|Saturday, May 13, 2000,
Kalkat against military
Badal meets PM on US Nagar
Preparations on for Indo-EU summit
Congress to hold protest
Defence deals: CVC plea to ex-Gens
Tipnis briefs Jaswant Singh
Basu agrees to lead third front
PMO asked to recover dues from
Govts no to sugar import
Gehlot govt accused of negligence
Three churches attacked
India will retain minimum
Reprieve for child prodigy
Project to link 6 rivers soon
No plan to rewrite school books:
Kalkat against military assistance
NEW DELHI, May 12 (PTI) As India announces non-military aid for Sri Lanka, whose army has suffered grave reverses at the hands of LTTE, two experts are appreciative of New Delhis approach even as they disfavour a totally hands-off policy.
"Given the 80s experience of the Indian peace keeping forces (IPKF), we cant send our forces...but I cant understand why we cant render military assistance to Sri Lanka, whose territorial integrity is threatened by an extremist, sectarian and secessionist organisation, which is banned in India," says Prof S.D. Muni, of the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University here.
However, Lieut Gen (retd), A.S. Kalkat, who commanded the Indian peace keeping forces in Sri Lanka as a result of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan accord, is not in favour of any military intervention, even assistance he considers both words as having the same connotation because that is "addressing the symptom and not the disease."
The 30-year-old militancy problem in Sri Lanka stems from a discriminatory constitution, which mitigates against the Tamil minority community, says General Kalkat noting that "ultimately there can only be a political solution to it."
However, Prof Muni says "The situation is that by denying to give them any support, short of troops, we are forcing them to accept the support of others be it Pakistan, China, the USA or even Israel."
Describing New Delhis approach as "Internalised response to the Sri Lankan crisis in the process of which we are ignoring are medium and long-term security interests," the Prof says, "Today the Sri Lankan Government is facing a difficult situation in Jaffna."
Were the Tigers to recapture the town, theres a possibility of their declaring an independent Eelam, which is neither in Indias interest nor in conformity with its stated stand of ensuring that it would keep intact the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the tear-drop nation.
He is also very clear on the kind of military assistance that can be rendered: Among the ways of helping are providing intelligence inputs, assurance that Tamil Nadu coast would not be allowed to be misused by the Tigers and provision of naval surveillance in the high seas of Indian Ocean to prevent the Tigers from bringing in arms a capability that Sri Lankan forces do not possess.
The Sri Lankan President, Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga has evolved a devolution package, which according Professor Muni "is better than what we suggested."
"If we (India) have any goodwill or influence among various sectors including the ruling party, opposition as also Tamil groups, I suggest we exercise the goodwill to ensure constitutional acceptance of this package.
"Then it may be possible to help Sri Lankan Armys own war efforts and pressurise LTTE to come around to accepting the broad consensus or face isolation," explains Prof Muni.
Today, the political situation in Sri Lanka is totally different from the 80s when IPKF was moved there, says the Professor, recalling the dissent within the ruling party and strong reservations by the then Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa himself.
While he accepts that
IPKF was a sore experience and that the host country
reneged on its commitment on devolution of power to
Tamils, he also attributes the reverses that IPKF
suffered to "Indian political leadership of the day,
which was confused over the role of the
Badal meets PM on US Nagar
NEW DELHI, May 12 The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today met the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and urged him to sort out the issue of Udham Singh Nagars inclusion in the proposed Uttaranchal state.
Mr Badal, who met the Prime Minister at his residence, urged the Prime Minister to ask the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, to convene a meeting of the three-member panel appointed by him last year to go into the issue.
He said the people of Udham Singh Nagar had pleaded for exclusion of the district from the proposed state. He requested Mr Vajpayee to meet the people of the district.
The Prime Minister had set up a three-member committee with Mr Fernandes as its convenor to go into the issue. The U P Chief Minister and the Punjab Chief Minister are the other two members on the panel.
It is understood the Centre plans to introduce the Bill in Parliament next week before the end of the Budget session.
Preparations on for Indo-EU summit
NEW DELHI, May 12 A meeting of Indo-European Union officials on May 15 here will signal the start of preparations for the first-ever Indo-EU summit scheduled for next month in Lisbon.
