2 PDP ministers quit after Cabinet rejig

first_imgJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is grappling with turmoil in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after two ministers resigned following a Cabinet reshuffle.Syed Basharat Bukhari, a three-time MLA from north Kashmir’s Sangrama constituency, resigned immediately after Ms. Mufti moved him to the Horticulture Ministry from his earlier portfolio as Minister for State for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation. Mr. Bukhari termed the new assignment as “hurting his self-esteem”.According to sources close to Mr Bukhari, who had written to the Chief Minister three weeks ago over sensitive issues pertaining to State land, the PDP leader had developed differences with Ms. Mufti.In his resignation letter on Friday, Mr. Bukhari has referred to the earlier communication and expressed his displeasure for “being sidelined for his stand on the issues”.Another PDP minister Imran Reza Ansari also resigned, with sources saying he was unhappy with the portfolio of Information Technology, Technical Education and Youth Services & Sports. PDP sources said Ms. Mufti was yet to forward the resignation letters to the Raj Bhawan.“There are issues within every party. This too will be resolved. They (the resigned members) are party colleagues,” State Education Minister Altaf Bukhari told The Hindu.PDP general secretary Sartaj Madni refused to comment on the issue saying, “The PDP is doing fine.”Following Mr Bukhari’s resignation, Ms. Mufti hinted at keeping the horticulture portfolio to herself. Speaking at a function in Srinagar, she said, “This [horticulture] is a very important ministry and I am very serious at developing the State’s horticulture sector.”Last year, PDP Member Parliament Tariq Hameed Karra, who represented Srinagar, resigned from the party after unrest in the Valley.Sinha team calls for talks to resolve J&K situationA Delhi team, headed by former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, on Saturday called upon the government for an “immediate dialogue with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the political problem”.Mr. Sinha-led team, which visited the Valley during the summer uprising in 2016, has expressed “deep concerns over the deteriorating situation in the Kashmir valley”.“The loss of lives in the recent incidents was unnecessary and avoidable. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir demands a political solution. This can be achieved only through talks with all the stakeholders,” a statement issued by the Delhi team said.It expressed dismay at the “complete reluctance of those in authority to engage in a dialogue”. The team was able to break the ice with separatists after they refused to meet the all-party delegation, headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the first week of September, 2016. It has come up with two reports on Kashmir’s ground situation.last_img read more

Mechanism to help farmers soon: Union minister

first_imgUnion Minister of State for Agricultural Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Saturday said the Centre is thinking of developing an institutionalised mechanism to help farmers. Mr. Shekhawat was addressing a gathering here after inaugurating the first phase of Agri Bazar, a multi-facility agricultural complex set up by the Goa State Agricultural Marketing Board at Ponda. He said that schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana have become a lifeline for farmers in distress. “The Ministry would like to come with a concept of ‘one nation, one Agri Bazar’ to enable farmers to market their yield from one single place.” Agri Bazar is said to be a ‘one-roof solution’ for farmers. The disabled-friendly complex is equipped with facilities such as cold storage, ripening facility, kiosks for self-help groups, markets for local produce and banks.last_img read more

Sixth edition of Heat Action Plan launched in Ahmedabad

first_imgAhmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in partnership with civil society groups and its partner NGOs on Wednesday launched 6th edition of Heat Action Plan (HAP) to protect city dwellers from climate fueled scorching temperatures.The 2018 Ahmedabad heat action plan released on Wednesday features several key elements like expanding use of cool roofs, reflective paint on buildings to inside temperatures lower, increasing access to drinking water and training medical professionals to help protects patients during extreme heats.The civic body has partnered with Gandhinagar-based Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) and US based Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) along with other groups and NGOs to design and implement the action plan, which was first launched in 2013.The comprehensive plan has an early warning system used during heat waves, a robust public education campaign about how to avoid harm from excessive heat, inter-agency coordination to alert residents of predicted high temperatures, training for health care professionals to prevent heat-related illnesses and death, and mapping of high-risk areas and communications.“India is showing the world that in our fight against climate change we can take smart steps right now to protect millions of people from deadly heat waves. AMC’s groundbreaking heat action plan helped demonstrate that it’s feasible, cost-effective and sensible to create similar heat preparedness plans across Indian cities and states,” said Sayantan Sarkar of NRDC’s India Initiative.In May of 2010, Ahmedabad suffered a major heat wave as temperatures exceeded 46.8°C, which led to 1,344 additional deaths that month, as compared to the 2009 and 2011 average. That served as a wakeup call that intergovernmental agency action, preparedness, and community outreach was needed to save lives, and prompted creation of its first Heat Action Plan.“Ahmedabad was the first city to prepare and implement heat action plan, which has now been adopted by 30 cities in 11 states, which face extreme heat waves during summer,” said Mihir Bhatt of All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI), which also works with the civic body in Ahmedabad and many other places.last_img read more

