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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Basmati row: Pak to challenge India
Islamabad, June 26
Pakistan has decided to challenge India's move to register 'super' basmati rice as its national trademark on the world market, a media report here said. India last month notified 'super' basmati variety to be eligible for exports.

US House, Senate panels to vote on Indo-US N-deal
New Delhi, June 26
The US’ House of Representatives Committee on International Relations and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on the India-US nuclear deal on June 27 and 28, respectively.

Indo-China relations in ‘good shape’
Beijing, June 26
As India and China held fresh round of talks on the vexed boundary issue today, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said bilateral ties were in ‘‘good shape’’ since the enunciation of ‘‘Guiding Principles’’ for the settlement of the problem.

National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan with Chinese Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo on the first day of the eighth round of India-China boundary talks in Beijing on Monday. — PTI

National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan with Chinese Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo on the first day of the eighth round of India-China boundary talks in Beijing

Malaysia to ban ‘designer babies’
Kuala Lumpur, June 26
Malaysia today said it would ban the creation of ‘‘designer babies’’ except for medical reasons as it feared the selection method might disrupt the ratio of males and females in the country.

Pak not to lift ban on Indian films
Islamabad, June 26
Pakistan has ruled out lifting its ban on Indian films but said it would permit foreign movies starring Indian and Pakistani actors to be screened in the country.

 


North Korean Lim Byungil  and his South Korean family members at a temporary family reunion between the South and the North on Mount Kumgang in North Korea
North Korean Lim Byungil (left) and his South Korean family members at a temporary family reunion between the South and the North on Mount Kumgang in North Korea on Monday. — Reuters

 

EARLIER STORIES


East Timor’s PM resigns
Dili, June 26
East Timor’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, widely blamed for triggering last month’s bloody unrest, resigned today in a move expected to ease tensions in the impoverished nation.

Chaplin hat, cane hit auction record
Los Angeles, June 26
A Charlie Chaplin hat and cane set sold for nearly $ 1,40,000 at an auction, according to a spokeswoman for Bonhams & Butterfields.

NRI student gets Newsweek award
Indian-American Benita Singh, a Yale University student, is among 15 US citizens and organisations chosen by Newsweek magazine for its annual ‘Giving Back Awards’ — honouring those who use fame, fortune and heart to devote themselves to helping others.

India seen as high-paying destination
Washington, June 26
There was a time when highly skilled graduates from Indian universities sought jobs in the Bay Area, but the trend now seems to have reversed with more young Californians discovering India as a land of economic opportunity.

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Basmati row: Pak to challenge India

Islamabad, June 26
Pakistan has decided to challenge India's move to register 'super' basmati rice as its national trademark on the world market, a media report here said.

India last month notified 'super' basmati variety to be eligible for exports.

Pakistan took the decision during a joint meeting of the Ministry of Industries, Production and Special Initiatives and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock held yesterday, the report said.

The two ministries were worried that the Indian move would reduce the export market share held by Pakistani rice exporters, particularly in the West Asia and the UK.

They claimed Pakistan had in 1995 registered 'super' basmati in the Official Gazette under its Seeds Act 1976 and had begun producing and exporting it as far back as 1985.

They said India had no right to market its own version of the commodity since Pakistan had already registered it as its national trademark. 'Super' basmati is globally recognised as being of Pakistani origin, they added.

Both ministries decided to take up the registration issue at the international level.

The Ministry of Commerce said it supported the Basmati Growers Association (BGA) move to register 'super' basmati with the Intellectual Property Rights Organisation (IPRO).

Such a move would give the BGA exclusive rights over the commodity.

In the recent Commerce Secretary-level talks held here, both India and Pakistan agreed to form a committee to jointly patent Basmati rice. — PTI 

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US House, Senate panels to vote on Indo-US N-deal
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
The US’ House of Representatives Committee on International Relations and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on the India-US nuclear deal on June 27 and 28, respectively.

The House and the Senate Committees would vote on a legislation that seeks to exempt from certain requirements of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 US exports to India of nuclear materials, equipment and technology.

New Delhi and Washington are keeping a close watch on the two proceedings of the two committees as the margin by which the legislation is carried or defeated would virtually decide the fate of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

This correspondent understands that if the legislation is not carried by a wide margin, the US floor managers would hesitate to pilot the Bills in the respective houses of the Congress in the current form and language.

On the other hand, if the legislation is carried by an impressive margin, the Bush Administration would inevitably latch on to the opportunity and pilot the Bills in the two Houses of the Congress for voting soon.

