UNHCR: 2,500 refugees drowned on way to Europe in 2016

UN releases figures after deadliest week of the year for refugees as 880 lost their lives in Mediterranean.

Refugees and migrants on a fishing boat pictured before making contact with the Italian navy. (Photo: Italian Coastguard/Massimo Sestini)

Refugees and migrants on a fishing boat pictured before making contact with the Italian navy. (Photo: Italian Coastguard/Massimo Sestini)

by Al Jazeera

At least 2,510 refugees have died while making the perilous journey to Europe so far this year, the UN refugee agency said, with fears rising that many more will suffer the same fate.

According to UNHCR, the figure marks an increase of 25 percent from the same five-month period in 2015, when some 1,855 refugees drowned. In 2015, from January until the end of May, at least 57 people died en route to Europe.

“Thus far 2016 is proving to be particularly deadly,” William Spindler, a UNHCR spokesman, said. “This highlights the importance of rescue operations as part of the response to the movement of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean, and the need for real, safer alternatives for people needing international protection.”

The announcement follows the deadliest week of 2016 for refugees at sea.


Over the past week, a series of shipwrecks off the Libyan and Italian coasts killed at least 880 people. That number was included as part of the UNHCR announcement, and marked an increase on previous estimates of around 700 people.

“According to some, unconfirmed, accounts, the recent increase in numbers is linked to efforts by smugglers to maximise income before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, in the coming week,” Spindler said in a statement.

So far this year, at least 203,981 people have made the journey to Europe, which is a similar number to those who arrived in the continent last year in the same period.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) put the death toll from January to May at 2,443 people.

Both counts are regularly used by human rights organisations.

The IOM said most of those travelling to Italy were from Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

None of the deaths in May happened on the eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece, where arrivals have slowed to a trickle since the EU struck a deal with Ankara to curb the flow.

Analysis by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said that during the week of May 23 to May 30, an average of five refugees drowned per hour as they tried to flee to Europe.

Karnataka govt bans Asaduddin Owaisi rally; AIMIM chief calls Congress ‘intolerant’

Asaduddin Owaisi

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government has banned the entry of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Chief Asaduddin Owaisi into the state.

The Siddaramaiah government has barred Owaisi from entering Bijapur district.

Annoyed over ban, he accused the Congress government of being intolerant and tweeted, “The Congress is in power in few states but arrogance and blatant disregard for constitution continues. Stop Preaching.”

“The Congress party prohibits my entry to Bijapur K/tka is this your Tolerance, what is difference b/w BJP & congress,” his another tweet said.

In another tweet, Owaisi said, “I have addressed 5 public meetings last 30 days Maharashtra /3 election meetings Tamil Nadu but Congress Karnataka govt Shameful conduct.”

Owaisi earlier had repeatedly attacked the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre during Dadri lynching incident, JNU row, Rohith Vemula suicide and termed it as intolerant.


Karnataka Congress govt must immediately heed to police personal’s demands & avoid the mass strike: AAP

An overworked, underpaid, stressed and dissatisfied police force is a disaster for the safety and security of citizens. Consecutive Governments have constantly interfered in police investigations and functioning adding unwanted stress as they are unable to function in an efficient and unbiased manner . Additionally police force is treated as “private armies” of the ruling party and policemen as orderlies and handymen of politicians. Most of the ordinary constabulary comes from rural households after managing some education with great difficulty. It s difficult to get recruited without paying bribes and after all this they get a meager wage and long unregulated working hours and neither dignity nor decent conditions at work. International Labor Organization says a decent condition at work is part of the global consensus for sustainable development.

Apart from poor service conditions they always face humiliation from superior officers -abusive language is part of the culture of higher officers who control and command the constabulary. There is no effective grievance redressed mechanism.

Policemen having been demanding a separate wage/pay commission but this has never been attended to. Central and State government employees have had the benefit of one pay commission after another. Why policemen should be denied this legitimate demand. They also face the same living conditions as other government employees. They face the same price rise, education and health expenses, transport problems, poor housing, health hazards and oppressive working conditions with no defined working hours. For all these reasons and more policemen and police women ought to be treated on a better scale than other government employees whose working conditions are not as hazardous as those of ordinary policemen.

