SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Marry inter-caste without fear
The court is there to protect the couples

T
his can happen only in India. Those entrusted with enforcing the law know neither the law nor their duties under the law. They are unacquainted with elementary principles of natural justice as well as citizens’ rights. They prosecute the victims who deserve to be protected against bigotry and prejudice.

High Court yes, but...
Haryana in a fix over new site

Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj’s statement in Chandigarh on Sunday that the Centre would be happy to sanction a separate High Court for Haryana once the state government locates a site in one of its districts — and not in Chandigarh — seems to have placed the government in a fix. Apparently, the state government feels that if it selects a site somewhere in Haryana, it will weaken the state’s claim over Chandigarh.




EARLIER STORIES

Leave judiciary alone
July 10, 2006
Criminal justice reforms
July 9, 2006
Roll-back at Neyveli
July 8, 2006
The wrong doctor sacked
July 7, 2006
Out with the tainted
July 6, 2006
Exit B’Lal
July 5, 2006
Simply scandalous
July 4, 2006
Package for farmers
July 3, 2006
Politics of quota
July 2, 2006
Price blow
July 1, 2006
Killer cops
June 30, 2006


Viva Italy!
It was a deserving victory
T
he myth-making about FIFA World Cup 2006 has already begun, with the low number of goals, the domination of defence, the sudden-death German exit, Italy’s last minute goals, the aging battler Zenedine Zidane, the flurry of red and yellow cards, Brazil’s goodbye and much else.
ARTICLE

Quotas in private sector
They can cripple enterprise 
by Amulya Ganguli
I
f Mr Arjun Singh can return to the limelight by playing the quota card, can Ms Meira Kumar be far behind? The Social Justice Minister has been trying to grab whatever attention she can by periodically threatening to introduce reservations in the private sector. “The time is running out”, she has said, adding that unless the private sector voluntarily opts for affirmative action, a legislative course to compel it will be unavoidable.

MIDDLE

Lesser appendix
by G.S. Battu
O
nce upon a time, I had an appendix. Actually I was born with it. But God had sealed its fate many generations ago when it was found to serve no purpose. So if it was of no use to its master and had befallen from Creator’s esteem, what was it doing there?

OPED

Justice at last
A new programme helps AP tribals recover lost land
by Ramesh Kandula
I
t took 37 years for Kumra Manku Bai, a Gond tribal of Jaongon, a remote tribal village in Adilabad district of Andrha Pradesh, to get back her land. Her father Todsam Gangu, who owned 18 acres of agricultural land, took a loan of Rs 1400 in 1969 from B Shankar, a money lender, and agreed to lease out his land for three years.

Nobel Prize winner is East Timor’s PM
by Richard C. Paddock
J
ose Ramos-Horta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize a decade ago for his effort to win East Timor’s independence, was named prime minister of the tiny nation on Saturday as it tries to overcome months of violence and internal strife.

Delhi Durbar
Human Delhi
A
fter aspiring to turn the national capital into another Singapore, Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit now wants to make it a truly liveable city. She has given instructions that the City Development Plan (CDP) being readied should have a “human face.” The Capital is the sixth most populous city in the world with 15.3 million people.

  • Amar Singh on silver screen

  • Fight to finish

  • Cagey officialdom



From the pages of


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EDITORIALS

Marry inter-caste without fear
The court is there to protect the couples

This can happen only in India. Those entrusted with enforcing the law know neither the law nor their duties under the law. They are unacquainted with elementary principles of natural justice as well as citizens’ rights. They prosecute the victims who deserve to be protected against bigotry and prejudice. All this and more was highlighted by the Supreme Court’s judgment in a case where a couple and the husband’s parental family were tormented only because two adults, albeit belonging to different communities, got married of their own free will. The case brings to the fore the widespread prevalence of harassment and torture of couples going in for an inter-caste or inter-religious marriage.

In this case, Ms Lata Singh got married to Brahmanand Gupta who belonged to a different community. At the instance of the girl’s brother, the husband’s sisters and their families were arrested and criminal proceedings initiated against them. As Justice Markandey Katju observed in the judgment, “instead of taking action against the petitioner’s (Ms Lata Singh’s) brothers for their highhandedness and unlawful acts, the police proceeded against the petitioner’s husband and his relatives”.

