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Updated: 54 min 27 sec ago

Taliban kidnap 70, kill 7 in southern Afghanistan

1 hour 2 min ago

Kabul, July 23 (IANS) The Taliban have kidnapped 70 Afghans over the past four days in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan and killed seven of them, Efe news reported on Sunday, quoting a source.

“All those kidnapped are residents of Shah Wali Khost district, seven of them were killed on Saturday by the insurgents,” provincial governor’s spokesperson Samim Khapalwak told Efe.

The spokesperson said that the Taliban held 33 hostages after freeing several persons.

The kidnappings occurred after the insurgents and the Afghan troops clashed on a road connecting Uruzgan and Kandahar, in which the Taliban suffered “many casualties”.

Khapalwak, who did not provide a specific number of casualties suffered by the Taliban or the Afghan forces, said a rescue operation to free the hostages is underway.

Last week, insurgents killed seven people and kidnapped six others along a highway in Farah province in the western part of the country.

Afghanistan is going through one of its most violent periods since the end of NATO’s combat mission in January 2015.

Since then, insurgents have been gaining ground in various parts of Afghanistan and currently control, influence, or are in dispute with the government over at least 43 percent of the territory, according to the US.

–IANS

him/vt

Categories: India News

Celebs wish India luck for Women’s World Cup final

1 hour 6 min ago

Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) Popular celebrities from Bollywood and sports like Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan have wished luck to the Indian women’s cricket team, which takes on England in the final of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday.

Here’s what these celeb have tweeted:

Lata Mangeshkar: Best of luck to the women cricket team for the Women’s World Cup final.

Sachin Tendulkar: Wishing our Women In Blue all the best for the Women’s World Cup final. We are all cheering for you! Messages of support from my 100MB family!

Shah Rukh Khan: To the Women in Blue for the Women’s World Cup final. You make us the most proud. All the best and have a great game. Love to the ladies.

Anupam Kher: Here is wishing Women In Blue all the luck for Women’s World Cup final. You are the bestest. Jai Hind and Jai Ho.

Anil Kapoor: All the very best to the Women in Blue for today’s Women’s World Cup final. Come on India.

Akshay Kumar: Come on India, let our Women In Blue feel the support of a billion fans! Proud. Women’s World Cup final.

Sonakshi Sinha: Come on India. Women’s World Cup final. Women In Blue.

Shraddha Kapoor: Such a proud feeling that our India women’s cricket team is playing in the Women’s World Cup final. Good luck. Girl power all the way!

Suniel Shetty: Just play your game and the rest will fall in place! Looking forward to another round of outstanding cricket from you. Very best.

Huma Qureshi: Go girls. Can’t wait to feed you the victory biryani team India.

Saqib Saleem: Come on girls! I know you are prepping the victory dance… we got this.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Ailing Bangladeshi Islamist cleric moved to New Delhi for treatment

1 hour 8 min ago

Dhaka, July 23 (IANS) The 96-year-old ailing chief of Hefazat-e-Islam, a pro-Islamist platform in Bangladesh, has been flown to the Indian capital for treatment after his health condition worsened, a media report said.

Shah Ahmed Shafi, who has been suffering from various old age complications, left for New Delhi on Saturday, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Azizul Haque Islamabadi, central organising secretary of the Islamist platform, told the Dhaka Tribune that a flight carrying Shafi left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

“He [Shafi] has been suffering from various old age complications. He is now taking liquid food through a tube. His respiratory problem has also worsened. That’s why he is going Delhi for better treatment. Delhi’s Deoband Madrasa teacher Arshad Madani will look after him during the treatment session,” Azizul said.

Shafi was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Chittagong city after he fell sick on May 18.

He was flown to Dhaka on June 6 after his condition deteriorated. Doctors at Asgar Ali Hospital in Gendaria treated him for old age complications and released him from the hospital on July 10.

