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Sushant case: SC reserves judgement on Rhea’s plea

Ashish Sinha

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The Supreme Court has reserved its verdict with regards to the petition filed by actress Rhea Chakraborty wherein she requested the transfer of the FIR filed against her from Bihar police to Mumbai Police.

 The court has asked all the parties to file brief written submissions by Thursday. The judgment has been reserved and the next hearing is scheduled for 13 August.

Appearing for Rhea Chakraborty, senior advocate Shyam Divan said she was being harassed and trolled on social media platforms, and many fans of Sushant were holding her responsible for his suicide.

Divan added that the FIR lodged in Bihar by actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s father against her in relation to his son’s suicide had absolutely no connection with any offence in Patna, and said there was a very serious concern on the apparent usage of this case for political ends.

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Education is the third eye of a child: Prof (Dr.) Achyuta Samanta

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NewsX recently interacted with KIIT and KISS founder Prof (Dr.) Achyuta Samanta as part of its special series NewsX India A-List, wherein he talks about his journey as an entrepreneur and social worker. Speaking about the initial stages of start-up, Prof Achyuta said, “Now the word start-up is very much familiar with everybody. It is very popular. And all the young masses are generally starting something in the name and style of a start-up. But practically when we started, there was no word like a start-up. But I am very much happy that we have started from scratch. With Rs. 5000 in my pocket in those days, in a two-rented house, in two organisations. Both organisations have come up like anything and earned World appreciation.” 

He added “The Kalinga Institute of Technology (KIIT) is one of the most promising universities in the World. In the league of eminence, recognised by the government of India along with nine other universities, with 30,000 students present in the campus from Pan India and from the 65 countries, with one lakh alumni students from the KIIT University. Besides spreading over 25000 square kilometres of the area with 1.5 crores square foot built up in 25 campuses. This university’s aim is humanity and compassion. At the same time, I started the Kalinga Institute of Social Science(KISS). Now it is home for poor tribal children.”

When asked about reason or the idea behind starting it, Prof Achyuta said, “Idea is very simple. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. As Achyuta Samanta was born and brought up in those days amid severe poverty. Achyuta Samanta was so poor after losing his father at the age of four with other six brothers and sisters and mother. Achyuta Samanta himself was not getting even one square meal or two pieces of roti in one day. So that type of poverty, hunger Achyuta Samanta was experiencing from the age of four. I had this experience on how poverty and hunger kill everything. I used to say education is the third eye of a child. Education is the tool of everything. If one is educated or given education, all the problems will be taken care of. Achyuta Samanta himself is the best example before the World. Unless and until I am educated a little bit, I will not have been the instrument to give this smiling face to millions of children. This is the reason I started the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences. It is also the first-ever tribal university in the entire world and it is fully residential.”

Talking about his village, he said,As a social worker and entrepreneur I work for the people. I developed my native village into a smart village giving all city amenities in that village. Also, the entire Panchayath is known as the model panchayat and that village is a smart village. Everything is available there.” He added, “If someone wants to manage things he or she can do it. I have been working 17-18 hours per day for the last 29 years without taking single daybreak. “

Talking about the work he does for women empowerment, he said, “I know from my childhood, the more we respect women, the more prosperity we get. From my childhood, I’ve been respecting women. Women are the real source of inspiration. In the last 20 years, countries are prospering because women are on par with men. There is one scheme- the Kalinga Fellowship for empowering women.”

Emphasising his organisation’s efforts towards Covid relief, he said, “It is such a challenging time for everybody and we have been with people during every calamity. During the pandemic, I’ve been happy to help people. We have been running four Covid hospitals. We have been dropping 10 kg of dry food at the doorstep of every child for the last 15 months. We have announced if any faculty dies, children will be given free education. In the meantime I’ve been taking care of 100 orphans and once the pandemic ends they will be given good education till they are adults. These are some of the good things that we are doing.”

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‘The amount of love from the audience is unprecedented and historic’: Manoj Bajpayee

Manoj Bajpayee has won the National Award for Best Actor this year for Bhonsle and is now wowing audiences with Amazon Prime’s Family Man Season 2 which released few days back.