The Indo-EU summit during which the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee would meet top EU leaders in the Portuguese Capital on June 28, would lead to a closer coordination between India and Europe.
A high-level EU delegation led by the Director-General for External Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, Mr Joao Salgueiro will arrive on Monday to hold talks with Indian officials for making the necessary preparations for the forthcoming summit.
The Indian delegation at the talks would be led by the Foreign Secretary, Mr Lalit Mansingh. Senior officials would also consider documents to be adopted at the summit, a spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The EU commission would be represented by the Director, Asia, Mr Emiliano Fossati.
While meetings at the level of Foreign Secretary are held every six months, the meeting on May 15 assumes significance in the context of the forthcoming summit.
The EU has held such summits earlier with the USA, Canada, China and Russia. A summit with India is not only a recognition of Indias emerging role in the region but also reflects the EUs support for a multi-polar world away from a unipolar global dispensation.
With the EU evolving a
common foreign and defence policies and an integrated
policy on security, including international terrorism,
New Delhis relations with a common Europe would
contribute to a new international order, sources pointed
Congress to hold protest march
NEW DELHI, May 12 The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has once again decided to take the agitational path this time to protest against the hike in prices and its effect on people.
On May 16, she will lead a march of party MPs from the AICC office to the Prime Ministers, residence where they propose to submit a memorandum to Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.
This is the second time this year, that the Congress President and senior leaders will take to the streets on an issue they perceive is in public interest. Earlier, it was on the controversial Gujarat Government order allowing its employees to take part in RSS camps.
The decision of the party high command to take out a march follows the successful attempt by the Opposition to stall proceedings of the Lok Sabha yesterday on the issue of price rise.
The Congress, which is the principal party in Opposition, does not want to lag behind on price rise issue and Mrs Sonia Gandhi, during her brief intervention yesterday in the Lok Sabha, raised the matter.
She said since the beginning of the session, the Congress had emphasised on the need to restore the subsidy cut to the extent possible on essential supplies through the PDS for those below the poverty line.
The Congress President
said while the Speaker disallowed notices of the party
members, the party expected that the government would
respond during the course of discussions on the Finance
Bill. The party had also submitted notices under Rule
184, which if admitted would require voting.
Defence deals: CVC plea to ex-Gens
NEW DELHI, May 12 (PTI) Central Vigilance Commissioner N. Vittal has said the commission is investigating defence deals and has appealed to retired Army Generals, defence officials and journalists to help in the probe.
"We have started screening the files though I know that truth is outside the files of these deals," Mr Vittal told mediapersons here last evening at a question-answer session organised by the South Asian Foreign Correspondents Club.
He said the CVC had sent a note to former Army Generals, scribes and former defence officials to share whatever information they had regarding these deals.
The CVC had initiated proceedings into some defence deals on receipt of a formal communication in February from the Defence Ministry to probe the transactions made after 1989.
The commission would investigate defence deals signed from 1989 onwards, when the government had decided to keep off middle-men. Only deals over Rs 75 crore will be probed by the commission.
Asked when the probe would be completed, Mr Vittal said, "Even though no cut-off time has been fixed, CVC had kept in mind some fixed time-frame which would be met."
On corruption in the country, he said black money amounted to 35 per cent of the countrys Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"Black money is a good index to find corruption in the country," he added. Mr Vittal emphasised on the need to rope in youth and various NGOs for checking corruption in the country.
Stressing greater transparency at the bureaucratic level, the CVC said corruption in the last three decades had increased more than three times.
Comparing corruption with AIDs, Mr Vittal said, "Corruption is spread by uncontrolled financial behaviour."
He also called for formation of national vigilance corps at colleges similar lines as that of National Cadet Corps.
Mr Vittal suggested amending the All-India Service rules and bringing all officers of these cadres under the purview of the CVC.
He said this move was afoot soon after the creation of the CVC in 1964 but nothing was achieved in the past 35 years.
Regretting the media attention the CVC website had attracted, he said "I wonder if the debate set off in the media is aimed at checking corruption or making fun of the CVC website."
