the announcement.

Eventually, Gandhi successfully brokered peace with the Chief Minister-deputy Chief Minister compromise formula.

“The united colours of Rajasthan,” Gandhi tweeted Friday afternoon along with a photograph in which the three leaders were seen in a jovial mood.

Thuppaki Munnai Review: Vikram Prabhu's Film Is Unremarkable

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I can imagine how this film might have looked on paper: An encounter cop, a young girl’s grieving father and a migrant worker lose everything at the hands of an unequal society and an incompetent justice system. So, they pursue justice on their own.

You may think this has all the makings of an entertaining film, but all I got was a big yawn. 

 

The film begins like your regular cop-action-drama film: hero — an encounter cop, Birla Bose (Vikram Prabhu) — tells his story in first person with his back to the camera, montage song, encounters, glorification of custodial violence, hero walking into ladies’ toilet in pursuit of an accused, and such like.

There is also the whirlwind relationship with Mythili (Hansika Motwani) whose rich father got her a job at prime minister’s office (the father declares this in his first meeting with his future son-in-law).

However, the film doesn’t truly find itself until MS Bhaskar reveals the film’s central plot point — the rape and murder of a young girl. He asks Birla Bose to help him get justice. From there, the film changes, but doesn’t get any better.

Thuppakki Munai is contradictory for the most part and confusing in its worst. The hero compares extra-judicial murder to unsuccessful surgery. “Sattathukku edhira naan onnume pannaliye ma,” (I’m not doing anything against the law), the hero argues with his mother. 

He also compares policemen to god — “kovila moodittalum deivam thoongava mudiyum?” (even if the doors are shut, can god really sleep?) And Mythili, Hansika’s character, uses the word ‘accused’ to mean criminal.

For a film focusing on violence against women (VAW) — much sweat and tears are shed posturing about this — the film has a very skewed view of what is considered violence against women.

In a scene, police officers film, rough up, blackmail and harass a couple for kissing by the beach. The hero — apparently a warrior against violence —  calmly watches the atrocity play out. We are told he is guarding a rape accused so that he can murder him later. But a couple of scenes later, he goes on to lecture the couple about not “taking the woman” to places like a beach because apparently kissing by there amounts to ‘inviting’ trouble.

The temperament of the film is equally unsteady. A song glorifying the ‘encounter-specialist hero’ is followed by a serious and melodramatic walkout by his mother. A poignant narration by MS Bhaskar is followed by bland inaction. A fight scene begins by quoting the Buddha.

Also, nothing seems to provoke deadpan Vikram Prabhu into showing emotions on his face. 

Everything in this film feels familiar — music, dialogues, villain’s mannerisms.

Thuppakki Munai is a predictable, bland and unentertaining ‘thriller’.  

Carlsberg, United Breweries Accused Of Colluding to Fix Beer Prices in India: Report

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Denmark’s Carlsberg and India’s United Breweries have filed pleas with Indian authorities, seeking leniency in a probe into alleged collusion to fix beer prices, five sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been investigating the two companies, as well as the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

Last year, as previously reported by Reuters, AB InBev told the regulator it had discovered an industry cartel that discussed and agreed on beer prices before submitting them to Indian states, which regulate pricing.

The company’s confidential disclosure under the CCI’s whistleblower-protection scheme led to dawn raids by the regulator in October at offices of all three of the brewers.

In recent weeks, both Carlsberg and United Breweries filed pleas under the CCI’s so-called leniency programme, submitting evidence and agreeing to cooperate, the sources said, adding that such cooperation could lead to a smaller fine if wrongdoing is discovered.

A Carlsberg spokesman in India said it was “cooperating fully with the CCI” and had done so from the beginning of the probe.

United Breweries, part-owned by Heineken, did not respond to requests for comment. Following the Reuters story on the October raids, it told the Indian stock exchanges it was reviewing its legal risks and the potential implications.

Heineken declined to comment.

An AB InBev spokesman in India said they take antitrust compliance “very seriously”, but declined to comment further.

 

 

LIKE A GAME OF “POKER”

The three brewers account for 90 percent of beer consumption in the $7 billion Indian market, where rising social acceptance towards drinking and a growing pub culture are helping the industry to grow.

They collectively face an estimated fine of up to $279 million if found to have operated as a cartel. Individual executives can also be fined, though AB InBev could escape all of its share of the fines as it reported the issue.

The CCI’s leniency programme grants relief through lower penalties to subsequent applicants only if they add value to evidence already held by the regulator from its own investigation and from the initial applicant, in this case AB InBev. But the filings remain confidential and companies do not know of others’ submissions.

“It’s like playing blind, like in poker,” said one of the sources.

The CCI did not respond to questions from Reuters.

Gautam Shahi, a New Delhi-based antitrust lawyer, said subsequent leniency applications were typically filed to reduce potential penalties.

“It’s a promise of cooperation in return for a lenient treatment,” said Shahi, who is not involved in the case.

During the October raids, the CCI found e-mails that showed executives regularly discussed beer prices, potentially violating Indian anti-trust laws, a government source said at the time.

