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A woodman was carrying a sack full of chopped wood on his back. His sack was heavy and filled beyond its limit. The man, bent under his bulky burden, was struggling not to drop any of the wood pieces as he walked. However, the poor man couldn't avoid tripping over a stone on the road and half of his load fell out of their precarious pile. Another man happened to be passing by and saw the mishap. 'If I load those fallen pieces of wood back into your back sack, what would you give me?' he asked. 'Nothing.' said the man carrying the wood. 'That's acceptable.' agreed the other man. He collected all the chopped wood scattered on the road and crammed them back into the sack of the woodman. When done, he asked for his payment. The woodman was baffled. 'I told you, I would give you nothing.' he said. 'Yes. And that's what I want. Nothing.' said the other, 'Give me my nothing!' After some quarrel, the two men decided to let the kadi solve their problem. Nasreddin Hodja was on duty at the time. He listened to both men earnestly. Then he addressed the man who was expecting his payment of nothing. 'My dear fellow, could you please lift the far right corner of that rug on the floor and check what is underneath?' The man did as he was told and looked under the rug. 'What do you see?' asked the Hodja. 'Nothing.' said the man. 'Well, take it and go home.' commanded the Hodja, 'That is your payment!'
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Narendra Modiís diplomatic coup: Barack Obama to be Republic Day parade chief guest
NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON: PM Narendra Modi pulled off yet another diplomatic coup on Friday - perhaps his biggest one - when President Barack Obama accepted his invite to visit India as chief guest of the Republic Day parade next year.

Modi broke the news himself when he tweeted on Friday evening that he had invited Obama to visit India in January.

"This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over... invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest," Modi tweeted in a sudden development.

Within minutes, the White House confirmed the visit in a return tweet. "At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, the President would travel to India in January 2015 to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration in New Delhi as the Chief Guest. This visit will mark the first time a US President will have the honour of attending Republic Day, which commemorates the adoption of India's Constitution. The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership," the White House press secretary said.

Sources said Obama's visit would require him to recalibrate the date for his State of the Union address, one of the most crucial dates on the American president's calendar. The address is typically delivered in the last week of January or the first week of February.

The big development stands out considering that the US, for a decade, publicly proclaimed that it would not give a visa to Modi. The stand was changed just before the Lok Sabha elections when Modi's success had seemed obvious.

Sources said the decision to invite Obama was taken by Modi himself who decided to go beyond the MEA's list of potential invitees to seek to scale up the Republic Day celebrations by turning the event into a major diplomatic outreach. Top government officials confirmed that the invite to the US president was the idea of the PM, who felt that the presence of the leader of the oldest democracy on the day to commemorate the foundation of the largest democracy would mark a celebration of the spirit of democracy besides giving a fillip to his effort to restore the warmth in bilateral ties.

Sources said Modi was not deterred by the perception of Obama having been turned a lame duck after the debacle of his Democratic party in the recent mid-term polls to the US Congress, as he felt that Obama's visit, his second after 2010, will deepen the long-term engagement between two democracies - a larger goal which he thinks should not be deterred by the tenure of the incumbent and their political circumstances.

They also said Modi took the initiative during his recent meetings with the US president in Myanmar and Australia.

Obama's response was described by a senior government functionary as a breakthrough which comes close on the heels of Modi's success in getting the US to relent on its insistence that India cap its food subsidy.

"Following that diplomatic conversation that PM had with President Obama, a letter was sent in writing formalizing that invitation. We have now received confirmation through diplomatic channels of President Obama agreeing to come to India as the first US president for the Republic Day parade as chief guest," foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said, adding that Obama will be the first US president to come to India a second time during his term in office.

Modi's bold move is of a piece with the "out of box" approach he has tried in diplomacy - from inviting Saarc leaders for his swearing in to leveraging the growing influence of people of Indian origin for foreign policy goals. In fact, for somebody who describes himself as an outsider, Modi seems to be faring well on the foreign policy front.

By the time Obama touches down in January, Modi would have hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin who is expected to be here in December. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe have already visited Delhi after NDA took charge in May.

