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Kabir Khan supports Salman’s anti-war comments

MUMBAI, June 18:  Salman Khan’s recent anti-war remarks created an uproar but filmmaker Kabir Khan says he does not find any fault in the actor’s views.

            “I see no problem with the statement (of Salman). He just said war is a waste of resources, human life and time for any country. Nobody wants to go to war. What is wrong with that statement? Anybody who says going to war is great, I think, is acting stupid,” Kabir said.

            During a media interaction for their upcoming film “Tubelight”, directed by Kabir, Salman, 51, had said, “Let all those who call for war be made to pick up guns and move to the front. Their legs will start trembling, their hands will start shaking and they will be back to the discussion table.”

            Kabir says he understands there will be people who may not agree to a point of view, but finds abusive trolls “ridiculous”.

            “I think getting trolled for anything you say is becoming a bit too much. You don’t need to agree with everything that everybody says but screaming, shouting and getting abusive is ridiculous. Try and understand the point that is being made and in its context,” he adds.

            “Tubelight”, which hits the theatres on June 23, has the 1962 India-China war as the backdrop. While Sohail Khan plays a soldier in the movie, Salman plays his fanciful brother.

            The movie is an official adaptation of 2015 war drama “Little Boy”. (AGENCIES)


Forgotten city discovered in Ethiopia

LONDON, June 18:

 Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient, forgotten city in Ethiopia that unveils the origin of Islam in the country and its trade relations with India between the 10th and early 15th centuries.

            A dig of Harlaa – a city 120 kilometres (km) from the Red Sea coast and 300 km from Addis Adaba – revealed a 12th- century mosque, evidence of Islamic burials and headstones, glass vessel fragments, rock crystal,glass beads, imported cowry shells and pottery from Madagascar, Maldives, Yemen and China.

            The architecture of the mosque is similar to those found in Southern Tanzania and Somaliland, showing connections between different Islamic communities in Africa, researchers said.

            “This discovery revolutionises our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the centre of trade in that region,” said Timothy Insoll, professor at University of Exeter in the UK.

            The settlement, which is around 500 metres by 1,000 metres has buildings and walls constructed with large stone blocks – leading people to assume only those with enormous stature or strength could have built it.

            The size of some of the building stones found created a local legend that the area had been home to giants.

            “The archaeological findings suggest this place was home to a very mixed community. Farmers had been finding strange objects, including Chinese coins, as they were working on their land, and a legend began that the area was home to giants,” researchers said.

            The team also found bronze and silver coins from 13th- century Egypt. The remains found suggest jewellers were making high-quality, delicate pieces in silver, bronze and semi- precious stones and glass beads.

            They used some technology usually associated in that period with jewellers in India, suggesting trade or immigration from there to Harlaa, researchers said.

            “We know jewellery was being made here for trading into the African interior, and materials to do this came in from the Red Sea, East African Coast and possibly India, but we don’t know what was given in exchange for that jewellery,” Insoll said.

            The discoveries will be exhibited in a heritage centre. Some findings will be displayed in the country’s national museum in Addis Ababa. (AGENCIES)



Creative freedom can’t compensate for

a good story: Farhan on going digital

MUMBAI, June 18:

 Actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, who is debuting as producer in the digital space with web series “Inside Edge,” says though comparatively to films and TV, there is more creative freedom in the digital format, the challenge of engaging the audience still persists.

            “It (digital format) gives you an extra amount of freedom…The language can be used differently. But eventually it comes back to your aesthetics and sensibilities as you don’t go all out showing everything just because you have got freedom on digital platform,” Farhan said.

            “You represent your work so you need to feel proud and not regretful,” he adds.

            Directed by Karan Anshuman, “Inside Edge” is produced by Farhan’s Excel Media and Entertainment, a division of Excel Entertainment and will stream on Amazon Prime Video.

            According to the 43-year-old filmmaker, like movies and television, the challenge in the digital format is also to bring alive a good story.

            “It (challenge) mainly lies in writing as you have to engage people. It is all about entertaining and engaging the audience,” he says.

            There is a notion, that filmmakers are turning to the digital platform as there are no censorship issues as opposed to films. But the actor-producer insists he did not enter the medium due to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

            “…At times there are people who don’t want to go to theatre to watch films or don’t like watching TV shows, they are from digital generation. So, we want to reach out to those people. I won’t say it’s because of CBFC that the digital thing is happening.”

            Being a filmmaker, Farhan did give his suggestions for the web series (“Inside Edge”), but did not alter the director’s vision.

            “Once I read the episodes, I felt it was all in the right direction so I did not step in and change the energy of the project. But I did give feedback…There is little bit of tweaking. You want to be facilitator and not someone putting a roadblock, people on board should feel motivated,” he says.

            India’s first Amazon Original series, “Inside Edge” follows ups and downs of a cricket team through a season of the power play league and all that comes with it – greed, ambition, corruption.

