India's universal healthcare rollout to cost $26 billion

NEW DELHI - India's universal health plan that aims to offer guaranteed benefits to a sixth of the world's population will cost an estimated 1.6 trillion rupees ($26 billion) over the next four years, a senior health ministry official said.

Arun Jaitley sees better growth in H2 of 2014/15 5:51pm IST

NEW DELHI - India's economy is expected to do better in the second half of the fiscal year to March 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday, adding that he expected to hit his revenue target.

Map of Arunachal Pradesh, one of the disputed area between China and India/ Reuters
Indo-China Border Dispute

China irked about plan to build border posts

China's defence ministry on Thursday expressed concern over reports that India plans to build 54 new border posts along their disputed border, long a source of tension between the two giant neighbours. In September, India eased curbs on building roads and military facilities within 100 km of the contested border in Arunachal Pradesh, so as to speed construction of 6,000 km of roads.   Full Article 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the launch of the Jan Dhan Yojana, or the Scheme for People's Wealth, in New Delhi August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered bureaucrats to forgo the luxury of flying first class and start paying for their spouses' air tickets as he tries to deliver on a promise to cut the fiscal deficit to a seven-year low.  Full Article 

An employee of Snapdeal, an Indian online retailer, notes the tag number of delivery packages inside their company fulfillment centre in Mumbai October 22, 2014. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

India's delivery men offer prize investment

From Japan's richest man to Jeff Bezos, everyone wants a piece of India's booming online retail sector. For those without billions to pump into the tightly held firms who dominate e-commerce, the best bet may be the delivery men.  Full Article 

A convoy of peshmerga vehicles is welcomed by Turkish Kurds after crossing into Turkey near the Habur border gate in the southeastern city of Silopi, October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Iraqi Kurdish forces enter Syria to fight IS

A first group of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters entered the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Thursday to help push back Islamic State militants who have defied U.S. air strikes and threatened to massacre its Kurdish defenders.  Full Article | Mass grave of tribesmen found 

Apple CEO Tim Cook gestures as he speaks at Tsinghua University in Beijing October 23, 2014.  REUTERS/China Daily
Out Of The Closet

Apple's Tim Cook says "proud to be gay"

Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook publicly came out as gay in an article he wrote in Bloomberg Businessweek. Cook has never previously acknowledged his sexual orientation. "So let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me," Cook said in the article.  Full Article 

A helicopter flies past a Pakistan's national flag in Islamabad September 2, 2014. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files

Pakistan military steps up Taliban offensive

Twenty-nine people were killed and thousands of civilians forced to flee Pakistan's northwestern region of Khyber, the military said on Thursday, as it stepped up a two-week-old offensive against Taliban militants in the area.  Read | U.S. drone strike kills five militants 

Film-maker Shonali Bose hopes to take gay issues out of the closet

New film hopes to take gay issues out of closet

Director Shonali Bose is hoping her new film, "Margarita, With a Straw", will throw a spotlight on gay rights in a country where homosexuality remains taboo and little progress has been made on repealing a law banning gay sex.  Full Article | Bollywood 

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D H Pai Panandiker

If Europe gets into a debt crisis

With the debt crisis building up in Europe, the rupee could possibly go down to the level reached in 2013 due to repatriation of FII investment. That is enough for the stock market to plunge. While the ECB will use all the tools at its disposal to prevent another debt crisis, one thing is almost certain - weakening of the euro currency, which may help Europe but not India.  Read 

Limestone funerary reliefs from Syria are on the International Council of Museums Emergency Red List of cultural objects at risk of looting. REUTERS/ICOM

How the West buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)

“Many antique collectors unwillingly support terrorists like Islamic State, ” Michel van Rijn, one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century, told German broadcaster Das Erste. And smuggling is booming in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, 4,500 archaeological sites are reportedly controlled by Islamic State.  Commentary 

India, Indonesia take different, but similar coal paths

India, Indonesia take different, but similar coal paths

India, poised to become the world's largest importer of thermal coal, appears to be opening up its domestic mining sector to foreign competition just as Indonesia, its biggest supplier, is making it harder for exporters.  Full Article 

Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, October 18, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Sykes-Picot drew lines in Middle East’s sand that blood is washing away

Iraq, like Syria, was a consequence of World War One and of the infamous, in Arab eyes, agreement between Sir Mark Sykes and Francois-Georges Picot which led to the division of the former Ottoman Turkish domains by Britain and France. That agreement appears in tatters, as both countries are broken, exhausted by years of war and sectarian division.  Commentary