The controversial nonagenarian leader, who is known as Boro Hujur (the oldest cleric) among his followers, is strongly criticised by progressive people for his highly prejudicial views on various social issues and also for the radical Islamist platform’s pledge of Islamising Bangladesh, the daily said.

Shafi is the rector of Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam, also known as Hathazari Madrasa, and the chairman of Befaqul Madarisil Arabia Bangladesh, the largest Qawmi Madrasa board in Bangladesh.

The Islamist group was in the news earlier this year for demanding the removal of all ‘idols’ installed in the name of sculptures or statues across the country.

The Hefazat, which is an influential network of madrasas, had demanded the removal of the statue of ‘Lady Justice’ at the Supreme Court premises and staged countrywide protests demanding the removal of the statue.

In May, the statue was removed from the Supreme Court premises, which triggered widespread protests by Bangladeshis. The following day, May 27, the statue was reinstalled in the annexe building of the apex court.

–IANS

rn

Categories: India News

Rob Kardashian returns to Twitter with Dream snap

1 hour 10 min ago

Los Angeles, July 23 (IANS) Reality TV personality Rob Kardashian has returned to social media to share a new photograph of his daughter Dream Renee Kardashian following his legal battle with model Blac Chyna.

Rob had quit Twitter on July 1, and returned on the micro-blogging website on July 21 to share the image, according to aceshowbiz.com.

In the photograph, Dream adorably gazed at the camera while sitting in a miniature ball pit. The post serves as the “Rob and Chyna” star’s first original post since his legal drama with Chyna kicked off.

Chyna was granted a temporary restraining order against Rob on July 10 after he went on an explicit social media rant, in which he shared her nude photographs on his Instagram and Twitter accounts and accused her of infidelity and drug use.

He was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Chyna, as well as from posting her personal images and information.

“Posting pictures of Dream is not a violation of the restraining order,” Chyna’s attorney Lisa Bloom explained in a statement.

“Mr. Kardashian was ordered to stay away from (Chyna), not to contact her, not to share intimate photos or medical information about her, and not to cyberbully her. We are looking forward to the next hearing to secure permanent orders against Mr. Kardashian to ensure his long term compliance,” the statement further read.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Linkin Park sets up Chester Bennington tribute site

1 hour 40 min ago

Los Angeles, July 23 (IANS) Popular Rock band Linkin Park has set up a tribute site for singer Chester Bennington, who committed suicide earlier this week.

The band set up the tribute site on Saturday, reports variety.com.

The site featured a photograph of Bennington onstage, surrounded by the light from thousands of fans’ phones, with the hashtag “#RIPCHESTER” and a message for people seeking help in crisis.

It also features an area for fans to post messages in.

On Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles county coroner confirmed additional details about Bennington’s death, who committed suicide on July 21.

The 41-year-old’s body was found on Thursday at his home in a suburb of Los Angeles. A bottle of alcohol was also found in the room, though it was not near his body, the police said.

Investigators did not find a note in the room. An autopsy is pending.

Bennington had struggled with depression and substance abuse throughout his life. He also appeared to be deeply impacted by the loss of Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell, who died in May and was good friends with Bennington.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

21 insurgents, 4 policemen killed in Afghanistan clashes

1 hour 48 min ago

Kabul, July 23 (IANS) Twenty-one insurgents and four police personnel were killed and 20 insurgents injured in two clashes in the Afghan province of Kandahar, a police official said on Sunday.

In one clash, 15 militants and four policemen were killed and 20 militants injured after armed Taliban attacked security checkpoints in Nesh district late on Saturday night, police spokesman Zia Durrani told Xinhua news agency.

Durrani said the police personnel fought back the attackers and six policemen were also injured during exchange of fire in the remote district.

In the neighbouring Maywand district, Afghan Special Forces targeted a Taliban’s hideout, killing six militants, including a Taliban shadow district governor named Maiwand Khan, the police spokesman added.

A militants’ local commander was arrested after the raid and three vehicles, two motorcycles, weapons and ammunition were seized by security forces.

