|N A T I O N|
|Lalit Mansingh is new Foreign Secy
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 Mr Lalit Mansingh today assumed charge as the new Foreign Secretary replacing Mr K. Raghunath, who has retired.
"Staines 'himself' was not behind conversions"
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 Australian missionary Graham Steward Staines, who was burnt to death along with his two sons in Orissa in January, "himself" was not involved in conversions, according to the conclusions of the Justice D.P. Wadhwa Commission of Inquiry report.
NEW DELHI: Former Miss India Nafisa Ali, film actress Shabana Azmi, and Delhi Health Minister Dr A. Walia leading a rally on the occasion of World AIDS Day in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI photo
Jaswant Singh leaves for Helsinki
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh is leaving for the Finnish capital Helsinki tonight for India-European Union Troika talks focusing on improving bilateral ties.
Insurance work hit by strike
favours UN seat for India
Army men killed in J&K, NE
to amend explosives law
the Khalsa story
rules out truck with Kalyan
hostile to India even after coup
likely to set up trust for disabled
quashes EC inquiry against Manmohan
to focus on safety: Laxman
to extradite Dawood
forum members hold dharna
cr sought for Mandi project
seek Sharifs release
will leave 11.2 m orphans
embassy to host haute couture fashion show
Lalit Mansingh is new Foreign
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 Mr Lalit Mansingh today assumed charge as the new Foreign Secretary replacing Mr K. Raghunath, who has retired from the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).
A 1963 IFS officer, Mr Mansingh, who was till recently Indias High Commissioner in London, told newspersons after assuming charge that it was a big responsibility entrusted to him by the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister.
Stating that he was "fully conscious" of the tasks ahead and would discharge them to the best of his ability, Mr Mansingh said the foreign policy was designed to further the national interest.
The new Foreign Secretary, immediately after taking charge, held a meeting with the senior officials of the Ministry and then proceeded to Parliament, where questions related to the Ministry of External Affairs were scheduled for the customary question hour.
Born on April 29, 1941, Mr Mansingh joined the IFS in 1963 after securing the first position in the all-India Civil Services Examination.
His first assignment overseas was to the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva from 1964-67. Other overseas postings included Kabul, where he worked as First Secretary and Deputy Chief of Mission from 1971 to 1974, and Brussels, where he was the Deputy Chief of Mission from 1976 to 1980.
Mr Mansinghs first Ambassadorial assignment was to the United Arab Emirates from 1980 to 1983. He was also Indias High Commissioner to Nigeria from 1993 to 1995, with concurrent charge of Benin, Cameroon and Chad. He was posted to London as the countrys High Commissioner on October 4, 1998.
He has worked in a wide variety of jobs at the headquarters in New Delhi. He has been Joint Secretary dealing with Personnel and Administration and had three separate assignments in the Economic Affairs Department of the Ministry of Finance. From 1985 to 1988, he headed the Indian Council of Cultural Relations as Director-General.
"Staines 'himself' was not behind conversions"
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (PTI) Australian missionary Graham Steward Staines, who was burnt to death along with his two sons in Orissa in January, "himself" was not involved in conversions, according to the conclusions of the Justice D.P. Wadhwa Commission of Inquiry report.
"He himself was not involved in conversions. A missionary preaches, it is the individual who converts," it said.
The conclusion and recommendations portion of the Wadhwa Commission Report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Minister of State for Home Affairs I.D. Swami today as part of his reply to a question from Mr Krishna Kumar Birla.
"There have been instances of conflicts between Christian and non-Christian tribal people evidencing growing tensions between them in the two districts of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar," it said adding "Staines himself had suspicion about the growing tensions. But he did not expect that a stage had come where there is threat to his life or a riotous situation is developing."
The administration was also quite unconcerned and oblivious to the growing tension, it said.
The report said "there have been conversions among the tribal people.... Unfortunately, some of the tribal people perceived Staines to be the person behind spread of Christianity by converting innocent and unsuspecting tribal people and the one making inroads into their culture and customs".
"Dara Singh (main accused in the killing) understood the psyche of these tribal people, prepared them and then led the attack on Christian missionaries. Staines was killed by these fanatics and with him his two children also perished," it concluded.
The Centre has asked state governments and intelligence agencies to prepare an action plan to augment the capacity and capability of their machinery from the police station-level with special focus on community intelligence, the Action Taken Report (ATR) on Wadhwa Commission, which probed the killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa, has said.