One of the sources told Reuters the CCI was still collecting evidence and reviewing the various leniency petitions but the investigation would be likely to continue for a year.

United Breweries is known for its Kingfisher brand while AB InBev’s beer brands include Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois. Carlsberg sells beer under its own-name brand among others and also owns Tuborg.

The antitrust investigation is set to cast a shadow on the beer industry in India, which is already facing stringent compliance and state-level regulation, making it tougher for brewers to expand.

 

Delhi's Air Quality Slips To Poor Category As Impact Of Rainfall Subsides

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Representative image. 

NEW DELHI — Delhi’s air quality slipped into poor category as the impact of rainfall in cleansing the air subsided, with authorities predicting further deterioration in the next two days.

The city’s air quality index (AQI) dropped to 247, which falls in the ‘poor’ category.

The national capital recorded its best air quality in moderate category in over two months on Thursday after rains washed away pollutants.

Three areas — Jahangirpuri, Wazirpur and CRRI Mathura Road — recorded very poor air quality while 25 areas recorded poor air quality and four recorded moderate air quality, the Central Pollution Control Board said.

According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR), the air quality would deteriorate further to very poor category by Saturday as the impact of rainfall has subsided and all other meteorological conditions are “adverse”.

The overall PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometre) level was recorded at 116 and the PM10 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometre) level at 196, it said.

An AQI between 100 to 200 comes under moderate category, 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’ and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

Neighbouring Ghaziabad, Noida and Faridabad recorded ‘poor’ air quality, while Gurgaon recorded ‘moderate’ air quality, the CPCB data showed.

According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, the maximum ventilation index is 6,500 sqm/second on Friday.

A ventilation index lower than 6,000 sqm/second with average wind speed less than 10 kmph are unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.


Govt Must Disclose CAG Audit Report On The Rafale Deal: Rahul Gandhi

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi in a file photo. 

 

After the Supreme Court dismissed all petitions that sought a probe in the controversial Rafale aircraft deal on Friday morning, Congress President Rahul Gandhi in the evening asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to disclose the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report which audited the deal. He also reiterated his claim that the deal was a “robbery” of Rs. 30, 000 crore.

Calling the CAG report the “foundation” of the SC judgement, Gandhi expressed surprise that the court was told by the government that the report was shared with the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. The report is important as it has the “pricing details” about the aircraft deal, which has been mired in controversy.

In its judgement, the SC stated, “The   material   placed   before   us   shows   that   the Government has  not disclosed pricing details, other than  the basic price of the aircraft, even to the Parliament, on the ground that sensitivity of pricing details could affect national security, apart from breaching the agreement between the two countries. The pricing details have, however, been  shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (hereinafter referred to as “CAG”), and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (hereafter referred to as “PAC”). Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament, and is in public domain.”

Delving on this part, Gandhi said, the PAC chief and Congress Member of Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge had not seen this report. Thus, he was puzzled and “not able to understand” why it was so written in the court’s judgement. “The PAC Chairman is sitting here. He has not seen the report neither has anyone in the PAC. The government has to explain where is the CAG report? It should show it to us, to Kharge ji,” Gandhi said.

Kharge himself raised several questions. “Where has this (CAG) report come from? Who gave it? I asked the Deputy CAG today how did this come out? Did someone fudge my signatures? This is an untruth,” he said.

The Congress president claimed, “It is serious. There has been a robbery of Rs. 30, 000 crore.” He also hinted at the possibility that the issue may not be buried despite the SC judgement as a Joint Parliamentary Committee could probe the Rafale deal in the future.

 

Vishal Bhardwaj On Why ‘Rangoon’ Failed, 'Conning' Studios For Money, And How Dissent Became 'Anti-National'

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Vishal Bhardwaj in a file photo. 

In 2004, Vishal Bhardwaj, then a novice filmmaker and music composer, got a call.

On the line was Aamir Khan, who was so overwhelmed after watching the director’s first film, Maqbool, that he wanted to know why Bhardwaj hadn’t considered him for the part played by Irrfan Khan in the Shakespearean tragedy.

In an industry driven by stars and your proximity to them, that was the moment when Bhardwaj realised that he had arrived.

“After Maqbool, everyone called, everyone answered,” the filmmaker told HuffPost India over steaming cups of tea at the Goa Marriott.

Since Maqbool, Bhardwaj has directed nine more films and produced five. Most of them have got glowing reviews from critics. And then there are a few that didn’t score with critics or the box-office.

In this interview, the filmmaker, who was recently hired by Netflix to become the show-runner for its adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, speaks about his work, the clampdown on artistic freedom, and how he managed to ‘con’ studios into giving him money.

Were you fully satisfied with Pataakha, a film you made on a small budget, after another of your projects fell apart...

I am very happy with the way that the film was made. But of course, I am not happy with the way it was received. It didn’t do well at the box-office.

When you are on a journey with a movie, do you keep the end result in mind?

