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EDITORIALS

Cabinet Mark II
Manmohan inducts new faces
P
rime Minister Manmohan Singh’s first major expansion and reshuffle of the Union Cabinet since he assumed office in 2004 is a shrewd exercise calculated to send out multiple messages. The most significant change is the handing over of Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s portfolio of Petroleum and Natural Gas to new entrant Mr Murli Deora who, over the years, has been a senior Congress leader.

Across the Arabian Sea
India, Saudi Arabia look ahead
T
HE Delhi Declaration signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia last Friday has acquired special significance from various angles. Not only that the monarch signed such a document for the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia, but also because of his assertion that India’s position was “very special” in the Saudi scheme of things.



EARLIER STORIES

Serious journalism must remain part of democratic dharma
January 29, 2006
Crisis continues
January 28, 2006
Go ahead with N-deal
January 26, 2006
Go home, Buta
January 25, 2006
Return of Raja Bhaiya
January 24, 2006
Speaker has no other choice
January 23, 2006
We will focus on economic agenda, says Muzaffar
January 22, 2006
Rein in the khaps
January 21, 2006
Tackling Musharraf
January 20, 2006
Scams and the system
January 19, 2006
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Change of guard
Karnataka Governor’s decision proper
K
arnataka Governor T.N. Chaturvedi has followed correct constitutional norms by inviting Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to form a new government following Chief Minister Dharam Singh’s failure to prove his majority by January 27. The Governor has also directed Mr Kumaraswamy to prove his majority within eight days of taking charge.

ARTICLE

Waters of contention
Pakistan, Afghanistan may have tough bargaining to do
by Gurinder Randhawa
S
haring of river waters by Pakistan and Afghanistan is developing into a major row between the two neighbours. With almost complete harnessing of three eastern tributaries (Satluj, Beas and Ravi) of the Indus by India, and the Chenab and the Jhelum by Pakistan, the only major water contributions to the Indus now come from its western tributaries which all originate in Afghanistan.

MIDDLE

That golden voice
by Chetna Keer Banerjee
A
T the time of marriage, most girls like to take along the belongings that have sentimental value for them. One such precious possession also followed me to my marital home. My musical companion of many months, the harmonium.

OPED

Punjabis more active in Canada’s politics
by Lubica Hauswaldova
F
OR an ever-growing number of Punjabi-speaking Canadians, the mid-term election to their lower house of Parliament this week (January 23) was not just about seating more brown faces or turbaned heads in the House of Commons.

Cheap flights cause higher gas emissions
by Martin Hickman
T
HE boom in foreign travel generated by cheaper air fares and no frills airlines will wreck attempts to bring climate change under control, environmentalists fear. As the travel industry prepares for record bookings in 2006, green groups expressed concern over the “failure” of the British Government to curb the availability of cheap flights that have sent aviation pollution surging.

Chatterati
Delhi-ites turn to golf
by Devi Cherian
M
OVE over P3 parties with their share of air-kissing and falling hemlines, Delhi has found a more savvy way to unwind and network. So instead of night clubs and discotheques, Delhi’s elite meet at golf courses. And why not if such dos come with a snob quotient that can give any midnight revelry a run for its money!

From the pages of

 
 REFLECTIONS

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Cabinet Mark II
Manmohan inducts new faces

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s first major expansion and reshuffle of the Union Cabinet since he assumed office in 2004 is a shrewd exercise calculated to send out multiple messages. The most significant change is the handing over of Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s portfolio of Petroleum and Natural Gas to new entrant Mr Murli Deora who, over the years, has been a senior Congress leader. Yet, this is part of the wider exercise which combines the induction of new blood with more representation to regions while at the same time keeping an eye on the states headed for elections. However, among the 11 new Cabinet ministers and seven ministers of state can also be counted those who bring much-needed experience to the Council. Prominent among these are Andhra Pradesh Governor Sushil Kumar Shinde, who has been given charge of Power, and former Maharashtra Chief Minister A.R. Antulay, who has been named Minister for Minority Affairs.

While Mr Deora’s charge of Petroleum and Natural Gas can have a bearing on the emerging oil policy, the fact that External Affairs is in the Prime Minister’s hands suggests that he would oversee the direction of energy diplomacy too. It is notable that none of the incumbents in charge of key portfolios, namely Home, Defence and Finance, have been touched though they have new Ministers of State. Prominent among these are Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal in Finance and Mr Anand Sharma in External Affairs. Congress party spokesperson Ambika Soni’s induction at the Cabinet level in charge of Tourism and Culture and Mr Ashwani Kumar being taken on board as Minister of State for Industries are expected additions.

