Saturday, October 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

POTO is very much here
T
HERE are some simple truths about terrorist outfits. And everybody knows them and the exception is the government. One, they do not crave for legal sanction. By their very nature, they operate outside the system. 

Disturbing fallout
W
HILE American fighter jets are pounding military installations of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network in Operation Enduring Freedom, some bombs are also falling in civilian areas. Whether it is by accident or due to the wrong identification of targets, civilian casualties are rising alarmingly.

Technology to the rescue
T
HE recent launch of the Technology Experiments Satellite is a laudable achievement. The need for proper surveillance was seriously felt during the Kargil war when there was infiltration from across the border. The recent launch of the TES, along with other satellites on PSLV-C3, will help bridge the surveillance gap.


 

EARLIER ARTICLES
No-win Chadha
October 26
, 2001
Between reality and rhetoric
October 25
, 2001
Success in space
October 24
, 2001
Build on the triumph!
October 23
, 2001
Missing: an Afghan policy
October 22
, 2001
Future of world order hinges on war against terror
October 21
, 2001
West Asia on boil
October 20
, 2001
Powell’s visit and after
October 19
, 2001
TADA in new garb
October 18
, 2001
A “viable” card
October 17
, 2001
George wins his own war
October 16
, 2001
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
 
OPINION

India’s stakes in Afghan war
Significance of understanding with USA
Pran Chopra
I
T is unnecessary and shortsighted for India to be peevish about what Pakistan is getting out of the war in Afghanistan. What it is getting is not much, and some of it is what India is better off without. But what is important for India to ensure is that America does not repeat the mistakes it made in the 1980s and because of which India paid a heavy price, Pakistan paid a still heavier one, and America has ended up paying the heaviest so far. 

ON THE SPOT

Were the Tehelka tapes doctored?
Tavleen Singh
W
OULD I like to see how the Tehelka tapes had been doctored, said the voice on the telephone, because if I did I could come along and take a look? The caller identified himself as Milind Kapoor, a film-maker and expert on digital forensics, and since he was making me an offer I found hard to refuse I went if for no other reason than to find out if my old friend, Jaya Jaitley, was really the corrupt politician she had been made out to be in the Tehelka tapes.

ANALYSIS

How Afghans knock down helicopters
Cecil Victor
U
S air superiority notwithstanding; its 21st century heliborne assault on Afghanistan will meet up with primitive but effective methods adopted by Afghan fighters using handheld rifles, van-mounted single (sometimes double-barrel) anti-aircraft guns and a network of walkie-talkies.

75 YEARS AGO


Removal of offices from Ambala

TRENDS & POINTERS

Pufferfish genome’s clues to humans
S
ingaporean scientists released the genetic blueprint of the Japanese pufferfish on Friday, saying it will help speed up understanding of the human genome. The Japanese pufferfish, or Fugu rubripes, is the first vertebrate genome sequence to be completed after the map of the human genetic code was unveiled earlier this year.

  • 5,00,000 illegal workers in Thailand

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS

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POTO is very much here

THERE are some simple truths about terrorist outfits. And everybody knows them and the exception is the government. One, they do not crave for legal sanction. By their very nature, they operate outside the system. A legal terrorist organisation is an oxymoron or contradiction in terms, to use a famous comment of External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh in a different context. Two, practitioners, supporters and sympathisers of these groups do not wear a badge on their sleeves to proclaim their loyalty. They are more like old-fashioned guerrillas, practising a legal trade but professing a deadly pursuit. Three, terrorists are not born but are often made, to use a cliché. Finally, terrorists are a grave threat not so much to the government as to the political system; political parties lose their relevance during the days of terrorism as Punjab in the late eighties and early nineties and the present Kashmir valley show. The ordinance issued by the Central Government late on Wednesday evening ignores these basic facts. Called Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), it has banned 23 organisations, threatening their members and supporters to 14 years of imprisonment and forcing media men who have met a terrorist in the course of their professional beat to betray the informant or face three years in jail.

