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26 people including 12 women arrested from rave party in Hyderabad - 7/13/2014

National
Hyderabad: The Cyberabad Police on Sunday raided  and busted a rave party at a poultry farm in Shamirpet region.

26 people including 12 women were arrested from the spot.

The police team raided the farm in Turkapalli area of Shamirpet after they received information about the rave party.

The Shamirpet Police Station Inspector TN Babji said that the people were allegedly indulging in obscene dance at the party in the outskirts of the region.

As many as 26 persons, including 12 women - three from Mumbai and one belonging to Kolkata, were arrested in connection with the rave party, the inspector said.

He informed that the people who organized the rave party were from different parts of Hyderabad and that police will be producing them before a local court.

One of the organisers, identified as Ranjan, is absconding while his female accomplice, who was part of organising the rave party, is among the 12 arrested women, he said.

At least Rs. 2 lakh cash, many several cellphones, 4 four wheeler and some liquor bottles were recovered from the party, told inspector.

Hospitals make a killing on medical devices like stents, implants - 7/13/2014

TOI The cost of medical devices like stents and pacemakers is enough to give anyone a heart attack. TOI found that patients were being forced to pay double or even triple the price for medical devices at hospitals. As most of these are not available in the open market, patients can't check prices and are held hostage by hospitals, which force them to buy at the price they quote.

Sources in the healthcare sector told TOI that in several hospitals, the margins on devices — ranging from stents, implants and pacemakers to artificial joints, titanium plates for fractures, and valves — could add up to as much as 30% of their profits. Hundreds of such devices are used in a hospital every day. Of course, it is the patient who pays for these handsome margins.

Take what happened to a lawyer whose father was admitted to a 'charitable' hospital in Kochi. The doctors advised that the patient needed three drug eluting stents at Rs 95,000 per stent. Since he knew the pharma and medical devices market reasonably well, the lawyer went directly to the hospital's supplier, who offered the same stents for about Rs 40,000 each, a rate much higher than would have been charged to a bulk buyer like a hospital. But the hospital refused to use a stent bought by him. He had no option but to take the stent provided by the hospital as his father could not be shifted. After much haggling, the hospital offered to give three stents for the price of two, charging him Rs 87,000 for each. The final price of each stent, including the 'free' one, was effectively Rs 58,000.

"The actual cost at which the hospital gets it is probably in the range of Rs 30,000 or even less. That's a mark-up of almost 300% on just one stent. And this was a top-of-the-line branded stent from one of the biggest multinationals. There were many patients there who were being charged the full amount. Even the supplier gets a cut from the company. Imagine what the actual price might be if directly sourced from the company, probably about Rs 20,000," said the lawyer.

Adding to the margin on devices is the profit hospitals make billing patients for medicines using the same principle of buying cheap in bulk and selling at a much higher price to the patient. In fact, devices, medicines and diagnostics could account for as much as 70% of a hospital's profit. Some very reputed doctors confirmed to TOI that this was the case, but asked not to be named.

Experts feel that making it mandatory to declare the maximum retail price on each device could help cap the price and make companies compete to offer lower prices. However, doctors point out that having an MRP has not prevented profiteering in medicines, with the MRP being fixed high enough to accommodate commissions since there is no limit on what the MRP can be. Moreover, while MRP is mandatory on everything manufactured in India, many devices are imported and escape this stipulation.

Another suggestion is that devices be prescribed by doctors but left to patients to buy from pharmacies where several brands could be stocked to allow patients to decide. "After all the sterility required of a medical device like an implant is of the same level as a syringe or bandage. If those can be bought in pharmacies, why not devices? This system of hospitals meant to sell services becoming peddlers of wares compromises the right of a patient as the consumer to choose," argued one expert in favour of open purchase. But not all patients would relish the extra hassle of having to purchase each item themselves. They might also feel they do not know enough to make an informed choice.

A surgeon in a corporate hospital narrated how a company offered him a stapling gun used in surgeries at Rs 20,000, which he found to be as good as the one he was using regularly but which cost about Rs 22,000. "Since it saved the patient Rs 2,000, I decided to use the cheaper one. But I got a call from the purchasing section of the hospital to go back to using the earlier one since the company gave it to the hospital for Rs 14,000, which meant a mark-up of Rs 8,000, while the other company offered its gun to the hospital for Rs 16,000, which meant only Rs 4,000 for the hospital," said the surgeon. He went back to the one that cost Rs 22,000 since both were equally good. In most hospitals, if two devices are more or less equal, the choice of which one is used depends on which fetches the hospital a bigger cut.

