|Saturday, January 22, 2000,
appeals to EC against BJP govt
Seat-sharing formula eludes NDA
Minor raped; 6 of family commit
New battle doctrine being evolved
TN to file plea against Jaya
Bill on information in Budget
Experts hail new panel on 84
India tests fire
and forget system
Work on ADS to start soon
Punjabs literacy rate low:
CBSE defers gradation system
Govt greetings on having baby girl
Congress appeals to EC against BJP government
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 (UNI) The Congress today appealed to the Election Commission to suo motu take cognizance of the blatant misuse of official machinery and serious violation of the model code of conduct on the eve of Assembly elections to four states by the BJP-led government at the Centre through official advertisements on the 100 days of its completion.
It is unfortunate that the government is misleading the people through these advertisements while it has bungled on several fronts, AICC Secretary and spokesperson Anil Shastri said.
Mr Shastri said terrorism continued unabated and the security forces were regularly targeted. The hijacking of Indian Airlines plane and the release of militants was a reflection of the governments all-round failure and the government had miserably failed on security, foreign policy, civil aviation safety and fight against terrorism, he said.
Saffronisation of bureaucracy in the laboratory state of Gujarat had led to suspicions on the neutrality and fairness of the civil services, he said.
Mr Shastri said the bungling of the government was also seen in the unwarranted breach of Constitutional rights to freedom of religion and worship. The central and state policies on Jammu and Kashmir had proved to be a disaster leading to the alienation of people, he said.
The tourism sector had been handled unprofessionally, he said. Basic airport management had been undermined and disinvestment of public sector units had been resorted to with far-reaching implications, he said.
Mr Shastri regretted that there was no response from the government to Congress President Sonia Gandhis appeal to bring a Constitutional Amendment to provide reservation in promotions for members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.The silence of the government was surprising, he said and demanded a categorical assurance from the government that the amendment would be brought about during the next session of Parliament.
He said the process of finalising the party candidates for the Assembly elections was on and further lists would be released shortly.The party president had desired that at least 90 per cent of the selection process should be done at the states. Cases of dispute only should come to the Centre for a decision, he said.
Seat-sharing formula eludes
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 A seat-sharing formula in Bihar continued to elude the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with the Janata Dal (United) refusing to contest as a junior partner in the State.
The BJP has taken the initiative end the impasse but sharp differences between the JD (U) and the Samata Party have stalled any agreement and the finalisation of list of candidates.
Apart from Bihar, the BJP was hopeful that it would also come to an understanding with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana and the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa over seat-sharing in the respective states.
The BJP central election committee, which has been unable to finalise its list of candidates for the forthcoming assembly elections, will meet on January 27 to finalise the list. The party released the names of 25 candidates for the Manipur Assembly elections today as it is going on its own in the state.
For Bihar, three rounds of talks have already been held between the three parties and a crucial fourth round between the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K.Advani, on behalf of the BJP and the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, on behalf of the Samata was postponed as the two leaders had to go to the North-East to be with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Samata Party sources said they had come to an understanding with the BJP that it should contest 156 assembly seats, the Samata 108 and the Janata Dal (United) 42.
This formula is, however, not agreeable to the JD (U) as it is demanding that it be given a higher number of seats keeping with its performance in the 1995 assembly poll in the state.
The JD (U) General Secretary, Mr M.Raghupathy, toughened the partys stand on Bihar today when he told newspersons that they had identified 150 seats for the party.
He made it clear that the JD (U)s strength was second to none in Bihar and nobody should try to undermine it.
The BJP was, however, hopeful that a solution would emerge with the party Vice President, Mr Jana Krishnamurthi, maintaining that talks on seat-sharing had been proceeding and they would continue after the return of Mr Advani and Mr Fernandes from the North-East.
The episode involving the de-recognition of Samata Partys top brass as its office-bearers also cast its shadow on the JD (U)-Samata relations with Mr Nitish Kumar charging the JD (U) leaders with betrayal.
However, there were still rays of hope that all was not lost when Mr Kumar to a question on the fate of seat adjustment talks in Bihar said the Samata Party was still serious on going ahead with the exercise to avoid anti-Laloo split in the votes in Bihar.
