Will Thalaiva take the plunge? Rajinikanth politics in Movie-mad Tamil Nadu

Rajinikanth’s comments to his fans were as cryptic as Kamalahaasan’s comments on state politics

Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Sharath Kumar, Vijayakanth…take your pick. In movie-mad Tamil Nadu, the transition from a film actor/director to politics is effortless. And, the latest chatter is about Rajinikanth joining politics. This is not the first time. Before the 2009 general election, a gathering of diehard Rajini fans converged at a small temple in Rajapalayam to pray that their icon get a divine message and join politics.

With the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in a shambles after Jayalalithaa’s death and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam seemingly powerless in wresting power, the state is sensing a leadership vacuum. Rajinikanth, once a bus conductor in Karnataka, who then made good in Tamil Nadu’s film industry, was supposed to meet fans from April 12 to 16. This meeting, for fans to get themselves photographed with the legendary actor, would have been the first time in 10 years that the star met his admirers personally.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called on Rajini at the latter’s residence a few days before the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. Last week, Bharatiya Janata Party national secretary H Raja said Rajini was a “popular” personality and welcome to join their party. Rajini on board the BJP will be an electoral trump card for the latter, yet to make inroads in the state.

Sensing that his fans would ask questions about political options, the April 12 meeting never happened and was postponed indefinitely, to be then held in Chennai last week, in truncated form. “Please don’t ask political questions,” he told reporters when they quizzed him about joining politics. To his fans, the actor said: “My life is in the hands of God. I’m not sure what he has in store for me. But, I will always perform the duty that he bestows on me. So, don’t feel disappointed if I don’t enter politics.” ReadMore

Jio effect? You could soon buy a 4G feature phone only for Rs 1,500

Prices of 4G feature phones currently start at about Rs 3,000


Last year, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio disrupted the telecom space with extremely affordable 4G tariffs. The company seems to be geared to continue its disruptive streak by launching low-cost feature phones that, apparently, will do away with the need for smartphones.

Business Standard in January had reported that Reliance Jio was considering to launch 4G VoLTE-ready feature phones that would cost around Rs 999, with access to Jio’s high-speed 4G internet, the Jio digital store and play music.

According to a report published by The Economic Times on Tuesday, Chinese mobile chip maker Spreadtrum Communications has said it is working on reducing starting prices by at least half from the current levels, which might bring the 4G feature phone prices down to Rs 1,500.

Shanghai-based Spreadtrum Communications has a two-year old partnership with Reliance Industries Ltd and has powered its affordable LYF Flame 5 smartphone.

Reliance Jio Infocomm is understood to be in talks with Chinese contract manufacturers like Techchain, FortuneShip and Uniscope to explore manufacturing of 4G VoLTE feature phones, said a Financial Express report.

Prices of 4G feature phones from home-grown manufacturers such as Lava and Micromax start at about Rs 3,000. Both these handset makers, besides Karbonn, plan to reduce prices of such phones further. Reliance Jio Infocomm is also planning to bring in affordable 4G VoLTE feature phones through its sister retail firm that may be priced under Rs 1,500, according to people aware of the matter, further said the ET report.|READMORE…

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Veteran Bollywood star Vinod Khanna dies at 70

He worked in more than 100 films

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Vinod Khanna, the yesteryears Bollywood superstar, died at the age of 70 on Thursday. He was battling cancer.

He worked in more than 100 films.

He was an active politician, and a sitting Member of Parliament from Gurdaspur, Punjab. Vinod Khanna was born on 6 October, 1946.

He is survived by his wife Kavita Khanna, sons Rahul, Akshaye and Sakshi, and daughter Shraddha Khanna. Before marrying Kavita, Vinod Khanna was married to Getanjali but they later got divorced.

His polupar movies include Mere Apne, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Gaddaar (1973 film), Jail Yatra, Imitihaan, Inkaar, Kuchhe Dhaage, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rajput, Qurbani, Kudrat, Dayavan, Kaarnama,Suryaa: An Awakening and Jurm.

Vinod Khanna received the Filmfare award in the best supporting actor category for Haath Ki Safaai, and in 1999 he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award, and again in 2007 he won a lifetime achievement award at the Zee Cine Awards.

In late 2016 and early 2017, news about his detoriating health started coming in, this kept him away from a public eye. In his last days he was surrounded by all his children and wife Kavita. (READMORE…)

PM Modi launches UDAN scheme from Shimla; now fly to Himachal for Rs 2,000

Air India subsidiary Alliance Air will operate the Delhi-Shimla flight


Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the UDAN regional connectivity scheme on Thursday from Shimla that will allow tourists to fly to Shimla from New Delhi for just Rs 2,000.