"If the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) can regulate and prescribe ceiling rates for call charges or roaming charges, why is there no government regulation on what hospitals can charge for medical procedures and devices? Just as there is a National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) for medicines, there ought to be an authority that regulates the price of devices. Why is the government allowing hospitals to loot patients like this?" asked the lawyer whose father had three stents implanted.

Behind the ballooning bills

· Whether it's drugs or devices, hospitals buy cheap in bulk and sell at a much higher price to patient

· If two devices are more or less equal, hospitals choose the one that gets them a bigger cut

· Experts suggest making MRP mandatory on devices or a price regulatory authority

· Another option is to let patients buy from market

Mishap Averted as Indigo, Air India Flights Came Close over Bagdogra in Bengal - 7/12/2014

NDTV An Delhi-bound Indigo flight came close to a descending Air India plane over Bagdogra in West Bengal on Friday afternoon, raising the spectre of a collision and giving scare to about 250 passengers on board the two aircraft.

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) had given clearance to both the aircraft, according to Indigo airline spokesperson.

The Air India flight 879, carrying 120 passengers, was descending and the Indigo Bagdogra-Delhi flight 6E472 with 130 passengers on board was given clearance to climb the 30,000-feet height, the Indigo spokesman said.

The Indigo flight departed at 1222 hrs. As they came close to each other violating the 1000m separation, the pilots of the Indigo plane and the Air India aircraft, however, manoeuvred themselves to avoid a near-miss, the spokesperson said.

The Indigo flight Captain got a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) resolution advisory (RA). As per Standard Operation Procedure (SOP), the Capt followed RA and descended and the AI flight also followed RA and turned right, the spokesperson said.

Once the Captains received "clear-of-conflict" message, they manoeuvred back to normal situation, he added.

The Indigo flight landed at Delhi at 1415hrs.

The DCGA is conducting an inquiry into the incident. 

SC orders govt to pay new NREGA wages - 7/12/2014

TOI
SC orders govt to pay new NREGA wages


NEW DELHI: The paltry Rs 353 crore increase on last year's 33,000 crore budget allocation for implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) may not fit the bill as the Supreme Court on Friday ordered implementation of new wages effective since April 1.

The UPA government had on February 13 notified new wages for states. For Bihar, wages increased by 16.6% to Rs 153 a day while in Jharkhand it went up by 14.9% to Rs 158. Wages in Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura were increased by 14.8%.

Despite the annual increase in wages under MGNREGA since 2011, minimum wages in more than a dozen states are still higher. This was the reason why the Karnataka High Court had directed the Centre to pay MGNREGA wages in accordance with the Karnataka State Minimum Wages Act.

The Centre had appealed against the HC order in the SC, but in January, the apex court refused to stay the HC order saying payment of minimum wages was mandatory under law. This forced the UPA government to revise the wages under MGNREGA.

But the revised wages, as specified in the February 13 notification and effective from April 1, is estimated to cost the exchequer an additional Rs 1,000 crore. However, the increase of Rs 353 crore might not be enough to implement the rural employment guarantee schemes.

A bench of Justices S J Mukhopadhaya and S A Bobde disposed of the Centre's appeal saying implementation of the new wage structure as per the February 13 notification had rendered the petition infructuous.

However, it kept open the question — should states pay minimum wages as provided under the law while implementing MGNREGA — open for future and said if any challenge was made to the notification, then the court concerned would decide it on its own merit uninfluenced by the Karnataka HC judgment.

When the national job scheme was started in 2006, the minimum wage for agricultural labourers in each state was taken as the standard wage for MGNREGA workers. However, in 2008, the Centre decided to revise the MGNREGA wage rate by indexing it to consumer price index for agricultural labourers.


Budget 2014: Income Tax Changes Can Save You up to Rs. 36,000 - 7/10/2014

NDTV
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Budget announcements will lead to big savings for income tax payers. Mr Jaitley on Thursday hiked the basic exemption limit on income taxes from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 2.50 lakh.

Mr Jaitley also hiked the cap on long-term investments under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.50 lakh. The Finance Minister also raised the tax-free cap on interest paid on housing loan from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh.

Together, the three announcements will lead to a combined savings of Rs. 36,050 for individuals in the highest tax bracket (taxable income above Rs. 10 lakh), according to tax consultant BMR Advisors.