No, then I won’t make the kind of films I make if I keep the numbers in mind. I wouldn’t have taken two new girls or a Sunil Grover for that matter. For me, the process is more important, but when it comes to the release, I start looking at other aspects too.

 

Were you fully satisfied with Pataakha, a film you made on a small budget, after another of your projects fell apart...

I am very happy with the way that the film was made. But of course, I am not happy with the way it was received. It didn’t do well at the box-office.

When you are on a journey with a movie, do you keep the end result in mind?

No, then I won’t make the kind of films I make if I keep them in mind. I wouldn’t have taken two new girls or a Sunil Grover for that matter. For me, the process is more important, but when it comes to the release, I start looking at the numbers too.

Do you get obsessively worried about the film’s commercial prospects?

Not worrying, I start expecting. That’s just the human mind. You don’t get satisfaction with whatever box office it gets because films are expensive to make and you are never satisfied with what you get. The mind always wants more.

Right, while I get our obsession with numbers, 10 years down the line, nobody is going to remember how much money a movie made. It will be remembered purely for its artistic merit...

Exactly. No one will remember. 7 Khoon Maaf is a classic movie for a lot of people. Nobody remembers the numbers. The film’s quality is the only thing that stays alive.

Which film has been very close to your heart but the response didn’t match up?

I’d say Rangoon. There I was trying to do something else, I was trying to match the aesthetics of a musical with a real world. Then the VFX. It was out of my hand for that film. We as an industry cannot make a film as ambitious in scale as a Rangoon. The actors that were in the film (Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Saif Ali Khan) they didn’t gel well with each other. It all got quite badly messed up in the end.

Kangana Ranaut in a still from Vishal Bhardwaj's Rangoon (2017)

To employ a cliché, they say success doesn’t teach you anything but failures teach you a lot. What were the lessons learnt during Rangoon?

Honestly, by the end, it got way too taxing. For instance, I was given Rs 35 crore to make a film that, outside, would easily require Rs 350 crore to make. The film really needed a lot more money. It was tiring. For me, it came to a point where I felt I had physically exerted myself and it was not worth it. I was frustrated because I felt like for the film of that scale, I should’ve had, yes, more money, and cooperative actors.

You’ve worked with Shahid before and one heard about your clashes with Kangana Ranaut during the filming. Do you think that negativity seeped into the final output?

It must have. I don’t have a perspective on that. I haven’t watched Rangoon since it released. Recently, I was in Chicago where they were playing Haider and this was the rare time when I had an opinion about my work—I felt that Haider was an accomplishment. Then I’d say it’s Maqbool and then Omkara.

Are you too harsh on yourself when you’re not able to direct with the one vision that you have?

At times I don’t even realise it. You will, but I won’t. The only time I compromised was in Rangoon for the VFX and the energy and synergy on the set.

Now that you have spent so much time in the industry, do you think you should use cinema to accomplish something more? Today, what’s your motivation to tell stories?

I’m looking for the excitement to go on set and for a subject material. You know how much drilling you go through while making a film. The writing, the directing, the anxiety during the release. It’s a psychological as well as a physical torture. It gives you a different pleasure but it also gives you a low, it works in extremes. After making 15 films, directing 10 and having produced five, I am now very cautious about what to do. It has to be worth all the emotional toiling.

Looking back, which was that one moment when you knew you had arrived, so to speak?

It happened during Maqbool. I was overwhelmed by the way it was received.

There was a call. It was Aamir Khan. He called me and he said he wanted to discuss the film over a drink and that’s when I thought I made it big.

I still think that Aamir is one of the top stars who has a good vision. He knows what he is doing, he takes chances and he has a mastery in his work. When I saw Dangal, he brought a different kind of craft into it. If a Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah), Irrfan or Pankaj (Pankaj Kapoor) would have done it, they would’ve done it in the same way. I have not seen this craftsmanship in any other star.

So coming back to the drinks, we did go out for one. And there he asked me, did you ever think of me for Maqbool? I told him I couldn’t have asked for a better compliment.

The tide changed for me after Maqbool. Everybody called, everybody answered calls.

How do you look back at Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola?

Well... Look, originally it was Ajay Devgn who was supposed to play the part but he changed his mind ― he wanted to do Son of Sardaar so months before the shoot, we didn’t have an actor. I too, was clear that I didn’t want to wait so I told myself, whoever has their dates available and whoever’s name gets me money, I will cast him. That’s how Imran Khan came aboard. But I had apprehensions. I wasn’t sure if he could pull it off. Though we did a lot of workshops where he completely surrendered to me. So I cast him but I don’t know whether I did the right thing or wrong...

Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma in 'Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola' (2013)

But while shooting it, did you have the conviction that people would get what you’re trying to do?

If there wasn’t conviction, I wouldn’t be able to finish it. Neither would have Fox given me the money to make it. It worked for some people but for a large part, the film was disappointing, I get that. It wasn’t an expensive film to make, it even ended up making some money.

In my head I was making a very simple film so I wasn’t worried about people getting it or not.

That can’t be true! You see the kind of ‘simple’ films we make...

