Britain announces new immigration rules

Britain on Thursday announced new immigration rules for skilled and highly skilled migrants, including those from India, under which the criteria of earnings has been increased.

Under the new rules, which will be applicable from April 6, the minimum previous earnings for those applying under Tier I has been increased from the current £20,000 to £25,000 pounds.

For Tier II, the minimum prospective earnings has been increased from £17,000 to £20,000 pounds, while the highest earnings threshold has been set at £32,000, increased from £24,000, a release from the British High Commission said.

India continues to be an important source country of highly skilled and skilled migrants and Indian migrants continue to do well under Tier I and II of the points based system, with New Delhi accounting for the highest number of Tier II applications worldwide.

Tier II (ICT) will no longer lead to settlement in the UK, to reflect the intrinsically temporary nature of ICT roles, the release said.

The U.K. Government also accepted changes to Tier I recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and has set out further details of how it will implement changes the MAC recommended to Tier II.

It also reintroduced points for Bachelor Degrees for those with high previous earnings (of at least £35,000).

Deadline for giving views on Telangana extended

Views on the contentious Telangana statehood issue can now be sent to the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee till April 10 instead of March 31 as announced earlier.

The Committee for Consultations on the Situation in Andhra Pradesh, headed by B.N. Srikrishna, on Thursday, decided to extend the deadline for filing views on the contentious statehood issue, heeding to demands from various groups in Andhra Pradesh.

The panel had on February 20 issued a public notice in newspapers inviting suggestions or views from political parties, social organisations and other stakeholders in the State by March 31.

“On the request of certain groups and public, the committee has decided to extend the deadline for filing of views. April 10 will be the last date (for filing),” Justice Srikrishna told reporters here after the panel’s fourth meeting.

Panel’s Member-Secretary Vinod K. Duggal and other members were also present at the briefing.

There have been demands from various organisations and individuals in Andhra Pradesh that the deadline for submitting views should be extended.

Justice Srikrishna said the committee has so far received 14,000 representations from various organisations and individuals in the form of memoranda and letters.

The panel also appointed senior IAS officer Raju Sharma as its nodal officer.

Justice Srikrishna also said the committee has appointed five consultants to look into the representations being received and give a note on them to it.

The committee would start its consultation process with political parties and general public after April 10 and its next meeting would be held here on April 8.

The committee has already started studying historical, constitutional, political, legal, economic, social and cultural aspects to give its view on the statehood issue.

The panel has been mandated to “examine the situation in the state of Andhra Pradesh with reference to the demand for a separate State of Telangana as well as the demand for maintaining the present status of a united Andhra Pradesh.”

Other members of the committee are Ranbir Singh, vice chancellor of the National Law University, Delhi, Abu Saleh Shariff, senior research fellow in International Food Policy Research Institute, Delhi, and Rabinder Kaur, professor at the department of humanities and social sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi.

The committee has been mandated to review the developments in the state since its formation and their impact on the progress and development of different regions.

’10min of intensive exercise as good as hours of training’

The common excuse that there is not enough time to exercise effectively is now wearing thin as scientists have claimed that short but intensive bursts of workout are as effective as hours of moderate training.

The study into the benefits of “high intensity interval training”, known as HIT, by McMaster University, Canada, suggested that staying in shape is not at all a time-consuming affair.

The researchers found that HIT is “a time-efficient but safe alternative to traditional types of moderate long term exercise”.

HIT involves running or cycling at almost maximum effort for a minute and then resting for a minute before repeating the process around 10 times, The Telegraph reported.

For their study, volunteers rode an exercise bike in stints lasting just 60 seconds while peddling hard enough to get close to their maximum heart rate.

Tests afterwards showed that their muscles had improved as much as if they had been involved in endurance training.

Prof. Martin Gibala, who led the research, said the study “proved that it was possible to get more by doing less”.

His report, published in the Journal of Physiology, said it was not clear why HIT was so effective but it appeared to “stimulate many of the same cellular pathways” as traditional training regimes.

“The findings also meant that a lack of free time was no longer an excuse for refusing to exercise,” Prof. Gibala said.

Kasab guilty of killings at Taj, Oberoi, Nariman House: Prosecution

Lone surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab is guilty of killing people at The Taj, Hotel Oberoi-Trident and Nariman House although he did not directly participate in the terror attacks at these places, the prosecution argued before the trial court on Thursday.

Some portions of the confession made by Kasab before a magistrate were corroborated by telephonic conversations between the terrorists and their Pakistani handlers intercepted by the police during terror attacks, which proved Kasab’s role in the conspiracy, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam submitted.

While Kasab and slain terrorist Abu Ismail had rained bullets at people at Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, Cama Hospital, Metro Junction and planted bombs in two taxis, eight other team members had killed people in Hotel Taj, Hotel Trident and Nariman House.

“Kasab has been changing colours from time to time and he has also refused to acknowledge CCTV footage of his friends who struck terror at Hotel Taj, Trident and Nariman House.

But I have circumstantial evidence to establish that Kasab is guilty of attacks at these places also,” Nikam argued.

Nikam told judge M.L. Tahaliyani that Kasab had stated in his confession that LeT chief Hafeez Sayeed had given a code name to all the attackers including himself (Kasab). This is corroborated in telephone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers.

