Citizens' Issues
Haryana calm, people count losses
Chandigarh : Haryana remained calm on Wednesday, with people pouring out of their homes in violence-hit districts and supplies of essential commodities restored.
 
Shops and business establishments, which survived the wrath of the Jat community rioters in the last few days, opened in Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jind, Jhajjar, Sonipat, Hisar, Panipat and other districts.
 
Traders, businessmen, companies and government officials started assessing the damage to immovable and movable property during the peak of the violence in the state.
 
Several government buildings, private shops, malls, educational institutions, hospitals and showrooms were set on fire by the hooligans. Hundreds of shops were looted and set on fire.
 
Experts have pegged the losses in Haryana due to the agitation at around Rs.20,000 crore.
 
Soldiers and paramilitary forces continued to be deployed in the worst affected areas. Traffic was restored on all highways and roads and railway tracks were being repaired to restore railway traffic.
 
The Jat community is demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
 
Political developments in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shifted to Delhi where all its Haryana MPs were called to meet Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu. 
 
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and some other ministers and legislators are also camping in Delhi.
 
Non-Jat leaders within the BJP are upset with the party leadership for bowing before the demands of the Jat community which brazenly resorted to violence.
 
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) said on Wednesday that the BJP government in the state and Congress leaders were responsible for the mindless violence during the Jat agitation.
 
"A case should be registered against Bhupinder Singh Hooda as his close aide Varinder Singh was caught on audio tape trying to instigate violence," a party leader said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Expectations high as Prabhu presents his second rail budget
New Delhi : Will Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu increase passenger fares and freight tariff in his budget on Thursday? That's the question that pops up as he presents his ministry's annual budget for the next fiscal amid shrinking margins, that is leaving little room for modernisation, upgrade and safety.
 
In the previous budget, the minister spared passengers from a fare hike, but freight rates were increased by 2.1 percent to 10 percent, even on commodities such as grain, pulses, urea and coal. And in July 2014, the hikes amounted to 15 percent in passenger fares and 6.5 percent in freight.
 
Industry chambers have advocated a hike in passenger fares this time.
 
"There is lack of political will to raise passenger fares, though the reluctance is not shared by passengers who will be willing to pay more if it is accompanied by better services like timely arrival of trains, cleanliness at stations, safety and improvement in food," Assocham said. 
 
Introduction of new trains without much capacity addition in terms of new lines has become a norm. The issue that Prabhu will have to tackle is to improve the operating ratio that spells out how much of the revenue generated is spent on day-to-day operations.
 
In the last budget, the minister had targeted to bring the operating ratio down to 88.5 percent, or the lowest in nine years, from an unsustainable level of 93.6 percent in 2013-14 and 91.8 percent for 2014-15. But globally, a 75-80 percent or lower is seen as a healthy benchmark.
 
The network length of Indian Railways has also not expanded in the requisite manner. It has increased just 0.06 times since 1989-90, but passenger and freight traffic has increased 3.3 times and 2.2 times, respectively. The average train speed of 25 km per hour for freight and 70 km per hour for passengers is also among the lowest globally.
 
The railways will also have to contend with a 40 percent (Rs.320 billion) jump in wages. Experts have, accordingly, called for some newer approaches to enable the Indian Railways to raise money and fund its development.
 
"The sheer number of land parcels held by Indian Railways across the country makes this entity an important stakeholder in transit-oriented development," said Anuj Puri, chairman of JLL India, referring to mixed-use residential and commercial area with access to public transport. 
 
"This budget we expect the railway minister to look at monetising railways' land parcels in urban areas through transit-oriented development -- in order to boost cities' liveability quotient and modernisation of their skylines," Puri said.
 
Some of the other issues that stakeholders expect Prabhu to address include introduction of more wagons, development of physical infrastructure, fine-tuning the public-private partnership model, improvement of passenger amenities and making rail transportation competitive.
 
India boasts one of the oldest and the largest railroad networks in the world, ferrying some 23 million people, or a population the size of Australia, as also 2.65 million tonnes of goods on its coaches, each day.
 
It serves from 7,172 stations via 12,617 passenger and 7,421 freight trains on a track network spanning Baramulla in the Himalayan foothills of Kashmir to the southern tip of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, and from Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh to the port town of Okha in Gujarat.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Jon Favreau breathes new life to Kipling classic 'The Jungle Book'
Los Angeles : Building on the structure of Rudyard Kipling's timeless classic and the power of the 1967 animation film, director Jon Favreau has given a new vision to "The Jungle Book" backed by cutting-edge technology.
 
The director says he has blended technology with the old story to honour the original and at the same time appeal to new audiences with his animation offering.
 
The director also asserted that with the film, which will come out in Indian theatres on April 8, a week before it releases in the US, he has tried to push the envelope by embracing new technology to create a virtual world.
 
Favreau, who began his career in the industry as an actor in "Rudy", sat down to explain his vision at Hollywood's The El Capitan Theatre here with selected mediapersons from all across the world.
 
Why remake a classic? Why give it a technological twist? These are the questions that Favreau set out to answer around Disney's film, which brings a story straight from the enchanting forests of India and presents a modern take on Kipling's classic, originally published in 1894.
 
Favreau said that he was motivated by Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn to take the technological route for the film.
 
"The idea of going out to the jungle and shooting this, it just felt like it wouldn't have the magic that the 1967 film had had. There was a dreamlike quality to it. There was a surreal quality to it. It was a high-water mark for character animation and to me, that's what I remember about it. And so I wanted to make sure we preserved that.
 
"But what Horn said was: look at the technology. Look at 'Life of Pi', 'Avatar'. Why not use the technology to create a whole world that transports you? Let's really embrace this new technology and see what we can do if we push its limit."
 
The live-action epic adventure showcases Mowgli's journey of self-discovery when he's forced to abandon his home in the forest. And Neel Sethi, who traces his roots to India and plays Mowgli, is only just being in an otherwise animation film.
 
The film is supported by a stellar voice-over cast including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken.
 
Favreau also presented a glimpse of his vision by screening portions of the film.
 
The director explained that by re-imagining the film "you are serving many masters...you are trying to honour the memory, preconceived memory of people who grew up with it, but you are also trying to make a movie that appeals to the full audience -- that is ethically what we set out to do".
 
"We are trying to pay tribute, and we can also see that with the visual effects, we are pushing the technology. We are mixing the old story with cutting edge technology," he added.
 
So, how was the film made?
 
"We went back to the structure of it and saw what Kipling did because he offered a lot. We kind of picked between the two. The story structure of the 1967 film was good and offered a lot; so I stuck to it as much as I could. What I have tried to do is to focus on the images that I remember from it before going back to look at it again," he said.
 
He is brimming with joy after using "level of artistry and technology" to narrate a story with "humour and emotion, and showing nature, animals, and getting into that real deep mythic imagery that I think always marries well with technology, and always has."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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