Science News This Week:
1) Top ten new species for 2014:
An appealing carnivorous mammal, a 12-meter-tall tree that has been hiding in plain sight and a sea anemone that lives under an Antarctic glacier are among the species identified by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's (ESF) International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) as the top 10 species discovered last year.An international committee of taxonomists and related experts selected the top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during the previous year and released the list May 22 to coincide with the birthday, May 23, of Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th century Swedish botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy.The list includes a quartet of tiny newcomers to science: a miniscule skeleton shrimp from Santa Catalina Island in California, a single-celled protist that does a credible imitation of a sponge, a clean room microbe that could be a hazard during space travel and a teensy fringed fairyfly named Tinkerbell.
Also on the list are a gecko that fades into the background in its native Australia and a fungus that, conversely, blazed its way into contention by virtue of the bright orange color it displays when it's produced in colonies. Crawling slowly into the final spot on the alphabetical list is Zospeum tholussum, a tiny, translucent Croatian snail from one of earth's deepest cave systems.The annual list, established in 2008, calls attention to discoveries that are made even as species are going extinct faster than they are being identified."The majority of people are unaware of the dimensions of the biodiversity crisis," said Dr. Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the IISE and ESF president.
Scientists believe 10 million species await discovery, five times the number that are already known to science.
"The top 10 is designed to bring attention to the unsung heroes addressing the biodiversity crisis by working to complete an inventory of earth's plants, animals and microbes. Each year a small, dedicated community of taxonomists and curators substantively improve our understanding of the diversity of life and the wondrous ways in which species have adapted for survival," Wheeler said."One of the most inspiring facts about the top 10 species of 2014 is that not all of the 'big' species are already known or documented," said Dr. Antonio Valdecasas, chair of the selection committee and a biologist and research zoologist with Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain. "One species of mammal and one tree species confirm that the species waiting to be discovered are not only on the microscopic scale."
Valdecasas pointed specifically to two of the species: "the shrimp, Liropus minusculus with its phantasmagoric appearance" and the gecko, which bears a "disturbing likeness to some imaginary monster.""Beautiful beasts, I would rather say!" Valdecasas said.
The Top 10 Species of 2014
Olinguito: A New Carnivore, Hidden in Trees Bassaricyon neblina Location: Ecuador The appealing olinguito, resembling a cross between a slinky cat and a wide-eyed teddy bear, lives secretively in cloud forests of the Andes mountains in Colombia and Ecuador. It is an arboreal carnivore that belongs to the family Procyonidae, which includes the familiar raccoon. The olinguito is smaller, though, typically topping out at about two kilograms (approximately 4.5 pounds). It is the first new carnivorous mammal described in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years. Its apparent dependence on cloud forest habitat means deforestation is a threat.
Kaweesak's Dragon Tree: Mother of Dragons Dracaena kaweesakii Location: Thailand Sounding like something out of Game of Thrones and standing 12 meters (nearly 40 feet) tall, it's hard to believe the dragon tree went unnoticed this long. Beautiful, soft, sword-shaped leaves with white edges and cream-colored flowers with bright orange filaments are the hallmarks of this impressive plant. The dragon tree is found in the limestone mountains of the Loei and Lop Buri Provinces in Thailand and may also be found in nearby Burma. Valued as a horticultural plant, its small number (perhaps 2,500), and the fact that it grows on limestone that is extracted for the manufacture of concrete, has earned this species a preliminary conservation status of endangered.
ANDRILL Anemone: Discovery on Ice Edwardsiella andrillae Location: Antarctica A species of sea anemone, living under a glacier on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, raises questions by its very existence. It is not clear how the species withstands the harsh conditions in its habitat. It is the first species of sea anemone reported to live in ice. It was discovered when the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program (ANDRILL) sent a remotely operated submersible vehicle into holes that had been drilled into the ice. This revealed the presence of small creatures, less than 2.5 centimeters long (one inch) with most of their pale yellow bodies burrowed into the ice shelf and their roughly two dozen tentacles dangling into the frigid water below.
Skeleton Shrimp: A See-through Crustacean Liropus minusculus Location: California, U.S.A. This tiny shrimp, the smallest in the genus, was identified from among specimens originally collected from a cave on that island of romance, sunny Santa Catalina, off the coast of Southern California. Part of a marine family known as skeleton shrimp, only distantly related to the ones some humans love to dip in cocktail sauce, this crustacean is the first of its genus to be reported in the northeastern Pacific. The new species has an eerie, translucent appearance that makes it resemble a bony structure. The male's body measures just 3.3 millimeters (about an eighth of an inch); the female is even smaller at 2.1 (less than a tenth of an inch).
Orange Penicillium: A New Fungus among Us Penicillium vanoranjei Location: Tunisia Distinguished by the bright orange color it displays when produced in colonies, this fungus was named as a tribute to the Dutch royal family, specifically His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange. It was reported in a journal published by the National Herbarium of the Netherlands. The newcomer was isolated from soil in Tunisia. This species also produces a sheet-like extra-cellular matrix that may function as protection from drought.
Leaf-tailed Gecko: Look Hard to See This One Saltuarius eximius Location: Australia It's not easy to spot this gecko, which has an extremely wide tail that is employed as part of its camouflage. With longer limbs, a more slender body and larger eyes than other Saltuarius species, this one has a mottled coloration that allows it to blend in with its surroundings. Native to rain forests and rocky habitats, this gecko is a bit of a night owl. It is found on the vertical surfaces of rocks and trees as it waits for prey. Surveys of similar habitat near the area where this species was found did not reveal additional populations, so this may be a rare species. The gecko was discovered on rocky terrain in isolated rain forests of the Melville Range of eastern Australia.
Amoeboid Protist: Body Builder from the Mediterranean Spiculosiphon oceana Location: Mediterranean Sea This one-celled organism is four to five centimeters high (1.5 to two inches), making it a giant in the world of single-celled creatures. This foram (part of a distinct group among the many amoeboids) from the Mediterranean Sea gathers pieces of silica spicules, which are actually sponge fragments, from its surroundings and uses them like so many Lego blocks to construct a shell. It ends up looking much like a carnivorous sponge as well as feeding like one, extending pseudopods (a protist's version of arms) outside the shell to feed on invertebrates that have become trapped in the spiny structures. This species was discovered in underwater caves 30 miles off the southeast coast of Spain. Interestingly, they are the same caves where carnivorous sponges were first discovered.
