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Rajasthan tent collapse toll rises to 15, Gehlot visits spot

The toll in the tent collapse at a religious gathering in Rajasthan’s Barmer on Sunday in a storm went up to 15 while the number of injured has gone up to 70, police said.

Around 1,000 people, a large number of whom were senior citizens, had gathered under the huge ‘pandaal’ to listen to Ram Katha in Jasol village of Balotra area of the district when a storm round 3.30 p.m. brought down the structure, killing 14 people.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday visited the accident site. He consoled the bereaved families and said that the guilty shall not be spared. An advisory shall be issued so that such incidents are not repeated, he added.

He also visited the injured in the SDM hospital in Jasol and inquired about their health from doctors.

Gehlot also appreciated the relief and safety work done by two constables – Gomaram and Daularam – whose prompt intervention saved many lives.

The duo, along with other policemen, came out of the tent when the storm hit it and saw its dome flying off, colliding with a nearly building and falling flat onto the gathered people.

It then started raining and power went off. However, the one of auto generators started automatically, causing current to flow into the ground. The duo, acting swiftly to save people from electrocution, rushed towards the generator and pulled its wires with their naked hands, cutting off the power.

Thereafter, one of them called senior officials while the other started helping the injured.

Praising their heroic endeavour, Gehlot shared their pictures on his Twitter handle.

Meanwhile, the people present on the occasion said that the tent’s foundation was quite weak as when the storm hit, it flew up and its metal scaffolding came down hard on the people.



Iran’s downing of US drone escalates tension, puts Trump in tough spot

Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated to new levels after Tehran shot down an American drone on Thursday and pressure grew for retaliation by Washington testing US President’s assertions that he wanted to avoid a war.

Trump told reporters, “Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it all documented scientifically not just words. And they made a very bad mistake”.

Asked how the US would respond, Trump said, “You’ll find out”.

At the same time, reflecting his reluctance for a war, Trump left room for a compromise hinting that the Iranian leadership was not behind it. “I imagine someone made a mistake,” he said and added that he thought it was someone “loose and stupid who did it.”

Trump has said in the past that he does not want to go to war with Iran. He has generally opposed US military entanglements abroad and has sought to get out of Afghanistan and Syria.

Contradicting Trump, Tehran asserted that the drone was in Iranian territory when it was brought down.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said the US “RQ-4 Global Hawk” was brought down by its Air Force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region, which sits in the central district of Jask county, after the unmanned plane violated Iranian airspace.

IRGC chief said, “The downing of the American drone was a clear message to America… Our borders are our red line and we will react strongly against any aggression”. But he also said that Iran did not want a war.

The escalation comes in the wake of the attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz last week that the US said was carried out by Iran. Tehran, however, has denied it.

Trump, who opposes foreign military action, faces strong pressures from some in his administration and his party to attack Iran.

“If they’re itching for a fight, they’ll get one”, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said.

He warned, “Iran needs to get ready for severe pain inside their country. Their capability pales in comparison to ours. We won’t let them disrupt navigation of the seas, attack our allies and US interests without paying a price”.

Another Republican Senator, Tom Cotton, in an interview to Politico, called for bombing Iran.

Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton has been advocating a strong action against Iran. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly told members of US Congress that Iran was linked to al-Qaeda creating a possible justification for war.

Iran has the capability to shut down the strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of global oil production moves.

Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “I don’t think the president wants to go to war. There’s no appetite to go to war in our country.”

While acknowledging that “high tension wires are up in the region” and the US has to be strong protect its interests, she said, “We started to lose credibility on the subject when we walked away from the Iran nuclear agreement.”

The current tensions began after Trump renounced the multinational agreement with Iran to stop nuclear proliferation. That pact was signed during his predecessor Barack Obama’s administration along with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.

Trump imposed sanctions on Iran and on trade with it by others, affecting India’s oil purchases.

He has offered to hold talks with Iran, which has turned down the initiative.

On Monday Iran said that it had increased production of low-grade uranium and would exceed the limits set by the multi-party nuclear agreement that Trump has renounced.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the world cannot afford a major confrontation in the Gulf region”.

His Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, “He appeals to all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid any action that can escalate the already tense situation”.



UN cuts India’s growth rate by 0.6%, but at 7% it retains top spot

Although the UN has downgraded India’s growth rate for the current fiscal year to 7 per cent, a cut of 0.6 percent from the projection made in January, it continues to be the world’s growth leader.

Despite the projected slowdown, “I would also point out that the forecast for India is among the highest in all of the countries, particularly the large economies,” Dawn Holland, the head of global economic monitoring, said on Tuesday during the release of the mid-year update to the World Economic Situation and Prospects report.

“Compared to global growth of 2.7 per cent, obviously this stands out among the very high rates of growth in the world,” she said. “We are still forecasting growth of 7 per cent in 2019 and 7.1 per cent in 2020.”

The report cut the projection for next fiscal year by 0.4 per cent from the 7.5 per cent made in January.

UN’s forecasts were lower than those made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) last month.

The IMF cut India’s growth projections for this year by 0.2 per cent from the 7.5 per cent made in January to 7.3 per cent. It projected next year’s growth at 7.5 per cent, though lower than the earlier 7.7 projection.

The Asian Development Bank said India’s growth rate would be 7.2 per cent this year and 7.3 per cent next year.

Holland said that demonetisation does not continue to significantly impact the economy.