The governments, specially those of sensitive states, have been told to take appropriate action during VIP visits to spots where such incidents occur. The commission had suggested that these visits be drastically curtailed as they hampered investigations and there was every chance of important evidence being lost due to delay in investigation.
The ATR was tabled in the ongoing session of Parliament.
On the Commissions recommendation that the media exercise restraint and "screaming headlines be avoided," the ATR said that in view of the Governments commitment to uphold freedom of the Press it would not be appropriate to prescribe any code of conduct on reporting in the media as it would be construed as interference in their working.
The ATR said the views of the Commission were being brought to the notice of the Press Council of India which had been set up to preserve the freedom of Press and maintain and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country.
The ATR said all state governments had been told to take appropriate action in keeping with the Commissions recommendation that to bring communal harmony it was necessary that, at the school level itself, children are taught components of all religious faiths making available to them treasure of all faiths.
The report said the Centre had already taken up with State Governments a proposal for creating a Civil Services Board consisting of Chief Secretary, an officer of the rank of Additional Chief Secretary and Secretary (Personnel and Appointments) as Member-Secretary to ensure stability of tenures of officers of the All-India Services.
Quoting the Supreme Court, verdict in Vineet Narain and others Vs Union of India case which had directed that the Central Government must pursue with State Governments to ensure that a credible mechanism is set up in each state for the selection, appointment, tenure, transfer and posting of all police officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police, the ATR said the Home Ministry had written to all state governments to comply with these directions.
The State Governments of
Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa which look after
the district training of IAS and IPS probationers will be
impressed upon to evolve a suitable orientation capsule
for trainee officers so as to sensitise them about tribal
people in their states.
Jaswant Singh leaves for
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh is leaving for the Finnish capital Helsinki tonight for India-European Union Troika talks focusing on improving bilateral ties.
The two-day talks would include bilateral, regional and international issues including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the ongoing WTO talks in Seattle. The recent development in Indias immediate neighbourhood like the military coup in Pakistan would also figure in that talks.
Mr Jaswant Singh would be holding discussions with the current Chairman and Foreign Minister of Finland, Ms Tarja Halonen, the Portugal Secretary of State for European Affairs, Mr Francisco Xeiha da Costa and the Principal Administrator for the EU Council Secretariat, Mr Roland Zinzius, besides European Commissions new Commissioner for External Affairs, Mr Chris Patten.
Mr Jaswant Singh had met Mr Patten in September this year on his way back from New York after attending the UN General Assembly session which was his first ever visit by an Indian Foreign Minister to the headquarters of the European Union.
India attaches considerable significance to its relations with the EU particularly in the context of an emerging common security and foreign policy of the 15-nation strong organisation.
Indias relations with the European Union have been growing for the past one decade with the bilateral trade touching a figure of $ 21.7 billion US in 1998. The EU is Indias largest trading partner and an important source of foreign direct investment. It accounts for 26 per cent of Indias exports and 30 per cent of its imports.
While the EU is Indias largest trading partner, India is its 18th largest supplier and the 20th largest destination of its exports.
The EU is also a major contributor of developmental aid, an important source of technology and influential Indian diaspora.
Insurance work hit by strike
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 Insurance-related activity in the country came to a halt today with over 1.5 lakh public sector employees observing a one-day strike opposing the opening up of the insurance sector.
The employees of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), General Insurance Corporation (GIC) and its subsidiaries Oriental Insurance Corporation, New India Assurance, National Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company today struck work, opposing foreign equity participation in the insurance sector.
"The strike was a complete success", the General Secretary of the All-India Insurance Employees Association, Mr N.M. Sundaram, claimed in a statement.
Employees were protesting against the IRDA Bill being taken up in the Lok Sabha for discussion and, "completely ignoring the opposition from different quarters", Mr Sundaram said, adding that the employees "would unitedly carry forward the struggle even if the IRDA Bill is passed".
A strike rally held before the Jeevan Bharati building here was addressed by leaders, including Mr Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPM.
On October 29, insurance employees had struck work protesting against the introduction of the Bill in Parliament.
The IRDA Bill provides for 26 per cent foreign equity participation in the sector and many multinational companies like Sun Life Assurance, Canada Life Assurance and America International Group are reported to be interested in investing heavily in both the life and general insurance market here.
Reports from different parts of the country indicate that insurance sector-related activity came to a halt.
In Tamil Nadu, insurance employees held demonstrations in various cities and district headquarters in front of insurance offices.
