India, in real time

India is a country on the go; at any given moment in time, there is much happening in the fields of politics and governance, of finance, of development; there is constant churning in society, considerable activity in sports and in the arts... It's almost too much to keep track of. And hence, this effort: a real-time, constantly updated look at the events that matter. We bring you all the latest on these and other stories.

Also, if you have any stories, videos/photos or even suggestions that you'd like to share, you can get in touch with us at indiaeditors@yahoo.in


9.45 pm:
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) must charge sheet the entire family of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, not just his daughter Kanimozhi and managing director of Kalaignar TV Sharad Kumar, AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa said.

9.15 pm:
Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, a member of the joint drafting committee on the Lokpal Bill, today said that he would not like to continue in his chair after the expiry of his five-year term in August.

8.35 pm:
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed the state unit of NDA to set up a task force comprising ruling coalition members to help the state government in its drive against corruption in the state.

8.10 pm:
Campaigning for the third round of the six-phase West Bengal assembly elections ended Monday, as the state geared up for polling in 75 constituencies spread across three districts Wednesday.

7.35 pm:
Congress today dismissed any threat to the UPA coalition in the wake of DMK MP Kanimozhi being made an accused in the 2G case suggesting the government had ''no role, no control'' over CBI investigation.

7.20 pm:
The Congress Monday rejected opposition charges that there had been a delay in the arrest of sacked CWG organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi and said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has allowed the law to take its own course in cases of corruption.

7.00 pm:
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) questioned the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for not naming Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal in the second chargesheet in the 2G spectrum scam, saying the agency should tell if it was facing political pressure.

6.45 pm:
Defence Minister A.K. Antony said the government will seek to end the confusion over the age of Army Chief General VK Singh after analyzing all aspects.

6.30 pm:
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray today said the Maharashtra government should explain to the people the death of a protestor in police firing on anti-nuclear power project demonstrators in Jaitapur.

6.00 pm:
AIDE MEMOIRE: As Guantanamo becomes the subject of the latest revelations (see updates of 2.50 pm and 4.45 pm), this interview by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld assumes risible proportions. Quoting from this story
The "war on terror" prison at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is "one of the finest prison systems in the world," former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. Rumsfeld, who is promoting his autobiography titled "Known and Unknown," praised US military personnel that worked at the site in the interview on FOX News Channel?s Hannity show.
Rumsfeld was defense secretary 2001-2006 under former president George W. Bush. He was replaced as defense secretary by Robert Gates.
"The heart-breaking thing with respect to Guantanamo is not that there?s anything wrong with it, it?s one of the finest prison systems in the world," said Rumsfeld. "What's awkward is the fact that, for whatever reason, the administration was incapable of persuading people that that was a first-class operation, that they were not torturing people, that they were not hurting people," he said. Rumsfeld described it as "a fine operation," and said US military personnel working there have "taken a lot of the heat unfairly" and "deserve a lot of credit" for their work.
5.30 pm: Even as the furor over the 'war crimes' in Sri Lanka grows, ormer UN spokesman Gordon Weiss is quoted as saying the Indian government wanted to see the LTTE destroyed. “The Indian government which wanted to ‘see the Tamil Tigers destroyed’ was ‘fully aware’ of the real situation in the battle zone, including the civilian casualties,” the UN spokesman in Colombo during the peak of the conflict, is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying. “I believe that Indians were aware of the civilian casualties that were happening, because they had pretty good intelligence inside the siege zone,” he told the BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya.

5.15 pm:
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday afternoon formally confirmed the arrest of sacked Commonwealth Games (CWG) Organizing Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi for his alleged role in the AM Films and Swiss Time scams.

Kalmadi, who has been charged with conspiracy and cheating, will be produced in court tomorrow. He also faces charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Here is the full story

CBI arrests Suresh KalmadiCommonwealth Games Organising Committee former chief Suresh Kalmadi has been arrested today in connection with the games scam.



