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Govt pushes for foreign varsity bill; SP opposes it
New Delhi, July 13
The government today got the first taste of opposition to its much-hyped foreign universities bill, with former ally Samajwadi Party (SP) being the first to criticise it. The SP said the law would make the country servile by eroding the local language and promoting the “idea of supremacy of the English language”.

Tracking Monsoon
ISRO to launch new satellite in May
Bangalore, July 13
Southwest monsoon may shed some of its mystery next time round when Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) new satellite will be up in the sky sending crucial data about clouds.

Travel only by Air India, officials told
New Delhi, July 13
Coming to the support of the cash-strapped Air India the Finance Ministry on Monday said all air travel must be done by the state carrier only.

States accused of misusing SSA funds
New Delhi, July 13
Shocking financial irregularities have come to light in the UPA’s flagship programme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), with funds to the tune of Rs 58 crore being diverted to purposes other than those spelt under the programme guidelines.



EARLIER STORIES


Congress MPs stage a dharna demanding dismissal of the Gujarat government over the hooch tragedy at Parliament in New Delhi on Monday
Congress MPs stage a dharna demanding dismissal of the Gujarat government over the hooch tragedy at Parliament in New Delhi on Monday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

RSS man R’sthan BJP chief 
Kolayat MLA Bhati quits party to protest appointment
Jaipur, July 13
Arun Chaturvedi, a relatively “unknown” leader based in Jaipur, today formally took over as the new state BJP president amid reports of dissent against his elevation to the top post. His appointment has already sparked rebellion in the state BJP with senior BJP leader and Kolayat MLA Devi Singh Bhati resigning from primary membership of the party. Bhati had protested the move, contending that “Chaturvedi neither had any base in the party nor was he a mass leader”.

Consular services to ‘spy’ jailed in Pak
New Delhi, July 13
The government today assured the Supreme Court that consular services would be provided to Gopal Das, an Indian national who has completed his life term in Pakistan after being convicted for spying, to enable his release and return to Punjab.Attorney General GE Vahanvati gave the assurance to a three-judge bench headed by chief justice KG Balakrishnan when a petition filed by Das, who claims he crossed over to Pakistan by mistake 25 years ago in July 1984, came up for hearing.

Cong flays CPM for clean chit to Vijayan
New Delhi, July 13
The Congress today condemned the CPM for giving a clean chit to its Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan in a corruption case, saying that the move revealed the true character of the Left parties that otherwise always claimed to be righteous.

Sadhvi threatens suicide
Mumbai, July 13
The prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur has threatened to kill herself alleging ill-treatment meted to her in jail. In a letter dated July 11 addressed to the media, Sadhvi stated that she was fed up with the manner in which she is being treated by the police, hospital and jail authorities and thus would commit suicide in the Byculla jail where she is lodged.

Oppn condemns virginity tests in MP
New Delhi, July 13
The Madhya Pradesh government’s move to carry out virginity tests on brides before a mass wedding generated much heat in the Rajya Sabha today. The showdown between the Opposition and the Treasury benches occurred as there was objection over the manner in which the issue was being raised in the house.

Golf carts 
Defence Ministry to question Army
New Delhi, July 13
Waking up to the allegations, the Defence Ministry has decided to question the Army over diversion of operational funds to buy golf carts.

Ultras kill colonel, jawan in Assam
Guwahati, July 13
An Army colonel and a jawan were killed in a powerful blast triggered by suspected National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants on Assam-Arunachal boundary this morning.

UP govt gives sanction to prosecute Varun
Lucknow, July 13
Just at the onset of his political career BJP MP Varun Gandhi is in thick soup with the UP government deciding to prosecute him. The Pilibhit police may file a chargesheet against the leader in a local court for his alleged hate speeches made during poll campaign in March.

Petrol bombs seized from MC’s house 
Namakkal, July 13
The police is on the look out for a local councillor after it seized 31 petrol bombs from his residence here.

RSS man R’sthan BJP chief
Jaipur, July 13
Arun Chaturvedi, a relatively “unknown” leader based in Jaipur, today formally took over as the new state BJP president amid reports of dissent against his elevation to the top post. His appointment has already sparked rebellion in the state BJP with senior BJP leader and Kolayat MLA Devi Singh Bhati resigning from primary membership of the party. Bhati had protested the move, contending that “Chaturvedi neither had any base in the party nor was he a mass leader”.





