FRESH ROW OVER ‘UPA ERA RAFALE DEAL SCAM’ REPORT - The Daily Guardian
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FRESH ROW OVER ‘UPA ERA RAFALE DEAL SCAM’ REPORT

BJP takes on Gandhis, says INC stands for ‘I Need Commission’; Congress hits back, says the party has been seeking a JPC probe into the Rafale deal
A massive political fight was reignited on Tuesday by French portal Mediapart’s new report on alleged kickbacks paid between 2007 and 2012 to a middleman involved in the Rafale deal, and on the CBI allegedly failing to investigate these allegations despite receiving documents.

Seizing on a French media report that commissions were paid between 2007 and 2012 for securing the Rafale deal with India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said the INC (Indian National Congress) should be renamed as “I Need Commission” and alleged that the Congress’ dissatisfaction with the cut on offer was behind the failed negotiations when it was in power.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra launched a scathing attack on the Congress leadership, especially Rahul Gandhi who has been alleging corruption in the purchase of the fighter aircraft by the Narendra Modi government, and accused him of spreading “canard, disinformation and lies”. Patra also sought Rahul Gandhi’s response to the fresh revelation by French investigative journal Mediapart.

However, the Congress hit back and noted that the Congress has been seeking a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal. Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera asked as to why the government has not agreed to this.

The political battle over the matter heated up after Mediapart made fresh claims that bogus invoices were used that enabled French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least 7.5 million euros in secret commissions to a middleman to help it secure the Rafale deal with India. According to Mediapart’s investigation, Dassault Aviation paid the kickbacks to the intermediary in Mauritius between 2007 and 2012. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power between 2004 and 2014, leading the ruling BJP for the first time to launch an aggressive counter-attack on the main opposition party after confining itself mostly to dismiss its allegations of corruption in the deal.

Diving into the Rafale controversy, Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik on Tuesday demanded that the Centre should investigate claims made by French portal Mediapart that Rafale makers paid 7.5 million Euros to middlemen between 2007 and 2012. “A lot of news regarding Rafale has been coming in the French media. I think the way the news is coming, the government should investigate the matter. We demand an investigation by the government,” Malik said.

The Modi government had inked the deal on 23 September 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.

Hitting out at the Congress, Patra alleged that it was clearly the dissatisfaction of the Congress and the Gandhi family that was the main reason behind the negotiations

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A massive political fight was reignited on Tuesday by French portal Mediapart’s new report on alleged kickbacks paid between 2007 and 2012 to a middleman involved in the Rafale deal, and on the CBI allegedly failing to investigate these allegations despite receiving documents.

Seizing on a French media report that commissions were paid between 2007 and 2012 for securing the Rafale deal with India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said the INC (Indian National Congress) should be renamed as “I Need Commission” and alleged that the Congress’ dissatisfaction with the cut on offer was behind the failed negotiations when it was in power.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra launched a scathing attack on the Congress leadership, especially Rahul Gandhi who has been alleging corruption in the purchase of the fighter aircraft by the Narendra Modi government, and accused him of spreading “canard, disinformation and lies”. Patra also sought Rahul Gandhi’s response to the fresh revelation by French investigative journal Mediapart.

However, the Congress hit back and noted that the Congress has been seeking a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal. Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera asked as to why the government has not agreed to this.

The political battle over the matter heated up after Mediapart made fresh claims that bogus invoices were used that enabled French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least 7.5 million euros in secret commissions to a middleman to help it secure the Rafale deal with India. According to Mediapart’s investigation, Dassault Aviation paid the kickbacks to the intermediary in Mauritius between 2007 and 2012. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power between 2004 and 2014, leading the ruling BJP for the first time to launch an aggressive counter-attack on the main opposition party after confining itself mostly to dismiss its allegations of corruption in the deal.

Diving into the Rafale controversy, Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik on Tuesday demanded that the Centre should investigate claims made by French portal Mediapart that Rafale makers paid 7.5 million Euros to middlemen between 2007 and 2012. “A lot of news regarding Rafale has been coming in the French media. I think the way the news is coming, the government should investigate the matter. We demand an investigation by the government,” Malik said.

The Modi government had inked the deal on 23 September 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.

Hitting out at the Congress, Patra alleged that it was clearly the dissatisfaction of the Congress and the Gandhi family that was the main reason behind the negotiations falling through during the UPA government. The Mediapart story says that “corruption, influence-peddling and favouritism” marked the deal during the UPA government, he noted and said, “It will not be an exaggeration to say that the INC be renamed as ‘I Need Commission’.” “Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Robert Vadra, all say that I need commission,” Patra said. The UPA government had a deal within every deal, he added.

