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Burning of UP Cong chief’s house
Maya justice: Plum post for key accused

Lucknow, July 20
A defiant Chief Minister Mayawati has rewarded the Lucknow BSP chief Intezar Abdi, prime accused in burning of the house of UPCC president, with the post of vice-chairman of the Sugar Corporation bestowing upon him a ministerial rank and perks.

Bahuguna for CBI probe
Lucknow, July 20
Describing the Mayawati government as “fascist” UP Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi today demanded the chief minister should resign for being “unable to ensure the high VVIP security” at her house that was burnt down on July 15. “The CM should either owe responsibility for her government’s failure in protecting the house or else order a CBI inquiry into the incident”, she asserted.


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Greenpeace activists urge US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ‘Stop climate change’, in New Delhi on Monday.
Greenpeace activists urge US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ‘Stop climate change’, in New Delhi on Monday. — AFP

HC notice to Varun in poll case
Lucknow, July 20
The Allahabad High Court today issued a notice to BJP MP Pilibhit Varun Gandhi on a petition of his maternal uncle and political rival VM Singh who has sought the annulment of his election on grounds of corrupt practices.

Assam appoints ex-DGP as CIC
Guwahati, July 20
The Assam government has appointed former DGP DN Dutt as the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of the state.

TDP MLA held in molestation case
Hyderabad, July 20
Opposition Telegu Desam Party legislator TV Rama Rao was today arrested and sent to prison on charges of molesting and sexually harassing students of a nursing college run by him in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. A CID team picked him up from his home in Kovvur and produced him before a court in Eluru, which remanded him to judicial custody till August 3. He was later shifted to a central jail in Rajahmundry.

Eat less to live longer as the Okinawans do
Okinawa is a small Japanese island in the East China Sea with a population of about 1.4 million, located approximately half-way between Kyushu - the most southwesterly of Japan’s four main islands - and Taiwan. But the tiny island has over 740 centenarians and that amounts to 54.33 men and women aged over 100 years for every 100,000 people.

SC refuses to stay gay sex legalisation
New Delhi, July 20
The Supreme Court today refused to stay the Delhi High Court verdict that decriminalised gay sex between consenting adults. "Stay is not required as there is no serious consequence" arising from the judgment, a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said.

Police in action as Youth Congress activists protest against the attack on party MLAs at Mongalkot recently, in front of Writer’s Building in Kolkata on Monday.
Police in action as Youth Congress activists protest against the attack on party MLAs at Mongalkot recently, in front of Writer’s Building in Kolkata on Monday. — PTI

HAL set to test fly upgraded Dhruv
New Delhi, July 20
Within days of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India having rapped Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for slow progress on the Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH), a company team has set up base in eastern Ladakh. Its mission - to test fly a new and a more powerful version of the chopper.

Tackling Terror
US to keep backing Pak: Hillary
New Delhi, July 20
Appreciating Pakistan’s commitment to fight extremism, US state secretary Hillary Clinton said America would keep extending its support to that country. She said fighting terrorism was more crucial for the Pakistani government as it was their people and country that was under a direct threat. “We will support everyone who is against extremism; it is our priority,” Clinton added.

Unease in Congress over Indo-Pak joint statement
New Delhi, July 20
Distinctly uncomfortable over the joint statement issued by India and Pakistan in Egypt last week, the Congress today stopped short of endorsing its contents despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s explanatory statement in Parliament.

Use of English in RS again puts Ramesh in a spot
New Delhi, July 20
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday once again drew criticism for replying to questions in English in Parliament, this time in the Rajya Sabha. He was not alone as Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal’s comments on “poor people” in response to a question generated heat in the upper house, forcing chairman Hamid Ansari to comment there “appeared to be a concerted effort to disrupt the question hour”.

12 ragging deaths during last academic session
New Delhi, July 20
Coalition for Uprooting Ragging from Education (CURE), a civil society group involved in students’ awareness, today said 88 cases of ragging were reported from India over the last one year - no change from 89 that had surfaced a year earlier.