AAP offers full support to their demands and ask the Government of Karnataka to reach out to them and avoid situation of mass leaves which may lead to a law and order crisis”. The government must immediately set up suitable machinery to listen to the protesters and not allow things to go out of hand. The immediate grievances of ordinary policemen (who are children of poor farmers) must be solved on a priority basis and a pay commission must be set up to address important questions relating to working and living conditions -especially of the constabulary.

It must be noted that the 7th pay commission has recommended a minimum wage of Rs=18,000/ per month based on the need based minimum wage calculation for central government employees irrespective of which city or which state they live and work.

Why then this discrimination against the poor police constables of Karnataka?

Police has a great responsibility in maintaining the rule of law and they can play a constructive role in this regard if they are allowed to work in peace and dignity. It is political interference in police administration which

is at the root of discontent both within the police force and against the police force (from the public) and this is a reminder that the recommendations of one police commission after another to give autonomy from political leadership and to create a separate police commission to administer the police force without political interference must be simultaneously addressed.

AAP Karnataka demands that the Congress government pays immediate heed to the demands of the police constables and commits to a time bound plan to resolve the issue and avoid a situation wherein policemen are forced to go on mass leave which could lead to a law and order situation:

1. Address the demand of fair wages which will be in line with wages being paid to policemen in other states
2. Reduce inhuman working hours by immediate appointment of required number of policemen and officers
3. Allow leave as per applicable labor laws
4. Provide required training and counseling
5. Provide required equipment to help improve efficiency
6. Reduce number of policemen assigned to VIP duty and reallocate them to regular police duty
7. Stop political interference and allow police to function independently as this will help in improving moral and respect in civil society.

Aam Aadmi Party has already written a letter regarding this to CM Siddharamiah & Home Minister G.Parameshwar, we have also attested a copy to Honourable Governor to overlook the issue.

We expect CM & Home Minister to look into this issue & address it appropriately to resolve the issues raised by Policemen & avoid the much aggregated Police Strike which may lead to severe security & safety issues in the State.

Gala Group launches another four story empire with exclusive showrooms on RV road


Bengaluru: No matter you build, Gala group has the interior decorative products for you. Trendy and affordable, Gala Square launched at #125, RV road, VV Puram, near lalbagh west gate on Sunday, 29th may 2016. Bollywood celebrity Suniel Shetty and Chairman, Euro Group of Companies, Shri Nenshi L Shah inaugurated the new campus as chief guest and guest of honour.

About Gala Group

What started off in 1998 as a dream, has now manifested into a reality. 18 years ago, Shri Kiran Gala dreamt of a house that can help people build their homes. Sharing his passion, were his two brothers Mukesh & Manish Gala and together, they start with one product. Brick by brick, Gala group is now a vast vessel, with over 16 smart and quali-fied entrepreneurs, spreading over 3 acres and 65,000 square feet of display area. Selling is an art but the ability to weave a families home requires a keen understanding of business and relationships. Displaying over 1,50,000 articles, this family run business has transcended boundaries of normality and aimed for the skies. Gala square is an extension that ascends to achieve the same vision.

On 29th May, Gala group succeeds in reaching another milestone. Launching a four story empire on RV Road (Near Lalbagh west gate) that would display the finest fin-ished products from across the globe, Gala Square is not an expensive affair but a luxu-rious display of quality.

Many can dream but to bring to life a success story takes a well oiled machine with the right balance of ambition, hardwork, people and passion. On every square inch at Gala square, you can experience the love for interior decoration embedded in their products, service and display and they are talking about more than a handful. Starting from Veneer, Gala group has now marked their territory in every necessity like laminates, plywood, wooden flooring, wallpapers, Corian, Designer doors, stone cladding, stone highlighters, architectural hardware, door locks, curtains, upholstery, carpets, aluminium composite and decorative lights and fans. Not only this, Gala group has succeeded in

working with many international brands like Hafele, Blum, Kohler, Grohe, Kaindl, Yale and MCM Spain.

