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Extreme Adventures you should try, in India!

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Thinking of adventures, what comes to your mind first? Bungee jumping off the side of a cliff, Heli-skiing in sub-zero temperatures or a breathtaking hot-air balloon safari or white water rafting down some wild rapids?

Today, routine getaways and run-of-the-mill vacations have been replaced by experiences that are more authentic, as travellers are seeking adventures, thrills and a closer relationship with different cultures. The millennial traveller aims to be a part of unique experiences and adventure tourism has therefore been catering to tourists who prefer venturing out into the unknown rather than joining the crowd. Having said that, many of today’s travellers are also not aware that what they aim to find in other countries can be found within India, at a level that they may not find elsewhere.

So check out the top 5 adrenaline-pumping activities you can enjoy in India, with maximum thrill and minimum planning.

Heli-Skiing at Manali and Gulmarg

If rushing down a mountain, navigating treacherous twists and turns is what you enjoy, then take it a step higher with heli-skiing down one of the numerous mountains of Manali or Gulmarg. With secluded mountaintops and landings at over 10,000 feet, you are guaranteed an adrenaline rush that will get you forever hooked. The option of being flown by helicopter to the top of the mountain will give you a chance to experience spectacular heights and amazing slopes that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible. Definitely one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have!

Hot Air Ballooning over Udaipur

Get up close to a magnificent sunrise or sunset with the most romantic adventure possible, as you explore the spectacular forts, hidden palaces, breathtaking terrain and unique sights of Udaipur on a hot-air balloon.

White Water Rafting in Rishikesh

When just a normal vacation isn’t enough, it’s time to go off the beaten track with a whitewater rafting adventure in Rishikesh, one of the most sought-after destinations for the sport. While here, you can have your fill of heart-stopping rapids and an exciting boating experience. Rishikesh also has the highest bungee jumping spot in India, and is the only destination with a fixed platform to dive from.

Sky Diving Deesa, Gujarat

For a daredevil spirit, there’s nothing more exciting than diving from a height of 10,000 feet in the sky, and when it comes to skydiving, India has it all from tandem to parachuting! So with plenty of excellent ridge soaring and some fantastic scenic skydiving options, take your pick from Deesa in Gujarat, Dhana, Madhya Pradesh, Pondicherry or Mysore for the experience of a lifetime!

Trekking across the Spiti Valley

A five-day adventure and a 55 km trek, Spiti Valley is definitely not for the faint-hearted. With treacherous mountain paths, sub-zero temperatures and lack of basic necessities, like hot water (or sometimes even water) and adequate lodgings, this adventure will test your spirit like nothing else. On the flip side however, the breathtaking views, gorgeous landscapes and the ability to truly enjoy nature will make this entire journey truly worth it.

Caving in Meghalaya

For an enthusiastic caver, there can be nothing more satisfying than exploring the insides of the most exciting caves in Meghalaya. With the deepest and longest caves in South Asia, Meghalaya is amongst the world’s top 10 destinations and promises an experience par excellence.

“While many may not be aware, India is a fantastic place for adventure sports and activities, so much so that it also attracts travellers and adventure junkies from outside India,” says Viren Batra, co-founder of Nirvana Travel. “Wherever you may go, there’s something for everyone in every state, making India one of the best places to enjoy vacations with a focus on adventure!”

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Aadhar, a surveillance program of Indians by government

The Aadhar project was launched for welfare of the people but it has been transformed into a surveillance program infringing upon the civil liberties of Indian citizens thus endangering freedom.

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Aadhar Card Enrollment Center

Aadhar is currently being debated a lot for massive amount of biometric data being breached by the hackers but the most crucial factor is the intrusion into the privacy of Indian citizens that infringes on the civil liberties of an individual from income to expenditure, from financial investments to properties and tracking of the citizens which is unconstitutional.

Aadhar was introduced in 2009 for the sole purpose of transferring the benefits of the government to the beneficiary thus removing the hassles of middle man.But now the Modi government is exploiting the use of Aadhar by bringing the Indian citizens finances under the government scanner. This has instilled fear among the citizens.