Taliban are yet to make any comment.

Security situation has been improving in Kandahar, the former stronghold of Taliban, over the past months as security forces have conducted search and cordon operations across the province, 450 km away from Kabul.

–IANS

pgh/vt

Categories: India News

Actor John Heard dies at 72

1 hour 52 min ago

Los Angeles, July 23 (IANS) Actor John Heard, who played Peter McCallister in the 1990 film “Home Alone”, passed away at the age of 72.

Heard was found dead in a hotel in Palo Alto, California, by a maid service on Friday, July 21, reports tmz.com.

According to his representative, Heard was recovering at the hotel after undergoing back surgery. Police were called to the hotel for a report of a medical emergency, but he was pronounced dead on the scene.

The cause of death is still unclear, but the police are investigating and do not suspect foul play.

Born on March 7, 1945, in Washington DC, Heard was best known for his role in “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”.

He also appeared in some other movies like “Cat People”, “After Hours”, “Big”, “Beaches”, “Gladiator”, and on TV series like “Miami Vice” and “The Sopranos”, for which he won an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor.

The actor is survived by two children.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Fashion still lives inside me: Additi Gupta

2 hours 2 min ago

Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) Actress Additi Gupta, who is currently seen in TV show “Ishqbaaaz”, feels happy that she gets to experiment with her looks in different shows as she says fashion is a big part of her life.

“I have been into fashion since my childhood. I had never planned to be in showbiz as an artist and always wanted to be fashion designer. I have even pursued it,” Additi said in a statement.

“But, later on during my teenage years, I got into modelling and things went on and I became an actress. And after being an actress I have understood that I don’t want go back anywhere now. I have started enjoying my hard, but fun-filled journey as an artist.”

“But, fashion still lives inside me. I love experimenting with my looks and outfits. Luckily, my characters in ‘Qubool Hai’, ‘Pardes Mein Hai Mera Dil’ and ‘Ishqbaaaz’ have been written in a creative way, allowing me to give fashion goals,” she added.

Additi plays the role of Ragini in “Ishqbaaaz”, which is aired on Star Plus.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Nagas in Arunachal seek surrender and rehabilitation policy

2 hours 4 min ago

Itanagar/New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) A Naga students outfit in Arunachal Pradesh has urged Chief Minister Pema Khandu to come up with a surrender and rehabilitation policy for the youths who joined the outlawed forces, to enable them to return to mainstream.

With over 500 Naga youths in Arunachal Pradesh having joined the outlawed forces, the Arunachal Naga Student’s Federation (ANSF) said the policy can be used by the cadres as a platform to return to civilian life.

ANSF, a powerful Naga youth outfit in Arunachal Pradesh, has also sought a paramedical college to be set up in one of the Naga inhabited districts like Tirap, Changlang and Longding, so that the youngsters can be engaged in professional courses and stay away from outlawed forces.

The ANSF has been demanding a surrender and rehabilitation policy on the lines of the one that exists in Assam since 1998. The main objective was to wean away the youths who have strayed into militancy and now find themselves trapped.

The scheme should also ensure that the militants who have surrendered do not stray back into insurgent groups, the ANSF said.

“Tirap, Changlang and Longding are all development deprived districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Youths, mostly out of frustration, join outlawed groups and find themselves trapped. This needs to be ended,” said ANSF President Nokchai Boham.

“We want the state government to come up with a surrender and rehabilitation policy so that they can come back to civilian life,” Boham said.

The ANSF leaders have said they would meet Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to press for their demands.

The organisation, which has also revived the demand for autonomous council for the three districts, has sought a Sainik school for the region so that teenagers from early age are motivated to join the Indian defence forces.

Alleging that the Arunachal Pradesh government was denying the Nagas their genuine demands, the community said they have waited for too long to see development in the districts where they reside, and felt the area could develop only under an autonomous council.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Russian firm delivers Mi-171E helicopter to Balochistan

2 hours 16 min ago

Moscow/Islamabad, July 23 (IANS) The Balochistan provincial government in Pakistan has received a Russian Mi-171E non-combat helicopter, Russian news agency Tass reported.

