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How Sridevi died? Unraveling the mystery




The sudden demise of India’s first female superstar, Sridevi has shocked the entire nation. The actress has left everyone grief-stricken, fans and Bollywood alike. This unexpected death of the veteran actress at Dubai’s Emirates Tower on Saturday night is something we are still trying to get over and we bet the nation is too. She suffered a cardiac arrest in the hotel’s washroom and passed away at around 11 pm.

Apparently, Sridevi had accompanied her husband Boney Kapoor and daughter Khushi to Dubai for her nephew Mohit Marwah’s wedding. As the new reports now suggest that Sridevi had stayed back after the wedding to spend time with her sister Srilatha and had checked into the famous Emirates Towers. Her husband Boney Kapoor, a leading film producer had to rush back to Mumbai to attend Manmohan Shetty’s birthday dinner party but subsequently returned to Dubai on Saturday to surprise Sridevi.

A source close to the actress recounted her final moments to a Gulf tabloid. Boney Kapoor reached her hotel at 5.30 PM and woke her up and invited her to a dinner. Sridevi was resting when Boney arrived and the couple must have chatted for 15 minutes when the actress went to the washroom. Sridevi did not come out after 15 minutes and a worried Boney Kapoor knocked on the door and when he failed to get response, he forced open the door to find her motionless in a bathtub. He tried to revive her and when he couldn’t, he called one of his friends. He later on also called the local police and the actor was rushed to hospital where she was declared brought dead.

Why did Sridevi, the heartthrob of millions of adoring fans died just before her daughter Jhanvi’s debut movie release, just like her bête noire, Boney’s first wife Mona, who died a few weeks before her son Arjun Kapoor’s debut release? Is it just a coincidence or a curse by Boney Kapoor’s first wife Mona Kapoor who always considered Sridevi as a real life vamp who destroyed her married life?

Was Sridevi suffering from guilt of breaking Mona Kapoor’ marriage which hung around her and took her life in its wake? Was Mona so hurt at being upstaged by Sridevi in her husband’s life that it ensured Sridevi too didn’t stay around long enough? Was it the destiny of Boney Kapoor to lose his life partner for the second time in succession? There are many questions which are begging to be answered.

Where should one begin looking for answers? Sridevi was one of the most versatile actors whose luminous and expressive eyes said so much- were they for real! How can they never sparkle naughtily or deepen romantically again?

We knew Sridevi only as much as every cinema-going Indian knew her. She was quite shy and reserved and was not seen in parties unlike her contemporaries. The moment camera was switched on, she used to become altogether a different person and thus in every sense she was a director’s actor.

It was around 1998-99 when the rumour began that Boney and Sridevi had been declared an item. I vividly remember one of her pictures which appeared in the Filmfare magazine. She was hanging onto Boney’s arm tightly with both hands in a party and looked very unlike her pulsating, full-of-life presence on the screen. Her beautiful eyes conveyed a wariness and stress that was far removed from their vivacity on screen.

I still remember wondering what she was so stressed about! Was it the public opinion she feared since Boney had walked away from his first marriage and two children to be with her? So, was she scared he may walk away from her too? That was not the only picture as most of the future pictures of couple conveyed the same desperation and insecurity in her eyes. And that is how they continued till the next 20 years! In just one stroke she gave up movies and devoted herself to Boney and her two daughters.

We will never know why she gave up movies and that too at prime of her career. She was only 34 and at top of her craft when she married Boney. She was one actor who carried film on her shoulders and it is rumoured that she was paid more than most of her contemporary male actors.

Sridevi was born for the silver screen and it was there that she looked most beautiful, most alive and most stunning. It was there that she was at her most beguiling, irresistible, charming self. Sridevi was special and nobody can doubt that as she made acting look effortless, and that is probably the greatest achievement of an actor. The God made her exceptionally beautiful but apart from that, she was a self-made success story, a legend of her own making by her own efforts and talent.

It is not easy for an icon such as Sridevi to live life normally. The adulation of the millions of fans can make that impossible. She may have quit movies to start a new life, but the camera and attention never left her and she remained in the limelight. It must have been tough for an ethereal beauty to develop wrinkles and grow old gracefully under such a scorching gaze. She was obsessed about her looks and continued to nourish her beauty even while she put her career on hold for several years.

