Daily Archives: January 18, 2015

India dismisses reports of expulsion of RAW official in Colombo

New Delhi: India today dismissed reports that the Colombo station chief of RAW had been exp lled in the run up to this month’s Sri Lankan Presidential election and maintained that he has moved out after completion of his three-year tenure.

Reports from Colombo said that the Sri Lankan Government had asked India to recall the official in December for allegedly helping gather support for joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena who won the polls.

“The normal tenure of an Indian diplomat in Sri lanka is three years and all officials who have been transferred during last year have completed that. Its a normal transf r.

“Do not read anything into it unless somebody stands up and says ‘yes’. Using unnamed sources is just hiding behind and obscuring the truth,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said here.

Rubbishing the reports, he further said, “If somebody has proof otherwise, I would stand ready to contest that. Otherwise take my view as the last word on that.”

Asked specifically whether he has denied the report, the Spokesperson replied in affirmative.

Sources said the RAW official had completed his three-year tenure in Sri Lanka in September last year.

Sirisena had trounced Mahinda Rajapaksa in the tightest-ever presidential contest on January 8, ending his 10-year-rule.

Soon after taking charge as President, Sirisena said relations with India will be high on his priority list and his first trip abroad will be to New Delhi.

The reports from Sri Lanka about expulsion of the RAW official came at a time when new Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is in India.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today held wide-ranging talks with Samaraweera during which entire gamut of bilateral relationship was reviewed.


Crowdfunding: The next big thing

Want to make a music album? Organise a painting exhibition? Supporting a cause? Whatever it is that your heart desires, here’s the latest on how to raise money – crowdfunding. Vibha Singh has the details.

Many a time’s good projects with social message don’t get attention because of lack of finance. Be it a Marathi short film Ling Bhed highlighting the issue of prenatal sex determination followed by abortion, divorce and murder in case the unborn is a girl or Bionsense, a Mumbai-based medical technology company, which have successfully collected money for their venture. The success stories are many.

As per reports, last year close to 25 per cent IITians voluntarily chose not to participate in campus placements. They all had plans to start up their own ventures. After studying from the US, Vasuda Sharma did not want to pursue a job; rather her dream was to come up with her own album with 11 songs featuring 30 musicians from different parts of the world. In the latter case, she did not have any source to collect over five lakh rupees which she needed to record her album independently. But she had heard of Kickstarter, one of the largest crowd funding websites.

She started looking for a crowd funding platform in India and got to know about Wishberry, a crowd funding platform in India that help Vasuda and many like her collect funds from multiple sources. Crowd funding is a process where people help an individual, a cause, start up through collectively contributing money, showing support to the project. In return they are promised a certain reward or recognition or in some cases, a stake in the venture.

The phenomenon, which so far was only popular in the West is now becoming quite popular in India. It is reportedly estimated that in 2014, crowd funding shall add more than 2,70,000 employment opportunities in the market globally. This industry is all set to grow at the rate of 92 per cent in the current year and a study reveals that over the period of five years it has grown in leaps and bounds already.

With new projects going live daily, it’s a chore to keep up with, let alone find, interesting genre project. Varun Sheth was an interest rate swap trader at ICAP before he co-founded Ketto with bollywood Actor Kunal Kapoor to raise funds for social causes and NGOs across India. Talking about the increasing popularity of crowdfunding, Sheth said, “The idea is very simple – to connect people who have money with those who need money. Fundraising is a very difficult and time consuming task and that’s the problem that we wanted to solve. I, myself, being a finance professional realized that for example, people who are starting up need a capital, of say 50lakhs or 1crore and we saw that an online platform like Ketto was the best way to do it mainly because more and more people in India are coming online and more and more people are willing to take up risks (and start-up), so the initiative came up in terms of creating an online network where we could connect both these sets of people.”

The rising trend in the use of this platform owes greatly to the public’s choice in the matter. People contribute to projects that they’re passionate about and projects that have no fan base, generally, never take off. Companies and individuals all around the world have started making more and more use of this phenomenon especially those from the entertainment industry. Sheth said , “It is simple you upload your dream project on a crowdfunding website, explain why it is important and how much money you need. When people read about your project and are convinced about it, they can chip in with as much money as they want. It is fast developing into an alternative for investor-based projects.”