Clean Room Microbes: Alien Invaders? Tersicoccus phoenicis Location: Florida, U.S.A., and French Guiana There are some things we don't want to send into space and the newly discovered clean room microbes are among them. Found in rooms where spacecraft are assembled, this microbial species could potentially contaminate other planets that the spacecraft visit. Tersicoccus phoenicis was independently collected from the floors of two separate clean rooms around 2,500 miles apart, one in Florida and one in French Guiana. While frequent sterilization reduces the microbes found in clean rooms, some resistant species persist that can tolerate extreme dryness; wide ranges of pH, temperature and salt concentration; and exposure to UV light or hydrogen peroxide.
Tinkerbell Fairyfly: Do You Believe in Fairies? Tinkerbella nana Location: Costa Rica The tiny size and delicately fringed wings of the parasitoid wasp family Mymaridae led to their common name: fairyflies. Tinkerbella nana, named for Peter Pan's fairy sidekick, measures just 250 micrometers (0.00984 inches) and is among the smallest insects. It is the latest addition to the 1,400 or so known species of the family. The new species was collected by sweeping vegetation in secondary growth forest at LaSelva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Although its host is not yet known, like other fairyflies it presumably has a life span of not more than a few days and attacks the eggs of other insects.
Domed Land Snail: Looks Ghostly, Moves Slowly Zospeum tholussum Location: Croatia Living in complete darkness some 900-plus meters (nearly 3,000 feet) below the surface in the Lukina Jama-Trojama caves of western Croatia is zospeum tholossum. This land snail lacks eyes as they're not necessary in the total darkness of the caves, and it has no shell pigmentation giving it a ghost-like appearance. Only one living specimen was collected in a large cavern among rocks and sand with a small stream of running water nearby, however many shells were also found in the area. Even by snail standards, Zospeum tholossum moves slowly, creeping only a few millimeters or centimeters a week. Researchers suspect these small snails, measuring only 2 millimeters in length (0.08 inch), travel in water currents or hitchhike on other cave animals, such as bats or crickets, to travel longer distances.
2) In a surprise find, placentas harbor bacteria:
Wombs aren't sterile after all, hosting microbes that resemble those in women’s mouths.The placenta harbors an unexpected collection of bacteria. Its mix of microbes may promote healthy pregnancies or lead to premature births.
Doctors and scientists have long thought that the womb was sterile. They figured that babies pick up their microbiomes — the collections of bacteria and other microbes that exist in and on them for the rest of their lives — during birth and early childhood.
Last year, however, researchers found that microbes make it to the side of the placenta where it fuses to the mother’s uterus. Many scientists assumed the placenta acts as a barrier preventing bacteria from reaching the fetus, says pediatric infectious disease specialist Anna Bakardjiev of the University of California, San Francisco.
The placenta, once thought sterile, actually harbors a world of bacteria that may influence the course of pregnancy and help shape an infant’s health and the bacterial makeup of its gut, a new study has found.
The research is part of a broader scientific effort to explore the microbiome, the trillions of microbes — bacteria, viruses and fungi — that colonize the human body, inside and out. Those organisms affect digestion, metabolism and an unknown array of biological processes, and may play a role in the development of obesity, diabetes and other illnesses.
During pregnancy, the authors of the new study suspect, the wrong mix of bacteria in the placenta may contribute to premature births, a devastating problem worldwide. Although the research is preliminary, it may help explain why periodontal disease and urinary infections in pregnant women are linked to an increased risk of premature birth. The findings also suggest a need for more studies on the effects of antibiotics taken during pregnancy.
The new study suggests that babies may acquire an important part of their normal gut bacteria from the placenta. If further research confirms the findings, that may be reassuring news for women who have had cesareans. Some researchers have suggested that babies born by cesarean miss out on helpful bacteria that they would normally be exposed to in the birth canal.
3) Genes gives clues to outcome of species interbreeding:
Conflicts in DNA may explain why some hybrids are evolutionary dead ends.COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. — When different species mate and produce hybrid babies, the result can be an evolutionary dead end or an entirely new species. New research is revealing the molecular details leading toward a new evolutionary route or back toward the parental species.
Even though some hybrid offspring — such as mules — are sterile, many pairs of species can produce fertile hybrids. That doesn’t necessarily mean the birth of new hybrid species, as evolutionary geneticist Molly Schumer of Princeton University and her colleagues have discovered.
Schumer studies fish in a river in Mexico. At an elevation of 200 meters above sea level, Xiphophorus birchmanni swim. But at 1,500 meters, the water is ice-cold. There, X. malinche thrives, one of the few vertebrates that can stand the frigid temperatures. Intermediate elevations hold hybrid zones where the two species have bred, creating subspecies.
4) New, fossil-fuel-free process makes biodiesel sustainable:
A new fuel-cell concept will allow biodiesel plants to eliminate the creation of hazardous wastes while removing their dependence on fossil fuel from their production process. The platform, which uses microbes to glean ethanol from glycerol and has the added benefit of cleaning up the wastewater, will allow producers to reincorporate the ethanol and the water into the fuel-making process.
A New fuel-cell concept, developed by an Michigan State University researcher, will allow biodiesel plants to eliminate the creation of hazardous wastes while removing their dependence on fossil fuel from their production process.The platform, which uses microbes to glean ethanol from glycerol and has the added benefit of cleaning up the wastewater, will allow producers to reincorporate the ethanol and the water into the fuel-making process, said Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist and one of the co-authors.
"With a saturated glycerol market, traditional approaches see producers pay hefty fees to have toxic wastewater hauled off to treatment plants," she said. "By cleaning the water with microbes on-site, we've come up with a way to allow producers to generate bioethanol, which replaces petrochemical methanol. At the same time, they are taking care of their hazardous waste problem."
