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No transaction fee should be levied on air passengers: SC

The apex court also directed DGCA to examine the tariff structure of the airlines in view of their wide range of base prices for air tickets


New Delhi: Passengers who book air tickets through agents will not have to fork out extra money with the Supreme Court on Wednesday restraining airlines from levying transaction fee in any form on them, reports PTI.


“The transaction fee shall not be collected from any passenger in any form or under any other name,” a bench of justices DK Jain and Madan B Lokur said.


The apex court also directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to examine the tariff structure of the airlines in view of their wide range of base prices for air tickets.


“There are several bands for fixing the base price which in certain cases range from Rs1,120 to Rs36,000...We are of prima facie view that regarding wide range of basic fair, it would be necessary for the DGCA to examine the tariff structure of the airlines,” the bench said.


The bench rapped the DGCA for not enforcing its own direction dated 17 December 2012 when it had restrained the airlines from charging transaction fee from passengers.


“We regret to note that despite provision is there not to charge transaction fee, the DGCA failed to enforce its own direction,” the bench said, adding “It needs our immediate intervention for non-compliance of direction issued by the DGCA. The airlines cannot charge transaction fee from customers.”


“We are of the view that circular of DGCA dates 17 December 2012 is still in vogue and transaction fee cannot be charged by the airlines,” the bench said.


Transaction fee was introduced by the airlines after they adopted a zero commission policy for their agents. Under transaction fee, agents charge customers any amount of their choice and there is no uniformity in it.


When passengers ‘flocked’ Rajni the bus conductor

And thus was born Rajnikanth, soon to be a household name. The name literally means “colour of night”'; it was a comment on the colour of Shivaji Rao’s skin


New Delhi: Did you know that passengers would let buses go empty and wait for the one where Rajnikanth was on duty as the superstar, who was then a bus conductor, amazed people by issuing tickets and returning the change in his trademark style?


According to a PTI report, critic Naman Ramachandran’s biography on Rajnikanth recounts the actor’s career in meticulous detail, tracing his incredible cinematic journey from his very first film “Apoorva Ragangal” in 1975 to memorable forays into Bollywood like “Andhaa Kanoon” and ‘Hum’, from landmark films like ‘Billa’, ‘Thalapathi’ and ‘Annamalai’ to the mega successes of ‘Baasha’, "Muthu", ‘Padayappa’, ‘Sivaji’ and ‘Enthiran’.


Along the way, “Rajnikanth: The Definitive Biography’ provides rare insights into the his personal life, from his childhood days to his times of struggle—when he was still Sivaji Rao Gaekwad—and then his eventual stardom: revealing how a legend was born.


During his days of struggle, Rajni worked briefly at Mysore Machinery in Bangalore before getting a job of loading sacks of rice into trucks at 10 paise per bag. He then sat for an examination and obtained a bus conductor's licence from the Bangalore Transport Service.


He joined service on 19 March 1970 along with driver Raja Badhar.


“The driver-conductor pair was thrown together a lot, working the gruelling early morning shift that began at 6am and ended at 2pm,” the book, published by Penguin, says.


“There was no one faster than him in issuing tickets,” remembers Badhar.


“He would give out tickets with a flourish, return change in style. It was all about style. Passengers would look on in amazement. He would always flick back his forelock in those days, that's why he is bald today,” says the driver.


“Passengers would let earlier buses go empty and wait for the bus where the entertaining conductor was on duty and crowd in. Shivaji definitely knew how to work a crowd and play to the gallery even then,” he recalls.


Rajnikanth is, arguably, the biggest superstar cinema-crazy India has ever seen. His stylized dialogues and screen mannerisms are legion, and his guy next door-cum-superhero image has found a hysterically appreciative following among millions of moviegoers.


The superstar remembers clearly his time of flux before he joined the BTS in the book.


“I'm an ordinary person. Before I was a bus conductor, I was an office boy, a coolie, a carpenter,” he recalls. It was at the BTS that Shivaji met the person who he describes today as his best friend—Raja Badhar.


