|N A T I O N|
|Prasar panel favours neutral people:
NEW DELHI, Sep 6 Vice-President Krishan Kant-headed three-member selection committee, which will select Prasar Bharatis new Chief Executive Officer in place of sacked Surinder Singh Gill, "is in favour of neutral people," Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.
Jethmalani to take up
|Tata airline project must
take off: panel
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 The Rs 1475 crore domestic airline proposal of the Tata group, which was withdrawn a few days back, still continues to haunt political circles with a majority of members of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Transport and Tourism rallying in support of the project.
|53 per cent Indian kids
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 High incidence of malnutrition in South Asian countries has been a major cause for concern calling for immediate steps to contain the malaise with nutritionists trying to find the root cause for its increasing number despite mitigating measures.
issue: Punjabi bodies feel let down
notice to Delhi on pending cases
varsity teachers too end stir
Prasar panel favours neutral people: Sushma
NEW DELHI, Sep 6 (PTI) Vice-President Krishan Kant-headed three-member selection committee, which will select Prasar Bharatis new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in place of sacked Surinder Singh Gill, "is in favour of neutral people," Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.
Other members of the committee are Press Council of India Chairman Justice P.B. Sawant and government-nominee journalist T.V.R. Shenoy.
Mr Shenoy is not identified with the "BJP", even if we assume that he is one, even then the selection committee is in favour of neutral people", Ms Swaraj told "Eenadu TV" in an interview.
The minister said "it is the Vice-President of India who is on it. The other member is the Chairman of the Press Council of India Justice P.B. Sawant who again is not a BJP man by any standards."
Answering another question, Mr Swaraj said "there was no hurry, but there was an urgency to issue the presidential Ordinance so as to restore the 1990 Prasar Bharati Act in its original form.
She said "and the urgency was because nobody was clear whether with the lapse of the old Ordinance, the old Act (1990 Prasar Bharati Act) had come into being.
The minister said there was an air of uncertainty among the information Broadcasting staffers, "and one cannot keep such an important, and big organisation in such a state of uncertainty for so long at least till November when the winter session of Parliament begins. And therefore I wanted to put a full stop to this state of uncertainty. This uncertainty was also creating a lot of problems.
She said the opposition allegation was totally baseless that she had deliberately not brought the Bill before the Rajya Sabha.
Ms Swaraj also denied opposition charge that the Ordinance had been issued only to remove S.S. Gill from his post in the Prasar Bharati.
"When I brought back
the original Act, the 62-year age limit also came back
and since Mr Gill happened to be above 62 that he had to
go. Otherwise, all board members are there and I am not
touching them," she said.
Tata airline project must take off: panel
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 (UNI) The Rs 1475 crore domestic airline proposal of the Tata group, which was withdrawn a few days back, still continues to haunt political circles with a majority of members of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Transport and Tourism rallying in support of the project.
The committee, which met a few days ago under the chairmanship of Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, to review the entire gamut of the aviation sector including the governments open sky policy and the role of the private sector and Indian Airlines, felt that the project should not be grounded, informed sources told UNI here.
Though the project has been closed as far Tatas are concerned, for the committee, it is still alive.
While a majority of members have rallied behind Tata group stating that the proposal should be allowed, some of them expressed dissent saying the project should not see the light of the day. The supporters at the meeting pointed out that the project should be viewed in the light of the governments decision to allow the two existing private airlines Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines to expand their fleet.
Jet was recently allowed to purchase six more aircraft and Sahara to buy seven aircraft.
The members were of the opinion that if existing players from the private sector could be allowed to expand their fleet, why should Tata group not be allowed to start operations, the sources said.
The members further felt that the apprehension that the proposed Tata Airline would have adversely affected the operations and bottomlines of Indian Airlines held no ground.
The government had already allowed several players to enter the fray when the aviation sector was at its boom a few years ago. Forty per cent of Indian Airlines traffic was captured by the private operators when they entered the arena. Since then, a number of these players like East West, Modiluft, NEPC and Damania, have closed down operations.
Now had these players continued their operations, would it not have affected the load traffic of Indian Airlines. Since a number of them have closed down.