In many respects the ordinance is harsher than TADA which lapsed six years ago for want of parliamentary support. This time too opposition parties have declared their determination to defeat the Bill in the Rajya Sabha where they are in majority. Union Home Secretary Kamal Pande claims that the state governments were consulted twice and their views were heard. This is ambiguous and does not indicate which states opposed the idea. For instance, both Andhra Pradesh and Tripura which face home-grown militant groups, are not in favour of a tough law, realising that law is no cure to this problem. The North-East, including Assam and Manipur, two seriously threatened states, are not enthusiastic since they want a negotiated settlement. Why, even the Centre has plumped for a similar path by omitting the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN I-M) from the list of 23 organisations declared as unlawful under the ordinance. The Home Ministry has not done its home work While it has included all known outfits in the Kashmir valley and the North-East, it has showelled in inactive and defunct outfits like the Babbar Khalsa International, Khalsa Commando Force, Khalsa Zindabad Force and International Sikh Youth Federation in the list of banned organisations. This helps to swell the list but makes no sense.
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Disturbing fallout

WHILE American fighter jets are pounding military installations of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network in Operation Enduring Freedom, some bombs are also falling in civilian areas. Whether it is by accident or due to the wrong identification of targets, civilian casualties are rising alarmingly. The US and British television networks cannot hide the reality because media persons from other parts of the world are also near the battlefield to tell the story as they see it. The most prominent of the non-western media networks is CNN and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera. In Al-Jazeera telecasts civilian casualties are being highlighted as much as military targets hit by US air strikes. When Afghan people come to know of hospitals or residential areas being bombed, they feel highly agitated even if they are not Taliban or Bin Laden sympathisers. For them the America-led anti-terrorism coalition is a group of western invaders out to destroy the brave but poor Afghans with the help of treacherous and crafty Pakistanis. Hence the demand from certain Afghan groups to limit the air strikes or end them quickly.

Sayed Ahmed Gailani, a moderate religious leader representing the Sufi stream of Islamic thought, made a significant statement on Wednesday in Peshawar at the beginning of a two-day meeting of religious, tribal, political and military leaders of Afghanistan called to express support for the installation of former King Zahir Shah-led regime in Kabul after the Taliban is toppled. Mr Gailani lamented: "Afghanistan dangles between life and death...Efforts should be made to stop the military operations and start work on the reconstruction of the country as early as possible." He actually echoed the sentiments of the masses who silently curse the forces behind the day and night bombardment since October 7 at a time when the world should have thought of raising adequate funds and other resources for the rehabilitation of the Afghans suffering for over two decades because of an unending civil war and the worst drought in the past 30 years. The situation is taking a horrifying turn. The American air raids might be weakening the Taliban militarily but in the process the number of the militia's sympathisers is multiplying because of the failure to prevent large-scale civilian casualties. The American leadership should give a serious thought to the matter so that its military campaign, aimed at crippling terrorism, does not strengthen the Taliban support base. Such a development may defeat the very purpose of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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Technology to the rescue

THE recent launch of the Technology Experiments Satellite (TES) is a laudable achievement. The need for proper surveillance was seriously felt during the Kargil war when there was infiltration from across the border. The recent launch of the TES, along with other satellites on PSLV-C3, will help bridge the surveillance gap. Though the statement of Indian Space Research Organisation's top officials that the use of this satellite will be "for civilian use consistent with our security concerns," is sufficiently ambiguous, it is clear that this satellite, with a surveillance capability of one metre resolution, will be our eye in the sky. However, it would be useful for a variety of civilian purposes also. This truly makes this satellite a "dual use" vehicle. Some time ago it was pointed out that India actually needed a constellation of as many as half a dozen surveillance satellites for effective coverage. Satellites take snapshots and there are often gaps in coverage. Hence, the need for multiple satellites in different orbits. The indigenisation efforts by ISRO have, indeed, been commendable and it has made major technological leaps since IRS-1A, the satellite which had a resolution of 36 metres. Of course, it needs development of resources at ground stations and analysis of the data it will beam down. A real-time, or as near as possible to this ideal, analysis of the data is imperative to address the security needs of the country. While ISRO has to be lauded for its achievements, it also needs to be kept in mind that such a high resolution of satellite pictures is not all that unusual; and there are various civilian satellites that are capable of it. Such images are even sold. Perhaps, the easing of sanctions by the USA would enable ISRO and other related agencies to improve the technology.