The Mi-171 is a civilian variant of the Mi-17 military cargo helicopter, which is already in service in the Pakistan Army.

The Mi-17 is widely used across the world due to its reliability and ability to operate in all climates, and could be used by the provincial government to transport cargo or passengers, or as an emergency response aircraft.

This is the second Mi-171E helicopter delivered to Pakistan this year.

Russian Helicopters made the helicopter supply contract with the government of Balochistan Province in December 2016.

The helicopter was built in the convertible option. The helicopter cabin can be converted from a freight one to a VIP cabin with 13 seats and a flight attendant at customer’s option within the short period.

The Mi-171E can carry up to 27 passengers and up to four tonnes of cargo inside the cabin or on the external suspension in its transport version. Three points for direct deployment provide quick landing of paratroopers and rescuers when the helicopter is hovering.

In the case of a medical emergency, the chopper can be used as an ambulance as it has the capacity to carry 14 stretchers if seats are replaced.

“I am confident the convertible Mi-171E handed over to the customer will perform decently when accomplishing any missions, whether in passenger and freight carriage or in medical, search and rescue operations,” Tass quoted Russian Helicopters Chief Executive Officer Andrei Boginsky as saying.

Russian Helicopters has sold Mi-171E helicopters to several countries, including China.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

‘Husband storage’ facility opens in Chinese shopping mall

2 hours 28 min ago

Shanghai, July 23 (IANS) Shopping with girlfriends or wives may be one of the most tedious chores for men. Therefore, a shopping mall in China’s Shanghai city has launched “husband storage” facility.

The transparent self-service pods in Shanghai’s Global Harbour shopping centre are equipped with a TV screen, a leather massage chair, and game consoles, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

“Men usually get bored when shopping with their female partners, so we have provided them a place to rest. They can play games and charge their mobile phones here,” said Zhou Jun, who operates and maintains the pods.

Users scan to QR code to reserve a pod, which costs 20 yuan (around $3) for half an hour or 30 yuan per hour, Zhou said.

Since its launch one month ago, the “husband storage” facility has attracted dozens of persons every day.

“It’s a good idea. My husband was always unhappy when shopping with me,” said a female shopper surnamed Wang.

A male user surnamed Yang told Xinhua news agency that the facility has hundreds of classic video games, which reminded him of his childhood.

However, not everyone is happy about the pods. Some wives have complained that it is no fun shopping alone.

“Who will carry my bag, chat with me and offer advice if my husband is sitting in a pod enjoying himself,” said a female shopper surnamed He.

Zhou said in the future the pods will be quipped with a curtain, air-conditioning and headsets to ensure a better user experience.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

On eve of 57th birthday, Thackeray bashes BJP

2 hours 34 min ago

Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday attacked ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying he had virtually lost faith in the BJP-led central and state government over several issues, including the GST and demonetisation, in the past three years.

His strong BJP bashing came on the eve of his customary, annual birthday-eve interview series to the party’s publications, ‘Saamana’ and ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’, the first part of which was published on Sunday.

Thackeray, who turns 57 on July 27, spoke on various issues with Saamana Executive Editor, Sanjay Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP.

Q: You seem upset with the Goods & Services Tax implemented this month..?

Thackeray: “Upset? It’s a complete mess. We won’t keep quiet. We were the first to point out how GST will hit the people. Now, they must decide whether to bear it beat it. See, in Gujarat small traders took to the streets opposing GST and they were mercilessly beaten up.

“We have opposed GST, since under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, everything is sought to be ‘centralised’. Is this a true democracy? Unlike the former Prime Minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi, who implemented Panchayati Raj right at the grassroots level,” Thackeray said in the first salvo against the government.