I actually made a huge mistake 5-6 years back, I stopped watching Bollywood films altogether. I have just watched Dangal and Secret Superstar. So my judgement has gone off the rails. I saw some films later and then realised the kind of trash that works with the audience, how will they understand my film? It’s best to wear blinders and keep doing what you want to, follow your heart.

How do you ensure that you are able to make your point, retain your originality and your vision, while also making sure people are coming to theatres?

I keep trying. Experimenting with my music, the performances or taking stars and casting them in a totally different light.

Is that a strategy? Essentially getting stars and making them act.

Of course. Nai to paisa nai milega na (otherwise I won’t get the money to make the film). In this town, you’ve to master the con game. The stars are the bait to get them (studios) to bankroll the movie. If you don’t dangle the carrot, how are you going to get the money? For the money I needed to make Omkara the way I wanted to, I needed all the stars there are in it. Now that worked out rather well. But there are times when it doesn’t.

Kareena Kapoor as Dolly Mishra in Omkara (2006), which was an adaptation of 'Othello.'

From Talvar to Haider, your films have a strong anti-establishment voice. Do you see your cinema as a means to register dissent?

My job is to hold a mirror to society. Every filmmaker is naked on screen and his films are indicative of his own politics. I’ve to be neutral on screen yet nudge my viewer in the right direction. In Haider, I have showed the absolute reality of that region. We still live in a democracy, right? So I should be able to say that. Otherwise the next generation will look at us and laugh at us, just the way we do with ’90s. In documentaries, they show everything but the powers that be aren’t afraid of the docus because they know they have a limited reach. See, Kashmir is a conflict zone and as a filmmaker, you need conflict to drive a plot. By now we should have made 10-15 films like Haider. Both sides have tragic human stories but we just haven’t made enough films that tell the story of Kashmir. The exodus of Kashmiri pandits is one of post-partition India’s biggest tragedies and yet, we don’t have enough films on the issue.

After Haider, you were, of course trolled for choosing to tell one side of the story. How do you react to the constant whataboutery?

This is my choice as a filmmaker. I am not depicting any lies. You can’t make a film on everything, right? If I am making a film about war with Pakistan they will ask me, arrey, but what about the war with China? How will Twitter understand nuance? They want you to be answerable about why you didn’t do something that they think you should have done. If I didn’t speak before, does that mean I’ve lost the right to speak ever again?

Shahid Kapoor in Haider (2014)

Haider also critiqued institutional oppression by the State and questioned military overreach rather explicitly. It was released in 2014. Today, it feels like we’re not able to chronicle stories of the times we’re living in. As a creative individual, do you feel a sense of fear?

Of course that plays a part. The base of cinema in this country is strong. And that’s why it’s an easy target, irrespective of what the original issue is. Look at what happened with Padmaavat. Today, it’s happening even in areas other than films. Earlier, there was an ideological battle, today, you are targeted personally. Dissent in itself has become synonymous with anti-national. Either you are with us, or against us.

With the kind of systematic hate that’s organised online for anyone who questions the government or its policies, it increasingly feels like a country that we don’t recognise anymore.

It’s because of the state support. There’s lawlessness. Earlier, we could say anything about anyone and the previous government just did not care. We could even make fun of the Prime Minister. It never got personal. But today, it’s a different world altogether.

Also on HuffPost

Jamal Khashoggi’s Killer Heard Saying ‘I Know How To Cut’ On Audio, Says Erdogan

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ISTANBUL — One of the killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was heard saying “I know how to cut” on the audio of the killing Turkey shared with US and European officials, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Erdogan also slammed Riyadh for its changing account of how Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. The journalist had gone there to collect documents for his forthcoming marriage.

The case has caused global outrage and has damaged the international standing of the 33-year-old crown prince, the kingdom’s de facto ruler. The US\ Senate on Thursday delivered a rare rebuke to President Donald Trump for his support of the crown prince, whom it blamed for the killing.

“The United States, Germany, France, Canada, we made them all listen... The man clearly says ‘I know how to cut’. This man is a soldier. These are all in the audio recordings,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul. He did not give further details about the recording.

Body not found

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor has said Khashoggi was suffocated by his killers in the consulate, before his body was dismembered and disposed of. His remains have not been found.

Khashoggi repeatedly told his killers “I can’t breathe” during his final moments, CNN reported on Monday, quoting a source who said they had read the full translated transcript of an audio recording.Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh later said Khashoggi had been killed when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

Erdogan renewed his criticism of Riyadh’s explanation of the killing. Originally it had said Khashoggi had left the consulate. That was disputed by his Turkish fiancee, who had waited outside the building and said he never emerged.

“The prince says Jamal Khashoggi left the consulate. Is Jamal Khashoggi a kid? His fiancee is waiting outside,” Erdogan said. “They think the world is dumb. This nation isn’t dumb and it knows how to hold people accountable.”

Turkish officials said last week that the Istanbul prosecutor’s office had concluded there was “strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed, and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who served as deputy head of foreign intelligence, were among the planners of Khashoggi’s killing. 

