Aditya Roy Kapur Featuring Kalank’s Second Poster Revealed

Aditya Roy Kapur in his upcoming film ‘Kalank’ is sharing the stage with Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhavan and Madhuri Dixit. The second poster from the film has been released which displays fiery red mood with an intense look on Aditya’s face holding a sword in his hand. 

“He defines the nobility of his era! Here’s Dev!,” Alia wrote in her tweet. “A virtuous heart with an uncorrupted mind. Presenting Dev Chaudhry,” wrote producer Karan Johar with the pic.

Earlier on Thursday, Varun had also shared his own poster from the film. “It’s been a hell of a journey playing this gem of a character. So guys, meet Zafar,” he tweeted along with a poster of the film in which he can be seen in intense look, having smudged kohl eyes, pierced ears and long tresses.

 

Alia described Varun’s character as “fearless in love, fearless for love”. Sonakshi called Zafar “the flamboyant hero of our larger-than-life world”. Sharing a glimpse of Zafar, Karan said that Zafar “flirts with life and danger”.

Earlier, Karan posted an emotional post about the film saying Kalank was very close to his heart as it was the last film on which his father, the late Yash Johar, worked on.

“A film that was born in my heart and mind 15 years ago… A film I passionately believe in… the last film my father worked on before he left us. It was his dream to see this film come through.

“I couldn’t fulfil his dream then, my spirit was broken, but today his wish has found a relationship with celluloid. The story of turbulent relationships and eternal love has found a voice… Set in the 1940s, but its heart lives on. I am excited, anxious and emotional about this one.”

Directed by Abhishekh Varman, Kalank also features Sanjay Dutt and Aditya Roy Kapoor. It is scheduled to release on April 19.

China Calls Pakistan Its ‘All- Weather Strategic Partner’

Calling Pakistan as its ‘all- weather’ strategic partner on Thursday, China said that Pakistan applaudes on China’s “unbiased attitude”. 

Pakistan hopes Beijing and other members of the international community to play a “constructive role” in diffusing tensions between India and Pakistan, said China. 

China’s comments come ahead of the United Nations Security Council’s March 13 deadline for any country to raise objections against the proposal to list Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’. The proposal is sponsored by France and co-sponsored by the US and the UK. However, China maintained Thursday that it believed a country’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” should be upheld.

Speaking about Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou’s visit to Pakistan, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the “main mission” for the visit was to exchange views on the situation between India and Pakistan.

He said that Kong had met with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Staff of the Army and the Foreign Minister. “He stressed that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners. We comment that Pakistan has been restrained and calm and tried to ease the tension,” Lu said.

Further, he said that China calls on both India and Pakistan to refrain from aggravating the situation, to “uphold regional peace and stability” through dialogue at an early date. “And China will continue to play a constructive role. Pakistan also appreciates China’s unbiased attitude and Pakistan also stressed that it is not willing to see rising tensions. It is willing to resolve the problem with India and hopes that China and other members of the international community can play a constructive role in this process,” Lu said.

Responding to a question at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ briefing here, on whether Kong raised questions about terrorism radiating from Pakistani soil, Lu said the Vice Foreign Minister held in-depth talks in Pakistan on the situation and the tensions between India and Pakistan.

“So the major concern is the security situation in the region. Recently a lot has happened in this region and they are many issues. China has stated our position. The first, the sovereignty and territorial integrity should be upheld. And as to specific issue like whether we believe, we should take positive measures to ease the tensions, so as to maintain peace and stability in this region. This is a general issue. We believe that Vice Foreign Minister will hold an extensive and in-depth talk with his counterparts,” he said.

Centre To Start Four Major Infrastructure Projects In NCR

The Centre on Friday will lay the foundation of four major transport infrastructure projects in the National capital Region (NCR) of over ₹1.5 lakh crore investment just before the code of conduct for the election is rolled out. 

While PM Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the country’s first rapid rail project linking Delhi’s Sarai Kale Khan with Meerut costing about Rs 31,000 crore, three of his senior cabinet colleagues – finance minister Arun Jaitley, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and highways minister Nitin Gadkari- will launch the construction of the country’s longest Expressway from Delhi to Mumbai and Dwarka Expressway. These projects will require investment of Rs 1.1 lakh crore.

Both Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal are likely to attend the event. Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh said he was confident of both the projects progressing well and would meet the deadlines that would be set by the NHAI. 

Confirming Modi’s programme, which is likely to be held in Ghazaibad, urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Centre has gone ahead with the 82.15 km Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS) even as Delhi government kept raising “strange and unconvincing” reservations. “The Cabinet has given the go ahead and we are confident of getting the approval of Delhi Metro Phase-IV project to start the work soon,” Puri said.

The Cabinet is scheduled to take up the approval of DMRC Phase-IV project entailing investment of about Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 35,000 crore on Thursday. Puri did not answer whether the government was also keen to officially start work for this crucial mass transit project. 