The government is incapable of ensuring safety of biometric data and there have been scores of incidents where the massive amount of data was leaked. Modi government compelled to use Aadhaar-enabled Payments System (AePS), and made it mandatory for numerous purposes for bank account, pan card etc.

The Aadhaar project has a vulnerability to identity fraud, even identity theft as fingerprints impressions can be reproduced. For instance a kidnapper can force the hostage for his fingerprints and withdraw the amount from his bank account thus facilitating crime.

Sr Advocate Shyam Diwan submitted that “there are so many regulations and notifications in this case.” Now, the rural population of India is unaware of the loopholes of Aadhar card and there is likelihood of bank fraud.

Another point is that it is also linked with ration so who has not Aadhar cannot take ration because she’s living in a remote area.

The re-verification have also came with all the existing mobile users for stricting the use of money laundering.In India, where several people are unable to afford one meal a day, how they will afford a mobile phone for having the Aadhar card.

There are scores of people who never filed their IT return or opened their bank accounts and neither have Aadhar cards.senior advocates Shyam Diwan argued that Aadhar is also connected with 139AA of income tax act thus connecting your bank accounts, policies and mobile number.

Diwan had argued in the Supreme Court in April 2017 that gathering of biometric information violates bodily integrity Further, the giving of biometrics is associated with crime.

LPG connection, The Jandhan Yojna is also linked with Aadhar. Diwan submitted that “It is also mentioned that the Adhar is voluntary till there is no judgment on it. “Bench said are you going to challenge the Aadhar programme first? Advocate Diwan stated “We have to make it clear that what is the purpose of Aadhar project”

This project can track all the citizens and their activities. Firstly it was voluntary. And state issues a number and those numbers can be accessed by government for tracking citizens and the state is empowered to switch it.

Diwan stated “We are challenging this project because of the collusion of a policy and technology. It is a giant electronic mess.”

The constitution makes a balance between laws and life of citizens but the Aadhar creates a mess between all this. Even banking is also connected so government can track our money expenditure and all.

There are some points which is there:
*Tracking banking and expenditure
*Right to privacy
*Identification of personal things like iris and fingerprints
*Adhar database is secure or not for national security

The Aadhar project was launched for welfare of the people but it has been transformed into a surveillance program infringing upon the civil liberties of Indian citizens thus endangering freedom. First, Modi government tarnished the country’s image by saying that demonetisation will hurt the black money owners, in a way showing that corrupt money is in circulation in India itself and not stashed abroad in safe havens. Now, Aadhar is being used to scrutinize Indians.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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Analysis

Haj 2018 likely to be costlier, but not because of subsidy abolition

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday announced the abolition of Haj subsidy from this year.

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Haj 2018

Haj 2018 is likely to be costlier than last year but not because of the abolition of subsidy that the government announced on Tuesday.

The cost is likely to go up thanks to rise in expenses incurred in Saudi Arabia during the Haj such as accommodation, transport, food and the like. Notably, the government subsidy did not cover these expenses and was limited to the airfare.

Haj Committee of India (HCI) Chairman Mehboob Ali Kaiser told IANS that it was bargaining hard with Saudi authorities to keep the cost in check but local factors may result in the rise of Haj expenses this year.

In 2017, the HCI charged Rs 200,000 for Haj with ordinary accommodation (Azizia) and Rs 234,000 for deluxe accommodation (Green), which is closer to the Haram in Mecca.

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“Over the last year, the electricity tariff in Saudi Arabia has shot up three times. Also, the petrol prices have doubled. The accommodation cost is also going up. These factors may result in a hike in the total Haj cost this year,” Kaiser said.

At this point, it is difficult to predict the final cost to each pilgrim for Haj 2018, he added.

“It will be unfair to expect the same costs for everything in Saudi Arabia after a threefold rise in electricity prices and doubling of petrol prices. Secondly, the Saudis are cussed bargainers and we have to really haggle hard with them for every riyal.