After Riyadh ruled out extraditing the two men, Turkey said this week that the world should seek out justice for Khashoggi under international law.

Erdogan has repeatedly said he would not give up the case. Trump has said he wants Washington to stand by the Saudi government and the prince, despite the CIA assessment that it was probably the prince who ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

 

Congress To Announce Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Today

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Bhupesh Baghel, TS Singh Deo and Charan Das Mahant celebrate the Congress victory in Chhattisgarh.

RAIPUR — The Congress in Chhattisgarh will hold its legislature party meeting in Raipur on Saturday where the next Chief Minister of the state will be announced, a party leader said Friday.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday met four senior leaders of the state unit of the party ― Bhupesh Baghel, TS Singh Deo, Tamradhwaj Sahu and Charan Das Mahant ― in Delhi and held discussions with them, a state Congress spokesperson told PTI.

Deo and Baghel are being seen as leading contenders for the top post.

All four leaders along with party observer Mallikarjun Karge and Congress state in-charge PL Punia will arrive here Saturday by a special plane, he said.

Subsequently, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting will be held at the party’s state office Rajiv Bhawan during which the name of the chief minister will be announced, he added.

Congress ended the BJP’s 15-year rule in Chhattisgarh in the recently concluded Assembly elections by winning 68 of the 90 seats.

Odiyan Review: What Critics Said About The Mohanlal-Starrer

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Mohanlal’s Odiyan, a fantasy drama based on Kerala folklore, opened to mixed reviews on Friday. The film, one of the highly-anticipated releases of 2018, tells the story of a shapeshifting man feared by those around him.

Mohanlal stars as protagonist Manikyan, with actors Manju Warrier and Prakash Raj in pivotal roles.

Here’s how critics have reviewed the film:

A missed opportunity, writes NewsMinute’s Sowmya Rajendran

The elements should have made for a heady cocktail but Odiyan falls disappointingly short. The problem is the plot — it’s terribly old and contrived, with characters who are either golden or glowering all the time. But we’ll get to that later. As Odiyan, Mohanlal fills the screen with his presence. Each time he throws his black shawl around him or even when the camera is simply focused on his eyes, he brings a certain gravitas to the frame.

A reasonably watchable mytho-fantasy, writes Anna MM Vetticad in Firstpost

What sustains Odiyan through its nearly three hours running time is the folksy air it manages to build up from the start, the special effects during the few (too few) action scenes, Mohanlal’s physical transformation to play the younger Manikyan — his styling, makeup and visible weight loss — and the pleasure, as always, of seeing Manju Warrier in a substantial role.

 

Sanitized tale that lacks punch, writes Manoj Kumar of The Indian Express

In the opening minutes of the film, when Mohanlal’s Manikyan makes an entry, your heart fills with excitement to learn about his Odiyan’s powers. That was, as a matter of fact, the selling point of the movie. Instead, you get a Mohanlal who appears to have dressed up for a fancy-dress competition at his school for overaged men. The idea behind portraying the abilities of Odiyan is a massive let down. It, perhaps, has to do with the filmmakers’ intention to whitewash the hero hailing from a family that practices black magic.

Good acting, a well thought out script, writes Times of India’s Sanjith Sidhardharan

Director Shrikumar has ably executed Harikrishnan’s script that doesn’t have mass dialogues or scenes but goes for grounded storytelling. It’s quite contrary from all the hype and buildup the film had pre-release and might leave the fans wanting more. Mohanlal as the shape shifting Odiyan is on top form, both during the scenes that require to do action and also emote.

Mohanlal’s Manikyan is fast and sharp, but the film is not, says Hindustan Time’s Priyanka Sundar

The stunts choreographed by Peter Hein are worth every penny. In fact, the only engrossing parts in the film are the stunts. The climax, in parts unreal, but paced perfectly, is the one that stands out. On the low side, the screenplay is lethargic and dialogues are unnecessarily long. For instance, the scene featuring a drunk Manikyan and his drunk grandfather goes on forever. There is a respite in the form of an action sequence in between, but even after that, the dialogue stretches.

Trump Names Mick Mulvaney As Acting White House Chief Of Staff

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President Donald Trump has appointed Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to replace John Kelly as acting chief of staff.

The president announced the appointment Friday afternoon on Twitter.

Mulvaney, 51, was on a shortlist with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and at least three other candidates after Trump told reporters on Dec. 8 that Kelly would leave his post by the end of the year.

Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was seen as the favorite to replace Kelly but was out of the running after he could not reach an agreement with the president on his length of service, according to White House officials.

A fiscally and ideologically conservative former South Carolina congressman, Mulvaney was first elected to the U.S. House in 2010 as a tea party candidate. Along with running the OMB, Mulvaney had also served as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before a new director was sworn in Monday.

Mulvaney reportedly showed little initial interest in becoming the president’s chief of staff. The OMB chief had said he would prefer to become commerce or treasury secretary if that was where Trump wanted him, according to a person close to him who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. 

But on Friday he called it a “tremendous honor” to be appointed acting chief of staff by the president.

