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EDITORIALS

BJP backs out of VAT
Stick to the April 1 deadline
T
he BJP-ruled states’ decision not to implement VAT (value added tax) is retrograde and motivated more by reasons political than economic. The party admits VAT is a “progressive tax system”, but is opposed to its “piecemeal introduction”.

Maintain the balance
But no one should transgress its limits
L
ok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s concern over the increasing interference of the judiciary in the affairs of the legislatures needs to be examined in the backdrop of the developments in Jharkhand. 

Law and evolution
Catching up with monkey business
A
cting on the Centre’s suggestion for a ban on feeding monkeys, the Supreme Court has asked all state governments to submit their response within seven weeks.







EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
ARTICLE

Not much confidence yet
Peace process still to pick up speed
by Sushant Sareen
T
he single most important achievement of the agreement on the documentation required to travel on the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad is that it has kept alive the fledgling peace process between India and Pakistan. The lack of any progress on any of the issues being discussed under the composite dialogue process had raised a question mark over the process.

MIDDLE

Queen in the gurdwara
by G.S. Aujla
I
was one of the coveted few who got the invitation to attend the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in the Hounslow Gurdwara of London in the middle of October last year when I was on a private visit to the UK.

OPED

Water battles are avoidable
Farmers should learn to conserve water
by Kiran Soni Gupta
T
he ball is now in the Supreme Court to settle the din and dust raised by the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 that annuls the December 31, 1981, agreement signed by Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Rock dust grows extra-big vegetables
By Paul Kelbie
F
or years scientists have been warning of an apocalyptic future facing the world. With the prospect of an earth made infertile from over-production and mass reliance on chemicals, coupled with an atmosphere polluted by greenhouse gases there seems little to celebrate. But belief is growing that an answer to some of the earth's problems are not only at hand, but under our feet.

Delhi Durbar
Kalam’s website

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has introduced a new section on his website that has pictures of flowers, butterflies, birds and deer taken in the bio-diversity park of the Mughal Gardens in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

  • Soren to rejoin Cabinet?

  • Elders laugh off AIDS

  • Khursheed faces MPs’ ire

  • Punjabi society



 REFLECTIONS

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BJP backs out of VAT
Stick to the April 1 deadline

The BJP-ruled states’ decision not to implement VAT (value added tax) is retrograde and motivated more by reasons political than economic. The party admits VAT is a “progressive tax system”, but is opposed to its “piecemeal introduction”. The Centre wants its simultaneous implementation in all states, but cannot dictate terms since it a state subject. Before the BJP retracted, only Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were reluctant to follow the April 1 deadline. Now if the BJP persists with its ill-advised decision, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand would also stay away from the VAT regime.

The transition is bound to create problems whenever the new tax is introduced. The way out is not to run away from the situation, but to deal with it. Committees of experts can monitor the transition and sort out issues as they arise. Agitated traders are spreading the scare and the misinformation that prices of certain consumer goods would rise. The government, on the other hand, expects the prices in general would fall. The real reason for the traders’ opposition is VAT makes tax evasion almost impossible. Its advantages like an end to the plethora of taxes and encouragement to self-assessment are by now widely known.

The BJP’s reasons for opposing VAT are specious. Doubts raised by it are mostly answered in the Centre’s White Paper. The party says states would suffer revenue erosion, post-VAT. The Centre has given out the undertaking that it would make good such losses on a reducing basis. The BJP wants Central Sales Tax to go, the Centre has already promised to phase it out. The party says there would be “a lot of chaos and confusion” since UP and Tamil Nadu have not yet passed the VAT-enabling legislation. The Centre has addressed this concern by suggesting that a “VATable” entry tax can be imposed on goods from the states that do not implement VAT. The party has failed to present valid reasons for its action. Actually, its known pro-trader political compulsions are seen to be behind dragging its feet on a vital national issue. The party leaders are being led by their followers. 
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Maintain the balance
But no one should transgress its limits

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s concern over the increasing interference of the judiciary in the affairs of the legislatures needs to be examined in the backdrop of the developments in Jharkhand. At the all-India Speakers’ conference on Sunday, he maintained that the meeting was not intended to create any confrontation between the legislature and the judiciary. At the same time, he described the Supreme Court’s directive to the then Pro-tem Speaker of the Jharkhand Assembly on the date, time and manner of the floor test as “disturbing”. Mr Chatterjee and/or the Speakers’ conference are entitled to their views. However, the court’s interim directive cannot be strictly called as interference. It had to step in because of Governor Syed Sibtey Razi’s brazen abuse of power in installing the Shibu Soren government and the Pro-tem Speaker’s attempts to circumvent the law and bail it out. This was an unprecedented situation and required the court’s timely intervention to ensure that the Governor and the Pro-tem Speaker acted fairly and impartially, giving no room for mischief and arbitrariness. And true to the spirit of the Constitution, the Supreme Court disposed of the petition, once Mr Soren resigned after his failure to seek the mandated vote of confidence on March 11.