Expressing concern over the violence against inter-caste couples, the Bench consisting of Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Katju directed the police and the administration throughout the country to extend protection to such couples and initiate action against those who resorted to intimidation or violence. This should serve as a warning to khap panchayats and all those who commit or support “honour killings”. In fact, the police and the administration should go beyond mere protection of such couples; they should root out khap panchayats and eliminate the conditions that enable and perpetuate what the Supreme Court has described as a “barbaric” and “feudal-minded” caste system which is a “curse on the nation”. India of the 21st century cannot be built on the basis of casteism.
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High Court yes, but...
Haryana in a fix over new site

Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj’s statement in Chandigarh on Sunday that the Centre would be happy to sanction a separate High Court for Haryana once the state government locates a site in one of its districts — and not in Chandigarh — seems to have placed the government in a fix. Apparently, the state government feels that if it selects a site somewhere in Haryana, it will weaken the state’s claim over Chandigarh. When a high-powered team from the Union Ministry of Law and Justice visited Chandigarh in May, the government reportedly put forth the view that the new High Court should operate from one part of the present High Court building in Chandigarh. This, the government maintained, will not disturb or dislocate the judges or the advocates. However, after Mr Bhardwaj’s ‘no’ to the suggestion on grounds of its unfeasibility, the government would have to scout for a new site, possibly in one of its district headquarters, or give up its demand for a separate High Court.

Haryana’s demand for a separate High Court has been hanging fire for quite some time. Even now, despite Mr Bhardwaj’s assurance for bifurcation, the state government seems to be reluctant to recommend a site outside Chandigarh. Litigation has increased manifold over the years and the Centre’s willingness to fulfil the long-standing demand should be seen as a helpful gesture by Haryana. There should be no problem for the state government to suggest a new site.

Of course, there remains the issue of jurisdiction. While having a separate High Court, the Haryana government does not want the residual jurisdiction, including the Union Territory, to go to the Punjab High Court. It wants the Chandigarh jurisdictional issue to be decided on principles of “parity and equality”. To take care of this problem, Haryana has suggested a special Bench of the Delhi High Court in Chandigarh. However, Punjab is believed to be opposed to this. On the whole, it continues to be a ticklish issue. The Union Law Minister has thrown the ball back into the Haryana government’s court.
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Viva Italy!
It was a deserving victory

The myth-making about FIFA World Cup 2006 has already begun, with the low number of goals, the domination of defence, the sudden-death German exit, Italy’s last minute goals, the aging battler Zenedine Zidane, the flurry of red and yellow cards, Brazil’s goodbye and much else. While one would have indeed wished that more attacking, free-flowing, samba-style football had been played, there is no doubt that in Italy we have a deserving winner. Italy’s defence was so good, that right up to the final, they had not conceded a single goal. Their spectacular skills were on display in the final, especially in the first half, when a blue shirt would appear out of nowhere to deflect a determined French onslaught.

But Italy’s defence hid equally powerful attacking skills that rattled France in the final more than once. Marco Materazzi’s stunning header, which equalised for Italy, was almost followed by another one later which hit the bar. The tournament was also witness to some great passing between the Italian players. As for French captain Zenedine Zidane, given the build-up the man has had, it was a pity that he had to exit the way he did. Just a few minutes before extra time ended, a head-butt got a deserved red card. But he led France’s rise, and he will be remembered for his role in it.

Italy has appeared in a final every 12 years since 1970. They will be hoping they don’t have to wait till 2018 to come back. In the 1994 final, in only the second penalty shootout in the Cup’s history, they lost out to Brazil. They did better this time. As for Brazil, fans will miss the flamboyance and the sheer brilliance of the Pele and the pre-1990 eras. Indian soccer fans — with their own country not much to brag about in this area — are reconciled to applauding other nations’ victories. But even cynics will concede that the Italians showed that style and winning can go together.
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Thought for the day

The rich man has his ice in the summer and the poor man gets his in the winter. — A proverb
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ARTICLE

Quotas in private sector
They can cripple enterprise 
by Amulya Ganguli

If Mr Arjun Singh can return to the limelight by playing the quota card, can Ms Meira Kumar be far behind? The Social Justice Minister has been trying to grab whatever attention she can by periodically threatening to introduce reservations in the private sector. “The time is running out”, she has said, adding that unless the private sector voluntarily opts for affirmative action, a legislative course to compel it will be unavoidable.