5.00 pm:
Retired Australian bishop Geoffrey Robinson tells Women's Wear Daily that some priests do not view the molestation of boys as a breach of their celibacy vows, and blames the absence of women from church life as a catalyst for the sexual abuse crisis enveloping the faith. Robinson is quoted as saying boys suffered more than girls at the hands of paedophile priests partly because they were more available to them, with nuns tending to play a greater role in the religious education of young girls. Here is the story

4.45 pm:
ISI a terrorist organization? Relations between the US and Pakistan have been strained in recent times, prompting a high-level delegation from the US, headed by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, to travel to Islamabad last week to try and mend fences. Those relations, however, are apt to be stretched to breaking point thanks to the latest Wikileaks revelations. As various news organizations sift through the massive trove (see our 2.50 pm update), startling new revelations continue to surface. And none of these is as startling was the nugget The Guardian just threw up: The US, says the London-based paper, "listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organization alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence. Interrogators were told to regard any links to any of these as an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity," the report says. It will be recalled that Mullen, who has a reputation for being a bit of a dove on all matters relating to the Pakistani military, had on arrival in Islamabad ruffled feathers when he said the ISI has ongoing and active links to the Haqqani network.

4.25 pm: Sai Baba update: Kul Bhushan, a Nairobi-based newspaper editor, reminisces about Satya Sai Baba's sole trip outside India -- to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, back in 1968. Here is the full story

4.20 pm:
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was today presented before a court in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, in connection with the murder of RSS activist Sunil Joshi. Joshi, a suspect in the Samjhauta Express blast case, was shot dead at Dewas in Madhya Pradesh December 29, 2007. Sadhvi was earlier questioned by the Dewas police in connection with the murder in February, following which her name was added as an accused in the case. Sadhvi Pragya Thakur was brought to court in an ambulance parked inside the court premises. Sadhvi, who reached here today by Mumbai-Indore Awantika Express was unable to climb to the first floor of the court building, where Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Onkarnath Singh sits because of pain in her backbone and inability to stand properly.

4.15 pm:
A group of civil society activists today staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar demanding removal of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan from the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill. Demanding an independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption against the father-son duo, the activists of National RTI Forum said they should be kept out of the committee till the probe against them is over. "There should be an independent high level inquiry into the charges of corruption against against the Bhushans and till the time it is over, they should be kept out of the committee," said Nutan Thakur, convener of National Right To Information (RTI) Forum.

4.10 pm:
More Kalmadi -- this time in the form of humor. Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats on Twitter -- a handle worth following for sharp, cutting political commentary in 140 pithy characters) says that with Kalmadi now in Tihar jail, he can organize a CWG there: The Conmen Wealth Games. Heh!

4.05 pm:
Defense Minister AK Antony has warned top army brass not to "fall prey to corrupt practices by vested interests", even as major deals including the $10.4-billion tender for 126 combat planes enters its final stages. 'Time and cost overruns apart, there is always the danger of falling prey to corrupt practices perpetrated by vested interests in the garb of aggressive marketing. I strongly urge you all to stand guard with resolve against any such overtures," Antony said. "You must strive to uphold sincerity, probity and fair play, even in your day-to-day administrative work." What strikes us is the essential sadness inherent in a situation where a minister has to actually warn the defense heads to stick to the straight and narrow.

4.00 pm:
No sooner does Suresh Kalmadi find himself in jail, than Sports Minister Ajay Maken asks the Indian Olympic Association to elect a new president. "What we have decided here in the Sports Ministry is that as soon as the official arrest of Suresh Kalmadi is announced by the CBI, we are going to write to the IOA that they should elect a new president," Maken said. "The person who is in jail or who has been charge-sheeted, it would not be in the national interest that he should represent the country anymore. As soon as official confirmation of his arrest comes, we are going to request the IOA to elect someone." The minister said he will seek the Attorney General's advice on the issue.