Thackeray claimed that the Shiv Sena managed to ‘save’ Mumbai and 27 other municipal corporations in the state by getting reimbursement of the losses they suffered due to the closure of the Octroi checkposts from July 1 – when GST came into being.

He urged the government to ascertain whether its policies are for the overall common good or not and cited the example of last year’s demonetization.

“Just today, I read that 1.50 million people lost jobs directly due to demonetization, meaning six million (dependents) will suffer a hit. Who will provide for these six million their daily ‘dal-roti’?”

He pointed out how he was the first to speak out against demonetization as it created immense hardships for the masses, they stood months in queues, many died, but nobody bothered.

Q: “You speak the truth, but you will be treated as a ‘traitor’?”

Thackeray: “So what? Ask the people losing their jobs who is the real ‘traitor’. I am not talking about Modi, but the government machinery. Whenever SS speaks anything, it’s considered ‘anti-government’. But that is wrong, we are always with the people.”

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Athiya can’t wait to walk for Shyamal and Bhumika at ICW 2017

2 hours 50 min ago

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Actress Athiya Shetty says she is excited to be the showstopper for the maiden show of designer duo Shyamal and Bhumika at the forthcoming India Couture Week 2017.

“I am excited to be a part of Shyamal and Bhumika’s first show at India Couture Week,” Athiya told IANS.

“Nothing better to walk the ramp for a brand you totally resonate with, be it the silhouettes or the intricate work they are known for, I am really looking forward to be a part of their show,” she added.

The fashion gala that is starting on July 24 at the Taj Palace hotel here and the designers are to showcase their couture collection titled The Princess’s Soiree on July 26.

Shyamal and Bhumika seek inspiration from rich Indian heritage and history and use its precious crafts and artisanal techniques to create couture collections relevant to modern day sensibilities.

On this exciting association, Shyamal said: “Since it’s our first show at the India Couture Week, we couldn’t think of anyone better than the beautiful Athiya Shetty.”

Praising Athiya, Bhumika added: “She is a superstar who’s creating magic on and off the screen and she pulls of our designs beautifully. Her elegant and glamorous personality resonates with our brand and she is the right fit for our debut participation at the India couture week.”

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Iconic stars don’t do justice to real-life characters: Dhulia

3 hours 4 min ago

Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia had a tough time casting actors for his forthcoming film “Raagdesh” as he says that iconic stars don’t do justice to real-life characters.

Dhulia, whose last directorial project “Bullett Raja” was released four years ago, says it was not easy for him to cast three faces to play the INA soldiers in “Raagdesh”. He finally zeroed in on actors Kunal Kapoor, Mohit Marwah and Amit Sadh.

“It was very important not to cast known stars as these real-life soldiers from Subhas Chandra Bose’s army. I firmly believe iconic stars do not do not justice to real-life characters,” Dhulia said.

Citing example of Hollywood actor Ben Kingsley, who played Mahatma Gandhi in 1982 film “Gandhi”, the director added: “When Ben Kingsley played Gandhi nobody knew him. Because of his relatively unexposed personality, he became stamped as Mahatma Gandhi for a lifetime. I hope Mohit, Kunal and Amit become the faces of the three INA soldiers in the audiences’ mind.”

For the role of Subhas Chandra Bose, Tigmanshu has roped in Assamese actor Kenny Basumatary.

“He was already working with me in my other film while I was looking for an actor to play Subhas Chandra Bose. I suddenly realised Kenny has a striking resemblance to Bose,” he added.

“Raagdesh”, is a film that salutes the heroes of the Indian National Army. It revolves round the Red Fort trial of the three INA officers. It will be specially screened for the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“Raagdesh” is slated to release on July 28.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Arrested Congress legislator in Kerala suspended from party post

3 hours 4 min ago

Thiruvananthapuram, July 23 (IANS) The Congress on Sunday suspended arrested Kerala legislator M. Vincent from the post of party secretary, a day after he was arrested on charges of sexual harassment and stalking of a 51-year-old woman who attempted suicide.

