SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Bid to dump trash at French Embassy
New Delhi, February 9
Stepping up protests against the dismantling of decommissioned French warship Clemenceau in Indian shipyard at Alang, Greenpeace and trade union activists, carrying a truckload of domestic waste, today staged a demonstration in front of the French Embassy here.
In video: Clemenceau’s details to be given to Supreme Court Monitoring Committee.(28k, 56k)

Greenpeace activists attend an anti-Clemenceau campaign outside the French Embassy in New Delhi on Thursday Greenpeace activists attend an anti-Clemenceau campaign outside the French Embassy in New Delhi on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Atomic reactors plan: top scientists back AEC chief
Mumbai, February 9
Top nuclear scientists and experts have come out in full support of Atomic Energy Commission(AEC) chief Anil Kakodkar’s stand that putting the fast breeder reactor programme under IAEA safeguards will jeopardise the country’s strategic interests.




EARLIER STORIES
  Cong bid to stem erosion of minority support
New Delhi, February 9
Worried that India’s vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UPA’s perceived pro-US tilt are alienating the minorities, the Congress and the government are looking at ways to correct this impression and stem the erosion of its support base among the Muslims.

Rajnath rules out pact in Uttar Pradesh
Lucknow, February 9
The BJP will enter into a broad alliance with like-minded parties in the five states, where elections are scheduled, party President Rajnath Singh announced here today.

Musahhar woman to address UN session
Patna, February 9
Sudha Varghese is on cloud nine. For her efforts have borne fruits as Girija Devi, a Musahhar woman from Motihari, has been invited to address the 15th session of the United Nations on the “Commission on the status of women” in the US.

Panel to amend Cong’s constitution
New Delhi, February 9
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has set up a six-member committee to recommend amendments to the party’s constitution. The committee comprises Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, senior leaders Mohsina Kidwai and Oscar Fernandes and AICC general secretaries Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi and Ashok Gehlot. Mr Dwivedi has been named convener of the panel.

What is a fast breeder reactor?
A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor that breeds fuel by producing more fissile material than it consumes. However, in order to breed, a reactor must be specifically designed to do so.

Babbar planning to float party
New Delhi, February 9
The Samajwadi Party suspended MP Raj Babbar today said that he would soon float a Samajwadi manch to carry forward his battle for a “clean and secular” polity under the guidance of leaders having a socialist ideology.

Videos

Muslims observe Muharram.
(28k, 56k)

Holiday premières in Goa. 
(28k, 56k)

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Bid to dump trash at French Embassy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
Stepping up protests against the dismantling of decommissioned French warship Clemenceau in Indian shipyard at Alang, Greenpeace and trade union activists, carrying a truckload of domestic waste, today staged a demonstration in front of the French Embassy here.

The Greenpeace and CITU activists, shouting “France, your waste kills”, gathered around the embassy in Chanakyapuri’s diplomatic enclave and tried to register their anguish over the proposed arrival of the toxic ship, saying that the hazardous waste aboard the ship posed life-threatening risks to the health of workers engaged in dismantling.

However, the police prevented them from dumping the garbage at the embassy and confiscated the truck. Twenty activists were also detained by the police and later let off.

The NGO has been pressing the French Government to decontaminate the aircraft carrier by removing toxic asbestos before sending it to the dismantling yard. But some political parties have been opposing the stand taken by Greenpeace, who say that the ship dismantling industry in the country could face closure if ships were banned entry.

There have also been protests by workers at Alang, contending that such ships could make way to yards in Bangladesh and China, where safety norm were less stringent. However, Greenpeace activists say that poor workers are being misled by ship dismantling yard owners in their own interest.

Greenpeace activists wanted to hand over to the French Ambassador petitions signed by 1,200 persons against the Clemenceau’s arrival in India.

“We were stopped, but we will try again,” they said.

On Ambassador Dominique Girard’s stand that France was ready to take back the toxic wastes after the ship was dismantled at Alang, they said it was ridiculous that the French Government believed that Indians would welcome their waste.

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Atomic reactors plan: top scientists back AEC chief

Mumbai, February 9
Top nuclear scientists and experts have come out in full support of Atomic Energy Commission(AEC) chief Anil Kakodkar’s stand that putting the fast breeder reactor programme under IAEA safeguards will jeopardise the country’s strategic interests.

Backing Kakodkar, Mr P.K. Iyengar, former AEC chairman, asked “Why this government is backing on its words? We are a nuclear weapon country and it is for us to decide (on which reactors to put under IAEA safeguards).

“Clearly, we should be able to tell the Americans that both BARC and Kalpakkam will be completely out of safeguards in addition to few others decided by the government,” Iyengar said.

“Why is this government supporting on issues where they (the USA) shows double standards? he asked. The much-hyped CTBT and FMCT also fizzled out as they did not suit them,” he quipped.

He said, even in the USA, the separation of civilian/military programme is not very distinct as for example Los Alamos and other strategic labs do research both on civilian and military strategies.

As a weapon state, and a non-signatory to NPT, “We should be able to decide as to what we want to emphasise as our priorities and a collective wisdom will help the government also,” former Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre A.N. Prasad said from Bangalore.