The South Zone Insurance Employees Federation General Secretary, Mr K. Natarajan, said that the employees were determined to carry on their struggle till the Centres privatisation move was defeated.
In West Bengal, offices of the LIC and GIC in all cities and district headquarters remained closed with employees holding protest demonstrations.
The General Secretary of the Eastern Zone Insurance Employees Association, Mr Saibal Choudhuri, said in a statement that the IRDA Bill was being enacted to allow domestic and foreign and private capital to have control over the Indian economy.
Vietnam favours UN seat for
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 Vietnam today reiterated its open support to Indias candidature for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council even as New Delhi and Hanoi identified five new areas for bilateral economic cooperation.
The two sides identified information technology, human resource development, science and technology, energy and pharmaceuticals as new thrust areas for deepening and intensifying bilateral economic relations during 75-minute long meeting between the visiting Vietnamese President, Mr Tran Duc Loung, and the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Briefing newspersons about the talks, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said that the Prime Minister welcomed the Vietnams open support for countrys candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
The two countries also signed four agreements which include Rs 600 million credit to Hanoi on concessional terms and setting up of two software development and training centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.
The newly set up Ministry of Information Technology would coordinate the establishment of the software centres which would train software management, help set up professional training centres and offer assistance to Vietnamese companies operating in the field. An online credit of Rs 47 million, offered to Vietnam in February this year, would be utilised for the purpose.
The two countries agreed to exchange instruments of ratification of the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement which was signed during the visit of the Vietnamese premier to India in 1997. Another agreement between the foreign service institutes of the two countries which was concluded today envisages exchange of students, professors, experts and research scholars.
During talks between the President and the Prime Minister, regional issues like developments in Pakistan and international issues were taken up.
Earlier, the visiting President was given a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Mr Loung said Vietnam was very much interested in Indian technology and industrial products as they were necessary for them to implement their modernisation policy.
The CPM General Secretary, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh and the leader of the Opposition, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, called on Mr Loung.
The Finance Minister, Mr
Yashwant Sinha and the Vice- President, Mr Krishan Kant,
along with wife, Mrs Suman Krishan Kant, also called on
the visiting President. Later, Mr Loung called on the
President, Mr K.R. Naryanan, who later hosted a state
banquet in the honour of the Vietnamese President.
370 Army men killed in J&K, NE
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (PTI,UNI) As many as 370 Army personnel were killed and 936 injured in terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern sector during 1998, the Rajya Sabha was told today.
This was against 338 and 301 Army personnel killed in 1997 and 1996, respectively, Defence Minister George Fernandes said in a written reply.
Kargil conflict: A total of 524 defence personnel were killed and 1363 injured in the Kargil conflict, the minister said.
A comprehensive welfare package has been provided to the next of kin of the armed forces personnel killed in the conflict, Mr Fernandes said replying to another question.
The package includes ex-gratia lumpsum compensation of Rs 10 lakh, liberalised special family pension on the basis of last pay drawn by the deceased soldier and death gratuity and family gratuity as per specified rates, he said.
SU-30 production: Final decision on licence production of SU-30 MK-1 necessitates conclusion of agreement of acceptable terms and conditions and price for materials and transfer of technology, Minister of State for Defence Production Harin Pathak said.
Preliminary discussions have been held with the Russian manufacturers and a Price Negotiation Committee has been constituted, he said.
Encroachment : Instances of encroachment of defence land in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and other places have been reported by the authorities, the minister said.
Court of inquiry: A court of inquiry of the Army had issued summons to some journalists in September-October in connection with allegations relating to disclosure of certain documents which constituted violation of the Indian Official Secrets Act but it later decided to dispense with the attendance of the media persons, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
Replying to a question, the Defence Minister told the Rajya Sabha that after considering the statements of witnesses on record, the court decided to dispense with the attendance of the journalists.
The court of inquiry had the authority to summon witnesses including civilian witnesses by powers vested in it under the Army Act, he said.
Anti-mine vehicles: The Army is buying mine protected vehicle (MPV) at $ 125,000 per unit to protect troops from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS), Mr Fernandes told the House.
Techno commercial offers from various manufacturers were subjected to close scrutiny and appraisal followed by sustained negotiations before a decision was taken. The price was reached against the original budgetary quota of $ 153,000 the Defence Minister said.
Operation Leech: Twentyfive of the gun runners who were among the 73 apprehended during the Operation Leech in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands last year belonged to the Arakan army, an insurgent group based in Myanmar, the Defence Minister said.