While this will be the first time that a US president, or anyone else from that country, will be chief guest for the Republic Day parade, leaders from other P-5 nations have graced the occasion, including from China in 1958 when Marshal Ye Jianying attended the parade. Even leaders from Pakistan have twice attended the parade as chief guests.

The Twitter diplomacy came on a day the US president was rocked by a furious Republican response to his immigration reform proposals even as he headed out to Las Vegas to explain his actions to the American people.

It has always been on the cards that Obama will visit India for a second time in his second term. Notwithstanding all the caterwauling from the punditocracy that US-India ties are cold/frozen/moribund/doomed etc under Obama's watch, relations have been on a continued upswing (with the occasional wrinkle), not so much because of individuals, but because the two countries have many common ideals and goals, and the people-to-people links are strong.

There are more high-net worth and academically and scholastically accomplished Indians in the US than in any other country in the world, and by some accounts, more people of Indian-origin in the US than in any other country. All this was very much in evidence during the immigration wrangle on Thursday when Obama repeatedly invoked the contribution of high-skilled immigrants, including Indian-American scholars and entrepreneurs.

Aside from the economic and commercial linkages premised on India being a large market for US goods, there is the small matter of Washington's "Asia Pivot", rebalancing, and China's growing assertiveness.

While India's foreign policy under Modi has been acknowledged even by Modi's critics as a high point of the new NDA government, Obama's acceptance is nothing short of crowning glory for Modi. The PM was clearly undeterred by the noises made recently about Republic Day parade having outlived its utility.
India to offer online visas to 45 countries
NEW DELHI: India will offer online visa facilities for 45 countries including US, Australia, Germany, Israel, Japan, UAE, Palestine, Jordan, Thailand, Singapore and Russia. The facility will be announced on November 27 by the ministries of home affairs and tourism.

Elaborating on the Modi government's focus on tourism and culture, Union minister Mahesh Sharma told TOI, "The PM has given a vision for the importance of Indian tourism. We will take the country's rich heritage and culture via tourism and aviation to the world. We propose to propagate to the four corners of the world. This will create employment for youth whether it is medical tourism, adventure or rural tourism."

Countries that already have visa on arrival and will be able to apply under the electronic travel authorization scheme include Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Phillippines, Laos and South Korea.

Foreign tourists in a Goa beach.

Once implemented ETA will allow foreign travelers to apply for a visa and receive an online confirmation within three to five working days. ETA will be available for a 30 day period from the date of the tourist's arrival in India. The government plans to establish a separate website to extend the facility to foreigners intending to visit India as tourists.

To get the visa, they would need to apply in the designated website along with the required fees.

Foreign tourists in a beach in Andamans.

The e-visa scheme - received the PMO's nod in June - and is expected to be implemented in the coming months.

The countries that are unlikely to be on the list include SAARC and countries that are on "prior reference" list which include Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

This is the first time that electronic visas will be implemented in the country. Officials said plans were afoot to include all 109 countries in a phase-wise manner.
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Rogan Josh
1 kg meat
1 cup mustard/refined oil
3 tsp red chili powder
3 tsp fennel powder
2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp cumin powder
3 tsp brown cardamom powder
1 tsp asafoetida
4 pieces of green cardamom
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1/3 tsp saffron - optional 1 cup curd salt to taste
Wash the meat properly. Heat oil in a pressure cooker.
Put cinnamon, bay leaves, green cardamom, cloves, 1 tsp salt, asafoetida, and meat together.
Fry meat till it turns brown. Once browned, pour a cup of water.
Add the red chili powder and saffron into the meat. Keep stirring for about a minute.
Mix the curd nicely in the mixer and pour it into the pressure cooker.
Keep on stirring till you get a reddish tinge.
Add 2 cups of water, fennel powder, ginger powder, and pressure cook for 2 minutes.
Check if the meat is tender. Peel and grind green and brown cardamom and add to the meat dish.
Finally sprinkle cumin powder and simmer for a minute and serve.
Contributed by Rinki
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