Sharad Pawar Pawar paints gloomy picture for agriculture
New Delhi, July 20
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar predicted a gloomy picture for agriculture this year but assured Parliament here today that the government was prepared to intervene in the interest of farmers, if and where it would be required.

No content code for now: Soni
New Delhi, July 20
Saying that censorship had no place in the age of internet, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has made it clear that she had no plan to bring the contentious content code on the "front burner" of the government's action plan.

Centre allocates 100 MW more to Punjab, Haryana
New Delhi, July 20
The power situation in Punjab and Haryana is likely to improve in the coming days with the Centre agreeing to allocate more power to the two states for the next 15 days.

PM to visit Washington on Nov 24
New Delhi, July 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been invited by the US President to Washington on November 24 for the first state visit to be hosted by the Obama administration. The invitation was extended to Manmohan Singh by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she called on the Indian PM here this afternoon. Recently, Manmohan Singh became the first foreign leader to attend the French National day celebrations in Paris as the Guest of Honour. —TNS

Hillary: 9/11 accused hiding in Pak
New Delhi, July 20
In a startling revelation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today that a significant number of those behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US were hiding in the border areas of Pakistan.






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Burning of UP Cong chief’s house
Maya justice: Plum post for key accused
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 20
A defiant Chief Minister Mayawati has rewarded the Lucknow BSP chief Intezar Abdi, prime accused in burning of the house of UPCC president, with the post of vice-chairman of the Sugar Corporation bestowing upon him a ministerial rank and perks.

The appointment comes two days after Abdi’s name was added to the FIR lodged in Hussianganj police station for ransacking and burning down the house of Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

Besides Abdi, the Bikapur MLA Jitendra Singh, alias Babloo, has also been named in the FIR at the behest of Congress chief spokesperson Subodh Srivastava.

Reacting to the BSP government’s decision of rewarding Abdi with the plum post senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said that it was ironical that Bahuguna Joshi who said allegedly derogatory words and apologised has been severely punished and the person who took law into his hands and reportedly burnt down the house of the state president of a national party has been rewarded with a ministerial level post.

The UPCC president also expressed dismay over the provocative decision of the Mayawati government and said that this was one more reason why she could not expect justice from such a regime. Meanwhile, the district police today reportedly recovered the vehicle that was used in the incident. 

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Bahuguna for CBI probe
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 20
Describing the Mayawati government as “fascist” UP Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi today demanded the chief minister should resign for being “unable to ensure the high VVIP security” at her house that was burnt down on July 15. “The CM should either owe responsibility for her government’s failure in protecting the house or else order a CBI inquiry into the incident”, she asserted.

She said the BSP government should initiate a CBI probe by July 31 failing which her party would launch an agitation from August 1.

Speaking to reporters after arriving from New Delhi and inspecting her house, Joshi appeared rather shaken by the turn of events. “This is nothing less than ‘sarkari goondagardi’. I fail to understand how this could happen in a VVIP high security area next to the CM’s secretariat. It only proves that the burning of the house was premeditated and done with the backing of the CM as well as senior officials and BSP leaders”.

Admitting she perhaps went “overboard while speaking her mind on exploitation of women”, Joshi denied having used any “casteist words”. She described Mayawati’s reaction to her remarks as “an attempt to regain her dwindling ‘dalit’ support. Come what may I’ll continue my struggle to highlight the plight of women, ‘dalits’ and minorities to the best of my ability”.

Recalling her time behind bars she said she was being treated like a “terrorist” in not being allowed to meet her family members or lawyer. “I was incarcerated in a barrack that was only meant for 16 women but had about 68 prisoners. There was no space to sit, leave alone sleep, there”.

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HC notice to Varun in poll case
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 20
The Allahabad High Court today issued a notice to BJP MP Pilibhit Varun Gandhi on a petition of his maternal uncle and political rival VM Singh who has sought the annulment of his election on grounds of corrupt practices.