It has taken Gala Group 18 years of hardship to cater Indian home makers with a single destination empire, a one stop solution for every interior need. It guarantees a customer no reason to step outside and wander around the busy streets. From impeccable as-sistance to quality service, Gala Group has mastered the art of providing interior decor and Gala Square is expected to be a reflection of the many years in learning.

As a pursuit to perfection and holistic development, this family run business can soon be expected to compete in the big leagues. Rest assured, with their intention for progress, Bangalore can soon expect to have houses and commercial projects in hospi-tality, software and corporate sectors own the finest articles from across the globe.

Shriram Luxor Is Pre-Certified Gold By Indian Green Building Council

IGBC certificate

Shriram Luxor, a residential project from Shriram Properties has been pre-certified gold by Indian Green Building Council. The certification duly signed by the Chairman of IGBC and IGBC green homes rating demonstrates Shriram Luxor’s intent to design and build a high performance residential building in accordance with IGBC Green Homes criteria.

“We are pleased to have achieved this milestone, and it proves our longstanding commitment towards the environment and society we live in. It’s our endeavour to build properties which are in harmony with nature optimising the five elements of land, resources, energy, water and air,” the Managing Director of Shriram Properties, M. Murali said.

The certification was conferred in February 2016, and is a major milestone for Shriram Properties in their endeavour in building greener and more eco-friendly projects.

Some of the key green features of the project are as follows:
High SRI material on roof to reduce heat
Large glazed windows to ensure natural light and cross ventilation
Recycled water used for landscape irrigation
Natural rainwater collection to replenish the water table
Electric Car Charging Stations
Rainwater Harvesting System to conserve water
Caters to differently abled (ramps at main entrance)
Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints are used for internal coatings and sealants to ensure a healthy indoor environment
Minimization of soil erosion during construction
Protection of top soil and reuse of the same for landscaping
Use of CFC free refrigerants in air conditioning units
Good practices to reduce construction waste generation at site during construction and reuse of construction waste generated to divert for land fills

About the project:

Shriram Luxor is built in 5 acres of land offering 2, 2.5 & 3 BHK apartments with 8 blocks, G + 13 & 4 units per floor. Shriram Luxor offers you the perfect lifestyle that many only dream about. None of the homes at Shriram Luxor share a common wall offering great privacy. The modern & compact design is open on all sides for maximum light, ventilation & privacy. There are no dead space & passages. The living room has a private family deck.

There are many locational benefits of Shriram Luxor. It is 8 kms from Manyata Tech Park, close to Jplan Infotech, Philips Software Centre, Emmosys Technologies, 20 kms from city railway station and there are many reputed schools & health care centers in the vicinity.

One of the big advantages of the project is that it is eligible for 90% home loan as it is pre- certified Gold by IGBC.

About Shriram Properties:

Shriram Properties, the property development arm of the Rs. 90000 cr financial giant Shriram Group, Chennai, is a multi-crore company with nearly Rs 25000 crs business across the country. The company has so far delivered over 12 million Sq ft of residential and commercial built up space across the country and another around 60 million sq ft. is under various stages of development.

One of the forerunners in Indian Real Estates, Shriram properties is a trusted and highly credible developer having attracted huge PE investments. World majors Walton street, Starwood capital, TPG Capital, TATA Opportunities Fund, HYPO, Sun Apollo, ASK, Motilal Oswal, Amplus, ICICI Prudential have invested in Shriram Properties – aggregating to US $ 435 million.

Shriram Properties has won the prestigious Assocham Award (Associated chamber of commerce and Industry) in three consecutive years from 2013 to 2015, for being the Best Developer in Southern region. The company has also won awards for being the Best Realty Investment Partner in India and the Most Transparent Developer in Southern region.