Her objective, however, is at variance with what the Prime Minister said during his recent visit to Germany. Inviting the German corporate sector to invest in India, Dr Manmohan Singh had given the assurance that his government will create “an enabling environment conducive to risk-taking, adventurism and enterprise which have been long associated with the German industry”. Unless the reference to “risk-taking” means coping with an “environment” where the German investors will have to employ a section of employees not of their own choice but according to the criteria laid down by the Indian government, it is difficult to see how the investors can feel enthused by the Prime Minister’s invitation.

The move in favour of reservations in the private sector can give a new, and not very helpful, twist to the Indian economy through the enactment of rules which have no precedent. That no one thought of this idea even in the days of the licence-permit-control raj underlines the unrehearsed implications of the proposed measure. If it was not conceived at the time, the reason was that India’s vast public sector could absorb any number of employees without any consideration of their utility or the impact on the company’s bottom line. It was a social service which the public sector was supposed to perform at the expense of the public exchequer.

It didn’t matter if the public sector incurred losses or produced shoddy goods because India’s was a closed economy, uninterested in the technological innovations inspired elsewhere by competitiveness among rival companies. Only once in a while when the Indians came across the goods produced abroad that they realised how inferior the local products were. Hence the “craze for phoren” noted by V.S. Naipaul in his An Area of Darkness. The typical product in those days of autarky was the Ambassador car which, as the author Amit Chaudhuri pointed out, appeared in a new garb every year - Mark I, Mark II, etc - each one of them an exact replica of the previous year’s model.

If India is a different place now, it is because of the deregulation of the economy from 1991. Few will say that it is in worse shape than in the past. Instead, India’s name now regularly comes up as a “happening place” from Thomas Friedland’s New York Times columns to George W.Bush’s exhortations to American schoolchildren to study hard lest their future jobs should go to India. Ever since the opening up of the economy, the fall in the poverty levels has been accelerated. They fell anyway from 54.9 per cent in 1973-74 and 51.3 per cent in 1977-78 to 36 per cent in 1993-94, two years after the beginning of economic reforms. Then, they dropped to 26.1 in 1999-2000 and to 22 in 2004-05, marking the most rapid rate of poverty reduction ever.

The credit for this dramatic turnaround has to go to the private sector, whose unshackling has contributed in immense measure to the economic buoyancy. It is evident, therefore, that instead of tying it down with new restrictions relating to employment, this sector is in need of more encouragement via the relaxation of the control regime. The government’s awareness of this requirement for the sake of further accelerated growth, which alone can make a discernible impact on the still prevailing pockets of poverty, can be seen from the proposals for setting up special economic zones.

The main advantage of these areas will be less stringent labour laws, which will enable the companies to engage workers in accordance with their requirements and not be tied down by a complacent workforce assured of lifelong service. It was the overstaffing of the public sector units because of political, rather than economic, compulsions which led to their conversion into virtual white elephants. Yet, the very factor which undermined the efficiency of the public sector is now being prescribed for private companies.

The quota system militates against the flexibility of labour requirements since the managements will be compelled to take on board a certain number of applicants from designated groups irrespective of whether they are required or are even fit for the posts. The introduction of such a procedure cannot but act as a huge disincentive to potential investors apart from inducing second thoughts among the existing companies about the wisdom of continuing their operations. As the chief economist of the Asian Development Bank, Mr Ifzal Ali, has said, the chances are that the reservation of jobs in the private sector would lead to the flight of capital and of skilled labour.

Till now, only West Bengal has witnessed the flight of capital as a result of militant trade union tactics in the aftermath of the installation of communist governments in the sixties and seventies. The Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, now admits that “rigid” Marxism was responsible for the state’s industrial decline and he is now trying desperately to repair the damage. Even then, during the Prime Minister’s German visit, Mr Bernd Bochardt, director (South Asia) in the German foreign office, said that West Bengal’s poor image “caused many German companies to shun this state. Other Indian states have a comparatively better image, particularly Tamil Nadu has attracted a large amount of investment in automobile industry”. Now, the whole of India may suffer West Bengal’s fate if the move for reservations in the private sector becomes law.

