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MCI (P) 135/03/2018
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
DECEMBER 28, 2018
ON THE RISE
FANS IN S’PORE
Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
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Rajasthan hotel stay to cost up to
Rs11 lakhs on New Year’s Eve
With the new year around the corner,
hotels and resorts in Rajasthan are
hiking their room prices. A room on
New Year’s Eve has been pegged as
high as Rs11 lakhs (about $21,000) at
the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur
and the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur.
This year, the tariffs have risen by
up to 40 per cent for Dec 31
(compared to November), said a
source at the Rambagh Palace in
Jaipur which quotes a price of Rs8.52
lakhs for the night without taxes.
Pregnant woman in Tamil Nadu
given HIV-infected blood
A 24-year-old pregnant woman in
Tamil Nadu is HIV positive after
infected blood was pumped into her
during a blood transfusion at a
government hospital in Virudhunagar.
Three lab technicians of a
government-run blood bank have
been suspended for the lapse.
The government has offered
financial compensation and jobs for
the woman and her husband but they
want help for private treatment.
The woman was administered
blood from a HIV-positive young man
on Dec 3 after lab technicians at the
government blood bank in Sivakasi
found nothing wrong with his blood.
But he tested positive for HIV at a
private laboratory when he went to get
his blood tested to apply for a job
By the time he alerted the
government hospital, his blood had
already been given to the pregnant
Probe ordered against personal
secretaries of three UP ministers
The Uttar Pradesh government has
ordered a probe against the personal
secretaries of three senior ministers
after a sting operation by a TV channel
showed them seeking bribes for
favours such as transfers and awarding
In the sting operation, Mr Om
Prakash Kashyap, personal secretary
to Backward Welfare Minister Om
Prakash Rajbhar is shown allegedly
seeking Rs40 lakhs for a transfer.
Mr S.P. Tripathi, secretary to
Minister of State for Mining Archana
Pandey, is seen striking a deal for the
award of mining contracts in six
And Mr Santosh Awasthi, the
secretary to Minister of State for
Education Sandeep Singh, is caught
asking for “appropriate share” in
return for a schools books’ contract.
Delhi’s air quality
in severe category
The air quality in Delhi has been in the
“severe” category for more than five
days. But the Environment Pollution
Control Authority chairman Bhure
Lal maintains that the air quality of
the capital will improve soon.
According to the Press Trust of
India, the air quality improved slightly
on Wednesday, but is still in the “very
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind
Kejriwal said farmers in the
neighbouring states of Punjab and
Haryana have been contributing to the
air pollution by burning paddy
Golfer Randhawa arrested
Former leading Indian golfer Jyoti
Randhawa was arrested on
Wednesday for poaching at a forest
Randhawa, who was ranked in the
world top 100 between 2004 and
2009, was detained at the Dudhwa
Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh state.
The 46-year-old and a companion,
Mahesh Virajdar, killed a red
junglefowl, the reserve’s field director
Ramesh Pandey told AFP.
“Jyoti Singh Randhawa and
Mahesh Virajdar have been arrested
for poaching and unauthorised entry
in a forest area,” he said. “A vehicle,
weapon and other equipment have
been seized with the skin of an animal
and a dead junglefowl.
“They have been sent to jail and
further legal action is being taken.”
Chhattisgarh to return unused
land to farmers
Farmers in Chhattisgarh are getting
back land that was taken from them
more than 10 years ago by the
government because it was not used, a
rare move in a country riven by
conflict over land.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel of
the Congress Party, which won a state
election earlier this month with
pledges to honour land rights, said he
has asked officials to return about
2,000 hectares in Bastar district.
Train 18: India’s fastest train
Train 18 has become the first train in
India to cruise at a speed of 180km per
hour. This makes it the fastest train in
the country, Railways Minister Piyush
Goyal announced in a tweet.
The train, manufactured at a cost of
Rs100 crores, will ply between Delhi
and Varanasi. It can accommodate
Ambani tops Forbes’ richest
Mukesh Ambani is the country’s
richest person this year with a net
worth of US$47.3 billion, according to
the Forbes India Rich List.
The Reliance Industries chief is also
the biggest gainer in 2018, adding
US$9.3 billion to his wealth.
Wipro chairman Azim Premji
retained the second spot, adding
US$2 billion to his wealth which
stands at US$21 billion.
ArcelorMittal chairman and chief
executive Lakshmi Mittal moved a
place up to third with a net worth of
US$18.3 billion, increasing his wealth
by US$1.8 billion.
India curbs power of Amazon and
Walmart to sell products online
The Indian government dealt a
surprise blow on Wednesday to the
e-commerce ambitions of Amazon
and Walmart, effectively barring the
American companies from selling
products supplied by affiliated
companies on their Indian shopping
sites and from offering their customers
special discounts or exclusive
Amazon will now have to stop
competing with independent sellers
and end its offerings of proprietary
products while for Walmart, which
spent US$16 billion this year to buy
77 per cent of India’s leading online
retailer Flipkart, the new rules could
hamper its strategy of selling clothing
and other products under its own
Millions of devotees take part in
More than a million people, especially
women, on Wednesday stood with a
lit lamp from the northern-most
district of Kasargode to the
southern-most district of
Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to
protest against the state government’s
attempt to dilute the traditions of the
famous Sabarimala temple.