What also requires to be stressed is the need for a cohesive intelligence network so that the data gathered by various sources can be processed. Right now there are too many intelligence agencies and not enough coordination. Various organs have to be brought under a central command structure to ensure better accountability and coordination. This is the need of the hour. We have had enough intelligence goof-ups and we need to take effective steps to streamline our intelligence outfits. It also has to be noted that there are limits to what electronic intelligence can do as the US experience has shown. These are wonderful tools but they have to be manned and used intelligently.
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India’s stakes in Afghan war
Significance of understanding with USA
Pran Chopra

IT is unnecessary and shortsighted for India to be peevish about what Pakistan is getting out of the war in Afghanistan. What it is getting is not much, and some of it is what India is better off without. But what is important for India to ensure is that America does not repeat the mistakes it made in the 1980s and because of which India paid a heavy price, Pakistan paid a still heavier one, and America has ended up paying the heaviest so far. If these mistakes are to be avoided and if India is to contribute to that process New Delhi must understand America’s compulsions and priorities, and America should understand India’s. Grudges on either side will help neither. Nor does it help if India does not see how it has been benefited so far by the war against the Taliban.

Before it gets too late, India and America should try to accommodate each other in three or four areas of divergence between them which are emerging. India’s interests in each are obvious. America can see its own more clearly if it realises that on each of them India has the clear support of Russia but not, so far, of America. How far does America wish to push that difference, seeing that its own detente with Russia still has some hurdles to cross? Russia and America continue to differ conspicuously on ABM, NATO’s expansion, and in the more immediate context on Russian suspicions about what may lie behind America’s military presence in Uzbekistan.

India should appreciate that at this time America is understandably single-minded in going after Osama bin Laden and his network. It is, therefore, glad to reward those who can help. In the given circumstances Pakistan can help more than India can because of its contiguity with the theater of war, and also as the most prominent Islamic country whose support America can boast of in a war which is far from popular in the Muslim world. But Pakistan and America must also remember what happened to both 30 years ago when they conspired to put an end to the pro-Soviet regimes in Kabul, which were the first ever that had tried to bring Afghanistan into the modern world.

Later on both America and Pakistan were to justify that conspiracy in the name of driving Soviet forces out of Afghanistan. But American documents show that the American President started inciting Afghan opposition to these regimes long before Soviet troops came in, and he did so in spite of a warning by his own Department of State that such a course would bring Soviet forces in.

Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union America continued to turn a deaf ear to India’s well-documented complaints that on the one hand Pakistan was breeding the Taliban brood to gain control over Afghanistan and on the other hand it was pushing armed Afghan militants into Kashmir. But now America’s own actions have turned up stronger proof of Pakistan’s double headed complicity than any that India could muster. On October 23 an American bomb discovered and killed a score of Pakistani militants huddled together in Kabul, intending to join the Taliban’s war with America. Taliban-trained fighters joining the Pakistani jehad against India in Kashmir was only the other side of this coin.

India became a target of this jehad when, defeated in war, Pakistan turned to religious bigotry for training a horde of Islamist fanatics because it believed India’s multi-religious society would be vulnerable to their weaponry. New Delhi warned Washington that India was not the only target, and that the Talibanisation of Afghanistan would spread the same disease to other countries, including those which were close to America, and most noticeably to Pakistan itself. That disease is a very heavy price for Pakistan to have paid for the advantages which it is enjoying over India in the present contingency.

If India’s relations with the USA had been better its pleas and warnings might have been heard better. But India had to wait till September 11 for that hearing. However, need to improve relations with America not only continues but is greater than before. Improvement is also more sustainable now because it coincides more with India’s own interests than it did through most of the past half a century. Practically throughout the decades of the Cold War it was not possible for India to seek better relations with the USA except by giving up some basic tenets of India’s foreign policy and some of India’s perceptions of its own major interests, and India rightly decided not to pay that price. But now that is not so. What stands between the two countries today is not any serious clash of national interests but only the danger that either side might fail to understand the other’s interests. If that happened, such long-term misunderstandings could arise as would nullify the congruence which developed between them with remarkable speed during the decade of the 1990s.