The results, which appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, show that the key to Reguera's platform is her patented adaptive-engineered bacteria -- Geobacter sulfurreducens.Geobacter are naturally occurring microbes that have proved promising in cleaning up nuclear waste as well in improving other biofuel processes. Much of Reguera's research with these bacteria focuses on engineering their conductive pili or nanowires. These hair-like appendages are the managers of electrical activity during a cleanup and biofuel production.
First, Reguera, along with lead authors and MSU graduate students Allison Speers and Jenna Young, evolved Geobacter to withstand increasing amounts of toxic glycerol. The next step, the team searched for partner bacteria that could ferment it into ethanol while generating byproducts that 'fed' the Geobacter."It took some tweaking, but we eventually developed a robust bacterium to pair with Geobacter," Reguera said. "We matched them up like dance partners, modifying each of them to work seamlessly together and eliminate all of the waste."Together, the bacteria's appetite for the toxic byproducts is inexhaustible."They feast like they're at a Las Vegas buffet," she added. "One bacterium ferments the glycerol waste to produce bioethanol, which can be reused to make biodiesel from oil feedstocks. Geobacter removes any waste produced during glycerol fermentation to generate electricity. It is a win-win situation."The hungry microbes are the featured component of Reguera's microbial electrolysis cells, or MECs. These fuel cells do not harvest electricity as an output. Rather, they use a small electrical input platform to generate hydrogen and increase the MEC's efficiency even more.The promising process already has caught the eye of economic developers, who are helping scale up the effort. Through a Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization grant, Reguera and her team are developing prototypes that can handle larger volumes of waste.Reguera also is in talks with MBI, the bio-based technology "de-risking" enterprise operated by the MSU Foundation, to develop industrial-sized units that could handle the capacities of a full-scale biodiesel plant. The next step will be field tests with a Michigan-based biodiesel manufacturer.
5) Turning Light into Matter May Soon Be Possible:
Scientists may soon create matter entirely from light, using technology that is already available to complete a quest 80 years in the making.
The experiment would re-create events that were critical in the first 100 seconds of the universe and that are also expected to happen in gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the cosmos and one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in physics, researchers added.
As Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 proved, mass can get converted into energy and vice versa. For instance, when an electron meets its antimatter counterpart, a positron, they annihilate each other, releasing photons, the particles making up light. In 1934, physicists Gregory Breit and John Wheeler revealed that it should be possible to smash together pairs of gamma rays, the most energetic form of light, to generate pairs of electrons and positrons — the simplest method of turning light into matter ever predicted. However, Breit and Wheeler said they never actually expected anyone to demonstrate their prediction. [The 9 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]
Researchers say that soon it will be possible to smash photons together to create matter in the laboratory."The problem is that it is difficult to generate dense and narrow gamma-ray beams of the energies required to see the process" of light turning into matter, said lead study author Oliver Pike, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London. "Also, if you use a two-beam approach, even if you could produce electrons and positrons, they would fly off in all manner of directions."
Past experiments have transformed light into matter, but all these required the additional presence of massive, high-energy particles, or required more than seven photons to create a pair of electrons and positrons, "clearly a more complex process," Pike said.Now scientists investigating unrelated problems in nuclear fusion have worked out a relatively simple way to prove Breit and Wheeler's predictions and convert pure light to matter."Performing this experiment would verify a piece of fundamental physics and demonstrate a very simple process seen throughout high-energy astrophysics," Pike told Live Science.Pike and his colleagues were investigating a form of nuclear fusion involving a technique known as inertial confinement, where fuel pellets are compressed at very high temperatures and pressures to force the hydrogen atomsinside to fuse. This strategy involves a tiny gold pipe called a hohlraum, which is German for "empty room.""Very high-energy laser beams first strike the inside surface of the gold hohlraum, causing it to re-emit X-rays," Pike said. "These then blast away the plastic capsule of the pellet and implode the hydrogen inside."The scientists were looking for applications of hohlraums outside their traditional role in fusion energy research. After a few hours of research in a tiny lab office, "we were astonished to find they provided the perfect conditions for creating a photon collider," Pike said.
The experiment they proposed involves two key stages. In the first stage, scientists would use an extremely powerful high-intensity laser to excite electrons to just below the speed of light. These electrons would then get fired at a slab of gold, blasting out a beam of gamma rays packing a billion times more energy than visible light. [10 Implications of Faster-than-Light Travel]The next stage of the experiment involves a hohlraum, a tiny gold can. Researchers would fire a high-energy laser at the inner surface of this gold can so that it glows hot with X-rays."The technology simply didn't exist for us to create light like this in 1934," Pike said. "I think it's amazing that it's possible to create a photon collider using lasers that exist today."Investigators would fire the beam of gamma rays from the first stage of the experiment into one end of the hohlraum right through its center. The light from both sources would smash together in this "photon-photon collider" and generate electrons and positrons. These newly made particles would not scatter off in motley directions as they would with a two-beam approach — instead, they'd zip out the other end of the hohlraum in a beam, "making them much easier to detect," Pike said.
The scientists are now talking with other research groups to perform the experiment."As our scheme can be implemented straightforwardly at various laser facilities, we are hopeful that this will happen very soon," Pike said. "Further into the future, it may possible to create other particles with this kind of photon collider, but we will have to wait for lasers to be more powerful first."The scientists detailed their findings online Sunday (May 18) in the journal Nature Photonics.
Movie Release This Week:
The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past - to save our future.
After a disastrous blind date, single parents Lauren and Jim agree on only one thing: they never want to see each other again. But when they each sign up separately for a fabulous family vacation with their kids, they are all stuck sharing a suite at a luxurious African safari resort for a week in “Blended,” the third comedy collaboration between stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore
Retirement at last! Middle-aged and divorced, company owner Richard Jones is looking forward to a worry-free existence as he arrives at his office on his last day of work. Much to his dismay, he discovers that the management buyout of his company was fraudulent. The company is now bankrupt and the employee pension fund — including his own — has been embezzled. Enlisting the help of his ex-wife Kate, Richard sets out to track down the shady businessman behind the fraud...