“It’s going to be a great 2019!” Mulvaney tweeted.

Trump’s announcement came just hours after former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said he’d decided to remove himself from the pool of candidates, citing family obligations.

“I’ve told the President that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment,” Christie said in a statement, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, a day after meeting with Trump to discuss the possibility of taking the job.

The president was also considering son-in-law Jared Kushner for the role, a top Republican close to the White House told HuffPost on Thursday. Kushner, already an official White House adviser, met with Trump on Wednesday to discuss the job.

Kashmir Then And Now: Paradise On Earth, 33 Years Later

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It was 1985. My brother and I, aged six and eight, were beyond excited for our trip to Kashmir that our father had planned. We couldn’t wait to emulate our hero Shammi Kapoor who had slid down the slopes of mountains in Kashmir screaming ”yahoo″. In our heads Kashmir was covered in snow everywhere. When a cousin, the same age as me, asked me if I could bring back some snow, I solemnly promised I would try.

Memories from the trip are faint, but there are moments that have stayed with me through the years. I remember the exquisite woodwork,  the chilly Shikhara rides on the pristine Dal Lake while gazing at the mountains in the distance and clutching on to hot water bags for warmth while sleeping. The pretty flowers and gardens in Srinagar were enticing, but I remember waiting impatiently to see the snow in Gulmarg.  

We reached Gulmarg when it was dark. Next morning when I woke up, my father asked me to look outside. Everything was covered in white. I couldn’t wait to get into the snow immediately, but as adults would have it we had to wait till they said we could.

When we finally did go out, we had to wear awful, squelchy boots that seemed to sink into the snow. My mind whirred away thinking of ways to bring some snow home for my cousin, but the thoughts were soon forgotten when we sled down the hilly slopes and threw snowballs at each other. Thanks to our shenanigans, my brother fell very sick that night with high fever. Our father decided to cut our trip short. I was heartbroken.

On our way back from Gulmarg as I watched the snow-clad road speed past from the bus, I said goodbye to Kashmir in my heart, wondering if I would ever return. I don’t know why, but I felt unbearably sad at the thought of going away. I did not know that Kashmir would change in a matter of months or that my father would die in five years, leaving us to only dream of the marvellous holidays we’d had with him. I certainly didn’t know that I would become a writer and my books would take me back to Kashmir, 33 years later.

Kashmir was different and it was evident all around us — from the gun-toting army men stationed around the city to the children who grew up amidst widespread violence.

I was ecstatic when I received an email in June, inviting me for the Bookaroo festival to be held in Delhi Public School in Srinagar this year. I immediately told anyone and everyone but was met with disbelief and fear. My mother thought it was too dangerous, but I just had to go. There were other impediments too — the trip which was to be in October, was postponed because of elections in the first week of November and at home, my mother-in-law was undergoing surgery.

Swati Roy, one of the founders of Bookaroo had set up a Whatsapp group and gave us instructions. The day before our trip began, she sent us two photos. One was a poster from the school where the festival was to be held that read  ‘desperately waiting for Bookaroo’. The second, which Roy had taken from her flight to Srinagar, was that of snow-capped mountains.

We finally reached Srinagar to relatively clear skies with no snow-clad mountains in sight, much to my disappointment. My warm clothes were no match to the biting wind but we braved through the evening, listening to the older students of the school sing songs and read out heart-wrenching poems they had written. Kashmir was different and it was evident all around us — from the gun-toting army men stationed around the city to the children who grew up amidst widespread violence. There were very few tourists, but maybe there are more during summer.

 

The Chinar Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir. 

 

It began to rain the next day and fellow writer Bijal Vachharajani and I wondered why it couldn’t snow instead. The day Bookaroo was to begin, it actually began to snow, to my disbelief. It was like rain but colder and thicker. I thought it was an aberration and wouldn’t last, but I was wrong. It continued to snow well into the evening, covering everything in a white blanket. It filled my heart with joy. The unseasonal snow, while lighting up our hearts, did have a downside. It had apparently ruined several crops and orchards.

We were to dine that evening at the house of Vijay Dhar, our host who owned the school. Our van took us to the gate, but no further. Power lines everywhere had gone down and everything was dark. We got down at the gate and with the help of our mobile torches, made our way towards the house which was a good distance away. It was absolutely surreal and cold and we were scared we would slip and fall as we carefully made our way on the curving driveway to reach the house, looking at the winter wonderland around us, which was glowed even though there were no lights.

There was a sadness in their voices when they recalled the old days, when business was good, when violence wasn’t something that happened on a regular basis.

Every moment of this trip felt like an adventure, including my workshops and sessions. I was apprehensive when I started, wondering how to weave in my story about a trip where things go horribly wrong, with my reference point being of children who lived their safe and even entitled lives in Bangalore, but I needn’t have worried. Children everywhere are the same – there’s always that one smart alec who would give funny answers and make everyone laugh.

The day before we returned, we went to the Dachigam National Park and the views there – golden hued leaves scattered on the ground, lush chinar trees around us, snow covered mountains in the distance — were so unbelievable and surreal. My heart felt full, like it couldn’t comprehend all this beauty around me.