Nuclear strategic expert Rajesh Basru contended that India’s role as an emerging power will not be affected even if the Indo-US agreement does not come through.

“India, as a weapon country, has every right to reject the agreement, he said.

“As a weapon state, we should also have the freedom to choose our plan of separation just as the USA or any other weapon country does,” he stressed.

Several nuclear scientists pressed for a national debate on the Indo-US July 18 nuclear deal so that all aspects could be considered in the correct perspective.

The scientists, who spoke on condition of anonymity, asked why the USA has “done an almost 180-degree turn” from the July 18 agreement.

They wondered why the USA turned a “blind-eye” to China “violating” all non-proliferation regimes and Beijing’s continued assistance to Pakistan.

They felt that the USA shifting its goalpost was aimed at blocking India’s indigenous programme and making it nuclear-energy dependent on the USA. They also pointed out that the US Congress can at any time stop transfer of technology to India. — PTI

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Cong bid to stem erosion of minority support
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
Worried that India’s vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UPA’s perceived pro-US tilt are alienating the minorities, the Congress and the government are looking at ways to correct this impression and stem the erosion of its support base among the Muslims.

They are hoping the government’s recent decision to give voting rights to Indians working in the Gulf countries, India’s improved relations with Pakistan, the Saudi King’s successful visit and New Delhi’s decision not to send troops to Iran which was appreciated by the Muslim countries, will help counter the attack against the Congress and the ruling combine.

Both the Left parties and the Samajwadi Party have launched a concerted campaign against the UPA government and more specifically Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for abandoning the country’s age-old independent foreign policy and acting at the behest of America in opposing Iran. In fact, there are strong reservations in this regard within the Congress itself as there is a section in the party which believes the UPA’s foreign policy is alienating the minorities.The two parties have threatened to organise huge protests during President George Bush’s visit to India next month.

More immediately, the UPA government has a long Parliament session on hand which, by all accounts, promises to be quite exacting for the ruling alliance which will be under attack from all sides, more particularly the Left parties.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attempt to sort out their differences with the Left parties at Monday’s UPA-Left coordination committee meeting. The Prime Minister is expected to convince the Left leaders that India had acted in India’s interests and point to the fact that New Delhi had gone along with the majority opinion of NAM countries while large Muslim countries like Algeria, Indonesia and Libya abstained from voting. Dr. Singh will delink the Iran vote from the implementation of the Indo-US nuclear pact, which will also be underlined in his statement in Parliament where he will focus primarily on energy security.

While persisting with its efforts to convince the Left leaders, the Congress is hoping that a string of recent developments will help influence public opinion, especially among the minorities. It is learnt the Centre is working overtime to see that its recent decision to give voting rights to Indians residing in Gulf nations can be implemented in the coming five assembly elections, including Kerala and West Bengal.

Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud ‘s recent visit when he signed the first ever bilateral declaration and his suggestion that India be offered a place in the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) will also be highlighted to convince the minorities that the Congress continues to maintain friendly ties with the Arab world. It will also point to how India resisted US pressure sure and did not send troops to Iraq, a decision which was appreciated by the Muslim nations.

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Rajnath rules out pact in Uttar Pradesh
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 9
The BJP will enter into a broad alliance with like-minded parties in the five states, where elections are scheduled, party President Rajnath Singh announced here today.

Encouraged by Karnataka experience, Mr Singh said the party was exploring the possibility of similar alliances in Assam, Manipur, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

In West Bengal, the alliance with Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress would ensure the defeat of the CPM-led government, he declared.

Addressing the media at his Lucknow residence, Mr Singh, however, ruled out the chances of any alliance with any political party in Uttar Pradesh. “Here, there is no question of any understanding with either the BSP, SP or Congress. We will return to power on our own”, he said.

He said while the three parties seemed to be at loggerheads with each other and indulged in occasional shadow boxing, they all were actually hand in glove and partners in the UPA government.

He charged the Manmohan Singh-led government of buckling under the US pressure to include more reactors in the civilian list. Quoting newspaper reports, Mr Singh pointed out that it was shameful that the country's nuclear scientists and engineers had to dash off a protest letter to the Prime Minister to express their disapproval of these recent moves.

Criticising the vote against Iran, he demanded that the UPA government should immediately summon a meeting of the opposition parties and explain the circumstances under which the stand against Iran was arrived at.

Calling Iran “a strategic partner’, he said it had gone out of its way to support India during the Pakistan –led campaign against India on Kashmir in the 1995 Organisation of Islamic Countries.

Underlining his party’s commitment to mobilise public opinion against the Iran vote, Mr Singh said that the opposition parties would also demand a debate inside Parliament.

He stated that the UPA government had not even succeeded in keeping up the momentum set by the NDA government in improving relations with neighbours. He said that relations with Nepal had worsened to the extent that the country now appeared almost “hostile”.

On the home front, he said there was no justification for the UPA government’s “anti-farmer decision of importing wheat just when a bumper crop was to enter the market”. Wondering where the six-lakh metric tonne buffer stock available during the NDA regime had vanished, Mr Singh indicated that his party would agitate against this decision in the coming days.