The legislation would most certainly have “non-binding clauses” like references to Iraq, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that the nuclear deal would not result in an arms race between India on the one hand and China and Pakistan, on the other.

Implementation of the US-Indian deal and the ability of the US to export nuclear materials and equipment to India will require the conclusion of a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement between the US and India, also referred to as a 123 agreement. This refers to the Section of the Atomic Energy Act that defines the nonproliferation conditions that such agreements must contain and the procedures for Congressional review and approval.

The Act provides that an agreement that contains all of the nonproliferation conditions of Section 123 may enter into effect after the President has submitted it to Congress for 90 legislative days and provided Congress does not enact legislation to disapprove it. However, both Houses of Congress must vote to approve any agreement that does not contain all the nonproliferation requirements of Section 123.

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Indo-China relations in ‘good shape’

Beijing, June 26
As India and China held fresh round of talks on the vexed boundary issue today, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said bilateral ties were in ‘‘good shape’’ since the enunciation of ‘‘Guiding Principles’’ for the settlement of the problem.

‘‘Our bilateral ties are in good shape since last year when I visited India and we established the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the settlement of the India-China boundary question,’’ Wen told India’s Special Representative for border talks and National Security Adviser M.K Narayanan when the latter made a courtesy call on him.

‘‘You are not only the Special Representative (for the India-China border talks) but also a friendship envoy,’’ Wen, who returned yesterday after a seven-nation official tour of Africa, told Narayanan.

The Chinese Premier said India and China had formed a strategic partnership last year during his visit to New Delhi and since then, frequent high-level exchanges had taken place which had boosted bilateral ties.

Earlier, Narayanan and his Chinese counterpart, Dai Bingguo held two rounds of talks here following their informal parleys in the northwestern city of Xian.

The eighth round of border talks will last till tomorrow.

Narayanan is also scheduled to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.

The new round of negotiations is taking place after the recent successful visit to China by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee as well as last week’s historic agreement between India and China to reopen the Nathu La border trade point. The Himalayan pass, which was a part of the famed Silk Road, was closed after the 1962 Indo-China war.

The ongoing in-camera sessions of boundary negotiations would focus on resolving the boundary issue under the ‘‘political parameters’’ set during Wen’s visit to New Delhi in April 2005, official sources said.

The two sides formed the Special Representatives mechanism in June 2003 during the visit of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to China.

These guiding principles commit both India and China to arrive at a ‘‘package settlement’’ of the boundary question in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual understanding, analysts said, adding that the early settlement would be beneficial for full blossoming of India-China relations.

India says China is illegally occupying 43,180 sq kms of Jammu and Kashmir, including 5,180 sq km illegally ceded to Beijing by Islamabad under the Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement in 1963. China accuses India of possessing some 90,000 sq km of Chinese territory, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh. — PTI 

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Malaysia to ban ‘designer babies’

Kuala Lumpur, June 26
Malaysia today said it would ban the creation of ‘‘designer babies’’ except for medical reasons as it feared the selection method might disrupt the ratio of males and females in the country.

Health Minister Chua Soi Lek said the ban would be contained in a new law now being drafted which would be announced by the end of the year.

‘‘According to the guidelines being drafted, sex selection for social reasons is not permitted,’’ he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

‘‘Sex selection is, however, allowed if a particular sex predisposes a serious genetic condition.’’ Controversy over designer babies erupted last week after a private hospital announced that Malaysia’s first ‘‘designer baby’’ was born in December 2004 using the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis method.

The technique allows parents to avoid the transmission of genetic defects to their offspring, but can also be used to select the sex of a child.

Chua said the disputed method would cause a negative effect in the long run where the number of males would greatly outnumber the females.

The accepted ratio between male and female in Malaysia is 105:100, he said, adding that the ratio could increase to 120:100 if parents were allowed to choose their babies’ gender.

‘‘We are not against infertile couples seeking medical treatment to have babies, but they should not choose the sex,’’ Chua said.

Religious groups and the medical association in Malaysia had voiced their opposition to designer babies. —AFP

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Pak not to lift ban on Indian films

Islamabad, June 26
Pakistan has ruled out lifting its ban on Indian films but said it would permit foreign movies starring Indian and Pakistani actors to be screened in the country.

“Foreign movies staring Pakistani and Indian stars would be permitted to be exhibited in Pakistan and the Pakistan Censor Code had been amended to facilitate such productions,” Minister for Culture G.G. Jamal said.

However, Pakistan would not permit the exhibition of films made in India, NNI news agency quoted him as saying.