The Sabarimala Karma Samithi
spearheaded the “Ayyappa Jyothi”
campaign on a 795-km stretch across
the state to oppose the entry of
women in the 10-50 age group into the
“This is being staged to open the
eyes of those who are trying to break
the traditions of the temple.
Numerous women have expressed
their unhappiness in breaking the
tradition of the temple,” said actress
Rescuers trying to locate trapped coal
miners hope for a miracle
More than a dozen coal miners have been trapped
in what has been widely reported as one of India’s
notoriously dangerous “rat hole” mines.
The group of 15, believed to be teenage boys,
went to work at the illegal pit in Meghalaya on
Dec 13 and were trapped underground when a
The operation to rescue the miners from the
100m-deep shaft in Ksan was suspended on
Sunday following flash floods from a nearby river.
A team of about 100 national disaster
response force experts have been camping at the
site but their operations have been interrupted by
a lack of equipment.
Rescuers have been trying to drain the mine
but have just two pumps and have asked for more
“Only God’s grace and some miracle can help
them to be alive,” Mr Kyrmen Shylla,
Meghalaya’s disaster management minister, told
December 28, 2018
Delegates to the annual Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas (PBD) jamboree, being
held this time in Varanasi, will get to par-
ticipate in the Ardh Kumbh Mela in
Prayagraj, with Indian Railways draw-
ing up plans for special trains that will
also give participants a chance to relish
the best of local cuisine.
The PBD is a conclave of the Indian di-
aspora organised by India’s Ministry of
External Affairs and culminates every
year on Jan 9 – marking the day Ma-
hatma Gandhi arrived in India from
South Africa in 1915.
This year, it has been shifted to Jan 21
to 23 to give delegates a chance to partic-
ipate in the Ardh Kumbh (beginning on
Jan 15) and the Republic Day parade
A 40-strong delegation from Singa-
pore is expected to attend the event. Ac-
cording to the Indian High Commission
in Singapore, it will include members
from the Singapore Indian Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, Singapore
Business Federation, SGTech, Singa-
pore Malayalee Association and Bho-
jpuri Association Singapore.
Another group of 40 from Singapore,
Malaysia and Indonesia will attend the
PBD on an individual basis.
The gathering at Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s constituency in Uttar
Pradesh will open with a Youth PBD on
Jan 21 when Mr Himanshu Gulati, an In-
dian-origin member of parliament in
Norway, will be the chief guest. Mr Kan-
waljit Singh Bakshi, an Indian-origin
member of parliament of New Zealand,
will be the guest of honour, reported
Indo-Asian News Service.
On Jan 22, Mr Modi will inaugurate
the main event with the Prime Minister
of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth, who is
also of Indian origin, as the chief guest.
It will conclude on Jan 23 with a valedic-
tory session that will be addressed by In-
dia’s President Ram Nath Kovind.
During the session, the Pravasi
Bharatiya Samman will be conferred on
30 Indian-origin individuals for their ex-
ceptional and meritorious contributions
in their chosen fields or professions.
On Jan 24, the participants will be
taken to Prayagraj for the Ardh Kumbh
Mela, which has been inscribed on the
Unesco’s Representative List of Intangi-
ble Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The six-yearly ritual is scheduled to
be held in Prayagraj from Jan 15 to
March 5 on the banks of the Sangam –
the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga,
Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
This year’s mela is expected to be at-
tended by more than 120 million peo-
ple. The Kumbh Mela, believed to be the
largest religious gathering in the world,
is held every 12 years. Nearly 120 mil-
lion visited the last Kumbh in 2013.
Following this, the participants will
be taken to New Delhi by special trains
to attend the Republic Day celebrations
on Jan 26.
The Railways is making elaborate ar-
rangements to carry the delegates – who
will arrive at Prayagraj from Varanasi for
the Kumbh in special Volvo buses.
It has earmarked at least four air-condi-
tioned trains for the 3,000 to 4,000 dele-
gates who will be offered specially-made
dishes on board, reported IANS.
“The local cuisine, which includes ka-
chori sabzi, aloo puree and sweets like
Patisha, will be on offer. While good-
quality tea and coffee will be served,
there will also be continental, Chinese
and tandoori food on offer for dinner,”
said a Railways official.
Details about the PBD programme,
arrangements and registration are avail-
able at www.pbdindia.gov.in. Registra-
tion has been extended till Dec 31.
Indian labourers install barricading with nylon nets under floating plastic dock cubes for
the safety of pilgrims and tourists on the banks of the Sangam area in Prayagraj, ahead of
the upcoming Kumbh Mela.
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