PVR – Superior Q4 after hiatus


PVR’s Q4FY16 revenue and PAT came in line. Key positives were: (i) advertising increased by 19% YoY versus Inox Leisure which saw 2% YoY dip; (ii) net box office collection surged 36% YoY, driven by 9% YoY LTL ATP growth and 18% YoY LTL footfalls growth aided by blockbusters like Airlift and Neerja; (iii) F&B revenues soared 50% YoY led by 17% LTL SPH growth. EBITDA margins expanded 767bps YoY on favourable base. Going ahead, PVR will have a strong base of H1FY16. However, we expect the company to clock decent performance drawing from strong content pipeline and screen expansion in FY17. Maintain ‘BUY’.

Screen expansion continues; employee cost slightly higher
In Q4FY16, PVR added 25 screens (52 screens in FY16). The company will add another 65 screens in FY17 (17 in Q1FY17, 14 in Q2FY17), which will drive footfalls in FY17. Employee cost increased by 39.7% YoY due to addition of new screens and New Bonus Act. PVR will continue to add 50% of its new screens in tier I cities where ATP is above INR200. Upcoming movies such as Udta Punjab, Independence Day and Sultan are expected to do well for PVR.

Q4FY16 conference call: key takeaways
PVR expects 3-5% YoY ATP growth in FY17. The company has 283, 181 and 60 screens in tier I, II and III cities, respectively. E-commerce accounts for 10% of the ad revenue. PVR’s ad rates are ~30-40% higher than competitors. Going ahead, entertainment tax will be marginally higher as Delhi’s higher entertainment tax was not present in the base for 3-4 months. The company expects SPH to increase 8-10% YoY in FY17. It is launching popcorn, juices and merchandising for kids to drive growth. PVR expects DT Cinema’s consolidation from Q2FY17.

Outlook and valuations: Positive; maintain ‘BUY’
We remain enthused by PVR’s dominance and expansion in exhibition business and we envisage the company to continue to benefit from strong content pipeline in FY17 as well. We estimate PVR to log 19.8% EPS CAGR over FY16-18. At CMP, the stock is trading at 27.7x and 22.1x FY17E and FY18E EPS, respectively. We maintain ‘BUY/Sector Outperformer’ with a target price of INR956 (25x FY18E EPS).

Bajaj Electricals – Strategy shift dents sales, but better prospects ahead


Bajaj Electricals’ (BJE) Q4FY16 revenue at INR13.5bn (up 3.5% YoY) came 4% below estimate due to lower-than-expected revenue in E&P and consumer durables (CD) segments (nil growth YoY). Moreover, higher employee expense provisioning of INR70mn impacted margin. While EBIT margin of lighting segment at 7.2% (up 10bps QoQ) improved, that of E&P and CD segments fell 180bps and 150bps QoQ, respectively, pushing blended EBIT margin down to 5% (down 120bps QoQ). BJE’s INR347mn PAT was lower than our INR422mn estimate. Maintain ‘HOLD’ with target price of INR275 based on SOTP multiples—lighting 5x, CD 18x and E&P 7x on FY18E earnings.

Lower revenue growth, higher costs impact profitability
During Q4FY16, revenues of CD and E&P segments remained flat. However, lighting segment’s revenue jumped 20% YoY. Provisioning for employee wage increase for FY17 has been accounted for during this quarter (INR70mn) squeezed EBITDA margin to 5.5% versus 5.9% in Q4FY15. CD business EBIT margin of 3.4% fell ~350bps YoY owing to higher fixed costs. However, E&P and Lighting EBIT margins of 6.6% and 7.2% were higher than the margins of 4.7% and 4.3% in Q4FY15, respectively. Tax outflow of INR186mn was much higher than INR58mn in Q4FY15 due to regulatory requirements. Overall PAT came in at INR347mn, versus a profit of INR469mn in Q4FY15, on tepid operating performance.