What is worth noting is that reservations often tend to harm a community by crippling its enterprise. The easy availability of jobs can act as a disincentive to self-improvement, especially where education is concerned. One example is the Anglo-Indian community. Because of the assurance of jobs in the police and railways during the British period, the members of the community were rarely interested in higher education.

In contrast, how even discriminatory treatment can be helpful is evident from the story of the European Jews. To quote one of their tallest figures, Ludwig Wittgenstein, “because they (the Jews) were originally excluded from the civil service and the higher ranks of the Army, it was in education and the intellectual professions that those of Jewish descent, if no longer of Jewish faith, made their way”.

True, unlike the Jews, the lower castes in India had been discouraged by the Brahminical order for centuries from educating themselves. They were even prohibited from listening to the Vedas. To redress the balance, especially relating to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, it is necessary to provide all necessary incentives at the primary school level. It is the neglect of this sector which is responsible for the present problems. But the answer lies in following a bottom-up programme of promoting education, not the top-down process of providing jobs to sections which may not be fully prepared for them.

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MIDDLE

Lesser appendix
by G.S. Battu

Once upon a time, I had an appendix. Actually I was born with it. But God had sealed its fate many generations ago when it was found to serve no purpose. So if it was of no use to its master and had befallen from Creator’s esteem, what was it doing there?

I first became aware of this finger-long, slender and sleepy organ, when it became angry due to no particular fault of mine. At that time I was in school and the village doctor thought it best to suppress the little monster with the pills. I took the bitter medicine, had liquid diet only and my mother massaged my tummy with all the oils available in the house. I was better in two days, but these were the only days when I did not enjoy the break from the school.

I had forgotten about its existence for good many years when it again roared back to life, or raised its ugly head, should I say. I had severe pain in the abdomen and this time being knowledgeable, I thought of diverticulitis, intestinal obstruction, perforation and appendicitis.

When I reached the hospital, it was time for two surgical units to exchange emergency duties. I was happy at the thought that I had choice of two surgeons, but it turned out to be the other way round. First surgical unit people had their hands full of perforations and accidents, and the second unit people were still preparing to don the mantle.

Blood was drawn from my veins and sent to the labs. Intravenous drip was started to replace the same and to push in the medicines. Ultrasound was done. All reports made the doctors almost certain that I was suffering from the appendicitis. The young aggressive surgeon broke the news with a smile and shine in his eyes. In contrast to the old, laid back, village doctor, he had decided to take on the offending appendix, one to one.

I was made to sign a declaration, that if I died during the surgery, it would be my responsibility. I woke up hale and hearty, though little short on my “guts”, the offending appendix was lying in a little jar by my bedside. But alas, there were no breaking news on national channels, and the only persons praying for my quick recovery were my family members and the surgeon.
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OPED

Justice at last
A new programme helps AP tribals recover lost land

by Ramesh Kandula

It took 37 years for Kumra Manku Bai, a Gond tribal of Jaongon, a remote tribal village in Adilabad district of Andrha Pradesh, to get back her land.

Her father Todsam Gangu, who owned 18 acres of agricultural land, took a loan of Rs 1400 in 1969 from B Shankar, a money lender, and agreed to lease out his land for three years. Before long, Gangu realized he had lost his land forever. He approached the authorities, but for lack of guidance and legal help, the case went on and on. Gangu passed away even while his legal battle was going on.

His daughter Manku Bai, who became president of the Mandal Mahila Samakhya, learnt about her rights as a tribal, especially with regard to land. She was lucky to have brought her case to the attention of Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh, who as a Rajya Sabha Member elected from Andhra Pradesh, has been taking interest in the uplift of tribals in the state.

Her case was referred to Legal Assistance Program for Land (LAPL) in October 2005. The Program coordinators found several legal facts that could help Manku Bai get back her family land. The process did not take too long, and in March 2006, the local authorities after due enquiry passed eviction orders against the non-Tribal and handed over the possession of the land, now valued at Rs 30 lakhs, to Manku Bai’s family. The five legal heirs to Todsam Gangu got 3.6 acres of land each, thanks to Manku Bai’s efforts.

In spite of many legal remedies available, the tribal family could not get justice in 37 years because of poverty, lack of legal support and lack of awareness about the laws. The LAPL spent just 10 days and helped resolve the case in six months.

