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'Truly Painful' - Senior IAS officer Ashok Khema about his 45th Transfer April 02, 2015 11:22

Ashok Khemka, the IAS officer who alleged persecution by the Congress in Haryana for cancelling a land deal involving Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, has once again been transferred by the state's new BJP government.In what is the 45th transfer in his 23-year career, Mr Khemka has been shunted out as Transport Commissioner and shifted to the low profile Archaeology and Museums Department.Mr Khemka has tweeted his response to the move by a party that had supported him while targeting the Congress over Mr Vadra's controversial deal."Tried hard to address corruption and bring reforms in Transport despite severe limitations and entrenched interests. Moment is truly painful," the 49-year-old officer said in his tweet.Sources say Mr Khemka had a run-in with state Transport Minister Ram Bilas Sharma over the easing of rules for overloaded vehicles. As Transport Commissioner, Mr Khemka had ordered district officials to penalise such vehicles - mostly involved in the mining business.Mr Khemka was appointed in charge of the transport department last year after Manohar Lal Khattar took charge as chief minister of Haryana's first BJP government.The IAS officer has been transferred multiple times since he cancelled the mutation of 3.5 acres of land in Gurgaon near Delhi in November 2012. The land had been sold by Robert Vadra's company Skylight Hospitality to real estate giant DLF for Rs. 58 crore.An auditor's report endorsed Mr Khemka's action and said the Congress, which was in power at the time, bent rules to enable windfall gains for Mr Vadra's company.The report was ignored by the Congress government, which set up its own inquiry and then charge-sheeted Mr Khemka for "causing damage to Robert Vadra's reputation" and "illegally" cancelling the deal.The new government tabled the report last month and supported Mr Khemka's stand, but has not yet acted on his request to cancel the charge-sheet against him.   - Manohar

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Maran's assets worth Rs 742 Crore attached in Aircel-Maxis deal April 02, 2015 10:01

In a fresh trouble for former Union telecom minister and DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanidhi, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday attached properties worthRs 742 crore in connection with its probe into the 2G scam investigations.The agency had registered a case against the Marans under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and is trailing "proceeds of crime" worth Rs 742 crore allegedly laundered by the brothers.ED said Maran's properties, including land and building worth Rs 171.55 crore owned by Kal Comm Private Limited and shares and fixed deposits valued over Rs 742 crore, have been provisionally attached.This also includes fixed deposits worth Rs 31.34 crore held by Sun Direct TV and mutual funds worth Rs 15.14 crore held in the name of South Asia FM.Fixed deposits worth Rs 100 crores held by Kalanithi Maran and of Rs 1.30 crore held by Kaveri Maran too have been attached, said a press statement.The CBI in its chargesheet had noted that Dayanidhi Maran, when he was the telecom minister between 2004 and 2007, had entered into a criminal conspiracy against C Sivasankaran of Aircel and stalled approvals for spectrum licences to Aircel Ltd only to force him to sell his company to Malaysia's Maxis Communication which later invested in Maran's Sun Network group. The agency also alleged that the Rs 629-crore investment by Maxis in the Sun Network was part of the Rs 742 crore quid pro quo the Maran's received for the Aircel deal.Based on CBI's chargesheet, ED probe identified assets worth Rs 742 crore and questioned two brothers during which they claimed that the transactions were done in the interest of the business and had no malafide intentions.ED, however, was not satisfied with the replies given by them on their economic interests, investments from abroad and the financial transactions of their companies in India.   - Manohar

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Coffee reduces risk of alcohol related liver cancer April 01, 2015 19:12

Millions of people start their day with coffee. But do you know a fact that coffee helps in lowering the liver cancer risk? A new study by London-based scientists from the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) found that drinking coffee lowers liver cancer risk in people who drink 3 alcoholic beverages a day. The research was carried out on 8.1 million men and women, 24,600 cases of liver cancer and a total of 34 studies were analysed as part of a study to find out relation between coffee and liver cancer. They found that those who drank about three alcoholic drinks a day benefited from regular coffee consumption to the point of diminishing liver damage and ultimately lowering their risk of liver cancer. The scientists are not sure why coffee might protect against the disease, but they hypothesized that certain compounds in the beverage could help to fight toxins. "Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver," the author said. To lower your risk for developing liver cancer, limit your drinking to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women but if you have habit of drinking three drinks, then at least have a cup of coffee to reduce the risk of alcohol related liver cancer. AW: Lizitha