Dutch Resistance fighter Hans Poley in World War II, found refuge at Corrie ten Boom's house. Hans defies the new Nazi commandant and escapes with his life. He takes refuge in Corrie ten Boom's house, which is crowded with Jewish refugees and becomes part of her teen age army. Hans gets a false identity and joins the Dutch Resistance. As the Nazis commit atrocity after atrocity, the danger for Hans and his new compatriots increases tenfold.
As the year 1777 opens, King Jeong-jo enters the second year of his reign, which is consistently under threat from the opposing Noron and Soron factions. To successfully defend his royal power, Jeong-jo draws upon his stores of courage and relies heavily on his loyal servant Sang-chaek. In a shocking twist, Sang-chaek turns out to be an assassin who was sent into service in order to kill Jeong-jo. After witnessing King Jeong-jo's capacity to justly rule the people, however, Sang-chaek comes clean about his true identity, and is banished from the court. As he leaves the palace, however, his eye catches sight of Sal-soo, the deadliest assassin in Joseon. Sang-chaek frantically returns to the court, only to find Sal-soo locked in combat with Jeong-jo.
Political News This week:
1) Sharif, Karzai among 3,000 invitees for Modi's swearing in:
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is among the foreign leaders invited to Narendra Modi's swearing-in as prime minister on May 26 which Afghan President Hamid Karzai has decided to attend.Sharif and Karzai are among the leaders who have been extended verbal invitation and Karzai has already accepted the same, sources said. This will be followed by written invitation, they said.
However, there was no clarity on who has been invited for the swearing-in ceremony at the forecourt of the historic Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi which will be attended by over 3,000 guests.
Modi will be administered the oath as 15th prime minister of the country by President Pranab Mukherjee. The Bharatiya Janata Party had a landslide victory in the just-concluded polls to elect members of the 16th Lok Sabha and crossed the majority mark of 272 in the 543-member House on its own for the first time in its histor
2) Modi resigns, Anandiben Patel to be new CM of Gujarat:
Gujarat Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel was on Wednesday elected leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party Legislature Party, who will succeed PM-designate Narendra Modi as chief minister of the state.73-year-old Patel's name was proposed and adopted unanimously at a meeting of the Legislature Party in the presence of Modi, who had moments earlier resigned as the chief minister. Modi's close aide Amit Shah and BJP General Secretary Thavar Chand Ghelot were also present at the meeting.
Modi, the longest-serving chief minister of the state, who led BJP to a spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections, will take over as prime minister on Monday.Anandiben Patel will be the first woman chief minister of Gujarat. In her acceptance speech, Patel turned emotional and thanked Modi and others for making her the chief minister.
Patel, considered to be very close to Modi, is minister of Revenue and Urban Development in the Modi government. She was also a minister in the government of Modi's predecessor Keshubhai Patel.A school teacher by profession, she had left her job to join politics.
3) Kejriwal refuses to seek bail, sent to Tihar jail till May 23:
Arvind Kejriwal was on Wednesday arrested and sent to Tihar jail till May 23 by a Delhi court after he refused to furnish bail bond in a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nitin Gadkari.
“Take him into custody,” Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha ordered after the Aam Aadmit Party leader and former Delhi chief minister repeatedly refused to furnish a personal bail bond of Rs 10,000 and a surety of like amount.“In these circumstances as the accused has refused to furnish bail bond or even personal bond without surety, this court is constrained to take the accused into custody. Let the accused be sent to judicial custody and be produced before the court on May 23,” the magistrate said.
Kejriwal was summoned as an accused by the court in the defamation complaint in which Gadkari had alleged that he was defamed by the AAP leader, who had included his name in the party’s list of ‘India’s most corrupt’.After the court pronounced its order, Kejriwal was taken into lock up inside the court premises amid tight security and later taken to Tihar jail.
The magistrate, in her three-page order, also observed that the procedure of courts cannot be thrown to the winds at the whims and fancies of the litigants. “The court cannot act as a mute spectator when a particular litigant intentionally seeks to violate the procedure established by law. This case cannot be dealt with any differently than any other criminal cases where the courts insist on furnishing bail bond/personal bond to secure the presence of the accused persons. The accused in the present case cannot seek differential treatment to be let off only on an oral undertaking in violation/divergence to the settled practice/procedure regarding bail,” the court said.The court, in its order, also said that this was not a case where the accused is unable to furnish bail bond due to financial inability. “The accused is just adamant to not furnish bail bond or even a personal bond for his appearance before the court,” it said. The court reserved its order in the morning after hearing arguments from the counsel for Kejriwal and Gadkari on the issue of filing of undertaking and not furnishing bond to secure bail.Kejriwal said he was ready to give an undertaking that he will appear before the court but refused to furnish bail bond to secure bail. During the argument earlier in the day, the court asked if the AAP leader was looking for ‘some exceptional treatment’.The magistrate observed, “I completely agree but why he (Kejriwal) will not furnish bail bond. What is the problem? There is a procedure and why should we follow different procedure in this case.Kejriwal, who also argued in the court, told the judge that he has not committed any heinous crime and added that he was not looking for any exceptional treatment. “This is my principle that when I have not done anything wrong, I will not seek bail. I am ready to go to jail,” he said.
Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Rahul Mehra, who appeared for Kejriwal, told the magistrate that these cases are of political nature and as per the principle of AAP, they will not furnish bail bond. Bhushan also argued that there was no possibility that Kejriwal would tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses and filing of undertaking was correct.
4 ) Indian consulate attacked in Afghanistan, Karzai calls Modi:
The Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Herat was on Friday attacked by heavily-armed gunmen. The assault, which began at 3.25 am, has been on for several hours.
All the four gunmen, who had stormed the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's Herat province early on Friday, have been gunned down, Indo-Tibetan Border Police chief Subhas Goswami said. "One terrorist was killed by ITBP personnel while three have been killed by Afghan forces. The attack has been successfully repulsed," he said.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai called Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi and assured that Afghanistan will do all to protect India's Missions there.Modi condemned the attack in Herat and said he is closely monitoring the situation. Modi said he spoke to Indian Ambassador in Afghanistan Amar Sinha following the attack earlier in the day.
