SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Develop border areas to match China: Antony
Nathu La (Sino-Indian border), December 2
Upset over the poor infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim, Defence Minister A K Antony today said he would “vigorously” pursue for taking urgent steps to develop the frontier areas to match China.


Defence minister A.K. Antony with Chief of Army Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor during his visit at Nathu La on Sunday. — PTI photo

Defence minister A.K. Antony with Chief of Army Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor during his visit at Nathu La

INTO launch today
Conserving cultural and natural heritage
New Delhi, December 2
The International National Trusts Organisation, a body that will bring together national trusts from across the globe with the common aim of creating a cohesive framework for protecting and promoting the world’s cultural and natural heritage, will be launched from India tomorrow.



EARLIER STORIES




Maoists blast railway track
Patna, December 2
Maoist guerrillas today blasted a portion of a railway track at Rajapatti station in Chapra district to enforce 24-hour shutdown in four districts of north Bihar. The bandh was called to protest the recent arrest of the rebel outfit’s secretary Lal Babu Sahni, alias Bhaskarji, and the alleged ill treatment given to him in high security Beur Central Jail in Patna. No casualty was reported so far.

Alert against CDs with communal tinge
Guwahati, December 2
The Assam government today raised the alarm against a ‘design by some vested forces’, which are out to foment trouble in Adivasi-dominated areas in the state through a mass distribution of ‘doctored CDs’ depicting a biased version of November 24 street violence involving Adivasis in Guwahati streets.

Bollywood actress Kajol interacts with disabled children during a function on the occasion of World Disabled Day at Goregaon in Mumbai
Bollywood actress Kajol interacts with disabled children during a function on the occasion of World Disabled Day at Goregaon in Mumbai on Sunday. — PTI

Pak foreign minister to visit India next week
New Delhi, December 2
Pakistan’s caretaker foreign minister Inamul Haq is coming here next week to attend a SAARC-related conference, Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner here Afrasiab told The Tribune yesterday.

Malaysian PM denies abuse of Indians
New Delhi, December 2
An angry Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badwai today offered to resign if it was proved that his country was engaged in an ethnic cleansing of its Indian minority.

MPs’ participation at NREGA sessions disappoints Speaker
New Delhi, December 2
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act may be among the most ambitious programmes of the government to deal with rural poverty, but less than 25 per cent of MPs in the Lok Sabha attended inter-active sessions held recently regarding its progress at district, state and national levels.

Uma’s sideshow in Gujarat
Her ‘deal’ with BJP leave party men fuming
Ahmedabad, December 2
BJP-rebel-turned-founder of the Bharatiya Jana Shakti party Uma Bharti is enacting a sideshow on the banks of the Narmada while her supporters sudden seem rudderless.

BJP welcomes CBI probe into Assam violence
New Delhi, December 2
The BJP president Rajnath Singh today welcomed the government’s recommendation for a CBI inquiry into the ethnic strife in Assam last week and demanded that the CBI should be given a time-bound schedule to ensure that those involved in the violence are booked at the earliest.

Lalu gets invite from Singapore business school
New Delhi, December 2
Lecturing management students and faculty members from India and abroad seems to have become a fad with railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. It was not surprising therefore to receive from the Rail Bhawan yet another invitation on Lalu’s meeting with a delegation from a Singapore-based top international business school- INSEAD.

Legislation on road safety soon
New Delhi, December 2
There will soon be legislation on the road safety issues in the country. Secretary (Road transport and highways) Brahm Dutt said yesterday that the government would soon bring in the legislation on the National Road Safety Policy in Parliament, adding that recommendations of the Sunder Committee on the proposed policy were under consideration.

Fashion Shows
SC dismisses plea for tax exemption
New Delhi, December 2
No subterfuge of culture could be given to fashion shows to claim exemption from entertainment tax as such events are purely “glamourous modelling” exercises which has nothing to do with the promotion of Indian culture, the Supreme Court in an important ruling has held.