The court has posted the matter for next hearing on July 25.

Singh has challenged the election of Varun Gandhi under Section 123 (3-A) of the Representation of the People Act for corrupt practices.

This sub clause relates to “The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens ... on grounds of religion. race, caste, community or language by candidate...”

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Assam appoints ex-DGP as CIC
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 20
The Assam government has appointed former DGP DN Dutt as the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of the state.

Dutt, who is now a member of the Police Accountability Commission, would resign from his present job before assuming the new assignment after completion of formalities. He hoped that proper use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act could bring down the level of corruption by a great extent besides bringing about transparency in the administration.

The office of the Chief Information Commissioner in Assam has been functioning without the Chief Information Commissioner for more than a year and at present, it is located in the old secretariat building that is out of bound for common people because of its location in a high security zone. The new Chief Information Commissioner, however, is of the view that the office should be located at a place, which is accessible for all sections of people of the state.

He is of the view that the RTI provides ample opportunities to the common people to play their part in improving the standard of governance but there was need to raise the level of awareness among the common people as well as the government officers about it.

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TDP MLA held in molestation case
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 20
Opposition Telegu Desam Party legislator TV Rama Rao was today arrested and sent to prison on charges of molesting and sexually harassing students of a nursing college run by him in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. A CID team picked him up from his home in Kovvur and produced him before a court in Eluru, which remanded him to judicial custody till August 3. He was later shifted to a central jail in Rajahmundry.

The arrest followed a complaint by five nursing students, belonging to Kerala, accusing the MLA of sexual harassment and intimidation. Earlier this month along with their parents had met state Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy before filing the complaint.

The main opposition TDP, however, maintained its legislator was innocent and accused the state’s Congress party-led government of implicating him. After the alleged incident had triggered a political storm with the TDP alleging a conspiracy to malign its legislator, the Congress government had last month ordered a CID probe into the incident.

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Eat less to live longer as the Okinawans do
Bijay Sankar Bora writes from Shillong

Okinawa is a small Japanese island in the East China Sea with a population of about 1.4 million, located approximately half-way between Kyushu - the most southwesterly of Japan’s four main islands - and Taiwan. But the tiny island has over 740 centenarians and that amounts to 54.33 men and women aged over 100 years for every 100,000 people.

That is extraordinary even by Japanese standards where the average life span is 80 years and obviously too much to be expected in India where only 4% of the population is above 65 years of age.

“The primary factor behind why Okinawans live comparatively longer is that they eat moderately and basically subsist on a plant and fruit based diet. They also live happily through better social networking. Dietary restrictions, the way Okinawans do it, could be enforced even if one lived in a city. 

A person should eat only 80 percent of what he or she is used to eating. So, eat less and be happy to live longer,” said Prof Ramesh Sharma of the biochemistry department of the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, who heads a research project on dietary restriction.

“We have been conducting pioneering research at the varsity’s biochemistry department since 2002 and is part of a bigger research programme on ageing,” he said.

For the last 30 years Sharma has been conducting work on the fear of ageing and the purpose is “not to add years to one’s life but rather life into years”. “The motto of research on ageing, I believe, should be to increase the healthy part of the life span,” he said.

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SC refuses to stay gay sex legalisation
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 20
The Supreme Court today refused to stay the Delhi High Court verdict that decriminalised gay sex between consenting adults. "Stay is not required as there is no serious consequence" arising from the judgment, a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said.

The Bench asked the government to make up its mind on the issue within two months and posted the case for next hearing on September 14.

Senior counsel Anil Diwan, arguing for a petitioner, Voices Against (Section) 377, defended the judgment, stating that similar steps had been taken in several European countries and South Africa.

The Bench, however, observed that there were a lot of differences between the European civilisation and other civilisations. Diwan persisted with his contention, stating that India was a land of Kamasutra and Khajuraho. Astrologer SK Koshal and his radiologist brother MK Koshal have challenged the HC verdict.

