Karisma Kapoor

Karisma Turns Speaker At Harvard Business School

Actor Karisma Kapoor was one of the speakers at the India Conference at Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts.

On Monday, Karisma took to Instagram and expressed her happiness on receiving an opportunity to share her views at a session titled ‘Soft Power of Bollywood’ at the renowned institute. Interestingly, Karisma’s sister and actor Kareena Kapoor marked a special “virtual” appearance at Karisma’s session.

“It was an absolute pleasure and honour to be a speaker at the India Conference at Harvard

Shout out to @kareenakapoorkhan for joining us for an impromptu but insightful chat.

Thank you to @sunnysandhu24 and team #HarvardIndiaConference for being so wonderful.

This was truly special,” she wrote.

Karisma also shared a string of images from her session at Harvard.

Meanwhile, on the acting front, Karisma will be seen in an upcoming series ‘Brown’.

Helmed by Abhinay Deo of ‘Delhi Belly’ fame, ‘Brown’ is based on Rita Brown, a suicidal alcoholic, and Arjun Sinha, a widower with survivor’s guilt. The protagonists need to deal with an unstoppable serial killer on the loose.

Karisma also has director Homi Adajania’s next ‘Murder Mubarak’ alongside Sara Ali Khan.

Sharing more details about ‘Murder Mubarak’, Homi Adajania in a statement said,”Murder Mubarak is a cinematic concoction of actors that are loved across genres and generations and believe me each one of them has done such a fab job in bringing these eccentric characters to life. This film has that binge-worthy magic that lends itself to a compulsive watch. It’s a colorful murder mystery that will make you want to rewind and watch it over again when you wonder how you missed all the clues in this breadcrumb-laden whodunnit. And thanks to our collab with Netflix, with its international reach, it’s like throwing the coolest, wackiest party and the whole world is invited.”

Dinesh Vijan, Producer, Maddock Films, has also shared his views.”This is the sixth project that Homi and I are diving into and I wanted to up the ante by finding a uniquely entertaining narrative and then this happened! Also to have such an eclectic ensemble bring to life a script that is one of the quirkier and more entertaining murder mysteries that I’ve read was very exciting for me,” he shared.

The film was mainly shot in Delhi. (ANI)

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French Senate

French Senate Chairman Visits India To Boost Bilateral Relations

Gerard Larcher, Chairman of the French Senate, is on an official visit to India on February 19 and 20, 2024, accompanied by a delegation of five senators, the French Embassy in India said.

The visit aims to strengthen bilateral ties and parliamentary cooperation between France and India.

“Larcher is accompanied by a delegation of five other senators who are members of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee or the France-India Friendship Group. This will mark the first official visit to India of a Chairman of the French Senate, the Upper House of France’s Parliament,” according to the official press release.

‘Larcher and his delegation will meet with Jagdeep Dhankhar, Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha,’ the release added.

According to the official release, ‘the French Senate chairman and his senators will discuss ways to increase cooperation and mutual understanding between the French Senate and India’s Parliament, including through a dedicated agreement. Larcher will also be given a guided tour of the new Parliament building.’

The Chairman of the French Senate will call on the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.

Larcher had previously met Prime Minister Modi during the latter’s visit to Paris on July 14, 2023, when the Prime Minister was received at the French Senate by Larcher and leaders of all major parliamentary groups.

The chairman of the French Senate will also meet the External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, to discuss the current dynamic in bilateral relations and gain a better understanding of India’s growing geopolitical role.

During his visit, Larcher will meet with business leaders of French companies present in India, particularly in the aerospace and defence sectors, and visit sites of French companies making key contributions to “Make in India” and “Skill India.”

The Senate is the Upper House of the Parliament of the French Republic. Its 358 members – or Senators – are elected through indirect universal suffrage for a term of six years. As a legislative assembly, the Senate votes the laws stemming from government or parliamentary initiative.