"I condemn the attack on our consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Closely monitoring the situation. I have spoken to the ambassador as well," he tweeted.Goswami also said that security at the Indian embassy in Kabul and consulates in Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Khandhar besides Herat has been beefed up and a high alert sounded to all Indian assets based across Afghanistan.
"We have been on alert. Our sister agencies have been providing intelligence inputs regularly about sabotage activities against us in Afghanistan. We have asked all our units to be on alert and vigilant," Goswami told PTI.No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. India has invested in some major infrastructure projects in Afghanistan like Salma hydroelectric dam in Herat province and the Afghan parliament building in Kabul.India's development assistance programme for Afghanistan currently stands at $2 billion, making it the leading donor nation among all regional countries.
Afghanistan has experienced a rise in the Taliban attacks as foreign troops plan to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of the year.Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also strongly condemned the attack. Dr Singh, who was briefed on the incident, expressed relief that all staff and security personnel at the consulate are safe. "I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on the Consulate General of India in Herat. We are greatly relieved that all staff and security personnel at the consulate are safe," he said.
Lauding the bravery of Afghan security forces and the Indian security detail at the consulate, Singh said no words of gratitude would be enough for the bravery and skill with which the attack was repulsed."I also thank the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for their prompt and decisive response, and for their unstinting support over the years for the security of Indians in Afghanistan," he said.Dr Singh said such attacks would neither succeed in undermining the close relations between India and Afghanistan, nor deter India from fulfilling its commitment to help the Afghan people in building a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.The outgoing PM said India will continue to support Afghanistan in its "brave fight" against terrorism.
Afghan ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali said the incident will only "embolden" his country's determination to keep the friendship with India "at all costs".Observing that the pre-dawn assault was an attack on the friendship of India and Afghanistan, he said, "I can tell you very confidently that this attack can only embolden our determination that we will keep this friendship at all costs," he said.Replying to a query, Abdali said that there was little doubt that it was a "terrorist" incident but it was too early to determine who was behind it."There is no doubt that it is a terrorist incident but technically speaking we have to wait to investigate this incident," he said.In August last year, a failed bombing against the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad city near the border with Pakistan killed nine people, including six children. No Indian officials were hurt. The Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked twice in 2008 and 2009 that left 75 people dead.
5) India's last terror module shut down, but.:
At a Bhopal court, several SIMI members shouted slogans: Jai Taliban, ab Modi teri baari.
In Kozhikode, posters giving a call for jihad were pasted on walls.Ansar Al-Tawheed fi Bilad Al-Hind (the supporters of monotheism in the land of India) made an appeal to the Al Qaeda and Taliban to come forward and protect Indian Muslims.At Gujarat's Sabarmati jail there was yet another attempt to free SIMI head Safdar Nagori. A website being operated from Tokelau Island in New Zealand revealed a prison break plan to free operatives of the banned outfit.
The last 15 days has seen some hectic activity among terror groups. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Narendra Modi, who tops the target list of these extremist organisations, is all set to take over as prime minister? Or are these just desperate moves by outfits as their leading men are trapped in the police net?The arrests of four terror suspects including that of Students Islamic Movement of India operative Haider Ali on Wednesday marked the end of the last organised terror module in the country. This has sent operatives in a tizzy and they are desperate to strike back, said investigators. The real intent is to re-build and terror operatives are using their ‘hatred’ towards Modi to unite like-minded radicals, they added.An Intelligence Bureau official told rediff.com that these are clear signs of desperation. “Wednesday’s arrests came as a deathly blow to the only active terror module operating in the country now. It all started with the arrests of Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Assadullah Akthar. Then came the arrests of Tehsin Akhtar and Waqas Ahmad, which forced the Indian Mujahideen to shut down another major module.” The arrests of Shakir Hussain, the Sri Lankan operative involved in the attacked on an express train in Chennai on May 1, and his aide in Malaysia foiled a major plan by the Inter-Services Intelligence trying to target India through the south, according to the Intelligence Bureau.
The arrests of key terror operatives has comes as a set back to their outfits, but the threat is not over yet. “Pakistan’s ISI is keen to back homegrown terror outfits. Meanwhile, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba continues to remain active, but the attacks that they plan largely depend on what policy the Pakistan intelligence and military want to adopt,” an IB officer said. “Take the case of the 26/11 attack. The plan was given a go-ahead to keep the Lashkar engaged as many had threatened to quit and join the Taliban for the Afghanistan battle,”Some of the deadliest IM and SIMI operatives like Alamzeb Afridi, Shadab Baig, Bada Sajid and Sultan Armar continue to receive training in Pakistan. Most wanted terrorists Riyaz Bhatkal, Amir Reza Khan and Iqbal Bhatkal, who are taking cover in Paksitan, can resurrect the IM and the SIMI, IB warned. The intelligence agency claimed to track at least five students from Chennai, who have gone off the radar and are training in Syria.What is even more worrying is that groups such as the Al Qaeda and Taliban are taking keen interest in the terror operations in Indian affairs. If these terror groups sound a war cry, there is 99 out of a 100 chance that misguided youth will fall into their trap and take the path of terror, the IB officer warned.
6) LS elections: 165 re-elected MPs are multi-millionaires:
National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms have analysed the affidavits of 165 MPs who were elected again in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
According to affidavits analysed, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shatrughan Sinha has declared a maximum increase in assets of Rs 116.73 crore -- from Rs 15 crore in 2009 to Rs 131.74 crore in 2014.
The average assets of members of Parliament elected in 2009 was Rs 5.38 crore, and in 2014 the same re-elected MPs have an assets average of Rs 12.78 crore. The average assets of these re-elected MPs in 2009 were at Rs 5.38 crore, and in 2014, the figure is at Rs 12.78 crore.
Special Coverage: Election 2014
The average asset growth for these MPs, between the Lok Sabha Elections of 2009 and 2014 is Rs 7.40 croreAssets of Pinaki Mishra of the Biju Janata Dal have increased by Rs 107.40 crore -- from Rs 29.69 crore in 2009 to Rs 137.09 crore in 2014. Assets of Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party, have risen by Rs 62.37 crore, from Rs 51.53 crore in 2009 to Rs 113.90 crore in 2014.