Under the constant pressure to live up to their screen image, celebrities often go under the knife several times and Sridevi was no exception. Only God knows how many diets and exercise regimens Sridevi followed! She ate healthy and lived healthy as per her close friends’ accounts. Why then did she die the way she did – unprepared, suddenly and with no warning? She was a caring, loving

person and an extraordinary mother says her close workers. Does that count for nothing?

We don’t know what ultimately killed Sridevi. Was it the 24×7 stress as a celebrity who is constantly under the probing gaze of media or just one of those freak incidents that happen? Who knows! All we know is that the gorgeous, vivacious and lively Sridevi of the screen died a long time ago; today no doubt she still looked beautiful, but a beauty more of the porcelain kind.

It would have been much better to see a unique beauty like Sridevi to grow naturally into her own older and even more beautiful self… We would have adored her just as much. Sadly, we will not be able to witness that now ever…


Fear of poaching gives sleepless nights to Kashmir’s politicians

Forty-four MLAs is the minimum number to stake claim to power in the state. In the 87-member assembly, the PDP has 28, BJP 25, NC 15, Congress 12, PC 2 and CPI-M 1, while four MLAs are unattached.



Jammju Politician

Srinagar, July 20 : Beware of predators and poachers, take care of your flock. This is the classic warning for shepherds while they graze their flock in the Himalayan meadows. In Kashmir’s political meadow of expedient opportunities, the same warning is now visiting mainstream politicians.

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew from the ruling alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, the politics of make and break is back with a vengeance.

Dissident MLAs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including the influential Shia leader and former minister Imran Ansari and his uncle, Abid Ansari, who is also an MLA in the 87-member legislative assembly, were the first to hit the road against Mehbooba Mufti, the former Chief Minister and the PDP president.

Three more PDP MLAs — Abbas Wani, Abdul Majeed Paddar and Javaid Hussain Baig — found common cause with the Ansaris to rebel against the party leadership.

Encouraged by the trend set by rebel MLAs, two PDP legislators from the upper house of state’s bicameral legislature, Yasir Rishi and Saifuddin Bhat, also joined the dissident group.

Alarmed by the cracks in her party, Mehbooba Mufti warned the Centre against attempting a split.

“The breaking up of my party will produce more Sallahuddins and Yasin Maliks,” Mehbooba said on July 13, the day Kashmir remembers its martyrs who fought against the autocratic rule of the erstwhile Maharajas.

BJP leaders including Ram Madhav, the party’s national general secretary who played a pivotal role in forging an alliance with the PDP that brought the coalition to power in 2015, washed their hands off.

“This is an internal issue of the PDP and we have nothing to do with it. Our priority is to improve the situation in the Valley under governor’s rule,” Madhav said.

Former Chief Minister and regional National Conference (NC) Vice President Omar Abdullah came out strongly against encouraging dissidence in the state’s regional parties.

Omar has been pleading from day one after the imposition of the governor’s rule by N.N.Vohra that keeping the state assembly in suspended animation gives an opportunity for horse trading.

The NC Vice President wants dissolution of the state assembly and announcement of fresh elections to restore democracy in the state.

Omar’s worry has valid reasons. His father and party president, Dr.Farooq Abdullah, lost the Chief Minister’s post in 1984 when NC dissidents, with the support of the Congress Party, installed his brother-in-law, G.M. Shah, as the Chief Minister.

Sajad Lone of the Peoples Conference (PC), who was a minister in the Mehbooba Mufti led coalition, is believed to be the front-runner for the Chief Minister’s post if a viable third front supported by the BJP is able to take shape.

Forty-four MLAs is the minimum number to stake claim to power in the state. In the 87-member assembly, the PDP has 28, BJP 25, NC 15, Congress 12, PC 2 and CPI-M 1, while four MLAs are unattached.

Sajad Lone was given a ministerial berth in the erstwhile PDP-BJP ruling coalition out of the BJP quota.

J&K has a tough anti-defection law which makes changing parties very difficult for the rebels.