America cannot possibly expect that for the sake of keeping Pakistan in good humour India will allow hostile elements to threaten India’s security, whether from within or outside. But it has the right to expect that India will not heat up the region unnecessarily when America is in the midst of a war with those who perpetrated the September 11 tragedy and needs the help which Pakistan claims it is willing to give despite the domestic complications it might face as a consequence. For this reason it is unfortunate that India repeatedly holds out in public threats of what it might do across the LoC in Kashmir. An ounce of action on the ground, when justified, would be much better than a needless war of words.

At the same time India has the right to expect that America will not agree to such a post-war dispensation in Afghanistan as will again expose India to the kind of threats Pakistan has posed for it in the past with the help of Afghan militants who are fired up by Pakistan with jehadi zeal. Therefore, America must respect Indian opposition to the inclusion of any Taliban elements in a post-Taliban government whom Pakistan may present as “moderate Taliban”. That phrase can cover many sins, and this is one of the areas of possible divergence between India and America which is emerging.

A second area concerns Indian and American views of “the terrorists” against whom this war is supposed to be waged. Is the term to be defined so narrowly that it includes only Osama and his Al-Qaeda network? Or is it also to cover, if not today then tomorrow, those who have practised terrorism against India since long before they turned upon America? Washington has given assurances that it will deal with other terrorists also in due course. But India has reason to worry on two counts. First, how long will it be before the second chapter opens after the first has ended, and will it include the terrorist organisations based in Pakistan? This worry will only increase in proportion to the leverage America accepts for Pakistan in post-war Afghanistan.

Second, will America on the other hand extend the terms so widely as to cover Iran, Iraq, Libya and other targets of convenience it might find in its list of “rogue states”? The point is not whether these be rogues or not. But any action against them will raise far-ranging issues of foreign policy which cannot be extrapolated into the on-going war, largely an Anglo-American enterprise, on the terrorism which has fanned out of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Even Pakistan might find such wide ranging definitions to be unacceptable. India certainly will, and so will Russia, and perhaps some European members of the alliance America has built up for this war.

India and America differ also on the role of the United Nations. As at the time of the wars in the Gulf and in Kosovo, India would have preferred more active leadership by the United Nations in Afghanistan too even if it had to entrust military operations to America and others. Since successive Secretaries-General of the United Nations have themselves scuttled this role, and none more pusillanimously than Mr Kofi Annan, at least the political processes which must follow the operations should see the UN at its head. But what is heading them is an arbitrarily constituted grouping called six plus two which is held together — if it is — by no logical definition at all. Not by contiguity, because America is far from contiguous, not by status in the Security Council, because even some Permanent Members are excluded, not by global status because Germany and Japan are excluded, not by Islamic status (even assuming its relevance) because Saudi Arabia and Egypt are excluded despite having the most exalted status in that category, not by Islamic size, because the country with most Muslims, Indonesia, is excluded. It is time the United Nations took a leading hand in the process. India wants it, America does not. But it is only under the UN umbrella that these contradictions can be resolved.

Since these differences can best be resolved in cooperation with America, improving relations with it remains a priority for India. True, there is no guarantee that America will respond. It did not in the past. Instead it cut its nose to please Pakistan. But in the first place the decade of the 1990s has left its mark on American assessments, including many about India. Second, India’s position in the world is far better today than it was at any time in the past two decades, and if it could claw its way out of the pit in the past it can do so again, and again America will have to recognise realities as it has done in the past decade.