Seventy-one re-elected MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves in 2014. Out of these, 13 (18 per cent) have shown an increase in the number of self-declared criminal cases in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from the previous elections.Out of 71 re-elected MPs who have declared criminal cases against themselves, 21 (30 per cent) have declared criminal cases in 2014 when they had declared no criminal cases in 2009.Ramshankar Katheria of the BJP has declared the highest increase in criminal cases -- from zero self-declared criminal cases in 2009 -- to 21 self-declared criminal cases in 2014.Raju Shetty of the Swabhimani Paksha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress have both shown an increase in criminal cases. Shetty had declared zero criminal cases in 2009 and has declared 12 criminal cases in 2014, while Chowdhury had declared four criminal cases in 2009 and has declared 16 criminal cases in 2014.Out of 71 re-elected MPs who have declared criminal cases, 18 have shown a decrease in criminal cases in 2014 from the previous elections.?
7) Bihar CM wins trust vote after BJP walkout:
The three-day-old Jitan Ram Manjhi government in Bihar won the trust vote in the state assembly amid walkout by opposition the Bharatiya Janata Party.The confidence motion moved by Manjhi was passed by members at a special session by voice vote.In the state assembly, whose effective strength presently is 237, the Manjhi-government managed getting the support of 145 legislators.
After winning the trust vote comfortably, a happy Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday said he would soon expand his cabinet. “Cabinet will be expanded soon,” Manjhi said outside the assembly after winning the confidence.He, however, did not mention the date for carrying out the expansion and merely said “soon.” The CM said his cabinet will be expanded to its maximum limit of 35.All the 15 ministers in the Nitish Kumar cabinet found berth in the Manjhi government.
Amid accusations from the Bharatiya Janata Party of an immoral alliance between the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress to stick to power and keep the BJP out, Manjhi said he never asked for support from Lalu Prasad’s party who voted for his three-day old ministry on its own.
“I had support of 124 legislators, including four of Congress, against the magic figure of 118 in the House whose effective strength at present is 237... there was no problem in my ways to win trust vote... but since RJD voted for me in the name of social justice I thank them,” Manjhi said.
Asked if coming together of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar after 20 years would continue in future also, the Bihar CM said, “These are issues of future.”Manjhi expressed fullsome praise for former chief minister Nitish Kumar who chose him as his successor. “Nitish Kumar’s love for weaker sections was no show off... you all are witness to the episode when he had offered his own chair to ‘mountainman’ Dasrath Manjhi credited with carving out roads through mountains in Gaya,” he said.
8) Mamata to skip Modi swearing-in, will send 2 TMC leaders:
Ending the suspense, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she will be skipping Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on May 26 and will be sending state Finance Minister Amit Mitra and party general secretary Mukul Roy.
“A letter from PM-designate Narendra Modi to the chief inister inviting her to attend the swearing-in reached the state secretariat today. Amit Mitra and Mukul Roy will attend the swearing-in on behalf of the chief minister since she has a pre-scheduled programme on that day to celebrate poet Kazi Nazrul Islam’s birth anniversary,” said Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.In his letter to Banerjee, Modi wrote the ‘people of India have given me an opportunity to serve the country as prime minister. The swearing-in ceremony has been organised at
Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on May 26 at 6 pm. I am writing this to cordially invite you to the swearing-in ceremony. This is also an occasion for me to seek your blessings and good wishes. I will be grateful for early confirmation so that necessary arrangements can be made,’ Modi said in his letter.Banerjee, whose party won 34 seats in the Lok Sabha, had a vitriolic war of words with Modi on the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in the recent Lok Sabha election campaign.
9) Narendra Modi bows as he enters Parliament for first time:
As he stepped into Parliament for the first time, Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi on Tuesday bowed, with his forehead touching the stairs, to register his high respect for the “temple of democracy”.
Soon after arriving at the main gate of the Parliament building, Modi was greeted with bouquet by BJP leaders. After accepting their greetings, Modi touched the ground of the entrance with folded hands.“I visited the Gujarat Chief Minister’s chamber for the first time when I became the Chief Minister. I entered the Gujarat Assembly for the first time after I became the Chief Minister. I have come here also for the first time,” the 63-year-old said later in the historic Central Hall of Parliament.
Speaking after being elected as the leader of BJP Parliamentary Party, he described Parliament as the “temple of democracy” for which he has immense respect.
Hailing India’s democracy, Modi said his elevation to the high post was a reflection of how a common man could aspire and achieve big goals. “A new hope has arisen in the common man. This is the biggest significance of this election results. At the end of the day for whom is the government? It is for the poor,” he said.
He credited party seniors and past generations for the spectacular victory and said Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s presence would have added more joy to the event.
“Had Atal Bihari Vajpayee been well, his presence would have been like ‘sone par suhaga’ (icing on the cake),” he said.
Earlier, all the top BJP leaders warmly greeted Modi in the Central Hall. Modi touched L K Advani’s feet, seeking his blessings.
Sports News This Week:
1) Sunny sees the dark side:
Interim IPL chairman Sunil Gavaskar on Thursday revealed at a press conference that a couple of players have reported suspicious approaches during the ongoing seventh edition.“A couple of players were approached by outsiders during this IPL. The good thing is that we’ve an integrity officer with every team now and if the players are approached, they can directly report (the matter) to the integrity officer,” BCCI’s interim president (IPL) Gavaskar said during a media briefing after a Governing Council meeting in Kolkata on Thursday.
Gavaskar didn’t disclose the names of the players in concern, but it had been reported earlier that Kolkata Knight Riders’ fast bowler Morne Morkel informed the ICC’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) about a “suspicious approach”With three players in Ankit Chavan, Ajit Chandila and former Test pacer S Sreesanth caught in the fixing web which marred the sixth season of the IPL, Gavaskar admitted that it was a challenge for him to restore the tournament’s credibility after he was appointed as the tournament head by the apex court. The former opening batsman claimed that he had his team have worked hard to ensure that cricket takes centre-stage again.