What irks the regional parties is the fact that seven BJP MLAs who were expelled by the party in the former state assembly were allowed by the then Speaker to sit separately in the assembly without losing their membership.

The top leadership of both the NC and the PDP are worried about such a situation arising again if horse trading succeeds in breaking the PDP to reach the magical figure of 44 with BJP support.

“That would be the darkest day for democracy in the state”, said a senior NC leader.

There are no indications at present that the NC faces a similar crisis as the PDP does, but as the saying goes — once bitten, twice shy.

Some senior BJP leaders in the state, including the former Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta, have started saying that the tradition of having a Muslim Chief Minister in the state has no constitutional basis.

“Anybody who becomes the leader of the majority in the assembly can be the Chief Minister. There is nothing in the constitution that debars a non-Muslim becoming J&K’s Chief Minister”, Gupta said.

Ironically, the growing voices in Jammu for a Hindu Chief Minister could prevent the PDP dissidents from fishing in the troubled waters.

“Why should the dissidents give up their claim to have one of them as the Chief Minister? After all, none of the dissidents has stuck his neck out to pave way for a Chief Minister who is not among them,” asked a senior PDP leader who owes unflinching loyalty to Mehbooba Mufti.

Politics being the art of the possible can make for strange bedfellows, but definitely not those who take risks for somebody else to get the top job in Kashmir.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at [email protected])

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Actual sugarcane FRP hike is Rs 6, not 20: Agri activists

The government has approved a premium of Rs 2.75 per quintal for each 0.1 per cent increase in the recovery over and above 10 per cent.




New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) The government’s decision on Wednesday to increase the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane for 2018-19 (October-September) season by Rs 20 to Rs 275 for a quintal comes with a rider that the new rate will be applicable only when the recovery rate is 10 per cent.

The recovery rate — of sugar from sugarcane — was 9.5 per cent when the government had fixed the FRP of Rs 255 for a quintal in 2017-18.

If the recovery rate of 9.5 per cent is considered for 2018-19, the farmers will get only Rs 261.25, which is a hike of roughly Rs 6.25, on year-on-year basis.

According to Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, 295 mills of the total 550-odd mills in the country have reported recovery rate of over 10 per cent.

“Earlier, the recovery rate was 9.5 per cent. But it is increasing now. There are 295 mills which have reported over 10 per cent recovery rate, 82 have between 9.5 and 10 per cent, while there are only 127 mills that have below 10 per cent recovery rate. As the majority is of 10 per cent, we have gone with it (while fixing the FRP),” Paswan told reporters here.

The average national recovery rate is 10.51 per cent, while it is 10.20 per cent and 11.47 per cent in major sugar producing states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, respectively, he said.

However, agriculture activists called the hike in the FRP “shameful”, saying the actual hike would be below 3 per cent.

“It’s like peanuts. It is not even 3 per cent since expenses on electricity, labour and fertlizer have gone up significantly. The hike should have been done rationally,” said V.M. Singh, president of Rashtriya Kisan Majdoor Party.

He said the remuneration at 10 per cent recovery rate in 2017-18 was Rs 268, which means the actual hike is only of Rs 7 this year.

There are about five crore sugarcane farmers in the country and about five lakh workers are directly employed in sugar mills.

The total remittance to sugarcane farmers by the millers would be over Rs 83,000 crore.

The government has approved a premium of Rs 2.75 per quintal for each 0.1 per cent increase in the recovery over and above 10 per cent.

According to the government, the production cost of sugarcane for 2018-19 is pegged at Rs 155 per quintal, so the FRP of Rs 275 per quintal would provide a return of 77.42 per cent.

The FRP is determined on the basis of recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Paswan said there will not be any reduction in case recovery rate goes below 9.5 per cent and farmers will get Rs 261.25 per quintal.

As per the Food Ministry’s figures, the cane arrears, which stood at Rs 14,538 crore at FRP (Rs 23,232 crore at state advisory price – SAP) on May 21, has come down to Rs 9,319 crore (Rs 17,824 at SAP) following the various steps taken by the government in May including the Rs 7,000-crore package.

“Our top priority is farmers. To ensure that millers can pay farmers their dues, we give them such facilities,” Paswan said.