Tipnis briefs Jaswant Singh
NEW DELHI, May 12 (PTI) The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis, today flew back here from Colombo and met External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh today to apprise him of the dramatic developments in Sri Lanka where the government forces and the LTTE are locked in a grim battle in the northern Jaffna peninsula.
The air chief declined to talk to media persons, except to say that his visit had nothing to do with the present crisis in the island-nation.
Air Marshal Tipnis,
during his five-day visit to Sri Lanka which coincided
with the LTTE launching a final onslaught to capture the
Tamil-dominated Jaffna province, has held extensive
interaction with the top Sri Lankan leadership.
Basu agrees to lead third
CALCUTTA, May 12 Mr Jyoti Basu has accepted the offer to lead all secular forces and form a third political front to remove the BJP from power. The offer was formally made by the former Prime Minster, Mr V.P. Singh, in the presence of two other former Prime Ministers during their meeting with Mr Basu in Calcutta on May 4.
Mr Basu told The Tribune that he had invited leaders of all secular forces to join them and stand on a common platform to fight against the communal forces and save the nation.
He alleged that the BJP had been playing the communal card and ruining the country and there was a need for all anti-BJP parties; irrespective of their political ideologies and differences, to join hands and protect the nation from the BJP onslaught.
The Chief Minister would go to Delhi on May 15 and stay there for two days. During his stay, he would meet the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee on official matters.
On the other hand, he has requested Mr V.P. Singh, Mr Chandra Shekhar, Mr Deve Gowda and Mr I.K. Gujral to be in the Capital so that they could discuss the forming of the third front against the BJP and its allies.
Mr Basu felt the situation was ripe for all anti-BJP parties to come under one umbrella as people had come out against the hike in prices of the essential commodities.
On the question of protecting the interests of common people and secularism, Mr Basu was sure that some partners of the NDA, would extend support to them. Already, some leaders of the NDA had protested against the government decision to enhance the prices of ration commodities and against the withdrawal of subsidies on the essential items.
The CPM politburo, which
opposed the decision of the party joining the coalition
government with lesser of number of party MPs with Jyoti
Basu as Prime Minister in 1996, was now endorsing the
move initiated by Mr Basu and four former Prime Ministers
to form an anti-BJP front. The party general secretary,
Mr H.S. Surjeet, had also been holding negotiations with
leaders of like-minded political parties to bring them
into one fold against the BJP.
(North India in Parliament)
NEW DELHI, May 12 India last imported sugar from Pakistan in June, 1999, according to a written reply by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Mr V. Sreenivasa Prasad in Rajya Sabha today.
Replying to a question posed by Mr Ahmed Patel, the minister said that the last consignment of sugar was reported to have arrived from Pakistan at Rail Cargo, Amrita Customs, on June 19 last year.
To a question whether sugar was imported from Pakistan during the last two years despite adequate stock of indigenous sugar in the country, he said that import of sugar was allowed under open general licence (OGL) subject to registration of import contracts with APEDA. The minister said that under this system, various private parties were importing sugar as per their own commercial judgement. Relying on information published by DGCIS, Calcutta, Ministry of Commerce, 33,226 metric tonnes and 5,79,073 metric tonnes were imported from Pakistan during the last two financial years, respectively. He added that no sugar had been imported during the aforesaid period on government account.
On a question whether private business houses or any public sector undertaking was importing sugar from Pakistan, the minister said that various private business houses could have been importing sugar from Pakistan but no information was available with the government about such imports from Pakistan. He said that Messers PEC Limited, a PSU under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce has imported sugar from Pakistan under the OGL on behalf of the private parties.
Transportation charges for sugar retailers of Punjab: Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Mr Prasad, agreed that a case regarding fixation of transportation charges for retailers of indigenous levy sugar was pending with the government. Giving details, the minister said that since the transportation charges suggested by the Punjab Government were not in accordance with guidelines framed for the purpose, the Food Corporation of India and the state government had been asked to furnish information.
Wheat procurement: Replying to a question whether government planned to procure more than 13 million tonnes of wheat from Punjab and Haryana, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Mr Sriram Chauhan, told the Rajya Sabha that government planned to procure about 12 million tonnes of wheat from these two states during the rabi marketing season, 2000-01.
Train accident: In a written reply, the Minister of State for Railways, Mr Digvijay Singh, stated that the teenaged boy who was injured after a fall from a train on the Panipat-Delhi section last month was not pushed by jawans of the Railway Protection Force. The minister told the Rajya Sabha that the boy Karan Sharma slipped from the footboard at Raju Garhi station while trying to change his compartment.
On the question of
action against guilty officials and compensation given to
the boy, he said the question of action against any
official did not arise as the boy slipped from the
footboard. He said that although no compensation had been
paid, an ex gratia of Rs 5000 was paid to the victim on
Three churches attacked
INDORE, May 12 (PTI) Miscreants ransacked a church damaging the holy cross and threw stones at two other churches in the city here last night, the police said.
The Additional Superintendent of Police, Mr Bhagwant Singh Chauhan, said security had been beefed up in the vicinity of the three churches and a manhunt launched to arrest the culprits following complaints by the church priests.
Father Ramesh Chandekar of St Pauls church said that miscreants damaged the holy cross, the prayer place and broke utensils and the mike system.
PMO asked to recover dues from Anthony
NEW DELHI, May 12 (UNI) In an unusual move, the Delhi High Court today deviated a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking pending amount of Rs 14.69 lakh from Keralas former Chief Minister A.K. Anthony, to the Prime Ministers Office (PMO).
Chief Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice D.K. Jain hoped that the government would take action within four months. Without going into the merits of petition filed by advocate B.L. Wadehra, the judges said they consider the PIL was made to the Prime Minister.
On March 21, 1995, the PMO had telephonically conveyed former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Raos approval for provision of Boeing 737 aircraft belonging to the VIP squadron of the Defence Ministry to carry Mr Anthony from New Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram. Written orders were sent two days later.
After a week, the Defence Ministry issued orders to the Deputy Director (Operations) to provide the airlift. Although the Prime Ministers approval was only for provision of special flight to Mr Anthony, another six members of Parliament one along with his spouse also made use of the flight.
The aircraft returned to the base on the same day after flight duration of six-and-a-half hours.
In June 1995, a bill for Rs 14.69 lakh for the journey was raised by the air headquarters on the Kerala Government.
Initially, the state government accepted the claim and issued a formal sanction in February 1996 for payment of dues. But in March 1997, the Kerala Government said the payment would not be made from the state exchequer as Mr Anthony was only a Chief Minister designate on the day of special flight.
Since the flight undertaken by Mr Anthony did not serve any public interest, the amount should be realised from him directly, it said.
In September 1998, the Defence Ministry approached the PMO for direction for expediting the settlement of pending bill. No effective action seems to have been taken in the matter till date, the petitioner said.
"Since payment has been delayed for the past five years and there is no hope of it forthcoming, judicial intervention has become essential in the matter for realisation of public money totalling Rs 14.69 lakh along with interest from Mr Anthony," Mr Wadehra said in the PIL.
He said the 1997 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had also highlighted the pending bill but authorities concerned did not move.
Gehlot govt accused of
JAIPUR, May 12 The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, has alleged that the Rajasthan Government is guilty of criminal negligence in providing relief to the drought-hit people of the state and asked the Chief Minister, Mr Ashok Gehlot, to quit on moral grounds for this failure.
He has said that though Mr Gehlot has been accusing the Centre of step-motherly treatment to Rajasthan, the fact is that our state has been given highest amount of assistance, more than even Gujarat.
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Mr Shekhawat said that Mr Gehlot himself called this years drought as the centurys severest and had even urged the Central Government to declare the misery as a national calamity. But the callousness with which the state government itself was dealing with the situation, one was compelled to believe that the minister was more interested in playing politics of famine with the Centre then providing relief to the people, he alleged.
Mr Shekhawat said that the same Chief Minister who had been describing the condition in Rajasthan as a national calamity was now blaming the media for painting exaggerated picture of the situation. "I thank the media that it has performed its duty well by highlighting the plight of the drought-affected people. But for media coverage, people would hardly have known the truth about the severity of the situation".
It may be recalled that of late, Mr Gehlot has been lashing out at the media for creating panic by painting a grim situation in the drought-affected areas and has gone on record to say that the media was hyping the famine.