The members were of the opinion that there is no reason why Tatas should be deprived of the opportunity of operating an airline in the country, the sources said.
There have been divisions within all political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the Communists, over the project with some members supporting it and others opposing it outright.
When asked about Tata groups decision to call off the project, Mr Malhotra said, this is purely a personal decision of the company.
However, he stated that the committee has not closed the issue and would, in fact, discuss the matter again at its next meeting to be held by mid-September.
Meanwhile, the members opposing the project alleged that the project was not withdrawn due to the inordinate delay on part of the ministry but because of the fact that the group had realised that starting an airline now would be unviable and uneconomical as the aviation industry worldwide was facing a major recession.
They pointed out that the traffic load has come down to 59 per cent now as against 69 per cent two years ago. Even when the traffic load was as high as 69 per cent, several private airlines could not bear the cost burden and expenses and had to close down operations.
Now with the traffic load at a low, it has proved as a deterrent for the company to enter the arena.
They further stated that the decision has also stemmed out of the poor performance of the several Tata group subsidiaries, particularly Telco and Tisco.
In 1997-98, Tiscos net profit had dropped to Rs 322.08 crore as against Rs 469.21 crore in 1996-97. Telco had also recorded a similar drop in profits. Besides, Tisco is also working towards trimming its workforce by 3000 during the current fiscal year.
However, company officials stated that the poor performance of the subsidiary companies had no relation to the companys decision to withdraw the airline project.
Tata group had, after three years of prolonged negotiations with the government, finally lost patience and early last week withdrawn its domestic airline proposal burying all plans to enter the Aviation sector.
This withdrawal is against the problems which we have been facing for the past three years from the civil aviation ministry despite the proposal being perfectly in line with the guidelines of the civil aviation policy, Mr Sujit Gupta, Director, Tata Industries Limited (TIL), had said.
This was the second proposal in the aviation sector from which Tata group has pulled out, the previous one being the Bangalore airport project in collaboration with Raytheon.
Bonds boost BJP-NRI bond?
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 The Resurgent India Bond (RIB) which fetched a whopping $ 4.16 billion from non-resident Indians has also perhaps brought a silent political message which may be music to the ears of the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership.
According to figures put out by the State Bank of India, which was the chief promoter of the RIB, half of the bonds have been sold in West Asia. Twenty per cent have been bought by NRIs in south-east Asia, while the Indians living in America and Europe have contributed 15 per cent each.
The RIB is unique because it is for the first time that a bond or a government security floated abroad does not have the largest number of subscribers from the USA.
This perhaps is a reflection on the NRIs based in America. Despite the present ruling party being active in the USA and the UK particularly through its outfit, the "Overseas Friends of BJP", the US-led western sanctions against India in the Pokhran aftermath seem to have influenced the mindset of the investors who have thus not responded favourably to the RIB.
The NRIs settled in Europe and America are mostly Hindu, whereas the NRIs in west Asia have a large percentage of Muslims among them. While the Hindu NRIs are not essentially the economic backbone of their families back home, the Muslim NRIs have close economic bonds with their families in India. In many cases, the NRIs from a Muslim family could well turn out to be the familys principal bread earner.
The response shown by the NRIs in the west Asia, therefore, throws up interesting political axioms whose corollaries may not be good news for the "secular parties" opposing the BJP. Of the 75,000 applications for RIB received from 27 countries across the world, the NRIs in Saudi Arabia top the list.
It may be said that the response of the NRIs from west Asia is a reflection of the mood of the minorities in India vis-a-vis the present ruling coalition. If this mood has resulted in currency notes flowing in for purchase of RIBs, is there a possibility of "note" being reflected in the vote?
The RIBs have given the state exchequer immediate funds for tiding over the problems caused by post-Pokhran sanctions. A similar bond had been floated by Pakistan, the appeal for which was made in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharifs television address soon after the Chagai blasts. The Pakistani Bond, however, flopped in the market.
The BJP has officially hailed the success of RIBs. It remains to be seen in the coming elections if the investor confidence of the minority community can be converted by the partys strategists into voter support.