Portrait of 1st parliamentarian couple to be unveiled
New Delhi, December 2
They were the first couple to be elected to the Indian Parliament. And on December 5, in recognition of their contribution to the Indian polity, a portrait of Joachim and Violet Alva would be unveiled in Parliament.

PAC pulls up Railways for delays, cost overruns
New Delhi, December 2
The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has taken strong exception to undue delays in the completion of various railway projects resulting in cost overruns. The PAC in its 61st report presented to the Lok Sabha regretted that 107 out of the 133 projects undertaken by the Railways were financially not viable.

Tiger kills Kanha park employee
Mandla (MP), December 2
An employee of the Kanha National Park was mauled to death by a tiger in the reserved forest area near here today, police said.

Videos
Boost your metabolism.
(56k)
Tourism boom.
(56k)
Ash-Abhi in Abhimaan 2.
(56k)
‘Hanuman returns’.
(56k)





Top








 

Develop border areas to match China: Antony

Nathu La (Sino-Indian border), December 2
Upset over the poor infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim, Defence Minister A K Antony today said he would “vigorously” pursue for taking urgent steps to develop the frontier areas to match China.

“It is an eye opener for me. There is no comparison between the two sides. Infrastructure on the Chinese side is far superior. They have gone far in developing their infrastructure,” Antony said after visiting this border post located at an altitude of 14,140 feet.

Antony said one should not grumble over the lack of connectivity on the Indian side and do the needful to improve them.

“As I have personally seen the lack of infrastructure and the difficult conditions in which the soldiers are protecting the border, I will vigorously champion the cause of the armed forces,” he said.

The government is also contemplating to expand the list of goods to be traded through this mountainous pass, he told reporters.

On the issue of widening the list of items to be traded with China at the border post, Antony said, “It is a good beginning. Our idea is to increase the trade gradually. I hope in the years to come, more and more items would be included for trade.”

Currently, Indian traders can buy 15 items from Chinese traders and sell 29 items to them at Nathu La trading post.

“It is a gradual process. People of both sides will be benefited out of it. But before that we need to develop our infrastructure,” the minister said.

“We need to develop the infrastructure not only for army but for common people. We have to take it up seriously,” Antony said.

The trading centre between northeastern states and China does not operate for four months due to extreme cold conditions. Trading at Nathu La ended on November 30 and will resume on April 1.

Antony later interacted with soldiers posted in the forward areas and senior army officials briefed him about the situation along the border in Sikkim sector. — PTI

Top

 

INTO launch today
Conserving cultural and natural heritage
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO), a body that will bring together national trusts from across the globe with the common aim of creating a cohesive framework for protecting and promoting the world’s cultural and natural heritage, will be launched from India tomorrow.

INTO will be formally initiated by Vice-President Hamid Ansari on the opening day of the 12th International Conference of National Trusts (ICNT) in the Capital on Monday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the three-day meet, organised under the aegis of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The parties to the charter have agreed to establish INTO as a non-governmental, non-profit, non-stock, charitable, educational and membership organisation to promote conservation and enhancement of cultural and natural heritage of all nations for the benefit of the people of the world. The decision to launch INTO was taken at a National Trusts’ conference four years back.

The ICNT draws together national trusts and other organisations from around the world in an international forum where conservation specialists can build partnerships and exchange ideas and best practices. The overall theme of the conference is heritage and development, a subject of crucial importance to many countries worldwide, said INTACH chairman S.K. Misra.

“The theme has a special and immediate meaning for us at INTACH, where we have long recognised the uniquely living quality of our heritage and the need to involve local communities in its preservation. If conservation is to succeed, it must go beyond the narrow focus to deal with broader issues such as poverty alleviation,” he adds.

So far, over 150 acceptances from 53 countries across economic and development spectrum have been received.