The legislature, the executive and the judiciary are three pillars of the Constitution. Each wing derives its powers from the Constitution which are well defined by the doctrine of separation of powers. The Supreme Court, however, is the guardian and final interpreter of the Constitution. It has to ensure that no wing transgresses its constitutional limits in the exercise of its powers. If there is a transgression, the apex court is bound to step in to undo the wrong and protect the Constitution. Its directive to the Pro-tem Speaker should be seen in this light

In view of the Jharkhand experience, the three wings of the Constitution should appreciate each other’s role in the right spirit and act accordingly. As the Governor and the Assembly Speaker hold constitutional posts, they should exercise their powers impartially and with utmost circumspection. If their actions smack of mala fide, the court is bound to intervene to uphold the rule of law and safeguard the Constitution.
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Law and evolution
Catching up with monkey business

Acting on the Centre’s suggestion for a ban on feeding monkeys, the Supreme Court has asked all state governments to submit their response within seven weeks. Obviously, the Union Government’s novel idea and the apex Court’s directive are impelled by the need to check the proliferating monkey menace, particularly in Delhi and Shimla. There is a lot of monkey business going on in the country, and not only in the Capital and the former summer capital of the Raj. At the same time, there can be no denying that the simians have been getting the better of the human species and their laws and institutions. The monkey invasion, particularly of urban areas, has become quite aggressive and disruptive in the last decade. For once, even the leaden walls of bureaucracy have been broken through. The government offices, and, if one may make bold to suggest, their working, have been affected adversely by the monkey brigades. So much so, that some six years ago, the Union Government sanctioned the use of langurs to keep the monkeys at bay. Supplying and operating the langurs has become a business of its own, and a lucrative one at that. Today, there are as many as 45 langurs working for the Government of India — on salaries higher than guaranteed by the Minimum Wages Act.

However, it is not practicable for every affected institution and household to hire or keep a langur as a pet for warding off monkeys from making away with their belongings — from foodstuff in the refrigerator to spectacles on one’s nose. For then, our cities and residential areas would be reduced to a battleground between monkeys and langurs, and people sidelined as cheering or despairing spectators to the sport. In the event, it appears to be sensible to prevent people from feeding monkeys so that these creatures are forced to abandon the cities and return to more hospitable habitats elsewhere. One can only hope the plan works, because the best laid plans of men and mice can go awry, without a monkey to throw a wrench in the works.
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Thought for the day

It is better to entertain an idea than to take it home to live with you for the rest of your life.

— Randall Jarrell
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Not much confidence yet
Peace process still to pick up speed
by Sushant Sareen

The single most important achievement of the agreement on the documentation required to travel on the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad is that it has kept alive the fledgling peace process between India and Pakistan. The lack of any progress on any of the issues being discussed under the composite dialogue process had raised a question mark over the process. Observers within the region and outside wondered how long this process can sustain itself without any forward movement or agreement on the issues being discussed.

Before the Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, left for Islamabad, statements emanating from New Delhi and Islamabad pointed to the obvious disconnect between the two countries. While the Pakistani side was expressing its impatience at the lack of progress in the dialogue process as also dissatisfaction over the pace of the dialogue, the Indian External Affairs Minister was expressing his satisfaction over both the progress and pace of the dialogue. Against this backdrop, the failure to reach any agreement on the cross-LoC bus service might well have sounded the death-knell of the peace process. But now that an agreement has been reached, the dialogue process has gained a new lease of life.

However, there remains a fundamental problem in the structure of the composite dialogue, a problem that will continue to raise doubts about the utility of the framework within which the current Indo-Pak dialogue is taking place. The dialogue framework was a good starting point when both India and Pakistan decided to resume talks after a long hiatus. But having resumed the dialogue, both countries needed to steadily move away from the structural framework of the process. The reason was simple. The way the composite dialogue was structured rendered an inherent rigidity to the talks process. This in turn made any significant breakthrough extremely difficult, if not impossible, especially since most of the issues being discussed were of a sovereign nature and not amenable to easy, quick-fix solutions.