Modi during his day-long visit to the Queen of Hills launched the central government’s UDAN, or “Ude Desh ka Har Nagarik” scheme, building efficient regional air connectivity, from Jubbarhatti, the tabletop airport located 2,196 metre above sea-level and some 22 km from here.

Accompanied by Himachal Governor Acharya Devvrat, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Union Ministers P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Jayant Sinha and J.P. Nadda, Modi simultaneously flagged off the inaugural UDAN flights on the Kadapa-Hyderabad and Nanded-Hyderabad sectors through video conferencing.

The Shimla Airport had been shut for scheduled flights since September 6, 2012, affecting tourists and business travellers to the state.

Air India subsidiary Alliance Air will operate the Delhi-Shimla flight.

The seating capacity of airlines under the UDAN scheme will range from 19 to 78 and 50 per cent of the seats in every flight will have a fare cap of Rs 2,500 per seat per hour.

The airline companies chosen are Airline Allied Services (Alliance Air), SpiceJet, Turbo Megha Airways, Air Deccan and Air Odisha.

The operations under the scheme are intended to provide air connectivity to un-served and remote routes with airfare being capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour’s journey of around 500 km, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement. (READMORE…)

Sensex at 30,000: What’s next, when to invest and is there a bubble?

Here is a compilation of what leading experts and market veterans think about recent rally


After rallying nearly 1.5% since the start of the week, the markets are consolidating in trade on Thursday. Buoyed by liquidity, developments at the global levels and better-than-expected March quarter results of companies, the Nifty50 and the S&P BSE Sensex have scaled new highs.

Will this momentum continue? Here is a quick compilation of what leading experts and market veterans think about the recent rally. They also highlight their concerns.


It is an iconic closing for the Sensex. However, concerns still remain as to what will happen to the fundamentals as the valuations are getting stretched. The recent movement has been driven by liquidity. The political situation in India has become stable and recent elections show the popularity of BJP in the country. The markets are excited about what Mr Modi will do with so much political capital in his hand and look forward to more reforms going ahead. One can invest at the current levels from three – five year perspective.

We believe that we are in the midst of a good economic cycle. However, markets have gone up much faster than the change in economic cycle. We believe price-to-earnings (PE) for the markets looks expensive but price-to-book value and market-cap to GDP ratio is above average but not significantly higher than average level.


I think the markets look good from a medium-to-long term perspective. The government is doing a great job by putting the right policies in place. If one invests for three years, investors will make money. Once the corporate earnings start growing at 15 – 20 per cent, the market levels will reflect that going ahead. (READMORE…)

Modi govt plan on generic drugs makes pharma companies, doctors jittery

The Narendra Modi govt is planning to bring law to make doctors compulsorily prescribe generic drugs


To make health care affordable in the country, the Narendra Modi-led central government is looking to make it mandatory for doctors to prescribe generic drugs. As reported earlier, the health ministry, in line with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Union Budget announcement, has started work on amending the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

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After the Act has been amended, doctors will not be allowed to mention brand names in their prescriptions. Instead, they will have to mention the generic name of a drug. The prime minister’s Monday announcement on this has made the pharmaceutical industry jittery. Generic drugs’ share of the market, 80 per cent at present (20 per cent is accounted for by branded and patented drugs), is expected to go up to 90 per cent in the next three years.

The managing director of a domestic pharmaceutical company who does not wish to be named says the move is a serious one and will shift the thrust from quality to price.

Some industry veterans view this from the angle of marketing ethics. Veeramani, formerly the president of the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA), says the move will keep a check on doctors and ensure the medical fraternity doesn’t favour any company. However, he fears the problem will now shift from the doctor’s desk to the chemist’s. “Now, (since the doctor will mention only the generic name of a drug on the prescription), the chemist might sell medicines that suit him the best. He might push those that yield him better profits.” There are over 800,000 chemists in India.

The pharma industry, meanwhile, does not seem enthused. Industry players believe the idea will complicate things for doctors and be very difficult to implement. Doctors may face difficulty in prescribing combination drugs or medicines with multiple ingredients, analysts say. (readmore…)

Nation wants to know: Arnab Goswami gets a legal notice for the phrase

Goswami says the phrase belonged to the people and not to any media group


Who owns “nation wants to know”? That seems to be the question that will probably be answered by the courts. The catch-phrase popularised by former Times Now anchor, Arnab Goswami has become a bone of contention now.