The minister said the decision to allow screening of foreign films was to “promote Pakistani film stars and other people linked with the industry, so that films of international standards could be produced.”

Pakistan had recently lifted a four-decade old ban on Indian movies as a special gesture to allow the screening of two films — K Asif’s magnum opus ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ and ‘Taj Mahal’ directed by Akbar Khan.

Jamal said that a festival of Pakistani movies would be held in India in the last week of July or in the beginning of August, adding that six movies had been selected for the festival.

He said a National Film Academy would be established and the services of the private sector were being sought for this purpose.

Jamal said that the number of Pakistani theatres has dwindled from 1,500 a few years ago to a mere 211 at present.— PTI

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East Timor’s PM resigns

Dili, June 26
East Timor’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, widely blamed for triggering last month’s bloody unrest, resigned today in a move expected to ease tensions in the impoverished nation.

The announcement sparked jubilation on the streets of the violence-hit capital Dili, where truckloads of protesters cruised the streets waving red, yellow and black East Timorese flags with horns blaring.

The premier had faced demands to quit since late May, when clashes between the police and army factions and mob violence killed 21 persons and forced nearly 1,50,000 to flee their homes.

More than 2,200 foreign peacekeepers were deployed to restore order but political leaders have since wrangled over how to move forward.

The pressure was cranked up last week when President Xanana Gusmao, a hero of East Timor’s independence movement, ordered Alkatiri to resign to take responsibility for the crisis. He threatened to resign if Alkatiri would not.

Alkatiri faced the media today, telling reporters: “I declare I am ready to resign my position as Prime Minister of the government... so as to avoid the resignation of His Excellency the President of the Republic”.

“Assuming my own share of responsibility for the crisis affecting our country, I am determined not to contribute to any deepening of the crisis,” he said, adding that he would stay on as a member of parliament.

“I am ready to dialogue with... the President in order to contribute if necessary to the formation of an interim government,” he said. — AFP

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Chaplin hat, cane hit auction record

Los Angeles, June 26
A Charlie Chaplin hat and cane set sold for nearly $ 1,40,000 at an auction, according to a spokeswoman for Bonhams & Butterfields.

The $ 1,39,250 bid broke a record for the most ever paid for a Chaplin hat and cane set, of which there are several, said Bonhams spokeswoman Janelle Grigsby.

She would not say who purchased the items yesterday.

The bowler hat was stamped with manufacturer’s details inside the hatband; the cane was 32 inches long and made of bamboo, according to a statement from the auction house. — AP

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NRI student gets Newsweek award

Indian-American Benita Singh, a Yale University student, is among 15 US citizens and organisations chosen by Newsweek magazine for its annual ‘Giving Back Awards’ — honouring those who use fame, fortune and heart to devote themselves to helping others.

Benita and her partner Ruth DeGolia have been chosen for their work among women, especially widows, in Guatemala. The 15 awardees were chosen from among hundreds of nominations.

The two, international-studies majors at Yale, were working on their senior thesis when they visited the village, filled with women who had fled Guatemala during a brutal civil war in the 1980s.

After two years in refugee camps in Mexico, the women, many of them widowed by the fighting, had been repatriated to their country where there was no work and no market for the exquisite woven and beaded handicrafts they produced.

But the women weren’t beggars. ‘‘It was’’, says Benita, “the first time I’d ever walked into an impoverished community where people weren’t asking me for money.”

So the two students filled their suitcases with beaded bags and necklaces and took them back to Yale that fall, where they quickly sold out at a 300 per cent markup.

By Christmas they were back in Guatemala, laying the groundwork for a non-profit organisation they named Mercado (market) Global, which seeks to bring the benefits of globalisation to poor communities.— PTI 

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India seen as high-paying destination

Washington, June 26
There was a time when highly skilled graduates from Indian universities sought jobs in the Bay Area, but the trend now seems to have reversed with more young Californians discovering India as a land of economic opportunity.

Scott Stapleton, a 23-year-old from Oakland, studied at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service thinking a job in the foreign service or Peace Corps was inevitable.

Instead, software giant Infosys recruited him for a marketing job and the next thing Stapleton knew was, he was on a flight to Bangalore. The job blends practical work experience with life in a developing country and a look at the world of globalisation, he says.

“India made a lot of sense. It’s an English-speaking country. I could find a job in a school easily,” the chronicle quoted him as saying.

Ashok Bardhan, senior economist at the Haas School of Business at Berkele said India is facing shortage of skilled workers and while the large majority of employees inside any one company is still India, there is a concerted effort to recruit from abroad. — PTI

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