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From ‘Bhiku Mharte’ in ‘Satya’ to ‘Babu’ in ‘Road,’ from ‘Sardar Khan’ in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ to ‘Ganpath Bhonsle’ in ‘Bhonsle,’ and now winning hearts as ‘Srikant Tiwari’ in ‘Family Man,’ Manoj Bajpayee, has never ceased to amaze and mesmerize the audience with his effortless yet sophisticated acting. Manoj Bajpayee was accoladed with the National Award for Best Actor for his film ‘Bhonsle.’ He was also awarded the Filmfare OTT awards for the Best Actor in a Drama Series.  NewsX’s special series NewsX A-List recognised Manoj Bajpayee for his excellent and unforgettable performances in the entertainment industry.

The sequel of his very successful show, ‘Family Man,’ was released after a long wait by the fans excited to watch the second season of the series. “It’s quite overwhelming for me. Getting so much love from the audience is quite unprecedented and historic. We can still not digest the way the show and the character of ‘Srikant Tiwary’ is being received by the fans and audience,” said Manoj on how it has been like since the National Award and the success of Family Man. He added, “The RAW agents we talked to, and the agents who had written to us, the love and appreciation given by them was unimaginable. People have seen this 10-episode show in a matter of two days. Many of them are watching it twice or thrice. We’ve been fortunate and blessed to be very honest.”

Manoj Bajpayee is very interactive with his fans. He replies to their messages regularly on social media. “A unique thing that happened with this show was that I catered to an audience which I had never catered to, which is the audience aged between 11-14. Getting appreciated and love by this group of audience is very new and exciting for me. When I started acting, the art of it is what made me excited and still keeps me driven to put out good content for the people who watch me,” said Manoj talking about how surprised he was to capture the attention of that segment audience. “I am very thankful to Rajan DK for giving me the space to reach out to that segment,” he added. After the massive success of Family Man 1 & 2, all the binge-watchers and fans of the show are anxiously waiting for Season 3. Putting the minds of such viewers at rest, he said, “People have to understand that in this one year, people hardly worked. The second season was supposed to come in the previous year, but it got postponed. We are still to dub the show in vernaculars. Rajan DK does have a further story in mind, but a lot goes into making the show. So, I believe it will take almost two years before the next season comes out.”

The movie buffs are eagerly waiting for the pandemic to end so that they can again enjoy buckets of popcorns in the theatre. On being asked if he would be working on both the theatres and OTT platforms, Manoj Bajpayee said, “I will be working on both the mediums. I feel we need more mediums. There is a plethora of talent out there looking to work. More options will give birth to more choices, and this is what talent wants. Earlier, only a few people used to work in films. Now it has been overshadowed by many new stories, actors, and directors. But OTT is very demanding in the sense that it requires pure skill and knowledge of art when creating content of OTT.” He also added, “Going to theatres will one of the ways people will feel the freedom of going out without any worries. Theatres will fire up again, but the cinema will never be the same after the OTT has become mainstream. OTT will be a parallel force for the cinema to deal with.”

Manoj Tiwari won a national award for his film ‘Bhonsle.’ Recalling the time he got the award, he said, “I was sleeping when I got the award. I had hundreds of messages on my phone. At first, I thought that there had been another attack because the same thing happened when 26/11 happened. When I opened my phone, then I got to know about the news of the award. I was shocked, but it was a delightful surprise. It took four years-worth of struggle and hard work to make this film. The award for ‘Bhonsle’ was least expected as I had lost all hope to get an award.”

The Black Swan Event, the Pandemic, was an unfortunate time for the world. But Manoj, being the guy he is, looked at the positives in the situation. He said, “One thing that came across very strongly was an ambience of helplessness all around the place, The scenario was heart-breaking, but the silver lining in this was that at a time of crisis, the entire country became one. Everyone was helping each other, be it for beds, oxygen, or medicines. I had never seen such visuals in my entire life. It made me feel so proud belonging to this country.”

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GLAD THAT I LISTENED TO MY INSTINCTS: TANUJ VIRWANI

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Tanuj Virwani, who has won a lot of accolades for his role in ‘The Tattoo Murders’, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List and opened up about his current projects and how the pandemic has been affecting him.

Tanuj Virwani is an actor and model, who has won a lot of accolades for his role in ‘The Tattoo Murders’ on Disney+Hotstar, and yet again he packed with a powerful role as ACP Aditya in ‘Murder Meri Jaan’ streaming on Disney + Hotstar alongside Barkha Singh. Along with being an actor he has shown a keen interest in direction and writing and has made several socially relevant short films. Tanuj recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List and talked about how his current projects and roles in it and how the pandemic has been affecting him.