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Mustafa Kamal quits as ICC president after World Cup snub April 01, 2015 19:04

Mustafa Kamal has quit as International Cricket Council president and accused the body of acting "unlawfully".Kamal said his decision came after he was denied the right to present the trophy to winners Australia after Sunday's World Cup final in Melbourne.Instead, it was presented by Indian ICC chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan.Kamal, a Bangladesh national, had previously criticised the umpiring at the competition after his country's quarter-final defeat by India.He said Bangladesh's 109-run loss appeared to have been "pre-arranged" and there was "no quality in the umpiring" - a claim denied by the ICC."The main reason for my resignation is that I can't work with those who can act unconstitutionally and unlawfully," Kamal said on Wednesday."These type of people should be away from cricket, otherwise cricket will be spoilt, cricket will not move forward."I'm sure people will find out why I have resigned and they will unearth the truth - who are these people, what are they doing, and how they are running ICC."The ICC said it was aware of the reports but had not yet received Kamal's letter of resignation.The ICC president has become a largely honorary position since changes to the ICC constitution in 2014 handed control to the so-called 'Big Three' nations of England, India and Australia.   - Manohar

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Union Minister Giriraj Singh's bizarre comments on Sonia Gandhi April 01, 2015 18:50

Known for making controversial and bizarre statements, Union Minister Giriraj Singh once again did the same when he commented that the colour of Sonia Gandhi's skin made her the Congress President."If Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian and if she wasn't white skin, would Congress accept her as a leader" said Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha MP from Bihar's Nawada constituency.The comment received a lot of flak from the Congress party which immediately demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Strongly condemn sexist and racist remarks made by minister Giriraj Singh referring to Sonia Gandhi. Does the Prime Minister support him?" said a disapproving RPN Singh.Another rival of the BJP, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPIM), too castigated Giriraj Singh for his racist comments."He is a serial offender. The PM has a duty to publicly correct this situation. What is the PM's Mann ki Baat on this? His silence reflects encouragement," said CPIM leader Brinda Karat.Singh had stoked controversy during the Lok Sabha election campaign when he said that those who opposed Narendra should go to Pakistan while addressing a rally in Jharkhand's Deoghar district on April 19, 2014. Three FIRs were lodged against him at Deogarh, Bokaro and Patna for his hate speeches.In another instance, Singh had again sparked a row by asking why all terrorists belonged to one community.Singh's latest remark came soon after Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Tuesday allegedly advised the agitating nurses that they should not stage hunger strike in the sun because it will make them 'dark' and 'ruin their marital prospects'.   - Manohar

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Vishu - Festival of abundance April 01, 2015 18:25

