|N A T I O N|
|National old-age policy on anvil
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 A pension fund and a vocational retraining scheme for the elderly would form an important part of the old-age policy to be announced by the government soon, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Maneka Gandhi has said.
Kashmiri Pandits refuse
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 Various Kashmiri Pandit groups today asserted that the displaced persons would not return to the valley in the present security situation there.
breakthrough in couples murder
UP may scrap US Nagar district
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 The Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to review the viability of the newly created districts, including Udham Singh Nagar, and scrap those found unviable.
Top leaders greet Vajpayee
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was felicitated on his 75th birthday today by President K.R. Narayanan, Vice-President Krishan Kant and a number of other leaders.
Devotees throng churches
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 Special prayers for peace, harmony and amity and programmes symbolising compassion for the poor and the suffering were organised in different centres as Christmas was celebrated with religious fervour and traditional gaiety throughout the country today.
Sharma unlikely to be freed
National old-age policy on anvil
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 (PTI) A pension fund and a vocational retraining scheme for the elderly would form an important part of the old-age policy to be announced by the government soon, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Maneka Gandhi has said.
The policy would be announced in anticipation of 1999 being declared as the year of the old, she told a private TV channel.
The minister said the recently introduced scheme of providing some vocational retraining to the elderly with funds from the ministry would help ensure well being of the aged, a press release issued by the channel said.
The minister said the government was considering a proposal to open 10 old-age homes in every Lok Sabha constituency and four clinics for the old in each district. She said her ministry would take up with the Centre and the state governments the issue of providing job reservation for the physically handicapped in the education sector.
On the problems of the visually impaired, she called for entrepreneurs and private publishers to help in publishing Braille books since the National Institute for Visually Handicapped was unable to cope with the huge demand even after doubling production every year.
She said her ministry, in collaboration with American research centres, would introduce new technology to make artificial limbs cheaper and easily available.
Kashmiri Pandits refuse to return
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 (PTI) Various Kashmiri Pandit groups today asserted that the displaced persons would not return to the valley in the present security situation there and demanded provisions for their rehabilitation as well as their voice in any talks on Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Speaking at a conference here to churn out a common strategy for the future of the Kashmiri migrants, representatives of 15 Pandit organisations felt that the conditions in Kashmir were not conducive yet for their return.
The situation in the valley is drifting into the hands of militants while the National Conference Government headed by Farooq Abdullah is befooling the Centre to extract money, said All India Kashmiri Pandit Conference President H.N. Jattu.
Stating that Pakistani agents were spread all over the valley perpetrating subversion, he demanded the dismissal of the Abdullah Government to end the misrule of the National Conference.
Kashmiri Samiti president C.L. Gadoo alleged that both Central and state governments had failed to produce any substantial plans for the migrants who are languishing in Jammu, Udhampur, Delhi and some other parts of the country.
We request the Central Government to assess the ground realities in Kashmir before initiating any steps for our return, he added.
A year of awards for Indians
NEW DELHI, Dec 24 (PTI) In a year bereft of any major individual achievements barring one or two, 1998 is most likely to go down in Indian history as the year of the onion, pushing other contender the bomb, the Nobel and Sachin to secondary slots.
But economist Amartya Sen, film director Shekhar Kapoor and child genius Tathagat Tulsi boosted sagging spirits doing the country proud with glorious achievements in their fields.
That tiny and low-profile but omnipotent element in any Indian kitchen the onion finally decided to peel off its modesty and let one and all know that it comes at a price.
Onion prices just went through the roof shot up to as high as Rs 100 in some places and sustained for months to topple a few governments in the Assembly elections in November.
However, a new government had already assumed office at the Centre after parliamentary elections in February-March, installing the able leader Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister for the second time making him, by that qualification alone, the first newsmaker of the year.
From the newsmans point of view, it was by and large silent from then on till May like a lull before the storm when the nuclear tests at Pokhran shook the entire world.
Even as the international community heaped sanctions on India, there were two proud men standing amidst all the criticism APJ Abdul Kalam and R Chidambaram.
Having accomplished the feat of fulfilling a life-long ambition of proving Indias status as nuclear-capable, 64-year-old Bharat Ratna Kalam became an instant celebrity.
1998 would also be remembered for long as the year of awards - a series of prestigious international awards being bestowed on Indians.
Nobel, the most prestigious prize in the world, went to an Indian after a long gap when Amartya Sen became the sixth Indian to win the prize, 19 years after Mother Teresa won it for peace.
An ardent campaigner of social welfare who took economics to the exalted heights of philosophy, 64-year-old Sen, who is now Master of Trinity at Cambridge University in England, also became the first Asian to win the prize in economics.
Fatima Bi, a 33-year-old village council leader from Andhra Pradesh, won a United Nations award from Secretary-General Kofi Annan for working towards eradication of poverty.