Accusing the Central Government of not being able to uphold the Constitution, BJP president cited two recent Supreme Court judgments to substantiate his point. 

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Musahhar woman to address UN session
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 9
Sudha Varghese is on cloud nine. For her efforts have borne fruits as Girija Devi, a Musahhar woman from Motihari, has been invited to address the 15th session of the United Nations on the “Commission on the status of women” in the US.

Varghese, who hails from Kerala, has been fighting relentlessly for the cause of Musahhar women in and around of Bihar Sarif and Danapur for the past 20 years.

She was awarded Padma Shri this year after UNICEF brought to light her struggle for providing better living to Musahhars, the most backward among Dalits.

Like her, for Girija Devi, too, it is a story of determination and inner strength, which prompted her to launch a crusade against the sale of liquor in and around the villages of Motihari four years ago.

Four years down the line, courtesy the Action Aid, the United Nations today recognised her contribution that forced over 80 per cent of men folk to leave liquor.

Lathi-totting “mahila brigade” led by Girija Devi used to constantly tour the Dalit settlements of Motihari and crack down on the liquor shops in the area.

Another pioneering woman of the area, Pushpa Chopra, is also elated at the news.

The first woman member of Bihar Chamber of Commerce said: “If there is a will, there is a way.You do not need to be a minister or bureaucrat to usher in a change.You only need to have a strong determination.”

According to the Action Aid, Girija Devi has been chosen for the honour for leading the anti-liquor movement.

She used to organise women from several nearby villages under the banner “Musahhar Vikas Manch” and motivate them to raid shops selling liquor.

The 15th session of the United Nations is slated to begin on February 27.

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Panel to amend Cong’s constitution
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has set up a six-member committee to recommend amendments to the party’s constitution.
The committee comprises Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, senior leaders Mohsina Kidwai and Oscar Fernandes and AICC general secretaries Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi and Ashok Gehlot. Mr Dwivedi has been named convener of the panel.

It is learnt that Mr Oscar Fernandes, minister without portfolio, who is in charge of the North East and frontal organisations, will be entrusted with Ms Ambika Soni’s work since she has been appointed minister in the Union Cabinet. He will look after the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, in addition to his other responsibilities as he is all set to return full-time to the AICC.

Mr Fernandes, however, has not been given charge of the media department, which was one of Ms Soni’s responsibilities, as it is likely to be entrusted to AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi.

The decision to set up a panel on the party’s constitution follows Ms Gandhi’s remarks at the recent AICC plenary session in Hyderabad when she spoke about the need to amend the party’s constitution to keep pace with the changing times.

There have been suggestions that the party should do away with the distinction between active and primary members and that the jurisdiction of the party’s district and block committees be aligned with the boundaries of parliamentary and Assembly constituencies.

There is also a feeling in the party that procedures which were laid many years ago, should be curtailed and decison-making should be hastened as the organisation had grown over the years.

There is also a suggestion that the constitution should provide for the nomination of all 24 members to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) instead of the present provision which lays down that half the members of the party’s apex decision-making body be elected and the other half be nominated. Those who favour such an amendment maintain that since state units invariably authorise the Congress President to nominate the CWC members, the constitution should be amended to vest these powers with the party chief.

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What is a fast breeder reactor?

A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor that breeds fuel by producing more fissile material than it consumes. However, in order to breed, a reactor must be specifically designed to do so.

Two types of breeder reactor have been proposed:

The first is the fast breeder reactor or FBR. The superior neutron economy of a fast neutron reactor makes it possible to build a reactor that, after its initial fuel charge of plutonium requires only natural or even depleted uranium feedstock as input to its fuel cycle. This fuel cycle has been termed the plutonium economy.

The second is the thermal breeder reactor . The excellent neutron capture characteristics of fissile Uranium-233 make it possible to build a heavy water moderated reactor that, after its initial fuel charge of enriched uranium, plutonium or MOX, requires only thorium as input to its fuel cycle.

Use of a breeder reactor assumes nuclear processing of the breeder blanket at least, without which the concept is meaningless. In practice, all proposed breeder reactor programmes involve reprocessing of the fuel elements as well.

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Babbar planning to float party
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
The Samajwadi Party suspended MP Raj Babbar today said that he would soon float a Samajwadi manch to carry forward his battle for a “clean and secular” polity under the guidance of leaders having a socialist ideology.

The two-time Agra MP, who was suspended from the party’s primary membership yesterday for his attacks on SP general secretary Amar Singh, said he would not remain inactive during the suspension but continue to raise issues of concern.

Mr Babbar said he would take issues to people through the manch.

“In 1967, I had joined the Samajvadi Yuvjan Sabha. I will try to enlist the support of prominent socialist leaders such as George Fernandes, Mohan Prakash and Sharad Yadav. I sincerely desire to generate a meaningful debate on socialism,” he said.

Mr Babbar said he would cooperate with the disciplinary action committee which had served the suspension order on him as it would provide him an opportunity to put forward his viewpoint.

Mr Babbar, who went to meet Mr Janeshwar Mishra in the evening, had to return disappointed as the senior the SP leader had left for Ghaziabad hours before the scheduled meeting. 

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