Addressing reporters here, state Congress president M.M. Hassan said the party taking cognisance of the nature of the complaint against Vincent, decided to suspend him from the post of secretary of the party.

However, Hassan said the antecedents of the complainant are being questioned by her own sister.

“The victim’s own sister has voiced suspicion about the complainant and her state of mental health. But, as a party that respects womanhood we have decided to suspend him. The question of asking him to resign as a legislator is not going to take place as the case is in the court and we will wait for the outcome of the case,” said Hassan.

Hassan said the police showed undue haste in acting on the complaint and arresting Vincent.

“This is nothing but a political conspiracy hatched by a CPI-M legislator and leaders of the party. There are quite a few cases of similar nature where CPI-M members are implicated, and in such cases the police did not do anything. But in this case within a few hours Vincent was questioned and then was arrested,” said Hassan.

Meanwhile, the sister of the victim on Sunday morning told the media that the victim in the case has been taking medicines for a long time and their brother is a CPI-M activist.

On Saturday, police questioning Vincent for a few hours took him into custody and recorded his arrest. He was later produced before a magistrate, who remanded him to 14 days judicial custody.

This is the first time that a sitting legislator in Kerala has been arrested on such charges.

Vincent had moved for anticipatory bail from a court here, but with his arrest taking place he will now seek bail on Monday.

The woman’s husband had filed a complaint with the local police station near here earlier this week accusing the legislator of threatening and harassing his wife over phone.

Vincent, who represents Kovalam Assembly constituency in the state capital district, said he has done no wrong and claimed he was a victim of political conspiracy. He has blamed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office for framing him.

The case surfaced after the woman attempted suicide by consuming excessive dose of sleeping pills on Wednesday. She was rushed to a hospital in the city suburbs and was saved.

The police have taken the statement of the woman.

The woman told the media on Saturday that she has been facing severe mental harassment from the legislator and he has misbehaved with her on two different occasions.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

DJ Diplo composes ‘Phurrr’ for SRK’s ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’

3 hours 26 min ago

Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) Popular American DJ Diplo has joined hands with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan to compose the song “Phurrrr” for forthcoming Bollywood film “Jab Harry Met Sejal”.

Shah Rukh shared a photograph of himself with Diplo on Twitter.

In the image, Shah Rukh is seen sporting a white T-shirt, while the American DJ, whose real name is Thomas Wesley Pentz, is seen in a black T-shirt as they pose for a selfie.

“Walked into the video Diplo is making for ‘Phurrrr’! Got a starring role in it and his decent jacket. Wes you are dope! Thanks,” Shah Rukh captioned the image.

The song has been shot in Lisbon, Spain.

“Jab Harry Met Sejal”, directed by Imtiaz Ali, will also feature Anushka Sharma. Produced by Red Chillies Entertainment, “Jab Harry Met Sejal” is all set for release on August 4.

“Jab Harry Met Sejal” explores the journey of SRK and Anushka across Europe.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

New school building funded by India inaugurated in Nepal

3 hours 30 min ago

Kathmandu, July 23 (IANS) Indian envoy to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri inaugurated a school building in Udayapur district and laid the foundation stone for construction of a campus building for another educational institution in Basaha in the same district, for which India has extended NRs 66.44 million as financial aid, a statement said.

The newly-constructed building of Shree Janata Higher Secondary School in Jogidaha consists of 12 classrooms along with separate toilets for boys and girls on each floor, compound wall and furniture.

He also laid the foundation stone for the Shree Narad Aadarsha Education Campus in Basaha.

The NRs 66.44 million financial assistance for the construction of these buildings falls under the Indian government’s Small Development Programme Scheme as part of India-Nepal Economic Cooperation Programme, an Indian Embassy press release said.

Currently, more than 600 students are enrolled in this school and more than 65 per cent of them are girl students.

In his inaugural address, Ambassador Puri stressed on the importance of proper infrastructure for ensuring access to quality education to all.