The CBIs investigation into the incident has not yet been completed, the minister said.
paid: The Defence Ministry denied that the
persons who were displaced from five villages, where the
MIG project of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is coming up
in Koraput district of Orissa, had not been paid suitable
Plan to amend explosives law
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (UNI) The government proposes to amend the explosives law, making the possession of RDX and other explosive materials an extremely serious offence, Home Minister L K Advani informed the Rajya Sabha today.
Replying to Mr O P Kohli and others, the Home Minister said the government was compiling information on the activities of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan in India and would present it in the form of a White Paper to Parliament.
Sharing the concerns expressed by Mr V N Gadgil and other senior members about ISI activities in the country, Mr Advani said no state was insulated from the activities of this organisation and various government agencies had recovered 4,000 kg of RDX in various operations in the country during the past two years. He said the importance of recovery should be appreciated because the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai contained only 3.5 kg of this deadly material.
He said there was definitely a link between various terrorist organisations like ULFA and ISI and the government was keeping a close vigil on the activities in and across the borders in the north-eastern region.
He said the government strongly condemned the ambush and attempt to assassinate Nagaland Chief Minister S C Jamir and said despite the denial of involvement by the NSCN (I-M) in the incident, the government was pursuing the matter. It was a serious violation of agreement the militant group had entered into with the government, he said.
Mr Advani conceded that the number of madarsas, the religious training schools had increased on the Indo-Nepal border during the past few years and said there was certainly a link between ISI and these madarsas. The ISI wanted to exploit the porous nature of the 1750-km Indo-Nepal border that had been in force because of the special relationship between the two countries. Both governments were cooperating with each other through exchange of information and intelligence on the activities of these organisations.
When Mr Gadgil expressed disappointment about the mild statement coming from a man projected as the second Sardar Patel, Mr Advani said the nation required strong action and not words.
He said measures had
been taken to ensure joint cooperation between India and
the authorities of Nepal and Bangladesh at various
levels. On the Indo-Bangladesh border, a series of
measures had been taken internally to enhance the
Retelling the Khalsa story
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (PTI) In a captivating presentation, a new Punjabi play portrays Sikhism as a progressive and enlightened religion, as also the circumstances under which it took to arms to protect the faith.
Directed by Dr Rani Balbir Kaur, who teaches drama at the Panjab University, Chandigarh, Shubh Karman te Kabhoon Na Taraun (let me never shun the righteous task) is set in the terrible times of the ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur, when the locals were being persecuted during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and were being forced to convert to Islam.
The whole drama is focussed on the Sikh warriors, who took up arms to defend the cause. Interestingly, the main characters are played by traditional artistes like Gatkas (war dancers), Nihangs (the martial hermits), Dhadis (war epic singers) and Sufi balladeers, says Dr Kaur.
A wrong interpretation is being spread by certain religious zealots that it is only through violence that their aims can be achieved and I want to make the general populace understand that it is only adherence to the true values of the Sikh gurus that can bring about redemption, she says.
The play starts with an eulogy to the ninth Sikh Guru, by recounting his sacrifice for humanity while fighting against Aurangzeb, who is depicted as a religious despot interested more in the Islamisation of India rather than carrying out any developmental schemes.
As per tradition, no historical and religious characters are portrayed on stage.
Which is why I hit upon the idea of using martial artistes for the narrative, says Dr Kaur.
SP rules out truck with Kalyan
LUCKNOW, Dec 1 (PTI) The Samajwadi Party (SP) today ruled out any truck with the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and suspended BJP leader, Mr Kalyan Singh, saying his policies were entirely opposite to its and said senior leaders of his party had been misquoted by the media on the issue.
"Samajwadi party and Kalyan Singh are following entirely opposite policies and there is no question of the two joining hands," the President of the partys state unit, Mr Ram Saran Das, said, adding that construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya still figured prominently on Kalyans personal agenda.
"Statements made by senior party leaders Balram Singh Yadav and Shivpal Singh Yadav have been twisted by the media, which published reports saying the SP had no problem with Kalyan Singh," Mr Das told newspersons here.
He also said the party had not invited Mr Kalyan Singh to its Backward Castes convention slated for December 19 nor were there any chances of doing so.
The SP leader refused to comment on Mr Kalyan Singhs suspension, saying it was an inter-party matter of the BJP.
Orissa crisis deepens
BHUBANESWAR, Dec 1 (UNI) The political crisis in the Orissa Congress deepened today with rival factions preparing for a virtual showdown regarding change of leadership.