3.50 pm:
Statements fly thick and fast in, and about, West Bengal as the polling process hots up. Home Minister P Chidambaram says the CPI-M has turned the state into a killing field, and also says the Maoists, who are "out of sync", will have no impact on the polls with their boycott call. Ironically, PC is yet to say anything about Trinamool lawlessness, even as reports come in of TMC cadres shooting dead one CPI-M supporter and injuring four others

3.40 pm:
The Khap Panchayats threaten to remain in the news, one way or other. In the latest, the diktat by a local panchayat in Uttarakhand''s Haridwar district prohibiting women from taking up jobs has been withdrawn. "Women in Godawali and Sarai villages of Haridwar district have started going to work in factories in the nearby industrial area after the diktat was withdrawn by the panchayat," District Magistrate, Haridwar, R Meenakshisundaram said. The village panchayat had last week issued the decree banning women from pursuing jobs, saying it was a disgrace to their religion and families. The panchayat had ruled that a woman can go to work only when at least one male member of her family also works at the same place so that she can be escorted by him, and threatened that a woman found offending the decree would be whipped publicly and a fine of Rs 5,100 would be imposed on her family, which would also face social boycott from the community. The story

3:30 pm:
If ever there were a stress test for the uneasy relationship between the Congress and the DMK, it is this. Kanimozhi, the daughter of DMK Chief M Karunanidhi, has today been named by the CBI as a co-conspirator with A Raja in the 2G scam. However, Mr Karunanidhi's wife, Dayalu Ammal, does not feature in the new chargesheet filed by the CBI in a Delhi court today. The concession, sources say, is a result of political pressure though it will formally be attributed to a lack of evidence. The full story

3:10 pm: The cadet who passed out of the National Defence Academy at Kharakwasla was commissioned as an Air Force Pilot, only to join public life and become the right hand man of the rising star in Maharashtra Politics, Sharad Pawar. So much so that he was to head the youth wing of Congress when Pawar engineered a split in the grand old party in late 70s. From then onwards, there was no looking back for Suresh Kalmadi. CNN IBN has the story of Kalmadi's rise and fall, from politics to scams

2:50 pm: Armageddon Alert: Yet another massive document dump by Wikileaks raises the specter of a nuclear "hell storm" if Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is either captured, or killed. 779 secret files, released by Wikileaks under the umbrella name The Guantanamo Files contain details of every one of the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The documents detail the back story behind the capture of each of 780 detainees who have passed through the Cuban facility, and a comprehensive account of the information gleaned from each.

2:40 pm: Our progress towards an Orwellian world continues apace. The IPhone, we are now told, will track your location even if the relevant services are disabled. So what to do? Ditch the phone, depend on the internet for all your information needs? No luck there either -- this report tells us that new technology will enable websites to track you to within a few hundred meters of your location.

2:25 pm: Even as the drafting committee continues to work on the draft Jan Lok Pal Bill, a conference Sunday attended by several members of the committee debated whether the Prime Minister, and the judiciary, should be kept out of the ambit of the law. There is, said Karnataka Lok Ayuktha and drafting committee member Santosh Hegde, broad consensus that while the judiciary should be held accountable, that requires a separate mechanism altogether.

A conference on Lokpal on Sunday felt that higher judiciary should be kept out of the proposed law against corruption but was divided on bringing the Prime Minister under its ambit

2:20 pm: More finger-pointing at Narendra Modi: Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma has alleged that during the 2002 riots he received a call from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi''s office asking him to tell his brother, IPS officer Kuldeep Sharma, to not take action against rioters. Pradeep, who was municipal commissioner of Jamnagar during the 2002 post-Godhra riots and is presently in jail in a land scam case, has made the allegation in a letter to Special Investigation Team (SIT) chairman R K Raghavan and has offered to depose before the agency. The full story

2:10 pm: More on Aarushi Talwar: The Supreme Court, which has deferred hearing in the case to July 12 (see 1.30 PM update) today asked the CBI how it suddenly detected fresh evidence against dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar,  after claiming there was no evidence against them in the murder case of their teenage daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj. "Where from the CBI has become active? Pages after pages you have filed in the trial court submitting that there is nothing against them. Now how could you assume that there is evidence against them? Is it merely because the trial court has taken cognisance," the apex court asked Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam. An apex bench of justices B Sudarshan Reddy and S S Nijjar at one stage also asked the couple what was their hesitation in responding to the summons issued by the trial court to examine their alleged culpability in the case. The full story:

2:00 pm: Sai Baba update: The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust will meet following the Sai Baba's funeral Wednesday, to take key decisions relating to the future of an empire estimated to be around Rs 40,000 crore. At the core of the deliberations will be the future of Satyajit, the 33 year old personal caregiver to Sai Baba, who it is widely believed has been named as trust head in a will left behind by the seer. The full story1:45 pm: Another CAG report, another scandal: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has now pulled up the Uttarakhand government for wasteful, avoidable and unauthorised expenditure to the tune of Rs 223 crore in connection with the Maha Kumbh Mela fair in Haridwar last year. Based on the report, a criminal complaint has been filed in a court here against Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and two others for alleged financial irregularities. Here's the story

1:30 pm: Aarushi Case Hearing Postponed: The Supreme Court has deferred today's slated hearing (see 10.15 am update) in the 2008 Aarushi Talwar murder case to July 12. It will be recalled that Aarushi's parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, had filed a petition seeking the squashing of a summons issued against them in trial court. In response, the CBI has submitted before the Supreme Court an affidavit that states: "Investigation has squarely reached a conclusion that no one other than Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar could have conjointly committed this dastardly crime." The CBI further accused the Talwars of concealing facts and misleading the Supreme Court in order to escape prosecution by the trial court.

1:15 pm: Four school students -- Siddharth Tripathy, Akshat Dutt and Nisarg Behera of XII standard and Mrinal Choudhury of VIII standard, all of them from Delhi Public School -- have won NASA awards for their performance at its Space Settlement Design Contest, 2011. The team comprising Siddharth, Akshat and Nisarg, who won the first prize in XI-XII grade, presented their project titled ''Sangri-la'', a design of a space settlement colony to provide good living amenities for 20,000 permanent space residents. The design envisages a heavenly abode for settlers who can revel in extraordinary luxury away from Earth, sources said. The team proposed a scientific research laboratory as well as a business hub in space, bio-regenerative life systems incorporating all biological components, state of the art meditation halls, an efficiently functioning government machinery to take care of the law and order, a currency named ''Hawking'' besides a stock exchange. Here's the rest of the story

1:00 pm:
Yahoo columnist Girish Sahane (all his columns archived here) looks at the latest controversy swirling around Narendra Modi, and muses on the growing gulf between real time and media time. Read on

12:55 pm:
Bad enough that New Delhi has acquired -- and in the face of stiff challenge from other centers, held on to -- its reputation as the rape capital of India. Now comes word of another disturbing criminal trend: Five minors disappear in the capital city every single day, up from three cases per day last year. So far this year, a total of 541 children were either kidnapped or went missing from the capital. This month alone, 164 cases were registered, while last month the figure was 166. The story

12:40 pm:
While there is no doubt that 3G (wherever available) has added a whole new dimension to what one can do on a handset - from watching high-definition videos to making video calls - the fact is that all this does not come free. However, with a little prudence, you can still make the most of 3G connectivity without depreciating your bank account significantly. ET suggests ways to enjoy benefits of 3G and still keep your bills down

12:30 pm: Just in:
CNN IBN reports that the Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested Suresh Kalmadi in connection with the CWG scam.The channel says Kalmadi was arrested for criminal conspiracy and cheating.

12:25 pm:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh plans to fly down to Puttaparthi to mourn the passing of Satya Sai Baba. "Sri Sathya Saibaba as a preacher of the highest human values was an iconic figure for over five decades. He endeared himself to the people through various institutions, with headquarters at Prashanthi Nilayam, that promoted egalitarian values, education and public health," Singh said yesterday in his tribute.

