Qatar offers visa-free entry to India, 79 other nations amid Gulf crisis

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy took a hit since Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain moved to isolate it

Qatar announced on Wednesday it was scrapping visa requirements for visitors from 80 countries as it weathers a boycott by four Arab states and gears up to host the World Cup in 2022.

Under the new policy announced by Qatar Airways and authorities, citizens of 33 mostly European countries can enter without a visa for 90 days in single or multiple trips during a 180-day period.

Americans, Britons, Canadians and citizens of 44 other countries can enter visa-free for an initial 30 days on single or multiple trips, and can extend that for a further 30 days.

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy has taken a hit since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain moved to isolate it two months ago over allegations it supports extremists.

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The quartet of Arab nations is particularly irked by Qatar’s ties with Iran and its support of Islamist opposition groups. Qatar denies it backs terror groups and says the allegations against Doha are politically motivated.

The four countries cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June, and barred Qatar from using their airspace and shipping lanes.

In a related development, the UAE and Bahrain today sought to clarify a statement made the day before by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which said both countries had agreed to open up some of their airspace, including new “temporary or contingency” routes, for Qatar Airways.

The two, in statements carried on the UAE’s and Bahrain’s state-run news agencies, said that they had not agreed to open up their airspace in full to Qatari flights but to only allow Qatari aircraft to use their airspace located above international waters.

M&M Q1 profit down 20% as car sales slowed ahead of GST

Excluding the impact of GST that kicked in from July 1, the company earned a profit of Rs 8.60 bn

Company News : Homegrown auto major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) today reported 19.79 per cent decline in its standalone profit after tax (PAT) to Rs 765.96 crore for the first quarter of the current financial year as sales were hit by GST transition.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd posted an about 20 per cent fall in quarterly profit on Friday, missing estimates, as sales growth in passenger vehicles slowed ahead of the transition to a new nationwide tax.

The company had posted a profit after tax (PAT) of Rs 954.95 crore during April-June period of last financial year.

Excluding the impact of the Goods and Services Tax that kicked in from July 1, the company earned a profit of Rs 8.60 billion.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 8.93 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Revenue from operations during the first quarter of 2017 -18 stood at Rs 12,335.56 crore, up 3.29 per cent from Rs 11,942.9 crore the year-ago period, M&M said in a regulatory filing.

The company’s vehicle sales were at 1,12,293 units during the first quarter. It sold 81,270 tractor units during the period under review.

Elaborating on the quarterly performance, M&M said the automotive industry was impacted due to impending transition to Goods and Service Tax in the first quarter of 2017-18.

Passenger vehicles sales were adversely impacted in anticipation of a price reduction in the new tax regime and reported a nominal growth of 4.4 per cent, it said. Read more

Now, you can link your Aadhaar with PAN through an SMS

Said linking the two numbers is key to ‘seamlessly avail online, a world of income tax facilities’

The Income Tax Department on Wednesday urged taxpayers to link their Aadhaar with their PAN, using an SMS-based facility.

The department issued advertisements in leading national dailies and described how both the unique identity numbers of an individual can be linked by sending an SMS to either 567678 or 56161.

It said people can also visit the official e-filing website of the department to link the two identities, in both the cases– identical names in the two databases or in case where there is a minor mismatch.

It said linking the two numbers is the key to “seamlessly avail online, a world of income tax facilities.”

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“Aadhaar can also be seeded into PAN database by quoting Aadhaar in PAN application form for new PAN allotment or by quoting Aadhaar in change request form used for reprint of PAN card,” it said in the advertisement.

The Income-Tax-department had early this month launched a new e-facility to link a person’s Aadhaar with the Permanent Account Number(PAN), a mandatory procedure for filing I-T returns now.

The department’s e-filing website has hosted a new link on its homepage to link the two unique identities.

The link requires a person to punch in his PAN number, Aadhaar number and the exact name as given in the Aadhaar card. Read More

Bollywood’s smiling mom Reema Lagoo passes away in Mumbai

Lagoo, who had played on screen mother to Salman and Shah Rukh, died of a cardiac arrest, she was 59

Actress Reema Lagoo, best known for playing the modern-day Bollywood mother in films such as “Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!” and “Kal Ho Na Ho”, passed away at a hospital here today. She was 59.

Lagoo, who came to represent the antithesis of the mournful white sari-clad mother of Hindi cinema through her roles, died of a cardiac arrest in the early hours of the morning at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.

She was admitted to the hospital late last night after she complained of chest pain, the hospital’s Executive Director Ram Narain told PTI.

She is survived by her daughter Mrunmayee, who is also a theatre and film actress as well as a theatre director.