“Centre open to States’ proposals to bring petrol, diesel under GST”

first_imgUnion Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said on Friday that the Centre was positive about State governments suggesting the inclusion of petrol and diesel within the ambit of the Goods and ServicesTax (GST).Mr. Shukla said he had discussed the matter with Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. He said the Centre could not bring petrol and diesel under the GST unless all States arrived at a consensus.Mr. Shukla said, “While the Centre will be receptive towards suggestions from States, [fuel] prices cannot be uniform across the country. They will vary from State to State. However, the prices will come down if they are brought under the GST.”Maharashtra signs up Mr. Shukla was reacting to a recent statement by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who said fuel prices would normalise once petrol and diesel were included in the GST.Maharashtra, where petrol and diesel prices have respectively exceeded ₹85 and ₹73 per litre, has already given its consent on the matter. Observing that the country’s monthly GST collection had, for the first time, exceeded ₹1 lakh crore in April, Mr. Shukla said he expected the collections to rise to ₹7 or ₹8 lakh crore next year.Mr. Shukla said, “The Centre has managed to considerably streamline the operational aspects of the GST within a year. It took the tiny island country of Singapore to do the same in five years.” He said the implementation of the GST was the most successful indirect tax reform since Independence.last_img read more

Ghanshyam Tiwari resigns from BJP

first_imgRebel BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari on Monday resigned from the party, accusing Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of indulging in “corruption, favouritism and autocratic behaviour”. Mr. Tiwari announced that he would contest the upcoming State Assembly elections on his newly-floated Bharat Vahini Party ticket.Show-cause noticeMr. Tiwari, a five-time MLA and former Education Minister, has been at loggerheads with the Vasundhara Raje-government on several issues, including farmers’ plight, reservation for higher castes and political appointments. BJP’s national disciplinary committee had issued a show-cause notice to him in 2017.Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Tiwari said he had sent his resignation to party president Amit Shah and brought to his notice the “humiliation” faced by Rajasthan despite the huge mandate given by the people in elections enabling the BJP to come to power at the Centre and in the State. “The BJP government has looted Rajasthan through a syndicate of Ministers and bureaucrats,” he said.“There is an undeclared emergency in the country for the last four years. It is more dangerous than the actual emergency and I am ready to fight it,” said the 71-year-old leader, who described himself as a committed worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Party floated by sonThe Bharat Vahini Party, founded by his son Akhilesh Tiwari and registered by the Election Commission as a political party, will field candidates in all the 200 Assembly constituencies of the State. The party will organise its first convention in Jaipur on July 3, to which 10 representatives from each Assembly seat have been invited. ‘Shah surrendered’Mr. Tiwari also accused Mr. Shah of first having compromised with corruption in Rajasthan and later surrendering before it, and not acting on his repeated complaints.Reacting to Mr. Tiwari’s resignation, acting State BJP president Ashok Parnami said it would not make any impact on the party. “Since the BJP kept patience, Mr. Tiwari resigned on his own. It has sent across a good message to the cadres that there is no place in the party for indisciplined leaders,” he said.Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot said Mr. Tiwari’s resignation had proved that corruption had taken an “institutional shape” in BJP and any party leader, howsoever senior he might be, would be shown the door if he opposed it.Mr. Tiwari, a sitting MLA from Sanganer Assembly constituency, had won the 2013 Assembly election by the highest margin of 60,000 votes. He was Education Minister during Ms. Raje’s previous tenure in 2003 to 2008.last_img read more