National trusts’ conferences are held once in two years in different countries, the hosts being national trust of the country concerned. The last conference was held in Washington in 2005 and apart from the fact that such a conference will held in Delhi for the first time, another matter of great significance is the launch of INTO. “National trusts conferences are the international forum where conservation specialists can meet to build partnerships, exchange ideas and best practices,” Misra said, adding that this time the conference will also see a large representation from the developing countries. Discussions will centre in different panel sessions on subjects that include heritage and globalisation; conservation of heritage in regions of conflict and natural disasters; heritage tourism and conservation; funding for conservation projects; regional cooperation; heritage and education; heritage and conservation management; intangible heritage; legislation for heritage conservation and the role of national trusts.

Recommendations of these panels will be placed before the plenary for final adoption.

Misra says the conservation of heritage and culture of the people around the world is an important global issue today.

“It is an issue that embraces equally our natural heritage, our built heritage and its local art forms, and the vast intangible heritage of traditional knowledge systems, folklore, music and dance. The issue has been brought to the fore by increasing impact of globalisation and simultaneous imperative of sustainable development, all of which will be deliberated at the conference,” he adds.

Top

 

Maoists blast railway track
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 2
Maoist guerrillas today blasted a portion of a railway track at Rajapatti station in Chapra district to enforce 24-hour shutdown in four districts of north Bihar.

The bandh was called to protest the recent arrest of the rebel outfit’s secretary Lal Babu Sahni, alias Bhaskarji, and the alleged ill treatment given to him in high security Beur Central Jail in Patna. No casualty was reported so far.

The Bihar police arrested Sahni along with an associate from their hideout at Nayatola in Kumhrar locality of Patna on November 22 with hundreds of claymore mines, hand grenades and other explosives.

The police said the Maoists planted an explosive device on the track near the outer signal and detonated it, damaging about two-metre stretch of the line. A team of police as well as Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel subsequently rushed to the blast site.

As a result of the blast, traffic on the metre gauge line was suspended for hours to facilitate the repair work.

The Bihar government announced an alert in the state today in view of the shutdown call and additional forces were deployed in the affected districts as a precautionary measure.

With the presence of the Maoists in 23 of 38 districts of the state, the intelligence wing here was reportedly worried over the ultras plan to improve their firepower in the days to come.

Sources disclosed that at a meeting reportedly held in the Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary in Munger district of Bihar in February this year, Maoists decided to earmark Rs 30 crore a year for improving the fire power of their cadres engaged in guerrilla war in parts of five states.

It was learnt that the extremists planned to spend a chunk of the funds for manufacture of rocket launchers, mortars and hand grenades to enable its cadres to attack security forces.

The major source of the money reportedly was from the adjacent mineral rich Jharkhand. Through extortion, the Maoists were said to be raising about Rs 230 crore annually from Jharkhand alone which they called as “protection money”.

Maoists were also said to have established contacts with other secessionist forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast as well as some fundamentalist forces in Bangladesh for supply of arms, reportedly through Nepal and Bangladesh borders.

Besides Bihar and Jharkhand, the focused five states of the Maoists included Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

Sources said the meeting at Munger in Bihar was attended by top leaders of the Maoists and was preceded by its 9th Congress held from January 28 to 31 this year which was reportedly held at Saranda forests of adjacent Jharkhand.

Quoting reports of the central agencies, sources said besides their plan to purchase rocket launchers and hand grenades, the Maoists also snatched as many as 529 weapons, 16,000 bullets and 19 tonnes of explosives between January, 2006, and June, 2007, in different raids on security forces to improve their firepower.

The Maoists now reportedly affected altogether 13 states of India and none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself recently described the rebels as the biggest threat to the internal security of the country.

Maoists in Bihar, besides logistic support from the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh, reportedly also had enjoyed strategic patronage from the Maoists in Nepal. All north Bihar districts bordering Nepal were by and large under the Maoist influence now.