In Kerala, the start of the Zodiac New Year when the sun enters into Sidereal Aries, Ashwini nakshatra, is celebrated as Vishu. Usually it comes around 14th or 15th of April. Bihu in Assam and Baisakhi in Punjab are celebrated around the same time of year. It is said that what one sees when one opens one's eyes on Vishu morning is an indication of what one can expect in the year to come. Thus on Vishu, effort is made to assure one opens one's eyes before an auspicious Vishukani viz. abundance of everything. The Malayalam word kani literally means "that which is seen first," so "Vishukkani" means "that which is seen first on Vishu." Arranged in the family puja room the night before by the elders in the family, the Vishukkani is a panorama of auspicious items, including images of Lord Vishnu, flowers, fruits and vegetables, clothes and gold coins. Lord Vishnu, the preserver of creation, is the aspect of the Paramatman that is focused upon during Vishu. In Indian astrology, Vishnu is seen as the head of Kaala Purusha, the God of Time. As Vishu marks the first day of the Zodiac New Year, it is an appropriate time to offer oblations to Lord Vishnu.Akshatam, a mixture of rice and turmeric, which is divided into halves of husked and un-husked rice, is placed in a special bowl called an uruli. The uruli traditionally is made of panchaloham, an aggregate of five metals. Panchaloham being symbolic of the universe, which is comprised of the five great elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. A nice, well-starched cloth is then pleated fan-like and inserted into a highly polished brass kindi (a spouted puja vessel used for pouring sacred water). The val-kannadi, a special type of mirror with an extremely long and thin handle, often decorated with gold, is also inserted into the kindi. The kindi is then placed in the uruli on top of the rice.Two deepams, which are fashioned from the two halves of a split coconut, are also kept in the uruli. The lighting of the deepam welcomes God into our lives and is also symbolic of spiritual knowledge, the remover of the darkness of ignorance. Gold, both in colour and in coin is central to the Vishukkani. Kanikkonna, a golden-yellow flower associated with Sri Krishna is used liberally throughout the puja room. This flower only blooms in the month surrounding Vishu. In the puja room, the flower verily represents the sun itself, the eyes of Lord Vishnu. Gold coins are symbols of monetary affluence, as well as cultural and spiritual wealth, which the elders of the family must share freely with the younger generation.The Vishukkani will also be laden with gold-coloured fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, jackfruit, golden cucumber, etc. The akshatam, as it is full of turmeric, also is gold in colour, as is the shiny brass of the kindi, the panchaloham and the reflection of the mirror. A spiritual book, such as the Bhagavad-Gita, is also made part of the arrangement. The book is the pramanam, the instrument used for attaining the eternal, non-perishable wisdom of the Rishis as well as a symbol of that knowledge itself.The elers who arranges the Vishukkani will sleep in the puja room and wakes up during the auspicious hour of the Brahma muhurata (4:00 to 6:00 a.m.) and will light the oil-lamp wicks and take in the auspicious sight. They will then walk to the rooms where the rest of the family is sleeping and wake them up and by covering their eyes, will then lead them to the puja room, where will allow them to take in the auspicious sight.Upon opening one's eyes, one is overwhelmed with the glorious darshan of the Lord. The mirror which is symbolic of Bhagavati (Devi), not only increases the lustre of the Vishukkani via the reflection it offers, but also shows our own face, reminding us that God is not someone sitting in the heavens upon a golden throne, but the pure consciousness that is our true nature. The mirror also points to the importance of making our mind pure enough to render this truth unadulterated.The Vishukkani is not reserved only for those who come to the puja room, but is taken around for the viewing of the elderly and sick that are perhaps too frail to come to the puja room. It is also brought outside and shown to the family cows. As it is brought to the cowshed, it in fact is on display for the birds, the trees, for all of nature to see.Vishukkani points to a year of abundance both spiritually and materially. Food, light, money, knowledge all should fill our life. Taking in the Vishukkani we should pray that the vision remains with us throughout the year. It is not enough that the joy we take from viewing the Vishukkani comes only to our eyes. It must reflect in our thoughts and in our actions. The auspicious start of the year, which has come to us due to the grace of beginning it with a divine vision, is not for us alone. It is up to us to spread this love, happiness and hope to the rest of society.Vishukkaineettam, the distribution of wealth, is another aspect of the festival. It should be given freely and accepted with reverence. On Vishu, the elders will not only give money to their children but also to each and every family member.By Premji

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Places to Visit in Goa April 01, 2015 18:08

Goa, situated on the west coast of India, is one of the most delightful states in India. Formerly a Portuguese colony, it is endowed with variety of attractions, like palm pronged beaches, miles of golden sands, lush green country-side, an incredible mosaic of cultural heritage, magnificent churches, temples, forts and monuments and a unique cultural synthesis of the east and west. With its tropical climate, Goa is a tourist’s destination for all seasons.  History: Goa's history goes back 20,000 - 30,000 years. The rock art engravings exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. In the 3rd century BC, Goa was part of the Maurya Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha. Buddhist monks laid the foundation of Buddhism in Goa. Between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD, Goa was ruled by the Bhojas of Goa. Chutus of Karwar also ruled some parts as feudatories of the Satavahanas of Kolhapur, Western Kshatrapas. Travel: Road: Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, and other main cities of Goa are well connected by motorable roads with different cities and places in India. Train: Tivim, Karmali, Madgaon and Vasco-da-Gama railway stations of Goa are well connected with major cities and places in India.  Air: Dabolim airport of Goa is well connected by flight with major cities in India. Places to visit in Goa:

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Hindu Puranas - Light of Knowledge April 01, 2015 17:51