From Amitabh to Aamir, Madhuri Dixit, Bollywood mourns Reema Lagoo’s sudden demise

Lagoo’s son-in-law Vinay Waikul told PTI, “She was complaining of chest pain so we took her to the hospital at around 1 AM. She passed away due to a heart attack around 3.15 AM.

“She was perfectly fine and had no health issues… So it is really shocking for all of us that she is no more with us.”

Tributes poured in as the news of her sudden death spread.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi remembered Lagoo as a versatile actor who left a big impact in the film and TV world. “Her demise is saddening. My deepest condolences,” he tweeted.

Born in Mumbai, Lagoo’s acting career spanned almost four decades. She started her career with Marathi theatre.

She was just 30 when she came to the limelight as Juhi Chawla’s mother in Mansoor Khan’s hit film “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”. Read more

New Year ‘detox’ may put your life at risk: experts

Health – New Year ‘detox’ may put your life at risk: experts

Breaking News : New Year ‘detox’ may do more harm than good, warn doctors after a woman in the UK who was drinking lots of fluids and taking various herbal remedies developed a potentially life-threatening complication.

Doctors from Milton Keynes Hospital in the UK said that patients should be advised of the potential harm of undertaking a New Year ‘detox’, especially if it involves consuming excessive amounts of fluid or alternative remedies.

The previously fit and well 47-year-old woman had been consuming more fluids and herbal medicines than usual, including valerian root, over the New Year period.

She was admitted to hospital following a brief period of confusion and repetitive behaviour, such as teeth grinding, which lasted for an hour. She then collapsed and suffered a seizure.

Her family said that she had increased thirst over the past few days and had been drinking more water and tea as a result, but they did not note this to be excessive.

She had also been taking herbal remedies for various minor symptoms and was regularly consuming milk thistle, molkosan, l-theanine, glutamine, vitamin B compound, vervain, sage tea, green tea and valerian root. (more)

Surgical strikes achieve tactical closure, not strategic detente: Former NATGRID CEO

Surgical strikes achieve tactical closure, not strategic detente: Former NATGRID CEO

Military power is never about the number of troops, tanks, ships or aircrafts. If military power was all a country needed to establish superiority, America would not have been beaten by Vietnam, the Soviet Union would not have been routed by Afghan tribes and the juggernaut that is the Indian Army would not have been held at bay by a few thousand Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

A country’s military power is actually determined by a combination of economic realities, governance frameworks, national will and strategic thinking – which work together to deliver a punch worthy of its weight.

Surgical strikes : Comparing India’s military power to Pakistan’s from this perspective actually yields a startling conclusion.

In 1999, Pakistan’s army chief at the time was mid-air when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to sack him. Denied permission to land in Pakistan and faced with the option of making an emergency landing on Indian soil, the sacked general decided to land in Karachi anyway. He communicated his orders to his military subordinates through the civilian aviation channel and by the time his plane landed, Pervez Musharraf was firmly back in the saddle while Sharif had been toppled off his. That is the power of the Pakistani military.

Now compare the Pakistani army’s swiftness to India’s handling of the Kandahar hijacking in 1999. When the Indian Airlines flight was taken over by terrorists and parked in Amritsar over the course of its long journey, the Indian establishment could not decide between blocking the aircraft’s departure or letting it go. That ambivalence cost India the advantage it had in being able to control events happening on its own turf.Read more.

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Sell-by date of Pakistan’s anachronistic approach over: India

Sell-by date of Pakistan’s anachronistic approach over: India

The “sell-by date” of Pakistan’s “anachronistic approach” is long over and the country should “abandon” its “futile quest” for Kashmir, India has said in a strong rebuttal to Islamabad’s allegations that New Delhi is escalating the current situation.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin strongly rejected remarks by Pakistan’s envoy Maleeha Lodhi, who said during a General Assembly debate on ‘Report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organisation’ that India has created conditions that pose a threat to peace and security in the region by its recent “declarations and actions.”

Akbaruddin responded sharply by saying that Pakistan’s claims in the UN are finding no resonance and it should abandon its quest for Kashmir, which is an integral part of India.

“Our response to Pakistan is consistent. Abandon your futile quest. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so,” Akbaruddin said asserting that no amount of “misuse” of international platforms by Pakistan will change that reality.

“The sell-by date of Pakistan’s anachronistic approach is long over,” he said on Wednesday.

Akbaruddin said claims by Pakistan, a global epicenter of terrorism, on Kashmir find no resonance amongst the international community, with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raising the Kashmir issue in his General Assembly address also finding no support.Read more