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‘Crop insurance scheme benefits companies more than farmers’



farmers crisis

New Delhi, July 18 : It is yet to be seen how much the Modi government’s ambitious crop insurance scheme has benefitted farmers, but one section that has definitely hit the jackpot is the insurance industry, which collectively earned around 85 per cent profit, excluding expenditure on administrative purposes and reinsurance, during the 2017-18 kharif season, government data shows.

According to the Agriculture Ministry’s data, all 17 insurance companies — five public and 12 private — empanelled under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) registered a margin of Rs 15,029 crore as they paid out claims of a mere Rs 2,767 crore against the Rs 17,796 crore collected as premium.

PMFBY is exempted from Service Tax (now a part of GST), as per its operational guidelines.

Similarly, these companies have earned over 96 per cent profit under another crop insurance scheme — Restructured Weather-Based Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) — during kharif 2017-18 as they received Rs 1,694 crore as premium and paid out just Rs 69.93 crore as claim compensation, figures accessed by the IANS show.

During the last kharif (2016-17) season, the insurance companies had earned 44 per cent profit as they received Rs 15,735 crore while they incurred expenditure of Rs 8,862 crore in claims made by the farmers.

According to the Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AICI), the nodal agency for these schemes, the business has been “profitable” since they were launched in February 2016.

“A good monsoon has certainly helped increase food production, which we think has led to such profits,” said a senior AICI official, who wished not to be named.

Earlier, under previous insurance schemes, the AICI had paid as much as Rs 2.80 as compensation claim against the premium of Rs 1, causing it to incur significant losses, said the official.

The government and insurance companies cite a “good monsoon” and “higher production” for the low claims. But there were cases of extreme climatic conditions, drought like situations, and floods at many places, said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of the non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

“You cannot call it a good year to back low pay-outs since issues such as extreme climate and floods have been reported at many places. There are issues with assessment, payment dispersal along with technology issues. If claims are so low like 15 per cent (of premium collected), the country’s agriculture has no problem. There is no need to have any such crop insurance scheme then,” he added.

Interestingly, these insurance companies are bound to safeguard their interests by taking reinsurance cover and the government is to provide protection to them in case premium to claims ratio exceeds 1:3.5 or the percentage of claims to “Sum Insured” exceeds 35 per cent, whichever is higher.

Farm activists find a “big lacuna” in the design of the PMFBY, saying it has been more beneficial to the insurer than farmers.

Kavitha Kuruganti of non-profit Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) said Crop Cutting Experiment (CCE), which is done to obtain accurate estimates of crop output, is conducted in a unscientific manner.

“The samples collected for CCE are not scientific. The consequences are that the farmers are not benefitted but the companies,” she said.

In addition, claims made by farmers for crop loss have found not to be settled by the insurance companies on time.

“Claims are not provided in time. Also, banks do not send data (to companies) in time. There are several lacunae with the implementation. But the big laucuna is with the design of the product,” Kuruganti said.

As many as 3,31,96,239 farmers bought crop insurance under PMFBY to insure 3,34,73,346 hectares of land during kharif 2017-18.

However, claims of only Rs 2,767 crore were paid against the reported claims of Rs 5,052 crore.

Interestingly, the government could not yet complete claims settlement for winter crops cultivated during rabi 2017-18 when the process “ideally” should get over in “a month” after the harvesting.

According to the ministry data, claims worth Rs 14 crore were made under PMFBY for rabi 2017-18 and the payout was Rs 12.1 crore till early June against the premium of Rs 5,128 crore collected by the insurers.

A top official told IANS that the ministry was “aware” of the “big profits” and delays in settling claims.

“Although companies are earning more profit now, there are chances that they may incur losses in future if significant crop losses are reported. Also, we have asked the companies and states to speed up the settlement process by adopting new technology,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

Under the scheme, farmers have to pay just 2 per cent of total premium in case of kharif, 1.5 per cent for rabi and 5 per cent for horticulture and remaining premium is shared equally by the Centre and the states.

However, there is no cap on the actuarial premium rates charged by the insurance companies, which Kuruganti said was “very high” for some crops.

(Saurabh Katkurwar can ne contacted at [email protected])

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