Why is there hope for crowdfunding in India? Seth feels that India being the one biggest countries for Non Government Organisations (NGOs), crowdfunding stands a big chance. “Lot of new platforms are going to come in the next few days,” he says. Many colleges and even individuals will push students to list causes on crowdfunding platforms, he says.

With independent projects catching up in the industry, Sarthak Dasgupta, a Mumbai-based film maker joined the crowdfunding club. After his debut, The Great Indian Butterfly, Dasgupta marketed his project on Catapoolt, raising Rs.8 lakh within three months. “Crowdfunding is not just about raising money. It is also about marketing to the right audience and gaining traction even before a project is started,” he says in an email interview.

Catapooolt which specialise in the entertainment sector – music, movies and performing arts was started by Satish Kataria, managing director and Yogesh Karikurve, associate director.

In the field of music crowdfunding began in the mid-90s and India’s independent music circuit seems to be catching up. Through crowdfunding websites such as artistshare.com and wishberry.in, events, albums and even music videos are now being funded by fans. Not only individuals are using it to garner funds, but it being also used as a promotional tool. Vasuda says that music composers like Vishal Dadlani contributed for her album after they saw the pitch video online. Vasuda said that it gives you the experience and offers liberty to shape project the way you want.

In India, founders of these platforms have discovered their way to crowdfunding in many ways. For example, the 20-something founders of Wishberry, Priyanka Agarwal and Anshulika Dubey, started their venture as an online wedding gift registry in 2010, where friends of people getting married could crowd-gift presents to the couple. They then extended this to Mumbai marathoners wishing to crowdfund money for charity (Rs 4 lakh for Teach for India in 2011 went up to Rs 40 lakh for a variety of organizations in 2012), then extending it to other spaces in April 2012.

“Crowdfunding is the way of the future. It really puts the power in the hands of the fans. Essentially, the process can be compared to managing a Facebook fan page or a LinkedIn business page. You have to tend to it daily, make your offers exciting, evaluate and target the right donors or investors, create a buzz around your product and chop and change strategy if the need arises.,” says Siddharth Shetty, founder and CEO of Fundlined, an online fund raising enterprise modelled after American crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter.


Indian spy’s role alleged in Sri Lankan president’s election defeat: Reports

Since the election defeat, Mahinda Rajapaksa has faced a tough time with many of his party members joining hands with Sirisena. (Source: AP photo)

Sri Lanka expelled the Colombo station chief of India’s spy agency in the run-up to this month’s presidential election, political and intelligence sources said, accusing him of helping the opposition oust President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

An Indian foreign ministry spokesman denied any expulsion and said that transfers were routine decisions. Rajapaksa, voted out of office in the Jan 8 election, said he did not know all the facts while the new government in Colombo has said it is aware of the reports but cannot confirm them.

But several sources in both Colombo and New Delhi said India was asked to recall the agent in December for helping gather support for joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena after persuading him to ditch Rajapaksa’s cabinet.

A sketchy report in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper on December 28 said that “links with the common opposition” had cost India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) station chief his job in Colombo.

India has often been involved in the internal politics of the small island nation off its southern coast – it sent troops there in 1987 in a botched effort to broker peace between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Rajapaksa’s unexpected defeat after two terms in office coincided with growing concern in India that it was losing influence in Sri Lanka because of the former president’s tilt toward regional rival China.

The concern turned to alarm late last year when Rajapaksa allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Sri Lanka without warning New Delhi as he should have under a standing agreement, the sources said.

Sirisena, the new president, has said he will visit New Delhi on his first foreign trip next month and has said India is the “first, main concern” of his foreign policy.

An Indian official said the RAW agent was recalled after complaints that he had worked with Sri Lanka’s usually fractious opposition parties to agree on a joint contender for the election. Then, he was accused of facilitating meetings to encourage several lawmakers, among them Sirisena, to defect from Rajapaksa’s party, the official said.

The agent was accused of playing a role in convincing the main leader of the opposition and former prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe not to contest against Rajapaksa in the election and stand aside for someone who could be sure of winning, said the officer and a Sri Lankan lawmaker who also maintains close contacts with India.

The agent was also in touch with former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, who was a key player in convincing Sirisena to stand, said the officer and the lawmaker, who also confirmed that the agent had been asked to leave.