The Congress has been making sincere efforts to woo back the Muslim voter. The emphasis of Pachmarhi discussions was also aimed at this. The fact remains, however, that the appointment of a suave, well educated and articulate Mr Salman Khursheed as the Congress state president for Uttar Pradesh has not pleased the partys potential "secular" ally, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, who at present enjoys the confidence of the majority of Muslim voters in the Hindi heartland.
The minority voter thus is
faced with the choice of backing a fragmented
"secular front" or coming to terms with the
new, emerging, reality and giving the BJP a try. The RIBs
may not be the best thing to have happened on the
economic front (because there is criticism about the high
cost of administering the scheme), however its political
fallout may be interesting to watch.
Jethmalani to take up CVC issue
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 (PTI) Urban Development Minister Ram Jethmalani today decided to lodge a protest with the Prime Minister on the way "vital recommendations" of the Law Commission were withheld from the ministerial committee which drafted the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC) Ordinance.
In another development, new CVC N. Vittal today met Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee in what was termed as a "courtesy" call.
Mr Vittal declined to comment on Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamys letter to him seeking a detailed probe against Mr Jethmalani on the M.S. Shoes case.
Mr Jethmalani said withholding of the Law Commissions recommendations led to the Ordinance restricting the appointment to the post of the CVC to only bureaucrats.
The commission had based its recommendations on a Supreme Court judgement which had directed that the choice of CVC would be from among senior civil servants, past and present of high integrity and others. The word "others" has been omitted from the report presented to the ministerial committee, Mr Jethmalani contended.
Mr Jethmalani said he would apprise the Prime Minister at the earliest about the manner in which the four-member ministerial team, which drafted the CVC Ordinance, was kept in the dark about the commissions recommendations on the issue.
The ministerial committee comprised Mr Jethmalani, Mr P.R. Kumaramangalam, Mr M. Thambi Durai and Mr M. Janarthanam.
53 pc Indian kids malnourished: Unicef
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 (PTI) High incidence of malnutrition in South Asian countries has been a major cause for concern calling for immediate steps to contain the malaise with nutritionists trying to find the root cause for its increasing number despite mitigating measures.
With as much as 53 per cent of children malnourished in India, their proportion here is much higher than even the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa, a UNICEF report reveals.
In fact, the figure is almost as high for the entire South Asia and half of the worlds malnourished children are to be found in just three countries Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
Almost as startling, says the report, is that this problem is so little investigated. Even among nutritionists there is insufficient research and no clear consensus on why the rate of child malnutrition is so much higher in South Asia than anywhere else in the world.
Compared to the nutritional status in the rest of the developing world, even South Asia, India is not doing as well as in other areas, Asha Das, Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, told a workshop here last week to mark national nutrition week.
A number of theories have been put forth on this Asian enigma, but the most likely seems the dietary habits and the social conditions both of which lead to low birth, weight.
Mr Asha Das compared the attitude towards children in the two regions as the reason for this - in Africa a man provided for his children first and next the women. In India, the social structure is the reverse, with a woman ensuring the men and children are fed first, in that order.
Women and children thus remain the worst victims of the ravages of malnutrition, she pointed out.
The exceptionally high rates of malnutrition in South Asia, says the UNICEF report, are rooted deep in gender inequality.
Women are subordinated in most regions of the world, it says. But the subordination of South Asias women is of a different order. And the quality of child care suffers along with the quality of womens own lives.
Despite Indias achievement of food security, thanks to its green revolution, malnutrition remained acute even 50 years after independence, Ms Das regretted, pointing to the paradox of food security being attained at the national-level but remaining low at the household level.
Even within a household, there is disparity of food availability with children and women receiving less, she added, attributing it to social as well as economic causes.
A major indicator of malnutrition, the UNICEF country representative said at the workshop, was low birth weight, which reflected the health of women. One third of all babies in India are born with low birth weight of less then 2.5 kg.
A malnourished mother, he said, cannot produce a healthy baby and a generation of malnourishment is perpetrated.
Noting that the family and community had a direct and vital role to play in the elimination of malnutrition from the country, Ms Das said the focus must shift from governments role to the responsibilities of the family and the community in the care of children, she said.
It was not the income level but the dietary practices followed that was another cause for malnutrition, she said adding it is not necessary to go in for high-costing food. Our traditional food is rich in nutrition and awareness must be generated about them.