According to a report in the newspaper Mint, Times Group has sent a legal notice to Arnab Goswami asking him not to use the phrase on his own news channel “Republic TV”. Arnab Goswami’s new channel has been in the news ever since it was announced late last year but its much anticipated launch has been delayed due to unspecified reasons.

Times Now is a channel owned by the Times Group and they contend that “nation wants to know” is their intellectual property. Goswami became synonymous with the use of this phrase.

Arnab has released an audio clip on YouTube informing people that he has received this notice. He has not revealed the name of the group that has sent him the notice. “A media group has sent me a six-page letter threatening me with imprisonment if I ever use the phrase ‘Nation wants to know’. They say that they own the phrase.”

He further explained that the phrase belongs to “you, to me and to all of us, every citizen of this country. Every Indian has a right to use that phrase. And this phrase comes from the heart. Every Indian, through his or her questioning spirit, can use the phrase Nation Wants to Know.”

He says the media group has been trying to delay the launch of Republic TV(readmore…)

No consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav: Is Pak raising strains with India?

Yesterday, Pak Army ruled out consular access to Jadhav, saying he was not eligible as per laws

Kulbhushan Jadhav

Strongly condemning Pakistan for not giving consular access to alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, defence experts on Tuesday said such decision was against international norms and conventions and alleged that Islamabad was deliberately dragging this case to heighten tensions with India.

Defence expert Qamar Agha said Pakistan court should be trusted as they have their allegiance towards the army.

“It’s against the international norms and conventions to refuse to grant consular access. Secondly, you know a good legal case was missing. India has a right for consular access. I think we should not trust the Pakistan court either as most judges of the court have allegiance towards Jamaat-e-Islami and judiciary is totally committed to army,” Agha told ANI.

Expressing similar views, defence expert Shankar Prasad said, “Pakistan is trying to heighten the level of tensions with India so that international community begins to feel that this is a flash point in South East Asia. Therefore, they need to intervene and mediate in talks.”

Yesterday, the Pakistan Army ruled out consular access to Jadhav, saying he was not eligible for it as per the laws.

“Kulbhushan is not eligible for consular access nor will be granted consular access,” said Pakistan Armed Forces spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor. (readmore…)

Amazon to take on Paytm, Flipkart’s PhonePe with its digital wallet licence

In the next few months it will get into railways, utilities and insurance payments


Amazon India has received a payments wallet license from the Reserve Bank of India, as it looks to boost savings and retain customers within is ecosystem as it takes on rivals Flipkart, and Alibaba’s Paytm.

The US retailer is looking to allow users to shop on its platform, make offline payments, buy bus and rail tickets and pay for utilities through its digital wallet. This will put the company squarely against Paytm and Flipkart-owned PhonePe, apart from number two player FreeCharge.

All three players are betting on the payments space to engage the growing base on online shoppers in India. Paytm’s parent Alibaba, pioneered the use of digital wallets to dominate the e-commerce market in China.

PhonePe uses the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), the peer to peer payment technology platform that allows users with a mobile phone transact digitally. Flipkart is looking to aggressively invest in PhonePe from its $ 1.4 billion kitty it raised earlier this week from Tencent, Microsoft and eBay.


“We are pleased to receive our PPI license from the RBI. Our focus is providing customers a convenient and trusted cashless payments experience. RBI is on the process of finalising the guidelines for PPIs. We look forward to seeing a continuation of the low limit wallet dispensation with simplified KYC & authentication,” Sriram Jagannathan, VP Payments, Amazon India. (readmore…)

Petrol, diesel prices to be revised daily in 5 cities from May 1: Sources

State refiners currently revise fuel prices every fortnight


India’s state-owned fuel retailers plan to implement daily revision of fuel price in five cities from May 1 ahead of a nationwide roll out of the scheme, industry sources said.

To begin with, daily revision of fuel prices will be implemented in Puducherry and Vizag in southern India, Udaipur in the West, Jamshedpur in the East and Chandigarh in the North, they said.

State refiners currently revise fuel prices every fortnight to reflect volatility in the currency and global oil markets.

State refiners – Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL) – operate 90 per cent of the retail outlets in the country.

The three have upto 200 fuel stations in the five cities, the sources said.

The roll out of “daily dynamic pricing” in five cities will help them identify the problems ahead of a nationwide roll out of the scheme later this year, the sources, who did not wish to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said.No immediate comment was available from the state refiners.

Indian private fuel retailers – Reliance Industries and Essar Oil – are expected to follow their state peers, the sources added. (readmore…)