The Chairman of the Senate ensures the stability of France’s institutions as he is called upon to replace the President of the Republic in the event of death or resignation. The Chairman is elected for a three-year term after each renewal of the Senate membership. Gerard Larcher has been the Chairman of the Senate since October 2014, a post he also earlier held from 2008 to 2011. (ANI)

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new spy planes

India To Get 3 New Spy Planes

In what would be a significant capability boost for defence forces, India is planning to develop three new spy planes that would be capable of keeping a close watch on enemy communications and carry out long-range surveillance missions.

The project would be carried out over indigenously and the majority of the technology and equipment to be used would be made in India.

The proposal for getting three new spy planes also known as signal intelligence and communication jamming system aircraft is at an advanced stage and is expected to get clearance in next week, defence officials told ANI.

The project is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory and the Indian Air Force where they would be using an Airbus-319 class aircraft, they said.

The agencies concerned would be issuing a tender to the aircraft manufacturers to buy the platform for the aircraft, the officials said.

The aircraft requirement has been there for a long time and the specifications have now been finalised for the project, they said.

The project is being carried out by the Centre for Airborne Studies which is working on multiple development projects including the Airborne Early Warning and Control systems which is the next generation of the existing Netra aircraft which would be the AEW&C Netra Mark1A.

ANI had written about the Indian Air Force’s plans to bring the proposal for buying six more AEW&C aircraft based on the Embraer aircraft to the Defence Acquisition Council in September and November last year.

The Indian Air Force also has plans to develop an indigenous Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (I-STAR) aircraft, Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Mark 1A aircraft on Embraer legacy jet plane platform, AEWC Mark 2 on Airbus 321 jets for the Indian Air Force. CABS is also developing the Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance project of the Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy.

Indian Coast Guard chief Director General Rakesh Pal had recently stated that the C-295-based maritime surveillance aircraft would give the force a strong indigenous capability to keep an eye on the Indian territory. (ANI)

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BJP Won't Renew UP Tickets For Sitting MPs, Barring One: Akhilesh

BJP Won’t Renew UP Tickets For Sitting MPs, Barring One: Akhilesh

Amid rising differences between the INDIA partners over seat sharing for the Lok Sabha polls, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Friday sought to shift focus to the BJP, claiming that the ruling party at the Centre would not renew tickets to all its present MPs from the state barring one.

Posting from his official handle on X, the former chief minister said the BJP has still not put out its list of Lok Sabha candidates from the state as their sitting MPs did little except ‘fill their pockets’.

“We have gathered from sources that the BJP will not renew the tickets of all its present MPs from Uttar Pradesh, except one. They are in no position to announce their candidates (for UP) for the Lok Sabha elections as their sitting did nothing but fill their pockets. There is a lot of anger among the public against the BJP and its MPs. In the midst of such circumstances, they are searching for fresh candidates. However, no one wants to fight a losing battle. No one is coming forward to be a BJP candidate,” Akhilesh posted from X.

The SP chief stated further that BJP MPs won’t receive a warm reception when they return to their respective Lok Sabha constituencies. “This time, the people of Uttar Pradesh will not elect big talkers but ones who can actually deliver on their promises,” Akhilesh said, adding, “Ab PDA (Pichhde, Dalit, Alpasankhayak) Ki Ekta Jaagi, Chhod Ke UP BJP Bhaagi (when the PDA unite, the BJP will disappear from UP).”

Earlier, on Friday, SP MP Ram Gopal Yadav claimed that the Congress and the Akhilesh Yadav-led party have finalised their seat-sharing arrangement in Uttar Pradesh.

On whether the Congress could go with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in UP, Yadav said the grand old party has already reached an agreement over seat-sharing with the Samajwadis.

