|Thursday, January 20, 2000,
BJP defers naming of candidates
PM to chair meeting on N-E
session to start on Feb 21
|15 children to get bravery awards
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 Twelve-year-old Harsh Shrivastava wasted no time thinking and simply flung himself in front of a raging bull who was about to gore a child by his powerful horns. His sister, 15-year-old Rashmi too did not think twice before she joined her brother in saving a life.
an office for Mamata
Misplaced fears deter organ donors
DSGMC poll on Feb 19: HC
Stress on police, prison reforms
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 (UNI) Law, Justice and Company Affairs Minister Ram Jethmalani today said the government would shortly announce the appointment of a multi-member committee to review the Constitution. Speaking at a function organised here to release a pocket-sized edition of the Constitution of India, he said that although the Constitution was a complete document in itself with little scope for further amendment, the government was going ahead with the appointment of a multi-member committee and it would be announced within a few days.
He said the Indian Constitution was the best in the current UN decade of human rights and outshone all other constitutions in upholding human rights. However, except two disgraceful amendments all other amendments were quite useful and in tune with time.
The pocket-sized edition of the Constitution comprises both Hindi and English languages and incorporates the latest amendment upto the Constitution (78th Amendment) Act, 1995. This is the first edition of its kind brought out by the Legislative Department of the Law Ministry and is considered as an achievement. The release of the edition also coincides with the completion of 50 years of the commencement of the Constitution.
Meanwhile Mr Jethmalani said he favoured the rotational system in the womens reservation Bill and was confident that the Bill would be passed in the Lok Sabha by a two-thirds majority.
Though the rotational system is not an ideal system it is better than any other that can be devised, he said and added that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Congress party were in agreement over the Bills passage in its present form.
Mr Jethmalani made these remarks during a discussion on Womens reservation bill : Relevance and repercussions held in the Capital last evening. Justifying the Bills introduction, he said a parliamentary committee consisting of 30 women MPs had deliberated and concluded that it should be drafted in its current form.
To arguments that reservation was not permissible under the Constitution, he clarified that the Constitution did recognise it for weaker sections of society which it enumerates as Scheduled Tribes/Scheduled Caste, women and children. He described reservation for these groups as a form of compensation for thousands of years of suppression and exploitation which had caused them permanent genetic damage.
Ms Jaya Jaitly, General Secretary of the Samata Party, felt not enough homework had been done on the Bill, either by those who favoured it or those opposing it. There was a feeling of pre-victory from both sides, she said, with the Bill supporters behaving as if its passage was a foregone conclusion and dissenters confident of blocking it when the time for consensus came.
Likening the rotational system to the dangerous game of Russian roulette, Ms Jaitly said even on the question of sub quotas women themselves were not in agreement.
Veteran Congress leader Vasant Sathe expressed reservations over the Bill seeing the light of day and instead recommended that its champions and lawyers should agree to sub-reservation Bill.
Mr Advani further said that a Bill for establishing competition authority empowered to deal with all issues relating to mergers and acquisitions will be introduced mid-way in the Budget session.
The Indian competition
law will be on the lines of yet-to-be established
competition law in Britain. It will ensure that
consumer will be the king in the market
rather than any corporate or shareholder or management.
GANGTOK, Jan 19 (PTI) The Sikkim Chief Secretary, Mr Sonam Wangdi, said today that Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, the reincarnate 17th Karmapa, is of Indian origin as the roots of the Kagyu lineage of Buddhism, which he heads, are entrenched in the country.
The roots of the Karma Kagyu lineage dates back to the 10th century in India. Historically, he has an Indian origin which has also been substantiated in an authentic book, Mr Wangdi said here.
If anybody challenges it, I can show the proof, he said.
Describing the 17th Karmapa as the same as the late 16th Karmapa in another form, Mr Wangdi said the 16th Karmapa had lived and was cremated in Rumtek monastery of Sikkim.
Asked whether by saying so he was favouring grant of asylum to the Karmapa, Mr Wangdi evaded a direct reply saying my favour or non-favour is not in consideration.
consideration should be to see that the national
interests are served by installing the Karmapa in the
Rumtek monastery which belongs to him legally,
religiously and morally, the Chief Secretary said.