Compounding the problem was the level at which the dialogue was being held — officials on both sides. Civil servants are by training and orientation conservative, and it is neither fair nor realistic to expect them to take bold decisions on sovereign issues like the Siachen glaciers, Sir Creek, trade and transit issues, the Tulbul navigation project, etc. And these are supposedly less contentious issues being discussed.

In any case, officials negotiate on the basis of a brief given to them by their respective political masters and their ability to exceed the brief is rather limited. It then falls upon the Political establishment to make the breakthrough. But the problem here is, two-fold: One, the political establishment is not clear about the larger strategic objective with which it has entered the dialogue process and is therefore, unable to break the deadlock. Two, it feels constrained by both domestic political compulsions and the feedback given to it by the permanent establishment — the officials. As a result, the political establishment too is unable to summon the political will necessary to make any significant movement forward.

With no forward movement taking place, maintaining the momentum of the peace process depends critically on confidence-building measures. Thus, it is steps like the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus agreement become so important. These CBMs kickstart the dialogue process and keep it going. Since there is no breakthrough in the issues identified for discussion, the CBMs convey the impression of a forward movement, of flexibility on both sides, of the sincere desire to solve all outstanding issues peacefully. In this sense, the CBMs are playing a vital role in keeping the peace process moving at the official level. At the same time the CBMs are strengthening the “people’s movements” in the two countries for peace and cooperation.

The question, however, remains as to how long the CBMs can continue to cover up for the lack of progress on the issues identified under the composite dialogue framework. While the Pakistani side is not complaining about the CBMs, they clearly don't see the CBMs as a substitute for addressing the substantive issues — namely Kashmir. India, on the other hand, as the status quo power, seems to believe that the CBMs will continue to play a vital role in the absence of any forward movement on other issues. This is a disconnect that will sooner or later come to the fore. To keep Pakistan engaged, India will, therefore, have to continue to come out with ever more imaginative CBMs that promote the people-to-people contacts which India believes will help in the normalisation of relations between the two countries.

This is where the second disconnect comes into play — the higher objectives which the two countries hope to achieve through the composite dialogue process. As things stand, it doesn't appear as though either side is clear as to what it expects from the dialogue. Both sides seem to be more interested in settling the questions of immediate concern, some of which form part of the composite dialogue. For Pakistan, the composite dialogue is a way to try and get some concessions from India on Kashmir.

At the same time, Pakistan needs to engage India in a dialogue not only because of the pressure of the international community but also because reducing tensions on the borders allows the Pakistani regime to concentrate on the economic and political problems inside the country. As far as India is concerned, the composite dialogue is useful to the extent it helps lower the export of terrorism from Pakistan into India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, it not only allows India to keep out external interference or mediation but also gives it an opportunity to explore a people-centric approach to improving relations.

But, in the process, the larger and more important strategic objective — the basis on which a long-term relationship between India and Pakistan is sought to be placed — is all too often ignored. In other words, what sort of a bilateral relationship do the two sides envisage in the next 50 to 100 years; how does India figure and fit into Pakistan's future plans, and, likewise, how does Pakistan figure into India's future plans? It is this question that must guide the dialogue between India and Pakistan.

Once the answer to this question is clear, issues currently on the table will become more amenable to a resolution. It is also important for both sides to remember that between any two neighbours, there are a plethora of issues that will keep cropping up and which both sides will need to sit down and sort out in a spirit of mutual accommodation. In reality, the issues and disputes being discussed under the composite dialogue fall in this category and their resolution or management will depend upon the larger framework of bilateral relationship.

It is, perhaps, time for India and Pakistan to not only get out of the strait-jacket of composite dialogue but also expand the scope of the dialogue to the level of a strategic dialogue. Instead of fixing new dates for a dialogue, it might be a good idea to take the suggestion made by the Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, to fix days of every month on which officials of the two sides will meet and thrash out issues of immediate concern. Alongside, the special envoys from both sides can fix days of every month to engage the other side in the larger strategic dialogue. And, in the meantime, let new CBMs be rolled out and let the people get on with the more urgent business of trade and travel.
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Queen in the gurdwara
by G.S. Aujla

I was one of the coveted few who got the invitation to attend the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in the Hounslow Gurdwara of London in the middle of October last year when I was on a private visit to the UK. On a request from the Indian Community Queen Elizabeth of the Great Britain along with her consort Prince Philip were to attend the celebration. It was one of those unprecedented moments of history, an experience of a lifetime that I could ill afford to miss.