Top

 

Alert against CDs with communal tinge
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 2
The Assam government today raised the alarm against a ‘design by some vested forces’, which are out to foment trouble in Adivasi-dominated areas in the state through a mass distribution of ‘doctored CDs’ depicting a biased version of November 24 street violence involving Adivasis in Guwahati streets.

Assam government spokesman and health minister Dr Himanta Bishwa Sharma said, “We have directed the district administrations and all police officials concerned to confiscate any such CDs or other materials aimed at instigating any section of people in the state. We have information that those doctored CDS are meant to be distributed among Adivasis in tea garden areas of the state.”

The matter would also be investigated in detail, he said, adding that the judicial enquiry instituted to probe the November 24 violence had already issued advertisements and would complete its report swiftly. Referring to the government’s recommendation for a CBI inquiry, the minister said since it would take some time for a CBI probe to start, the judicial enquiry would commence as slated.

Meanwhile, the Assam government was mulling to enact a law restricting sizes of weapons like bow-and arrows, sticks, swords and daggers, which are carried as a token of tradition and culture by different communities, including Adivasis while taking out cultural processions in the state.

The Adivasis, who had taken out a cultural procession on Guwahati streets on November 24 last, had carried bows and arrows and sticks. The rally turned violent and led to clashes between Adivasis and locals that left one dead over 250 injured, besides an isolated incident of stripping of a young Adivasi woman.

Top

 

Assam govt vents ire at Jharkhand politicians

The Assam government today expressed its annoyance at politicians from Jharkhand making a beeline to the state to ‘derive political mileage back home’ out of the November 24 trouble involving Adivasi communities in the state.

Dr Sharma said, “The rat race among Jharkhand politicians to exploit the situation should not throw up a law and order problem for the Assam government. Political leaders of all hues from Jharkhand are trying to win favour back home by displaying their sympathy for the Adivasis in Assam.”

He pointed out that the Adivasis living in Assam had migrated about two centuries back not only from Jharkhand areas alone, but also from Chhattisgarh, Orrisa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. “The other states are maintaining restrain and the Assam government appreciates their gesture, but Jharkhandi politicians are trying to whip up the issue out of proportion to serve their political interests back home. The Adivasis living in Assam and working in tea estates here are far better off than their counterparts in Jharkhand.”

Informing that the BJP-led NDA government had included 142 new communities in the ST list in 2002, he said, “Arjun Munda and Babulal Marandi, both former Jharkhand chief ministers who had visited Assam, were big players then, but they did not take up the cause of the Adivasis of Assam with the then BJP-led government at the Centre.”

Firing a broadside at the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) for acting ‘irresponsibly’ in the wake of November 24 unfortunate happenings in Guwahati, Dr Sharma, quoting a letter sent by the then AGP government to the Centre in 1999, said the AGP had opposed the grant of ST status to the Adivasis.

Top

 

Pak foreign minister to visit India next week
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
Pakistan’s caretaker foreign minister Inamul Haq is coming here next week to attend a SAARC-related conference, Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner here Afrasiab told The Tribune yesterday.

It is understood that Haq is likely to utilise this opportunity by having bilateral meetings with the Indian leadership. The two sides are believed to be working out meetings between Haq and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee. Haq would also be keen to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. However, the exact dates of the meetings are yet to be worked out.

New Delhi’s sense is that Haq will be extended all due courtesies and protocol as other ministers from SAARC countries. His visit is being seen here as important in the SAARC context, though the same may not be said about the bilateral Indo-Pak context.

Haq’s visit is coming at a time when the two neighbours have already concluded the fourth round of Composite Dialogue talks, though the review meetings of the fourth round are yet to take place. It is unlikely that the dates of the review meetings of the fourth round would be discussed when Pranab Mukherjee meets Haq.

Inamul Haq is Pakistan’s former foreign secretary who has had important ambassadorial stints in China and Turkey and also been Pakistan’s permanent representative in New York. He enjoys total confidence of president Pervez Musharraf who had made him caretaker minister of state for foreign affairs in 2002 before the elections.