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HAL set to test fly upgraded Dhruv
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Within days of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India having rapped Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for slow progress on the Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH), a company team has set up base in eastern Ladakh. Its mission - to test fly a new and a more powerful version of the chopper.

The multirole weapon system helicopter will be test flown by HAL pilots within this week and factors like clear skies will decide the final date of the trial. A team from the French firm Turbomeca, manufacturer of low to medium power gas turbines for helicopters, is also camping in Leh and so are HAL flight and safety department personnel, sources told The Tribune. 

The chopper will be fitted with a new engine named ‘Shakti.’ The test will also establish if it can take the specified weapon load as desired by the army for the ALH’s ‘attack’ version.

The test was planned to go ahead even before the CAG report was released on July 10. A HAL team had visited the location for an initial assessment about three weeks ago.

HAL’s target is to fly the helicopter at an altitude higher than 6,500 metres (23,000 feet or more). In its report released in Parliament CAG had said: “The upgraded version of the ALH equipped with a more powerful engine is still not ready”. The existing version, a few dozen of which have been supplied to the Indian Army, cannot fly at a height of over 17,500 feet, whereas the army wants a chopper that can go up to at least 23,000 feet.

The altitude at which a chopper flies is critical for the Indian armed forces and is a key aspect for dominance in eastern Ladakh on the Sino-Indian border and the Siachen glacier besides other high Himalayan peaks in Himachal, Uttrakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. The CAG report had pointed this out, noting the army was using obsolete Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which it said might adversely impact its operational preparedness.

HAL is confident about the success of the upcoming test, as it has been regularly flying the ALH fitted with the new Shakti engine at a height of 6,000 metres over Bangalore. However, the rarefied air at that altitude makes it difficult for landing a chopper and then taking off. More thrust is needed and the thin air adds to problems like loss of engine power while each gram of weight counts.

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Tackling Terror
US to keep backing Pak: Hillary
Akhila Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Appreciating Pakistan’s commitment to fight extremism, US state secretary Hillary Clinton said America would keep extending its support to that country. She said fighting terrorism was more crucial for the Pakistani government as it was their people and country that was under a direct threat. “We will support everyone who is against extremism; it is our priority,” Clinton added.

The state secretary was addressing students and the faculty at Delhi University (DU) here today in the vice-chancellor’s convention hall.

Clinton said she was a firm believer in dialogue and considered people-to-people dialogue most important in resolving issues. Talking from her personal experience, Clinton said during the times of Cold War, Americans looked at the Soviet Union with hostility and did not want anything to do with it. “However, the governments engaged themselves to avoid any nuclear or other dangers of the kind,” she said.

Clinton stressed on women’s empowerment. Calling the 21st century the most important time in the history of the world to be a woman, she said countries had to address the women’s issues along with other ones if they wanted to realise their potential. She said women, including herself, were witness to so many positive changes. Her mother never went to college and had lived at times when women still could not vote in America, while she grew up to run for the post of the President of the country.

Emphasising on women empowerment, Clinton said the governments had to focus on issues of the poor and “disfranchised”. “As we look at the 21st century, we see that women’s role and rights are as important as any other issue,” she said. Clinton aplauded the Indian government’s realisation that poverty needed to be addressed on priority, adding that women’s issues also needed to be incorporated.

She spoke about the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) experience that she had gone through in Bombay. “It is good to see how marginalised women have created opportunities for themselves,” said Clinton. “Now, some Pakistani women were learning form SEWA to repeat the initiative in their own country,” she added.

Talking of her own experience, Clinton said she was grateful for being selected by President Obama to join his Cabinet and added that she never expected that she would hold such a position when she was in college.

Answering a question on how she balanced her political and personal lives, she said there were times when she confined herself to the domestic sphere as her daughter was growing up. “On the death bed, no one said that I wish I could spend more time in office,” she quipped.