Saying that food was only one element in malnutrition, UNICEF points to the role of community in ensuring basic health services, sanitation, safe drinking water and awareness generation among various sections of society.
With rising population and overcrowded living conditions, hygiene tends to take a beating, the report said.
Hygiene tends to improve with incomes. For the poor anywhere, maintaining high standards is difficult. For the overcrowded poor, it is virtually impossible.
Calling for a major attitudinal change, Ms Das said care of women and children was the responsibility of the entire family and community.
Though government had
taken a number of steps to improve status of women and
spread literacy a multi-sectoral strategy had to be
adopted to deal with this urgent problems, she added.
India, she said, could reduce malnutrition by as much as
50 per cent through mass mobilisation.
Language issue: Punjabi bodies feel
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 Several Punjabi literary organisations today accused the BJP-led Delhi Government for not granting the second language status to Punjabi despite a promise made by the party in its manifesto in the last assembly polls.
In a joint statement four Capital-based literary bodies alleged that contrary to the claims of the BJP leaders that Punjabi had been accorded the second language status in Delhi, the language was only technically given second language facilities on par with Urdu.
While the move provided for just accepting and sending official communications in Punjabi, the Delhi Government chose not to introduce Punjabi as second language in schools as mandated by the second language status, the statement released by the Kendri Punjabi Sahit Sammelan general secretary, Mr Mohan Singh Berry said.
Mr Berry also demanded that salaries of part-time Punjabi teachers appointed by the Delhi Government-run Punjabi academy, should be increased on the pattern of the Fifth Pay Commission.
HC notice to Delhi on pending
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 More than two lakh cases involving petty crimes are pending before the magisterial courts in Delhi alone. And in most of these cases, the undertrials have spent more years behind bars than what they would have if found guilty.
To implement the cardinal principle of jurisprudence, the Supreme Court had directed the high courts in the country to appoint special magistrates.
Following the apex court order, the Delhi High Court through a notification had conferred all powers of metropolitan magistrates to 22 retired officers of the high court for one year.
They were to try the offences under the Motor Vehicles Act and other petty offences.
Nine months have passed since the high court passed this order, yet no arrangements have been made by the Delhi Government to carry out their judicial work.
Aggrieved by the fact that justice was being denied due to administrative delay, the Indian Council of Legal Aid and Advice has moved the Delhi High Court.
A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice K.S. Gupta has issued notices to the Delhi Government, the Principal Secretary (Home) , the Lt-Governor and the Delhi High Court through the Registrar and the District and Sessions Judge.
metropolitan magistrates had been appointed by the
Supreme Court for the quick disposal of petty cases. But
they have not been able to join duty because there was no
provision for them to function.
Central varsity teachers too end
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 The Central university teachers today decided not to extend their strike even though they were not satisfied with the pay scales offered by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry.
The general secretary of the Federation of the Central University Teachers Association (FEDCUTA), Mr Rais Khan, said the executive meeting of their association had decided "not to extend" the strike.
The executive meeting of the FEDCUTA, which lasted for more than four hours, decided to end the stir, he said, adding that the national executive would soon meet to deliberate on the mode of protest to be adopted by the teachers to get the anomalies rectified.
The FEDCUTA, he said "has strongly protested to the HRD ministry for not giving the UGC scale to the teachers."
Mr Rais Khan, however, stated that the teachers struggle to secure the UGC pay scales had been weakened by the All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations decision to call off the strike.
"The AIFACTO has accepted the pay scale offered by the HRD ministry, which is less than what was recommended by the UGC. Their act has weakened our bargaining power," he said.
The central university teachers were "not happy" with the pay scales offered by the HRD ministry, he said that they have decided to return to their classrooms but would adopt other modes of protest to achieve their goals.
With the FEDCUTA deciding not to extend the stir, classes in 16 central universities would resume from tomorrow and about 20,000 teachers would be back in their classroom after the fortnight-long protest.
The teachers have also decided to make up for the time lost due to strike and have assured the students that the syllabus would be completed within the stipulated time.