A stalemate continued to grip the faction-ridden party despite the two AICC observers announcement that the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) would meet in the afternoon to decide the future course of action. So far, there are no signs of any CLP meeting being held to discuss the leadership issue.
The Gamang loyalists have taken a stand not to call the CLP meeting on the grounds that since the assembly session had been postponed there was no justification of any meeting today.
On the other hand, the dissidents were determined to convene the meeting to elect a new leader replacing Mr Gamang by the evening. Anti-Gamang faction sources said if the Chief Minister or the Congress Legislature Party Secretary failed to convene the CLP meeting they would be forced to hold the meeting to pass a resolution removing Mr Gamang as the leader.
Hectic parleys have started at the residence of senior Cabinet Minister Basant Kumar Biswal and former Chief Minister J.B. Patnaik on the possible strategies to be adopted by the rival factions.
Several party MLAs and ministers were seen engaged in confabulations in their respective camps while AICC observers Madhav Rao Scindia and Vayalar Ravi were waiting for the CLP meeting to take place to end the stalemate.
The supporters of former Chief Minister J.B. Patnaik argued that a majority of the 64 MLAs who met the two AICC observers last night had categorically favoured a change in the leadership.
Mr Ravi told newsmen that they have assessed the views of the MLAs individually last night and communicated to Mr Gamang that a majority of the MLAs have different opinions. The AICC observers have also apprised party President Sonia Gandhi of the latest political situation.
Sources said the Chief Minister also talked to her this morning but when asked by newsmen Mr Gamang refused to divulge any details of his discussions with the party President.
The dissidents claimed that Mrs Sonia Gandhi had already indicated that a consensus view should be taken on the question of leadership change and Mr Gamang had been sounded by the high command to step down.
But Mr Gamangs supporters argued that no such directives had been received from the high command till this afternoon. Sources said former Deputy Chief Minister Basant Kumar Biswal and his supporters have lent their support to Mr Gamang and opposed the move of the dissidents to elect Mr J.B. Patnaik as the new CLP Leader.
The AICC observers have reportedly expressed their displeasure over the manner in which the rival Congress factions have taken a tough stand over the leadership issue.
The Chief Ministers action in postponing the assembly session had also come under severe criticism from the opposition political parties who demanded the immediate dismissal of the Congress government "for its total failure of the relief operation and the violation of the Constitution in deferring the assembly session".
AICC observer Vayalar Ravi said they would go by the consensus of the party MLAs regarding the leadership issue but declined to say whether the CLP would elect a new leader today.
On the question of pradesh Congress Chief Hemananda Biswals opposing the move to remove Mr Giridhar Gamang, Mr Ravi said whatever was happening was with the approval of the pradesh Congress chief.
Party sources said
besides Mr J.B. Patnaik, senior Cabinet Minister Basant
Kumar Biswal is also a frontrunner for the leadership
post and trying to garner support of Congress MLAs in his
favour. Mr Biswals supporters have also taken a
decision to oppose any move to elect Mr J.B. Patnaik as
the new CLP Leader.
Pak hostile to India even
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 Pakistan has made no moves to withdraw troops from the Line of Control (LoC) where they had been deployed in large numbers during the Kargil conflict, even as 54 Indian prisoners of war (PoWs) were still believed to be in its custody the Lok Sabha was informed today.
Military coup in that country has not altered its aggressive approach or hostile policies towards India and it continued to sponsor cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in the country, Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh informed the House in response to a written question.
He also said that while Pakistan was stating that now there were no Indian PoWs in its custody, Islamabad had agreed to re-examine the matter afresh. Pakistan till now had been maintaining that there were no Indian PoWs in its custody.
He said Pakistani forces
continued firing across the LoC and the international
border in Jammu and Kashmir and statements by Pakistani
spokesmen including General Pervez Musharraf indicated
that its assertion of territorial claim in the Indian
He said India was committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan in accordance with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. "We expect Pakistan to demonstrate its adherence to these agreements through its abandonment of cross-border terrorism and hostile propaganda."
He said 54 Indian POWs were believed to be in the custody of Pakistan and the issue was raised by Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee with his former Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in February this year. Both sides appointed a two-member committee at ministerial level to examine humanitarian issues including that of the POWs.
Bill likely to set up trust
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Bill is likely to be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mrs Maneka Gandhi said here on Wednesday.
The passage of such a Bill is likely to benefit 50 million people in India who suffer from some kind of disability or the other.