TOI on February 20 had reported that the government would lay the foundation stone of RRTS and of the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and the cabinet approval for DMRC Phase-IV before the poll code kicks in. Modi is also scheduled to inaugurate two Delhi Metro corridors, Dilshad Garden-New Bus Adda section on the Delhi Metro Red Line (9.6 km) and Noida City Centre to Noida Electronic City (6.7 km). He is also scheduled to flag off civilian flight operations from the Hindon airbase. Last week, Gadkari had laid the foundation stone for the 59 km six-lane access control link from Ring Road with the under-construction Delhi-Mumbai Expressway.

Reliance Infra Bags ₹648 Crore Contract To Build New Airport In Rajkot

The new airport is being constructed near National Highway-8B connecting Ahmedabad and Rajkot, nearly 36 km from the existing Rajkot Airport. The company emerged winner among nine bidders that included Larsen & Toubro, Dilip Buildcon and Gayatri Projects.

“Reliance Infrastructure Limited E&C (Engineering & Construction) has received the Letter of Award (LOA) from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) of a contract worth Rs 648 crore for the construction of new greenfield Airport at Hirasar in Rajkot district of Gujarat,” RInfra said in a statement here.

RInfra participated in the tender for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract independently as a main contractor.

The company said the scope of the EPC contract includes, construction of runway, turning pads, taxiways, apron, perimeter and other roads, drainage system, fire station, fire pit, cooling pit, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of airfield ground lighting system, visual aids for navigation and bird hazard reduction etc.

“Reliance Infrastructure had scored the highest technical score of 92.2 per cent among nine qualified bidders like Afcons, and L&T. The airport is to be completed within 30 months from the date of issue of LoA,” the company said.

Over time, the proposed new airport will also meet the spill over needs of Ahmedabad.

The holistic development of Hirasar airport will serve the demand generated by Rajkot city and will also cater to the demand in neighbouring states, the statement said.

“Our strong credentials in infrastructure projects execution are borne out by the successful execution of large scale transportation and power projects. The Hirasar airport project will further strengthen RInfra’s bona fide to be a leader in infrastructure projects,” Reliance Infrastructure E&C CEO Arun Gupta said.

Reliance Infrastructure Limited E&C is part of Reliance Infrastructure Limited (RInfra).

RInfra has a project portfolio of 1,000 km of roads, 140 MW of solar power, 4,000 km of transmission lines and 9,000 MW of thermal power. The division offers a single point solution for execution of projects from “Concept to Commissioning” including project development, project engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning for clients.

US Infrastructure Bill Seems Difficult Amidst Funding Disputes: House Majority Leader

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said passage of legislation seems quite difficult this year without a consensus that involves President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans over how to pay for it.

“Getting infrastructure done means paying for it,” said Hoyer of Maryland. “And while everybody wants to invest in infrastructure, it is more problematic from many perspectives of how you pay for that.”

The comments came as the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee was told by the leaders of the Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, American Trucking Associations and American Society of Civil Engineers that they endorse raising the gas tax by 20 to 25 cents over the next five years to pay for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Trump said in his State of the Union address last month that he’s eager to work with lawmakers on a public works plan. But Trump hasn’t championed ways to pay for it, and he suggested Tuesday that investigations Democrats have begun into him, his family and business could jeopardize efforts to get an infrastructure bill passed.

“I’d rather see them do legislation, we negotiate out legislation,” Trump told reporters. “We have so many things, things we agree on like infrastructure, but they want to focus on nonsense.”

Trump Plan

Hoyer said passage also will depend on whether Trump will move beyond his proposal last year that would provide $200 billion in federal spending over a decade, mostly to spur states, localities and the private sector to spend the balance of a promised $1.5 trillion in infrastructure improvements. Hoyer said Democrats want more “meaningful” federal funding.

Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts told reporters that he is aiming to develop an infrastructure funding proposal in the coming months, but it would have to be developed “in tandem” with the White House, including public endorsements from Trump. Otherwise, Republicans would attack Democrats for any revenue increases they propose for improving roads and bridges, lawmakers said.

“We need a public commitment from President Trump and that is very difficult to get,” Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett said, adding that without Republican commitments, “we will have a true bridge to nowhere.”

Republicans also expressing skepticism a deal can be made.

“It’s the trillion dollar question, how are you going to pay for it,” said New York’s Tom Reed. “There is no trust.”

Neal said he wants to bring back Build America Bonds, subsidized debt that former President Barack Obama’s administration created to encourage states and cities to increase spending on public works. “I think it’s a very efficient way to raise revenue,’’ Neal said.

Oppo Set To Release Its Flagship Smartphone, Name Not Revealed, Specifications Confirmed

Oppo launched on Tuesday two of its mid- range smartphones- Oppo F11 and Oppo F11 Pro in India with the starting price Rs. 24,999. The company is now ready to release its flagship smartphone. Although the name of this smartphone is not revealed yet, specifications and features have been confirmed. The flagship phone will be equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 7nm processor and a 10x zooming camera lens.