The saga of Manku Bai has been showcased at a recent workshop on Land and Legal Assistance held in Hyderabad. Despite stringent provisions for the protection of tribal lands, more and more lands are passing into the hands of non-tribals. According to present estimates, non-tribals held as much as 48 percent of the land in scheduled areas of Andhra Pradesh, also known as agency areas.

Since 1959, when the AP Scheduled Areas Land Transfer Regulation came into effect, till September last year, 72,001 cases were detected involving 3,21,685 acres of land in the state. These are said to be only half of the actual land alienation in Scheduled Areas.

Out of these 72,001 cases booked under the above act, 70,183 cases were disposed off. But what is disturbing is the fact that 47.47 percent of the cases involving 1,62,989 acres were decided against tribals.

“It is surprising that 50 percent of the cases should go in favour of non-tribals, even though the law is on their side. It is a reflection on the sorry state of administration in Andhra Pradesh,” said an unhappy Ramesh, whose MPLADS funds have enabled to roll a new initiative, Giri Pragati Project, for tribal development in the state

The root of the naxalite problem lies in land alienation, and unless substantial efforts were made in this direction, the basic socio-economic problems responsible for the rise of extremism could not be tackled, the Minister pointed out.

There is now light at the end of the tunnel for the tribals with the launch of Giri Nyayam (Legal Assistance Program for Land) in four agency areas under the auspices of Society for Elimination of Poverty (SERP), an autonomous body set up by the state government. The objective of the program is to protect the tribals’ rights on land through legal empowerment.

The main reasons for the majority of the cases going in favour of non-tribals have been attributed to lack of understanding of the laws on the part of the implementing authorities, absence of legal support to tribals, and in most cases, the tribals not being a party in the proceedings.

To remedy this situation, institutional arrangements, such as induction of para legals for assistance, using services of law students for scrutinizing the files of various cases and appointment of one law graduate in each Integrated Tribal Development Agency area to coordinate the programme have been taken up.

“Raise a para-legal army to fight the cases and involve NGOs, students, civil society to help tribals reclaim land,” the Minister said.

An agreement was entered into with Nalsar University of Law in Hyderabad for extending legal support to land transfer regulation authorities, and facilitating speedy disposal of land cases pending in civil courts.

Jairam Ramesh asked the officials to ensure that the 2,000-odd pending cases were settled in favour of the tribals.

According to estimates by officials, by spending a paltry Rs 239 per acre for providing legal assistance, the interests of tribals in 2129 acres (presently disputed in 255 cases) of land will be protected.

As Ramesh concluded, “the kind of legal support Manku Bai got under the Giri Pragathi programme should be extended to all”.
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Nobel Prize winner is East Timor’s PM
by Richard C. Paddock

Jose Ramos-Horta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize a decade ago for his effort to win East Timor’s independence, was named prime minister of the tiny nation on Saturday as it tries to overcome months of violence and internal strife.

Ramos-Horta replaces former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, who stepped down on June 26 after months of violence that claimed at least 30 lives and prompted 150,000 people – 15 percent of the country’s population – to flee their homes and take refuge in makeshift camps.

Alkatiri had been accused of encouraging factional fighting between residents from the eastern and western parts of the country in an attempt to hold on to power. East Timor authorities are investigating whether he authorized the arming of civilian hit squads to silence his political opponents.

The appointment of Ramos-Horta, 56, was announced by President Jose Alexandre Gusmao, who is immensely popular as the former leader of the guerrilla resistance against Indonesian rule but who has limited power under the country’s constitution. Gusmao said he hoped the appointment of Ramos-Horta would help “bring about the process of healing and bring peace and stability to the people of East Timor.’’

East Timor, the world’s newest nation, won independence from Indonesia in 1999 but only after pro-Indonesian militia groups killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed 70 percent of the country’s buildings.

The United Nations helped rebuild East Timor, which officially became a nation in 2002, but it withdrew its peacekeepers last year in a move that U.N. officials now recognize was premature.

Violence erupted in April after Alkatiri fired 600 soldiers, or nearly half the army, for protesting that they faced discrimination because they came from the western part of the country. Alkatiri called in loyal troops to quell the protests and they opened fire on civilians, killing at least six people.