Therefore, improved relations with America remain a high priority for India, and for assessing it correctly India must take into account the positive side also of the Afghan war and not only the divergences with America. It is a gain for India, not loss, that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is facing extinction; that whatever succeeds it will have very different stripes; that Russia is bound to have a greater say in the affairs of the region than at any time during the past two decades; that what Russia faces in Chechenya and India in Kashmir now stands out more clearly for the world to see; that Kashmiri separatists have now seen a different face of those whom they had earlier seen as supporters of their cause; that Pakistan has been forced to curb its own fanatically Islamist parties; that Pakistan is at odds now with several Muslim majority countries, including some of its closest neighbours; that the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) will now have to reassess its identity; and that the dangers of jehad have been exposed to the world more than ever before. Of course, America has also had to undergo this learning process. But it has also played an important part in the teaching process.

The writer is a former Editor of The Statesman.
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ON THE SPOT

Were the Tehelka tapes doctored?
Tavleen Singh

WOULD I like to see how the Tehelka tapes had been doctored, said the voice on the telephone, because if I did I could come along and take a look? The caller identified himself as Milind Kapoor, a film-maker and expert on digital forensics, and since he was making me an offer I found hard to refuse I went if for no other reason than to find out if my old friend, Jaya Jaitley, was really the corrupt politician she had been made out to be in the Tehelka tapes.

I have known Jaya for many years, long before she became a politician. It was when she was one of Delhi’s leading ladies of handlooms and handicrafts that I first met her. She was redesigning the wares of the Gujarat Emporium which, at the time, sold the usual dusty, dreary collection of poor quality textiles and hand-crafted objects that government emporiums specialise in. The advent of Jaya brought about a transformation so spectacular that people actually started seeking Gujarat out when they went shopping in the bazaar of state emporiums that exists opposite Delhi’s Hanuman Mandir. She went on to set up a crafts bazaar called the Dilli Haat and somewhere along the line —still clad in elegant handloom saris and large red bindi — slipped into the murky world of politics.

She chose the Left, the opposite side from where I usually stand, and although I often disagreed with her views the one thing that I was not prepared to believe was that she was corrupt. So, when the Tehelka bombshell exploded onto our television screens last March I found myself gasping at the sight of her apparently meeting a shady bunch of arms dealers and accepting money to, according to Tehelka, push their case with the Defence Minister.

When I asked Jaya how this happened she was vociferous in her denials, so vociferous that she went on nationwide TV channels to loudly state that she had taken no money and done no wrong. Her story is that the Tehelka team of pretend arms dealers had been brought to her office in the Defence Minister’s home by someone she knew who had told her that they were in the electronics business.

She met them, as she meets a stream of other visitors in the Minister’s home which also serves as his party office and centre for the various causes he espouses. Incidentally, anyone can walk into his house, since it does not even have a gate on it, leave alone security.

In this particular case a certain caution would have come in handy since the fake arms dealers came bearing hidden cameras. Then, as everyone who saw the Tehelka tapes saw, a disembodied voice on the Tehelka tapes offered to make Jaya a contribution to the Samata Party to which she said he should send it to such and such party functionary who was at that moment in charge of organising a convention. Jaya did not personally take the money and was so certain that she had done no wrong that she defended herself aggressively on television but to no benefit since the average Indian believes fundamentally that all politicians are corrupt and was of the general opinion that Tehelka had done a national service by exposing them and the scumbag officials who do their bidding. Personally, I remained unconvinced of Jaya’s corruption because, of all the politicians I have met in my time, I count her as among the least likely to use politics as a means of furthering her personal fortunes.

So, when Milind Kapoor called I readily agreed to go and examine his evidence of ‘doctoring’. He turned out to be a tall, bearded man in his mid-thirties who told his story with the help of a laptop. He prefaced the laptop demonstration with an explanation for why, if he was not in some way an interested party, he had chosen to spend so much time forensically examining the Tehelka tapes.

“Intense curiosity,” he said: “I make films for a living and happen to own a non-linear editing system or I may not have bothered. But, when I first saw the tapes on Zee TV, I noticed strange dissolves and sounds that indicated that seemed to indicate that changes had been made. This is why I tried to get hold of a copy of the tapes.”