The Puranas are ancient Hindu texts eulogizing various deities, primarily the divine Trimurti (Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva) in Hinduism through divine stories. Puranas may also be described as a genre of important Hindu religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages and demigods and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography. Puranas usually employ an abundance of religious and philosophical concepts. They are usually written in the form of stories. Sage Vyasa, is traditionally considered the compiler of the Puranas. Puranas existed in oral form before being written. Of the many texts designated 'Puranas' the most important are the Mahapuraṇas. These are said to be eighteen in number, divided into three groups of six.The Puranas and their features are given below:   Sl No Name of Purana No of Verses Main Contents 1 Brahma Purana   10,000 verses   Godavari and its tributaries. 2 Padma Purana   55,000 verses   Greatness of Bhagavad Gita. 3 Vishnu Purana   23,000 verses   Deeds of Vishnu and various ways to worship 4 Shiva Purana   24,000 verses   Greatness of Shiva, worshiping and other stories 5 Vamana Purana   10,000 verses   Areas around Kurukshetra in North India. 6 Markandeya Purana   9,000 verses   Devi Mahatmya, an important text for the Shaktas 7 Varaha Purana   24,000 verses   Describes various forms prayer and devotional observances to Vishnu. Also involve Shiva and Durga 8 Agni Purana   15,400 verses   Vastu Shastra and Gemology 9 Kurma Purana   17,000 verses   Second of ten major avatar of Lord Vishnu. 10 Bhagavad Maha Purana   18,000 verses   Most celebrated and popular of the Puranas telling of Vishnu's ten Avatars. Narrates the deeds of KrishnaMost celebrated and popular of the Puranas telling of Vishnu's ten Avatars. Narrates the deeds of Krishna 11 Linga Purana   11,000 verses   Magnificence of Lingam, symbol of Shiva and origin of the universe 12 Narada Purana   25,000 verses   Greatness of Vedas and Vedangas. 13 Skanda Purana   81,100 verses   Birth of Skanda or Karthikeya, son of Shiva. The longest Purana, it is an extraordinarily meticulous pilgrimage guide, containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in India, with related legends, parables, hymns and stories 14 Garuda Purana   19,000 verses   Describes death and its aftermaths. 15 Matsya Purana   14,000 verses   Narrates the story of Matsya, the first of ten major Avatars of Vishnu. It also contains genealogical details of various dynasties.[Narrates the story of Matsya, the first of ten major Avatars of Vishnu. It also contains genealogical details of various dynasties.] 16 Vayu Purana   24,000 verses   Another name of Shiva Purana 17 Bhavishya Purana   17,000 verses   Ways to worship Devis, Krishna and Ganesha. 18 Brahmanda Purana   12,000 verses   Includes Lalita Sahasranamam, a text some Hindus recite as prayer.   We will be talking about different puranas and the stories in each puranas in this section.By Premji

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Oh My God to Have a Sequel April 01, 2015 17:25

Oh My God was a sensation during its release and the movie minted huge money all over the country and it has received critical reception from the movie lovers as well as the critics. Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal and Mithun Chakraborthy played the main leads in this movie which has been directed by Umesh Shukla and the movie lovers have been left stunning with the concept of the film. The film has been made on a small budget and it collected huge money after which it has been remade in many other Indian languages. As per the latest update, the sequel for Oh My God is on cards which is sure a great news for movie lovers.Actor Paresh Rawal revealed the news through his twitter account posting “Oh my god sequel is very much on with Akshay Kumar and Mithun da . Shooting will start by June July . Jai ho !!!”. Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal and Mithun Chakraborthy will play the main leads in the sequel too and it will be directed by Umesh Shukla. The movie is in final stages of scripting and the other cast, crew will be finalized soon. The regular shoot of the movie will start from June and the movie will release in December this year. Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal and Ashvini Yardi are the producers and will produce the movie on Grazing Goat Pictures banner.

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Hormone Replacement Therapy may benefit menopause women April 01, 2015 16:48

Hormonal therapy for menopause is under state of confusion from past few years with the positive and negative results provided by researchers. When it came into existence it gained lot of popularity and many women opted for it. But in 2002, a big study released by the Women's Health Initiative said HRT made a woman more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. Other reports from the program said it raised the risk of breast cancer. This triggered lot of worry and fear among the patients and many stopped using this. A new study by Swedish scientists has found that women taking HT statins have a decrease in all-cause mortality. The study was carried out on women aged 40 to 74 years who filled a first statin prescription between 2006 and 2007. Women were classified as HRT users or as nonusers and all the related information was collected from them. Among 40, 958 statinusers, 7% are HRT users and remaining are non HRT users. The analysis report stated that “among HRT users, 5 cardiovascular deaths occurred per 10, 000 persons-years and 18 deaths occurred among non HRT users. This depicts 42% reduction among HRT users.  The all-cause mortality rates were 33 per 10,000for HRT users and 87 for nonusers. The investigators found no associations with cardiovascular events. The researchers concluded that using of HRT decreases risk of all-cause mortality in women receiving statins. AW: Lizitha

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