|N A T I O N|
Patnaik again meets Sonia
farm strategy on cards
|Hardwar issue still in focus
HARDWAR, Jan 17 The issue of exclusion of Hardwar and the inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar in the proposed Uttaranchal is still live here.
Hurriyat stays away from
blames Cong, UF
Patnaik again meets Sonia
NEW DELHI, Jan 17 (PTI) Orissa Chief Minister J.B. Patnaik today had a second meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the Anjana Mishra gangrape incident that posed a threat to his leadership.
Mr Patnaik, who reached the Capital on Friday after he was summoned by the party President to apprise her of the details of the incident, met her for the round of discussions this morning before returning to Bhubaneswar.
"I met Soniaji today because I had certain points to discuss with her," Mr Patnaik told PTI after his brief meeting.
He said he told Ms Gandhi about the notification issued by the state government appointing Mr Justice P.K. Mishra of Orissa High Court as the Commissioner of Inquiry to probe the Anjana Mishra incident and the progress made by the police in the case.
Yesterday, Mr Patnaik met Sonia Gandhi for about 30 minutes and gave a detailed appraisal of the situation after the incident. Mr Patnaik also attended the iftar hosted by the party President.
Meanwhile, dissident leaders, including some ministers camping in the Capital for the past one week demanding Mr Patnaiks removal, today dared the Chief Minister to initiate disciplinary action against them.
"Meeting the party President is not a crime, telling her about the party and the government is not a crime," they said.
They also challenged Mr Patnaik to take action against Orissa Pradesh Congress President for his statement that the Anjana Mishra incident had adversely affected the image of the party and the government.
They said it was their duty to draw the attention of the party high command to the happenings in the state and its impact on the party and the government with Assembly elections in the state barely a year ahead.
"It is up to the party high command to take a decision on the matter," they said adding "we have done our job."
However, Deputy Chief Minister Basant Kumar Biswal took serious exception to media reports that Mr Patnaik had reportedly levelled charges of corruption against him during his meeting with Congress President.
"Congress high command very well knows who is corrupt. She is also aware whether we are disciplined or not," Mr Biswal said.
Mr Biswal led a dissidents delegation to Ms Sonia Gandhi last week to brief her about the political situation in the state after the Anjana Mishra incident.
Meanwhile, a large number of activists of the BJPs youth wing today held a demonstration outside the Orissa Bhavan here demanding the dismissal of Orissa Chief Minister J.B. Patnaik in the wake of Anjana Mishra gangrape incident.
Organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the activists led by All-India vice president of the BJYM Mr Vijay Jolly marched for 2 km to the Orissa Bhavan raising slogans against the Congress.
In a memorandum addressed to Ms Sonia Gandhi, the BJYM alleged that there had been deterioration in law and order situation in Orissa and the Anjana Mishra incident was a "sad reflection on the state of women" in the state.
Though the Congress had announced 33 per cent reservation for women in the party, it had done nothing to safeguard the honour of women in Congress-ruled states in the country, the memorandum said.
It said the judicial inquiry ordered by the Congress leadership was a "mere eye-wash to buy time and divert public outcry on the subject".
The memorandum also demanded an unconditional apology from the Congress President to the victim and the nation on the issue.
CUTTACK: Anjana Mishra has roughly identified the area where she was allegedly gangraped on the night of January 9, according to official sources.
Anjana, who was taken to the area by the police and Crime Branch Inspector General of Police, Mr Indrajit Jachak yesterday, however, could not identify the exact spot near the Nuapatna village, stating that it was dark at the time.
Her journalist friend Sutanu Guru, prime witness, said he too could not locate the spot precisely as he was forced to remain inside the car, when the three accused persons raped Anjana.
But both of them identified the other spot where she was raped inside the car by one of the accused, who has since been arrested and identified by Anjana in a test identification parade at Chowdwar Circle jail.
New farm strategy on cards
NEW DELHI, Jan 17 The Agriculture Ministry has evolved a new strategy to increase production in the country that involves making various agricultural schemes more location and area specific.
Union Agriculture Secretary Kamal Pande told TNS that the bulk schemes floated by the Centre and the state governments had become outdated and there was a need to make these schemes location specific.
The new strategy had been discussed by the Centre with the various state governments and there was a general consensus on trying out the new strategy.
Making the scheme location specific would mean that the various intervention programmes of the government would be according to the requirements of a particular state and particular district.
For example, a state like Punjab where farming was based on irrigation would require focus on availability of fertilisers, seeds and storage facilities. However, in states dependent on rain-fed farming, their requirement would be different than that of Punjab.
Mr Pande said there had to be a regional differentiation when it came to implementing schemes and there had to be a workable plan for each part of the district. He pointed out that even a single farming land could have different requirements.
Another step being contemplated by the Agriculture Ministry was to allocate the budgetary resources to a specialised agency in a state instead of the state government.
With various state governments facing a resource crunch, there had been a tendency to divert the funds for agriculture activities to non-plan areas.
This was discussed at a meeting of State Agriculture Secretaries in the Capital last week and the states had agreed to the proposal.
Mr Pande said the state governments would be asked to designate an agency to receive the funds from the Centre for agriculture development. This would ensure that agriculture was not neglected.
The Agriculture Secretary said the new measures would help increase productivity of food crops in the country. Wasteland was another area where there was potential for farming.
Mr Pande said there were vast tracts of unused land and saline land which could be developed for agricultural purposes. These lands could be put into proper use by making water available in these areas with the help of a watershed development programme.
He said a second green revolution in the country was not possible under the existing circumstances and there was a need for genetically transformed plant varieties to increase yield.
Mr Pande disclosed that
the Ministry was ready with the Plant Variety Protection
Bill and the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Bill and
it was for the political leadership to decide the timing
of their introduction in Parliament.
From airman to Air Officer
NEW DELHI, Jan 17 Air Marshal Darshan Singh Basra, who has been appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the prestigious Southern Air Command, says that the determination and dedication he learnt as a young lad in Punjab helped him reach this pinnacle in the Indian Air Force.
It is primarily the rich spirit of Punjab which taught me that one can achieve anything if one sets his heart and soul on it, the Air Marshal told The Tribune in an exclusive interview.
Beginning his career as an engine fitter as a 17-year-old, Air Marshal Basra is one of the few officers to have reached the top echelons from the very bottom.
Recounting his days spent in the Air Force, Air Marshal Basra said, I was always interested in flying and had performed well in my school examinations. My family members were keen that I pursue a career in medicine but I thought otherwise and joined the Air Force, as an airman.
He has since kept his ambitions soaring in the sky by logging more than 3700 hours as a fighter pilot and has flown a variety of fighter aircraft, including MiG 21, MiG 23, MiG 25, Jaguar, Mirage and F-86 (Sabre).
After joining the Air Force in the ranks, Air Marshal Basra went on to distinguish himself sufficiently to be awarded a commission in 1962 and then rose steadily to become an Air Marshal. He has now been appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Air Command.
Air Marshal D S Basra was born in the village of Basrai of Gurdaspur district on August 20, 1940. His father, a traditional Jat farmer, stood proud in his village for his three sons were in the service of the country in the armed forces who had the rare distinction of fighting all three wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971.
The eldest son had fought in World War II and was a prisoner of war in Japan for three years. The family tradition continues as many of his nephews and nieces have joined the armed forces or the police.
My family background imbibed in me a strong sense of patriotism which led to my joining the services, he recollected.
Both the children of Air Marshal Basra are in the Services. His son Sqn Ldr H S Basra, a figther pilot with A2 instructors category flies the Mirage 2000 while his daughter, Capt Manpreet Basra, is a doctor in the Army Medical Corps.
I told my son to pursue the career of his choice but he opted for the Air Force and today he is a fighter pilot like me. It is a matter of pride, he said.
In his 36 years of commissioned service, Air Marshal Basra has served in important command and staff appointments. He received his initial combat training on T-33 and F-86 (Sabre) in the USA. He then graduated to become Pilot Attack Instructor and then Fighter Combat Leader.
Air Marshal Basra was the founder-member of Tactics and Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) and participated in the Indo-Pak war of 1971. He successfully undertook night strike operations deep inside enemy territory.
Air Marshal Basra has the rare distinction of commanding fighter squadron twice one equipped with the famous Gnat ac and next with the versatile MiG 21 ac on its inventory. He also commanded Air Force Station Bareilly with distinction. For his salutory service, he was decorated with the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Vayu Sena Medal.
His foreign assignments include deputation to Iraq as an instructor and graduation from Military College, Paris. He was instrumental in achieving excellent inter-service cooperation with the Army, first as TAC commander and then as AOC Advance HQ WAC.
The staff tenures of Air Marshal Basra have been as Air I as SWAC and CAC, as Deputy Director, DASI, and Director of Offensive Operations at Air HQs, Senior Air Staff Officer at EAC Shillong and Senior Air Staff Officer at WAC, New Delhi.
Air Marshal Basra prior to
his present appointment was SASO, Hq Western Air Command.
He will be replacing Air Marshal K. N, Nair who has
already taken over as the Air Officer
Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command. Air Marshal M
McMohan, who has taken over from Air Marshal Basra as
SASO WAC was earlier Assistant Chief of Air Staff
(Operations) at Air Headquarters. Air Vice-Marshal
Asthana will take his place. Prior to his present
appointment, Air Vice- Marshal Asthana was Air Officer
Commanding (AOC) Advance Headquarters at Chandimandir.
Hurriyat stays away from Iftar party
NEW DELHI, Jan 17 (PTI) The Hurriyat Conference has started maintaining distance from Pakistan with a majority of its leaders staying away from the Iftar party hosted by the Pakistani High Commission here, official sources said today.
The Iftar party, which was hosted by the High Commission on January 11, was attended by only one executive member of the conference Abdul Gani Lone and his close aide Peer Hafizullah Magdoomi, the sources said.
Political stalwart of the amalgam and its chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani also preferred to stay away from the party as the present Jamat chief G.M. Bhat had come to attend it.
Differences between the two cropped up when Geelani, considered a hardliner, publicly condemned Bhat, a moderate leader who was elected the Ameer last year, for dissociating his group from militancy.
Jamat sources have confirmed Geelani even faced a near revolt from the Majlese-Shoura (representative body of Jamat) for his criticism of party chief G.M. Bhat.
Even though a truce was announced between Geelani and Bhat, the sources wondered how long would the peace between two stalwarts continue as it would be hard for Geelani, to forget the insult.
Another top shot of the Hurriyat Executive and chief of JKLF Yaseen Malik has already locked horns with the Pakistan High Commission as the latter, according to the informed sources, had asked him to toe the Islamabad line for accession of the state to Pakistan.
Malik has refused to follow the dictates from the Pakistan High Commission and instead decided to plead the cause of independence of the state.
Former Chairman of the conference and influential religious leader of the valley, Moulvi Umer Farooq, is meanwhile, following his own line and trying to revive his party the Awami Action Committee across the state.
Umer, who recently returned from abroad, has conveyed to the Hurriyat leadership that the name of the organisation was no more saleable among the Kashmiri expatriates.
Umer, who was virtually thrown out of the chairmanship last year following his announcement of holding unconditional talks with the Centre, is reportedly unhappy with the present leadership.
Ever since Geelani took over reins from Umer, the Hurriyat Conference is finding few takers in the international fora leading to a financial crunch.
Official sources confirmed that the sympathisers in Britain, the USA and Canada are finding it difficult to manage funds from non-resident Kashmiris.
The sources said the
Hurriyat was not saleable now in the
international fora as it was in 1993. Because the donors
felt cheated as Hurriyat had hardly done anything other
than demanding plebiscite as instructed by
its mentors across the border.
Hardwar issue still in focus
HARDWAR, Jan 17 The issue of exclusion of Hardwar and the inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar in the proposed Uttaranchal is still live here.
Pro and anti merger lobbies have once again become active after the introduction of the Bill in the Lok Sabha. While the BJP is maintaining a low profile and is in a dilemma, the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Congress are vehemently opposing the inclusion of this holy town in the proposed hill state. The difficulties of the BJP have increased with divergent stands taken by the Kalyan Singh Government and the BJP leadership at the Centre. While the state government had recommended the exclusion of Hardwar from Uttaranchal, the Vajpayee Government, in the draft Bill, had recommended its inclusion. This has made matters worse for the party at the local level. It has also led to the erosion of BJP support amongst various akharas, maths and sadhu sampradas here. Party workers are no longer vocal on the issue of Hardwar.
But as far as the inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar is concerned, the party leadership is lobbying strongly for its inclusion in Uttaranchal. A strong lobby has been created by the BJP in the Dehra Dun, Rishikesh and Hardwar areas for the purpose.
Indications of strong BJP feelings were available at Rishikesh yesterday where Dr Romesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Development Minister for Uttaranchal in the Kalyan Singh Government strongly reiterated at a press conference that the hill people would not accept Uttaranchal without Udham Singh Nagar. He maintained that Udham Singh Nagar was an integral part of the new state. Dr Nishank said all bottlenecks in the creation of Uttaranchal had been removed and claimed that the new state would come into existence this year. Dr Nishank was evasive on the inclusion of Hardwar but said that historically and as per the Hindu religious traditions, Hardwar was also part of the proposed state. But the BJP state leadership seems to be acutely aware of the opposition by the Lok Tantrik Congress. Furthermore, the eroding base of the party amongst various social and religious organisations on the issue is also worrying its state leadership. That was why Dr Nishank and the BJP lobby chose to attack the Congress instead of facing the situation. The minister blamed the Congress for confounding the matter.
The BJP leadership in the holy town is finding it difficult to explain why the party does not have an uniform policy on the issue.
Meanwhile the Congress here has become active not only to highlight the failures of the state government on all fronts but also its dithering approach towards the inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar. The party organised a dharna in front of the residence of the District Collector to highlight the problems of people. It is is also holding a workers' training camp here in February which will be addressed, among others, by Mrs Sonia Gandhi.
Meanwhile, intense cold
has affected the flow of pilgrims and tourists here.
There were not many pilgrims who had a holy dip at
Har-ki-Pauri on Mauni Amavas today. This has adversely
affected the business community, the hotel industry,
rickshawallas and eating houses. Meanwhile, the Ganga
Mata Sewa Sansthan Trust has set up a home for the aged.
BJP blames Cong, UF
NEW DELHI, Jan 17 The BJP today blamed the previous Congress and United Front governments at the Centre for the present power crisis in the Capital saying they were controlling the Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking (DESU) till 1997.
Leader of the BJP group in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha, Mr Jagdish Mukhi, said the party would launch a dharna in front of the Vidhan Sabha from tomorrow to protest against the erratic power supply in the Capital.
Mr Mukhi said, The White Paper brought out by the Congress government headed by Ms Sheila Dikshit, in an attempt to shift the blame on the previous BJP administration, in fact reflected failure of the Congress and the United Front governments at the Centre which were controlling DESU before it was transferred to the state government in 1997.
He said the Delhi Vidyut
Board (DVB) which replaced DESU had shown better
performance in 1997-98 under the BJP rule as compared the
worst ever performance by the public sector
undertaking during 1995-96 under the Congress rule at the
Vaccine against dengue
NEW DELHI, Jan 17 (PTI) A Thai vaccine against dengue fever that protects against all four strains of dengue virus will enter large-scale multi-centric trials in Thailand its development claims.
The vaccine has cleared phase one and two trial for efficacy and safety and is ready for phase three multi-centric trials, Natth Bhamarapravati, Director of the Dengue Vaccine Development Project at Mahidol university in Thailand, said in a lecture at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) here.
The vaccine prepared from a non-lethal variety of the dengue virus has been found safe and effective. Bhamarapravati, a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert on vaccines for dengue and AIDS, said.
Besides India, which experienced a major outbreak recently, countries in south an south-east Asia, South America, Latin America, Africa and Australia are prone to dengue fever.
Though research on the vaccine started around two decades back, work was slow as the virus does not infect animals and testing could be done only in human volunteers, he said.
|Sexual harassment case:
MUMBAI: In a crucial judgement in a case of sexual harassment at workplace, an industrial court here has directed a company to pay Rs 40,000 to a female staffer for failing to protect her from being humiliated by her boss. Member of the Industrial Court R.U.Ingule, also directed the Steel Age Industries Ltd General Manager A.R.Gujar to pay Rs 10,000 as costs from his own purse to the victim, a telephone operator, for making sexual advances towards her because of which she suffered from hypertension. Holding the company and its officer guilty of unfair labour practice, the court quashed the order of October 27, 1995, transferring Anklesaria from corporate office to factory office. PTI
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