Individuals with taxable income between Rs. 5 and 10 lakh will save Rs.25,750, BMR Advisors said. Those with taxable income between Rs. 2 and Rs. 5 lakh will save around Rs. 15,450.

In another major announcement, Mr Jaitley enhanced the Public Provident Fund (PPF) ceiling from current Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh in a financial year. PPF is one of the most popular tax-saving schemes. (Read: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Raises PPF Ceiling to Rs. 1.5 lakh)

The PPF corpus is tax-free at all three stages. The investment is eligible for tax deduction under Section 80C. The interest earned is also tax-free, and so are withdrawals.

Mr Jaitley said the government will forego around Rs. 22,000 crore on account of these changes.


World Cup Final Comes Between PM Modi and Merkel - 7/9/2014

NDTV news
World Cup Final Comes Between PM Modi and Merkel

Mr Modi will leave on his foreign tour on Sunday morning. (File photo)

  New Delhi: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has picked soccer over meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi will make a stopover in Germany on his way to Brazil for a BRICS summit on Sunday, but will be unable to meet Chancellor Merkel as she will be off to Brazil to watch her country's soccer team play the finals of the FIFA World Cup.

Mr Modi was reportedly keen to meet Ms Merkel on his stopover and the German Ambassador in India is believed to have pushed for the meeting too. But Germany had reportedly not confirmed a meeting between the two leaders.  

Germany qualified for the finals of the cup by demolishing hosts Brazil 7-1 in a semi-final match yesterday. They will play the winner of a match tonight between Argentina and The Netherlands, in Rio De Janiero on Sunday, July 13. Germany confirmed after its mammoth win that the Chancellor would fly to Rio to cheer her team.

She was also in the stands last month for Germany's opening match against Portugal last month. Her team had won that match 4-0.

Mr Modi will leave on his foreign tour on Sunday along with senior ministers and a business delegation. He is expected to meet BRICS (the group of emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders - in Brazil's Fortaleza, where the summit begins on July 15.

He will also visit Brasilia, Brazil's capital, where he is expected to meet leaders of other South American countries, invited by his host President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil

At Fortaleza, the BRICS leaders are expected to sign a treaty to launch a 100 billion dollar BRICS bank.

Reports say annual trade between India and Germany is pegged at over 18 billion euros or Rs.  1,46,700 crore. The PM would have been keen to pursue his policy of inviting foreign powers to invest and create assets in India, with Germany, one of its biggest trading partners.

Ex-Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy caught on tape demanding Rs 20 crore for giving party seat - 7/6/2014

Indian Express

Former chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has been allegedly caught on tape demanding Rs 20 crore from an MLC aspirant to give away his party’s seat for the Upper House of Karnataka Legislature.

The 35-minute audio clip is a conversation between Kumaraswamy and the aspirant from Bijapur, Vijaygouda Patil. This clip was anonymously released to the media on Saturday and verified by Kumaraswamy. In the audio, an alleged Vijugouda supporter offers Kumaraswamy an amount of Rs 40 crore in lieu of a seat to the Bijapur leader.

Apparently, the conversation between the two parties is purported to have taken place in Bangalore during a party meet in early June this year. Kumaraswamy has admittedly accepted that the event had indeed taken place and he reiterated that he hasn’t done any crime. He further mentioned that 40 of his MLAs are demanding Rs 1 crore each.


Snake found in mid-day meal, 54 children taken ill - 7/5/2014

BV

Sitamarhi (Bihar)(PTI): A total of 54 students of a government middle school in Bihars Sitamarhi district fell ill today after eating mid-day meal in which a snake was found.

 

Sursand block development officer Vinod Kumar said the children Meghpur Middle School at Sursand developed symptoms of nausea and fell unconsciousness after eating the meal.

 

They were rushed to a nearby pubic heatlth centre, given  medicines and kept under observation.

 

None of them were in critical condition, he said.

 

We have seized the khichdi that was given to the students. A long, black object was found in it and we suspect that it could be a snake that got cooked with the meal. We will send the samples for tests, said Kumar.

 

Sursand Inspector Bimar Kumar Singh said the school students ate the meal and then noticed the snake-like object in the large utensil in which it was cooked. They then reported feeling sick and began vomiting soon after.

 

A year ago 23 children of a primary school at Dharmasati Gandaman village in Bihar's Saran district had died after eating a mid-day meal laced with pesticides.


Dozens of fuel trucks set on fire in Kabul by Taliban - 7/5/2014

TOI KABUL: Taliban militants set fire to dozens of fuel trucks, which they claimed were supplying foreign troops in Afghanistan, in an attack on the outskirts of Kabul, officials said on Saturday.