12: 15 pm:
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, who caused one of those "uproars" we so often hear about in connection with Parliament sittings when a Wikileaks cable cited him telling US Ambassador Timothy Roemer, in 2009, that India would have made far better progress if the North hadn't impeded the rest of the country, says several persons who wrote those cables have "privately" apologized for "causing embarrassment". Since prominent members of the government and the opposition have been serially embarrassed by the revelations, is it fair to say PC is attempting to discount/discredit the cables en masse?

12:10 pm:
Staying on the lighter side of news, a few dozen members of the Delhi Sapera Samaj played their instruments and made their snakes dance outside the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Sheela Dixit, demanding that they be included in the Scheduled Tribes category. Dixit met the agitators -- and their snakes, presumably -- and promised to "look into it". The story

It is, of course, nobody's business that per the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, subsequently extended to include snakes, the possession of snakes is illegal. Unable to enforce that diktat, the government has in past years come up with a bunch of hare-brained suggestions including re-training snake charmers into snake "caretakers", and even considering allowing a limited number of "licensed charmers" to perform at designated tourist sites, as after all the "art" of snake charming is part of our heritage and, in foreign eyes, inextricably linked with "Indian culture".

Here for your further reading is a National Geographic article, from the archives, on how the tribe is gradually fading into obscurity. And an NPR audio documentary on how the snake charmers attempt to work around the ban imposed on their activities.


11: 50 am: On the lighter side of news, two Indians are attempting to break 'records'. The first is 70 year old Har Prakash, who has converted himself into a sort of human United Nations, having adorned his body with tattoos depicting the flags of 305 nations. The holder of 22 'records', who calls himself Guinness Rishi, has also made the longest will in the world, and once delivered a pizza from New Delhi to San Francisco. Elsewhere, an Indian woman attempted to break a record by writing out the Periodic Table in under two minutes:

Indian woman writes Periodic Table symbols in ...An Indian woman attempted a record by writing the Periodic Table, which includes 118 elements, in less than two minutes on Friday in New Delhi.

11:40 am:
And here's some good news -- the calendar 2011 is expected to be a landmark year for tech hiring and job movements after 2007 as market visibility improves, global customers step up spending and pipelines remain packed. External head hunters are optimistic of a very bullish trend with hiring requirements going up substantially this year by 60% to 70%, compared to last year's 20% jump over the previous year. TOI has the story

11:30 am: Our resident humorist Aadisht Khanna, who in his fortnightly columns pokes fun at the absurdities he comes in contact with, tees off on belief-driven systems ranging from homeopathy to astrology in his latest column. Hilarious though his column, laced throughout with pseudo-scientific rationale, is, some of the comments appended are equally funny -- apparently a section of readers did not get that Aadisht was writing with tongue firmly in cheek. Enjoy.

11:20 am: Suresh Kalmadi, former head of the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, has arrived at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi for another round of questioning in connection with irregularities in the contract for the Queen's Baton Relay. This is  Kalmadi's fourth tryst with the CBI since his first interrogation January 5; the embattled politician had earlier skipped an April 20 interrogation citing medical reasons and constituency-related commitments.

11:15 am:
IANS has the story of the 4000-plus wool stoles shipped to London for the royal wedding. For more on the event, see the special section in Yahoo News 

Indian Scarves at WillKat Royal WeddingThere will be a little bit of Ludhiana at the royal wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton to be held in London on April 29

11:10 am: The Sensex shrugged off early losses to emerge over 95 points higher at 1030 hours today, with financial, auto and consumer durables stocks leading the recovery. PTI reports that the Sensex, which lost over 70 points in opening trade, bounced back by 95.26 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 19,697.49 at 1030 hours.

11:05 am: The 220-bed Sri Sathya Sai Baba Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSSIHMS) hospital's tryst with Sai Baba and his family members continues to be jinxed. The godman was the fifth person from the family to die in the hospital. "We always felt that the hospital had 'vaastu dosham' and this was proved yet again with the death of Sai Baba." said a relative not wanting to be named. Full story

Pictures: Devotees mourn Sai Baba's death

11:00 am:
Civil society members now strongly back bringing the prime minister within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill, although they left the final call to Parliament when it discusses a proposed legislation to set up an anti-corruption watchdog.