“Nevertheless, we are trying our best and bargaining hard with them to ensure that the cost does not go up drastically,” Kaiser said.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday announced the abolition of Haj subsidy from this year.

Kaiser said that the HCI “knew it was coming and were sort of mentally prepared for it”.

“In any case, the withdrawal of subsidy will not affect the airfares from major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru — but fares from smaller embarkation points such as Srinagar, Gaya may go up. But people from these states may now embark from any other place from where fares are low, such as Mumbai, Delhi or Ahmedabad,” he added.

However, in the coming years, the Haj cost is expected to come down as the Indian government is already working in the direction of reviving the sea route to Jeddah.

Naqvi said that the government has already taken active steps in this direction and once it is implemented, the fares would come down drastically.

Giving the genesis of the Haj subsidy, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that it started in the 1980s (when Azad was a member of HCI) when the ships which were used to ferry the Haj pilgrims started ageing.

“The government was not disposed to spend money to buy new ships due to budget constraints. So, it was decided to fly the pilgrims to Jeddah. But the airfares were four times higher than the ship’s fare. So the government decided to cover some of the cost through a subsidy,” Azad said.

The sea route was discontinued in 1995.

(Mohd Asim Khan can be contacted at [email protected])

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Islamabad-Delhi DGMO level talks under study as ISIS increases footprints in Pakistan

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India-Pakistan

After US President Donald Trump’s severe criticism of Pakistan’s double standards in combating terrorism, Islamabad is considering growing Indo-Israel defence cooperation as a threat to regional peace.

As per the media reports, Pakistan is thinking whether to resume confidence building measures including the DGMO-level talks with India for reducing tensions along the Line of Control. The new development comes a day after Pakistan said four of its soldiers died and five others injured in cross-border firing by Indian troops across the LoC. The Indian Army, however, said seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in its retaliatory firing.

Pakistan-India DGMOs had last met four years ago at Wagah. The Wagah meeting took place after a break of 14 years.Pakistan is concerned and watching Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s six-day tour of India very minutely, who discussed with India ways to strengthen security cooperation against the menace of Islamist extremism that both democracies faced.

Already terror groups operating in the region including Al Qaeda and ISIS are taking advantage of the bitter battle between Pakistan civilian government with Indian government and Afghanistan government.

Islamic State has intensified its presence in Pakistan and there is an increased convergence between its fighters particularly in areas along the country’s border with Afghanistan, the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) think tank stated in their report.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision of suspending an estimated $1 billion in security aid for Pakistan over harbouring terrorist groups such as Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network.

It will be tough for Pakistan to counter terrorism as the entire scenario has become more challenging.

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Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White

Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White said “ISIS is a broken, and has been fractured. But the work still continues. So anti-ISIS coalition are going to continue our operations because we ultimately have to ensure that we have the conditions on the ground .”

Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. stated “There are two dimensions. First is the physical caliphate in the central Euphrates River Valley. And, certainly, we’re coming to — we’re coming to probable closure on that.Although, I think it’s difficult to forecast the way military events are going to turn. We seem to be having some success there, with our allies and partners. But I’m not going to — I wouldn’t put a timeline on that.”

Further added, “There’s also an enduring global element to it, the franchisement, if you will, of ISIS. Even though they’ve failed as a caliphate, there are global — global manifestations of their brand that we see pop up.”

White said, “US believe that Pakistan has the ability to address this threat. And we — and this is an opportunity for them to take decisive action, and we look forward to working with them to — to encourage them to do so.”

American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan had stated in November that ISIS-K is recruiting from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan,”. About 1,000 ISIS jihadists are in Afghan provinces that border Pakistan, including “600 to 800” in Nangarhar, considered the group’s primary bastion in the region.

Recently there have been attacks in Afghanistan that were claimed by ISIS and worried over the increasingly volatile situation, Afghan Defense Minister Dawlat Waziri said he would seek Iran’s assistance in cracking down on the ongoing insurgency in the war-torn state.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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