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Govt pushes for foreign varsity bill; SP opposes it
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The government today got the first taste of opposition to its much-hyped foreign universities bill, with former ally Samajwadi Party (SP) being the first to criticise it. The SP said the law would make the country servile by eroding the local language and promoting the “idea of supremacy of the English language”.

“The best way to enslave a nation is by spoiling its language. That is what foreign universities will do. Moreover, how do you expect poor students to attend such universities? There are people who have not yet seen a railway line. In such a situation, we can’t allow foreign campuses in India,” SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today told The Tribune.

Earlier in the Lok Sabha, Mulayam vociferously opposed the idea after Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal argued in its favour in question hour. “It is better to allow foreign universities like Harvard, Princeton and Yale to come to India and have a law to regulate them than to not open up at all,” Sibal said, reiterating the UPA’s urge to formalise the mechanism of facilitating the entry of such reputed foreign universities accredited in the country of their origin, for improving higher education and research in India.

It appears from government talk that the quota policy in foreign universities would be implemented subject to the nature of the course under consideration. “If it is BA, we can have the quota,” Sibal said, implying that reservation may not be necessary in more specialised courses offered by foreign universities.

The government is further contemplating a law to prohibit and punish those who induce students to take admission in institutions not recognised by appropriate statutory authorities. On the foreign varsity front, the government made it clear that dubious institutes won’t be allowed and students’ interests would be guarded.

The SP, however, kept running down the idea, saying it was a route to servility and inequality. “We seek a wider debate by party leaders on this matter. It is better to get corporates to invest in setting up world-class universities in India than have foreign campuses here. We have enough of our own talent,” Mulayam said.

The government, however, had its own reasons to back the bill. At present, 1,60,000 Indian students go abroad for studies annually; and expense on the government is $ 7 billion per year.

The SP, however, was unwilling all day to lower its guard on the issue, with Mulayam even countering Sibal’s assertion that English was an international language. “You are misleading the House. English is spoken only in seven countries. Even in Italy, where I recently went, people speak their own language,” SP chief said, gesturing towards UPA chief Sonia Gandhi.

CBSE to impart skill training

Kapil Sibal today said the government would soon make training in skills part of the school and university system as recommended by the Yashpal committee. “We could have the CBSE give degrees in automobile engineering, refrigeration, air conditioning, etc. Not every student wants to do a doctorate after Class X,” Sibal said, ruling out the possibility of a unified university syllabus for the country. He also said the government would debate in Parliament what shape the proposed body for regulation of higher education should take. 

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Tracking Monsoon
ISRO to launch new satellite in May
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 13
Southwest monsoon may shed some of its mystery next time round when Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) new satellite will be up in the sky sending crucial data about clouds.

CBS Dutt, ISRO scientist and coordinating officer for the Megha Tropiques Mission (MTM), said here today the satellite was slated for launch in May 2010.

The project, a joint venture of the ISRO and French National Space Centre, was in advanced stage of completion, Dutt said.

“We are now waiting for the appropriate time slot for launching the satellite. Since its main job is to observe cloud formations in the monsoon season, we are planning to launch it in May so that it can send us data about the rains that start in June and continue up to September,” he said.

While earth observation satellites launched by ISRO earlier had improved understanding of the monsoon in India, much about it had still remained in the realms of the unknown. Data sent by four payloads aboard the Megha Tropiques will help the Met Department predict rains with more accuracy, Dutt said.

The INSAT satellite gives photographs of the clouds and also specifies the direction of their travel. However, snapshots say little about the cloud structure or the amount of water in it. The latest satellite will probe the cloud structure with a radiometer and a humidity profiler and can make available substantial input about the amount of rainfall that is likely to take place in a region.

“We will not be able to arrest floods or droughts. But we will be able to diagnose the trends early and correctly so that pre-cautionary measures can be taken”, Dutt said.

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Travel only by Air India, officials told
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Coming to the support of the cash-strapped Air India the Finance Ministry on Monday said all air travel must be done by the state carrier only.

In an official memorandum, the Finance Ministry said it had been decided that in all cases of air travel where the government bears the cost of air passage, the officials concerned may travel only by Air India.

It further said for travels to stations not connected by Air India, the officials may travel by Air India to the point closest to their eventual destination, beyond which they may utilise the services of another airline that should also preferably be an alliance partner of Air India.

“These orders will also apply to officials in autonomous bodies funded by the Government of India,” it added.

The ministry said if there was deviation from these orders because of operational or other reason or on account of non-availability, individual cases may be referred to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for relaxation.

The National Aviation Company of India Ltd, which runs flag carrier Air India, is expected to register a loss of about Rs 5,000 crore during 2008-09. The proposal to make air travel compulsory had been proposed by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

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States accused of misusing SSA funds
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Shocking financial irregularities have come to light in the UPA’s flagship programme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), with funds to the tune of Rs 58 crore being diverted to purposes other than those spelt under the programme guidelines. Of the diverted funds, Rs 53 crore were detected through performance audit of the SSA by CAG; the rest of the money was embezzled by account officers handling SSA funds in states.

The highest embezzlement of accounts has been reported from Andhra Pradesh, where Rs 14.98 crore were fraudulently spent in 2006-2007. Six officers were suspended and transferred after the CID proved their involvement in the case.

So far, Haryana (after Karnataka) has reported the second highest number of account officials mishandling SSA accounts. The government today admitted in a written reply in the Lok Sabha that while 11 officers were proceeded against for financial irregularities in the state, services of two were terminated.

In West Bengal, embezzlement to the tune of Rs 517.80 lakh by eight officials has come to light. While in Gujarat Rs 15.98 lakh were wrongfully spent and action was taken against two officials, in Karnataka action has been taken against 21 officials and Rs 8.58 lakh recovered from them.

In Himachal Pradesh, where an FIR was lodged recently on the complaint of misuse of SSA funds, an amount of Rs 3.02 lakh was recovered from erring officials.

The government has asked the states to recoup inadmissible expenditure to the state SSA programmes. “The SSA programme is under constant review and we have begun investigations against those responsible for the diversion of funds. Once found guilty, they will be chargesheeted and proceeded against,” HRD minister Kapil Sibal today said, adding that the government had launched Rashtariya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan to arrest the dropout rate in Class VIII.

The government told the Lok Sabha today that of the 100 children who attend Class XII in India, 12 graduate. The corresponding figure is 70 in the US and Europe. Sub-Saharan Africa is just a little behind India at six.

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RSS man R’sthan BJP chief 
Kolayat MLA Bhati quits party to protest appointment
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 13
Arun Chaturvedi, a relatively “unknown” leader based in Jaipur, today formally took over as the new state BJP president amid reports of dissent against his elevation to the top post. His appointment has already sparked rebellion in the state BJP with senior BJP leader and Kolayat MLA Devi Singh Bhati resigning from primary membership of the party. Bhati had protested the move, contending that “Chaturvedi neither had any base in the party nor was he a mass leader”.

However, setting aside their differences, the BJP leaders today tried to put up a united face even as Chaturvedi formally took charge of the state BJP chief. Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, former Deputy Chief Minister Hari Shankar Bhabra and former state unit chief Om Prakash Mathur were there to congratulate him on his appointment. But, all this wasn’t enough to cover up the cracks that have surfaced in the state BJP in the aftermath of its back to back defeats in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Senior leaders owing allegiance to Raje and Mathur camps were conspicuous by their absence. Their move to skip the ceremony raised many an eyebrows because most of them were camping in the state capital in view of the ongoing Assembly session. Prominent among those who didn’t attend the ceremony included former ministers Rajinder Singh Rathore and Deegambar Singh and MLA Om Birla, all Raje loyalists, besides BJP stalwart Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s son-in-law and party MLA Narpat Singh Rajwi. Only one third of the BJP’s 78 MLAs attended the function. It may be mentioned here that Bhati too is a Raje loyalist.

Chaturvedi’s appointment has come as a big blow to the Raje loyalists who had been vying for the post ever since Mathur tendered his resignation. While the leaders of both Raje as well as Mathur camp were lobbying hard for the post, the BJP’s national leadership opted for Chaturvedi, a leader with strong RSS backing. Sources said the party high command consulted neither Raje nor Mathur before making the appointment.

By elevating a young leader like Chaturvedi to the top post, the BJP high command hopes to bring to an end internal bickering and blame game that the party has been witnessing ever since the party’s debacle in Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Secondly, the party leadership also intends to test whether the state BJP can repeat the success story of the Congress with young Chaturvedi at the helm of affairs. Last but not the least, the party would expect him to bridge the gap between the Sangh and the party, which widened during the previous BJP regime.

Meanwhile, unfazed by the voices of dissent being raised over his appointment to the top post, Chaturvedi said he would take everybody along. 