RANCHI, Jan 19 (UNI) Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has finalised its candidates for the Assembly seats in South Bihar, it deferred announcing them as no consensus has been reached on the number of seats to be contested by the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Working on the formula sitting-getting, the BJP decided not to change its nominees for the 24 seats it represented in the present Assembly. The nominees for the remaining seats have also been finalised and would be announced soon, party sources said adding it was being delayed in order to avoid any friction in the NDA over the seat adjustment.
The BJP, according to sources, was in no mood to leave more than nine seats in South Bihar for its allies who have demanded at least 30 seats in the region. The constituencies likely to be left by the BJP for poll partners were Bhawanathpur, Panki, Daltonganj, Jharia and Bagodar for the Janata Dal (United), while Tamar (reserved), Baghmara, Latehar (reserved) and the Dumri seat for the Samata Party.
According to the JD(U) sources, candidates for the Assembly elections in south Bihar were Mr Inder Singh Namdhari (Daltonganj), Mr Giriwar Panday (Bhawanathpur), Mr Madhu Singh (Panki), Mr Bachha Singh (Jharia), and Mr Gautam Sagar Rana (Bagodar) while the Samata Party was likely to field Mr Ramesh Singh Munda (Tamar), Mr Jaleshwar Mahato (Baghmara), Mr Baljit Ram (Latehar) and Mr Lalchand Mahato (Dumri).
The Assembly elections would be held in two phases on February 12 and 17, respectively.
Meanwhile, the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief whip Nematullah has charged the BJP-led NDA with having failed to perform.
The non-performance of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government and its alleged failure to tackle the issues of public interest and national security would definitely have its echo at the hustings, he said today.
The RJD which stood for the states interest and secularism was bound to return to power, he claimed, adding that the people had by now realised that the NDA with its inherent contradiction was bound to disintegrate as even the Congress stood exposed in the state.
The alarming threat to national security and inflation were a few major issues on which the RJD planned to beat the opportunist BJP.
The RJD was out to wrest a majority and continue in power as there was no political alternative to it in Bihar, he added.
Criticising the Centre for its decision to privatise the airports, he said it would further open the country to international terrorism and interference of global players.
Mr Nemtaullah further
charged the BJP with having internationalised the Kashmir
issue to cover its alleged failure to govern the nation.
He also accused the Centre of having ignored the interest
of the minorities and the women.
chair meeting on N-E problems
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will chair a two-day meeting of the Chief Ministers and Governors at Shillong from January 21, on development-related issues of the region.
Financial position of the seven north-eastern states and its effect on the implementation of Plan scheme will be discussed and measures to reduce the non-Plan revenue expenditure will also be considered.
One of the major issues on the agenda is the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement regarding working of forest-based industries, felling of trees and strengthening of the state Forest Department, according to sources in the government today.
Another item on the agenda is the review of memorandam of understanding entered into with the Union Finance Ministry for fiscal discipline as well as streamlining the process of transfer of resources from central ministries which do not spend 10 per cent of their Budget in the North-East.
The state-wise action plan of the Power Ministry and a monitoring mechanism to avoid large-time and cost overruns noticed in the execution of power projects in the North-East will also be discussed.
The recommendations of the report of an inter-ministerial task force set up by the Commerce Ministry for trade on the border and inter-country trade will also be discussed, the sources said.
The meeting will make an assessment of the prevailing security scenario and the action plan to combat militancy.
The conference will also discuss the proposal of opening peace talks with militant groups pledging to abjure violence and expressing faith in the territorial integrity of India.
The Home Minister, Finance Minister, Defence Minister, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Minister of State (Water Resources) and Minister of State (Youth and Culture) will participate in the conference.
Senior officials from
the Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance, Environment
and Forests, Power, Water Resources, Information
Technology, Commerce, Health, Civil Aviation, Railway
Board and Home will attend the meeting.
GUWAHATI, Jan 19 (PTI) ULFA militants struck early this morning exploding a powerful bomb which derailed 10 coal-laden bogies of a goods train in Upper Assam on the eve of the Prime Ministers visit to the state tomorrow.