Haq is coming here to participate in the 29th Session of SAARC’s Council of Ministers, scheduled to take place here on December 7-8. He is expected to arrive here either on December 5 or 6, Afrasiab said.

A delegation of Pakistani officials arrived here this evening for participating in a series of meetings of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Afghanistan was officially admitted as the eighth member at the 14th SAARC summit that New Delhi hosted on April 3-4 this year.

Top

 

Malaysian PM denies abuse of Indians

New Delhi, December 2
An angry Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badwai today offered to resign if it was proved that his country was engaged in an ethnic cleansing of its Indian minority.

At the same, Abdullah admitted that people of Indian origin in Malaysia do face “social problems” but added that the authorities were with the community, Malaysian media reported.

Abdullah was reacting to the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) statement that the government was carrying out ethnic cleansing of the Indians in Malaysia.

He accused Hindraf of spreading “blatant lies” with a view to arouse hatred in the country and to spark racial clashes, The Star newspaper reported.

“The allegations are all lies to deceive the Indians that they are an exploited race. Malaysians will not believe this. Tell me, do you believe there is ethnic cleansing in Malaysia? Is there ethnic cleansing, tell me? If I allow this, I would resign,” he said.

He said he did not want the people, especially the Indians, to be misled by Hindraf’s “unfounded claims and allegations” and hoped that other races would not show sympathy towards Hindraf.

Abdullah pledged to look after the interests and the well being of the Indian community. — IANS

Top

 

MPs’ participation at NREGA sessions disappoints Speaker
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) may be among the most ambitious programmes of the government to deal with rural poverty, but less than 25 per cent of MPs in the Lok Sabha attended inter-active sessions held recently regarding its progress at district, state and national levels.

The interactive sessions were organised by the Rural Development Ministry at Parliament House Annexe between September 9 and October 20 this year for each state separately. Only 135 of 543 MPs from the Lok Sabha and 32 of 233 MPs from the Rajya Sabha participated in these sessions. The Act, which was extended to 330 districts from the initial 200, will now cover the entire country. Though a Central programme, NREGA is administered by state governments and the interactive sessions had been organised to get vital feedback from the MPs on its implementation. The Act provides at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every rural household.

No Lok Sabha MP from Kerala attended the interactive session though 1.15 lakh households in the state have already been provided employment under the NREGA. In Karnataka, where the number of beneficiary households has crossed 2.6 lakh, only two MPs belonging to the Lok Sabha were present. The participation from West Bengal was 10 out of its 58 MPs in the two Houses while for Andhra Pradesh it was 10 out of 60 MPs.

Interestingly, MPs from NDA-ruled states of Bihar and Orissa and BJP-ruled state of Rajasthan showed greater interest in the interactive sessions with more than half the strength of Lok Sabha MPs in these states taking part in the discussions.

The participation from Punjab was three out of 20 MPs in the two Houses and from Haryana four out of 15 MPs. In Assam it was two out of 20 MPs while in Jammu and Kashmir it was one out of 10 MPs.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chaterjee, who took personal interest in the programme, expressed disappointment at the poor participation of the Lok Sabha MPs in the sessions. The Speaker, who wrote a letter to House leaders of all political parties in the Lok Sabha on November 18, urged them to ensure that MPs from their parties take greater interest to participate in such sessions.

Sources said the Speaker had urged the rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh to provide him details of participation of MPs in the interactive session.

Since its launch in February 2006, NREGA has created rural assets in water conservation, water harvesting, flood control and protection, micro irrigation works, irrigation to land owned by SCs and STs, renovation of traditional water bodies, land development, drought proofing and rural connectivity. While 3,83,491 works were completed in 2006-07, 2,14,992 works had been completed till September this year while another 6,76, 864 works were being carried out.