Alwar village tense after recovery of ‘beef’

first_imgTension prevailed in Govindgarh village of Rajasthan’s Alwar district on Monday following the recovery of about 40 kg of suspected beef from a house. While the meat was seized and three women were arrested, the villagers forced shopkeepers in the market to pull down their shutters and gathered at the police station to demand strict action.A police team raided a butcher’s house on being tipped-off that a cow had been slaughtered there and beef was to be sold in the nearby villages. The police said three women packaging the meat were arrested from the house and the suspected beef and cow skin were seized.Force deployedAdditional police force was deployed in Govindgarh to keep the situation under control, though no violence was reported from anywhere. The police have launched a hunt for tracing the house owner, Shakil Khan, and another accused, who are absconding.A case was registered under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act and the meat samples were sent for forensic test.The incident comes close on the heels of alleged lynching of Haryana resident Rakbar Khan in Alwar district’s Lalawandi village on July 20 night on the suspicion that he was smuggling cows to his native village. Both Lalawandi and Govindgarh are situated in the Ramgarh Assembly constituency of Alwar district.last_img read more

Militants behind J&K BJP leader’s murder, say police

first_imgAs the J&K police suspected the hand of militants in the killing of State BJP secretary Anil Parihar, 52, and his brother Ajeet, 55, in Kishtwar, top Muslim religious leaders of the region on Friday appealed for communal harmony. The leaders also gave a call for public participation in the last rites of the deceased “as a mark of protest.”“The killings are aimed at creating communal strife,” said Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh. He said it was the third attack on politicians in J&K in the past one month. Earlier, two National Conference (NC) leaders and another of the PDP were killed in Srinagar.Amid curfew, tension prevailed in the twin towns of Kishtwar and Bhaderwah for the second consecutive day on Friday in the Chenab Valley over the killing of the Parihars. Preliminary investigation suggest at least two armed men came close to the victims and fired from pistols at them. However, the security agencies have failed to identified any militant or outfit behind the killings.The Army joined other paramilitary forces to patrol the streets in parts of the Chenab Valley “to maintain law and order.” Muslim preachers in Kishtwar, Doda and Poonch condemned the killings. Members from both the communities held a protest in Doda’s Thatri area. “I appeal to local Muslims to reach the cremation ground to join the last rites of the deceased,” said Farooq Kitchloo, head priest of the Jamia Masjid Kishtwar.“The killings of unarmed people can’t be justified at any cost. Everyone should condemn this unequivocally. People must join hands to counter radical elements to establish an atmosphere of brotherhood,” said Sayeed Habib, religious preacher at the main mosque in Poonch. CPI(M) legislator M.Y. Tarigami and state Congress president Ghulam Ahmed Mir termed the attack on the BJP leader “barbaric and unfortunate”.ADD:The police have constituted a special investigation team to trace the killers of the BJP leader and his brother. “It will be headed by Assistant Superintendent of Police Prabeet Singh. All aspects will be probed,” Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar Angrez Singh Rana said.Meanwhile, the police have also detained two personal security officials (PSOs), who were guarding the BJP leader. They had left for their homes when the attackers attacked the BJP leader around 8:30 p.m. in the town. Sources said all protected persons have been directed “not to move anywhere without their PSOs.”last_img read more