“The Congress has reached a seat-sharing agreement with the Samajwadi Party. We will declare our Lok Sabha candidates soon,” Yadav said. (ANI)

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Biden Approves 4 BN$ Arms Package Sale To India

Biden Approves 4 BN$ Arms Package Sale To India

The Biden Administration has today notified the US Congress of its intent to sell nearly 4 billion dollars worth of arms comprising mainly of the MQ 9 B Drones armed with hellfire missiles.

The Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which is an agency within the US Department of Defence, said in a press release on Thursday that the sale helps in strengthening the US-Indian strategic relationship.

It added that New Delhi continues to be an “important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.”

“The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of India of MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.99 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today,” the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

According to the statement, the Indian government has requested to buy 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft; 161 Embedded Global Positioning and Inertial Navigation Systems (EGIs); 35 L3 Rio Grande Communications Intelligence Sensor Suites; 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; 16 M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM); 310 GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bombs (LSDB); and eight GBU-39B/B LSDB Guided Test Vehicles (GTVs) with live fuzes.

The proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a ‘major defense partner’ which continues to be an “important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the release stated.

It further added that the proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet “current and future threats” by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation while adding that India has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” it added.

As per the release, the principal contractor will be General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Poway, CA. and any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to India.

“There will be no adverse impact on US defence readiness as a result of this proposed sale,” the release said. (ANI)

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US Issues Record-High 1.4 MN Visas For Indians

US Issues Record-High 1.4 MN Visas For Indians

The US Consular Team in India processed a record 1.4 million US visas in 2023, which is higher than ever, and has brought down the visitor visa appointment wait times by 75 per cent.

The US Embassy and Consulates in India said that Indians now represent one out of every 10 US visa applicants around the world.

“In 2023, the US Embassy and Consulates in India processed a record-smashing 1.4 million US visas. Demand across all visa classes was unprecedented, with a 60 per cent increase in applications compared to 2022. Indians now represent one out of every ten US visa applicants around the world,” the statement read.

Visitor visas (B1/B2) have rebounded to represent the second-highest number of applications in the US Mission’s history — over 7,00,000.

Process improvements and investments in staffing have brought the appointment wait time for visitor visas down from an average of 1,000 days to only 250 days around the country with minimal wait time in all categories.

The US consular team in India issued over 1,40,000 student visas in 2023 – more than in any other country in the world setting a record for the third year in a row, the statement added.

Among the specific states, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai are the top four student visa processing posts in the world. This has made Indian students the largest group of international graduate students in the United States. They make up more than a quarter of the over one million foreign students studying in the United States.

The US Embassy and Consulates further stated that ’employment visas’ remain a top priority.

Consular Team India consolidated most petition-based visa processing in Chennai and Hyderabad to increase efficiency, leading to the processing of over 3,80,000 employment visas for Indians and their family members in 2023 and allowing the US Mission to maintain a minimal appointment wait time.

In another development, a pilot program this year will allow eligible H1B holders to renew their visas in the United States, further streamlining the process for this group.

It further informed that the Consulate General Mumbai eliminated a queue of over 31,000 immigrant visa cases delayed by the pandemic.

Those who have a pending immigrant visa petition and are ready for scheduling can now obtain an appointment within the standard, pre-pandemic appointment window, it added.

“The US Mission continues to invest in the future of consular services in India and explore ways to provide more efficient and convenient services. These investments have included the opening of a new USD 340 million facility in Hyderabad in March 2023, the announcement of two new consulates in Ahmedabad and Bangalore, continued capital improvements to our facilities around the country, and the permanent assignment of more consular officers to India,” the US Embassy and Consulates said in the statement. (ANI)

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France To Back Any Bid For Olympics By India: Macron

France To Back Any Bid For Olympics By India: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday assured India that the hosts of the 2024 Olympics will back them to organize the multi-sport event in the country in the near future.

At the outset of his address during a banquet hosted by President Droupadi Murmu, Macron expressed that he is looking forward to building stronger cooperation on sports with India.

“We will be delighted to build a stronger cooperation on sports with you. We will definitely support your intention to organize the Olympic Games in India for the future…,” Macron said.

