From the Art of Living foundation refusing to pay the Rs 5-crore fine to Pakistan demanding foolproof security for their cricket team during World T20 and Deepika Padukone spotted on a dinner date with tennis star Novak Djokovic, here a is a quick rundown of the day’s top stories. Click ‘full story’ links for more.
AoL refuses to pay Rs 5-crore fine
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the Art of Living’s controversial cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi’s Yamuna river as an environment court gave the organisers time till Friday to pay a Rs 5-crore fine.
Earlier on Thursday, Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar said that he will not pay a Rs 5-crore penalty that the National Green Tribunal had slapped on them for fear of damage to the ecosystem during the event.
Modi will inaugurate the three-day event on Friday, though Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe pulled out because of security fears while President Pranab Mukherjee has already announced he won’t attend the event.
Pak demands ‘foolproof’ security for World T20
Pakistan’s interior minister said on Thursday the country’s cricket team will travel to India for the World T20 only if the Indian government guarantees foolproof security for the players.
“Indian government should guarantee foolproof security to the team. If not assured, then the team would not go,” Choudhary Nisar Ali Khan was quoted as saying by ANI.
The India-Pakistan match, scheduled for March 19, has been mired in controversy. To be played in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, it was shifted to Kolkata on Wednesday after serving and retired Indian Army personnel and political leaders in the state opposed it.
Deepika dines with Djokovic
Bollywood star Deepika Padukone was spotted exiting from the restaurant, The Nice Guy, in Los Angeles along with tennis star Novak Djokovic on Thursday. They were clicked by the paparazzi and were seen getting into the same car.
Deepika is currently shooting for her Hollywood film XXX: The Return of Xander Cage with Hollywood actor Vin Diesel and others.
British tabloid The Daily Mail, which broke the story, was criticised by Deepika’s fans on Twitter after it failed to identify the actress. The tabloid had referred to the Padukone as a ‘leggy brunette’ and a ‘female companion’ of the tennis star.
EPF tax may be back
The government is considering tweaking and bringing back a controversial tax on provident fund, including a proposal to have 70% of an employer’s contribution either taxed or mandatorily parked in a taxable pension scheme.
An employer’s contribution to the provident fund (PF) is not taxed now. The government’s argument is if an employee’s cost-to-company is Rs 1 crore a year then about Rs 12 lakh (employer’s contribution to PF) of that pay is tax-free, which it sees as unfair.
BJP is helping ‘thieves’: Congress in Parliament
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s departure from the country led to a political slugfest inside and outside Parliament on Thursday with Rahul Gandhi slamming the government for “allowing” him to leave. Finance minister Arun Jaitley hit back by reminding the Congress vice-president of Bofors scam accused Ottavio Quattrocchi’s flight from India.
In the Rajya Sabha, leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of being “party to the criminal conspiracy” to allow Mallya to leave the country when he is facing probe for loan default. Jaitley responded by saying it was during the UPA regime that banks provided loans to him. The Congress leveled similar charges against the government in the Lok Sabha also.
North Korea fires ballistic missiles
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Thursday in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution, as South Korean and US forces conducted massive war games.
The North also announced on Thursday it has scrapped all agreements with the South on commercial exchange projects and would “liquidate” South Korean assets left behind in its territory.