Outlook and valuations: Improving; maintain ‘HOLD’
Execution of better margin orders in the E&P segment bolsters confidence in the project business. We anticipate LED business to continue to drive the lighting business. Competitive intensity in CD segment and its focus on secondary sales are likely to keep CD segment profitability under pressure in near term and this change in BJE’s strategy in the CD segment is likely to reap benefits from H2FY17. Return of growth along with pace in its CD business will determine the company’s overall performance over the near to medium term. The stock currently trades at 13.3x and 10.5x FY17E and FY18E earnings, respectively. Factoring in improvised margins, we revise up FY17E and FY18E earnings 19% and 31%, respectively. We maintain ‘HOLD/Sector Performer’ with a revised target price of INR275 (INR205 earlier) based on SOTP multiples—lighting 5x, CD 18x and E&P 7x on FY18E earnings.

You will pay fine, court tells Sri Sri’s Art of Living in strong order


New Delhi: For its massive festival held on the banks of the River Yamuna in Delhi, the Art of Living, led by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, must pay nearly five crores as a fine, the country’s top environment court said today, offering strong criticism of the organization.

The Art of Living had been allowed to go ahead with the three-day “World Culture Festival” on the banks of the River Yamuna on the condition that it would pay a five-crore penalty for damage to the area’s delicate ecosystem. Hundreds of thousands of devotees attended the event which included what was billed as the world’s largest stage, spreading over seven acres.

The organizers paid Rs. 25 lakhs at the time, and said the rest would be given later. They then asked that the 4.75 crores that they owed be treated as a bank guarantee and that it should apply towards creating a biodiversity park in the area. The Art of Living “used the order of the court to hold the event and then went back on its commitment,” the National Green Tribunal said today, adding that the organizes have tried multiple legal cases “in order not to pay the fine” as a result of which the “conduct of the foundation has been called into question.”

Environmentalists had accused organizers of ripping up vegetation and ruining the river’s fragile ecosystem by damaging its bed and disrupting water flows. Sri Sri, 60, had said he should be given an award for organizing the event. His organization said today that “we left the site in better condition than we found it” and that it is likely to take its case to the Supreme Court.

The opening of the event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, though President Pranab Mukherjee dropped out after the controversy over environmental clearances erupted.


Hindu, Muslim leaders meet for settlement of Ayodhya dispute


Ayodhya: Hindu and Muslim leaders have met for a negotiated settlement of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute with both sides saying a peaceful way to resolve the issue must be found.

Mahant Narendra Giri, the newly elected President of All India Akhara Parishad, met Hashim Ansari, the oldest surviving litigant in the Babri Masjid case.

Giri, along with other mahants and sadhus, had a half-an- hour-long meeting with Ansari.

“We are trying our best to reach a negotiated settlement in this dispute. The settlement must be peaceful and should be acceptable to both the communities. At the same time, we also want that the Supreme Court should conduct day-to-day hearing in this case,” Giri later said.

Ansari said, “We are always ready for talks and we must find a peaceful way to solve this dispute so that both the communities feel happy.”


Sonia backs Robert Vadra on ‘owning’ benami property in London

Sonia Gandhi

Rae Bareli/New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday backed her son-in-law Robert Vadra over the allegation that he owns a ‘benami’ property in London, saying the charge is a political conspiracy.

She also dared the government to investigate the allegation ‘unbiasedly’.

Senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya on Monday sought detailed inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into alleged involvement of Robert Vadra in the 2009 purchase of a ‘benami’ or proxy-owned mansion in London.

Reacting to the allegations, Sonia Gandhi said: “This is also a political conspiracy. What do you mean by Congress-mukt Bharat? Everyday they give excuses and level wrong allegations.”

“If this is true, then they should conduct an unbiased probe. Everything will become clear,” said an angry Sonia Gandhi, who was on a two-day visit to Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh.

On the completion of two years of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi said: “I have never seen anything like this, Modi ji is the PM, and not a Shehenshah (King).”

“Our nation is facing drought, poverty, farmers are in pain. At these times, such a “show” is not appropriate,” said Gandhi, criticising Modi for organising a gala event on completion of NDA government’s two years.