10:50 am:
Telugu star Akkineni Nagarjuna, who in the 2008 film Krishnarjuna had a 'guest appearance' as God, will now play Shirdi Sai Baba in a film to be helmed by director Raghavendra Rao.

10:45 am:
Sachin mourns Satya Sai Baba: Shortly after leading the Mumbai Indians to a win (Akshay Iyer's match report) over Deccan Chargers and strengthening his team's hold on the top position in the ongoing IPL-4, Sachin Tendulkar drove down to Puttaparthi along with wife Anjali to join mourners and pay his last respects to Satya Sai Baba. NDTV has a video report

10:30 am:
Are the protests against the planned nuclear plant near Jaitapur prompted by a familiar and sometimes foggy debate over whether development is driving rural India into more misery? What do we make of this week's violence in Jaitapur? Was it a genuine outpouring of peoples' anger against a project that they feel will ruin them and "poison" their land and water? Or did the provocation come from somewhere else? BBC's Soutik Biswas analyzes

10:25 am:
The Sensex fell 70-plus points in opening trading this morning, to 19,531.34 within the first few minutes of markets opening. The National Stock Exchange index Nifty also fell by 27.70 points, to 5,857.00 points. Both downward movements are being attributed to a fall in oil and gas, metal and power sector stocks. Also, the markets turned negative after Reliance Industries reported a 14 per cent rise in net profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2011 -- a figure that is well below expectations.

10:20 am:
At least 30 people, including 10 policemen, were injured when two groups clashed late Sunday near Meerut. Violence erupted in Qazipur village of Uttar Pradesh when a group of youngsters allegedly manhandled the imam of a local mosque. In protest, some members of the Muslim community took to the streets, and set fire to several commercial establishments and roadways buses. Read the full story here:

10:15 am:
It's a busy day in court today. Among other matters, the Supreme Court will have its next hearing on the issue of government action -- or inaction -- on the question of black money hidden away in offshore accounts. The Supremes are due to give a verdict on whether to set up a Special Investigating Team to probe further into the problem -- a proceeding the government is totally averse to. The Supremes will also hear the CBI on the Aarushi Talwar murder case, with the investigating agency having submitted an affidavit saying it has concluded that Aarushi's parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, are responsible for the crime.

10:10 am: Health Advisory: India recorded 25 million cases of malaria, resulting in 30,000 deaths, in 2009. A CNN-IBN report that cites the World Health Organization points to a larger problem than the mere fact that India accounts for 1/10th of the world's malaria-related fatalities. The drug Chloroquine stopped working as a first line of treatment some ten years ago, says the report -- however, in private hospitals where 60 per cent of all malaria cases in the country are treated, it is still the prescribed drug; it is only in government hospitals that the second line of treatment is in force.

10:00 am: It would be a massive show of protest against endosulfan in Kerala with Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan leading from the front to observe a daylong fast at the Palayam Martyrs' Column in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. The CM will lead a mass satyagraha from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. demading that India should adopt a stand in favour of the ban at the Convention and also seeking adequate financial assistance for the endosulfan victims of the state. His cabinet colleagues, MLAs and MPs will also take part. Kerala had banned the use of endosulfan in 2000 after various diseases were reported at Kasargode district, where the pesticide had been aerially sprayed in government-owned cashew plantations. Ahead of the Stockholm convention, the state is campaigning to shape Indian stand at the conclave.

However, the Union government looks in no mood to reverse its stand on opposing the ban on endosulfan at a global meet in Geneva next week. This despite appeals from activists, a directive from the National Human Rights Commission and also the Kerala government banning endosulfan after adverse and severe health fallout was reported in the state following exposure to the pesticide.

You can spread the word, write petitions / letters to the Government to ban the chemical or join the movement by signing online petitions here.