The Ambassador urged students to make maximum use of the newly inaugurated building. He also announced the Mahatma Gandhi scholarship for two meritorious students of each school who score the highest marks in Class 10 for further studies in Class 11 and 12.

The Shree Narad Aadarsha Education Campus, affiliated to Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, was established in 2003 and more than 175 students are enrolled in the campus and 75 per cent of them are girls. The new infrastructure would provide much needed classroom space and create an improved environment for learning and contribute to the development of the education facilities in Udyapur district, it said.

Earlier, the Government of India has provided financial assistance of NRs 81.50 million for five completed and ongoing projects in the district. Additionally, the Government of India has, in the past, provided 11 ambulances recognizing the need of the people of the district.

Ambassador Puri also visited B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences at Dharan, which is the largest institute providing specialized healthcare services to Eastern Nepal for decades.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Dulquer releases trailer of Malayalam version of Rana’s next

3 hours 32 min ago

Chennai, July 23 (IANS) Actor Rana Daggubati’s upcoming Telugu film “Nene Raju, Nene Mantri” has been titled ‘Raja Kireedam’ in Malayalam and its trailer was released by actor Dulquer Salmaan on Sunday.

“Privileged to present to you my buddy Rana Daggubati’s next release ‘Raja Kireedam’. Here is the trailer,” Dulquer tweeted on Sunday.

Directed by Teja, the film features Rana as a politician.

“I always admired Teja’s hunger for brilliance and this one is turning out to be a compelling and thought provoking film. It’s going to be a delight for everyone,” Rana said in a statement.

Talking about the film, Teja said: “The film is all about breaking ‘jane do’ (let it go) attitude. Rana is changing this very attitude.”

Also starring Kajal Aggarwal, Catherine Tresa, Navdeep and Ashutosh Rana, the film is gearing up for simultaneous release in Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam.

–IANS

hp/dc/vt

Categories: India News

B-Town extends support to Nawazuddin over racism remark

3 hours 36 min ago

Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) Popular Bollywood celebrities like Nandita Das, Taapsee Pannu and Tannishtha Chatterjee have lent their support to National Award winning actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who earlier slammed the entertainment industry for promoting racism.

“Thank you for making me realise that I cannot be paired along with the fair and handsome because I am dark and not good looking, but I never focus on that,” Nawazuddin tweeted on July 17 while talking about the discrimination he has faced in the Hindi film industry over appearance.

After that a few Bollywood celebrities have extended their support to Nawazuddin and said that not only the film industry, but racism happens all over India.

Here’s what these celebs have to say:

Tapsee Pannu: We are a colour-obsessed nation selling fairness creams in high volumes. Our matrimonial columns till date have a mention of skin colour. So let’s not target only the film industry.

Nandita Das: I am sure it is no surprise to anyone that Nawazuddin’s skin colour would have impeded his career. All around us the images of women and now increasingly of men, are those with light skin. Be it films, television, magazines, hoardings, ads… Everywhere we have ‘fair’ people, in a country that is largely dark!

Every skin care product has a skin lightening element. Dark skinned people are often made to feel inadequate… right from their childhood. I can see the challenges that Nawazuddin must have faced in his career. After he has been around for over 10 years, it is his sheer talent and perseverance that has made him overcome this prejudice.

Anshuman Jha: “I am offered unconventional roles. But I personally haven’t faced any racism in this industry. But this industry is all about how good you look, and therefore discrimination is bound to exist. In the West, the black American actor Jamie Foxx can be paired opposite any leading lady. Here the criterion for casting is how compatible he or she looks with the other actor instead of performing abilities.

Tannishtha Chatterjee: “I think the film industry is not so colour biased. Such colour biases exist more in the advertising industry. Our society at large still suffers from these prejudices. Artistes and art need to speak up against societal prejudice. I’ve never endorsed fairness creams. I’ve never allowed anyone to make me look fair on screen.