Moving on to the youth, she said each child should be given access to opportunities to develop what was god-gifted. Clinton said India needed to make use of the immense potential of the internet, while giving example of the use of internet site Twitter during the Iran elections.

Clinton saw a house full, with people queuing up outside even after the entry was closed. Management students from IIT Kanpur and FMS participated in the interaction. Pakistani and Indian students from the organisation “Seeds of Peace” also joined. 

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Unease in Congress over Indo-Pak joint statement
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, July 20
Distinctly uncomfortable over the joint statement issued by India and Pakistan in Egypt last week, the Congress today stopped short of endorsing its contents despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s explanatory statement in Parliament.

The unease in the party was evident when the Congress refused to comment on the joint statement, saying it had nothing to add to the Prime Minister’s two statements, including one made in both Houses of Parliament on his return from the Egyptian sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he had met his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the 15th NAM summit.

“ I have nothing to say or add after the Prime Minister’s clear statement in Parliament ....if you need any further clarification, go to the Government of India,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said today in response to a volley of questions on the party’s response to the Indo-Pak statement.

The statement, which delinks the resumption of composite dialogue between the two estranged neighbours from action on terror, has evoked a strong reaction from BJP leader LK Advani who described it as a “major diplomatic surrender”.

At the same time, it has also resulted in some unease within the Congress which feels that India has diluted its earlier stand that peace talks were contingent on Pakistan taking credible action against those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

Congress leaders admitted privately that the confusion had arisen because the joint statement was “poorly drafted.” The party is particularly unhappy with reference to Balochistan in the statement which one senior leader described as “genuinely mystifying” but added grudgingly that it could have been better worded.

Asked if the Congress endorsed the statement, Singhvi replied, “There is no question of endorsing or commenting on it,” adding hastily as an afterthought that “ we reaffirm and reiterate it.” At the same time, he said the PM’s statement left no scope 
for any doubt.

Parrying queries on Advani’s criticism, Singhvi maintained that the BJP leader had said saying nothing new as he had raised similar objections on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Not entirely convinced with the PM’s explanation, the Congress has decided to play down the joint statement for fear of an adverse political fallout since it is preparing for the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.

The Congress had gained electorally from the UPA government’s tough talk on Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks as it had successfully defused the BJP’s criticism that the ruling combine was “soft on terror.” There is a lurking fear in the Congress that this latest development could help the BJP in reviving its “terror” plank as Advani sets off for another yatra.

Congress leaders are hoping that this will prove to be a proverbial “storm in a teacup” and things will look up following Pakistan’s full admission of its involvement in the terrorist attacks in its dossier and the action it has initiated against the main accused in the Mumbai attacks.

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Use of English in RS again puts Ramesh in a spot
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday once again drew criticism for replying to questions in English in Parliament, this time in the Rajya Sabha. He was not alone as Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal’s comments on “poor people” in response to a question generated heat in the upper house, forcing chairman Hamid Ansari to comment there “appeared to be a concerted effort to disrupt the question hour”.

Opposition members were objecting to Jaiswal’s comment that rampant poverty in mining areas had forced residents to indulge in pilferage of coal and illegal mining. This led to vociferous objections from members who insisted Jaiswal should “apologise to the poor for insulting them”. CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury got up and raised a point of order saying the minister had shown “disrespect to the poor”.

Jaiswal, however, denied he had “disrespected the poor” in any way. “I accept the mafia is active in the coal sector and, due to their provocations, common people have started pilfering coal,” he said

Ramesh found himself in trouble when, during question hour, he replied in English to a supplementary put to him in Hindi. This led to a sharp reaction from BJP leader Kalraj Mishra who asked the minister “why he could not reply in Hindi despite knowing the language well”.

On this Ramesh commented in Hindi: “Kalraj Mishraji yeh Mulayam Singhji ki bimari aap ko bhi pahunch gayi hai” (this ‘disease’ of Mulyam Singh Yadav has affected you as well). The remark was an obvious reference to an incident in the Lok Sabha on July 15 when SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav had raised a query during question hour on the “indiscriminate felling of trees” in Lucknow and Noida.

Anticipating a reply in English from Ramesh and known for his opposition to its use, he had asked the minister to reply to his question in Hindi saying: “You know Hindi. This is the Lok Sabha, not London.” Ramesh had said he knew Hindi and replied in that language.

Ramesh’ remark in the upper house drew flak from BJP, SP and BSP members who, perhaps inferring that he had referred to Hindi as a ‘disease’, said “Hindi was not a disease and that the minister should take back his words”.

Ansari, who tried to bring peace in the Rajya Sabha, said both English and Hindi could be used in the House and asked members to refrain from “making an issue out of a nonissue”. He ruled the main question regarding environmental sanctions in mining projects had been asked in English and the minister had every right to answer it in the same language.

However, this line of reasoning failed to pacify opposition members who continued to raise objections against Ramesh’s remark until he stated: “Any comment against the national language would be expunged”.

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12 ragging deaths during last academic session
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Coalition for Uprooting Ragging from Education (CURE), a civil society group involved in students’ awareness, today said 88 cases of ragging were reported from India over the last one year - no change from 89 that had surfaced a year earlier.

Analysing the latest trends in ragging, the CURE, in its report released here today, concluded that ragging claimed 12 lives across the country this year; the number was 11 last year. There have been five reported cases of attempted suicides by students, tormented by their seniors at colleges.

The report takes note of the recent measures taken by the Human Resource Development Ministry to curb ragging and finds that the situation has far from improved.

Among the states that are the worst-hit, Andhra Pradesh, with 12 of the 88 reported ragging cases, tops the list.

West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh come next with 10 cases each.

In the last session, Andhra Pradesh reported 12 incidents of ragging, including four deaths and one attempted suicide. Punjab, though a small state with low numbers of educational institutions, has been consistently reporting high number of ragging incidents.

During the last session, Punjab accounted for 8 of the 88 reported cases of student harassment on campuses.

It may be noted that Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, the earliest states to have enacted anti-ragging law (the Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1997 and West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutions Bill, 2000), still suffer from the ragging menace.

“We believe that ragging is not just a law and order problem but also a social and psychological menace that can be eradicated through proper awareness and education,” Varun Agarwal of CURE today told The Tribune.

Another striking finding of the new report is that Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, which did not report any ragging cases in the past, have now started reporting the problem, with 6 and 7 cases, reported from the two states, respectively. The latest victim of ragging in Himachal was Aman Kachroo.

Kerala seems to be the only state that has managed to reduce cases involving the harassment of students by seniors.

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Pawar paints gloomy picture for agriculture
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar predicted a gloomy picture for agriculture this year but assured Parliament here today that the government was prepared to intervene in the interest of farmers, if and where it would be required.

Pawar was replying to a debate on the budgetary demands of his ministry and claimed that the government had done much more than the previous governments and even in relation to many other countries.

He conceded that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)’s predictions had not come true but added that since July 1, the situation had improved and the nationwide shortfall in rains had come down from minus 46 per cent to minus 26 per cent.

“The situation may further improve by July 31,” the minister hoped.

He said the shortfall was not uniform throughout the country as some states like Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and UP had been the most affected while others were better.

Pawar pointed out that he had already contacted such states but regretted that while Punjab and Haryana had responded stating what the Central government could do to mitigate farmers’ suffering, UP and Bihar had not bothered to reply.

“In Punjab and Haryana, since they can draw ground water with power-driven pumps, the governments there asked for more power and the Power Minister immediately allocated an extra 50 MW each to these two states,” Pawar said.

He suggested that in view of lack of water, crops other than paddy like jowar, bajra and pulses, which are less dependent on rainfall, ought to be sown. The minister also dismissed Bihar’s demand for setting up an ethanol plant saying that was not feasible in India and several such plants in Maharashtra were lying closed.

He pointed out that agriculture had shown 4 per cent growth last three-four years and gave due credit for this to the policies and vision of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He said: “I asked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal what should be the MSP for wheat this year and he suggested Rs 1,000 per quintal. But when I told this to the Prime Minister he put it at Rs 1,080, Rs 80 more than what Badal asked for,” adding that how the UPA government had made quantum jump over what the NDA was offering in its six years of governance.

Curiously apart from the Opposition, even ally RJD speaker and former Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh criticised the government for neglecting the interests of the farmers.

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No content code for now: Soni

New Delhi, July 20
Saying that censorship had no place in the age of internet, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has made it clear that she had no plan to bring the contentious content code on the "front burner" of the government's action plan.

She favoured a nodal agency, which could disseminate unbiased and authentic information in times of crisis like the November 26, 2008, Mumbai attacks. Within less than two months of assuming office, Soni is brimming with ideas for invigorating the I&B Ministry, which include setting up a national advisory council to get feedback from eminent persons.

In an interview, Soni said what she had in mind was to "put into place a national advisory council for I&B Ministry, as she did for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture". The idea, the minister stressed, was to associate eminent persons with impeccable credentials with the ministry. It was an "ideal way of getting a cross-sectional feedback to provide a wider range of expertise".

This would not be a statutory body but one that gave ideas and represented different sections of our people, "reflecting what they want, not just what the ministry wants," Soni said. She said the contentious broadcast Bill, which has now been hanging fire for eight years, was not a priority for her at this juncture. India is the only country which does not have a regulatory authority, she said.

Most of the advanced countries have their regulators in place, she added. "I have not taken a call on it. For the moment, my plate is full," she said. Alluding to her recent meeting with representatives of TV channels and self-regulatory bodies like the National Broadcasting Authority and IBF (Indian Broadcasters Federation), Soni said: "We arrived at an informal conclusion that we should sit together and arrive at some kind of guidelines for our functioning, and (establish) the 'lakshman rekhas'".

When she took over, she had found that the idea of having a content code (to regulate content) had been put on the backburner. "I will not bring it on the frontburner," Soni said. The idea of a content code was mooted after some sections of electronic media had reported the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, which allegedly compromised national security by beaming live the details of movements of security personnel trying to rescue hostages. — IANS

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Centre allocates 100 MW more to Punjab, Haryana
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
The power situation in Punjab and Haryana is likely to improve in the coming days with the Centre agreeing to allocate more power to the two states for the next 15 days.

Sources in the Power Ministry said an allocation of 100 MW, 50 MW each for Punjab and Haryana, had been agreed upon. The two states have been reeling under power crisis and in turn, functioning of the government, industry and agriculture sector was getting affected.

The demand for power in Punjab had increased to 8,170 MW this season, as compared to 6,083 MW during the corresponding period last year. The power consumption for agricultural purpose in Punjab alone was 32.6 per cent of the total demand of 6,083 MW.

A presentation by the Principal Secretary, Irrigation and Power, Suresh Kumar, before the Council of Ministers last month revealed that the demand had witnessed a steep increase of 8,170 MW till date, as compared to 6,083 MW during the corresponding period last year.

States which had committed power as part of bilateral banking arrangements were not able to supply because of the rise in their local demand following delayed monsoons and decline in rains by 51 per cent over last year, Kumar had said during the presentation.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had even ordered a three-day shutdown for the industry from 8 am on Saturday to 8 am on Tuesday every week.

On the domestic and commercial front, the daily power cuts had stretched up to 12 to 16 hours for urban areas. 

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Hillary: 9/11 accused hiding in Pak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
In a startling revelation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today that a significant number of those behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US were hiding in the border areas of Pakistan.

Addressing a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, she said Washington had conveyed this information to Pakistan. “We are looking for an additional information from there to work on it,’’ Hillary added.

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