A powerful improvised explosive device (IED), attached to the tracks, exploded causing 10 bogies of the Haryana-bound train to jump rails at a place between Golghat and Karbi Anglong districts, about 277 km from here, disrupting rail traffic between Assam and Delhi, an Northern Frontier Railway spokesperson told PTI here.
No loss of life or injury was reported and the driver and guard of the train proceeding from Ledo colliery in Tinsukia district to Hasra in Haryana were unhurt in the explosion that caused a two-metre wide and one metre deep crater, sources said.
Rail link between Upper and Lower Assam was also cut off as a major portion of the broadgauge tracks under the Tinsukia section of the N-F Railway was damaged in the blast.
PATNA, Jan 19 (PTI) AICC observer for the Bihar Assembly poll, Motilal Vora, today denied reports that Congress President Sonia Gandhi held talks with JMM(S) leaders for an alliance in South Bihar and declared that his party would have no truck with RJD for government formation in the event of a hung assembly.
The Congress forging an alliance with the JMM (S) is completely ruled out. We have nearly finalised the list of our candidates for all 324 Assembly seats, Mr Vora, who was here to scrutinise the list of his partys nominees, told PTI.
He said reports of Mrs Gandhi holding consultations with JMM(S) leaders for electoral understanding in South Bihar were wrong and absurd.
Mr Vora said AICC General Secretary Mohsina Kidwai, in charge of the partys Bihar affairs, had repeatedly made it clear that the Congress would contest the Assembly elections on its own strength without exploring any alliance.
He said the party would prefer to play the role of a constructive opposition if it failed to secure a majority.
On whether the Congress would support the RJD in government formation in the case of a fractured mandate, Mr Vora said No, we have already discontinued our relationship with the RJD. Discontinuation means our friendship has ended for all time to come.
On whether his party would explore the possibility of forming a non-BJP or non-RJD government in Bihar in case of a hung assembly, Mr Vora said all such things would depend on the situation at that time.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Soren) also ruled out the possibility of its aligning with the Congress for the assembly elections in Bihar.
Talking to UNI here, JMM (Soren) president Shibu Soren contradicted reports, published in a section of the Press that he had talked to the AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, regarding a poll alliance.
Neither had any talk with the Congress been held nor had they been approached by the Congress, he said.
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 (PTI) Twelve-year-old Harsh Shrivastava wasted no time thinking and simply flung himself in front of a raging bull who was about to gore a child by his powerful horns. His sister, 15-year-old Rashmi too did not think twice before she joined her brother in saving a life.
No, these are not trainee matadors, but ordinary children who have been awarded the Bapu Gayadhani and Geeta Chopra awards, respectively, for showing exemplary courage.
Harsh and Rashmi, along with 13 other children, would have their dreams come true having the privilege of riding on bedecked elephants on Rajpath on Republic Day.
While Rashmi wants to be a doctor, her brother shakes his head violently to signal an emphatic no when asked if he wants to be a doctor or engineer. I want to be a fighter pilot or a Lieutenant, the seventh standard student from Gwalior says.
R. Kuppuraman, who earned his award by saving three girls from drowning in an overflowing river at his village in Pondicherry, is finding everything about Delhi and his first trip outside home great, except for the wretched cold.
Of the 15 awardees, the only child missing is Rupesh Mansukhlal Punjani, who was killed while trying to foil a robbery attempt at his house in Ghatkopar in Mumbai.
Rupesh was stabbed in the chest and abdomen as he grappled with robbers who broke into his home and were trying to loot his sister Divyas ear-rings in the wee hours of August 1, 1998. The fearless child succumbed to his injuries and has been awarded the prestigious Sanjay Chopra Award.
Another Bapu Gayadhani awardee, Jitendra Kumar Sharma (15), showed remarkable presence of mind and bravery when he saved the jewelled crown of the deity of Kalyanji Temple at Diggi in Tonk district of Rajasthan from robbers.
Jitendra not only grabbed the crown and clung on to it but also snatched a revolver from one of the miscreants. He was hit by a bullet in his back, but did not let go of the gun and the crown till help came.
Yumnam Jayadev Singh (11), a class sixth student and avid martial arts exponent, flung himself in a gushing river and saved a three-year-old child from drowning in the Nambol river at Bishnupur district of Manipur.
In all, 15 children, including five girls, have been conferred the prestigious National Bravery Awards for Children for 1999.
These children will get their awards from the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, on January 24 and participate in the Republic Day parade riding atop caparisoned elephants.
The other recipients are Pisli Suting (Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya), S. Suguna and S. Kavitha (Vellore, Tamil Nadu), Nem Chand Nirmalkar (Durg, Madhya Pradesh), Ayswarya SR and Sreejesh SR (Thiruvananthapuram), Kartikeya S. Jain (Bhopal) and Gisha John (Kollam, Kerala).
The awardees will receive a silver medal, a certificate besides a cash award and would be granted financial assistance until they complete their schooling.
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 (INFA) The Budget session of the Parliament will start on February 21 and last till May-end.
The budget for the year 2000-2001 will be presented on February 29 as usual on the last day of the month as per the practice.
A proposal to present the Budget in mid-March this year has been dropped by the government, which has cleared the proposed dates for the start of the session and the presentation of the Budget.
One of the most controversial Bills, the Womens Reservation Bill, is proposed to be taken up during the Budget session. The Bill was introduced in the last winter session.
office for Mamata
CALCUTTA: Congestion, overcrowding and traffic bottlenecks, which are inherent in Charnocks city of Calcutta, have now invaded the Marxist citadel of Writers Buildings the State Governments headquarters where over four dozen Ministers, 200 bureaucrats (IAS, IPS and state services) and some hundred thousand odd employees have huddled together for their existence though Writers Buildings can at best accommodate about 80,000 people.
To handle the acute accommodation problem in Writers Buildings, Mr Jyoti Basu for some time past, tried to shift certain departments and their ministers to the nearby Salt Lake City. But he failed in his efforts. Neither his Cabinet colleagues nor the employees (most of them belonging to the CPM controlled union) were willing to get themselves shifted from this so-called prestigious power block.
And so they stayed back in the highly congested, crowded and suffocating office premises. No matter, if they do not have a proper place to sit in (unbelievable may be but still certain Ministers and senior bureaucrats now sit inside toilet areas and makeshift rooms in the corridors and small open spaces in between two chambers); no matter, if they have to commute in the overcrowded buses and trams to attend their duties. All these hardly matter to them.
They are happy that they remain near the citadel of power. They feel proud that they work at Writers Buildings which still carry the historic reminiscences of the British Raj and the countrys freedom struggle.
* * *
To the Union Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, an office accommodation is not of any problem. The Railway Board and the Ministry officials wanted that she should have a modern well-furnished and decorated office chamber while she is in the city. (Being a Calcuttan, she has been a frequent visitor to the city from the Capital). This would help her as well as the Ministry officials to function properly. Accordingly, the board planned to set up a separate office for her in the Eastern Railways headquarters at Calcuttas Fairle Place. An alternative place was also suggested at the circular station premises near Outram Ghat on the bank of the Ganga.
But Mamata as she is, rejected the idea as she thought that this would distance her from hundreds of common men and women of her constituency who still had easy access to their didi. After all, the official restriction and decorum would certainly be an impediment for easy access to the Minister. Mamata says she could sacrifice ministerial comforts and luxuries at the cost of her people who love her so much.
The Railway Minister now attends her office at her own place in the overcrowded locality near Kali temple in south Calcutta. In front of her hut (where she lives since early days), a makeshift office premises has been built with tarpaulin for the countrys Railway Minister. While she is in town Railway Board officials, general managers and senior officials are often summoned there to hold meetings with the Minister.
* * *
Come winter and Calcuttas Maidan is spruced up for holding melas and exhibitions. Every year, with the advent of winter, different associations and organisations come forward to hold gala festivals in the spacious open-air maidan. And this year also, there has been no exception.
The Calcutta police chief, who sanctions permission to private organisations to use the maidan premises, has a hard time to accommodate various associations as per their respective demands. But obviously, preference goes to government-sponsored functions and other well-known organisations which hold melas and fairs every year.
But people are still
eagerly waiting for the annual Book Fair at the Maidan,
which has now become an international affair. Like every
year, the Calcutta book fair this time also will have
some added attraction. But the organisers are not willing
to disclose at this point of time what the added
attractions are. They say they are trying to bring Nobel
Laureate Gunder Grass to inaugurate the fair. They tried
to bring Prof Amartya Sen, but Amartya will not be
available as he already has prior engagement.
BHUBANESWAR, Jan 19 (PTI) The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), BJPs poll ally in Orissa, which had earlier staked claim to 122 of the 147 seats for the ensuing Assembly elections in the state, has lowered its demand to 100 seats.
A decision to this effect was taken after a BJD steering committee meeting held here yesterday, party sources said today.
All five members of the committee comprising the political affairs committee Chairman Mr Bijay Mohapatra, the working President, Mr Nalinikant Mohanty, the Vice-President, Mr A.U. Singhdeo, the Secretary-General, Mr Prasanna Kumar Acharya, and senior leader, Mr Ramakrushna Patnaik, attended the meeting.
The sources said the steering committee felt that although the party was eligible to contest on 122 seats on the basis of its strength, it was prepared to negotiate with the BJP in 22 seats. But it would not negotiate on the rest 100 seats, they said.
The climb down by the BJD is significant in view of the demand of the state BJP leadership for 50 per cent of the seats.
Some BJP leaders were stated to have started an exercise for fielding candidates in all 147 constituencies in case the seat-sharing talks between the two parties, which are yet to commence formally, did not materialise.
A resolution adopted at the steering committee meeting said the BJD would not allow its alliance with the saffron party to break down under any circumstances.
The people of the state were anxious to install the BJP-BJD combine in power after the elections and any step detrimental to the alliance would be against the interests of the people, it said.
The steering committee,
which also took stock of the political situation in the
state, felt that the people had unequivocally accepted
the BJD President Naveen Patnaik as Orissas future
Chief Minister, the resolution said, adding the party
would work unitedly in that direction.
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 (UNI) Despite having the medical expertise and technological know-how in the field of liver transplantation, 60,000 people die every year in the country due to liver failure.
This was pointed out at an open house on Organ Donation and Liver Transplant organised in the Capital today by the Liver Support Group. Although recent advances and successes of liver transplantation in India have brought new hope to those suffering from terminal liver failure, there was an alarming and ever growing disparity in the demand and availability of livers for transplantation, said Dr A.S. Soin of the Liver Support Group.
Dr M.R. Rajasekar said the lack of awareness on the concept of brain death and organ donation, both among the public and doctors, has given rise to unfounded fears about donation and procedural hurdles in procuring organs from medico-legal cases. These, he stressed, have emerged as the key issues resulting in the acute donor liver shortage.
Relating such an instance of bureaucratic hurdle, Mr Manish Sharma spoke of the trauma his family underwent with the recent demise of his brother, Rajat, in an accident. The family showed exemplary courage and altruistic spirit in the face of this tragedy by agreeing to donate Rajats organs to save other lives. But tragically, the obstacles in the system prevented organ retrieval and the familys efforts proved fruitless, he said.
Participants at the open
house stressed the role of awareness on organ donation in
saving thousands of lives. Rani Jethmalani, a lawyer,
herself a liver transplant recipient, spoke about the
legal perspective of organ donation.
poll on Feb 19: HC
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 Annual elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) will be held on February 19 under the supervision of a three-member panel headed by Justice Jaspal Singh (retd) following a Delhi High Court order today.
Justice C.M. Nayar, ordering fresh elections to the DSGMC, allowed the present executive headed by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna to continue in office till the elections.
The other two members of the supervisory committee are Advocate Mr D.D. Singh and the Delhi High Court Deputy Registrar Mr D.K. Batra.
The court order came on a writ petition filed by president of the Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) Mr Avtar Singh Hit and 24 other members of the DSGMC electoral college following last years controversial election to the executive.
Mr Avtar Singh had alleged that election of the present executive on May 12 last year, was illegal as the office-bearers got themselves installed at an unauthorised meeting as the then DSGMC president, Mr Jaswant Singh Sethi, had adjourned the official meeting due to violence during the poll.
However, the existing executive president Mr Sarna had claimed that the election was held according to the DSGMC Act as the then outgoing senior vice-president had taken over as presiding officer after the president had walked away.
Mr Avtar Singh and his supporters sought re-election to the executive committee under an independent observer saying the executive committee constituted by the Sarna group was illegal.
However, Mr Sarna had claimed that the new executive under his presidentship was constituted after proper elections by the DSGMC members.
The court, however, refused to grant stay on the functioning of the DSGMC executive committee under Mr Sarna at this stage and appoint an administrator in its place.
Mr Avtar Singh and his
supporters, in a plea, alleged that the Sarna group,
which was not sure of victory in the executive elections,
disrupted the DSGMC meeting called by its president Mr
Jaswant Singh Sethi on May 12.
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 (UNI) National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairperson Justice J.S. Verma has urged the Chief Justices and the states Chief Ministers to make vigorous efforts for prison and police reforms in the country in the new millennium.
Justice Verma emphasised the importance and need to make every effort to improve our human rights record as it is the acknowledged index of civilisation in the international community. He also called upon the chairpersons of all existing 11 state human rights commissions asking them to rededicate themselves to the uplift of the common man and for developing a human culture in every sphere of life and instruments of governance.
In a letter to Chief Ministers recently, the NHRC Chairperson said in spite of the human rights cells being set up at various police headquarters there has not been any significant decline in genuine complaints of human rights violations committed by the police. There can be no serious dispute over the need to improve the mindset of the police personnel wielding power and authority and thereby the perception necessary for the appropriate human rights culture which is people-friendly.
These cells were set up in March, 1999, on the recommendation of the NHRC with the main objective of providing in-house machinery to supervise the conduct of police personnel and prevent any violation of human rights of people by the police itself which was meant to be people-friendly.
He also stressed the need for strict observance of the guidelines on police arrests framed by the NHRC recently as It would prevent human rights violations in a large area which was a daily police function.
In his letter to the Chief Justices, the NHRC Chairperson asked them to give appropriate instructions to district and session judges to take necessary steps to resolve the acute problem of overcrowding in prisons and long pendency of cases.
During the past five years, members and officials of the NHRC have visited prisons in various parts of the country and have been appalled by overcrowding, insanitary conditions and mismanagement of prison administration, the former Chief Justice pointed out and said the problem was further compounded by lack of sensitivity on the part of prison staff to the basic human rights of the prisoners.
In most of the jails there was predominance of undertrials, he said and added that many of them had committed petty offence and were languishing in jails as their cases were not being decided early for reasons which it is not necessary to reiterate.
In addition, the
supreme court specifically directed that the district and
sessions judges must visit prisons as part of their duty
and an essential function attached to their office. They
should make expeditious inquiries into the grievances of
the prisoners and take suitable corrective
The highs and lows of film
NEW DELHI, Jan 19 The most striking feature of Indias film festivals, as they are held year after year with a heavy dose of officiousness, is that they have become a mindless routine, both for the organisers and the cine buffs who flock to watch the films. There seems little scope to give IFFI a new look. IFFI 2000, touted repeatedly as the first cine bonanza of the millennium in the world, was no different.
But for a dozen films in the Cinema of the World section, the festival would have been a let down. Istvan Szabos Sunshine (Hungry), Carlos Sauras Tango (Spain), Majid Majids The Colour of Paradise (Iran), Fernando Prerezs Life is to Whistle (Cuba) were the films that could be rated of festival quality. A package of Spanish film maker Pedro Almodovars four films was a bonus and so were Chinese director Kaiges three films. Interestingly, Italian maestro Roberto Rossellinis retrospective had few takers simply because the delegates were already much too familiar with the avatar of neo-realist cinema and the choice fell on something different and new.
As against a total of 200 films screened in all, several films of course were of good quality, but that was a small satisfaction in a festival claiming international status. Hundreds of delegates, who descended the festival venue, expected films of world-class quality, but when one good film was followed by half a dozen fillers the disappointment was palpable. The mode of clubbing a small number of good with a large number of bad ones has been followed with such fidelity that today it stands out as the hallmark of all festivals. Obviously, the directorate of film festivals either does not have the resources or the intent to break away from this practice.
The Indian Panorama this year had a variety to offer. Such big names as Girish Karnad, Amol Palekar, Jahnu Barua, Shyam Benegal, Jabbar Patel, Rituparno Gosh and Aparna Sen had their latest films in this section. Of these Benegals Samar, Jabbar Patels Babasaheb Ambedkar grappled with the caste virus infecting the Indian society. In spite of Benegals masterly touches, it was Jabbar Patels epic bio-film that looked more sincere and thus proved more effective.
Of the rest, in spite of their competent handing of themes, it appeared that the film makers from Assam and Bengal had nothing new to offer. Their style looked familiar and the choice of themes limited. The question is: arent these directors, who have won laurels at the international festival circuit, ensnared by their own stereotypes? Is Indian reality so static as they seem to be portraying? To make a good film is different from attempting to chart out new complexities.
Most of the renowned directors refuse to come out of the closet of realism they set out to portray decades ago. The Punjabi film in the panorama Saheed Uddham Singh was a real letdown. The bid to cash in on a martyrs life by making a loud and low-quality film is baffling. It woefully speaks of the status of Punjabi cinema today. The films inclusion in the panorama has been counter productive.
Though the Asian competition gave IFFI 2000 a regional touch, but as Saumitra Chatterji, the doyen of Bengali cinema, pointed out in his inaugural address: Why cant we look beyond what we have been doing so long? Chatterji spoke of the need to give the competition section a larger scope and demanded that IFFI now should think of including in the section the entire third world cinema.
That takes us to the question of the government as the agency to hold a film festival. Why cant the festival be privatised as is the case with festivals elsewhere? Many speakers at the Open Forum spoke of the pitfalls in both approaches. The question thus remained unanswered. One point was put across, as it had been done during previous years: Why a Chal Chitra Akademi on the pattern of Sahitya Akademi, envisaged long ago, is not being set up to look after the format and design of the film festivals?
As in the previous years, there was a discussion on the roving nature of the IFFI. Why cant Indias film festivals have a permanent venue?
In spite of the usual
hiccups, and being another routine affair, IFFI 2000, had
dozens of films personalities from India and abroad and
hundreds of young film students, cine buffs, technicians,
for whom viewing films is not a mere addiction or a
source of livelihood. For them cinema is their life
blood. Any kind of film festival is a boon for them. The
future of Indian cinema also belongs to them.
exquisite love triangle
THE high percentage of good films continue to satiate audiences at IFFI 2000 and Spanish filmmaker Carlos Sauras Tango was a treat. I remember his Carmen in the early 1980s, and what a winner it was! The music, the dance, the romance and, finally, the tragedy.
His Tango is also brilliant but may be a wee shade less powerful. It deals with a love triangle and dance expert being asked to train mafia boss Angelos girlfriend Elena to be a dancer. But in the process of teaching, he falls madly in love with the young girl. It is age versus youth and the Damocles sword of the mafia boss hangs above. Who will win the girl?
Against this backdrop, Suara displays all his exuberance and guile in dealing with the dance form. The dancers are expertly picked and they evoke sexiness and guile in equal proportion. May be the dance aspect is a bit overdone, but the love triangle is exquisitely handled. And just as one gets to the crux of the triangle, there is a red herring which gives the film its dramatic, if pleasingly unexpected, ending.
That Saura is known for his adept handling of musical themes is only too well known and with Bertoluccis cinematographer Vittorio Storaro handling the camera, it is a virtual delight. That sequence in which the lady stands on the gents shoe is particularly delightful. Lalo Schifrins music is also delightful giving the film the flow it so richly deserves.
Jasmin Dizdars Beautiful People is also a stunning film about what is being called the Bosnia syndrome. They say identifying with the action you become the victim and the victim becomes you, but that is an exaggeration. A Croat and Serb, originally from the same village, but sworn enemies meet by chance in a London bus and start a fight. They land in neighbouring beds of a hospital. But it is the troubled lives of four other British families that are graphically captured and there are some very touching encounters.
Ganesan get NTR Award
Ultras kill 3 in
10 kg of heroin
Five of family
23 huts set on
CBI to probe
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