The event was unique in so many respects as much for the religious import it had for the Sikh devotees as it was for a Christian sovereign who was to show an extraordinary catholicity in attending a religious function of another faith. But the Queen acted appropriately as the social head of the community which proudly lives in England and proclaims the British potentate as their own even if descended from distant Orient — once a jewel in the Crown and professing a religion other than her own.

Unlike in our part of the world I did not encounter layers after layers of concentric security. There was only one contact of access control and the check that it carried out was highly palatable without one having to go through the odious beeps of metal detectors and other gizmos. The presence of uniformed cops was totally symbolic and those in civvies quite unobtrusive. Due care was taken not to hurt the susceptibilities of the devotees and yet not a leaf could ruffle without notice. A lesson to learn by a professional cop.

The Queen arrived on the dot! After going through the usual obeisance in the sanctum sanctorum she stepped out into the marqueed pandal outside the gurdwara where the deliberations were to be held. She and the Duke of Edinburgh stood in graceful silence through an hour of the devotional music and other rituals. While being greeted by medallioned soldiers of British Indian army who had seen action in World War II on the side of the British she spoke to each one of the veterans and shook hands with them. A moment of gratitude for the services rendered.

The royal couple spent an hour and a half in perfect grace and solemnity. It was as secular a function in a gurdwara as it could be — full of religious deference yet devoid of unctuous ceremonialism.
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Water battles are avoidable
Farmers should learn to conserve water
by Kiran Soni Gupta

The ball is now in the Supreme Court to settle the din and dust raised by the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 that annuls the December 31, 1981, agreement signed by Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. While the legal position with regard to unilateral termination of a tripartite agreement will take time to resolve, the Act is a stiff warning to all of us to learn to manage our resources in a better way.

Conflicts over scarce water resources continue today and will increase as populations grow and environmental concerns deepen. Control of water, particularly in arid regions, is a basis of wealth, power, economic growth and political influence.

The concerns of Punjab over surplus water may be genuine. But that does not allow the state to unilaterally annul an inter-state agreement. Such an approach to the sharing of natural resources undermines the federal polity. The first question is whether one party can unilaterally repudiate an agreement to which there are two or more parties. Such action strikes at the heart of federalism.

Secondly, the Central Government has been deeply involved in these matters at every stage; it cannot be silent when one State seeks to annul the agreements. Thirdly, it seems wholly improper to change at this stage the entire history that has been presented to the Tribunal.

Fourthly, the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal was an element in the 1976 and 1981 agreements as also in the 1985 accord. The termination of all those agreements will destroy the very basis of the SYL canal and, therefore, of the directions of the Supreme Court to the Central Government to ensure its expeditious completion.

Water-sharing is such an emotive issue that it could become a festering sore forcing interventions of courts. It could lead to the negation of agreements sanctified by governments, be it agreements on the Cauvery or the Punjab and Assam accords. The implications of the water Act are far-reaching for federalism and the country's unity. The future of all agreements has been put at stake.

With groundwater resources' having been over-extracted, surface flow assumes critical position in sustaining demand for irrigation water. Should Punjab then share its limited surface flow at the cost of rendering nine lakh acres of its cultivable area dry and barren or its insistence for more water on the ground that the State has lost 200,000 hectares of fertile tract to water-logging and salinity?

Should it compromise the livelihood of 1.5 million of its peasant families to meet its obligation towards its neighbours? Given that the State contributes significantly (53 per cent wheat and 40 per cent paddy) to the country's swelling food reserves, these questions need to be addressed dispassionately. Should Punjab have the exclusive right for sustaining the country's food supplies overriding irrigation needs of farmers in Haryana and Rajasthan?

It is a clear case of the competing demand for a shrinking natural resource that calls for its most productive utilisation under the prevailing conditions. Both Haryana and Rajasthan have lost 249,000 and 176,000 hectares of productive land to water-logging respectively. The potential sensitive area to water-logging is on the increase.