“Demonetisation had a significant effect when it was initially introduced but seems to have passed through relatively quickly and we couldn’t say there is a very large hangover from that in the current growth figures,” she said.

The latest UN report cut global growth rate by 0.3 per cent for the current year from the January projection of 3 per cent to 2.7 per cent, and by 0.1 per cent for next year to 2.9 per cent.

Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Economist Elliot Harris blamed trade tensions and policy uncertainties for the cut. He said that the accelerating effects of climate change could further affect world economic growth.

China’s growth projection remains unchanged from January forecast of 6.3 per cent for this year and 6.2 per cent next year.

The US forecasts were cut from January by 0.2 per cent to 2.3 per cent for this year and by 0.1 per cent to 2.1 per cent for next year.

In South Asia, the report forecasts Bangladesh’s economy to grow by 7.1 per cent in 2019 and 2020. But Pakistan’s growth is expected to slow from 5.4 per cent in 2018 to about 4 per cent in 2019 and 2020 “amid fiscal, inflationary and domestic demand challenges”, the report said.

The report said that a slowdown in the European Union impacts Bangladesh because about two-thirds of its total exports go to that region, with a quarter concentrated in the slowing economies of Germany and the Britain.

To increase India’s growth, Holland said that it “should be focusing on increasing the private sector involvement in investment and facilitating access to finance for the private sector and small and medium size firms in particular, which is a barrier to faster growth in India”.



Delhi Capitals look to seal top spot in playoff against RR

Delhi Capitals return to the Feroz Shah Kotla to play their final group game of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League in what has been a terrific season for them. Having already qualified for the playoffs, the last game against Rajasthan Royals will be all about winning and sealing one of the top two spots in the points table. A top two finish allows teams the leeway of getting an extra chance to stay alive in the tournament.

For Rajasthan, it will be all about winning their last group game and keeping hopes alive of qualifying for the playoffs. The rain affected game against Royal Challengers Bangalore didn’t help their case as they had to share a point. But what has been done cannot be undone and the Royals will look to move forward and stamp their authority over DC.

While Delhi have had a terrible outing against Chennai Super Kings at the Chepauk Stadium in their last game, losing by 80 runs, Royals too will note that they will miss the services of skipper Steve Smith. Smith has headed back to Australia to join the rest of the teammates to prepare for the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales.

Delhi too are sweating over the status of fast bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada. While he missed the game against CSK due to discomfort in the back, he should be fine as the management said scan reports haven’t shown anything to worry about. But as reported by IANS, the final call will be taken by Cricket South Africa who have asked for the reports to be sent to them.

While Smith and Rabada have been spoken about, one key player who will have all eyes on him will be Shreyas Gopal. Having spun a web over the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers so far in the tournament, he will now look to showcase his skills against the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant. The slow and low wicket at the Kotla will definitely help his case.

The last time the two teams met, while Gopal foxed Dhawan and Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane had scored a brilliant century. But Delhi rode on the back of Pant’s 36-ball 78 to register a six-wicket win.

Squads: Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Colin Ingram, Chris Morris, Sherfane Rutherford, Axar Patel, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Colin Munro, Ankush Bains, Jagadeesha Suchith, Manjot Kalra, Keemo Paul, Jalaj Saxena, Rahul Tewatia, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Nathu Singh, Bandaru Ayyappa, Sandeep Lamichhane

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Ashton Turner, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni, Prashant Chopra, Manan Vohra, Aryaman Birla, Rahul Tripathi, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shashank Singh, Liam Livingstone, Shubham Ranjane, Mahipal Lomror, Ish Sodhi, Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Sudhesan Midhun



Virat Kohli livid after umpire fails to spot no-ball

Needing 41 runs from 4 overs, Royal Challengers Bangalore looked to be cruising against Mumbai Indians at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday before the duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga tightened the screws on the RCB batsmen and won MI the game by 6 runs.

The game though will be remembered for umpire S. Ravi’s failure to spot the no-ball off the last ball of the RCB innings and skipper Virat Kohli made his displeasure known at the end of the game, saying that the teams were not playing club cricket and the officials needed to be more careful.

“We are playing at the IPL level and not playing club cricket. The umpires should have had their eyes open. That is a ridiculous call (last ball). If it is a game of margins, I don’t know what is happening. They should have been more sharp and careful out there,” he rued.

Moving on, Kohli also felt that his bowlers should have done a better job and not let MI all-rounder Hardik Pandya take the game away with his late innings blitzkrieg.

“When they were 145 for 7, we should have done better. The last few overs were brutal for us,” he pointed.

Kohli also felt that the RCB batsmen should have given AB de Villiers
(70* off 41 balls) more support just like the bowlers could take a leaf out of the Mumbai bowlers’ page.

“A few more strikes apart from AB could have done the job for us. We need to be smarter at death bowling. Sure the guys will take a lot of learnings from the game.

“I think the way they bowled, we can learn from their game. The onus is always on each and every member of the team. I got out at a wrong point of time. Shivam was good as well,” he said.

Kohli also accepted that taking on Bumrah was a mistake on his part at that point in the chase as the pacer is a champion performer.

“I mean Jassi is a top-class bowler. A bit of a mistake from me to take him on at that stage. Mumbai is lucky to have him. And also Malinga. And if Jassi is in good form, it is good for India,” he said.