The fire triggered by a bomb set ablaze tankers waiting to enter the city in a parking lot west of the Afghan capital overnight.

"At around 10:30pm last night, dozens of fuel tankers belonging to private companies caught fire," Hashmat Stanikzai, Kabul police spokesman told AFP.

"No one can come close to them since the fire is still raging at the scene," Stanikzai said.

No casualties were reported as fire fighters tried to control the fire in the morning, he added.

"I was sleeping in my truck, when I heard three big bangs. After that I saw the fuel trucks exploding one after the other. I fled the area immediately," Janat Gul, a truck driver told AFP.

Gul Aghan Hashimi the Crime Investigation Director of Kabul police said "it was a magnetic bomb that caused the fuel tankers to catch on fire," adding that the trucks belonged to private companies.

However, it was unclear whether the trucks were supplying fuel to Nato. A Nato-led International Security Assistance Forces spokesman told AFP they were "looking into the incident to determine if any of the fuel destroyed in Chawk-e Arghandi last night was intended for use by ISAF forces."

Taliban militants who have been regularly attacking western supply convoys in Afghanistan, claimed the responsibility.

"Our brave Mujahideen fighters in a special tactic have set ablaze hundreds of fuel tankers in the west of Kabul, which were supplying fuel and food for foreign forces," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a statement.

Taliban have stepped up their attacks recently as the Nato forces complete their withdrawal by end of this year.

On Thursday, the Taliban insurgents fired rockets into Kabul airport destroying the Afghan president's parked helicopter and damaging three other choppers.

Eight military officers were killed the day before in a suicide bombing attack on an air force bus.

The Afghan capital has been relatively peaceful since the presidential election on June 14, though there have been street demonstrations as politicians are locked in a dispute over vote fraud.

All Nto combat troops will leave Afghanistan by December, with about 10,000 US troops staying into next year if the new president signs a security deal with Washington.

Passport delivery to become hassle-free, no police verification in case of renewal - 7/4/2014

TOI MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The passport delivery system could soon become hassle-free and quick. On the directions of the chief passport officer in the ministry of external affairs, Mumbai may lead the way to do away with cumbersome processes that currently delay the issuance of a passport.

READ ALSO: Get French visas in 48 hours from next year

The ministry is set to waive a second police verification in case of passport renewal provided the previous police verification was clear. Fresh guidelines have been issued so that a renewed passport is delivered at the quickest possible time by no longer treating the application for renewal as a fresh one, as is the case till now.

Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria and regional passport officer T D Sharma have put into action a plan that seeks to do away with police verification for other categories of applicants. "Minors, government servants and senior citizens can now go without verification," Muktesh Pardeshi, chief passport officer in MEA, said.

"I had a long meeting with passport officials on time-bound delivery of passport. We found that on occasions, the police department was blamed for delay in submitting verification certificate. I have drafted a comprehensive action plan. The entire exercise of police verification will be completed within seven working days," Maria told TOI.



Maria said specific bottlenecks in the police verification process have been identified and stringent measures taken to ensure that the entire exercise is completed in a time-bound period. "It was bringing a bad name to Mumbai Police. In addition, there were charges of corruption too. I am sure, once the new system comes into force, passport delivery will be hassle-free," Maria said.

Pardeshi told TOI, "We have directed that there should be three categories for police verification in the passport issuance process. First, there is a pre-police verification, which is mandatory for first-time passports. Second, the post-police verification, where the verification can be done after the passport is issued."

According to a senior official there was delay at several levels — from the newly set up passport seva kendra to the police station. "The delay was not deliberate, but there was lack of proper guidelines, as a result of which there was delay in submitting the police verification documents to the passport office. In the entire process, the special branch of the police station was blamed. We have worked out a comprehensive action plan, there will be no more delays and passport will be delivered within the stipulated period," he said.

Secondly, on the renewal of passports too, the ministry of external affairs has issued fresh guidelines to ensure that the passport is delivered in the shortest period. So far the convention was that if an application for renewal of passport is submitted, it was treated as a fresh application and there was police verification of residential address and all the documents. Now, it has been made clear that if the earlier police report is clear and the photograph of the applicant is attached in the original police report, there would be no need for fresh police verification. "The revised guidelines will help us in the expeditious delivery of passports, particularly those submitted for renewal," he said.

However, Pardeshi said the passport issuing officer had some discretionary powers. "If he/she feels police verification is necessary, it will be done."

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