Haryana's position is even worse. Statistics indicate that nearly 40 per cent of the surface runoff from as much arable land in the State has no drainage outlet, contributing to undesired accumulation of water in the soil. Not surprisingly, an estimated 473,000 hectare area has ground water level within the vicinity of 3 metres from the source, enough to seriously impact crop harvests. Given the fact that one-third of the State's land has saline ground water reserves, continued surface irrigation will compound farmers' woes in the years ahead.

Farm experts in both States contend that irrigation demands have populist and political overtones and are often exaggerated. With irrigation having been turned into a dominant electoral issue in the predominant agrarian states, emotions run high on slightest provocation of withdrawal or diversion of irrigation flows. Should then Punjab be the cause for more misery to the unsuspecting farmers in the neighboring States?

Farmers should be encouraged to resort to water conservation measures and build “diggis” in their fields and install sprinklers for proper water storage and usage. Diggis are underground water tanks in which water can be collected during distribution and can be used whenever needed. They reduce the dependency of farming on actual canal water regulation.

Likewise the state government must reiterate and warn farmers in advance about the water availability in Pong which will further be divided between the states so that farmers can plan about the crop according to the water availability.

An objective analysis indicates that Punjab's action is indeed suggestive of a shift from the current water-intensive cropping pattern. Though such decisions are influenced by a number of economic factors, efforts must be intensified to grow with less water and get the maximum productivity per unit of water.

The ongoing crop diversification plan is pitched around the compelling need to cut down on current water consumption at the farms. It is already encouraging its farmers to switch from paddy-wheat rotation to other water-conserving crops, given the fact that for producing a tonne each of irrigated wheat and paddy, an estimated 1200 and 2700 cu m of water gets consumed. That applies as much to Haryana as to Rajasthan: Economic development in arid zones and desert areas should surely take forms that are not water-intensive.
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Rock dust grows extra-big vegetables
By Paul Kelbie

For years scientists have been warning of an apocalyptic future facing the world. With the prospect of an earth made infertile from over-production and mass reliance on chemicals, coupled with an atmosphere polluted by greenhouse gases there seems little to celebrate. But belief is growing that an answer to some of the earth's problems are not only at hand, but under our feet.

Specialists have just met in Perth to discuss the secrets of rock dust, a quarrying by-product that is at the heart of government-sponsored scientific trials and which, it is claimed, could revitalise barren soil and reverse climate change.

The recognition of the healing powers of rock dust comes after a 20-year campaign by two former schoolteachers, Cameron and Moira Thomson. They have been battling to prove that rock dust can replace the minerals that have been lost to the earth over the past 10,000 years and, as a result, rejuvenate the land and halt climate change.

To prove their point, the couple have converted six acres of open, infertile land in the Grampian foothills near Pitlochry into a modern Eden. Using little more than rock dust mixed with compost, they have created rich, deep soils capable of producing cabbages the size of footballs, onions bigger than coconuts and gooseberries as big as plums.

“This is a simple answer which doesn't involve drastic life changes by anyone,” Ms Thomson said. “People don't have to stop driving cars to do this, just spread some rock dust on their gardens. We could cover the earth with rock dust and start to absorb carbon in a more natural fashion which, along with reducing emissions and using a combination of other initiatives, will have a better and faster response.”

Before the Thomsons began their “good life” experiment, erosion and leaching were so severe in the glen where they set up home that nothing had been grown there for almost 50 years. The basis of their theory is simple. By spreading a thin layer of the dust over the land, they are able to mimic the earth's glacial cycles which naturally fertilise the land.

Since the last ice age three million years ago, the earth has gone through 25 similar glaciations, each lasting about 90,000 years. “We are 10,000 years into an interglacial — a hiatus between ice ages — meaning modern soils are relatively barren and artificial fertilisers are needed,” Mr Thomson said.

“By spreading the dust we are doing in minutes what the earth takes thousands of years to do — putting essential minerals in the rocks back into the earth.”

Over the years the couple, who established the Sustainable Ecological Earth Regeneration (Seer) Centre charitable trust in 1997 to test their ideas, have slowly convinced others of their theory. They recently won a grant of almost Ł100,000 from the Scottish Executive to conduct Britain's first official rock dust trials.

The couple claim the technique may also play a significant role in the fight against climate change as calcium and magnesium in the dust converts carbon in the air into carbonates. Such is the interest in the theory that Nasa in the US is examining it in preparation for growing plants on other planets.

