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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

India to join Brazil’s Ethanol Initiative
New Delhi, September 11
India is mindful of the old adage “Never keep all your eggs in one basket” when it comes to the field of energy security. This Indian strategy will come under deep focus when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds talks with the Brazilian leadership in Brasilia two days later.

SA Deputy President arrives
New Delhi, September 11
South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka arrived here this morning on an official visit to India at the invitation of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi shakes hands with South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka prior to a meeting in New Delhi on Monday
Congress president Sonia Gandhi shakes hands with South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka prior to a meeting in New Delhi on Monday. — AFP photo
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PM to sign MoU on rlys with SA
New Delhi, September 11
The Indian Railways is likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the South African Railways during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to South Africa early next month.










EARLIER STORIES




Take appropriate action, SC tells NCERT
Derogatory remarks against Jats, Dalits
New Delhi, September 11
The Supreme Court today directed the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) to take appropriate action on the representations made to it by three petitioners for removal of derogatory references about Jats and Dalits in school books.

Vande Matram, Malegaon rejuvenate BJP
New Delhi, September 11
But for controversy over Vande Matram and terrorist attacks in Malegaon, the three-day national executive session of the BJP, which concluded on Saturday afternoon in the Uttaranchal capital, would have gone unnoticed without contributing anything substantive to a party in search for an agenda for growth.

Cong trying to retrieve lost ground
New Delhi, September 11
Having goofed up on the Vande Mataram celebrations, the Congress is now trying desperately to retrieve lost ground by claiming ownership of the Gandhian legacy of satyagraha and highlighting the party’s role in the country’s freedom struggle.

India to raise insurgent issues with Myanmar
Home-Secy level talks from tomorrow
New Delhi, September 11
The 12th Home Secretary-level talks between India and Myanmar, which begin here on September 13, India will seek the cooperation of the eastern neighbour to flush out northeast insurgent groups operating from their country.

British fighters to conduct combat manoeuvres from Indian bases
Chandigarh, September 11
For the first time since Independence, British fighter aircraft will operate from Indian airbases for undertaking combat manoeuvres, when the joint air exercise with the Royal Air Force (RAF) commences next month.

A file photo of a British fighter aircraft, Tornado.
A file photo of a British fighter aircraft, Tornado

National award for ‘So Many Journeys’
Chandigarh, September 11
Dancer Geeta Chandran’s book entitled ‘So Many Journeys’ - the maiden publishing venture of Niyogi Books - has won the first prize in the art books in the English category in the national awards declared by the Federation of Indian Publishers.

Police custody of Ramani extended
New Delhi, September 11
The police custody of Bina Ramani, owner of Tamarind Court restaurant and key witness in Jessica Lall murder case, has been extended for two days by a Delhi court accepting the prosecution plea that she was not cooperating in the investigation.

Pawar’s daughter elected to RS
Mumbai, September 11
Ms Supriya Sule, daughter of Nationalist Congress Party chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, was today elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha. Ms Sule sailed through as all the major political parties decided to back her candidature. Even the Shiv Sena, a known opponent of Ms Pawar, decided last week not to field any candidate for the seat which fell vacant on the death of Vasant Chavan, NCP MP from Maharashtra.

School report cards on Internet
New Delhi, September 11
It is an attempt not just to modernise school education in the country, but also to help stakeholders and civil society to keep tabs on the system. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has announced that the report cards of 1.04 million students across the country and information on enrolment, teachers and facilities in schools can now be accessed on the Internet.



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India to join Brazil’s Ethanol Initiative
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
India is mindful of the old adage “Never keep all your eggs in one basket” when it comes to the field of energy security. This Indian strategy will come under deep focus when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds talks with the Brazilian leadership in Brasilia two days later.

At a time when the international oil prices are skyrocketing and the politics of oil is getting murkier due to an ongoing standoff between Iran and the United Nations Security Council, the Manmohan Singh government is exploring all possible options to lessen its dependence on black gold — petroleum.

The Indo-US nuclear deal and ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project, which India joined recently, are demonstrative of this Indian strategy. Brazil’s International Ethanol Initiative is the next in line.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is on a nine-day tour of Brazil and Cuba, holds bilateral talks with Brazilian President Lula Da Silva tomorrow, Brazil’s International Ethanol Initiative will be on top of his agenda.