After duty, he and Badhar would go to their respective homes and rest for a while. The actor would make his way over to Badhar’s home in Hanumanthnagar every evening and they would go to rehearse for the plays they acted in from time to time which were organised under the aegis of the BTS Association.


Rehearsals were in a hall next to the Chamrajapet police station and would go on from 5pm till 8pm. After that, they would walk over to the market in Kalasipalyam and have a few drinks.


“He would drink arrack and I would drink beer,” recalls Badhar. After drinking they would walk back and eat dinner at their respective homes.


The long conversations that the friends had were almost exclusively about cinema. They would watch almost every film that released each week, with Rajinikanth continuing to enjoy Sivaji Ganesan, Rajkumar and MGR starrers. After watching the movies, he would enact scenes in the manner of these stars.


Paying tribute to the late Ganesan, Rajinikanth says, “I watched him, I imitated him. He is the reason I am in the cinema industry.”


He also acknowledges the role theatre played in shaping his acting career.


“The stage is my mother,” he says.


“When I was a conductor, after I’d acted in more than 25 plays, my friends, the drivers and other conductors asked me why I shouldn't go into cinema. You'll become a famous villain, they said. They gave me a boost.


“But I didn't know what to do, as I've never liked to ask anyone for any favours. And what would I say to anyone, as I'm not good-looking. With what background could I ask anybody for a chance? If I would tell them that I'm a conductor, please give me a chance, would they,” the book quotes him.


Badhar and Rajnikanth’s other friends advised him to enroll in the newly formed Madras Film Institute. It was sound advice as Madras was the epicentre of the south Indian film industry then.


At the time, Rajnikanth knew only a smattering of Tamil, having picked up a few words from watching movies and from friends.


“He asked me for my permission to join the institute,” says Rajni’s elder brother Satyanarayana.


“I told him not to worry about the family. He should come up in life with his acting. And with the blessing of Lord Raghavendra, we decided to send him.”


Thus, Rajnikanth, then Shivaji Rao, decided to join the Madras Film Institute, taking casual leave and later unauthorised leave from the BTS, not wanting to lose the security blanket of a government job should he not make it in the world of cinema.


K Balachander did not cast about long for a screen name for Shivaji Rao; he chose a character name from his own film, Major Chandrakanth. AVM Rajan had played a character named Rajnikanth in the film, and Balachander christened Shivaji Rao with this name.


And thus was born Rajnikanth, soon to be a household name. The name literally means “colour of the night”; it was a comment on the colour of Shivaji Rao's skin.


FDI inflows slump to 2-year low at $1.05 billion in November

For the April-November period the FDI inflows have declined by about 31% to $15.84 billion from $22.83 billion in the year-ago period


New Delhi: India's foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows declined to a nearly two-year low of $1.05 billion in November 2012, mainly due to global economic uncertainties, reports PTI.


In November 2011, the country had attracted FDI worth $2.53 billion.


For the April-November of FY13 the inflows have declined by about 31% to $15.84 billion from $22.83 billion in the year-ago period, a senior official in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) told PTI.


According to experts, problems in the global economic situation are the main reasons for decline in the inflows.


“The global economic slowdown and lack of political consensus on FDI related matters are the reasons for decline,” said Krishan Malhotra, Head of Tax and expert on FDI with corporate law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas.


Sectors which received large FDI inflows during the eight months of the current fiscal include services ($3.63 billion), hotel and tourism ($3.13 billion), metallurgical ($1.26 billion), construction ($1.01 billion) and automobile ($760 million), the official added.


India received maximum FDI from Mauritius ($7.2 billion), Japan ($1.56 billion), Singapore ($1.5 billion) the Netherlands ($1.09 billion) and the UK ($615 million).


The previous low was recorded in January 2011 when the FDI inflows slipped to $1.04 billion.


The inflows had aggregated to $36.50 billion in 2011-12 against $19.42 billion in 2010-11 and $25.83 billion in 2009-10.


Foreign investments are important for India, which needs around $1 trillion in the next five years to overhaul its infrastructure sector such as ports, airports and highways to boost growth.


Decline in foreign investments will put pressure on the country’s balance of payments and could also impact the rupee.


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