An uneducated Fatima Bi has been a pioneer in mobilising women in her village to launch self-initiated programmes aimed at improving the lot of villagers.
In literature, a new award called Crossword Book of the Year widely hailed as the Indian booker made Allan Sealy richer by Rs 2 lakh for his The Everest Hotel.
Mathematical whizkid Tathagat Tulsi, who stormed into the Guinness Book of World Records last year for being the youngest to complete matriculation at nine and half years, broke yet another world record by graduating in physics, from Science College of Patna University at 11 years and two months.
Tathagat surpassed Jay Luo of the USA, who had found a place in the Guinness Book by graduating in science from Boise State University, Idaho, at a little over 12 years.
In sports, 28-year-old Viswanathan Anand won the Chess Oscar for 1997, awarded for overall performance beating world champion Gary Kasparov.
However, the most sustained hysteria was generated by little blaster Sachin Tendulkars merciless batting throughout the year.
In the process, Tendulkar became the highest century-maker in one-day internationals, surpassing West Indian Desmond Hayens record of 17 centuries. With 21 centuries to his credit, the little genius hit more than 1,500 runs in the calendar year nine centuries in one-day cricket.
The Mumbai master was also invited for a rare meeting with the great Don Bradman on the latters birthday.
Indian cinema also had its moments of glory when Shekhar Kapoor of Mr India and Bandit Queen fame literally went international with his film Elizabeth, fetching him an American award for best director.
Yet another director Deepa Mehta garnered glory with 14 international awards for her film Fire which however faced censorship in its own homeground.
During the year, the country also lost some familiar faces of the world of culture and showbiz. Protima Bedi, noted Odissi dancer, died a tragic death while going on a yatra to Kailash-Mansarovar at Malpa, high on Kumaon hills in the Himalayas. Her body could not be identified.
Former Miss India Persis Khambatta, who shot to international fame with a meaty role in the mega-hit television serial Star trek, died of a massive heart attack in Mumbai.
Ajit, unarguably one of the most-loved villains to have appeared on silver screen of Bollywood, also passed away in November.
Kavi Pradeep, whose immortal song Ae Mere Vatan Ke Logon, stirred patriotic sentiments in every Indian in the immediate aftermath of the 1962 Chinese aggression, passed away in December.
The 83-year-old poet and lyricist whose real name was Ramchandra Narayanji Dwivedi, was the recipient of the Indian film industrys greatest honour-Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 1997-98.
If people hit the
headlines for their achievements, some like Romesh Sharma
did it for the wrong reasons. The sleazy world of Sharma
came out to the open after raids in his farm house and
his subsequent arrest.
No breakthrough in
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 The Delhi police is yet to achieve a breakthrough in the murder of an aged couple in Saket in South Delhi on Wednesday night.
The police has questioned several suspects, including hawkers who regularly visit the colony. The three security guards of the colony, Hamdar Bahadur, Bheem Bahadur and Lal Bahadur, were questioned yesterday, the police said.
The bodies of S.N. Chary, a retired Deputy General Manager of Engineers India Limited, and his wife, Shanti, a teacher in Carmel Convent School, were found in a park in Saket. The bodies were found on Thursday morning. They had sustained head injuries from a blunt object.
The bodies were noticed by a resident of F Block in Saket, Mr Deepak Kumar, while he was on his morning walk.
The couple has a son and a daughter who live in America and are expected to reach here tomorrow, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Vivek Gogia said. He said it seemed that the couple was coming from the market when attacked. A cash receipt found near their bodies confirmed that the couple had purchased some jewellery. The jewellery and a diamond earring of Shanti Chary were found missing. The Additional DCP said robbery could be the motive behind the murder of the couple.
UP may scrap US Nagar district
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 (PTI) The Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to review the viability of the newly created districts, including Udham Singh Nagar, and scrap those found unviable.
Out of the 83 districts and 19 commissioneries Uttar Pradesh has at present, 16 districts, including Udham Singh Nagar, and six commissioneries were created during Ms Mayawatis tenure as Chief Minister in 1997 which also saw change in name of some districts.
If Udham Singh Nagar is found unviable, political observers say this could be a means for the BJP to wriggle out of its stand-off with its ally Akali Dal on the status of the district vis-a-vis the proposed Uttaranchal state to be carved out of Uttar Pradesh.
A five-member Cabinet sub-committee has been formed to examine the viability of the new districts and asked to submit its report, Uttar Pradesh Government officials said.
Udham Singh Nagar district, carved out of Nainital district, became a bone of contention between the BJP and the Akali Dal when the Vajpayee government decided to go ahead with the decision to include it in Uttaranchal.
The Akalis Dal demanded that areas under Udham Singh Nagar district, earlier known as Rudrapur, be excluded from the proposed new state, but the BJP was not agreeable to the demand.