9:55 am:
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) will meet later today to finalise the much-awaited draft of the food security bill, Indian Express reports. According to a formula for sharing the subsidy, the centre will bear the burden of providing cheaper foodgrain to 8.1 crore poor households, while the states will chip in for another 2.9 crore households. The bill, which seeks to provide legal entitlement for cheaper food grains to poor households, has been hanging fire because of differences between the centre and states over the poverty estimates -- a Planning Commission estimate puts the number of families below the poverty line at 8.1 crore, but the states have issued 11 crore BPL ration cards.

9:45 am: The Prime Minister''s Office termed as ''false'' a report in The Times, London over the weekend that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had contacted Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani through an unofficial envoy. "We have seen media reports quoting a British newspaper saying that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh contacted Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani before the Mohali meeting between the two Prime Ministers. The report is false," PM''s Media Adviser Harish Khare said. The talks, which per the Times report happened before Singh's meeting with his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Mohali on the occasion of the World Cup semi-final tie between India and Pakistan last month, did not happen, the PMO has said, even as foreign policy observers were suggesting that the back channel talks were a positive signal of impending thaw in the bilateral relations.

9:40 am: BREAKING NOW: AP reports that an estimated 476 prisoners out of the total 1200 immured in Kandahar prison escaped through a tunnel dug from within the prison to the outside. Most of the escapees are believed to be Taliban insurgents. The jailbreak happened around 11 pm Sunday. Further details are awaited.

9:30 am: Remember the earlier Wikileaks 'revelation' that suggested that the BJP had, during the lifetime of the previous government, used its opposition to India's nuclear energy thrust as a political tool, rather than out of any deep-seated conviction? The more things change, the more they remain the same: in West Bengal, the rival Left and Trinamool parties are using the proposed Haripur nuclear plant to fight their battles.
Hours after West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said his government would review the proposed nuclear plant at Haripur, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Sunday said she will scrap the project if her party came to power in the state.
'Haripur is not the proper place for setting up a nuclear power plant because it is a densely populated area. Fishermen will also be affected. We will do it elsewhere,' Banerjee said in an interview to a Bengali television channel Star Ananda Sunday night. The full story

9:25 am: Tamil Nadu's opposition AIADMK has charged the ruling DMK government with destroying important files in the guise of shifting various departments from Fort St. George to the new assembly building. In a complaint to the Election Commission, copies of which was released to the media here, the AIADMK has urged it to issue appropriate instructions to the state government to defer all proceedings to shift to the new assembly building and also post central security forces so that files are not destroyed.

9:20 am: Stung by the Supreme Court observation that kangaroo courts were "barbaric and illegal", Khap panchyats have decided to file a review petition in the apex court. The decision to file the petition was taken here today at a meeting of 84 representatives of Khap panchayats, according to Nafe Singh Nain, President of Binain Khap, who presided. The members also decided to start an indefinite fast in Delhi during the forthcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament to show their strength.

9:00 am: Sai Baba's body will lie in state at Sai Kulwant Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram until Tuesday for his devotees and followers to have a last darshan. He will then be buried close to his Yajur Mandir residence on Wednesday in line with the practice adopted for Hindu spiritual leaders. Sanyasis are said to symbolically submit their bodies to fire at the time of renunciation by donning saffron or flame-coloured robes.

"The exact time of burial will be announced later," said Andhra's industries minister Geeta Reddy. Five lakh people are expected for the funeral that will include national and international dignitaries.

Before announcing Sai Baba's demise, the police ordered a complete shutdown of Puttaparthi. All shops were closed and roads barricaded. Those arriving from Bangalore (barring mediapersons and government officials) had to stop 8km out of town.

"His body was wrapped in orange clothes and covered up to the eyes. Nobody uttered a word. Everybody wept," said Sai Kumar, 33, a local businessman and a devotee. "I spoke to him on March 18 for two minutes and took his photograph," he said, tears rolling down his cheeks.

At 3 pm, the body was shifted to Sri Kulwant Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam (the highest abode of peace), where Sathya Sai Baba gave discourses and met devotees daily for over four decades.

Live coverage on Sai Baba's demise

India, in real time: Friday, 22nd April