Talking to reporters here, Mrs Gandhi said that the proposed Bill had already been cleared by the Cabinet. She said that while the Persons with Disability (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act, 1995 aims at ensuring equal opportunity and full protection and participation of the disabled in various fields of life, it did not provide economic emancipation and care. She said that the proposed Bill would try to bridge such hiatus.
The Minister said that care of the mentally challenged especially those with cerebral palsy, autism and multiple disability, had largely centred around the family support system.
Mrs Gandhi said that there had been a long felt need for an institution with legal sanctity to support and protect the rights and interests of the disabled. She said that the trust would try to strengthen existing facilities to support such persons within their own families, extend support to parents and voluntary organisations during family crisis and promote measures for their care and protection after the care of their parents/guardians.
The Minister said that the proposed trust would support programmes for the disabled, set up residential centres and homes, day care centres and provide foster services, counsel parents and family members, establish adult training units and individual and group homes. The trust would also set up a system for appointing guardians for disabled persons through local level committees. An institutional mechanism will be introduced to monitor the work of the guardians and complaints against them be investigated.
She said that the Central government would make one-time contribution of Rs 100 crore to the corpus fund, the income from which would be utilised by the trust.
Mrs Gandhi said that the
trust would also receive bequest of moveable property
from any person. She added that overall management of the
trust would be vested in a board initially constituted by
the government. The board will comprise a Chairperson (an
eminent person from the field of disability) and nine
members from voluntary organisations. An ex-officio
member secretary of the trust of Joint Secretary rank
will act as Chief Executive Officer of the trust.
SC quashes EC inquiry against Manmohan
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (UNI) The Supreme Court today quashed the Election Commissions inquiry proceedings to determine whether former Union Finance Minister Manmohan Singh was an ordinary resident of Assam for the purpose of his election to the Rajya Sabha in 1991.
The inquiry proceedings were quashed by a three-judge Bench headed by Mr Justice S.P. Bharucha while dismissing an appeal by the Election Commission against the Guwahati High Court judgement which had also quashed the enquiry proceedings on a writ petition by Mr Manmohan Singh.
The two other judges of the Bench were Mr Justice R.C. Lahoti and Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde.
Mr Manmohan Singh, who was an elector in New Delhi parliamentary constituency, was appointed the Union Finance Minister on June 21, 1991. By reason of the provisions of Article 75 (5) of the Constitution, it was required that he became an elected member of either house of parliament.
Mr Manmohan Singh, therefore, sought the exclusion of his name from the New Delhi parliamentary constituency and the inclusion of his name in the electoral rolls of Dispur Assembly constituency in Assam, stating that his place of residence was : C/O Dr Hema Saikia, ward no 34, Sarumaparia Hill, P.O. Assam Secretariat, Dispur.
The inquiry into the question of the ordinary residence of Mr Manmohan Singh was initiated at the instance of the then Chief Election Commissioner CEC T.N. Seshan.
Having regard to
the fact that the concerned electoral officer of Assam
was a subordinate of the then CEC, and given the nature
of of the inferences drawn by the latter without giving
to Mr Manmohan Singh the opportunity of a defence, there
can be no doubt that allowing the inquiry to proceed
would be detrimental to fair play and the interests of Mr
Manmohan Singh. The inquiry and all notices and orders
pertaining to it must stand quashed, the
Railways to focus on safety:
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 Mr Bangaru Laxman, Minister of State for Railways, who took charge on Monday plans to lay emphasis on safety, security and service.
Talking to reporters here on Wednesday, Mr Laxman said that earnest efforts were being made to address various aspects of safety including modernisation of the signal system and track circuiting. He said that efforts were being made to ensure security of passengers and safeguard of the property of the Railways. This would require effective coordination with state governments,
The senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member said that work had been divided between the Union Minister of Railways and the two Ministers of State. He said that his areas included civil engineering, electrical engineering, incentive schemes in workshops, social education, staff welfare, level crossings, matters related to Pay Commission, appeals of group C and D employees, metro railways, Konkan Railways, passenger amenities and public grievances.
Mr Laxman said that the Railways was also focusing on resource mobilisation. He said that the budgetary support to the Railways had been declining and the sharp increase in the salaries of personnel after the Fifth Pay Commissions recommendations had increased the expenditure from Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 16,000 crore. He said that this would soon touch Rs 19,000 crore.