“Yes, it was a challenge. In my very first meeting I told everyone that I wanted this IPL to be remembered solely for cricket. I also sought out Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, the four legends of the game, only on the second day after taking over.
They’re the contemporary cricketers and know the current pressure and situation. We had a fantastic interaction and one thing came through, a lot of youngsters need to be guided about handling the (instant) fame that is attached to the IPL. So far we’ve a very good tournament,” said Gavaskar.He also expressed his serious concern over the ACSU leaks that saw Brendon McCullum’s testimony being accessed by the media. Asked about whether such leaks might make the players iffy in providing details to the ICC in the future, Gavaskar said: “It’s a matter of concern. Obviously players depend on confidentiality while giving such testimonies (to the ACSU). If that confidentiality is encroached upon, then it’s a matter of serious concern.”Details of McCullum’s statement and also former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent’s version to the ACSU were published in Daily Mail earlier this week. McCullum, however, said he still has faith in the ICC and “will continue to fulfill” his role in the investigation. The governing body of world cricket has decided to probe the leaks.
2) IPL 7: Kolkata’s capped crusaders:
Virat Kohli and Yogesh Takawale were stitching together a formidable second-wicket partnership after Chris Gayle had been dismissed leg-before, off an Umesh Yadav delivery that had pitched in the line and moved enough to have missed the leg stump by at least six inches.The Royal Challengers Bangalore captain and the young opener, however, were steadily building up the chase. As Vinay Kumar came on to bowl, in the seventh over of the innings, they upped the ante. Chasing 196 for victory, Bangalore had moved to 72 for one by the end of the tenth over.The Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain Gautam Gambhir sensed the danger and brought on Sunil Narine for his second spell. Gambhir has usually reserved his best bowler for the death overs, but in this case, his move paid instant dividends.
Narine got rid of Kohli in the second over of his second spell. The ball, pushed wide outside the off stump, bounced more than the batsman had anticipated due to Narine’s extra zip. Kohli went for the cut but got a top edge. A diving Morne Morkel at short third-man snapped up the opportunity.Narine also accounted for Takawale in the last ball of that over — an off break that crashed through the gate. Suddenly, Bangalore had been reduced to 93 for three.NARINE AGAINThe partnership of Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers still stood between the Knight Riders and a playoff-clinching victory. Yuvraj had hit Yadav for two sixes and a four in the 16th over and Gambhir called on Narine again.He took just two balls to dismiss Yuvraj — a mistimed drive to a full delivery that dipped sharply ended in an easy catch to Vinay Kumar at long on. De Villiers had his off-stump pegged back by a straight one.On a perfect batting wicket at Eden Gardens, Narine returned with the figures of four for 20 in four overs. He became the new holder of the Purple Cap in the process, with an overall tally of 20 wickets from 13 matches.Robin Uthappa, as has been customary this season, was the team’s batting hero. He took over Glenn Maxwell mantle of being the highest scorer this season during his 51-ball 83 (10X4, 1X6) to take possession of the Orange Cap. he now has 572 runs from 13 matches at a strike-rate of 137.50.
After Kolkata were sent in by Kohli, Uthappa scored his fifth half-century of this IPL to garner another Man of the Match award. Gambhir was caught down the leg side off Mitchell Starc off the fifth ball. Manish Pandey (13), too, got out early while Yusuf Pathan gifted his wicket away, going for a non-existent single. Thanks to Uthappa’s hitting though, Kolkata never slowed down. His timing was impeccable and he used his feet against Yuzvendra Chahal and Muttiah Muralitharan. SHAKIB CARNAGE
Shakib Al Hasan (60, 38 balls) provided the late surge. After 14 overs, Kolkata were 117 for three when the carnage began. Shakib took 24 runs off the 15th over, bowled by Chahal, with three sixes and a four to set his team on course for a very imposing total.Kolkata finished at 195 for four in 20 overs and Bangalore a top-heavy team, did not get their balance right and fell 30 runs short to crash out of the tournament. In the background, a capacity crowd at the Eden Gardens celebrated Kolkata’s sixth win on the bounce and their march to the play-offs.
3) Luis Suarez undergoes surgery, not out of World Cup:
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Thursday, but is expected to recover in time for the World Cup.The mother of the 27-year-old Liverpool striker told The Associated Press that Suarez had successful surgery to repair cartilage damage.“The surgery is over and thank God everything went well. What Luis had wasn’t as serious as we thought,” Suarez’s mother, Sandra Diaz, told the AP, she said shortly after speaking to him on the phone. She said he remains in the hospital but is in good spirits. “He’s very well. He’s going to play the World Cup,” said Diaz, who was taking care of the striker’s children while he underwent surgery.
The Uruguayan football association released a statement later saying Suarez began feeling an uncomfortable pain in his left knee during his last Premier League game and he felt sharp pain again when he was training with the national team on Wednesday. He underwent a magnetic resonance scan that confirmed cartilage injury.
“This morning he underwent an arthroscopy to repair his meniscus … No other injuries were found in his knee,” the football association said. “His participation in the World Cup in Brazil is not ruled out.”The surgery was carried out at the Medica Uruguaya hospital in Montevideo. According to Suarez’s sister, the striker is expected to be out for 2-3 weeks. Uruguay plays its first match at the World Cup against Costa Rica on June 14. The team will then face England on June 19 and Italy on June 24.“The problem is that these days he won’t be able to play, and will only be able to do physiotherapy,” Giovanna Suarez said.
Suarez trained with his teammates on Wednesday morning but he was absent from the field in the afternoon. The Uruguayan football association said at the time that he had been working out at the gym.Suarez, is expected to be Uruguay’s main threat at the World Cup. He had his best season with Liverpool, scoring a league-leading 31 goals, and was voted player of the year in England by the player’s association. He’s widely considered one of the world’s top players, just a notch below Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Portugal.But he has had his troubles.He missed the start of this season, sitting out the remainder of a 10-game suspension for biting an opponent last season. He also served an eight-game ban for racially abusing a rival player in the Premier League.Suarez scored three goals at the 2010 World Cup, and added four when Uruguay won the 2011 Copa America in Argentina. He was named player of the tournament.
