MCI (P) 078/03/2019
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
MARCH 22, 2019
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Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
Marketing Team Head
India celebrated one of its most vibrant
and colourful festivals, Holi, yesterday
by throwing coloured liquid and powder
on each other in good-spirited humour.
The ritual starts by lighting up a
bonfire one day before the day of Holi.
The process symbolises the triumph of
good over evil.
The celebratory event, which usually
takes place in March, marks the onset of
Traditional Holi celebrations are the
biggest in Mathura and Vrindavan,
about four hours from Delhi, where
Lord Krishna is believed to have grown
Indian president Ram Nath Kovind
greeted the nation on Wednesday saying
that Holi is a celebration of “our sense of
fraternity and mutual goodwill”.
World’s three cheapest places to
live in India
Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru are
among the cheapest places to live in the
world, according to the Economist
Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Worldwide
Cost of Living Survey.
The study found that Paris,
Singapore and Hong Kong are the most
expensive cities in the world.
Zurich was placed fourth, while
Osaka shared fifth place with Geneva.
India gets first Lokpal
Former Supreme Court judge Pinaki
Chandra Ghose, 66, has been
appointed the country’s first
anti-corruption ombudsman or Lokpal
An ombudsman has the power to
investigate and address complaints or a
violation of rights against any public
entity, including the Prime Minister.
The formation of a committee that
will look into incidents of corruption
within the Indian government has been
in the works for six years now, since the
Lokpal Act was first passed in 2013.
Take a health test at Metro
stations in Delhi
The Delhi Metro has set up five kiosks
at interchange stations that will allow
people to do health tests.
The machines, equipped with
sensors, can identify 18 parameters
with a predictive report of at least 12
diseases in a few minutes.
A trained technician helps to
generate the results of the tests.
Chandigarh airport undergoes
runway expansion work
Chandigarh International Airport has
been undergoing expansion work to
increase its runway length from 9,000
feet to 10,400 feet, allowing
wide-bodied planes to operate from the
airport and connect to foreign
With the upgrade, passengers from
Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal
Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh will
not need to travel to Delhi or Amritsar
airports to board flights to Europe and
the United States.
Gujarat records alarming number
of swine flu cases
In the first 2
months of this year,
Gujarat has seen 4,296 swine flu cases –
double the number of cases recorded in
the whole of last year.
Until March 17, 125 people have
died in the state.
The virus became active towards
October end last year and increased
during November and December. It is
expected to subside by the end of this
month with temperatures rising.
A senior health official told the
Times of India that the number of cases
will plunge in the coming days and
drastically reduce by the end of the
Malaysian arrested for carrying
A man from Malaysia carrying a human
embryo in a nitrogen-packed canister
was arrested at Mumbai airport last
The arrest sheds light on a racket
involving the smuggling of frozen
embroys into India by an infertility
Times of India quoted Directorate of
Revenue Intelligence officials as saying
that the embryo was to be delivered to
the Indo Nippon IVF clinic in Bandra
They suspect it was meant to be
transplanted into the womb of Indian
surrogates – as the process is cheaper in
Mukesh Ambani saves his brother
The epic feud between India’s Ambani
brothers has taken a new twist with the
older and richer brother paying a debt
owned by his struggling sibling, helping
him avoid jail.
Mukesh Ambani on Monday
stepped in to save Anil from prison by
helping him clear the Rs5.5 billion
rupees debt he owed Ericsson.
The Supreme Court had earlier said
that failure to pay the Swedish telecom
company its dues by Wednesday would
land Anil in jail for three months.
Anil thanked his brother and
sister-in-law for standing by him
“during these trying times”.
Stillborn baby’s head
dismembered during delivery
In a tragic incident, the head of a baby
that had died in its mother’s womb got
separated during delivery at the
primary health centre in Koovathur
village in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepurm
According to officials of the
Directorate of Public Health, the baby
died in the womb.
During the delivery, the head got
separated, while the torso got stuck in
the mother’s body.
The woman was later shifted to
Chengalpattu Medical Hospital where
the baby’s torso was removed.
Pollachi brides blacklisted
Young brides from Pollachi in Tamil
Nadu are being blacklisted because of
the sex scandal that shook the nation.
Parents are telling their daughters to
stop going to college and to pursue their
studies through distance education
A woman told NDTV: “People do
not want to marry girls from Pollachi.
This town, which has always been
known for its warm culture, is being
seen differently now.”