I also had the good fortune to visit two Kashmiri homes of family friends during this stay and their hospitality, their insistence on plying us with soft blankets, hot water bottles and endless rounds of food endeared them to me. There was a sadness in their voices when they recalled the old days, when business was good, when violence wasn’t something that happened on a regular basis  and they seemed to be resigned to what was happening around them. The skies were grey, the mountains white, the chinar leaves had wrapped the trees in gold but the colour red was anathema to them.


Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap Got Married: Here Are The Photos

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Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap tied the knots in a simple ceremony on Friday.

“Saina got married as per court rules on Friday at about 11:30 am,” her father Harvir Singh told PTI.

The wedding took place at Nehwal’s residence in Orion villas at Raidurgam in Cyberabad.

She posted a photograph with Kashyap on Friday, announcing her marriage.

“Best match of my life...#justmarried,” she tweeted.

Kashyap said, “We are very happy. Today (Friday) was a north style wedding and 16th midnight is the muhurtam for the South Indian wedding.”

Saina had confirmed the news of their wedding in October but the hectic international badminton schedule kept them busy.

Here are a few other photos of the newly-married couple:

Meanwhile, Nehwal also attended the wedding reception of Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal.

(With PTI inputs)

JD(U) Says It Won't Support BJP's Ram Mandir Ordinance

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PATNA— Key NDA constituent JD(U) on Friday made it clear that it was not in favor of promulgation of an ordinance to facilitate the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, demand for which has been made by the sangh parivar and a section of the BJP.

JD(U) national general secretary Ram Chandra Prasad Singh said the party will stick to its earlier stand it had taken on the issue in its earlier avatar as the Samata Party which was ― the issue either be solved by mutual consent between the affected communities or decided by a court of law.

There should be no confusion in the minds of the people with regard to our stand on Ram temple issue at Ayodhya. If an ordinance is promulgated to facilitate construction of the temple, our party will not support it, he said.

“Since the Samata Party days, we have been in favour of a resolution of the dispute by mutual consent or through a court order. We brook no third alternative,” Singh, who is also the party’s leader in the Rajya Sabha and a confidant of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters in Patna.

Even before walking out of the NDA in 2013, the JD(U) had always insisted that abrogating Article 370, Ram temple in Ayodhya and Uniform Civil Code should be kept out of the coalition agenda.

JD(U), headed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, is running a coalition government with the BJP in Bihar.

Earlier, the party’s newly-appointed vice-president Prashant Kishor had also obliquely expressed disapproval of Ram temple being made a poll plank, pointing out that Narendra Modi had won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls without taking recourse to the emotive issue.

Pressure has been mounting on the BJP from the Sangh Parivar, of which it is a part of, and a section of hardliners within the party to make headway for the construction of Ram temple, which they termed as an issue relating to peoples’ faith (aastha).

The Sangh Parivar has been demanding construction of a temple at the disputed site through an act in Parliament.

However, with the BJP’s tally in the Lok Sabha having gone down on account of loss in a number of by-polls and the party falling short of majority in the Rajya Sabha there have been demands that an ordinance be promulgated to facilitate temple construction before the general elections due next year.

A number of NDA allies, including Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, have expressed discomfiture over the BJP’s pursuit of the Hindutva agenda.

#MeToo: Sona Mahapatra Urges Delhi Govt To Withdraw Invitation To Kailash Kher

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Sona Mahapatra in a file photo.

MUMBAI — Singer Sona Mohapatra has urged the Delhi government to withdraw an invitation to Kailash Kher for a cultural event in view of the #MeToo allegations levelled against him by her and other women.

The singer started a petition on change.org where she has reiterated her allegations of sexual harassment against Kher

“That is why I am shocked to learn that Kailash Kher has been asked to headline a performance at the Delhi Government’s Mayur Utsav that begins today.

“Action needs to be taken against perpetrators. Sign my petition asking the Delhi Government to withdraw Kailash Kher’s invitation from the Mayur Utsav being hosted in Delhi,” she said.

The singer urged others to sign the petition to stop Kher’s performance at the event on Sunday, 16 December.

“I am hopeful that the Delhi Government which is keenly aware of women’s safety as a critical issue will listen to #MeToo survivors and their citizens when we ask them to drop Kailash Kher. That is why I am asking you to sign and support this petition to the Delhi Government,” she said.

“We have just 2 days to make the Delhi government listen to us, but it is an important fight which if we win, will set an example and send a clear message: We will not tolerate any threats to women’s safety,” she claimed.

When contacted, Kher declined to comment on the matter.

The Delhi government officially declined to comment on the issue but sources said the event was not being given much importance.

TV Anchor Dies Allegedly After Falling From Her Fourth-Floor Flat In Noida

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NOIDA — A news anchor with a private television channel died allegedly after she fell off the balcony of her fourth-floor apartment early Friday, with her family suspecting foul play.