PM has tacit understanding with RJD: Paswan
PATNA, Sept 6 (PTI) Senior Janata Dal leader Ram Vilas Paswan today accused Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of entering into a "tacit understanding" with RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav, which he claimed, had prevented the Centre from dismissing the "corrupt and inefficient" RJD government in Bihar.
Sharply reacting to BJP President Kushabhau Thakres statement ruling out the dismissal of the Rabri Devi government, Mr Paswan said: "It has exposed the double-speak of the BJP and its coalition partner, Samata Party."
Mr Paswan told newsmen he was surprised over former Union Minister S.R. Bommais "utterances" against invoking Article 356 of the Constitution in the state.
"People should not forget that the United Front government had dismissed the Gujarat Government and also recommended imposition of Presidents rule in Uttar Pradesh," Mr Paswan said.
Earlier, accompanied by his party National President Sharad Yadav, Mr Paswan, on the third leg of his rath yatra to highlight alleged misdeeds of the state government, addressed public meetings at Bihta, Khagaul and Ara.
On the reported differences in the Janata Dal over the move to forge an alliance with the Samata Party in Bihar, Mr Paswan said: "There is no harm if opposition parties come together to avoid a split in anti-RJD votes."
Sunday clinic for health needs of
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 To save elderly persons the trouble of standing in long queues in hospitals, the Delhi government is starting a Sunday clinic to cater exclusively to their health needs.
Minister of Health in the Delhi government, Dr Harsh Vardhan told newspersons here yesterday that the Director-General, World Health Organisation, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland would inaugurate the clinic at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narain hospital here tomorrow.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the project of a Sunday clinic is the first of its kind in the world. He said that beginning on September 13, the clinic would start in nine hospitals including Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narain, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Guru Teg Bahadur, Aruna Asaf Ali, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rao Tula Ram, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Sanjay Gandhi and N C Joshi. He said that the OPDs would cater to health needs of the persons above 65 years of age and remain open from 10 a.m. to noon everyday. Principal Secretary (Health) to the Delhi government Ramesh Chandra told The Tribune that about 10 lakh senior citizens will benefit from the facilities at the Sunday clinics.
The Health Minister said that a daily rush of 2000 to 3000 persons in out-patient departments of city hospitals necessitated this unique experiment. He said that the clinic would have OPDs in Medicine, Surgery, Orthopaedics and ENT besides other services.
Dropsy toll mounts to 49
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 (UNI) The dropsy epidemic continued to take its toll in the Capital with two more persons succumbing to the disease during the past 24 hours taking the toll to 49, Delhi Health Minister said today.
The minister said the Food Adulteration Department of the Delhi Government had tested 20 sample of Rath and Panghat vegetable oils and 18 of them had been found to be adulterated.
He said yesterday requested the Union Food Minister to look into the issue of vegetable oil adulteration and appealed to the people to be vigilant towards this problem as well.
Dr Harshvardhan informed that Nehru Homoeopathy Medical College had the facility to treat dropsy patients and Dr B.I. Rudresh, a homoeopath from Bangalore, was being called by the government to assist in the dropsy treatment.
Already, 11 patients had been treated by homoeopathic treatment centre at Safdarjung Hospital, he said.
Pawar favours Sonia as PM
CHHINDWARA, Sept 6 (PTI) Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sharad Pawar today said he had no problem in projecting Congress President Sonia Gandhi as the countrys next Prime Minister.
Mr Pawar told reporters here on his way back after attending the three-day brain storming camp at Pachmarhi that Ms Sonia was the acceptable leader of all sections of the Congress.
The Opposition leader said the issue of one-man, one-post was also not relevant in the case of Ms Sonia.
simplified for Mother
CALCUTTA: The Vatican has simplified the process for granting sainthood to Mother Teresa, but the Missionaries of Charity (MC) said on Saturday it would not press for the process to be expedited. We believe she is a saint, MC Superior-General Sister Nirmala told mediapersons at Mother House. As per the provisions of Cannon Law, a religious man or woman had to be canonized and beatified before being declared a Saint. The entire process could not begin before five years after the death of the religious person concerned. The Pope, however, was empowered to waive the rules. PTI
Compensation for bus blast
gratia for firing victims
awards for 9
media reports demoralising cops
PUCL seeks review
of TADA cases
4 die after
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