The country disintegrated further as police and army began fighting each other, then fled the capital, Dili, leaving the city in the hands of arsonists and street gangs armed with machetes.

A 2,700-member international peacekeeping force led by Australia arrived May 25 and has succeeded in restoring order, although arsonists continue to torch homes and businesses belonging to their rivals.

Ramos-Horta, whose name has been floated as a possible successor to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, held the posts of foreign minister and defense minister until he quit last month in protest over Alkatiri’s refusal to step down. Alkatiri’s resignation came the next day.

President Gusmao and Ramos-Horta are said to be close allies in a government that is dominated by the Fretilin Party, which led the independence movement in East Timor and now controls 55 of Parliament’s 88 seats. Gusmao and Ramos-Horta once belonged to Fretilin and Ramos-Horta was a founding member, but neither belongs to the party now.

Ramos-Horta fled East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, just before it was seized in 1975 by Indonesian troops. For more than two decades, he traveled around the world campaigning for East Timor’s independence. He and Bishop Carlos Belo, who remained in East Timor, were awarded the Nobel Prize jointly in 1996.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post
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Delhi Durbar
Human Delhi

After aspiring to turn the national capital into another Singapore, Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit now wants to make it a truly liveable city. She has given instructions that the City Development Plan (CDP) being readied should have a “human face.” The Capital is the sixth most populous city in the world with 15.3 million people. Twenty-six per cent live in slums. Beyond protecting the interests of the aam aadmi, the Chief Minister wants the CDP to take into account the housing needs for construction workers and sweepers. Dikshit wants entire Delhi to shine and has exhorted departments to speed up the pace of work to avail of the benefits of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, having a purse of Rs 50,000 crore.

Amar Singh on silver screen

Notwithstanding the CD controversy, Samajwadi party leader Amar Singh will be on DVD and the silver screen with beauty queen Aishwarya Rai. This is not another sting operation but a movie – Apne – stretching to three hours. The film, to be released in September, has cine star Dharmendra, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Rajasthan, and two of his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol. Surprisingly the film does not have Amitabh Bachchan or the Guddi girl Jaya. Amar Singh’s fans could also have a glimpse of the political actor in Boney Kapoor’s film Hamara Dil Apke Sath which has the former Miss World in the lead role.

Fight to finish

Noted cardiac surgeon P. Venugopal has won the first round of his fight over All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ autonomy with union Health minister Anbumani Ramdoss, by getting a stay order from the Delhi High Court on his removal as the Institute’s Director. But the PMK is believed to have mounted pressure on the Prime Minister to challenge the High Court order in the Supreme Court.

Apprehending such a move, Venugopal’s lawyer Arun Jaitley is believed to have advised the noted surgeon not to take any chance and file a caveat in the apex court so that if the government moves an appeal it is not heard without prior notice to him. Venugopal, who is now in a fight-to-the-finish mood, has reportedly given the green signal to his lawyer to go ahead. Clearly, the face off between the AIIMS Director and Ramdoss can witness some more twists and turns.

Cagey officialdom

Officials accompanying Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to the Capital during his visits seem unwilling to share information about his meetings with union ministers. There was no official word last week about the Chief Minister’s meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel. The State Public Relations Office in the capital was clueless about the agenda of the meetings. The Chief Minister is believed to have urged the Centre to extend tax concessions to the industry in Himachal Pradesh beyond 2007.

Contributed by Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Prashant Sood, S.S. Negi and R. Suryamurthy
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From the pages of

November 12, 1964

Bread, not circus

The A.-I.C.C. at Guntur endorsed Government’s food policy. What is this policy? There is no policy in sight yet, and the search for the policy is in itself no policy but a pretence. The Chief Ministers and Food Ministers of States spent much time in Delhi towards October-end talking about a food policy. A decision was then postponed to the A.-I.C.C. meeting in Guntur. What the A.-I.C.C. did was to toss the ball back to the Government’s court.

…. The spurt in food prices has not been a sudden phenomenon. They started rising in April last year and have continued rising ever since then. The wholesale index of cereals in October, 1964, was 152 as against 118 a year ago. The highlight of the Guntur session was not the food debate but the atom bomb than which nothing was more remote from the minds of starving or half-starved people. To cap it all, the “mela” atmosphere which — according to all reports — prevailed at the session was revolting when the cry was for bread and not circus.
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