The couple say that the rock dust means that crops don't need water to produce harvests of magnificent vegetables. “It would be perfect for Third World countries that are usually unable to grow crops because the land is so dry,” Ms Thomson said. “This could hold the solution for them.”

“There is no doubt that, when rock dust is mixed with compost, it has a dramatic effect on crop yields,” said Alistair Lamont, president of the Chartered Institution of Waste Management, who is impressed by the Seer experiment.

—The Independent
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Delhi Durbar
Kalam’s website

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has introduced a new section on his website that has pictures of flowers, butterflies, birds and deer taken in the bio-diversity park of the Mughal Gardens in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Dr Kalam himself selects pictures taken by Rashtrapati Bhavan photographers — T. Ashok, Samar Mondal and Gopal Rawat. He also gives poetic captions to the pictures.

The section titled “My garden smiles” was introduced last week. On the first day, the site had a picture of Kalam surrounded by flowers. The caption read: “The beauty of these flowers has entered my body and soul and blossomed happiness.”

There was another snap the same day of a peacock in flight. The caption read: “I fly as I too have a mission.” The website also has a corner for children where the President receives mail from them.

Soren to rejoin Cabinet?

Since his dream of being the Chief Minister of Jharkhand was shortlived, JMM leader Shibu Soren wants to return to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet at the earliest.

Notwithstanding the turn of events in Ranchi and the unabashed horse-trading in Jharkhand in which the BJP-led NDA got the better of Soren and the Congress strategists, he wants to get back overseeing the Ministry of Coal, Mines and Minerals which he had to resign.

The compulsions of coalition politics are expected to see Prime Minister Manmohan Singh undertake a minor reshuffle-cum-expansion of his Cabinet when Parliament has an interregnum at the end of next week.

Having been compelled to make an ignominious exit in Jharkhand and Governor Syed Sibte Razi inexorably caught in an avoidable controversy, Soren wants to lord over his Union Ministry now that Jharkhand has been a sour grape.

Elders laugh off AIDS

Youthful Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss went on insisting in the Rajya Sabha the other day that parliamentarians should participate actively in “promoting HIV/AIDS”. In this context, he drew attention to the Parliamentary Forum on HIV/AIDS and stressed the need for greater participation of the MPs in its activities.

An AIADMK member got up and asked tongue-in-cheek the Chair if the minister wanted them to participate in the promotion or prevention of HIV/AIDS. The minister, embarrassed, quickly corrected himself.

Khursheed faces MPs’ ire

Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Salman Khursheed had to face the wrath of party MPs from the biggest state at the recently held review meeting. Khursheed, who was made the party chief in the hope that the party would revive its fortunes under his leadership, was cornered by the party MPs on the ground that he does not take them into confidence.

A concrete example they gave was about the two camps organised by the UPCC at Chitrakoot and Gorakhpur, which were attended by Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi. The third such camp is scheduled to be held in Brindawan in May.

Punjabi society

The International Punjabi Society completed a year of its operations earlier this month, on March 9 to be precise. The project was inaugurated by Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Nayyar.

Ten colleges of Delhi, including Mata Sundari College, Maitreyi College, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, and Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa Postgraduate Evening College, had received Rs 50,000 each in two instalments to buy books for the use of students of economically weaker sections.

These colleges have set up an IPS Book Bank Centre in their library. The IPS has decided to expand this project to cover at least five more colleges.

Contributed by Tripti Nath, S. Satyanarayanan, Satish Misra and Gaurav ChoudhuryTop

 

Alife that is calm and temperate is more conducive for gaining knowledge. Where tempests and storms are ever present, man is too busy seeking a hiding place to contemplate. He is taken up with so many little problems that he cannot think of big things.

—The Bhagvad Gita

Do not insult a woman nor ever pull her hair. With that one act a king’s righteous glory is lost for ever. His ancient and glorious name is stained for ever.

— The Mahabharata

In the silence of the heart, God speaks and you have to listen. Then in the fullness of your heart, because it is full of God, full of love, full of compassion, full of faith, your mouth will speak.

— Mother Teresa

If you’re strong enough, there are no precedents.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

We cannot have a true conception of God even if we think about Him a hundred thousand times and spend ages in doing so, as he is beyond thought. We cannot truly know him, even if engrossed in silence we concentrate and meditate on him, deep and long.

— Guru Nanak
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