Last week, students also carried out
protests after videos showing sexual
assaults on college students were posted
Four men, in connection with the
cases, have been arrested for sexually
abusing women, blackmailing them
with videos and demanding money.
India ranks 140th on global list of
Indians are not as happy this year as
they were last year, according to the
United Nations’ latest World Happiness
Report. India is placed 140th on the
report, seven spots down from last year.
Finland tops the list.
The report ranks countries on six
variables that support well-being –
income, freedom, trust, healthy life
expectancy, social support and
March 22, 2019
Nirav Modi’s 173 paintings and
11 cars to be auctioned
India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED)
will soon start the auction of 173 paint-
ings and 11 vehicles of fugitive diaman-
taire Nirav Modi (right) after it obtained
permission from a special court in Mum-
bai on Wednesday.
The development comes after Modi
was arrested in London’s Holborn on
Tuesday afternoon in connection with
the Rs13,500 crore Punjab National
Bank (PNB) fraud case and will be held
by Metropolitan Police till March 29 af-
ter being denied bail.
The ED will put the 173 paintings of
the 48-year-old businessman on sale
which are valued at Rs57.72 crore
($11.3 million) and 11 vehicles that in-
clude a Rolls Royce, Porsche, Mercedes
and Toyota Fortuner.
The auction is expected to be held on
The ED has till date seized properties
worth Rs4,765 crore of Modi and his un-
cle Mehul Choksi.
Both left India days before the case
came to light in January last year.
The court has also issued a non-bail-
able warrant against his wife Ami Modi,
a United States national, for being the
beneficiary of the alleged purchase of
two apartments at Central Park in New
York using US$30 million of laundered
money, which her husband had ob-
tained fraudulently from PNB through
Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Let-
ters of Credit. The ED recently filed a
supplementary charge sheet against
The court also allowed the Income
Tax Department to sell another 68 paint-
ings seized by it as part of its separate
probe against Modi.
His extradition proceedings are
likely to start soon.
Modi and Choksi are under probe by
both the ED and the Central Bureau of
The ED filed money laundering cases
against them and others on Feb 15 last
year on the basis of an FIR registered by
On Wednesday, Modi appeared at
London’s Westminster Magistrates
Court accused by India of two charges of
conspiracy to commit fraud and conspir-
acy to conceal criminal property.
His lawyer George Hepburne Scott
said his client would deny the charges
which he believes are politically moti-
Despite offering to put up £500,000
security, Modi was told he would not be
District judge Marie Mallon ruled
there was a risk Modi would fail to sur-
render for future hearings due to his ac-
cess to a vast fortune which could help
him evade the courts, and his “keenness
to do so”.
Modi fled India last year after being
accused of having a central role in a
US$1.8-billion fraud involving PNB,
the country’s second-largest public
Lawyer Jonathan Swain, appearing
on behalf of the Indian authorities, said:
“This is a very high level, extended
Modi spoke only to confirm his iden-
tity and refusal to submit to extradition.
His lawyer Scott said the diamond
jeweller had been living in London since
June 2018. “His son had been here for
five years at school,” he added.
Modi was living “openly” in Britain,
paid local taxes and was trying to obtain
a driving licence, the lawyer said.
While in Britain, he has undertaken
work for which he was paid £20,000 per
Before his arrest, India’s main opposi-
tion Congress party had used the Modi
issue as a weapon to target the ruling
Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the
April-May general elections.
Mr Prakash Javadekar, a minister in
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
cabinet, said all the fugitives would have
to come back and “return the looted
money to the nation”.
In December, a British court agreed
that another high-profile Indian busi-
nessman, aviation tycoon Vijay Mallya,
could be extradited to his homeland to
face fraud charges. Mallya is currently
appealing the decision.
Indo-Asian News Service, Reuters
“This is a very
– Lawyer Jonathan Swain,
appearing on behalf of the
Bobbing along a dirt track at the central
Indian tiger reserve, Ms Varsha Hinge
surveys the landscape for paw prints and
listens for deer calls warning of tigers.
She then holds up a finger for silence – as
a tigress appears in front of her jeep.
Ms Hinge is one of 10 women safari
guides at the Pench Tiger Reserve who
are earning their stripes through long
days helping tourists catch a glimpse of
tigers, leopards and wolves.
From entrepreneurs to restaurateurs,
dozens of women living near the na-
tional park in Madhya Pradesh are
breaking with tradition.