Oppo’s Vice President Shen Yiren on Wednesday via Weibo post announced the upcoming flagship smartphone. Yiren did not disclose the name of the device but he revealed key details of the same. In the post, he confirmed that the smartphone will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 7nm processor and 10x hybrid zoom lens. Besides these top-notch features, the smartphone will also pack a 4065mAh battery.

As reported by Droidshout, the Vice president believes that with these features, the smartphone will easily be distinguished from other Oppo’s 2019 offering. It is worth noting that the company had showcased a device with similar 10x optical zoom camera at the Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona. The prototype which was teased also featured Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 256GB of inbuilt storage, a powerful 8GB of RAM capacity and a 4065mAh battery. Further, there was a waterdrop display notch and a sliding camera module.

The upcoming flagship smartphone by Oppo is expected to debut in the second quarter of this year. Apart from this, not much information is known, but since it is set to launch soon, more details are likely to arrive our way.

Nintendo Likely To Come Up With Its VR Cardboard Headset

Nintendo Co.’s Switch hybrid is trying hands on virtual reality games. The Nintendo Labo VR Kit lets gamers make a headset using cardboard so that the device can be slided in to create a ‘basic VR technology’. 

It’s reminiscent of Google’s Cardboard, which turns smartphones into VR goggles and was introduced almost five years ago. Priced at $80, Nintendo’s VR kit includes an alien shooting title and an ocean swimming simulation. It goes on sale April 12.

“We wanted to design an experience that encourages both virtual and real-world interactions among players,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s chief, said in a statement Thursday.

Nintendo’s VR headset doesn’t require a strap-on to stay affixed. Instead, users hold it up to their eyes with one hand and control games with the other. That suggests a focus on more casual, shorter experiences and a device that’s meant to be easily shared among a group. Spending on VR and augmented reality will grow 69 percent this year to $20.4 billion, with hardware accounting for half of that, according to IDC.

The new product is Nintendo’s first move into VR in more than two decades, after the 1995 Virtual Boy flopped with consumers. With the Switch entering its third year, Nintendo is facing increasing pressure to boost the device’s appeal beyond its core user base of loyal gamers.

The shares of Nintendo were down 1 percent in early trading in Tokyo, erasing some losses after the announcement.

Google Launches Reading- Aid App ‘Bolo’ For Primary Grade Kids In India

Google launched on Wednesday a free app called ‘Bolo’ which will assist parents in improving primary grade children’s Hindi and English reading skills. 

Launched in India first, the app is designed to work offline and comes with a built-in reading buddy, “Diya”, who encourages, aids, explains, and corrects the child, as they read aloud.

Google said it would not collect any data on children through the app and it would not have any advertisement.

“Nothing is ever sent to Google through the app – not even the voice samples,” Nitin Kashyap, Product Manager, Google India, told IANS, adding that the app is meant for just 10-15 minutes of daily use. 

He added that because the app works offline, there is less chance that children would get distracted and they would start doing something else online. 

“But should children get access to the phone or not is one area where we would not like to take a position on. That is a personal decision that every parent should make for their child,” Kashyap said. 

Google said it has been piloting Bolo with over 900 children in 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh with the help of ASER Centre, a research and assessment unit of Pratham Education Foundation.

With the app, 64 per cent of children showed an improvement in reading proficiency in just three months, it added. 

As per the ASER 2018 report, of all the students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India, only about half can confidently read a grade 2 level textbook. Lack of reading ability can significantly impact further education, and ultimately the children’s ability to realise their full potential. 

“With Bolo, we aim to encourage and engage kids so their love for reading grows and it becomes a daily habit. We believe that technology can be a powerful enabler, and we want to ensure that students, parents, teachers and the education ecosystem, benefit from it,” Kashyap said. 

All the reading material on the app is completely free and the initial catalogue from Storyweaver.org.in includes 50 stories in Hindi and 40 in English, Google said, adding that it plans to add more stories soon.

IMF Economist John Bluedorn Says Youth Inactivity Is Highest In India Among Emerging Economies

Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) senior economist John Bluedorn on Wednesday said that youth inactivity is the highest in India among emerging and developing economies. 

Bluedorn was speaking on labour market in emerging and developing economies at an event organised by Brookings India.

“Youth inactivity is the highest in India compare to emerging and developing economies and it is about in 30 per cent,” he said.

Bluedorn noted that the key challenges facing youth in emerging economies labour markets include gender gaps, technological change, poor job quality in employment.

He also pointed out that emerging and developing economies are less vulnerable than advanced economies from technological changes and automation challenges.

A recent data compiled by Mumbai-based CMIE reportedly claimed that the unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2 per cent in Feb 2019.

Earlier, an NSSO’s draft report showed that India’s unemployment rate hit a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017.