Ethanol, a bio-fuel for automobiles prepared from sugarcane, is said to be an ideal answer to India’s growing energy requirements at a much cheaper price and lessening the country’s dependence on the politically volatile Middle East for oil.

India has already conveyed to Brazil its intention of joining the initiative. It suits India very well because India is a major sugarcane-producing country. This initiative is based on the great success that Brazil has achieved in the use of ethanol as an alternative to petroleum for its energy requirements.

The ethanol initiative essentially is a recommendation that it should be made mandatory that 10 per cent of all transportation requirement should be met by the use of ethanol. This is already being done by Brazil.

Brazil is proposing that in view of the rising oil prices and the energy challenge which many developing countries are facing, the international community should be looking at an international effort to promote the use of ethanol. Moreover, Brazil has recently emerged as a very important country in the commercial agriculture because it has a very large amount of fertile land available.

The fact that Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Brazil is the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 38 years speaks volumes about the growing importance of Brazil in world affairs.

The following pointers tell Brazil’s significance in today’s world. Brazil is the current chairman of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group — the apex international body which is scheduled to meet next month to make India-specific amendments in its charter for allowing international nuclear trade with India.

A lot of cross investment is taking place between the two countries. ONGC Videsh Limited has already invested about half a billion dollars in an offshore petroleum-exploration project. Petrobras, which is the Brazilian counterpart of the ONGC, is looking at investing in a major offshore field in India.

“It has, in fact, almost decided to make that investment,” according to Mr Saran. Besides, India has a number of pharmaceutical companies which are very well-based in Brazil and are using Brazil as a very convenient platform for accessing other Latin American countries.

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SA Deputy President arrives
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka arrived here this morning on an official visit to India at the invitation of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. As a departure from normal protocol, she was received at the airport by Mr Suresh Pachauri, Minister of State for Personnel and Parliamentary Affairs.

South Africa is one of the three IBSA Dialogue Forum countries, which are having their first summit in Brasilia two days later. Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka’s visit to India comes in the context of South Africa’s commitment to consolidate South-South relations for increased market and trade access. South Africa and India share a strategic partnership in developing the agenda of the South. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, issues on the agenda for discussions during the Deputy President’s visit are expected to include:

Cooperation between India and South Africa in terms of skills acquisition and placement by expanding existing opportunities for young South African trainees and unemployed graduates to gain experience in their specified fields of interest; expand training programmes between India and South Africa, specifically in the fields of engineering, mathematics, science and vocational training; cooperative projects for small industry development, particularly for the benefit of rural women; and SME development projects, specifically in the fields of ceramics, jewellery manufacturing and textiles.

During the visit, the Deputy President will call on President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Chairperson of the UPA Sonia Gandhi. 

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PM to sign MoU on rlys with SA
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
The Indian Railways is likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the South African Railways during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to South Africa early next month. The objective of the MoU is to share information with the South African Railways in infrastructure development and technical cooperation on a regular basis.

Chairman, Railway Board, J.P. Batra told The Tribune here yesterday that the South African Railways was known for its heavy haul operations. “When we took the decision of setting up dedicated freight corridors where we are going for heavy-axle loading, we started looking at various railway systems that have experience and exposure in this area. These include American Railroads, the Chinese Railways, the South African Railways and the Australian Railways.

“These are the railways which are into heavy haul operations. At present, we are at 22.9 tonnes per axle load for goods trains. We are striving for 25 tonnes per axle load. The Chinese Railways are running 25 tonnes per axle load for goods trains while the American Railroads are running 32.5 tonnes and more per axle load”.

Mr Batra explained that once the Indian Railways was able to achieve the target of 25 tonnes per axle load for goods trains, it would “mean straightaway a 10 per cent improvement in freight loading”. He said the experience of other railways in the world had shown that an increase in axle load served to bring down the cost of transportation. This, in turn would result in reduction of freight rates. This would also fetch the Indian Railways more business in the freight sector.

“Today, the Indian Railways carries 35 per cent of the freight traffic in the country. These include commodities as coal, raw materials for steel plants, including iron ore and limestone, iron ore for exports, cement, fertilisers, petroleum, steel minerals and foodgrain. In 2005-2006, it carried 668 million tonnes of freight. In 2004-2005, it carried on an average per day 1.65 million tonnes of freight.”

About 45 per cent of the freight traffic carried by the Indian Railways is coal. Sources in the board said the Indian Railways had much to learn from South Africa in terms of running longer and heavier trains and transportation of minerals. 