The French President was the chief guest at the 75th Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi on Friday. Macron’s state visit marks France’s sixth participation, the highest of any other nation, as chief guest on India’s Republic Day.

Meanwhile, France is the host of the 2024 Olympics which will take place from July 26 and will conclude on August 11. Soon after the end of the Olympics, the Paralympics will start from August 28 till September 8 in Paris.

Earlier on January 19 while inaugurating the Khelo India games, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the government was working towards hosting host the 2036 Olympic Games. The PM also underlined efforts by his government in the last 10 years to provide international exposure to athletes and provide an ecosystem for them to flourish.

In the 2020-21 Tokyo Olympics India achieved its best performance while it continued its superlative performance in the Asian Games and the Para Asian Games. (ANI)

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Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath Temple: ASI Survey Report To Be Made Public

Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath Temple: ASI Survey Report To Be Made Public

The Varanasi district Court on Wednesday asked that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report be made public today and the hard copy be provided to both sides.

Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the Hindu side, said, “Today, the court heard both sides and a consensus was reached that the hard copy of the ASI’s report will be provided to both sides…The ASI objected to providing the report via email. So, both sides agreed to get the hard copy of the report.”

“The court listened to both sides today. After hearing both sides, an agreement was reached that a certified copy of ASI’s report be made available to both sides. As soon as the court passes the order, our legal team will apply for the certified copy…”

Earlier on January 16, the Supreme Court allowed an application of Hindu women petitioners seeking direction for cleaning the entire area of ‘wazukhana’ of Gyanvapi mosque where the alleged ‘Shivling’ was found and maintaining hygienic condition.

A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said the area of ‘wazukhana’ shall be cleaned under the supervision of district administration Varanasi, having regard to the previous orders of the apex court.

Gyanvapi mosque management committee said it supports cleaning of the water tank, which has remained sealed on apex court’s orders for nearly two years.

The area of ‘wazukhana’ was sealed in 2022 on a Supreme Court order after the discovery of what was said to be a ‘Shivling’.

A structure — claimed to be a “Shivling” by the Hindu side and a “fountain” by the Muslim side — was found in the mosque premises on May 16, 2022, during a court-mandated survey of the mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

The ‘Wazu’ area of the Gyanvapi mosque is the centre of the Gyanvapi mosque-Kashi Vishwanath temple dispute between Hindus and Muslim parties in the case since the Hindu parties claim that ‘Shivling’ has been found in that spot, however, the Muslim side disputed the same and said that it is only a water fountain. (ANI)

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Rahul Gandhi OBC Modi

Efforts Made To Enslave Students Of North East, India: Rahul

Amid the rift with Assam Chief Minister, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that efforts are being made to enslave students of North East and India, adding “There is no need for any student to be afraid.”

He also alleged that the Home Minister of the country picked up the phone and called CM Himanta and said that Rahul Gandhi should not meet the students of Assam.

“We are being stopped everywhere. The Home Minister of the country picked up the phone and called CM Himanta and said that Rahul Gandhi should not meet the students of Assam. That’s not important whether Rahul Gandhi comes here or not. What’s important is that the students must be allowed to listen to whomever they want to. But it is not happening in any schools and colleges in Assam. You are being told that you cannot speak your language. You are being told that you cannot have your history,” he said.

He further said that efforts are being made to enslave the students of North East and India.

“Nobody can stop you from thinking about the India that you want. Nobody can stop you from reading or writing in the language you want. Nobody should stop you from believing in any religion you want. You have come here because you are not ready for what the Chief Minister wants you to follow. An attempt is being made to stop the student from thinking. If students are stopped from thinking then India will be destroyed, India will not survive,” Rahul Gandhi added.

“There is no need for any student to be afraid, you are the future of this country,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, As Bharat Jodo Yatra resumed its journey on the 10th day on Tuesday from Assam, heavy security was deployed at Khanapara Area, the entry point of Guwahati for the Yatra.