As the issue created differences between the ruling party and its ally with the Akali Dal threatening to review its support to the BJP-led government, the Centre set up a three-member committee under the chairmanship of Defence Minister George Fernandes to sort out the issue.
Top leaders greet Vajpayee
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 (PTI) Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was felicitated on his 75th birthday today by President K.R. Narayanan, Vice-President Krishan Kant and a number of other leaders.
Mr Narayanan, accompanied by the First Lady, was among the first to greet Mr Vajpayee at his residence. The other early callers included Home Minister L.K. Advani and several Cabinet colleagues.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sharad Pawar rang up to convey their greetings.
Dr Manmohan Singh, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, BJP President Kushabhau Thakre and members and Archbishop Alan de Lastic also greeted him.
A steady stream of dignitaries including Cabinet colleagues, MPs and others called on him to wish him.
Prominent among them were TDP Parliamentary Party leader K. Yerran Naidu, Jayaprada, MP, Surendra Singh, Haryana Vikas Party leader and an Akali delegation led by Sukhbir Singh Badal, Minister of State for Industry.
Later Mr Vajpayee addressed a 'Swabhiman Manch' at his residence. The poet Prime Minister described the high office he held as a "temporary night halt" and said his effort was "to light a lamp and remove darkness during the temporary night halt."
Reciting one of his favourite poem "Aao phir se diya jalaye" (come let us light the lamp again), Mr Vajpayee regretted that some people mistook a temporary halt (padav) for the destination (manzil).
Mr Vajpayee released a dove and accepted bouquets and greeting cards from tiny-tots, who marched down from Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, shouting slogans like "Long live the Prime Minister".
Devotees throng churches
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 (PTI) Special prayers for peace, harmony and amity and programmes symbolising compassion for the poor and the suffering were organised in different centres as Christmas was celebrated with religious fervour and traditional gaiety throughout the country today.
The high point of the observance marking the birth of the "saviour" was the midnight mass held in Cathedrals and churches across the country attended by the faithful.
Singing of carols by choir groups and bursting of crackers to rejoice the birth of Jesus Christ and exchange of greetings with their Christian brothers by members of other communities also marked the occasion.
In many places in the country, religious and voluntary organisations visited hospitals and homes for the poor to hand out gifts to the ailing and the deprived.
After a week-long dense fog and near-cold wave conditions, denizens of the national Capital experienced a comparatively clear and sunny Christmas morning in keeping with the happy occasion.
President K.R. Narayanan, Vice-President Krishan Kant and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee were among those who extended greetings to countrymen on the occasion.
In Mumbai, the devouts thronged the churches.
Star hotels across the country organised special fiestas to mark the occasion.
In Delhi, Christians who attended the midnight mass, were later seen exchanging Christmas greetings with members of other communities.
People attired in their best flocked the St Thomas Basilica, St Marys Co-Cathedral and Church of South India Cathedral in Chennai for special prayers.
In Calcutta, Mother House, the global headquarters of Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa, was bathed in festive gaiety as nuns held the ritual Christmas mass prayer ushering in the season of good cheer.
Elsewhere in the city, Christian devouts joined midnight masses and went around in groups singing carols. In Kerala, households irrespective of caste and creed were adorned by Xmas lights on the occasion. St Marys Basilica and St Francis Assissi Cathedral in Kochi registered massive attendance for the mass.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Bishop Rev Soosa Pakiyam led the midnight mass held at Palaym St Joseph Cathedral.
Songs heralding the birth of Jesus Christ were sung in Tamil, English and French in churches in Pondicherry.
In Meghalaya, Sikkim, Assam and Bihar, traditional gaiety and fervour were much in evidence as Christians celebrated the birth of Christ.
A midnight mass held at St Josephs Cathedral in Guwahati was presided over by Archbishop Joseph Menamparampil. The Archbishop also led a prayer for peace and goodwill in the state troubled by extremist violence.
Fernandes for new 'swadeshi' movement
MUMBAI, Dec 25 (PTI) Defence Minister George Fernandes today said that a new nationwide "swadeshi" movement should be started to discourage the use of foreign goods "wherever possible" to "curb" the growth of multinational corporations in the country.
Inaugurating the three-day golden jubilee year conference of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) here, Mr Fernandes asked an estimated 15,000 student delegates to "stop the use of imported articles wherever possible and carry this message to the people in villages".
He alleged that the multi-national corporations had established strong roots in the country due to "compromising policies" pursued by the erstwhile governments at the centre.
In a veiled attack on the erstwhile Congress and United Front Governments, the minister charged them with "thrusting an irreversible compromise on the country to the extent that three multinational corporations cannot be removed now without some damaging consequences."
"Such a compromise was struck in the name of irreversible economic reforms", he claimed.