When asked about what convinced the director and also him to do the role in his recent film ‘Tattoo Murders’, Tanuj shared with us, “If you propose that question in front of our director Shravan sir maybe he will ask what convinced Tanuj to do the role. It was sort of a perfect role because I think I was also itching to do something different. Since I have started getting work, I have been offered an array of roles such as after ‘Inside Edge’ I have been offered interesting projects. It was more urban in the treatment of how those characters lived, and I specifically felt that with the character of Prabhat Pratap on ‘Tattoo Murders’, it offered me the chance to do something drastically different and I like to experiment.”

“On this particular project, I did not have the sort of pressure to carry a shoot but I was okay to try something different because sometimes you will pass with flying colours and audience will embrace it or sometimes just mixed reactions. But if you don’t try, if you don’t take that first step into the water you will never know whether you can sink or swim. I think the OTT platform also largely should be credited because it really gives us as actors a lot more scope for experimentation, shoots and even films.”

When asked about how appealing the role was to him, the actor replied, “Absolutely, the one thing I am happy having seen the show entirely is that our director who is also one of the writers on the show was kind of able to read it in the authenticity that was present in the writing. Many times what happens is that things get lost in translation, you might read a script and whereas the whole story may appeal to you but when you see the way it’s finally done on the screen executed very differently. In this particular case, I feel Shravan sir has done an excellent job of maintaining the authenticity and it’s very raw and very edgy because there’s no sex involved in a lot of projects was involved shooting in real life which I think will be impossible during a pandemic but we finished shooting just before Covid has hit.”

When asked about his success with digital platforms, Tanuj said, “I think just the visibility of what OTT platform offers to actors like myself and many others in my position is insane. I still remember when I was signed on ‘Inside Edge’ and we were shooting back in 2016, a lot of us were very cautiously optimistic that we know we are making something cool and interesting but no one could have in their wildest dreams thought like the impact it could have. Today when you look at the entire landscape of entertainment in our country it has just shifted so dramatically and has given birth to so many wonderful actors and I consider myself very fortunate that I am an active actor at this point of my career who is getting these opportunities. I am just so glad that I listened to my instincts and it has given me even more confidence on going ahead to trust my instincts.”

While talking about his next upcoming movie, the actor shared with us and said, “The lineup seems to be very solid right now so I believe my next release would be a show called ‘Tandoor’ that is based on a Tandoor murder case that happened in Delhi in 1995 and I am portraying the role of the person who was responsible for it and it’s a miracle to get that on Covid situation. I have got another show coming up with Barkha Singh so I am looking forward to it as it has given me another opportunity to do other works. There is one upcoming project which I am passionate about with the mafia in Bombay city because it’s again a very different kind of project.”

When asked how the actor himself has adjusted to the pandemic situation, Tanuj revealed, “Everybody collectively put our guards down and we are in a probably worst situation than from last year. I would like to say is that we all have been redirecting for the last year about social distancing, sanitisation and wearing masks and hence I request viewers to take of themselves and others around especially those who are vulnerable. It has been frustrating for me also but whenever I put on television I consider myself extremely fortunate and grateful to be in the position that I am and there is so much to look forward to in life and I am sure few years from now when we will look back at this as learning curve thinking and how we lived through it and we survived.”

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Cryptocurrencies: Regulation is the constructive way forward

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Is the wave of cryptocurrency a destructive tsunami that shall annihilate the financial system or a lucrative opportunity that ought to be pushed towards profitable shores? Given that the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, traded at $0.08 when it was created in 2009, even after accounting for its significant fluctuations, its current value of $35,876, is enough to make jaws drop and eyes roll. 

What makes cryptocurrency so valuable despite it having no intrinsic value? Top cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin trade at amounts that are unthinkable for an intangible piece of code. While this can be baffling, on deeper scrutiny, print money’s valuation is equally without any intrinsic value. Once the gold standard was removed in the 1930s as a basis to value fiat currency, the central bank of a country was effectively the sole determinator of its value. So the RBI dictates the value of the Rupee and if it decides to devalue it against the dollar or print more money, it can easily do so. However, there is still a level of stability associated with the value of the rupee owing to several factors on the demand and the centralised nature of its regulation, as is true of most fiat currency from stable economies. On the other hand, it begs the question of whether a currency whose value can fluctuate from $58,000 to $30,000 on an Elon Musk tweet can be said to have any level of stability.  