Minor raped; 6 of family
JAIPUR, Jan 21 In a heart-rending incident, all six members of a family in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan committed suicide together.
According to the information reaching here, a 15-year-old minor girl in the suicide pact had become pregnant after she was raped by a family employee, Vijai Singh, alias Birju Singh, some time ago. Birju Singh was employed by the family as a driver.
Police sources say the incident took place in Jabasar village where Tejaram (40), his wife Gayatri (40), elder daughter (15), younger daughter Suman (13), son Manoj (11) and the youngest daughter Sunita (5), were found dead on Thursday morning in their house. All these persons are reported to have consumed pesticide tablets together.
A suicide note left by the head of the family, Tejaram, said the person responsible for their death was Birju Singh, who raped Sulochna resulting in her pregnancy. All of us, therefore, are committing suicide to save ourselves from dishonour and defame. The post-mortem report confirmed that the girl who was raped was three months pregnant.
New battle doctrine being
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 Gearing up to meet battlefield requirements of the 21st century calling for lightning thrusts through the enemys frontline defences with simultaneous assaults at his rear echelons the forces are evolving an air-land battle doctrine.
Under Exercise Brahmastra, a closed-door wargaming meet, the top brass from all three services, including the service chiefs, will be congregating for a brain storming session scheduled to be held in mid-April.
The exercise had earlier been scheduled to be held in May, 1999, but was postponed due to the Kargil crisis. Though the IAF and the Army had carried out coordinated strikes in the mountainous terrain during the conflict, the role of the Air Force had been to carry out pre-assault strike operations to neutralise targets directly facing the Army.
The concept of the air-land battle (ALB) is applicable to plains and deserts, where a highly mechanised thrust into enemy territory is undertaken by land forces, with the Air Force striking simultaneously at the enemys second echelon.
The primary role in an ALB is that of the Army and the Air Force, while naval forces are kept in a standby mode in case the conflict extends beyond the intended battle zone, an officer said.
The ALB concept revolves around complete integration of a multi-squadron air formation with a field army to carry out decisive strikes within a designated geographical theatre.
The massive Army-IAF joint exercise, Shiv Shakti, held in the deserts of Rajasthan during the winter of 1998 was a prelude to this doctrine and some of the concepts tried out then are being analysed and given a final shape. The Army Training Command and the Air War Strategy Cell are reportedly engaged in the formation of the doctrine.
The doctrine comes in the backdrop of military planners envisioning that future wars in the region would be short and intensive and would require lightning strikes and thrusts through enemy defences rather than first launching pre-ground assault air campaigns to soften the enemy as was in the case of Operation Desert Storm or the Kosovo crisis.
Air and ground assaults will have to be simultaneous, crippling the enemys military infrastructure with a triple hammer blow before he realises what has hit him and leaving him with no means to launch a counterattack, a source commented. This would result in deep airstrikes, disrupting the enemys middle and rear echelons, leaving advancing ground troops to mop up the isolated front echelon.
Crippling the enemy war machine and capturing as much enemy territory in the early stages of war would be vital not only to attain an upper hand in the conflict and also to negotiate from a position of strength.
In this light, sources said, a single service is not enough to determine the course of the battle and herein lies the need to integrate two or more services to carry out a synchronised assault, requiring corps-level or more ground forces along with the requisite air or naval forces.
This build-up would include the use of long range precision weapons like missiles and rockets backed up with advanced surveillance equipment, including satellites and remotely piloted vehicles which can provide real time intelligence.
Deep penetration strike weapon systems in the inventory of the services such as the Mirage 2000s, Su-30s, Jaguars, SMERSH rockets, Prithvi and possibly the Agni as well as the availability of satellite imagery and data inputs from RVPs and strategic reconnaissance aircraft make it possible to adopt this doctrine. An added factor is the raising of artillery divisions to make requisite firepower available to the land forces.
futuristic doctrines or possessing requisite hardware,
certain key gaps need to be redressed. Sources say that
at present the forces do not have the capability to
strike effectively beyond the enemys second echelon
as the IAF is yet to obtain in-flight refuelling
capability and there are only a limited number of Prithvi
launchers in service. Nor is airborne surveillance
capability available. A key weakness, which the Army has
conceded, is tactical communication as well as greater
use of non-conventional and revolutionary means of waging
war like information warfare or advanced battlefield
command and control.
Bill on information in Budget session
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 (PTI) The much-awaited Bill providing right to information to citizens and diluting the effect of the Official Secrets Act has been finalised and will be presented in the Budget session of Parliament, Law Minister Ram Jethmalani said here today.
"The Freedom of Information Bill, 1999 has been cleared by the group of ministers, headed by Home Minister L.K. Advani, and will be presented in the Budget session of Parliament," Mr Jethmalani said inaugurating a seminar here today.
"The prominent feature of the Bill is that it not only guarantees the right to have oral information on an official record or to look at them but even to get the certified copy of the same," Mr Jethmalani said.
He said the "hated piece of law" the Official Secrets Act would stand "repealed" wherever and whenever it tampered with the freedom of information.
"The most satisfying thing for me is that the Bill seeks to ensure freedom of information for all citizens through a written application," he added.
The Bill also included an eight-point charter of exemptions under which the Act would be infructuous, he said.
The Bill also includes "statutory obligation" that every "public authority" will have to appoint public information officers to "deal with the request for information and shall render assistance to a citizens in drafting their applications to acquire the information".
Mr Jethmalani said there would be an "appellant authority" to oversee the proper implementation of the Act and ensure that there was no denial of the right which again would be subject to judicial review in high courts and the Supreme Court.
He said bringing in the legislation was part of the ruling coalitions manifesto.
Lashing out at the
previous governments for allowing the "much hated
piece of law and a colonial legacy to continue", he
said the country should have woken up in 1966 when
American Congress passed the Right to Information Bill.
Experts hail new panel on 84 riots
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 (UNI) Legal experts have welcomed the Centres proposal for a new commission to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots afresh on human rights grounds but echoed Congress uncertainty about conviction in the light of "reproducing the time-worn evidence".
Retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Kuldip Singh said he welcomed fresh investigations into the riots even after 15 years of their occurrence. The carnage warranted a fresh high-level inquiry, he said.
Asked if the proposed commission would serve justice now, 15 years later, he said, "time is immaterial insofar as human rights violations are concerned".
He cited former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochets case to substantiate his point. The 84-year-old General was still facing the wrath of several governments and human rights groups. Spain, France, Switzerland and Belgium all have extradition requests for General Pinochet, who they want to put on trial for human rights abuses during his 1973-1990 dictatorship.
Delhi Finance Minister Mahinder Singh Sathi said the move to appoint a new commission was a "futile" exercise. "The evidence has collapsed during these 15 years," he added.
Former MP and Congress loyalist H.S. Hanspal, who is also president of the Namdhari Darbar, termed the proposal "old hat". He said he seriously doubted if it would lead to any substantial convictions.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), however, has thanked the Vajpayee government for its proposal.
"The Akalis, who are allies of the BJP-led government, supported the move blindly instead of making a prudent assessment of its range. They did not bother to know whether it contained the element of reproducing evidence now. Also, the Sikh leaders should have shown a responsible attitude towards the community by demanding lifelong protection and other securities for key witnesses and victims in the riots," Mr Hanspal said.
Therefore, despite the fact that the proposed commission contained a little wider terms of reference it was unlikely the inquiry would bring forth "substantial convictions" as it misses out on the element of evidence reproduction, he added.
Senior advocate of the Supreme Court Harvinder Singh Phoolka who otherwise supports the new commission echoed the contention of Mr Sathi and Mr Hanspal that a 15-year delay in justice would greatly reduce the future chances of conviction. But the lawyer held that the proposed terms of reference guaranteed "considerable indictments."
"I agree that delay
is fatal in criminal cases and it will be very, very
difficult to achieve convictions in 1984 riots now. But
the design of the proposed commission warrants inquiry
into the totality of the circumstances that led to the
violence, and in this very respect it would be different
from the Mishra Commission that chiefly aimed at probing
if the crime was organised or not," Mr Phoolka said.
India tests fire and forget system
HYDERABAD, Jan 21 (UNI) In a technological breakthrough, Indian defence scientists have successfully tested the fire and forget guidance system, using imaging infra red seeker for mounting on "Nag", to make it the first third generation anti-tank missile in the world.
This was disclosed by Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Controller (R and D) Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), while delivering the "Biren Roy Trust lecture on advances in missile technology" organised to coincide with the 51st annual general body meeting of the Aeronautical Society of India.
He said Nag would be
provided with a specially embedded system for hunting
targets in day and night and later it would be
miniaturised in tandem with warfare technology to make
the weapon more deadlier and accurate.
Work on ADS to start soon
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 Work on Air Defence Ship (ADS) and stealth frigate will start this year and it will be part of Indian Navys indigenous technological drive towards blue water capabilities.
Rear Admiral S.C.S. Bangara, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Operations), briefing newsmen here said, "The work of building an Air Defence Ship will commence soon in Kochi." He said the induction time of the Ship would be eight years.
He was briefing reporters about the Navys participating elements in this years Republic Day parade during which a contingent of the Elite Marine Commands (Marcos) will also march down the Rajpath for the first time.
The stealth frigate, to be built at Mazgaon Docks in Mumbai, will need four to five years for induction, he said. The project was expected to start by the end of this year, he disclosed.
At present, the Indian Navy has only one aircraft carrier INS Viraat after the decommissioning of INS Vikrant.
The Naval tableau will depict models of three main classes of frontline warships Mysore class of which INS Delhi and INS Mysore are already in commission, Kora class of which INS Kora is in commission and Brahmaputra class which are soon likely to be in service. "These will showcase our technological frontiers with self-reliance as the main objective," he said.
However, the contingent of Marcos, to be led by Lt. Commander R.S. Dahiya, in its full operational gear, is expected to steal the show. Marcos consists of highly trained and motivated daredevils who are proficient in using state-of-the-art weaponry, combat diving, paratrooping, under sea chariot operations and unarmed combat and are capable of combat operations in all three dimensions.
Giving details about Marcos, Cdr Kapil Mohan Dheer said the force which was raised in 1987, had been through thick action in Sri Lanka (Op. Pawan), Maldives (Op Cactus) and Somalia.Operation Leech against international gun runners off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was carried out with the Marcos.
Commander Dheer said the force was playing a significant role in counter-insurgency operations, especially in Jammu and Kashmir where it had prevented the militants from using Wular Lake and Jhelum River. "The fear of daari wali fauj (as the Marcos is called by the militants for the beard sported by most of its personnel) instilled in the subversives is one of our main success," he said.
A few years back, the Marcos also became one of the few units in the world to be trained for paradropping on sea with necessary combat equipment.
This years flypast
will also include a flight by Tupolev-142M long-range
maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft which
have a speed of 500 knots and endurance of 16 hours.
These aircraft have a host of sensors for submarine
detection and prosecution. "For the flypast, these
aircraft will come all the way from Chennai," Rear
Admiral Bangara said.
directorate full of paradoxes
LOOKING back on IFFI 31 (or 2000 whatever you choose to call it) there are a number of things that cross ones mind. For one thing the percentage of good films in "Cinema of the World" was quite high. There was "All About My Mother," "Tango," "Reasonable Man," "Boys Dont Cry," "Stigmata" and "The Colour of Paradise" to name only a few and the subjects dealt with included single parents, homosexuality, children-elders relationships and of course the perennial love triangle.
The Indian Panorama films also drew crowds but I saw only a few of them and these included Shajis "The Last Dance," Amol Palekars "Kairee" and Jahnu Baruas "Pokhi" and they were generally good. "Kairee" is somewhat simplistic and could have been clipped of a good deal of footage. The ending too is unduly drawn out and melodramatic and it suffers by comparison with Majid Majidis "The Colour of Paradise" which was much more intense and to the point. In that respect Baruas "Pokhi" is better as it deals with how a young girl is able to conquer her hatred for her arch-enemy. Shajis film is sincere as it captures the plight of a Kathakali artiste but it could have been more compact.
But much as the fare was satisfying one has to see in what direction the festival is heading for. When I met festival director Malti Sahay she mentioned that the preference and focus for films (from the public) had emerged for the Indian Panorama, the Asian competition and the India & International screens sections. Ms Sahay also said she wanted to make Asian cinema the focal point of the festival.
Would it mean that Asian films would be shown at Siri Fort I and the Cinema of the World at Siri Fort II? She paused for a while and said "that would be ideal." It would also give the Delhi festival a certain identity. The Asian film market could also be developed. She claimed they were trying to promote new directors, which is a good thing and said three delegates were called from the Asian film section. It was cheaper than getting delegates from the US.
Citing an instance of not inviting Ismail Merchant as he had already made a mark for himself, but then in the same breath they invited swedish actress Bibi Anderson and that too with one of her older films. They tried to get "Persona" but because of problems with MGM they did not succeed, so they showed "Faces." But both are ancient films. Even Ms Anderson admitted, "I find it a little bit peculiar to be associated with such an old film." What was the thinking behind this is hard to comprehend.
Why this flood of Hollywood films, you ask Ms Sahay and she says "we were choosy about Hollywood films and we decided to show the films which were unlikely to be released on the commercial circuit. Well, that may be true of "Boys Dont Cry" and "Stigmata" but surely not "The Best Man" which was far too trite for festival standard. But she claimed it was shown at some Canadian festival. Thats no reason for choosing it.
Being involved in the foreign film section for years I found that there were an unusual number of good films with Pedro Almodavars "All About My Mother" leading the list. It is shocking, this world of gays and lesbians and when one comes to the parentage of the dead son it is a real stunner like the sequence in "The Crying Game" a decade ago. But Almodavar doesnt take any moral stand and as far as cinema goes it is something new but realistic nonetheless.
Sauras "Tango" was another excellent film and so was Istvan Szabos "Sunshine," Aki Kaurasmakis "Juha" "Beautiful People" (about the Bonia syndrome), "Stigmata" and "Anywhere But There." There was a wealth of good films with the bad ones few and far between. The German films were generally bad and "Paths in the Night" and "Am I Beautiful?" readily coming to mind. But then the very success of the Cinema of the World section works against the avowed focus on Asian cinema.
If the awards were being given for the Best Asian film, the most prestigious Asian film and the Jury Award for Asian films shouldnt there have been a greater emphasis on films from that region? It is a case of falling between two stools. One has to reduce the number of world films and be more selective about them and increase the number of Asian films and also be more selective about them. Now it is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand doing and hence this confusion and a distinct lack of direction.
Another bad aspect of the festival is the "Open Forum" and other discussion. They never seem to have the participation they are intended to have. Whether it is the timing or the absence of knowledgeable folks in it, one is not too sure but there has been a clear decline in this aspect of the festival over the years. May be the wrong people are handling it? Or may be it has to be done away with. As of now it is just drifting in no-mans land, laconically and disinterestedly.
In sum, while the
Directorate of Film Festivals has certainly got to
progressing more competently it is the lack of direction
that has to be changed. It is full of paradoxes and Ms
Anderson is not the first "has been" that has
been invited to Delhi. Werent there Jeanne Moreau
and her ilk? And then we say we are promoting Asian
Punjabs literacy rate low:
NEW DELHI, January 21 Former Prime Minister, Mr I.K. Gujral, today said that although Punjabs per capita income was very high, its literacy rate was rather low.
Mr Gujral made this observation while speaking at a function organised by the Federation of Indian Publishers Association (FIPA) to felicitate Mr Ashoke K Ghosh on his election as Vice-President of the International Publishers Association (IPA). The association is an apex body of the publishing community of the world.
Mr Gujral said book-reading habits had improved in states where the literacy barrier had been broken. He said Himachal Pradesh had done better than Punjab in improving literacy.
He said Mr Ghoshs election as the Vice-President of the IPA was an honour for the country and he could serve as a link between the writers and the publishers in India and the international publishing industry. He presented a citation, a memento and a shawl to Mr Ghosh.
Mr D.N.Malhotra, former President of FIPA, said the federation served as a national platform to represent the entire Indian book industry. He said India joined the IPA in 1956. He added that 65 countries of the world are members of the IPA. He said certain conditions as adherence to freedom to publish, protection of copyright and free flow of books minus restriction on imports were mandatory for getting the IPA membership.
Mr Ashok Ghosh, Chairman and Managing Director, Prentice Hall Of India Private Limited said Indian publishing had come a long way and was flourishing. He said 60,000 books were published in 18 Indian languages every year.
Mr Ghosh said illiteracy and low priority for books in the family budget were some problems facing the book industry today. He said it was unfortunate that book reading was not a priority even among the educated and the affluent in India. He bemoaned the fact that although 60 crore people in India had the resources to buy books, they spent more time watching television and video.
CBSE defers gradation system
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 (PTI) The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today decided to defer the implementation of the controversial gradation system in class X board examination for one year.
"The CBSE Chairman, Prof B.P.Khandelwal, has agreed to defer the implementation of gradation system till next year," Delhi Education Minister Narender Nath, who held a meeting with the CBSE chief on the issue today, told PTI.
The system of awarding marks, as in the past, would continue this year, Mr Nath said, adding that before the implementation of the gradation system next year an awareness campaign would be launched to educate the students, teachers and principals in this regard.
The CBSE has also agreed to allow students to take compartmental examination in two subjects, in which they secure less than 33 per cent marks, this year instead of only one subject in the past, Mr Nath said.
The compartmental examinations will now be called improvement exams, he said.
The Delhi School
Education Advisory Board (DSEAB), comprising
representatives of the Delhi Government, Teachers
Associations and the Parent Teachers Associations,
had been strongly opposing the implementation of the new
gradation system without proper awareness campaign.
TN to file plea against Jaya
CHENNAI, Jan 21 (UNI) The Tamil Nadu Government will file a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court challenging the Madras High Court judgement discharging former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and All India Anna DMK General Secretary J. Jayalalitha in the Tansi land deal case, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said here today.
The Madras High Court had discharged Ms Jayalalitha from the case holding that there was no prima facie case against her and that a government order banning public servants from acquiring government land had no force of law.
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 Hoodwinking security agencies as "garment merchants," militants are transporting explosives and fake currency notes into India from Pakistan, sources in the Delhi Police said.
This channel of militants, explosives and fake currency notes entering the country came to light recently with the arrest of a Pakistan-trained militant, Rasheed, alias Sheeda,with RDX and other explosives concealed in toys.
The modus operandi adopted by the militants, sources said, was to conceal the deadly explosive materials between the bundles of clothes and pass through the security personnel as "garment merchants".
The arrested Pak-trained
militant in the Capital, Rasheed, had also used the same
route. He lived along with a wholesale dealer of
second-hand clothes, Javed. The dealer, who is
absconding, has his shop at Dargah Kalimullah Shah in
Kabootar Market near Jama Masjid.
Govt greetings on having baby girl
PUNE, Jan 21 (UNI) Congratulations on your becoming the proud parents of a bonny baby girl.
A greeting card, carrying a message to this effect, will be despatched to exultant parents all over the country if the Union Ministry of Women and Child Welfare has its way. But, parents will receive such a greeting card only if the new born is a girl.
Union Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare Sumitra Mahajan told reporters here yesterday that her ministry was planning to send congratulatory greetings to couples who attained parenthood with the birth of a girl child. The objective was to spread the awareness that birth of a girl was a joyous occasion rather than an occasion for grief.
The modalities of the
scheme were being worked out and it could take some time
before it was actually implemented, she said, adding that
the spread of awareness was the only plausible way to
remove discrimination against the girl child.
seized in North Bengal
doctors strike called off
10 NLFT ultras
prone to violent death
cost man his life
Madras HC grants
bail to two
kids, commits suicide
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