"I had as the Union Industry Minister in the seventies thrown out Coca Cola as they siphoned Rs 50 crore in profits out of the country", he said.
However, he expressed the view that "swadeshi" movement inspired by patriotism and desire for self-reliance, should not be taken to the extreme point of compromising national security by halting purchase of foreign aircraft and ships if they were necessary.
Mr Fernandes, alluding to criticism from some quarters that while he talked of "swadeshi" he travelled in imported cars, said "most of the cars in use in the country, including the Fiat, are imported. Swadeshi should not be taken to ridiculous lengths".
The minister delivered the inaugural address in the absence of his Scientific Adviser A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who could not come due to certain work commitments. Mr Fernandes said the ace scientist was engaged in work relating to national security. However, in a message to the ABVP meet, Mr Kalam asked them to "start a movement for a developed India by 2020".
Referring to the nuclear tests at Pokhran in May this year, he noted that while it enabled India to declare itself as a nuclear weapons state, the country had no intention of actually using them.
"For India, nuclear weapons are for deterrence purposes only in case of adventurism by anybody. Nuclear energy programmes are linked to the countrys development", he said.
He said Bharat Ratna awarded posthumously to Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan by the Vajpayee government was an honour for students whom the late Sarvodaya leader led.
Romesh Sharma unlikely to be freed
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 (PTI) Romesh Sharma, alleged frontman of Dubai-based underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim, is unlikely to be released from the Tihar Central Jail here despite the revocation of his detention orders under the National Security Act (NSA) by Delhi Lieut-Governor Vijai Kapoor, police sources said.
Top police officials, who expressed unhappiness over the recommendation of the revocation by a statutory advisory board looking into NSA cases on "technical grounds", said Sharma was likely to be detained again under the NSA if he was released.
"There is every likelihood of his tampering with evidence and releasing him on mere technical grounds would be a mockery of law. We can again arrest him under the NSA minus the technical fault," a senior police official said.
"Moreover, Sharma cannot be immediately released even if the NSA order is revoked as he will have to secure bail in over a dozen cases," the official said.
The board, comprising three serving and retired judges, had recommended revocation on the grounds that Sharma was detained while he was already under arrest in connection with some cases. The recommendation is binding on the police.
Sharma, who was detained under the NSA on November 4, is lodged in the high-security Tihar Jail here and has 15 cases pending against him.
Tributes paid to Giani
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 (PTI) The Vice-President, Mr Krishna Kant, today paid tributes to the former President, Giani Zail Singh, at Ekta Sthal on his fourth death anniversary.
Among the dignitaries who joined the Vice-President in paying tributes at the samadhi were the former President, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, former Chief Minister of Punjab, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Delhi Chief Minister, Mr Sahib Singh Verma, and a number of MLAs from Punjab.
Ramoowalia flays Badals remarks
NEW DELHI, Dec 25 Former Union Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP, today said the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal should immediately withdraw his statement that the SGPC is part of the Akali Dal.
In a statement issued here, Mr Ramoowalia who is also president of the Punjabi Bhalai Manch, said Mr Badal had deeply hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community and insulted the sacrifices made by them.
Mr Ramoowalia said the SGPC, a supreme elected Parliament of Sikhs of all shades to manage religious affairs, had never been part of the Akali Dal.
He further said all Sikhs professing different social and political ideologies like Communists, Socialists and Congressmen were not Akalis and even Sehajdharis, Namdharis, Udasis, Nirmalas and Sindhis were Sikh but not Akalis.
The Statement of Mr Badal has proved beyond doubt that his Akali Dal is all out to establish the supremacy of politics over religion,he said charging that this practice of misusing religion for political purposes by Mr Badals party had done immense damage to the Sikh religion, Punjabis and the country.
Train passengers robbed of cash
JAMSHEDPUR, Dec 25 (PTI) Seven passengers of DN Patna-Tata (3287) South Bihar Express were robbed of their luggage and cash when some miscreants disguised as co-passengers used some drug or chemicals to make them unconscious yesterday.
Railway sources and the police said here today that at Asansol some miscreants entered the reserved compartment and started interacting with the passengers and subsequently used some chemicals or drugs which made them unconscious.
|Need to curb
NEW DELHI: Every second girl child in India could become a prostitute in the near future if flesh trade associated with growing tourism in the country is not properly checked, former chairperson of National Commission for Women (NCW) Mohini Giri said here. Participating in the Golden jubilee celebrations of the universal declaration of human rights, organised by the Indian Federation of United Nations Associations on Thursday evening, she said severe action needs to be taken to check flesh trade associated with the growing tourism in India. PTI
Boards for bio-diversity agriculture
Lowest number of
Militants kidnap 2
Rajasthan to float
7 killed in
| Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir | Chandigarh |
| Editorial | Business | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | World | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |