|Wednesday, April 19, 2000,
trade potential untapped: Cook
Bihar issue rocks both Houses
India gets boost on Security
CBI wants to probe more witnesses
Womens Bill wont come
up in House: Najma
EC for reforms in civil services
No Governors rule in
J&K, says Advani
Delhi to have US Attache Office
Attack on BJP leader to be probed
Mutual trade potential
NEW DELHI, April 18 India and Britain today decided to work together for forging forward-looking closer political and commercial ties devoid of acrimonies of the past 250 years.
Inaugurating a two day Indo-UK Round Table, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, and the visiting British Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, underlined the need to impart a new meaning to bilateral relations which had seen many ups and downs during the past 50 years.
Mr Jaswant Singh said it was extremely negative to continue to live in the shadow of the past. There is a will and determination on both sides that 250 years of somewhat unequal relations, which were treated as a liability, should be turned into an asset.
Addressing the Round Table, Mr Cook said: "Our partnership is not just because of our shared history but because of our common approaches and perspectives."
The two ministers had decided to establish the Round Table during their meeting in London in January. Mr Cook said the Round Table was significant as it would help the two countries to cooperate internationally.
The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr K.C. Pant, and Lord Swaraj Paul are the two co-chairmen of the Round Table. The Round Table would present to the two governments views of the prominent opinion-makers from India and Britain for further enhancing bilateral ties in trade, science and technology, energy, infrastructure and global cooperation.
Besides Mr Pant and Lord Paul, prominent members of the Round Table are the former Foreign Secretary, Mr M.K. Rasgotra, media baron Mr Aveek Sarkar, the historian, Mr Patrick French, corporate executive, Mr Ashok Ganguly, several media personalities, businessmen and academicians.
The day-long meeting would be followed by another meeting in London later this year.
The British Foreign Secretary said relations between the two countries should not remain confined to the government level alone. He also referred to the role played by the Asian community in every aspect of British life. He further said that the real potential of mutual trade still remained untapped. The two-way trade at present stands at £ 3 billion and is expected to go up to £ 5 billion in the next couple of years.
"India will shortly
be in the top 10 economies of the world" due to the
vitality shown by the Indian economy in the recent past,
Mr Cook pointed out referring to Indias tremendous
strengths in the information technology sector.
Bihar issue rocks both Houses
NEW DELHI, April 18 The issue of Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi being made a co-accused with her husband Laloo Prasad Yadav in the disproportionate assets case rocked both Houses of Parliament today with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) members alleging that the CBI was harassing the Chief Minister.
While the issue culminated in a noisy walk-out by the entire Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, uproarious scenes were also witnessed in the Lok Sabha. Raising the issue during the zero hour in the Lok Sabha, RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the CBI had been unleashed by the Vajpayee government to harass Rabri Devi and her husband Laloo Prasad Yadav.
While alleging that the BJP-led government at the Centre was "vindictive" towards the Bihar Chief Minister, Mr Prasad said "justice was being strangled". The CBI, instead of functioning independently, was acting at the behest of the Centre, he charged.
He added that the Centre first, in connivance with the Bihar Governor, installed a minority NDA government headed by Mr Nitish Kumar in the state and when it was ousted, the BJP-led coalition was doing its best to create problems for the Rabri Devi government.
Intervening in the issue, Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi said this matter could not be discussed in the House as it was pending in the court. Moreover, state matters could not be debated in this House, he added.
In the Rajya Sabha, the issue came up as a Special Mention and the members from the ruling and Opposition benches traded charges on the manner in which the investigations were being carried out.
Congress member Kapil Sibal charged that the CBI was making frivolous allegations against Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav and Ms Rabri Devi. On this the Vice-Chairman, Mr Ajit Sirodkar, who was in the Chair, ruled that members should refrain from such comments as the matter was subjudice.
This sparked angry protests from the Congress and other Opposition members who were on their feet to register their objection over the Chairs ruling that no member could pass judgement on the merit of the case once the charge sheet had been filed in the court.
As Mr Sibal persisted with his submission even after the Chairs ruling, the Vice Chairman asked the member to resume his seat as he had already taken more than the time allotted to him.
Mr Sibal continued and while protesting over the ruling of the Chair said the voice of the Opposition was being throttled. He was supported by the other Congress members and members from the other Opposition parties. The Opposition members then staged a walk-out in protest.
Soon after the walk-out, BJP members, including Mr Ramdas Agarwal, Mr Venkaiah Naidu and Mr Narendra Mohan, expressed regrets that members should disobey the Chairs ruling.
They also demanded action against Congress member, Mr Suresh Pachauri, who, they said had questioned the ruling of the Chair in asking Mr Sibal to sit down.
Sharing the sentiments of the members, Mr Sirodkar said "personally we feel we are going in the wrong direction...I feel something is going wrong and leaders of all parties should sit together and have a look".
But on the demand of the ruling party members that Mr Pachauri should be reprimanded, Mr Sirodkar said such small incidents are best ignored.
Earlier, raising the issue, Mr Ramdeo Bhandary (RJD) charged the Centre with misusing the CBI as a political weapon and said the NDA government wanted to dislodge the duly elected Rabri Devi government through this "politically motivated" action.
He demanded that the CBI should not only withdraw the charge sheet but also tender an apology for its action.
Terming as unfortunate
the manner in which the ruling party members were trying
to defend the CBI action, Mr Nilotpal Basu (CPM) wondered
why the CBI had chargesheeted only Mr Yadav when there
were six other accused in the case. Their assets ran into
crores of rupees whereas Mr Yadavs assets were
worth over Rs 40 lakh.
India gets boost on Security
NEW DELHI, April 18 The Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, today said that Indias claim to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council had received a boost following the firm stand taken by the country against terrorism and the maturity displayed by New Delhi during the Kargil conflict.
Addressing the Naval Commanders Conference here, the Defence Minister said, "Countries that were maintaining a distance from India are now taking up our case for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council". He was apparently referring to several countries, including France, which have recently come out strongly in support for Indias bid as a natural contender to the top world body.
Asked by reporters about the US stand on Indias bid for a permanent Security Council berth, he said: "The US President (Bill Clinton) referred to the issue in his interaction with legislators during his visit last month."
When pointed out that Mr Clinton did not clearly support Indias bid, he quipped: "Look at the positive side of it."
The minister pointed out that Indias position in the world order had undergone a sea change in the last few months. From a time when New Delhi was lectured on a host of issues, countries are now displaying greater understanding of our strategic and defence concerns.
"A year ago, we were still being told and lectured about non-proliferation, CTBT, sanctions and a whole lot of areas where, supposedly, what we were doing was not right and acceptable...people had not reconciled. Today we are seeing a wholly different picture."
The Defence Minister
said this change was evident from the number of visits
being made by world leaders to India. British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook was currently visiting India and
some time back the Foreign Minister of Australia, which
had pursued an aggressive attitude following the Pokhran
nuclear tests, had also come. Mr Clinton had visited the
country and the Foreign Minister of Germany was due to
come, he added.
NEW DELHI, April 18 (PTI) After the death of W.E. Miller, a key Canadian witness in the $ 1 lakh Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case, the CBI now wants to examine three other foreign witnesses, a Delhi court was informed today.
Former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, controversial godman Chandraswami and his aide K.N. Aggarwal, alias Mamaji, are facing trial in the case for allegedly cheating London-based pickle tycoon Pathak in the name of getting him a paper pulp supply contract in India in 1986.
During the course of arguments on the CBI application seeking more time to complete prosecution evidence, its counsel J.S. Wadia told Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke that the agency wanted to examine Chile-based Kumar Bhagchandani, Washington-based Douglas Hanskatt and Kishore Kamdar as "it was very crucial to prove the "guilt" of the accused."
The accused had adopted similar modus operandi to cheat Bhagchandani of $ 1 lakh and a diamond ring, and his recording of his testimony was important, the CBI counsel said.
However, the CBIs application was opposed by Mr Raos counsel A.D. Giri who said the CBI was unnecessarily delaying the trial and it was violative of the accuseds right of speedy trial. There was no point in examining these witnesses at this stage, he said.
The court has reserved its orders for April 24.
Mr Wadia said Kamdar was the final recipient of the cheated money which he invested in business at the instance of Chandraswami.
Regarding Hanskett, a US Police Officer, CBI counsel submitted that he had helped the CBI probe the case and had seized certain property documents of Miller in the USA where Chandraswami had an ashram.
On March 15, Mr Bharihoke had given last opportunity to the CBI to complete its evidence by April 17. But yesterday, the probe agency came out with an application seeking more opportunity to examine the three foreign witnesses.
On that date, the CBI had requested the court to drop the proceedings for sending a commission to Canada to examine Miller as he was no more alive. He had died on February 28.
The court had ordered sending a commission to Canada in September, 1997, to examine Miller, in whose Canada Empirial Bank Trust account the money was allegedly deposited.
Recording of evidence of foreign witnesses in the case had since been pending as the proceedings for sending the commission to Canada were far from complete. In February last year, CBI DSP and Investigating Officer K.N. Singh was examined by the court. The last foreign witness to depose in the matter was Pathaks son who was examined on January 31, 1997.
Pathak, who died in May, 1997, had named Mr Rao as an accused during recording of his testimony by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) here in July, 1996.
Ministers panel to review security
NEW DELHI, April 18 The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) under the chairmanship of Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to review the national security system in its entirety.
The other ministers part of the group are Defence Minister George Fernandes, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. The GoM would undertake a thorough review of the security system of the country and submit its report within six months.
The government today placed in Parliament a supplementary action taken report on the recommendations of the Subrahmanyam Kargil Review Committee report,which went into the circumstances leading to Pakistani intrusion in Kargil. In the report, the government said the GoM would consider the Subrahmanyam committee report and formulate specific proposals for its implementation.
"The group may commission such studies as it feels necessary or set up expert groups on specific subjects," the supplementary action taken report said.
The government in its action taken report on the Subrahmanyam committee report, which was placed before Parliament on February 24, had promised to order a thorough review of the national security system. This was specially after the Kargil review committee had made 25 recommendations pointing out deficiencies in the countrys security management system responsible for incursions by Pakistani forces in Kargil last year.
The constitution of the top-level ministerial group follows initiation of action by the government on other recommendation by acquiring specialised equipment for maintaining greater surveillance in high altitude areas, communication interception equipment and satellite imagery capability of world standards.
Besides, the government has also taken action on development of skills on encryptian and decryptian.
The ministerial group would look into the broader issue of security structure and management, including probable restructuring of the National Security Council (NSC) and more intense interaction between civil and military intelligence agencies.
The ministerial group is likely to set up sub-groups on other major recommendations to keep the profile of the armed forces young by reducing colour service of the personnel from 17 years to the period of seven to 10 years.
Womens Bill wont come up
in House: Najma
NEW DELHI, April 18 Dr Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha and Chairperson of International Parliamentary Union, today said that she had internal information that the Womens Reservation Bill would not be discussed in the ongoing session of Parliament.
Expressing concern over the fate of the womens Bill at an open debate on the issue at the Indian Womens Press Corps here, Dr Heptulla said that there was sabotage and nobody was taking the Bill seriously. "Im concerned whether it is coming at all. Nobody wants to bring it."
Ms Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi who feels that the existing Bill needs to be improved, presented an alternative Bill drafted by the Forum for Democratic Reforms. Seeking endorsement and support for the existing womens Bill, she said that the Bill should be allowed as a second line of defence if the existing Bill was not passed.
Ms Kishwar said that the existing Bill is poorly drafted and was full of infirmities.
According to the provisions of the proposed alternative Bill, a law should be enacted to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to make it mandatory for every recognised political party to nominate women candidates for election in one-third of the constituencies.
Dr Syeda Hameed, member of the National Commission for Women, recalled how two years ago, they went from one party office to another with "a begging bowl" pleading that women be given an opportunity to contest elections. "But things have not improved. Our percentage remains between 8 per cent to 8.5 per cent. My submission is that we should not dilute 33 per cent."
A Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Minister, Mrs Sushma Swaraj said that the womens reservation Bill should be passed by a majority and not consensus. She wondered why a consensus was needed only for this Bill. She added that this Bill should be passed in its original form by a two-thirds majority of two or three major political parties.
"Let us not bother ourselves with an alternative Bill. Our aim is to increase the participation of women in decision making and this can be ensured by womens presence in Parliament. We want to see that every third seat in Parliament is occupied by a woman. We want women issues to be focussed. Let there be no dilution," she said.
Mrs Swaraj observed that
representation of women in electoral politics has
decreased due to the increased role of mafia and money
and the fact that ticket distribution was in the hands of
men. She said that the existing womens reservation
Bill which promised 33 per cent reservation of seats for
women in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas, would take care
of such impediments.
Retrenchment move ruins CMs
BHOPAL, April 18 The Madhya Pradesh Governments decision to retrench daily-wage workers is adversely affecting Chief Minister Digvijay Singhs pro-poor image. Former Union Minister Kamal Nath has stated that the decision is "dictatorial". Former Chief Minister Motilal Vora has also reportedly pleaded with Mr Digvijay Singh to reconsider the decision.
Ms Kalpana Parulekar, a firebrand Congress MLA from Mahidpur constituency in Ujjain district, led a delegation of at last 2,000 daily-wage workers to Delhi, earlier this month, to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi. As Mrs Gandhi was busy elsewhere, she had deputed Mr Motilal Vora to hear the grievances of the workers. Mr Vora told them that they would learn about Mrs Gandhis decision by April 25.
The governments current financial status is said to be the reason for the removal of the daily wagers. Mr Digvijay Singh has gone on record as having stated that the government will save Rs 30 crore annually by removing the 30,000-odd daily-wagers recruited after 1988 as they had been employed in an irregular manner.
Mr Ravindra Chaube, Minister in charge of the General Administration Department (GAD), told a press conference here on Sunday that 16,600 daily-wagers had already been removed in accordance with the governments decision. Mr Chaube, however, did not answer several related questions like: How many IAS offices have been re-employed after their retirement and how much is the government spending on their salaries, perks and paraphernalia? As the Chief Minister claims that most of the decisions are being taken by the "district governments" at the district level, how many IAS officers have become surplus at the State Secretariat? How many heads of department have been identified by the government as responsible for appointment of daily wagers in violation of the rules? What is the number and fate of those daily-wagers who were recruited for the projects started after 1988?
Apart from giving the number of the daily-wagers already retrenched, the only other information of importance that Mr Chaube gave at his press conference was that 32,000 daily-wagers employed before 1988 were also yet to be regularised.
Ironically, Mr Digvijay
Singh had been supporting the cause of dailywagers before
he became Chief Minister. Mr Digvijay Singh was first
sworn in Chief Minister on December 7, 1993. Addressing a
meeting of workers in front of the State Secretariat on
December 29, Mr Digvijay Singh had promised these workers
not only better working conditions but also jobs to their
dependants on compassionate grounds in case of death of
EC for reforms in civil services
NAGPUR, April 18 (PTI) Election Commissioner T.S. Krishna Murthy has described the state of administrative systems in the country as "chaotic, corrupt and conflicting", and strongly advocated an urgent need for reforms in the civil services.
Addressing a valedictory function of 52nd batch of Indian Revenue Services here yesterday, Mr Krishna Murthy minced no words in criticising the civil services and the judiciary for creating bottlenecks in the process of smooth and effective administration.
Suggesting cut in administrative expenses, retrenchment of manpower in government departments and segregation of administration on lines of professional corporate bodies, he called for the system to be more accountable and service-oriented.
Mr Krishna Murthy, a former 1963 batch revenue bureaucrat, said "Take away all non-sovereign functions of administration and reduce manpower by at least 50 per cent" and added that these suggestions should be put before the expenditure committee set up by the government.
under the civil services are crippled by anarchy, he said
and added central government health scheme (CGHS) and the
Central Public Works Department (CPWD) were no longer
required to be run by the government and said these
should be turned into corporate entities.
No Governors rule in J&K, says Advani
NEW DELHI, April 18 (PTI) The Union Government today ruled out declaring Jammu and Kashmir a disturbed area or imposition of Governors rule in the state and said security had been provided to Sikh-inhabited villages in the valley following the massacre of 35 community members last month.
"There is no such proposal", Home Minister L.K. Advani said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha whether the Centre proposed to impose Governors rule in Jammu and Kashmir and declare it a disturbed area in view of deteriorating law and order situation there.
Mr Advani said after the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chatti Singhpura village of Kashmir on March 20 by militants, security arrangements in the Sikh-inhabited villages in the valley had been strengthened by providing security pickets.
Delhi to have US Attache Office
NEW DELHI, April 18 (PTI) Government will allow the US Embassy to augment its strength in New Delhi for operating a Legal Attache Office manned by two FBI officers for better coordination between the two countries in combating terrorism, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
The decision to this effect has been taken in the context of growing Indo-US bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism, Minister of State for Home Vidyasagar Rao said in a written answer. Government of India has similar representation in its Embassy in Washington.
The office, he said, would also liase with Indian law enforcement agencies in cases involving financial crimes and terrorism, being jointly pursued by India and the USA.
Attack on BJP leader to be probed
NEW DELHI, April 18 (PTI) The government will inquire into the alleged attempt by some drunk police personnel to assault a BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudi in Delhi on Sunday night, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told the Lok Sabha today.
Responding to members concern during Zero Hour over the incident, Mr Mahajan said it was a serious matter and assured that guilty would be taken to task.
He said he would take up the matter with Home Minister L.K. Advani and "I will get back to the House tomorrow with full details."
As the members, cutting
across party lines, wanted stern action against all those
involved in the incident, Speaker G.M.C Balayogi directed
the government to look into the incident, which he
described as "regrettable."
bandh disrupts life
acid, injures eight
Exams on Easter
may be postponed
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