Radhika Kaushik, who hailed from Rajasthan, was in her house in the Antrikh Forest Apartments in Sector 77 with a colleague when the incident occurred at around 3:30 am, police said.

A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code section 302 (murder) on a complaint by the family of Kaushik, and the colleague has been detained for questioning, Sector 49 police station house officer Girija Shankar Tripathi said.

Both Kaushik and her colleague in Zee Rajasthan were reportedly inebriated at the time of the incident, an official said, adding liquor bottles were recovered from the house where a party was held Thursday night.

“The security guard of the building had alerted the police at Sector 49 police station about the incident. The colleague has told police that he had gone to her house for dinner when she accidentally toppled over the railing in the balcony of the flat,” the official, who did not wish to be named, told PTI.

“The railing in the balcony is of low-height,” the official said.

“We are probing the cause of death,” the SHO said, adding the body has been sent for post-mortem and the report is awaited.

Ghost Of 1984-Anti Sikh Riots Return To Haunt New Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath

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File photo

JALANDHAR — Barely 24 hours after the Congress announced Kamal Nath as its chief minister designate for Madhya Pradesh, the ghost of 1984 anti-Sikh riots is back to haunt him. 

Several political leaders accused Nath of being party to the riots in Delhi where at least 3,000 Sikhs were brutally murdered and several others were displaced. 

Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa leveled charges against Nath for his alleged role in the riots and has threatened to launch a nationwide protest against the decision. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Sukhpal Khaira also accused the Congress of protecting of protecting Nath claiming that there was strong evidence against him. Shiromani Akali Dal leader and Punjab’s former revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia too slammed Congress for ‘rewarding’ other anti Sikh leaders like Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tyler with plum posts.

Even though Nath, in an interview to India Today after winning the recently held assembly elections, has claimed that there were no charges against him in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he was once again put under the public spotlight over his alleged role in the massacre that unfolded a after India’s former prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. 

Speaking to Huffpost India, HS Phoolka, an advocate fighting the cases from the riots in the Supreme Court and former leader of Opposition from AAP, said that the Special Investigative team (SIT)  formed by the Supreme Court to re-probe 186 cases from riots had given the much needed momentum to the process of providing justice to the kin of those killed during the riots. Phoolka said that Nath will soon be behind bars. 

“There is strong evidence against Kamal Nath in the anti-Sikh riots case and he cannot evade law. Time cannot be a reason to deny justice to anyone and so he too will be served the quantum of punishment soon,” said Phoolka.

Recently, the Delhi High Court upheld the conviction of 88 people by a lower court in 1996 and has also announced the first death penalty to an accused for murdering a Sikh in Mahipalpur area and a life term for another in November this year.

What was Kamal Nath’s role in the anti-Sikh riots  and what are the evidences against him?

The most crucial evidence was the affidavit submitted to the Nanavati Commission and later to Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission by senior journalist Sanjay Suri, who during the time was working at The Indian Express in New Delhi. On 1 November, 1984, a day after Gandhi’s assassination, Suri had gone to the Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib to assess the deteriorating law and order situation.

Suri alleged that Nath was controlling the ‘blood thirsty’ crowd and was a spectator of the atrocities on Sikh devotees in the Gurudwara. He said cops and paramilitary forces were also mute spectators. 

Suri in his book 1984:The Anti Sikh Riots and After: 

“I wasn’t expecting to find Kamal Nath by the screaming crowd outside Rakab Ganj Sahib Gurdwara, where two Sikhs had only just been burnt alive. But there he was, a little to a side, in a bright white kurta-pajama, not far from the usual white Ambassador car with its mounted red light and a mini flag post by the front bumper announcing its ministerial, or at least officially important, credentials.”

He wrote further wrote

“What I did see then was that when the crowd surged forward at one point, Kamal Nath had only to gesture lightly and they held back. Why did the crowd listen to him? Why in a situation where a murderous bunch was advancing yet again would the police continue to stand to a side and now watch the MP control that crowd?”

Phoolka in his book When A Tree Shook Delhi on the 1984 carnage has quoted Suri’s report published on 2 November, 1984 and alleged that Nath was indeed controlling the crowd and giving directions to the mob.

While Nath’s appointment has caused a huge uproar in the political circles in  Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh slammed the Shiromani Akali Dal for politicising the riots.

Intervening during a call attention motion raised by Akali MLA Bikram Singh Majithia in the Vidhan Sabha, Singh said the law was taking its due course as far as allegations against the veteran former union minister were concerned.

Nath has been a Union Minister for more than 10 years after the allegations first surfaced, Singh pointed out, adding that a mere reference about the senior Congress leader in the Nanavati Commission report could not be construed as his involvement in the case. The law alone could decide the role of any individual, the Chief Minister said, adding that nobody should exploit this sensitive issue of the 1984 riots for their political ends.

Singh also showed pictures of Punjab’s former Chief Minister and SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal presenting a bouquet to Kamal Nath and Sukhbir Singh Badal and Parminder Singh Dhindsa attending a meeting with the former Union minister to highlight the fact that the Akali leaders were just trying to politicise the issue for their petty vested interests.

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