4) India one win away from Uber Cup final:
Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu came up with contrasting victories in the first two singles to put the Indian women’s team 2-0 ahead of Japan in their maiden semifinal of Uber Cup Badminton tournament in New Delhi on Friday.Olympic bronze medallist Saina gave India a positive start when she produced a dominating performance to get across world number 12 Minatsu Mitani in 41 minute match.World championship bronze winner, Sindhu then displayed her brilliance with yet another edge-of-the seat victory over world No 13 Sayaka Takahashi 19-21 21-18 26-24 in an energy-sapping one hour and 12 minutes match at the Siri Fort stadium.Saina dominated the proceedings right from the start and lead 11-6 at the interval. things didn’t change much after the break as Saina kept engaging her rival in rallies and waited for Mitani to commit mistakes to eventually pocket the game with a smart dribble at the net.In the second game, Mitani managed to open up a small 6-3 lead but Saina soon surged ahead with a couple of smashes to lead 9-8 and had her nose ahead at the break at 11-8.Saina came up with a series of sharp cross court smashes to extend the lead and finally sealed the issue rather comfortably when Mitani hit wide.After Saina’s victory, a lot was expected from Sindhu and the teen sensational delivered once again in style. In a battle of nerves, both the shuttlers struggled to control the shuttle and committed many unforced errors.While Sayaka lost more than a dozen points at the nets, Sindhu erred in her judgement of the shuttle and gave away points when she could not reach the shuttle at the forecourt. However, in the end it was Sindhu who had the last laugh.
In the first game, world No 13 Sayaka opened up a 9-6 lead early on but Sindhu repaired the deficit and went into the interval with a slender 11-10 lead. However, Sayaka clawed back with a mid-court smash at 16-16 and wrested back the lead when Sindhu hit long.In the end, Sindhu hit long and found the net to hand over the game to Sayaka.
The second game was another fierce battle of supremacy as both the shuttlers fought hard but it was Sayaka who had a slender 11-10 lead at the interval. But after the breather, the duo moved from 11-11 to 19-18 when Sayaka hit the net and long as Sindhu took he game to the decider.The decider witnessed long rallies and mixed her drops and tosses well to lead7-2 but Sayaka upped her net game and used her angled returns and soft lifts to lead 9-8 before moving into the break with a 11-8 lead.
Sindhu rode once again on Sayaka’s series of unforced errors to not only claw back but also lead 17-13 after the breather.However, a couple of error in judging the shuttle by Sindhu and a brilliant rally which Sayaka ended with a cross court flick helped her to draw parity at 17-17. Sindhu then won a line review call and made a judgement call to move to 19-17 but few errors from the Indian and the left-hander reached the match point at 20-19.Sindhu saved a point and then earned one match point with a soft tap. What came next was a grueling battle as Sindhu conceded four match points before finally prevailing over Sayaka when the Japanese hit the net.
5) England players get a sweat on in Portugal:
England’s World Cup squad have been training in sweat vests in Portugal as coach Roy Hodgson prepares them for the heat they will encounter in their opening match against Italy in the Brazilian city of Manaus.Experts from Loughborough University are also monitoring players at the base in Vale Do Lobo. “It’s about learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Hodgson told the BBC.
“We tested how much they sweat, how they will be able to recover and what can be done to help.”England’s opening match in the northern Amazon city of Manaus is causing particular concern as heat and humidity levels are likely to be intense.Temperatures at Vale Do Lobo are mild in comparison but players are wearing several levels of clothing, while special pads monitor how much they are sweating.When manager of Switzerland preparing for the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, Hodgson used saunas to try and replicate the conditions his players would face.“Compare that to what we are doing now and it was an unbelievably amateurish performance,” Hodgson said.
After facing Italy, England play Uruguay in Sao Paulo, where temperatures are predicted to be far lower, while their last group matches is Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte, where heat and altitude could both be factors.
Book Of This Week:
Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times : By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay:
Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times focuses on the life of Narendra Modi, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for the fourth time, on 26th December 2012. The book explores the various facets to Modi's personality, from him being accused of murder, to being applauded for bringing about development. Modi has been blamed for bringing about a virtual separation between Gujarat and the rest of India, even though he has managed to win the necessary elections to stay alive in a democracy.
This book has been written, after a good amount of in-depth research on Narendra Modi. The author has traveled to various places in order to gather the necessary information. The book explores various lesser-known facts about Narendra Modi, such as his meek upbringing.
As a young boy, Narendra Modi used to sell tea to help his father out. He also used to help a political letter by distributing badges and chanting slogans, to garner support for him. After all this, Modi left behind all that he had and the people who mattered to him, in search of his own identity. That was what led to his entry into the RSS, which was later followed by his rise to fame, after the Godhra riots of 2002. This book offers you a deep understanding of what really brought about the fame and success that Narendra Modi enjoys today.This book Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times has been published by Tranquebar in the year 2013 and is available in hardcover.
The book gives you exclusive information about Narendra Modi's upbringing and rise to fame.
This book tries its best to discover the reasons for the contrary opinions that the world has about Modi.
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay (born October 9, 1961 in Chandan Nagaris, India) is an Indian journalist. After dropping out of college, he drifted into journalism and since 1981 has delved into print, television and Internet journalism. Based in Delhi for most of his professional career, he is known for his biting analysis on contemporary Indian politics with specialization on 'Hindu politics' in India. He has written The Demolition: India At The Crossroads which was published by HarperCollins in 1994, barely 13 months after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He has plans to write another book on the changing character of Indian politics. He has also written extensively for most leading Indian newspapers and magazines besides having worked for some of them. He currently heads Qualitent Research Group that specializes in B2B operations in the world of media. His company is a service provider for Lok Sabha Television Channel and Doordarshan News. His company has also launched the website - newstomorrow.co.in - that is aimed at being a forward planning tool for people in the business of news. He hopes someday to conduct his entire business from a small cottage in the Himalayas