There was barricading and heavy deployment of police officials in the Khanapara Area, where Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra will reach today.

According to Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’s official handle on X, the Congress will hold a press conference later today. After that, the yatra will resume its journey and it will halt at Bishnupur in Assam.

Bhupen Kumar Borah, Assam Congress President said “Rahul ji’s name is not in any corruption case. Who is Raavan? Today, women in Assam are the most unsafe in the entire country. So wherever Ravana is, women will be unsafe.”

Rahul Gandhi on Monday who arrived at the Batadrava Than, the birthplace of revered Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardeva, in Assam, took a veiled dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he was denied permission to enter the shrine.

“We want to visit the temple (Batadrava Than). What crime have I committed that I cannot visit the temple?” Rahul Gandhi said.

“I want to go to the temple, what is wrong with this? Earlier we were invited but now the administration is saying that we cannot go. “Aaj sirf ek vyakti mandir mein ja sakta hain…”(Perhaps today only one person can go to the temple),” the Congress leader said in an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the ‘Pran Pratishta’ ceremony at Ayodhya Ram Temple. (ANI)

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campus Bengaluru

Bengaluru Gets A Boeing Campus

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated a new state-of-the-art Boeing India Engineering and Technology Center (BIETC) campus in Bengaluru.

Built with an investment of Rs 1,600 crores, the 43-acre campus is Boeing’s largest such investment outside the US.

Boeing’s new campus in India will become a cornerstone for partnership with the vibrant startup, private and government ecosystem in India, and will help develop next-generation products and services for the global aerospace and defence industry.

Prime Minister today also launched the Boeing Sukanya Program that aims to support the entry of more girl children from across India into the country’s growing aviation sector. The program will provide opportunities for girls and women from across India to learn critical skills in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields and train for jobs in the aviation sector.

For young girls, the program will create STEM Labs at 150 planned locations to help spark interest in STEM careers. The program will also provide scholarships to women who are training to be pilots.

Addressing the gathering, PM Modi asserted that India aims to reduce its offshore dependence on aircraft leasing and financing and the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) in Gujarat’s GIFT City will help in realizing it.

We are working to simplify aircraft leasing. We endeavour to reduce India’s offshore dependence on aircraft leasing and financing. So, we have set up IFSCA. The benefit of this will be reaped by the entire country,” said PM Modi, after inaugurating the new state-of-the-art Boeing India Engineering and Technology Center (BIETC) campus in Bengaluru.

India today is the third largest domestic civil aviation market, with volume more than doubling in the past decade, PM Modi said.

“UDAN scheme has helped a lot. In the coming years, the domestic air traffic will further rise. Looking at such a huge demand, our airlines have placed a massive order for aircraft. India will give new energy to the global aviation market.”

To further India’s aviation market, the central government is encouraging states to reduce taxes on aviation fuel, he said.

“India will one day develop ‘aircraft of the future’ from this particular centre,” he said, congratulating Boeing management.

“Bengaluru is the city which connects aspirations with innovations and achievements. It’s the city that connects India’s tech potential to global demands. This new Global Technology Centre of Boeing will strengthen the identity of Bengaluru.” This campus is a stamp of approval for Indian talents, he added.

“This facility will help Indian youth to learn new skills in the aviation sector. Our endeavour is to raise women’s participation in all sectors,” he noted.

Talking about women’s participation in the aviation sector, 15 per cent of Indian pilots are women, which is thrice the global average.

“Be it fighter pilots or civil aviation pilots, Indian women are leading today. I can say with pride that 15 per cent of our total pilots are women. To put this into context, this is thrice the global average,” he asserted.

PM Modi also apprised the gathering that the number of operational airports in India rose from around 70 to now 150 since year 2014.

“We have not only new airports but also improved our efficiency manifold,” PM Modi added. (ANI)

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