Top

 

Uma’s sideshow in Gujarat
Her ‘deal’ with BJP leave party men fuming
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ahmedabad, December 2
BJP-rebel-turned-founder of the Bharatiya Jana Shakti party Uma Bharti is enacting a sideshow on the banks of the Narmada while her supporters sudden seem rudderless.

The mercurial Uma Bharti fielded candidates on 54 seats in a bid to damage the BJP’s prospects in the Gujarat Assembly polls. With Narendra Modi’s campaign not really gathering steam, the BJP central leadership has pulled out a number of carrots for the sanyasin.

Indications are that some deal has been signed between the BJP leadership and Uma Bharti. The fiery sanyasin is said to be meditating at Omkareshwar on the banks of the Narmada even while her supporters waited for her to kick off their election campaign.

Instead, she sent messages to party leaders on Saturday, the last date for the withdrawal of nominations, that all the candidates leave the battlefield. The 54 candidates had for the moment decided to stay put. Sanghpriya Gautam, a former BJP leader now with the BJS, says the party will contest the polls even without Bharti.

Even her acolyte and BJS general secretary in Gujarat Prahlad Patel has turned against Bharti and said the party’s coordination panel had refused to accept the decision to withdraw from the fray. He has now announced a ‘maun vrat’ from December 12 to protest Uma Bharti’s conduct.

Top

 

BJP welcomes CBI probe into Assam violence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
The BJP president Rajnath Singh today welcomed the government’s recommendation for a CBI inquiry into the ethnic strife in Assam last week and demanded that the CBI should be given a time-bound schedule to ensure that those involved in the violence are booked at the earliest.

“I welcome the recommendation of a CBI inquiry into the violent and tragic incidents of November 24 in which more than a dozen innocent people lost their lives,” Singh said in a statement here. He described the incidents as ‘inhuman’ and ‘outrageous’ and accused the Manmohan Singh government for its failure in preventing ethnic clashes.

“I express my concern over the alarming situation in Assam. The present explosive situation in the state can be used by miscreants to reignite violent incidents. There is an urgent need to defuse the tension and resentment among various ethnic groups,” Singh said. He asked the Centre to take concrete steps to establish a harmonious atmosphere and prevent the state from getting caught in an inferno of ethnic violence.

Top

 

Students show solidarity with Adivasis

“It was an Assamese girl, not an Adivasi, who was humiliated by miscreants on the streets of Guwahati on November 24. The entire Assamese society should stand behind her and Adivasi brothers at this hour,” said the All Assam Students Union (AASU) that has joined hands with Adivasi students organisation.

Two leading Adivasi students’ organisations and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) today warned all political parties against trying to fish in the troubled situation in the state in the aftermath of ‘unfortunate’ incident on November 24. — TNS

Top

 

Lalu gets invite from Singapore business school
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
Lecturing management students and faculty members from India and abroad seems to have become a fad with railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

It was not surprising therefore to receive from the Rail Bhawan yet another invitation on Lalu’s meeting with a delegation from a Singapore-based top international business school- INSEAD.

The meeting with the INSEAD delegation earned Lalu a much-coveted invitation to the Singapore campus of the 50-year-old school and a commitment by its dean for a case study on his favourite theme, the historic turnaround of the Indian Railways. The delegation was given a detailed presentation on the much-sung theme. Frank Brown, dean of INSEAD (Asia campus), told mediapersons here that it was wonderful to be in India to “experience first hand the terrific story of the turnaround of the Indian Railways.

“It is something that the Indian Railways should be proud of and the minister should be proud of. We would like to have the minister come to the campus and talk to MBAs.”

Interestingly, the Railways has entered into an agreement with INSEAD to train its 150 to 180 executives every year over a period of five years. The first programme of the series is to be held in Singapore from December 10.

The expenditure involved in this customised training programme introduced a couple of months back may be huge but INSEAD calls the Executive Education Programme for the Railways an investment.

Top

 

Legislation on road safety soon
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
There will soon be legislation on the road safety issues in the country. Secretary (Road transport and highways) Brahm Dutt said yesterday that the government would soon bring in the legislation on the National Road Safety Policy in Parliament, adding that recommendations of the Sunder Committee on the proposed policy were under consideration.

On the National Road Transport Policy, which is also being considered for adoption at the central level, Dutt said the issue needed to be discussed more deeply as views of several stakeholders had to be examined.

Following a workshop, organised in the capital yesterday to arrive at a consensus on road safety and transport policies, Dutt said a broad consensus on the two documents was necessary as ultimate objectives envisaged in the two policies could only be achieved with active support of all states and stake holders.

Secretaries and commissioners in charge of the transport, managing directors of state transport undertakings, senior police officers and stake holders from various states and union territories, participated in the day-long workshop.

Key objectives of the proposed the National Road Safety Policy as recommended by the Sundar Committee include establishing a road safety information database, ensuring safer road infrastructure by way of designing safer roads, strengthening the system of issuing driving licenses, taking appropriate measures for enforcement of safety laws, ensuring emergency medical attention for road accident victims and creation of a dedicated agency - National Road Safety Board - to oversee issues relating to road safety.

Top

 

Fashion Shows
SC dismisses plea for tax exemption
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 2
No subterfuge of culture could be given to fashion shows to claim exemption from entertainment tax as such events are purely “glamourous modelling” exercises which has nothing to do with the promotion of Indian culture, the Supreme Court in an important ruling has held.

Laying down the test for distinguishing a cultural event from a purely advertisement exercise like modelling and fashion show, a Bench of Justices C.K. Thakker and Altamas Kabir examined the issue by keeping in view whether they really qualify to be put on the same pedestal as traditional art.

The court was of the view that fashion shows were programmes of a competitive nature and there was no element of any cultural awareness involved in it.

It further upheld the view that the “fashion show could not be said to be in aid of education and was only meant to entertain the public and, therefore, entertainment tax was liable to be paid on them if entry is by sale of tickets.”

This issue came before the Supreme Court from Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur town, in an appeal by organisers of “Mr and Miss Gorakhpur” in local Andrews Inter College. The district magistrate slapped entertainment tax of Rs 43,270 on them at the rate of 30 per cent on total ticket sale collection of Rs 1.87 lakh.

Top

 

Portrait of 1st parliamentarian couple to be unveiled

New Delhi, December 2
They were the first couple to be elected to the Indian Parliament. And on December 5, in recognition of their contribution to the Indian polity, a portrait of Joachim and Violet Alva would be unveiled in Parliament.

In 1952, Violet was elected to the Rajya Sabha and Joachim to the Lok Sabha, from the then Bombay, making them the first couple to be elected to Parliament.

The unveiling of the portrait coincides with the centenary year of Joachim Alva. Next year would be the centenary of Violet.

While Alva was a Konkani from Mangalore and was of the Catholic faith, Violet was a Protestant from Gujarat. — PTI

Top

 

PAC pulls up Railways for delays, cost overruns
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has taken strong exception to undue delays in the completion of various railway projects resulting in cost overruns.

The PAC in its 61st report presented to the Lok Sabha regretted that 107 out of the 133 projects undertaken by the Railways were financially not viable.

The report said the 149 ongoing gauge conversion and new line projects at an estimated cost of Rs 39,287.13 crore was revised time and again due to delay in completion and had increased to an estimated Rs 54,716 crore.

Top

 

Tiger kills Kanha park employee

Mandla (MP), December 2
An employee of the Kanha National Park was mauled to death by a tiger in the reserved forest area near here today, police said.

“The tiger attacked and killed Shyam Singh Gaud (40), a fodder cutter at the park, in Kalhari camp area of the reserved forests this morning,” SP V. C. Verma said. — PTI

 

 

Top

 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |