|N A T I O N|
Will BJP-Govt truce last?
for talks with VHP
terms for N-deterrence'
concern over primary education
Nobel laureate allays fears
of Delhi watchmen must
BANGALORE, Jan 5 The just concluded meeting of the BJPs National Executive has proved that the 'party with a difference', as it projects itself, is one which has differences with its own Government but has chosen to rally behind its leader for the time being.
The variance in approach and thinking between the party and its Government became evident when the meeting began, but deft management by those close to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, reduced the intensity of difference.
Finally, it was the intervention of the Union Home Minister, Mr LK Advani, that conclusively shaped the determination of the Executive, as reflected in the two resolutions political and economic adopted at the end of its meeting.
How long the truce between the hardliners and the Swadeshi brigade on the one hand and the moderates and pro-reformists, on the other hand, remains to be seen in the days to come.
The two-day meeting was held in the backdrop of the growing criticism about the functioning of the BJP-led Government by members of the Sangh Parivar, including the all-important RSS, as well as the reverses suffered by the party in the assembly elections in November last.
Viewed in this backdrop, the session did provide an opportunity to the 150-odd members of the National Executive to air grievances of party workers at an appropriate forum.
While it is natural for party members to express their opinion in a free and frank manner, the party chief initially held the Government responsible, specially for the fallout of the price rise.
For once, the BJP chief started distancing the party from the Government and isolating the latter. The plan would have succeeded but for the contingency counter-measures by the Vajpayee camp.
With some senior leaders like Mr Sunder Lal Patwa and Mr Madan Lal Khurana attempting to focus on the sabotage from within, specially from members of the Parivar, the mood altered. It was here that Mr Advani stepped in. Having been a patient listener, his suggestion is understood to have paved the way for redrafting of the political resolution.
Later, Mr Advani, while, summing up the deliberations reminded the delegates that the party,which was known for its nationalism, character and discipline, had sadly abandoned the latter.
He reminded that it was important for the party to close ranks and rally behind the leader rather than make public the dissent which would undermine both the party and the Government.
When the Prime Minister, made an emotional speech of having seen many an ups-and-downs during his 45-year-stay in the Opposition, many started nodding their heads.
The master orator gradually started striking the right notes and when the time was ripe, delivered his verdict in the end, it is the Government that will decide and the party can at best advise.
Christians for talks with VHP
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (UNI) Major Christian organisations today said they were prepared to enter into a dialogue with the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the BJP on the issue of forced conversion.
They said they were ready to rectify any such real incident if it was brought to their notice. These remarks were made at a press conference here addressed by the representatives of the National Council of Churches in India, the Churches of North India, the Churches of South India and the United Envangelical Lutheran Church in India.
A 10-member team had visited the areas where attacks on Christians took place and came out with a report. The team members comprised Dr K K Rajaratnam, the Reverend Vinod A.R. Peter, Dr J.A. Oliver, John Hanchimani, Reverend IPE Jospeh, the Reverend Dr Prseanna Kumari, Rev Dr Samuel Meshak, the Rt Rev Vinod Kumar, Mr John Dayal and Mr Shailesh.
The team members quoted the DIG Mr O.P. Mathur, and the Collector, Mr B.N. Joshi, as having said, "There has been no formal complaints of forced conversions or any attempts from the Christian communities in the area.
The allegation of forced conversion was a part of the premeditated agenda of the RSS of maligning the Christian missionaries. They were providing basic education, health care and an awareness about their rights in the remote tribal areas.
Besides the term missionaries was being used by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal leaders to mislead the public as if foreign missionaries were engaged in forcible conversion activities, they said adding that it should be understood that no foreigner was allowed visa for missionary work in India.
Forced conversion is a sin, they said and wanted to know why all these issues had cropped up after the BJP coming to power at the state and the Centre. This agenda was there for long with the RSS. But now they have the government and the political clout to implement the same.
They said, There is a determined bid to terrorise the Christians. But no amount of torture or prosecution will deter us from working at the grassroots in the larger national interest. The Christians played a no lesser role in the countrys freedom struggle, they added.
The report indicted the Gujarat Government for its supportive role to the Hindu fundamentalist forces and urged the state Governor to exercise his constitutional responsibility of ensuring proper functioning of the state machinery, which, they said, had utterly failed to provide security to the minorities.
They took exception to the VHP and the Bajrang Dal leaders explaining away the attacks on Christians as patriotic reaction of the youth and questioned if the Christian community was anti-national or unpatriotic.
Jaswant-Talbott talks in Jan
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (PTI) The USA wants India to specify in concrete terms its requirements in terms of nuclear deterrence so that it is not seen as an open-ended threat to its neighbours.
How many missile systems and warheads does India need to have a minimum nuclear deterrent, the US Ambassador to India Mr Richard F. Celeste, asked during an interview with PTI here today.
He spoke of substantial progress in the on-going dialogue between External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott but cautioned that there is still substantial work to be done.
Given this countrys understanding of the potential threat it faces, I think some expression of what India really wants and needs and strives to achieve in a reasonably specific time, not specific in numbers, but a range, is important to not only help the US understand but also specific neighbours to understand....So that there isnt an open-ended threat, Mr Celeste said.
Describing Indian Governments assurances on no-first use of nuclear weapons and not indulging in any arms race as encouraging but positive general statements, he said New Delhi should be more transparent and clear in defining what this notion is as it was vital to de-escalating tensions and not getting caught in an unintended arms race in the region.
Celestes remarks come close on the heels of the next round of Singh-Talbott parleys which are slated to be held here later this month.
On whether Washington was hopeful of India signing the CTBT in the next few months, he said: Sooner is always better. That is the American attitude. We tend to be impatient. But being back in India for a year, I am being reminded of the Indian culture which teaches patience.
Mr Celeste went on to add, I am really optimistic that in this area our interest and Indian interests are going to be consistent with each other.
The American envoy felt it was a transition period for Indo-US relations in 1998 which he termed as a difficult year.
He said the Pokhran tests marked a kind of punctuation point in our relationship. We have been trying to write a new paragraph. Hopefully, eventually, it will be a new chapter...I am cautiously optimistic that within the next year, we can move forward.
Referring to Mr Singhs remarks in an interview that New Delhi and Washington were working towards harmonisation of views, Mr Celeste said the challenge we have is one of how do we fit together legitimate security interests on both sides and legitimate concerns about the nuclear non-proliferation on both sides.
He said India had not put any pre-conditions to the signing of the CTBT by suggesting that the USA and other countries should first sign and then ratify the treaty.
Mr Vajpayee had also stressed in Parliament the need for the creation of a positive environment as a necessary ingredient for the successful completion of negotiations with key interlocutors on the nuclear issue.
The American diplomat termed Prime Ministers statement in Parliament on Indo-US ties as pretty realistic one.
On Washingtons denial to India specific dual-use high technology in the light of the Glenn Amendment. There has been some progress towards relief from these sanctions.
But the US concern on the dual use technology transfer prior to the nuclear tests. This is an area in which there is room for discussion as we move down the road, he said.
Asked whether President Bill Clinton would go ahead with his visit to India this year, Mr Celeste said I am deeply hopeful that there would be an opportunity for the President to visit India in 1999.
On the US stand on Jammu and Kashmir, he said Kashmir is an issue than can only be resolved through direct discussions between the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan, probably at the highest level.
He said: We believe that in the course of that effort, certainly the wishes of the people of Kashmir would be kept in mind.
On Russian Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakovs suggestion of establishing a
strategic triangle between India, Russia and China, he
said good relations among our friends are something
to be supported not looked at critically.
One more case slapped on Romesh
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 The Delhi police has registered one more case of robbery and extortion against Romesh Sharma, alleged frontman of Dubai-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, at the instance of a complaint from a Mumbai-based architect.
The case against Sharma, who is lodged in the high security Tihar Jail here, was registered yesterday at Hauz Khas police station following a recent complaint by Dinky Mascaranhas, owner of Mumbai-based company, Olympus Super Structures, Deputy Commissioner of Police P.K. Srivastava said.
According to the complaint, Sharma contacted Mascaranhas in November 1996, through his friend Samuel Bandish for drawing architectural plans for his Jai Mata Di farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi and his other properties.
When Mr Mascaranhas came to Delhi with the plans Romesh forcibly took away the projects blue prints and gave only Rs 10 lakh as against the agreed payment of Rs 50 lakh and got a receipt signed for Rs 40 lakh, Mr Srivastava said.
Sharma also allegedly snatched away Mr Mascaranhas cellphones and other belongings at gunpoint.
Mr Mascaranhas in his complaint said he did not report the matter to the police at that time as he received threatening calls from Chhota Shakeel, brother of Dawood Ibrahim, the DCP said.
The complainant also alleged that Sharma robbed him of two Cheverlot cars in March 1998, when he had brought them for sale here and forced him to sign a receipt for Rs 1.28 crore.
However, the victim, mustered courage after Sharmas arrest and lodged a complaint with the Delhi police, resulting in the registration of the case, Mr Srivastava said.
The DCP further stated that the two Cheverlot cars were seized by the Delhi police from Sharmas Mayfair Garden residence during a raid on October 21. With this robbery and extortion case, the total number of cases against Sharma have gone up to 16.
PMs concern over primary education
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (PTI) The Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today expressed concern over the neglect of primary education in the country and said shortage of funds would not be a constraint in educating children.
He was speaking to mediapersons after handing over the golden pass of Air India and Indian Airlines to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen that would entitle him to travel by the national airlines whenever he desired.
He said even the Panchayati Raj institutions were not fully successful in spread of primary education in the country.
"The state government would have a large role to play in this regard," the Prime Minister said adding funds would always be made available for primary education.
Prof Sen, on his part, said though funds had not a major constraint in India in providing primary education in the country, the parents should be given greater "voice" to put forth their views on primary education.
Nobel laureate allays fears on genes
CHENNAI, Jan 5 (PTI) The sequencing of the entire human genome will be completed by 2003, Nobel laureate James Watson said here today and allayed fears that knowledge of the genetic make-up of human beings will lead to discrimination.
"Discrimination already exists with or without genetics," he told the Science Congress and added that one, however, had to ensure that the "level of discrimination does not increase any further."
Mr Watson, who traced the history behind the discovery of the double helix, said the sequencing of the genome would give information about what genes caused which diseases and thus provide answers to their treatment through gene therapy. "I am very positive about the kind of impact that genetics will have on society."
There was no danger in knowing about genes that caused diseases, but the real danger was having the disease and not being able to treat it, he said. He hoped that knowledge of human genetics would not be abused as had happened in Germany during World War II.
Mr Watson said there was need to have laws to maintain the genetic privacy of an individual and prevent the misuse of knowledge of a persons genetic make-up.
Mr Watson said he was initially opposed to the human genome project when it was first proposed in the 1980s to sequence the entire human genome because he thought the entire exercise would be tedious, time-consuming and too costly.
According to initial estimates, the cost of sequencing one base pair of nucleotides, the building blocks of genes, would have cost $ 10-15. The entire human genome comprised three billion base pairs.
Verification of Delhi watchmen must
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 As the crime wave in the Capital continued unabated, the Lt-Governor of Delhi, Mr Vijai Kapoor, has indicated that the Delhi Police Act may be amended and the number of police personnel on VIP security may be reduced.
It would be mandatory for Delhiites to get their chowkidars (watchmen) registered and get their antecedants verified before hiring them, he said.
Highlighting the fact that everything cannot be left to the police, he said the chowkidari system should be strengthened to supplement the police.
The recent double-murder in the plush South Delhi Saket area could have been prevented had the watchmen been more watchful. He said one of the chowkidars had seen the assailants much before the crime was committed but failed to react.
He said the government was mobilising the existing police strength to improve the situation and security to the VVIPs had already been reduced by 20 per cent and the surplus personnel put on intense patrolling.
However, the status of the security category to those protected had not been affected, he said.
Dismissing reports about spiralling growth in the crime graph, the LG said statistics showed a variable picture. While crimes against women and rioting cases had registered a slight drop, there had been only a marginal increase in the number of murders over last year.
As many as 617 murders
were reported this year as against 575 last year and the
increase is in proportion with population
growth, he said adding there was an increase in
cases of burglary, theft and snatching and other
Home Guards call off strike
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 Home Guards here today called off their week-old strike.
The Home Guards took the decision to report back for duty from tomorrow after they were assured that the Union Home Minister, Mr L K Advani, would meet them to hear their grievances, the president of the Delhi Home Guard Welfare Association, Mr Om Prakash Sharma, said.
The strike had come at a time when additional Central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the Capital to contain the spiralling crime rate.
A member of the Association, Mr Arun Chawla, said the delegation of Home Guards would meet the Union Home Minister tomorrow and apprise him about the situation. We would also meet the Delhi Chief Minister, Mrs Sheila Dikshit, tomorrow and explain our problems, he said.
No leadership change: Kalyan
LUCKNOW, Jan 5 (PTI) UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh today ruled out change of leadership in the state and the possibility of a mid-term poll, asserting that his ministry was stable and would complete its full term.
The BJP high command had already made it clear that there would be no change of leadership both in UP and Gujarat, he said here.
Denying that there were differences among alliance partners over the leadership issue in UP, Mr Kalyan Singh claimed the issue was, in fact, a no issue and more a creation of the media.
There was no discussion on the leadership issue at the just-concluded BJPs national executive committee meeting in Bangalore.
|N. Rams warning
JAIPUR: Renowned journalist and Frontline Editor N. Ram has opposed the entry of foreign media into the country. Delivering a lecture on the future of Indian journalism, Mr Ram said if foreign media institutions succeeded in getting an entry there would be no way to control them. He said: It is a matter of debate and introspection for us whether the Indian Press should continue to retain its own character and entity or should the foreign media be allowed into the sector. Referring to Article 19 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, Mr Ram said that under the Constitution right of expression and right to opt for any profession or trade had been accorded to Indian citizens only if the same rights were accorded to foreign institutions it would be difficult to control and regulate them. UNI
employees body found
No respite from
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