Nikam further argued Kasab had stated in confession that LeT leader Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi had told terrorist Abu Ismael to open the bottom valve of Kuber boat (by which they arrived in Mumbai) so that the vessel would sink and evidence would be destroyed.

Kasab had stated in confession that they did not open the valve of Kuber boat while leaving the vessel because they spotted another boat and thought it belonged to the Indian Navy.

So in a haste, they forgot to open the valve.

This is also corroborated in telephone conversations the attackers had with their handlers during the terror attacks at the two hotels and Nariman House, Nikam said.

Nikam said this proved that whatever Kasab had told the magistrate in his confession was “completely true“.

Quoting another instance, Prosecutor Nikam said Kasab had also stated in his confession that he had killed Amarsinh Solanki, the navigator of Kuber boat.

The prosecution state that the terrorists had come from Pakistan by boat. Midway, they hijacked the Kuber boat and arrived by that vessel near Mumbai. Then they switched to a dingy (rubber boat) which they had brought from Pakistan to reach the coast.

India, Bangladesh hold talks on river water

New Delhi: More than two months after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came here on a landmark visit, India and Bangladesh on Thursday held talks to thrash out an interim treaty on Teesta water sharing and issues relating to other rivers.

Water resources secretaries of the two countries met here in the morning, setting the stage for the ministerial-level Joint River Commission meeting later in the day.

The Indian side, led by Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, met the Bangladeshi delegation headed by Water Resource Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen in the two-day discussions. The commission last met in 2005.

“We are already getting 3,500 cubic feet per second (cusec) per day without asking for it and we certainly expect more than that from the coming talks,” said Sen, adding that he was hopeful of progress in the talks.

The Bangladesh delegation also included Mashiur Rahman, adviser to premier Sheikh Hasina, and Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes.

“The focus of the meeting was on Teesta water sharing,” said India’s Water Resources Secretary U.N. Panjiyar.

“At present, Bangladesh receives almost all the water as it is not being used by India but after the ongoing construction of a barrage on the Teesta river is completed, some water will be utilised by us as well,” he added.

Other issues may include sharing of the flood forecast data, he said.

India has made it clear that West Bengal will have a crucial role in any accord on Teesta water-sharing as the river flows into Bangladesh from the Gajoldoba barrage point.

The Teesta water accord could be modelled on the Ganga Water Sharing Treaty signed in 1996 when the Awami League was in power in Bangladesh.

According to the Ganga treaty, if the water flow at Farakka point of the Ganga is 70,000 cusecs, Bangladesh and India share the water equally.

Terror alert in Mumbai: No vehicle inside Vidhan Sabha

Mumbai: Following confirmed terror alert, Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil today prohibited entry of any Red-light vehicles inside the state assembly premises.

Patil said that no VIP vehicle, including Chief Minister’s vehicle, would be allowed to enter the Vidhan Sabha premises.

He further said that militants may use VIP vehicles to target the State Assembly.

The precautionary measurement was taken following high terror threat to Mumbai till March 22, he added.

All the vehicles of MLAs and Ministers will be stopped outside the front gate of Maharashtra Assembly.

According to the sources, all the vehicles have reportedly been stopped outside the Gate No. 1 from Minister and MLAs were walking down towards assembly to attend ongoing budget session.

The decision was taken following strong intelligence inputs that terrorists might target Vidhan Sabha and other vital installations across the city.

It is noteworthy here that Mumbai has been facing terror threat till March.

The security has been beefed up in the city. Intelligence agencies have said that ONGC, BPCL, Vidhan Sabha and foreign embassies might be attacked through suicide vehicles.

The nature of attack could be similar to Pakistan’s Marriott hotel attack.

Earlier, two LeT suspects Riyaz and Latif were arrested by the ATS. The duo were planning to blow up ONGC oil tankers.

The police have also seized maps of vital installations and other sensitive materials from their possessions.

US intelligence chief meets Chidambaram

New Delhi: America’s top intelligence official Dennis C. Blair met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram here on Thursday, on a day suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley was slated to appear before a Chicago court to plead guilty to charges of terrorism.

Blair was accompanied by the US ambassador in New Delhi Timothy J. Roemer and a delegation of the US Secret Service. It was not known if Headley figured in the talks with Chidambaram.

The two sides are said to have have discussed issues related to terrorism emanating from Pakistan and also the recent spate of terror attacks in Afghanistan targeting Indians.

The ambassador told reporters after the meeting in North Block that the US would cooperate with the government of India in all areas, including terrorism.

The visit was to maintain “the day by day, hour by hour cooperation with the government of India and the United States on issues of terrorism… and fighting a common enemy”, the ambassador said.

The US intelligence head also held a meeting with Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Mathur on the issue of terrorism and the ways to counter it, a home ministry official said.

Blair’s visit comes days after his statement that Pakistan was using militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba as strategic tools against India.

LeT’s operative Headley, a Pakistani American resident of Chicago, has been named in the Mumbai terror attack and is expected to plead guilty to get a sentence lighter than the death penalty.

He faces six counts of conspiracy involving bombing of public places in India, murdering and maiming people in India and abroad and providing logistical support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He also faces six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of six citizens in India.