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Consular services to ‘spy’ jailed in Pak
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 13
The government today assured the Supreme Court that consular services would be provided to Gopal Das, an Indian national who has completed his life term in Pakistan after being convicted for spying, to enable his release and return to Punjab.Attorney General GE Vahanvati gave the assurance to a three-judge bench headed by chief justice KG Balakrishnan when a petition filed by Das, who claims he crossed over to Pakistan by mistake 25 years ago in July 1984, came up for hearing.

The government has apparently taken a U-turn in the case as it had earlier maintained that Das was not an Indian citizen. In the petition, filed through his brother, Anand Vir, in February 2008, Das cited the written correspondence between them from 1999 to 2007 in support of his contention that he was very much from India. Vir, a resident of Bhainimian Khan village in Gurdaspur district, had also written to the NHRC October 15, 2007.

The bench, which also included justices P Sathasivam and JM Panchal, posted a further hearing in the case for January next year. Das, lodged in Mianwali Jail, was arrested by the Pakistan Border Security Force in July 1984 and later convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on June 30, 1986 under section 59/3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. According to him, he completed his term in 2005 and the Pakistani government was about to release him on August 14, 2007. However, this did not happen as India failed to take necessary action on the matter.

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Cong flays CPM for clean chit to Vijayan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The Congress today condemned the CPM for giving a clean chit to its Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan in a corruption case, saying that the move revealed the true character of the Left parties that otherwise always claimed to be righteous.

“The episode shows the true character of the Left... With considerable astonishment we find that with one voice, the party and the (Kerala) government is supporting corruption and corruption charges,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, adding that the CPM leadership had given Vijayan a clean chit even before the CBI inquiry was completed.

He suggested either Vijayan should prove his innocence or resign. Singhvi said while the Left considered itself a notch above the rest and “is supposedly cadre-based, more disciplined and has been preaching others on issues of corruption, in Kerala, they have given an advance chit of innocence to Vijayan without any investigation even as criminal charges are pending”.

“Such a character of the Left became known in Singur and Nandigram. Singur and Nandigram showed the true face and character of the Left and now the episode in Kerala,” the Congress spokesman said. 

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Sadhvi threatens suicide

Mumbai, July 13
The prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur has threatened to kill herself alleging ill-treatment meted to her in jail. In a letter dated July 11 addressed to the media, Sadhvi stated that she was fed up with the manner in which she is being treated by the police, hospital and jail authorities and thus would commit suicide in the Byculla jail where she is lodged.

She alleged that despite her ill-health, she was taken to the J J hospital in a police jeep instead of an ambulance.

"It is strange that a terrorist like Mohammad Ajmal Kasab is being given VIP treatment in jail while Thakur is being punished for her Hindutva ideology," Sadhvi's lawyer Naveen Chomal said.

Sadhvi also alleged that the state Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) has falsely implicated her in the case.

Sadhvi had earlier also filed two applications before a special MCOCA court alleging ill-treatment and physical and mental abuse by jail authorities and other under trials.

The court had then directed the jail authorities to look into the allegations and had directed that Sadhvi be admitted to J J hospital for treatment. — PTI

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Oppn condemns virginity tests in MP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The Madhya Pradesh government’s move to carry out virginity tests on brides before a mass wedding generated much heat in the Rajya Sabha today. The showdown between the Opposition and the Treasury benches occurred as there was objection over the manner in which the issue was being raised in the house.

As Santosh Bagrodia of the Congress raised the issue during zero hour, Opposition members were immediately on their feet pointing out that the Congress member was being selective in giving details of the incident.

As the Congress member sought to continue, other members also joined in. This prompted deputy chairman K Rahman Khan, who was in the chair, to say: "Fifty per cent of the issues raised during zero hour are based on newspaper reports”.

After finally managing to restore order in the House, Khan called on Bagrodia to make his statement. The deputy chairman then called on Brinda Karat of the CPM to associate with it but she refused to do so.

“I cannot associate with it in the manner in which it has been raised. It is a sensitive issue. It has been reduced to politics,” Karat contended.

The state government had ordered virginity and pregnancy tests on 152 brides at a mass wedding as last month a would-be bride went into labour pains, shocking those present.

