India, Pakistan ‘stalk, harass’ each other’s diplomats: Top 10 developments

India, Pakistan

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While the relations between India and Pakistan hang in the balance, especially after the recent barbs exchanged at the UNHCR, they seemed to have hit a new low with both countries accusing each other of “harassing” their diplomats and their families. India and Pakistan threatened to withdraw their diplomats from Islamabad and New Delhi, respectively, if the so-called “intimidation” did not come to a halt.

The issue was brought to the attention of Foreign Secretary of India Vijay Keshav Gokhale by Pakistan High Commsioner Sohail Mohammed and Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, who had met Pakistan Foreign Secretary on February 16 and made a strong case against multiple acts of hooliganism against Indian personnel and their properties. India’s residential complex was not only illegally raided by Pakistani agencies, but power and water supply were also cut off for over two weeks, according to sources.

“The Indian High Commission in Pakistan has been facing tremendous harassment for long, particularly in the last year,” the source said.

Pakistan, on the hand, lodged four harassment charges, known as note verbale, with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), alleging incidents of harassment and intimidation of its diplomats. Highlighting one of the recent episodes, Pakistan High Commission said two cars carrying Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner’s children to a school in New Delhi were followed and obstructed on Tuesday. The driver was also, apparently, threatened later. A note verbale is unsigned and prepared in third person, therefore making it less formal in nature.

This comes close on the heels of frequent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control.

Here are the top 10 developments of the Indian-Pakistan diplomatic spat so far.



Budget 2018: Govt may use loss-making firms’ land for ‘housing for all’

Housing for All scheme in Budget 2018

Live Budget 2018

In order to give momentum to affordable housing projects, the Modi government has identified land available with six loss-making central public sector enterprises, which it plans to use to build ‘houses for all’ under the Pradhan Mantri Away Yojana (Urban). The six companies, including IDPL, HMT, Hindustan Antibiotics and Tungabhadra Steel Products, have about 3,000 acres. According to a senior government official, some of the projects would be completed before 2022.

Under PMAY (U), people can avail benefits under various components to buy a house in urban areas.

“We have put all such proposals on a fast track. The land available with sick CPSEs is in prime areas. In some cases, we will allow mixed use,” the official told Economic Times.

“We expect more such projects in the near future as the government has decided to exit loss-making entities,” said an executive with NBCC. NBCC has been appointed as the land management agency to auction the real estate assets of loss-making companies and will get 0.5% of the value realised from such sales as fee, subject to a cap of Rs 10 million. The agency will determine the current land use and its suitability for industrial, manufacturing or other purpose, according to the guidelines.

Budget 2018 for Housing for All scheme

Housing for All by 2022 was a major poll promise of the BJP in the run-up to 2014 parliamentary election. However, states such as Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi have not been able to get many proposals sanctioned. Sources said this year’s budget allocation might see a jump of nearly 50 per cent as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream scheme is moving at a slow pace and more funding will help it achieve targets.

The budget announcements are going to be crucial, considering the government has only one year left before the 2019 elections.

Budget 2018: HUA ministry seeks Rs 170 bn to build houses for urban poor

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna target

The target of PMAY (Rural) is to complete 10 million new houses by March 31, 2019. Of these, 5.1 million units have to be completed by March 31, 2018. The government has a similar target for PMAY (Urban). The scheme targets mostly the poor section of the society which forms a larger chunk of the vote bank in the country. In the Budget 2017-18, the scheme was allocated Rs 62 billion.

US security aid to Pak down 62% over 5 yrs. Will the $1.1 bn fund cut hurt?


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There has been a 62% decline in security aid from the the United States of America (USA) to Pakistan over the last five years, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of data released by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The data–indicative of worsening US-Pakistan ties–come as US President Donald Trump slammed Pakistan’s “lies and deceit” for providing “safe havens” to terrorists in exchange of $33 billion worth of US aid to Islamabad. Trump tweeted that there will be “no more” US aid to Pakistan.