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Take appropriate action, SC tells NCERT
Derogatory remarks against Jats, Dalits
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 11
The Supreme Court today directed the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) to take appropriate action on the representations made to it by three petitioners for removal of derogatory references about Jats and Dalits in school books.

A Bench of Mr Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice D. K. Jain, however, declined to issue notices to the Government and NCERT on a joint public interest litigation (PIL) by an educationist from Haryana and two private organisations and disposed of the matter with the direction.

The Court pointed out to their counsel Jasbir Malik that the Haryana Chief Minister has already announced that the derogatory references from the books would be removed and to that extent the petitioners had succeeded by highlighting the issue.

As the counsel said the books were not only prescribed in Haryana but also in other states and merely taking of action by the Haryana Chief Minister would not serve the purpose, the Court said the petitioner should again approach the NCERT.

The PIL filed by Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, the Delhi Pradesh Citizen Council and Bijender Singh Lather, who runs several education institutions in Haryana had sought to delete teaching of such material to students.

They described inclusion of such material in the books as violation of the Constitution as it promoted casteism and hit at the country’s secular fabrics.

According to the PIL, in a Class XII book on Modern India History, Jats were described as “plunderers of rich and poor, jagirdars and peasants, Hindus and Muslims.”

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Vande Matram, Malegaon rejuvenate BJP
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
But for controversy over Vande Matram and terrorist attacks in Malegaon, the three-day national executive session of the BJP, which concluded on Saturday afternoon in the Uttaranchal capital, would have gone unnoticed without contributing anything substantive to a party in search for an agenda for growth.

On September 7, when the BJP office-bearers assembled to fine tune the deliberation of the executive, the absence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi at an AICC function gave them enough ammunition to fire at their main political opponent which in turn shot enough adrenaline into the veins of the assembled delegates who made lots of noises about her foreign origin.

As a matter of fact, the BJP had made enough preparations by bringing out a party publication 'Vande Matram' which was released by leader of opposition L. K. Advani.

Likening HRD Minister Arjun Singh to a "Deoband cleric" in the UPA government, the publication said "they (Congress) are trying to divided the country on communal lines".

In an otherwise listless and issueless session, the terrorist attack in Malegaon provided fresh oxygen as the party's efforts to corner the UPA in general and the Congress in particular gained credibility.

In its four page resolution on 'Internal Security', the BJP hit the bull's eye saying that the "Common Minimum Programme of the UPA had no mention how to combat terrorism, contain militancy in Jammu & Kashmir and stop the movement of saboteurs, subversives, arms and explosives across the border.

At the same time, by saying that the UPA has a pair of kids gloves on as the Centre's approach is of offering a "healing touch" to Muslims rather a "iron fist", the BJP has not only pleased the RSS bosses but has also touched those who clamour for a hard line towards Pakistan and other neighbours. Terrorists incidents in Malegaon provided the latest evidence for the saffron party's charge.

Saying that the failure of the government on the security front is a foremost area of national concern, the BJP said though a large part of "our national resources are expended on national security but with very little results".

The three-day session put an end to speculation about the second term for BJP President Rajnath Singh who was given a certificate of good work by none other than former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Before Dehra Dun, the media was reporting about the leadership struggle in the party.

The Dehra Dun meeting also analysed the party's position in states which would have Assembly elections early next year.

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Cong trying to retrieve lost ground
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
Having goofed up on the Vande Mataram celebrations, the Congress is now trying desperately to retrieve lost ground by claiming ownership of the Gandhian legacy of satyagraha and highlighting the party’s role in the country’s freedom struggle.

The UPA Government’s decision to commemorate the national song’s centenary on September 7 was but one part of its larger plan to celebrate 60 years of the country’s Independence and 150 years of the 1857 sepoy mutiny. The objective was to once again showcase the Congress’s frontline contribution to the country’s freedom movement as also to claim Mahatma Gandhi as its personal icon.

But with the Vande Matram celebrations having boomeranged on the Congress, the party is now making amends by shifting the focus to its grand history by projecting itself as the sole torchbearer of Gandhian values. It is, therefore, chalking out grand plans to mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha movement, launched 100 years ago today in South Africa.