Usually, village women veil them-
selves in front of men and are confined
to their homes as mothers and home-
“In the beginning, I was very hesitant
and I doubted myself, thinking I
wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Ms
Hinge. “I live in a village with my in-laws
and (initially) I just couldn’t get comfort-
able with the idea of wearing pants and
shirts in front of them.”
The journey has not been easy for
these women. Girls in Madhya Pradesh
often drop out of school at a young age
and wed soon after to live a restricted
life bound by age-old customs.
The female guides are helping to up-
end sexist views in India, which has one
of the fastest growing major economies
globally but startlingly few female em-
ployees, in large part due to prejudice
against working women.
Only about one in four women work
in India – home to 1.3 billion people –
which is a lower rate than in most coun-
tries, according to the World Bank.
With no work experience and homes
full of children and in-laws, the women
had to overcome not only their own anxi-
eties but also stiff opposition at home
and in their new workplace.
Ms Hinge, a mother of two, told the
Thomson Reuters Foundation that it
took a lot of coaxing to get her hus-
“I realised that as a homemaker, I
would be limited to the four walls of my
house and wouldn’t grow or contribute
anything to my family,” she said. “So, I
decided to convince everyone and go for
Forsaking their traditional saris for
kurta tunics, the national park’s first 10
female guides underwent months of
training in spotting big cats to prepare
for their unusual jobs, where they spend
hours cooped up in jeeps with strangers.
“Before this, I didn’t even know how
to interact with people properly... or
know what the word for ‘tree’ or ‘bird’
was in English,” said safari guide
Sunanda Kawal, 24. “But after joining,
I’ve seen a great improvement in myself.
“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and
my fears have started to fade away.”
As a series of safari jeeps lined up to
enter the park, one male guide advised a
tourist to stick with the men “if you re-
ally want the best experience”, saying
his women counterparts were not as
The women guides said such com-
ments were common.
Most of the 50-odd male guides re-
main bitter, three years after the women
joined their ranks, saying that they are
not up to the job and are taking their
share of safari rides and pay.
Guides can earn up to Rs12,000 ru-
pees ($235) a month – far exceeding the
average for a rural Indian household.
“The male guides didn’t want us to
work here at all. Even now, they keep to
themselves and talk to each other, but
not us,” said Ms Kawal, adding that her
male colleagues accuse the women of
“casting an evil eye” on the park.
Hinge’s husband Pradeep Kumar,
also a safari guide, said he was ostracised
by his workmates for supporting his
Yet, he believes female safari guides
have something new to offer to their
communities and customers.
“We have seen a change in the
women since they got these jobs. It al-
lows them to earn money and that auto-
matically makes a difference at home
and within the family,” said Mr Kumar.
“Plus, there are always some women
guests who come here and say, ‘We want
a woman guide, not a man’. That way it
is a win-win.”
While male guides may still be icy,
the women say villagers have started
warming up to them after noticing the
extra money they bring home, with
many now supportive of their girls work-
ing outside the home.
That was one of the main goals for the
Satpuda Foundation, which helps
women to make and sell everything
from pickles to takeaway meals as part
of its community-based conservation
work in the area – one of the world’s
largest tiger landscapes.
“We have seen a change in attitude of
locals,” said Mr Kishor Rithe, the char-
ity’s founder. “The tiger definitely plays
an important role in the women’s eco-
Studies show that women who have fi-
nancial control invest more in their chil-
dren’s education, healthcare, businesses
and communities, which can be a step
out of poverty.
One of Satpuda’s latest initiatives is
the Mowgli Restaurant – a small, dimly-
lit roadside eatery named after the boy
in Rudyard Kipling’s childhood classic
“The Jungle Book”, which is believed to
have been inspired by Pench.
Collectively owned and run by eight
village women, the venture has made
nearly Rs 40,000 rupees since opening
in December, serving rice, dals, curries
and snacks to a growing number of cus-
tomers on their way to and from the
Ms Sandhya Daherwal heads a local
women’s group which helped to set up
the restaurant and other small busi-
nesses that have given about 100
women their own source of income
“I wanted to do something with my
life and I wasn’t going to let some naysay-
ers stop me,” she said. “Success speaks
for itself. When you do well, your re-
spect in society automatically rises. And
thanks to the tigers here, that is happen-
(Top) Ms Varsha Hinge showing tourists around Pench Tiger Reserve.
(Above) Safari guides pose for a photo at the Pench Tiger Reserve.
that as a
I would be
walls of my
So, I decided
and go for
– Ms Varsha Hinge,
a mother of two
Women unveil and roar ahead
March 22, 2019
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