Copies of the best portions of the expose had been handed out at Tehelka’s first press conference and it was one of these that he got hold of. On it he counted six or seven instances of ‘doctoring’ and decided to write a report on this for the Venkataswamy Commission which is currently investigating the Tehelka expose. In his report he drew attention to what he calls ‘voices being added and backgrounds being changed’. His report caused the Commission to send members of the Special Investigating Team to meet him and to them he repeated his allegations and suggested that the matter be investigated by some government agency. For three months he heard nothing more about the matter and only came back into the picture when he was contacted by some of the lawyers for the defendants. He was called on to submit his findings before the Commission which ruled that his findings did not really alter the case. So, he was keen on telling his story to journalists to see how they reacted to what he had found.

After this preface he turned on his laptop and played some of the portions that he believed had been changed crucially. One example was of a Colonel Saigal saying in Punjabi “pehlan tusi update lyao” which when sub-titled by Tehelka ended up as “give me 10 lakhs”. In another instance we have the name C.F. Thompson (a major international armaments firm) being inserted instead of the words ‘previous company’. In Jaya’s case, which I told him I was particularly interested in, he said that a conversation about Rs 2 lakh being given to her was not held in her presence but somewhere else and tagged on to make it sound as if she was there. Even in Bangaru Laxman’s case he detected words being edited out.

When he finished I told him that I would not be writing anything without first checking with Tarun Tejpal, a journalist for whom I have the deepest respect. So, I rang Tarun and told him what I had seen adding that to my untrained ears it had sounded as if changes had been made.

Tarun said he had heard that Milind Kapoor was showing his alleged evidence of ‘doctoring’ to journalists but pointed out that the Commission had rejected these findings. He added, ‘I want to put on record that not a single frame has been doctored. This is just part of the government’s attempts to discredit Tehelka. You should ask Shankar Sharma about the witch-hunt against him’.

Sharma is the stockbroker who is alleged to be the real owner of Tehelka and the man who some charge with manipulating the stock market because of prior knowledge of the expose. I did indeed get in touch with him and what he had to tell was a horror story of victimization and persecution but as I have run out of space you will have to wait for next week to read what happened to Shankar Sharma and his wife. The Tehelka story is far from over.Top

 

How Afghans knock down helicopters
Cecil Victor

US air superiority notwithstanding; its 21st century heliborne assault on Afghanistan will meet up with primitive but effective methods adopted by Afghan fighters using handheld rifles, van-mounted single (sometimes double-barrel) anti-aircraft guns and a network of walkie-talkies.

It does not really matter if the radar and communications network has been reduced to rubble by US beyond-visual-range, high-altitude bombardment. When it comes to the ground war, the human element can become a great equalizer.

Long before the Taliban could gain control of Kabul, interviews with Mujahideen forces under the command of President Burhanuddin Rabbani (now the Northern Alliance in control of Tajik-Uzbek belt), revealed a guerrilla’s way of combating superior Soviet airpower: Local commanders had instructed their troops to fire collectively into the air with their rifles in the general direction of the incoming helicopter.

Over their walkie-talkies, the Afghans would inform those in the footprint of the helicopter about the direction in which it is moving and all fighters on the ground would fire their automatic weapons in that direction. Quite often they hit bullseye and the evidence was in the numerous photographs showing burnt-out hulks and twisted rotor blades with grinning Afghans in the foreground. The Stinger missiles came later and then the Soviet helicopter losses mounted exponentially.

The Soviets learned this to their cost in Afghanistan. The Americans lost the war in Vietnam to such tactics and they tasted bitter fruit when the fighters of warlord Aideed used similar methods to shoot down a US helicopter in Somalia and drag the bodies of US soldiers in the streets of Mogadishu. Already, just two days since the US ground forces have began their search and destroy missions two helicopters have been lost, one in an accident in Pakistan and another inside Afghanistan. Protective use of chaff and flare dispensers, useful against anti-aircraft missiles, are useless against line-of-sight weapons like rifles and the single/twin-barrel anti-aircraft weapons in the hands of fighters on the ground.

The patter of bullets on the underbelly of a helicopter and on its windscreen, even if they are not directly destructive, are unnerving enough for the pilot to make the wrong manoeuvre and crash-land.