Mr Shekhawat debunked
the theory that the delay in initiating relief operation
was on account of the non-availability of funds. He said
that on the contrary, the fact was that Rajasthan has
received preferential treatment in the matter of release
of relief from the Centre. It has been given more than
Gujarat and less than Orissa, which had a special case.
India will retain minimum N-deterrent
NEW DELHI, May 12 (PTI) Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said India would retain minimum credible nuclear deterrent and indicated that the government proposed to take some more steps to restore peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.
The country is much more secure internally than before, Mr Vajpayee declared at a dinner hosted by him for members of Parliament belonging to constituents of the NDA and supporting parties on the occasion of second anniversary of Pokharan nuclear tests.
The Prime Minister said two years after the Pokharan blasts, the situation has changed dramatically for India with almost the entire world having better appreciation of the country's security needs.
Mr Vajpayee said his government had gone ahead with Operation Shakti based on assessment of the country's security needs.
Also, we had full knowledge that had India not conducted nuclear tests in May, 1998, our neighbour would have certainly done so," the Prime Minister said.
He said the country had displayed exemplary unity and solidarity in the face of harsh sanctions imposed after the Pokharan blasts and it was because of this unity that economic sanctions failed to have impact on us.
Mr Vajpayee declared that after two years, India was now recognised, both internally and externally, as a much stronger nation and said the credit for this went to the entire nation and not to the government alone and certainly not to any individual.
Reprieve for child prodigy
NEW DELHI, May 12 (PTI) Twelve-year-old whiz-kid Tathagat Avtar Tulsi, who was facing problems in admission to research institutions for being underage, has now been allowed to take the qualification test for enrolment as a research scholar with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi has in a communication to Congress MP Balkavi Bairagi stated that the child prodigy "has been allowed to take the National Eligibility Test as a special case."
The test, conducted jointly by the CSIR and the University Grants Commission (UGC), is to be held on June 25.
"Appropriate action in connection with allowing Tathagat to appear for NET has been completed and the admit card for the test would be sent to him in time," reads the ministers communication to the Rajya Sabha member, who had taken up his case.
If the young genius clears the test, he would be eligible for becoming a Junior Research Fellow or a lecturer at any of the countrys research or educational institutions, his father Prof D. N. Prasad said here today.
Tulsi, who is the
worlds youngest graduate in physics, said in a
statement that he had applied in four reputed
institutions for doctoral research but could not
undertake them as he did not get the admit cards for the
Project to link 6 rivers soon
NEW DELHI, May 12 (PTI) The government will soon take up a project to link six major rivers as part of the long-term plan to revive the Ganga-Cauvery link to tackle the water problem in the country, Water Resources Minister C.P. Thakur told the Rajya Sabha today.
The Ganga-Cauvery project would cost a whopping Rs 3.30 lakh crore and hence the government proposed to take it up in stages and initially the linking of six rivers would be taken up for which details were being worked out, Mr Thakur said replying to a calling attention on the depletion of water levels in the country.
Mr Thakur also said the government would soon bring in a legislation to ban excess and wasteful use of ground water resulting in falling water levels in the country.
He, however, did not give details of the project to link six rivers, saying very soon the government would take up the project which would be unveiled in Parliament.
On the Sardar Sarovar multipurpose dam project, he said the Supreme Court verdict was expected in a few days.
On the demand for improved water harvesting in the country to prevent recurrence of drought in the country, he said the government would blend traditional and modern methods to intensify water harvesting in the country.
No plan to rewrite school books: Joshi
NEW DELHI, May 12 (PTI) The government today asserted in the Rajya Sabha that there was no proposal for rewriting the school books and said the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) had prepared the discussion document for updating the curricula for schools.
Replying to supplementaries during question hour, Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi told Sarla Maheshwari (CPI-M) that the government would look into the issue of whether any changes had been made in the school books in Gujarat and West Bengal.
"There is no proposal to rewrite (the books), he said, adding there would only be knowledge-based updating in the education curricula.
father to death
control coconut pest
festival on July 3
cases every year in Orissa
CPM leader shot
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