            It stars Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Sanjay Suri, Sayani Gupta, Sarah Jane Dias and Tanuj Virwani.

            Richa plays a actress-franchise owner and there were speculations that the role is based on Preity Zinta, who owns an Indian Premier League (IPL) team.

            Reports also cropped up that Preity wants to see the first cut of the web series.

            “We will gladly show it to her. She is a friend of us. We will be more than happy to show her. And hopefully after watching it she can tweet and praise,” Farhan says. (AGENCIES)



Trump, Modi willing to break

with past practice: Expert

NEW YORK, June 18:

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are “deal-makers” who are willing to break with past practice to accomplish things, a renowned expert on India and Asia has said.

            “The Trump administration wants export markets and India wants investments. Somewhere in there, there is a deal. These two leaders are deal-makers and they are both willing to break with past practice and past policy to accomplish things,” Senior Fellow for India with the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) Marshall Bouton said in an interview.

            He also suggested the two leaders during their first meeting next week should focus on transforming bilateral economic relations.

            Bouton, who is President Emeritus of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, described economic relations between the two nations as the “weakest” as compared to the political and security pillars of bilateral cooperation.

            Bouton had last month authored a comprehensive ASPI paper ‘The Trump Administration’s India Opportunity’, in which he called for the US administration to move decisively and engage Modi’s government to deepen cooperation and manage potential disputes.

            Bouton said if Modi and Trump want to think big about US-India relations, they should think about transforming economic ties in the manner that strategic ties strengthened under the George Bush administration with the civil nuclear deal and through the climate agreement under Barack Obama.

            In his paper, Bouton, a nationally known expert on India and Asia, had noted that total US trade with India now exceeds 100 billion dollars. Although Indian exports increased rapidly over the last 15 years, Indian goods exports to the United States accounted for only 2.1 per cent of total US goods imports in 2016.

            The total US goods trade deficit with India (USD 24 billion) in 2016 accounted for less than 5 per cent of the total US trade deficit.

            “I am sure there will be some articulation on the Indian side of concern about protectionism on the part of the US and pressure on India to reduce its trade surplus with the US. From the US side, (focus could be) on how to make the trade relationship more balanced,” he said.

            Modi’s visit to the US also comes against the backdrop of concerns among Indian IT professionals and outsourcing firms over the H1-B visa regime amid the Trump administration’s focus to undertake immigration reform. Bouton however suggested that the H1 B visa issue may not rank high among the priority areas for the Modi-Trump meeting.

            “H1-B is a very important issue. However, frankly in the big scheme of things that should be the focus of this meeting, it does not rank so highly. The best we can hope for is that the administration decides what stance it really will finally take on H1-B. It should proceed cautiously and do so in consultation with its key partners, most especially India, on the H1B issue,” he said.

            He added that while the H1-B issue will come up in the bilateral talks between the leaders, “I dont think it is going to be a major issue. No one should expect a major move out of this meeting on the H1-B question,” said Bouton, who has previously served as Director for Policy Analysis for Near East, Africa and South Asia in the US Department of Defense and as Special Assistant to the US Ambassador to India. (AGENCIES)



New tech can wirelessly charge electric cars, smartphones

BOSTON, June 18:

 Stanford scientists have developed a way to wirelessly deliver electricity to moving objects, an advance that could charge electric vehicles, smartphones and medical implants on the go.

            If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles.

            Scientists at Stanford University in the US have overcome a major hurdle to such a future by wirelessly transmitting electricity to a nearby moving object.

            “In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” said Shanhui Fan, a professor at Stanford.

            “We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more,” said Fan, lead author of the published in the journal Nature.

            The team transmitted electricity wirelessly to a moving LED lightbulb. The demonstration only involved a 1-milliwatt charge, whereas electric cars often require tens of kilowatts to operate.

            The team is now working on greatly increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred, and tweaking the system to extend the transfer distance and improve efficiency.

            Wireless charging would address a major drawback of plug-in electric cars – their limited driving range.

            “The hope is that you’ll be able to charge your electric car while you’re driving down the highway. A coil in the bottom of the vehicle could receive electricity from a series of coils connected to an electric current embedded in the road,” said Fan.

            Some transportation experts envision an automated highway system where driverless electric vehicles are wirelessly charged by solar power or other renewable energy sources.

            The goal would be to reduce accidents and dramatically improve the flow of traffic while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

            Wireless technology could also assist GPS navigation of driverless cars. GPS is accurate up to about 35 feet. For safety, autonomous cars need to be in the centre of the lane where the transmitter coils would be embedded, providing very precise positioning for GPS satellites.

            “We can rethink how to deliver electricity not only to our cars, but to smaller devices on or in our bodies,” Fan said.

            “For anything that could benefit from dynamic, wireless charging, this is potentially very important,” he said. (AGENCIES)


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