Floor test in M.P. Assembly today, Cong. issues whip

first_imgAhead of the crucial floor test on Monday, the Congress in Madhya Pradesh has issued a whip to the party MLAs in an attempt to keep its flock together. The party has already expressed concern over horse-trading and taken the names of two Ministers of the previous BJP government in this connection. The first session of the new Assembly begins on Monday.‘Numbers with Cong.’The process of issuing a whip to all the party MLAs for the floor test has already been done, Congress in-charge C.P. Shekhar said. They have been instructed to be present in the Assembly commencing on January 7 and vote in favour of the confidence motion, he said, adding that “the numbers are with the Congress and the party will win”.On Sunday, the Congress MLAs started arriving at the official bungalow of Chief Minister Kamal Nath. Mr. Nath is likely to address the MLAs in the presence of senior party leaders Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kantilal Bhuriya, Vivek Tankha and Suresh Pachouri.Two-days ago, Mr. Digvijaya Singh had expressed concern about horse-trading, alleging that two former BJP Ministers — Narottam Mishra and Bhupinder Singh — were working to destabilise the Congress government. Allegation denied Senior BJP MLA and former Minister in BJP government, Gopal Bhargav, on Sunday rubbished the Congress allegations. “We are a party of grassroot workers who believe in fighting a battle on the ground. We will not resort to any unfair means,” he said. The BJP is likely to finalise name of the Leader of the Opposition on Monday. Shivraj not in raceFormer Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has already clarified that he is not in the race. “I served as Chief Minister for 13 years therefore would like some other person to shoulder the responsibility of Leader of the Opposition,” Mr. Chouhan had told reporters on last Friday.The Congress has won 114 seats in the recently held Assembly elections, but was two short of the simple majority mark of 116 in the 230-member Assembly. The party took support of two BSP MLAs, the sole SP MLA and four Independents to form the government. The BJP could bag 109 seats.last_img read more

PG medical aspirants approach Governor

first_imgWhile the Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao is yet to sign the resolution for the ordinance passed by the State Cabinet on Friday, aspirants from the open category have written to the Governor’s office on Saturday. They will approach him on Monday against the ordinance and plead that he saves the value of merit.The State Cabinet had on Friday extended its approval to amend the Maharashtra State Reservation (of seats for admission in education institutions in the State and for appointments in public services and posts under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.On Saturday, postgraduate medical aspirants from the open category and their parents held a rally at Carter Road in Bandra to protest the State ordinance. Simultaneous protests were also held in Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad and Akola, where open category aspirants and their parents pleaded the government to put an end to their woes.“We simply do not understand how the State government could go over the Supreme Court verdict under the pretext of the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) case that is pending. We are frustrated now because of the mess that the government has made of the admissions. I always wanted to get into M.D. Medicine, but that has become difficult now with the quota, despite me having secured a good rank,” Dr. Arjav Nanavati said.While the students will challenge the ordinance in the court, they have also approached the Governor. Threat callsMeanwhile, members of the ‘Save Merit’ group alleged that they were receiving threat calls to not speak up against the reservation. “During our rally, I got a call from a doctor claiming to be from a certain community. He warned me against voicing my opinion, despite me telling him repeatedly that I stood for merit and not against any reservation. A few days back, a student had received a similar call,” said Sudha Shenoy, a parent. While the Supreme Court in its May 9 order had asked the admission to be finished by May 25, the Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell had stayed the admission process by seven days following a request from the government. Advocate Gunratan Sadavarte said they have pleaded with the Governor to refer the resolution passed by the Cabinet back to the State for a reconsideration. “We have stated that the passing of the resolution on Friday was a colourable exercise and politically motivated move, besides being a breach of the SC’s May 9 order,” he said. Anand Rayate, CET Cell Commissioner, told The Hindu that he was waiting for a direction from either the Supreme Court or the government. “We will be waiting till Monday. A petition regarding the EWS reservation is due to be heard by the SC on Monday. Our counsel will be present to ask the SC for directions to finish the admission within the extended span,” he said. Admissions were stayed on Monday by the government on the pretext that if there is any change in the EWS decision, the seat matrix would have to be changed again.last_img read more

Canada Looks To Diversify, Bolster India Relationship

first_imgAs Canada looks to “diversify” at a time when future of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) looks uncertain, it seems most keen to strengthen its ties with India.Notwithstanding the outcome of its ongoing NAFTA negotiations with the US, the Canadian government and its business houses have decided not to put all their eggs in one basket, ie, the US, experts said. Read it at Economic Times Related Itemslast_img