Mr Laxman said that the Union Minister for Railways, Mrs Mamata Banerjee had already written to the Finance Minister seeking grant of additional resources. Apart from this, the involvement of private sector for generating resources was under the active consideration of the ministry.
Replying to a question
on level crossings, the minister said that Rs 8 to 10
lakh was needed for manning one level crossing. He said
that the Railways would like to provide infrastructure on
24,000 unmanned level crossings where a large number of
accidents took place. He said that apart from encouraging
the participation of the private sector for the
development of infrastructure the Railways was also
approaching MPs to spare money from the MPs quota for the
construction of level crossings in their constituencies.
Steps to extradite Dawood
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (UNI) The External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, today said the centre would initiate extradition proceedings with the UAE against underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, wanted in the 1993 serial bomb blast cases in Mumbai.
He told the Lok Sabha during the question hour that similar proceedings were also under way for extraditing Pakistani nationals owing allegiance to the outlawed JKLF who boasted of committing acts of terrorism on the Indian soil.
India, he said, had already asked the USA for extraditing two terrorists accused of assassinating Gen A.S. Vaidya, and some others involved in criminal conspiracies. No person involved in acts of economic or narco terrorism and drug trafficking would go scot-free even as they took shelter on alien soil.
The proceedings, however, could be initiated only if the cases were registered against the offenders as recorded by the Union Home Ministry.
Mr Jaswant Singh said the extradition treaty signed between India and the USA on June 25,1997, would provide for more effective cooperation between the two states to check suppression of crime, recognising that concrete steps were necessary to combat terrorism including narco-terrorism and drug trafficking.
The treaty, Mr Jaswant
Singh said, also provided for extradition irrespective of
whether an offence was committed before or after the
treaty came into effect. The treaty with the USA had come
into force with effect from July 21,1999.
Mahakaushal after Chhattisgarh?
JABALPUR (Madhya Pradesh), Dec 1 (PTI) Once the much awaited statehood for Chattisgarh materialises, political activists and influential businessmen fear that Madhya Pradesh is likely to witness yet another movement for a separate state of the Mahakaushal region with Jabalpur as its headquarters.
Once Chattisgarh statehood becomes a reality, all developmental works, especially on infrastructure, would be confined only to Bhopal, its adjoining areas and the Chattisgarh region. A movement for separate Mahakaushal state comprising 32 districts in this region is sure to gain ground, says Mr Sridhar Dubey, vice-president of the state Janata Dal (U).
A number of local entrepreneurs have already launched the Mahakaushal Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Bishwanath Dubey, a local businessman here, speaks at length on exploitation of Jabalpur and adjoining areas going on for decades.
Now if the Chattisgarh region walks away with a separate state, then we had it. It is that region which is a gold mine for Madhya Pradesh. It not only has rich mineral resources but also heavy concentration of industries, says Mr Rajan Singh, a local advocate.
In fact, lack of development is going to be the trump card for the movement for statehood in the region, inhabited by native Gondwana tribesmen, especially in the rural areas.
The December 22 election to the municipal corporation would be fought on these lines, says a local journalist of a Hindi daily noting that he is himself in favour of a Mahakaushal state.
We still do not have adequate drinking water in a city like Jabalpur. Can you imagine this is our fate despite the Narmada only 7 km away, rues Mr Dubey.
Minorities forum members hold dharna
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (UNI) Hundreds of volunteers of the Minorities Forum of India, led by Mohammad Azam Khan, today held a demonstration near Parliament House to demand adequate representation for Muslims in legislatures and government jobs.
The demonstrators, who took the procession from Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street, urged the government to provide Muslim women a reasonable quota in the Womens Reservation Bill, a Minorities Forum of India press note said here today. They said that no political party was serious to give the Muslims their due representation.
The dharna was organised to express concern and resentment regarding the governments indifferent attitude to the problems of minorities.
20.88 cr sought for Mandi
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 The Himachal Pradesh Government has urged the Union Agriculture Ministry to sanction Rs 20.88 crore for a five year intensive cattle and buffalo breeding project in the Mandi district of the state.
The State Public Works Department Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh, who met the Agriculture Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, here today said under the project 50,000 cows would be covered under artificial insemination technique with frozen semen technology in 121 veterinary dispensaries to enhance milk production to about two lakh tonnes per year in the district.
Mr Mohinder Singh said under the project it was proposed to double the population of cross breed cows to one lakh with an average milk production of six litre per day per cow from the present 320 gm per cow per day.