In the urban-guerrilla warfare around Kandahar and Kabul where the Taliban would be deployed either in houses or among the rubble of these cities, night time helicopter-borne attacks have a better chance of survival especially if helicopter pilot has infrared sights to detect humans on the ground. Assault troops can pick off those on the ground from the air before landing for their search-and-destroy mission. ADNI
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Removal of offices from Ambala

AT a meeting of citizens of Ambala City, comprising men of every creed and community and representing all shades of opinion, a resolution was passed protesting against the Deputy Commissioner Ambala's proposal to remove all Civil, Criminal and Revenue Courts and the Headquarters of the Police from the precincts of the city to the cantonment. In the opinion of the meeting the acceptance of this proposal would sound the death knell of the commercial and economic life of the town and give a severe blow to its progress and prosperity.
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TRENDS & POINTERS

Pufferfish genome’s clues to humans

Singaporean scientists released the genetic blueprint of the Japanese pufferfish on Friday, saying it will help speed up understanding of the human genome.

The Japanese pufferfish, or Fugu rubripes, is the first vertebrate genome sequence to be completed after the map of the human genetic code was unveiled earlier this year.

“This will help us to understand the human genome better and faster,” Dr Bryrappa Venkatesh of Singapore’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) told Reuters.

The Fugu Genome Project consortium was lead by the IMCB and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute, which was involved in decoding the human genetic blueprint.

The Singapore team has spent 11 years on the project.

The fugu, a popular Japanese delicacy which puffs up into a spiky baseball-sized globe when threatened, is expected to provide vital clues to how human genes are regulated. The fugu is separated from humans by a 450-million-year evolutionary gap. Similar regulatory sequences found between the two are believed to be essential for survival.

At about one-eighth the size of the human genome, the fugu’s is the smallest known genome of all vertebrates, making the discovery of genes and regulatory sequences a much easier task. DNA between two genes contain the regulatory elements for an organism. In the fugu, this region is concise and contains none of the repetitive elements humans have.

5,00,000 illegal workers in Thailand

Thailand registered more than 500,000 of its estimated two million illegal workers over the past month as part of a bid to control the flow from impoverished Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Elawat Chandraprasert, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Labour, said in a statement on Friday that his ministry had registered 5,59,541 illegal immigrants after a one-month registration period ending on Thursday. Labour officials said the number was almost 60,000 higher than the ministry had anticipated.

“We thought we would get about 500,000 immigrants to register, but we had almost 5,60,000 workers,” a ministry spokesman told Reuters.

Over the past decade, millions of people from neighbouring Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos have fled war and poverty and found work in Thailand as housemaids, labourers and fishermen.

Despite regular crackdowns, authorities have been unable to stop the human tide. In the first half of this year alone, police said they arrested and deported about 1,20,000 illegal workers. Those who failed to register over the past month will be rounded up and may be fined, jailed or deported at their employer’s expense. Reuters
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You need not dread an open enemy who is threatening like a drawn sword but you must always be afraid of foes who pretended to be your friends.

***

Always beware of hidden enmity, and protect yourself. Otherwise in times of adversity it will quietly cut your throat like the potter's knife.

***

Persons who in their evil heart harbour a hidden hatred against you, even if they are your own kinsmen, will cause you innumerable troubles.

***

A casket and its cover through perfectly fitting each other outside will be hollow outside will be hollow inside.

Similarly persons living in the same household with hidden hatred to each other can never maintain inner contract of the heart.

***

Gold under the action of the fire will be worn away. Similarly, the solidarity of the home life will wear out if any one member cherishes hidden hatred.

***

Though hidden enmity is as small as a fraction of a sesame seed, it is potent enough to cause immense destruction.

***

Home life of persons whose hearts are not in accord is similar to a man and a snake living together in the same hut.

— The Tirukkural, 882-884, 887-890.

***

A man will remain healthy for ever if he takes salutary diet, possesses a good conduct, acts wisely, has no addiction to sense objects, is open hearted, truthful, impartial and merciful, and keeps company with noble and gentle people.

— Charaka Samhita, Sharirasthana, 2/15

***

Foods and drinks blessed by the Compassionate Lord alone are pure.

— Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Var Asa M1, page 47
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