Indian Farmers Fume at $430m Cost of Gujarat Statue

first_imgFor years Vijendra Tadvi, a 39-year-old farmer in the western state of Gujarat, has been struggling to find water to irrigate his three acres (1.2 hectares) of farmland.He grows chilli, corn and groundnuts. Like millions of farmers across India, he relies on monsoon rains to water his crops. or he pumps out groundwater, which supports 80% of the rural water supply and farm irrigation. But long dry summers followed by erratic rains have led to frequent drought and shrunk the incomes of farmers like Mr Tadvi.Read it at BBC Related Itemslast_img read more

Take me to the Ballpark, Oya! Hoya

first_imgPurple, red, green and blue for the eyes, running commentary and Punjabi rap for the ears, nachos and cheese for the taste buds, the pleasant smell of fresh cut grass and an uncharacteristic Houston breeze on the skin. I wouldn’t be far off mark if I said that the American ProCricket match at the University of Houston Cougar Field on Saturday, July 17, was a treat for all the senses. Three hours packed with a quick-fire century, a couple of bouncers, two-thirds of a hat-trick, a dropped catch, several bowled wickets and innumerable fours and sixers. Purists can take a hike. ProCricket is in!American ProCricket is a bold attempt to introduce cricket to mainstream America. Modified to suit the American psyche, the matches are played in the Twenty20 format that was initially developed in England, and include five-ball overs and the “designated hitter” rule borrowed from baseball.Kalpesh (Kal) Patel, the chairman, commissioner and founder of the American ProCricket League (www.procricket.com), has succeeded in involving former Indian test cricketer and Indian national team ex-coach Anshuman Gaekwad as executive director and Australian cricketer Robert Smith as assistant commissioner in his venture.They have roped in about 40 international cricketers, who will play alongside 120 local players from different cities.The league comprises of eight teams: New York Storm, New Jersey Fire, Florida Thunder, DC Forward, Texas Arrowheads, Chicago Tornadoes, Los Angeles Unity and San Francisco Freedom.Indian American businessman Kamal Verma owns the operating rights to all the teams in the league – Yankees owner George Steinbrenner take note! Australia’s Colin MillerThe league seeks to promote the game purely as a form of entertainment and the matches are played only over weekends. The aim is to provide an ambience where grown-ups as well as kids can have wholesome fun at a reasonable price, presently $5. This was quite evident on Saturday night. The atmosphere resembled a baseball game, even if not the crowd. There were only 200, not 20,000, fans.But they weren’t lacking for passion. “Take me out to the ball game” was substituted by Indian masala music and the action on the field was more “fast n furious” than a five home-run game. As the Texas Arrowheads in red, white and blue took on the Chicago Tornadoes in purple, green and white, the crowd was kept entertained from the first minute to the last.By the end of July, the teams had played 12 matches in six U.S. cities in New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston.The regular season matches, played in minor league and college baseball parks, are scheduled to be completed by Aug. 21 and the play-offs will be held between Aug. 27 and Sept. 4.The international cricketers who took the field in Houston were Marlon Samuels, Franklyn Rose, Corey Collymore from the West Indies, Colin Miller and Richard Chee Quee from Australia and Nadeem Unis from Pakistan.The Chicago Tornadoes batted first and despite an early hat-trick chase by Collymore, came up with 157 runs in 20 overs. But it was when the Texas Arrowheads took the crease that the fireworks really began. Marlon Samuels hit the helpless bowlers in all directions to complete a century off just 40 balls. Then Franklyn Rose added more excitement by bowling a couple of bouncers and pretending to be turned-off by the