In the post-9/11 period, Pakistan emerged as one of the biggest recipients of US aid because of its role as a regional ally in the American-led military intervention in Afghanistan.

Pakistan received over $32 billion in the form of US security aid, economic aid and Coalition Support Funds (CSF) over 15 years.

Bilateral relations became increasingly fraught since the US special-forces raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that led killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden in May 2011. This led the US to become critical of Pakistan’s role in fighting terror, particularly on the matter of safe havens to terrorists.

US security aid to Pakistan fell 62%–from $849 million in financial year 2012 to $322 million in financial year 2016. Overall, Pakistan received nearly $8 billion security aid in the form of arms transfers from the US, including F-16 fighter jets, AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters and P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, according to this CRS report on May 4, 2015.

Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, has confirmed that the Trump administration is withholding $255 million in security aid for Pakistan.

Economic and humanitarian aid to Pakistan declined 77% from $1.1 billion in financial year 2012 to $246 million in financial year 2016.

Since 2002, Pakistan has received over $13 billion in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) from the US. These are meant to reimburse Pakistan for its “operational and logistical support of U.S.-led counterterrorism operations” in the region, the CRS notes.

Pakistan has used these funds to deploy troops along its militancy-hit northwest region that borders Afghanistan. The CSF funds also compensate Pakistan for allowing the US-led coalition forces access its airfields and ports to provide supplies and logistics in their deployment in Afghanistan.

The CRS reimbursement has declined 20% from $688 million in financial year 2012 to $550 million in financial year 2016.

India stands vindicated, US-Pakistan row erupts

India, who for decades has accused Pakistan of being a state-sponsor of terrorism, welcomed Trump’s tweet.


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Still not paid taxes on Bitcoin gains? I-T notice could be on the way


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While virtual currencies like Bitcoin are gaining popularity, there is still lack of clarity on how they should be taxed. Many buyers of cryptocurrencies, therefore, don’t pay tax on the gains they make on selling them.


Software developer Pawan Bharti recently sold Bitcoin worth Rs 55,000 after his investment doubled. “Neither my friends nor I am aware that we need to pay tax on these gains,” says Bharti. He is planning to invest the money in fixed-income instruments.


Tax experts, however, say that investors are obliged to pay tax on their gains in virtual currencies. “What investors don’t realise is that the Income Tax Act may not cover the taxation of virtual currencies specifically. But there are provisions that cover all kinds of income and gains,” says Archit Gupta, chief executive officer, ClearTax. The definition of capital assets under Section 2 (14) is broad enough to include any investment in crypto currencies.


The taxation of virtual currencies will depend on the purpose for which an individual buys it, say experts. If a person has purchased a virtual currency to pay for goods, then there should be no tax. It’s as good as cash in the wallet that one uses for transactions. But the use of virtual currencies for such payments is less common. Most people buy it to make a profit on price changes.


Any profit arising out of the sale of virtual currencies can be construed as capital gains, according to tax experts. “Accordingly, the capital gains tax will be applicable depending upon the holding period of such investments,” says Suresh Surana, founder, RSM Astute Consulting Group. If these are held as an investment for three years or more, the gains will be considered as long-term capital gains. The investor will need to pay 20 per cent tax after considering indexation benefit. If an individual sells it within a shorter time period, the gains will be treated as short-term capital gains. The profit will be clubbed with the investor’s income and he will have to pay tax depending on his income tax slab.

If the transactions in bitcoins are substantial and frequent, it could be said that the individual is trading in bitcoins.



Miss Universe 2017: India loses; South Africa wins to end four-decade jinx

Shraddha Shashidhar. Photo: Twitter

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India’s Shraddha Shashidhar lost out on the Miss Universe 2017 title, failing to make it even to the top 16. South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters walked away with the crown, ending a nearly four-decade-long jinx for her country in one of the world’s biggest pageants.


After Manushi Chhillar’s victory at the Miss World 2017, India had pinned high hopes on Shraddha, 21, a media graduate, to end India’s 16-year drought as Lara Dutta had last brought back the crown in 2000.