The Congress has in past said that the allegations of corruption by the BJP against its ruling family and its members were driven by vendetta. To a question about the Congress’ demand as to why the government has not probed the matter, Patra noted that the alleged middleman was earlier arrested by Enforcement Directorate in a corruption case and said probe agencies must be looking into the matter. The BJP spokesperson said the alleged middleman Sushen Mohan Gupta, whose name has cropped up in the Rafale case, was also accused of pocketing commission in the purchase of VVIP choppers. This is too much of a coincidence, and too much of a coincidence is always a conspiracy, he said.

Sushen Gupta is accused of receiving bribes from AgustaWestland through a shell company registered in Mauritius, Interstellar Technologies, to seal a deal to supply 12 VVIP choppers for India. To facilitate investigations, Mauritius agreed to send documents related to the company to the CBI and Enforcement Directorate. The documents were sent to the CBI on 11 October 2018. According to the portal, this is when it was discovered that Sushen Gupta also acted as an intermediary for Dassault over the Rafale deal. The report says Gupta’s Interstellar Technologies “received at least 7.5 million euros from the French aviation firm between 2007 and 2012, thanks to IT contracts that were clearly overbilled, and from which most of the money was discreetly sent to Mauritius using a system of alleged false invoices. Some of these invoices even got the name of the French company wrong, referring to “Dassult” Aviation.

Mediapart says the Mauritian documents cover the period of the bid process that was eventually won by Dassault (2007 – 2012), when the Congress was in power. “Whereas the complaint filed on 4 October 2018, targets suspicious activity that took place from 2015, when the deal was being finalised on the authority of the current BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” says the site.

The Supreme Court and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have already gone into the contents of the Rafale deal signed by the Modi government and found nothing wrong in it, Patra said. He said Rahul Gandhi had made the alleged corruption in the purchase a big election issue during the 2019 polls but it failed to make any impact. The BJP retained power with a bigger majority.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi asked his party colleagues not to stop or be afraid of fighting against the “corrupt” central government as truth was with them in every step. There was no reaction yet from the defence ministry or Dassault Aviation on the latest report.

‘When the truth is with you in every step, then what is there to worry about? My Congress colleagues—keep fighting like this against the corrupt central government. Don’t stop, don’t get tired, don’t be afraid,’ Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag ‘#RafaleScam’.

“He should respond to this from Italy,” Patra said, citing reports that the Congress leader is currently not in India. Corruption has become “homeless” after the BJP came to power, and its address is 10 Janpath, he alleged, referring to the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The Congress hit back at the BJP, saying that the government has launched “operation cover up” and demanded to know as to why it had not probed the entire episode so far.

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EROS HOTEL CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF HOSPITALITY

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The date 6th December 2021 marks the silver jubilee year for Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place. The hotel began its journey in the year 1996 with the vision of delivering the finest Indian hospitality experiences to the guests. Today, Eros Hotel stands tall as an iconic stand-alone 5-star deluxe property offering contemporary design and comfort paired with old-world hospitality charm.

Eros Hotel.

“Anniversary is a great occasion of recollecting and cherishing memories. This one is more special, as today we celebrate our hotel’s 25th anniversary” said MD of the company, Satish Sood.

“Going back in history, I would like to bring forth the vision and foresight of Late Mr. J. R. Sood. The organisation started with millions of dreams, hope and immense enthusiasm and for me, it’s a matter of great pride to see our company growing, embracing good value system and achieving milestones as we thought of,” he added.

“Over these years, CSR campaigns, sustainability initiatives, celebrating key occasions with team members and families, delivering wow experiences to our patrons through exceptional customer services, have created great memories for all of us and have contributed to hotel’s glorious journey,” he added.

Davinder Juj, General Manager of the hotel, said “We are delighted to carve a host of activities on 25th anniversary, which will be offered to make our guests and team members feel special. This is to express our heartfelt gratitude for their continued patronage and loyalty and for our teams to offer the best of the services”.

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Odisha tourism conducts 12th International Sand Art Festival

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The 12th edition of five days International Sand Art Festival that started on December 1 is underway at Chandrabhaga beach in Konark, Odisha.

Every year, the tourism of Odisha conducts the Chandrabhaga International Sand art festival for the sand artists to show their art and talent to the world to see. Here the immense beach is a canvas and an artists’ deft is the palette. Artists from all over the world participate in the festival, but due to Covid-19, strict protocols were followed.

Sudarsan Patnaik, organiser of the festival told ANI that due to Covid-19 fear, this year international artists couldn’t participate but a total of 100 artisans from Odisha and 12 other Indian states including Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and more have participated with full enthusiasm.

He also informed that different themes were provided to the artists every day and on December 3, Friday, the theme assigned to them was ‘eco-tourism and environment’.

Gauri, a sand artist from Odisha who is participating in the festival for the second time in her life said, “It’s a very good topic. We have to understand nature is very important and we have to save it too.”

She also told that this is her second time participating in this event, after ten years. “I am glad to see how the event has developed in the meantime. It is only stated to organise such festival where all sand artists get exposure and we are able to show our art.”

The International Sand Art Festival was started in 2015 on the Chandrabhaga beach, a short distance from Konark. It was a part of the Konark Dance Festival that is organized during the same time. Every year, the theme for the Artists hover around the burgeoning issues of the Earth.

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RAHUL MITTRA BECOMES ARUNACHAL’S BRAND ADVISOR, SANJAY DUTT IS BRAND AMBASSADOR

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On the occasion of the golden jubilee celebrations which mark the 50th year of the naming of the state—the BJP led Arunachal Pradesh Government has appointed former journalist, award-winning filmmaker and branding expert Rahul Mittra as Brand Advisor, and Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt as Brand Ambassador.

This announcement was made by Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Assembly Speaker Pasang Sona Dorjee at a packed function in the presence of both Sanjay Dutt and Rahul Mittra. On Monday afternoon both these personalities arrived from Mumbai by chartered flight to Dibrugarh and then by helicopter to the picturesque valley of Mechuka. On the arrival of Sanjay and Rahul, hundreds of residents made a beeline to get a glimpse of the celebrities.

A big media campaign conceptualised and executed by Rahul Mittra Films and shot by top ad-filmmaker and drummer Pentagram Shiraz Bhattacharya was kickstarted on this occasion, featuring Sanjay Dutt as a youth icon, nature lover, de-addiction proponent and an ever-evolving individual catering to the niche target audience for Arunachal tourism. Filming is currently taking place on a large scale across the state covering Ziro village, Pakke valley, Dambuk, Namsai, Parshuram Kund, Pasighat, Mechuka and Tawang. The campaign will be unveiled on the occasion of the month-long celebrations commencing on January 20 next year at Ziro where Arunachal Pradesh first got its name and Union Territory status in 1972.

The young CM Pema Khandu thanked both Sanjay and Rahul for their support and spelled out the various activities being undertaken by the state government for the 50-year celebrations. Sanjay Dutt urged the youth to stay away from drugs and get high on life while Rahul Mittra promised to put Arunachal on the world map in terms of visibility through this campaign, amidst a thundering response from the audience.

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CROWN GROUP REAFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TOWARDS ‘ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT’ FOR INDIAN NAVY

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On the glorious occasion of Navy Week 2021, the Crown Group, which is a technology provider and a strategic partner to India’s defence sector, reaffirms its commitment to provide its best contribution and impetus to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mission for the nation as envisaged by Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi by augmenting indigenous product and services support to the Indian Navy.

The group is professionally managed, having skilled technical and operational experts, with the Group President, Vice Adm Paras Nath (Retd.), AVSM, VSM, based at the Delhi Headquarters. The Crown Group has appointed Commodore Rakesh Anand as the Head of Marine Division to spearhead and boost the division. Commodore Anand is a retd Indian Navy veteran who was also the Chairman & Managing Director of Mazagon Dock Ltd. prior to joining the Crown Group, and was responsible for the launching of three Scorpene submarines and three Destroyers/Stealth Frigates. He also delivered two Submarines, Kalvari and Khanderi to the Indian Navy besides undertaking major modernisation of the shipyard. Commodore Anand will be heading the marine companies of the group – ‘Dynatron Services Private Limited’ and ‘OSK India Pvt. Ltd’.

Speaking on the occasion, Commodore Anand said, “Keeping with the GoI vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the Marine division of Crown Group has enhanced its maintenance facilities in Mumbai. The Marine division is also working towards establishing the capability for manufacturing propulsion shafting and Magazine Fire Fighting System (MFFS) for warships and submarines in collaboration with the foreign OEMs.

We can proudly claim that Dynatron Services & OSK India are one of the only organised and fully equipped players in India that are present across all the coastal cities catering to the MRO and servicing of Indian naval ships. We are also a unique Group that provides both Marine Engineering and Weapons system MRO support to Indian Navy & Coast Guard.”

Group President said, “Our Karwar facility has the biggest workshop near India’s main naval base spread over 5 acres with facilities for repair and overhauling of all aero-marine components, manufacture of spares along with Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics workshop. The workshop is supporting MRO activities for the aircraft carrier, warships and the submarines at the Naval base.”

Dynatron and OSK India, have been dedicating themselves for taking on MRO activities. OSK India has recently repaired critical weapon equipment modules for the Indian Navy. Dynatron has a long-term partnership with many foreign OEMs including JSC Sevmash. Dynatron also has sole authorisation for repairs and maintenance of Gearboxes & thrusters from ZF Marine (Germany) and an exclusive partnership with Kubota engines Japan coupled with Mase Generators, Italy.

On the occasion of Navy Day, Crown Group rededicates itself towards the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Navy Day is observed on December 4 every year, since it was on the day in 1971 that missile boats of the Indian Navy launched a daring attack on the Karachi harbour, paralysing Pakistan’s entire coastal defence apparatus.The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak War – the historic victory of India’s armed forces in which the Indian Army made the Pakistani’s surrender.

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VIRGIL ABLOH: AN INDELIBLE LEGACY

As the founder of the iconic brand Off-White and the artistic director for Menswear, Louis Vuitton, Abloh, a first-generation Ghanaian American, was a pioneer in the global fashion scenario— his indomitable influence as a creative prodigy transcended the boundaries of clothes.

NAMRATA KUMAR

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The terrain of fashion today credits a majority of its aesthetic sensibility to the boundless creativity of Virgil Abloh. The designer, who died from cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, at the age of 41 on November 28 in Chicago, was called the fashion visionary, but there was no denying that his prodigious work shaped the present. As the founder of the cult brand Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, Abloh, a first-generation Ghanaian American, was a pioneer in the global fashion scenario—his influence transcended the boundaries of only clothes.

Abloh’s creative genius spread across myriad mediums and defied conformity. His mother was a seamstress which influenced him to sew his own clothes as a teenager before he set forth to pursue fashion. He also studied civil engineering and obtained a degree in Architecture.

Off-white, Abloh’s iconic streetwear brand, brought the excitement of a much-hyped collaboration to the world of high fashion and luxury. With Off-White, he collaborated with many premium brands and companies, including Rimowa, Mercedes Benz, the NBA, Levi’s, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Kith, Timberland and Byredo. His most notable collaborative relationship, however, may have been with Nike, with which he did multiple collections, one of which netted him the “Shoe of the Year” award at the 2017 Footwear News Achievement Awards. With Nike, he also designed competition outfits for Serena Williams. Abloh’s talents were also in high demand by many of his celebrity friends, who commissioned bespoke creations running the gamut from Hailey Bieber’s Off-White wedding dress and veil that read “Till death do us part” in Abloh’s signature irony quotes to Drake’s personal plane that he had Abloh customise with an ethereal blue sky and cloud pattern. Although Abloh’s body of work was often dictated by his talent to capture the essence of an era, his gift lies with his expensive curiosity and unflinching desire to create.

The Louis Vuitton Miami show was a visual tribute (and an emotional one at that) to Virgil Abloh, as friends, collaborators and fans paid homage to him under fireworks and a drone light show. The Spring/Summer 2022 Men’s show marked Abloh’s historical last as the celebrated Creative Director for Menswear.

The front row included longtime supporter Kanye West, who sat next to Kim Kardashian and their daughter North. Other front-row attendees were Rihanna and ASAP Rocky, Pharrell Williams, Joe Jonas, Ricky Martin, Venus Williams, Bella Hadid, 21 Savage and Joan Smalls.

Just before 7 PM, as the mood shifted from somber to party mode, a dazzling light show filled the sky. It began as a paper plane (a predominant icon in Abloh’s collections), before fluctuating into avatars of the Louis Vuitton monogram, a palm tree and the initials “L.V.,” which turned into “V.A.” For the finale, the drones spelled “Virgil was here” (goosebump-inducing); within moments, these mesmerising visuals of tributes went viral on social media.

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MISSION TANDRUST PUNJAB TO KICK OFF RESEARCH PROJECTS WORTH RS 7 CR

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Mission Tandrust Punjab, with a zeal to start research and development in various fields, has now planned a 360-degree chart for different research projects comprising clean air, clean water, healthy soil, waste management, green Punjab, safe food, road safety, khelo Punjab, nutrition, preventive health.

These all are the sub-missions that are spearheaded by a lead department supported with different line departments. “The mission has undertaken various activities since it was revamped and launched by the Punjab government in June 2021, under the administrative control of the Department of Science, Technology, and Environment,” IFS Saurabh Gupta, CEO Mission Tandrust Punjab, told The Daily Guardian.

To achieve the objectives of the mission, the first meeting of the Steering Committee headed by Chief Secretary Punjab was held 2nd December 2021 in which Dilip Kumar, Principal Secretary, Department of Science and Technology and Saurabh Gupta, CEO of the Mission made a presentation in which the innovative research projects for about Rupees seven crores were discussed and approved. Reiterating the importance of the mission, the Chief Secretary appreciated these research projects developed by the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change by involving prestigious institutions like IIT Ropar, AIIMS, Punjab Agriculture University, Punjab Biotechnology incubator, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. The Chief Secretary said that these interventions shall help in ensuring good health of the people through the provision of safe food, clean water, etc.

An awareness project for the Mission was also approved to be implemented in the Pushpa Gujral Science City, Kapurthala.

The Chief Secretary suggested that more such innovative research projects are required under this mission for which the State Govt. shall provide adequate funds. The projects approved have been time-lined for 18 months added Gupta.

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