batsman (a local player). Nevertheless, the Arrowheads reached the target easily in 15 overs, ending a truly exciting game well before schedule.The players definitely seemed to be enjoying themselves. Rose, fielding near the stands, obliged a number of fans with photos and autographs between overs.After the game he commented, “I’m loving it! This is fun. I’ve never done anything like this before in my life. It’s totally different from the Caribbean and England and everywhere in the world. It’s good to see the kids come out and have fun too.”The international players rotate between teams. Marlon Samuels played for the New York Storm before changing colors and padding up for Texas. He has just been named among the West Indies probables for the ICC Champions Trophy, after a six-month layoff due to knee surgery, and appeared to be having the time of his life too.“I’ve got two centuries (in ProCricket) already and am looking for a third one. I’m leaving a statement. Something for people to remember me by,” he said with a smile.For the local players it is a learning experience playing with players of such high caliber. Do they feel second class?Says Ankit Mehta, a player in the Texas squad, “They (the stars) are easy to get along with. There is no pressure.”Texas captain Alpesh Patel, who has played for the Kenya A team, as well as Kuldip Patel, the Texas manager, concur. “They are a bunch of nice guys and it’s fun playing with them. It doesn’t feel like they are on a different level.”Although the players and the fans that show up are obviously having a lot of fun, ProCricket has got off to a tepid start. The response in New Jersey was relatively good, according to Kal Patel, with over 2,000 people turning up for one of the matches.   But the other cities have yet to show as much enthusiasm. Part of the blame is on the marketing. Marlon Samuels of West Indies.In Houston, few people were aware of the match featuring international players. Most heard of it through word of mouth and many others by pure chance. A Britisher, who had brought along three American friends, all of them new to the game, had read about ProCricket on the BBC website and investigated further of his own accord. But on the positive side, his American companions to the game found this version of cricket “more exciting and faster than baseball.”ProCricket is a brave initiative. Patel, Verma, Gaekwad and Smith all claim to be focused full time on the project. The league is fully owned by Patel, who claims to have invested what he calls a “small fortune” – in the millions he allows when pressed. Local players typically receive $150 for a game, apart from travel, lodging and meal expenses. Some international players receive “a few thousand dollars” for 10 days; some volunteer. Patel says he has enough financial backing for the project to run the league for three years, even without anyone showing up at the ballpark. He has 3-, 5- and 10-year business plans on the ready, but has enough business savvy to know that the picture will not be fuzzy in three years.He also knows that he is pushing uphill for ProCricket to reach out to a wide audience. The matches are currently being shown on DISH Network Pay Per View. The organizers say they have plans to telecast the games on American Desi, an upcoming national network channel, which could provide ProCricket with much needed publicity.Then there is the issue of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Ajay Jadeja and some other Indian players withdrew from ProCricket after BCCI barred players from participating. Patel says he is puzzled by BCCI’s attitude as the International Cricket Council is not opposed to ProCricket. But it is a serious setback for the league, which would benefit hugely from the presence of Indian players to draw desi crowds.Despite the hurdles, Patel is excited about the future of the organization and cricket in America. It’s a hope shared by thousands of cricket fans who miss the action in America.   Related Itemslast_img read more