He said 30,000 extra families would be covered under animal husbandry sector to generate self employment potential through milk cooperative societies by adopting dairy units of three, five and 10 cows units.
Mr Mohinder Singh also
met the Union Surface Transport Minister, Mr Rajnath
Singh, and urged him to sanction Rs 30 crore special
assistance to the state for carrying out restoration
works of the National Highways damaged due to heavy rains
in the state recently.
Intellectuals seek Sharifs
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 A group of Punjabi intellectuals and theatre activists submitted a memorandum to the Pakistan High Commission demanding the immediate release of deposed Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, and his family members.
The memorandum was submitted at the High Commission here by a delegation led by the President of Folklore Research Academy, Dr Tara Singh Sandhu, and secretary-general of Vishva Punjabi Sabhyacharak Manch, Mr Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal.
Apart from demanding immediate restoration of democracy in Pakistan, the memorandum said there should be exchange of writers and cultural workers between India and Pakistan.
The memorandum, also
submitted to the UN office here, appealed to the
governments of both the countries to facilitate the
performance of last rites of large number of Sikhs killed
during partition on both sides of the international
PMK favours clemency
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 The Pataali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), today sought clemency for the four condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The PMK leader, Dr K.Ramdoss, told mediapersons here that he had met the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K.Advani and the Law Minister, Mr Ram Jethmalani, and pleaded that their death sentence be commuted into life imprisonment.
Dr Ramdoss said since the four convictsNalini, Shanmugam, Periarivalam and Santhanwere not directly involved in the assassination and they should be given an opportunity to reform.
The PMK, he said, had also raised the issue of reservation with the government.
AIDS will leave
11.2 m orphans
NEW DELHI, Dec 1The United Nations Population Fund has called for urgent action to check the spread of HIV/AIDS while warning that the future of individuals communities and nations is at stake.
In a message yesterday, Dr Nafis Sadik, Executive Director, UNFPA and Under Secretary General, United Nations has said that the HIV/AIDS threat to lives must be countered with a sense of urgency in all quarters. He said that HIV/AIDS had claimed 16.3 million of the fifty million lives it has touched worldwide and in the past one year, over 5.6 million persons have been infected.
French embassy to host haute
couture fashion show
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 The French embassy plans to host what it calls an "exceptional evening" for a select audience here on December 9 by presenting a haute couture show from France.
The event is being organised on the occasion of France India 2000, a French technology and trade exhibition.
Mr Claude Blanchemaison, Ambassador of France to India told newspersons here on Wednesday that four top designers from France will present 48 designs in this years Fall-Winter collection. He said that the four haute couture houses which were participating in the show are Jean-Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Emanuel Ungaro and Lecoanet-Hemant. He said that 12 models chosen by these houses will also participate in the event.
Mr Blanchemaison said that the event has been organised by M.D. International and will be held in Bangalore and Mumbai on December 11 and 14 respectively.
He said that haute couture is a driving force in the garment industry and that such show would help create awareness about the trends in fashion in France.
Asked why the show which can be attended only by invitation is not open to a large audience, Mr Blanchemaison said, "To organise a fashion show is a difficult business. It is difficult to convince haute couture houses to participate and get the right models. We had limited time and limited budget. We wanted to organise it the way old fashion shows were organised where entry was by invitation only. Thanks to the photographers and the television, more people will be able to see it."
Asked how much money had gone into the preparation for the event, Mr Blanchemaison said, "The haute couture houses are making an effort, so is MD International. We also have lots of sponsors. We will be able to get a final account only after the event."
Replying to a question, the General manager of M.D. International, Mr Denis Muller said that the outfits displayed at the show will be very expensive and would not be on sale.
The Commercial Attache
in the French embassy, Mr David Debet said that the
annual turnover from the luxury sector comprising haute
couture is about 600 billion rupees. He said that two
lakh persons are presently engaged in jobs offered by
this sector and it is the most export oriented sector of
the French economy.
|New technology for UP
GORAKHPUR: Jails in Uttar Pradesh will soon be equipped with new technology and changes made in their working to convert them into reform centres in the 21st century, Uttar Pradesh Minister of State for Jail Vinay Kumar Pandey has said. Talking to newspersons here on Tuesday, Mr Pandey said prisoners would be trained in computer data processing, pharmacy and compoundry and made to grow medicinal and aromatic plants besides their routine work. When convicted persons come out of jail, they should be self-dependent, he said. UNI
Leopard cubs reintroduced
35 shops gutted
Film body calls
off proposed stir
TDP leader shot
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