The value of cryptocurrency is derived from demand and supply, media forecasts and finite coin mining. Being platformed on blockchain technology and a decentralised distributed ledger system it has no central authority which approves and maintains a record of the database and determines its value. Despite the banking system being one of the oldest institutions backed by the Central government, the absence of an intermediary has not stalled the growth of cryptocurrencies because it has developed on a peer to peer network, being freely tradable by individuals and vesting control directly into the hands of the owner. Its convertibility into fiat currency is also at the behest of individuals who, through exchanges, are perfectly happy accepting it as tender which constitutes a discharge of debt. 

Moving forward, there is great uncertainty about the place of cryptocurrencies in the formal economy on account of the concerns of the state-regulated banking system. Lately, the Chinese government, amongst others, has vowed to crackdown on crypto-exchanges amidst growing leakages from their financial system. El Salvador, in stark contrast, became the first country to formally introduce cryptocurrency in its financial system and recognise it as legal tender. Several countries stand between these two extremes and recognise cryptocurrency in a limited capacity by regulating its use. India is at such an inflection point and must decide which path to follow. 

As with most significant technological developments, India viewed cryptocurrency with scepticism but did little about it from 2008 till sometime in 2018, when the RBI decided to come out with a circular that disallowed banks from allowing persons to trade in cryptocurrency. That step was taken without the legislature disallowing trade in cryptocurrency, so it effectively never made cryptocurrency illegal but created a surrogate ban for its official trade. The result was cryptocurrency exchanges relocating themselves outside of India and those wanting to trade in cryptocurrency proceeding to do it from outside the country. The RBI’s circular was struck down by the Supreme Court in its judgment in Internet and Mobile Association of India v RBI, which meant that crypto-currency, never considered illegal in India, could be traded and conversions into fiat currency done through the formal banking channel. However, as with most things, matters did not end with the Supreme Court’s decision. The recent experience with cross border trade in cryptocurrency in violation of foreign exchange guidelines served as another important reminder that regulation, and not prohibition, is the way forward. The cryptocurrency exchange WazirX was put on notice by the Enforcement Directorate for the alleged violation of foreign exchange laws. 

Rather than a blanket or a surrogate ban, acknowledging that the Indian authorities are well within their rights to prosecute the unauthorised and illegal use of cryptocurrency is the way to serve all stakeholders and is better in the long run, even from a tax collection standpoint. Allowing interested traders to access the market through legitimate and regulated means would help negate many of the worries associated with cryptocurrency transactions. Banning cryptocurrency is likely to further incentivise investment through the black market thereby leading to even more leakages from the formal economy. 

India can take several cues from beyond its borders on how to approach the regulation of cryptocurrency. The European Union, while cautioning against the dangers of cryptocurrencies, has permitted its use by regulating it. Cryptocurrency trading is also permitted in the USA, UK, Canada, Brazil and Russia, amongst others. For example, in the USA, people who trade in cryptocurrencies must follow centralised regulations and must register with accredited bodies to enforce anti-money laundering programs, keep appropriate records and make reports to FinCEN. With the active monitoring of such reports, it is possible to regulate the entire market holistically to avoid funding criminal activities such as terrorism. 

With carefully crafted safeguards most of these concerns can be tamed. The potential for cryptocurrencies to destabilise the system can be addressed by simple checks such as permitting trading only through exchanges and limiting deposits and withdrawals. By placing limits on the volume of sales and purchases as a percentage of the total holding, the volatility can be controlled in the same manner as the stock market. That said, while there have been talks of cryptocurrency regulation in India and several policy papers, they have not materialised into a proper regulation. A bill in Parliament proposes criminal penalties for mining, holding, selling, trading, issuance, disposal, or use of cryptocurrency and at the same time introduces the Digital Rupee as the RBI backed digital currency. However, that was followed by a ministerial press statement that suggested that even if the bill was tabled for the RBI to launch a Digital Rupee, it would not criminalise cryptocurrency. That bill is yet to be tabled. Further, high echelons of the government and in particular the Finance Ministry have made positive statements to the media on the subject, which shines a bright ray of hope, but not without the usual policy surprises.  

The question is whether India wants to follow China or embrace the winds of change with strong controls that are in sync with the liberal free-market economy. By embracing new technologies in our democratic and progressive nation, the twin objective of strengthening the dream of a digital India and not missing on the Blockchain revolution will become a reality. Gautam Buddha’s adage holds true even in today’s world: “Change is never painful, only resistance is.” There is no reason for India to impose a complete ban. Appropriate regulation and taxation are the tools to introduce it within the system for safe and legal use.