Collector: No tests were conducted

Bhopal: Shahdol Collector, Neeraj Dubey, on Monday dismissed media reports suggesting that virginity tests were conducted on around 150 women who were married under Chief Minister's ‘Kanyadan Yojana’. “It is absolutely wrong to say virginity tests were conducted on the women who were married under the scheme," Dubey said. He, however, admitted that some clinical tests were conducted on the beneficiaries of the scheme to find out were pregnant or not. He said after the clinical tests conducted on the women, around 15 were not allowed to take part in the weddings as they were found to be pregnant. — PTI

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Golf carts 
Defence Ministry to question Army
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Waking up to the allegations, the Defence Ministry has decided to question the Army over diversion of operational funds to buy golf carts.

Defence officials have said that the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General would be referred to the Army for comment. This became necessary after the Army sent a written note to the ministry explaining the expenses. The Ministry had forwarded the same to the CAG, which did not approve of the explanation.

Now, the ministry would ask the Army to reply on how it submitted a report that was rejected by the CAG in totality. The CAG had also pointed out that it found evidence to prove that the ministry reply did not match with the on-ground situation.

A CAG report, tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, said the commanders had “irregularly used” the funds, apparently for purchasing golf carts in the name of buying battery-operated wheel chairs for hospital patients and track laying reconnaissance vehicles. The report said three out of five “electric multi-utility vehicles” (motorised carts) purchased under the commander's special financial powers, to transport aged and handicapped patients in military hospitals, were instead sent to the Shivalik golf course inside Army’s Western Headquarters at Chandimandir, Haryana.

Similarly, 22 motorised carts purchased in the name of track alignment reconnaissance vehicle, meant for Army engineer regiments, were sent to golf courses.

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Ultras kill colonel, jawan in Assam
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 13
An Army colonel and a jawan were killed in a powerful blast triggered by suspected National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants on Assam-Arunachal boundary this morning.

Colonel SM Perumal, commanding officer of 405 Field Ambulance Unit based at Tenga in Arunachal Pradesh, and his driver Naik Ashwini Kumar were travelling from 4 Corps headquarters at Tezpur in Assam to Tenga Army base when the explosion occurred, according to Army spokesman. The slain Colonel hails from Secunderabad while Naik Aswini Kumar is from Rohtak district in Haryana.

According to the police, the blast was triggered by suspected NDFB militants. Flexible wires used by the assailants to trigger the blast were recovered from the sight. The area where the explosion occurred is a stronghold of anti-talks faction of the NDFB led by fugitive commander Ranjan Daimary, prime accused in October 30 , 2008, serial blasts in Assam. 

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UP govt gives sanction to prosecute Varun

Lucknow, July 13
Just at the onset of his political career BJP MP Varun Gandhi is in thick soup with the UP government deciding to prosecute him. The Pilibhit police may file a chargesheet against the leader in a local court for his alleged hate speeches made during poll campaign in March.

"As the government has granted prosecution sanction, police may file a chargesheet against Varun under section 153(A)(promoting enmity on religious grounds), 125 of Representation of the People Act and other relevant sections of the IPC," official sources said here.

The state government granted prosecution sanction to the Pilibhit police to file a chargesheet against Varun under section 153(A) and issued an order on July 3. — PTI

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Petrol bombs seized from MC’s house 

Namakkal, July 13
The police is on the look out for a local councillor after it seized 31 petrol bombs from his residence here.

Acting on a tip off that Municipal Councillor Anbalagan was planning to carry out an attack against an auto driver and his supporters, with whom his son Hariharan had been having a running enmity, the police raided his residence late last night and seized 31 petrol bombs, petrol and varnish.

Two of the councillor’s supporters were arrested under the Explosives Act while Anbalagan was absconding, Namakkal Superintendent of Police A Pari said today.

Following a clash between Hariharan and the auto driver on July 11 night, 17 autos were smashed and damaged. — PTI 

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RSS man R’sthan BJP chief
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 13
Arun Chaturvedi, a relatively “unknown” leader based in Jaipur, today formally took over as the new state BJP president amid reports of dissent against his elevation to the top post. His appointment has already sparked rebellion in the state BJP with senior BJP leader and Kolayat MLA Devi Singh Bhati resigning from primary membership of the party. Bhati had protested the move, contending that “Chaturvedi neither had any base in the party nor was he a mass leader”.

However, setting aside their differences, the BJP leaders today tried to put up a united face even as Chaturvedi formally took charge of the state BJP chief. Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, former Deputy Chief Minister Hari Shankar Bhabra and former state unit chief Om Prakash Mathur were there to congratulate him on his appointment. But, all this wasn’t enough to cover up the cracks that have surfaced in the state BJP in the aftermath of its back to back defeats in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. 

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