“They actively were involved, talking to Ranil, getting those things organised, talking to Chandrika,” the lawmaker told Reuters.


Wickremasinghe, who is now prime minister again in Sirisena’s .


7 Things That Will Keep You Away From Being Successful

“Success is not so much what we have as it is what we are.” –Jim Rohn

There’s no one secret to success, but it doesn’t happen by accident, either. Successful people work hard at themselves and their business. Importantly, they learn to stop hindering their efforts by avoiding these seven things:

1. Dwelling on regrets

Sure, it’s important to understand your mistakes and failures and learn from them. Dwelling on them, however, is a sure way to make yourself unable to move forward.

Stop looking back, and file those lessons you’ve learned. You’ll need them on your path to success.

2. Envying successful people

Look up to people who are successful in your space, whether in work or in life. Keep jealousy and envy in check.

Here’s what you should do: Emulate them. Analyze what they’ve done right and how you can use their teachings to propel you to success of your own. But beware the negativity that festers inside if you allow yourself to get envious–there’s a reason they call envy the green-eyed monster.

3. Surrounding themselves with turkeys

There’s an old saying a friend in college shared with me: You can’t soar like an eagle if you’re surrounded by a bunch of turkeys.

Avoid negative people, complainers, and those who suck the life out of you by taking without giving. It’s hard to move forward with your plans when you’re constantly bombarded by the negativity of people around you. Instead, surround yourself with successful, positive people.

4. Second-guessing themselves incessantly

It’s good to have a plan and to revisit it from time to time to ensure you’re on track. However, second-guessing and questioning every decision you make will keep you firmly in first gear, spinning your wheels.

Trust in your own experience and abilities. Remember all those lessons you learned and filed away? They’re driving your every decision, whether you realize it or not. Don’t become so paralyzed with overthinking and analysis that you can’t act on what you need to do to experience success.

5. Becoming complacent

It’s one thing to experience happiness and be content with yourself–that’s a really good thing. But don’t let yourself get so comfortable that you’re not hungry for change.

If you didn’t need to change anything, you would already be wildly successful. What you’re doing today can always be improved on and expanded.

Keep your hunger sharp and your drive strong. You can always afford to learn something new.

6. Talking the talk without taking the next steps

Again, having a plan is great, and it’s important that you have a clear vision of how it’s going to play out. If you find yourself constantly talking about the plan without making any meaningful achievements toward accomplishing it, you’re guilty of not walking your walk.

In business, we often have to talk a big game, but that can’t be all there is to it. Set clear, measurable goals to ensure you’re always moving forward.

7. Equating money with success

As much as we recite the old mantra “Money won’t buy you happiness,” most of us (especially in business) still default to money as the primary measure of success.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, your revenue or salary can drive a lot of your feeling of self-worth–if you let it.

Focus instead on providing a great service, building a better product, inspiring others on your team. There are a million ways to measure success, but focusing on money as a metric is sure to bring a constant feeling that you’re less than worthy. That’s not a place from which to build a successful anything.


Lawyers Demand Sri Lanka’s Top Judge Quits Over Coup Claim

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan lawyers today demanded the resignation of the country’s chief justice over allegations that he tried to help ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa remain in office despite last week’s election defeat.

The influential Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), which includes the vast majority of lawyers in the country, said it wanted Mohan Peiris to resign over his role in an alleged coup bid.

Police this week announced the launch of a criminal probe into a complaint by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera that defeated strongman Rajapaksa tried to use military force to stay on.

In comments published on Twitter, Rajapaksa has insisted he had readily accepted “the people’s verdict”, in his first reaction to his defeat to Maithripala Sirisena.

President Sirisena’s top aides say Rajapaksa had the chief justice poised to legitimise a state of emergency after the strongman attempted to sabotage the vote count in the early hours of January 9.

Rajapaksa is also accused of urging the island’s army and police chiefs to deploy the security forces. Neither has spoken openly about the events on the night of the vote count.

There has been no reaction from judge Peiris to the allegations against him, but the BASL said he should go.

“It is reiterated and emphasised that it is absolutely essential for the chief justice and members of the judiciary to remain strictly separate and involved in political and executive decisions,” the BASL said.

“The executive committee of the BASL calls upon Hon. Mohan Peiris to tender his resignation in order to preserve the honour and integrity of the judiciary.”


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