The party’s working committee especially met here on Sunday to elicit suggestions from its leaders on how best it can celebrate the occasion in the coming year and as a follow-up, Mrs Sonia Gandhi today constituted a seven-member committee, headed by senior leader AK Antony, to chalk out plans for the centenary celebrations of the satyagraha movement. This will be in addition to the programmes being planned by the government.

By doing so, the party is hoping to fend off criticism from the BJP which has questioned the Congress’s patriotic credentials by pointing to its apologetic stance on the Vande Mataram issue and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s absence at their party function to mark the centenary of national song. The BJP has also announced plans to launch a nationwide campaign on the national song from September 25.

The Congress, however, believes it has brought the curtain down on the Vande Mataram controversy with its open admission that September 7 was not the day of the national song and that it had erred in announcing plans for that day. Party strategists maintain that its public apology and its decision to come clean would go down well with the people, diverting attention from the BJP campaign against Mrs Gandhi.

At pains to explain the delay in admitting to this goof-up, Congress leaders maintained that though they had realised its mistake well in advance, it decided to go ahead with the celebration plans on Vande Mataram as backtracking at the last minute would have provided further ammunition to the opposition to attack the Congress for showing disrespect to the national song.

Meanwhile, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, who has been in the eye of a storm over his directive on singing of Vande Mataram, maintained that as far as he was concerned, this chapter was closed, adding that he had nothing more to add to what the party had already said.

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India to raise insurgent issues with Myanmar
Home-Secy level talks from tomorrow
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
The 12th Home Secretary-level talks between India and Myanmar, which begin here on September 13, India will seek the cooperation of the eastern neighbour to flush out northeast insurgent groups operating from their country.

Union Home Secretary V K Duggal will lead the Indian side and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Brigadier General Phone Swe will head the Myanmarese side.

According to a top Home Ministry official, the Indian side would try to impress upon Myanmar to carry out Bhutan-type operations against insurgents groups like ULFA, NSCN (K), Peoples Liberation Army, and UNLF, NSCN (I/M) operating from their soil. Bhutan had launched an operation in 2003 against ULFA.

The relevant inputs relating to the whereabouts of different insurgent outfits present and operating from Myanmarese soil are expected to be passed on to the Myanmarese side, he said.

Steps needed to curb smuggling of arms and ammunition and illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances will also figure in the discussions.

In this context, India would press for formalising a mechanism to share intelligence information to check smuggling. India and Myanmar in their last meeting in Yangon in October last year had agreed to sharing of information.

Border management and fencing are some other issues expected to be discussed at the talks. India would take up the issue of speedy construction of fence in the More sector in Manipur to check smuggling.

The issue pertaining to dispute in Nine Border Pillars, all of which are in Manipur, is also expected to figure during the four-day meeting.

In the Home Secretary level meeting last year, both sides had agreed to further strengthen cooperation in tackling activities of insurgents, arms smugglers, drug peddlers and other hostile elements along the India-Myanmar border.

The status of various infrastructure projects in Myanmar, particularly in road and power sectors over which the two countries have agreed to cooperate, was also reviewed at the last meeting and a follow up was expected this time too.

India and Myanmar had signed an agreement for maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas in 1994, under which Home Secretaries of both countries were to meet once a year while Joint Secretaries were to hold sectoral meetings every six months. The last sectoral level meeting was held in Kolkata in July last year. 

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British fighters to conduct combat manoeuvres from Indian bases
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
For the first time since Independence, British fighter aircraft will operate from Indian airbases for undertaking combat manoeuvres, when the joint air exercise with the Royal Air Force (RAF) commences next month.

Air Force sources said the seven-day exercise would be held at the Gwalior Air Force Station in Madhya Pradesh from October 13.

Code-named Indradhanush—2006, this would be the first ever joint air exercise with the RAF, to which the Indian Air Force traces its birth in 1932. The IAF’s structure, administration and ideology are largely based on what the RAF infused into the then Royal Indian Air Force.

A senior IAF officer said although RAF aircraft have flown to India for aerobatic displays and for participation in aero-shows in the past, fighters have never. Last year, the RAF’s famed Red Arrows aerobatic team, flying Hawks, had performed in India.

Sources revealed that eight Tornado aircraft, accompanied by a VC-10 aerial tanker, will participate in the exercises. The RAF aircrew participating in the exercise, sources add are those who have experience of flying in Asian conditions, probably from deployment in the Persian Gulf or Afghanistan.