As many as 92 women from around the world were competing for the Miss Universe 2017 title at the pageant, hosted by Steve Harvey.


Iris Mittenaere from France crowned her successor Demi-Leigh.


The winner has a degree in Business Management and she is passionate about a program she helped develop to train women in self-defence in various situations.

Demi-Leigh plans to share these workshops and help as many women as she can, according to the official Miss Universe website.


Laura Gonzalez from Colombia was named the runner-up, while Davina Bennett from Jamaica rounded up the top three.


As the host, Harvey was sporting enough to address his big mistake from the last time he hosted.


Harvey, a five-time Emmy Award winner, mentioned the moment from when he announced the wrong winner at 2015 Miss Universe.


“Well, my first year we started right here in Las Vegas. We all know how that went. We don’t need to go back into that,” said Harvey, who was returning the third time to host the show.


Singer Fergie took to the stage and performed her single “A Little Work” during the pageant’s evening gown competition. She donned a glittering black and silver mini-dress as the top 10 finalists did the catwalk during her performance, reported



Google marks India’s first woman lawyer Sorabji’s 151st b’day: Who was she?



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Google on Wednesday paid its tributes to Cornelia Sorabji, India’s first woman lawyer, through a dedicated doodle on the occasion of her 151st birth anniversary.


A woman with many accolades to her kitty, Cornelia was the first female graduate from Bombay University, the first woman to read law at Oxford University and the first Indian national to study at any British university, the first female advocate in India, and the first woman to practise law in India and Britain.


Cornelia was born in Nashik as one among nine children to Reverend Sorabji Karsedji and his wife, Francina Ford, who had been adopted and raised by a British couple.


She enrolled in Deccan College, and claims to have topped the Presidency in her final degree examination, which would have entitled her to a government scholarship to study further in England.


However, according to Sorabji, she was denied the scholarship, and instead took up a temporary position as a professor of English at a men’s college in Gujarat.


After becoming the first female graduate of Bombay University, Sorabji wrote in 1888 to the National Indian Association for assistance in completing her education.


This was championed by Mary Hobhouse (whose husband Arthur was a member of the Council of India) and Adelaide Manning, who contributed funds, as did Florence Nightingale, Sir William Wedderburn and others.



Kidambi Srikanth outclasses Lee Hyun Il to win maiden Denmark Open title

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Ace Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth ended India’s 38-year wait for a men’s singles Denmark Open Super Series Premier title as he beat South Korea’s Lee Hyun Il 21-10, 21-5 in just 25 minutes to win his maiden Denmark Open Super Series Premier title on Sunday.


This is Srikanth’s third Super Series title win of the year, after the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier and Australian Open Super Series earlier in the year.


Now, he has overall five Super Series titles on his name including China Open 2014 and India Open 2015.


Srikanth dominated the match as he maintained a healthy point’s gap at all stage of the game.


Despite losing the first two points of the match, Srikanth made a comeback with his trademark jump-smash to make it 1-2.


Because of his mix of attacking and net play he was able to take a massive 11-6 lead at the break after which Hyun Il could never come back into the game as Srikanth continued with his accurate smashes to win the first game 21-10 in just 12 minutes.


In the second game Srikanth maintained his aggression as he opened up a huge 5-1 lead early on.


Such was the difference in class between the two players that at the break in the second game, Srikanth was leading 11-1. The striking part about Srikanth’s game was his movement and picked almost everything with comfortable ease.


Srikanth won the second game 21-5 to put his opponent out of his misery.


He had reached the finals after defeating Vincent by 21-18, 21-17 in a one-sided semi-final clash that lasted just 39 minutes.


Hyun Il, on the other hand, had made it to the finals after sweeping aside his countryman and top seed Son Wan Ho in a three-game thriller that lasted one-and-a-half hour.


Prior to Srikanth’s win, Prakash Padukone was the last Indian to win the men’s singles title at Denmark Open in 1980.