Nakul Dewan is a Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Barrister, Twenty Essex, Singapore and London. Nakul was the lead counsel who successfully argued against the RBI’s cryptocurrency ban in Internet and Mobile Association of India v RBI. Avishkar Singhvi is an Independent Advocate, Supreme Court of India. The views expressed are personal.

By embracing new technologies in our democratic and progressive nation, the twin objective of strengthening the dream of a digital India and not missing on the Blockchain revolution will become a reality. Gautam Buddha’s adage holds true even in today’s world: “Change is never painful, only resistance is.” There is no reason for India to impose a complete ban on cryptocurrency. Appropriate regulation and taxation are the tools to introduce it within the system for safe and legal use.

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BOMBAY HC TO HEAR KANGANA’S PLEA SEEKING PASSPORT RENEWAL ON 25 JUNE

Shweta Verma

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In the latest development on actress Kangana Ranaut’s plea seeking passport renewal, the Bombay high court on Tuesday refused an urgent hearing on the plea which seeks directions to the authorities to renew her passport, which expires in September. According to the actress, she has to travel to Hungary for the shooting of a film. The renewal has allegedly been denied over a sedition case against her. The court has called the application vague and also said Kangana was not wide awake to mention all details. She also did not cover the authorities as a party. The high court noted Ranaut in her application had sought relief only for herself but her sister’s name Rangoli Chandel was also mentioned as an applicant. The bench accordingly granted advocate Siddiquee the liberty to amend the application and to implement the Passport Authority as a party by the end of the day. The court allowed Kangana Ranaut to amend the application and posted the hearing in the matter on June 25.

The bench dismissed Ranaut’s advocate Siddiquee’s request for an earlier date of hearing. Siddiquee said Ranaut needed to travel out of India for the shooting of her film whose schedule had been fixed for later this week. The HC, however, said June 25 was the earliest date it could assign for the hearing.

“It is just a film. The schedule can be changed. First of all, the application is vague. If she was so vigilant, she could have approached the court with all details in advance. It is just a matter of one week, a film production takes over a year. June 25 is the earliest date we can give,” the judges said.

In her application filed on Monday, Ranaut had said she needed to travel to Budapest this month for the shooting of her upcoming film ‘Dhakkad’ and thus, needed her passport renewed.

The FIR was registered against Ranaut and her sister, Rangoli Chandel, in October 2020 on a magistrate’s order for allegedly creating communal disharmony through their statements and tweets. The Bandra police registered an FIR against Kangana Ranaut and her sister under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc), 295A (deliberate acts hurting religious sentiments), and 124-A (sedition).

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ANDHRA PRADESH MAKES ‘ENGLISH MEDIUM’ COMPULSORY IN ALL DEGREE COLLEGES

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The Andhra Pradesh Government has decided to make ‘English Medium’ compulsory across all Government, Private Aided and Unaided Degree colleges in the state from the academic year 2021-22. The Department of Higher Education of Andhra Pradesh strongly feels that the introduction of English medium education at the UG level would enhance the career prospects of graduates. According to the findings in the India Skills Report of 2019, English figured among the top three skills, along with learning agility and adaptability, that employers look for in India.

Out of nearly 2.62 Lakh students who have taken admissions into degree colleges across the state, only 65,981 students are admitted into Telugu medium background during 2020-21. Out of 65981 Telugu medium students, 24007, 16925, and 24960 have enrolled themselves in BA, B.com, and BSc courses respectively. This particular decision is bound to immensely benefit these students as well.

A 2016 report of Cambridge University titled ‘Findings of English at Work: Global analysis of language skills in workplace’ highlights that about 90% of employers look for in India say that English language skills are important for their organization.

A majority of BSc students have been seen to have taken up opportunities across the country, and in some cases abroad. Considering, this proficiency in the English language becomes essential for opening up new avenues for the students and ensuring their career growth.

Data proves that a large number of BA graduates prefer getting into sales and marketing, apart from journalism and research. Keeping in mind, the fact that most companies have started to prefer multilingual candidates and the emphasis on English, it is essential that the students pursue their UG in English medium.

Moreover, With the advent of top-notch technology, the commerce industry has become highly dynamic, fast-paced and algorithm/software-oriented in the last two decades. Therefore, the English language serves as an essential tool for professionals in the industry who are in the process of becoming highly successful.

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