Indian Arrivals to US to Grow by 72%

first_imgIndian arrivals to the US are projected to grow by 72 per cent from 2015 through 2021, an official of the US consulate said in Kolkata on August 31, citing US Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) data.“Over the last decade, travel and tourism exports to India have more than doubled accounting for 65 per cent of all US services exports to India,” Jonathan Ward, foreign commercial officer, US Consulate Kolkata, said at a presentation.“NTTO forecasts Indian arrivals to the US to grow by 72 per cent from 2015 through 2021.”India is an important contributor to the revenue generated by international travel to the US, he said, adding that the country is the “eleventh largest inbound visitation market and the seventh largest market for US travel and tourism exports”.Latest reports from the NTTO say the US welcomed more than 1.1 million visitors from India during 2015 — a 17 per cent increase over the previous year.The US-India Travel and Tourism Partnership Year is being observed in 2017.MICE travel, van tours as well as trips by leisure and school groups are currently popular among Indian travellers, according to Pabs Raghava, CEO of Tours Limited, a leading destination management company based in Atlanta, Georgia. – IANS Related ItemsIndian arrivals USIndian travel export USIndian visitors USAIndians in AmericaIndians visiting USLittle IndiaNTTO forecasts Indian arrivalslast_img read more

Oman Announces Visa On Arrival Scheme For Indians

first_imgOman announced a visa on arrival scheme for Indian citizens holding valid U.S., UK, Schengen, or Canada visa. The move came after similar decisions were taken by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates recently. The UAE relaxed visa rules for Indians September while Qatar announced visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, including India, in August.Oman has revised the tourist visa rules for people coming in from China and Russia as well. The visa on arrival applies to those who reside in or hold an entry visa to any of these countries: US, Canada, Australia, United kingdom and the Schengen countries.While Qatar’s move to relax its visa rules was apparently in response to the blockade it is facing from neighboring countries, the other Gulf nations are looking to diversify their economy with the current decline in crude oil prices.“The outbound segment in India is on a rise with the Indian economy booming and increasingly better standards of living,” Lubaina Sheerazi, India representative of the Ministry of Tourism, Oman, told The Mint. “We are certain that the recent change in policies will be favorable for the Indian travelers and Sultanate will see a positive growth in this upcoming festive and holiday season.”Oman Airports Management Company said in a statement that the visa will be granted for a period of one month for a fee of 20 Omani rial (Rs 3,400). The spouse and children of the visa holder would also be allowed to enter the Sultanate, it said. The applicant must have a return ticket and confirmed hotel reservation in order to get the visa. However, a normal visa usually costs more and involves a processing fee as well.“We are extremely pleased with the recent development of facilitating non-sponsored tourist visa for Indians, Chinese and Russians,” Salim Adi Al Mamari, the Director General of tourism promotion in the Tourism Ministry, Oman, was quoted as saying by The Mint. “With the revision in visa regulations, we are expecting that Indian arrivals across all segments will grow exponentially — especially leisure and visitors to conventions and exhibitions.” Mamari pointed out that the Gulf destinations are ideal for Indians seeking three-five night short holidays during extended weekend breaks.“The visa on arrival has led to a five-seven per cent increase in the number of Indians travelling to Dubai,” Karan Anand, head (relationships) at Cox & Kings, told the Business Standard.This has affected the industry as a whole, with airlines introducing more flights, agent incentives and discounted fares to boost growth. In August, Oman Air launched a third frequency between Mumbai and Muscat, while IndiGo launched services to Doha this year.Oman has seen 82 per cent growth in Indian arrivals over a span of five years. In 2016, the country saw nearly 300,000 Indian tourists. Related ItemsGulf states IndiansIndian touristsLittle IndiaNRIOman tourismQatar tourismUnited Arab Emirates Indiansvisa on arrival Indianslast_img read more

Abducted Businessman Released After 137 Days in Captivity in South Africa

first_imgA 76-year-old South African businessman was released after he spent 137 days in captivity. Omar Carrim was abducted outside his store in Pretoria on Aug. 3, and released on Dec. 18 night.Carrim is now recovering at an undisclosed hospital, TimesLive reported.“I can confirm the release of Carrim. He was released in Olifantsfontein on Monday,” anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said, according to PTI. The Carrim family thanked relatives, friends and the community for their support since his disappearance in August.“We are most grateful to everyone and we thank the Almighty for returning our father and brother to us. Thank you for all the prayers and the moral support from the public,” the family said in a statement.Omar CarrimCarrim was due for a heart surgery on the day after he was abducted in a car. He disappeared after leaving his Home Hyper store at Pretorius Street in Pretoria CBD on Aug. 3 afternoon. Pleas were made on humanitarian grounds for his release.The car Carrim was taken away in — his Mercedes Benz E300 — was found burnt on Aug. 4 near Atteridgeville, a township north of the city.Carrim’s 49-year-old son Abdulla had said earlier that they received many phone calls after his abduction. On one occasion‚ his father had briefly made contact saying he was fine but needed medication for his heart before hanging up, according to TimesLive. The publication also quoted Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane as saying that police had also found Carrim’s spectacles and some papers with blood near the car. The police worked closely with two private investigators hired by the family.Kidnapping syndicates in South Africa are targeting particularly wealthy South African Indian businessmen, Abramjee said. “Often families refuse to get police involved and there are even reports of huge ransoms being paid in some instances to secure the release of loved ones in recent years,” Abramjee was quoted as saying. “Foreign nationals running businesses in South Africa, including Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese migrants, are also soft targets for these gangs because they deal largely in cash only.”The Gauteng Community Safety Department has been working to locate Carrim’s abductors. Related ItemsPretoriaSouth Africalast_img read more