Pankaj Tripathi: Racism is part of the Indian mindset. We can’t escape it. However the very fact that Nawazuddin’s comment on racism has triggered off a reaction proves that the mindset is changing.

–IANS

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Categories: India News

Indian scientists tap AI to identify aggressive breast cancer

3 hours 38 min ago

Kolkata, July 23 (IANS) While the word “biopsy” is enough to send patients into a tizzy, oncologists say it is crucial to correctly identify the cancer stage and “faster growing” ones for appropriate and timely treatment. And to ensure accuracy, researchers in India are now turning to artificial intelligence (AI).

A team of experts from IIT-Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp) and Tata Medical Centre (TMC), Kolkata, has devised a computer-assisted model they say can automatically grade breast cancer aggressiveness, even in remote settings, providing fresh impetus to AI-based medical technology in India.

It also seeks to reduce human error in identifying breast cancer of various levels of aggressiveness to assist in distinguishing normal and low and higher risk malignant tumours.

To do that, the team tapped into deep learning, a form of AI concerned with algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks.

“The idea is to assess and identify the cancer that’s of high risk. This software allows accurate identification of the aggressive cancers anywhere, even in the remotest part of the country, allowing faster referral and quicker treatment for patients, irrespective of their geographical location,” Sanjoy Chatterjee, senior clinical oncologist at TMC, told IANS.

Chandan Chakraborty and Monjoy Saha of IIT-Kgp and TMC’s Indu Arun and Rosina Ahmed are the co-authors of the study, published in Nature Scientific Reports in June.

They were driven by the fact that the precise grouping of aggressiveness (high or low rates of cell growth) of breast cancer remains a challenge at a time when the disease is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing, particularly in developing countries like India, where the majority of cases are diagnosed in their late stages.

“For best results, it is always desirable to have experienced pathologists in sophisticated laboratories, but it is also important that we recognise that this is not always feasible, especially outside large urban hospitals,” Ahmed pointed out.

The clinical decision on breast cancer aggressiveness is mostly made manually based on certain pathological markers as seen in examining a tissue or cell sample under a microscope (called biopsy), they said.

“The manual assessment is subjective, and could be error-prone with a steep learning curve and dependent on the intra and inter-observer ambiguities. The AI algorithm aids pathologists to identify aggressive forms accurately to allow quicker and faster referral and suitable treatment,” said Chakraborty, lead researcher and professor-in-charge of the Biomedical Imaging Informatics (BMI) Laboratory, School of Medical Science & Technology, IIT-Kgp.

The software showed over 90 per cent precision in the experimental set-up, he added.

The application revolves around a protein (or marker) called Ki-67 which is used to calculate an index that groups cancers in the “low” or “high” aggressiveness groups.

The Ki-67 globally-approved index is used to help predict outcome (prognosis) and help figure out what treatment might work best, they say. It is increasingly being used by doctors to reflect cancer behaviour.

“The proposed computerised recognition can precisely measure the Ki-67 score by detection of the faster-growing cancer cell percentage, called hotspots, from the biopsy tissue images.

“The software has been standardised. As soon as the pathologists get the biopsy, all they have to do is make a section, grab an image and put in the computer,” Chatterjee explained.

“To get the job done faster, a basic set up requires a GPU (graphical processing unit) to compute the images.

“There is no need for expensive infrastructure. Moreover, in the rural and urban areas with minimum or few advanced instrumentation, manual inspection of Ki-67 scoring may provide results which are error-prone,” Saha, research scholar, School of Medical Science and Technology, IIT-Kgp, told IANS.

The study notes: “Several machine learning approaches have been reported; nevertheless, none of them had worked on deep learning-based hotspots detection and proliferation scoring.”

“The next phase of the study is validation. The clinicians and the pathologists are going to recruit patients and we will treat them depending on what the pathologists say. We will tally the results from the software as well as from the pathologists, so the discordant rates are pretty low. Then we can release the process for clinical use,” added Chatterjee.

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at sahana.g@ians.in)

–IANS

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