Built jointly by Britain, Germany and Italy, Tornadoes are two-seater, swing-wing aircraft. They have two versions, a dedicated air defence version and an interdictor version.

Earlier an RAF AWACS aircraft was also expected, but it now does not feature in the exercise schedule. A group captain and a wing commander from the RAF had arrived here last month to work out the modalities for the exercise.

Basic fighter manoeuvres dissimilar air combat missions, and large force engagements are expected to feature in the exercise, the aim of which is to learn about each others operational concepts and identify areas of commonality in terms of operations, administration and maintenance. IAF and RAF pilots will also fly in each other’s aircraft as co-pilots.

The IAF will be fielding the Mirage 2000 aircraft. Other aircraft like the Su-30 and the Jaguar are also expected to take part in the exercises. Agra-based IL-78 mid-air refuellers would also be an intrinsic part of the exercise.

Though Indradhanush is the first joint air exercise, a beginning in joint military exercises was made with Exercise Emerald Mercury, a joint force headquarters deployment planning exercise which was conducted in field conditions near Hyderabad in March 2005. this was followed by Konkan 2006, a large-scale joint naval exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, conducted off the Goa cost in May.

Gwalior, which is the home base of IAF’s two Mirage 2000 squadrons had played host to joint exercises with the US Air Force in 2004. Air Force officers said Gwalior had been chosen as an alternate airbase to Kalaikunda near Calcutta for joint exercises with foreign air forces. Last year there had been strong protests from the Left during the joint IAF-USAF exercise at Kalaikunda.

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National award for ‘So Many Journeys’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Dancer Geeta Chandran’s book entitled ‘So Many Journeys’ - the maiden publishing venture of Niyogi Books - has won the first prize in the art books in the English category in the national awards declared by the Federation of Indian Publishers.

Designed by cutting edge designers Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, the book is a personal record of the talented dancer’s encounter with her beloved dance Bharatanatyam. In it Geeta narrates how she imbibed the grand tradition - beginning with her first teacher hailing from the dasi-parampara - and then went on to erase orthodoxies in classical dance. Lavishly illustrated and impeccably presented, publisher Bikash Niyogi will collect the award on September 21 at a ceremony being organized at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

The dancer is celebrated not only for her deep and composite understanding of the art of Bharatanatyam, but also for her Carnatic music (she is an accomplished vocalist), her work in television, video and film, theatre, choreography, dance-education and dance-issue journalism.

Her 228-page book consists of seven chapters. Anjali, the introduction; Guru Dakshina where the dancer discusses the role of her teachers; Navadarshanam a series of chapters where the dancer maps the changing frontiers of Bharatanatyam today; Rasika, where she evaluates the changing role of audiences and critics in dance; Bhakti where she presents dimensions of the mythological content of Bharatanatyam, She-Rahasyam, where gender dimensions in classical dance are discussed, and Ssmarpan, or conclusion. 

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Police custody of Ramani extended

New Delhi, September 11
The police custody of Bina Ramani, owner of Tamarind Court restaurant and key witness in Jessica Lall murder case, has been extended for two days by a Delhi court accepting the prosecution plea that she was not cooperating in the investigation.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate extended her police remand till September 13 as against the four days extension demanded by the prosecution.

Arguing before the court for extension of police remand, the prosecution claimed that the investigation was getting affected because a number of Ramani’s friends and relatives kept visiting her during the custody period.

The prosecution also stated that Ramani refused to sign her disclosure statements.

The court had issued a non-bailable warrant against her. She was arrested by the Delhi police in Goa on September 6.

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Pawar’s daughter elected to RS
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 11
Ms Supriya Sule, daughter of Nationalist Congress Party chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, was today elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha.
Ms Sule sailed through as all the major political parties decided to back her candidature. Even the Shiv Sena, a known opponent of Ms Pawar, decided last week not to field any candidate for the seat which fell vacant on the death of Vasant Chavan, NCP MP from Maharashtra.

Ms Sule’s victory was a foregone conclusion after the nomination of three Independent candidates were rejected during scrutiny on Saturday.

She was declared elected unopposed on Monday afternoon after the deadline for the withdrawal of nominations for the RS elections.

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School report cards on Internet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
It is an attempt not just to modernise school education in the country, but also to help stakeholders and civil society to keep tabs on the system. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has announced that the report cards of 1.04 million students across the country and information on enrolment, teachers and facilities in schools can now be accessed on the Internet.

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