Mr Manmohan Singh has sought to strike a good balance in terms of regional representation. With Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad having moved to J & K, the inclusion of Mr Saifuddin Soz from Jammu and Kashmir was a foregone conclusion, though the ministership to Mrs D. Purandareshwari (daughter of N T Rama Rao) is a surprise. The upcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and Kerala too have been reckoned with. A senior Congress leader from Kerala, Mr Vayalar Ravi, has been assigned Overseas Indian Affairs while two Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu — Mr G. K. Vasan and Mr E.V.K. Elangovan — have been appointed Ministers of State. The expansion was long overdue and it is clear that the Prime Minister wants the new team to show better results in the implementation of the UPA’s policies.

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Across the Arabian Sea
India, Saudi Arabia look ahead

THE Delhi Declaration signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia last Friday has acquired special significance from various angles. Not only that the monarch signed such a document for the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia, but also because of his assertion that India’s position was “very special” in the Saudi scheme of things. Whatever the meaning of the expression for him, India and Saudi Arabia joining hands to launch a drive against terrorism is bound to unnerve not only terrorist masterminds but also those using these forces of death and destruction for their narrow ends.

There is every possibility that the “broad strategic vision” the two countries have committed themselves to develop may lead to greater peace and stability in the region and the rest of the world. Both India and Saudi Arabia need to cooperate with each other to achieve these aims. If India needs increased supply of Saudi oil and funds, which will be available now, for spurring economic growth, Saudi Arabia can benefit from India’s expertise in the areas of science and technology, healthcare, education, small-scale industries, infrastructure development, etc.

With Saudi Arabia agreeing to become India’s largest energy partner, it can reduce pressure on New Delhi to look for adequate and assured supply of oil and gas from elsewhere. The development can be expected to have an impact on the behaviour of the countries using the Islamic card to jeopardize India’s interests. The so-called Islamic card is unlikely to influence Saudi Arabia’s relations as King Abdullah virtually made it clear in New Delhi that he did not believe in playing a zero-sum game in South Asia. The new high in Indo-Saudi relations may also result in India improving its ties with many other countries of West Asia, most of whom are members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference. What impact the growing relationship with Saudi Arabia will have on its ties with Iran remains to be seen. May be, New Delhi will have to develop greater skill in fine-tuning, given the delicate nature of relations between Teheran and Riyadh.

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Change of guard
Karnataka Governor’s decision proper

Karnataka Governor T.N. Chaturvedi has followed correct constitutional norms by inviting Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to form a new government following Chief Minister Dharam Singh’s failure to prove his majority by January 27. The Governor has also directed Mr Kumaraswamy to prove his majority within eight days of taking charge. Mr Kumaraswamy will be sworn in as Chief Minister on February 3 along with BJP leader Mr B.S. Yediyurappa (who will be the Deputy Chief Minister). Following Mr Kumaraswamy’s withdrawal of support to the Congress-led ministry on January 18, the Governor had given ample opportunity to Mr Dharam Singh to prove his majority in the House. However, the Congress paralysed the functioning of the House on Friday and he failed to seek the vote of confidence. Significantly, the Speaker recognised Mr Kumaraswamy as the JD (S) leader and adjourned the House sine die.

Mr Dharam Singh’s resignation on Saturday after a meeting with the Governor does not come as a surprise. He knew that he had lost the majority the day Mr Kumaraswamy broke away from the coalition. The new JD (S)-BJP coalition does have the numbers at present. However, it is doubtful to what extent it would go beyond power sharing to the pursuit of common good. The JD (S) is a divided house. Its parliamentary leader, Mr Veerendra Kumar — not Mr H.D. Deve Gowda — has said that Mr Kumaraswamy and the “other rebels” who will join hands with the BJP to form the government would be expelled from the party on February 3.

Even as the JD (S) is facing an identity crisis, the BJP is bound to feel happy with the turn of events. Karnataka will be the first state in the South to come into its fold. It is the single-largest party with 79 members in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. It could not capture power after the elections last time as the Congress cobbled together a coalition with the JD (S). Whether it can provide good and stable governance this time, in cooperation with the JD (S), is open to question. As of now, it will take considerable time for political situation to stabilise in Karnataka.

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Thought for the day

I can resist everything except temptation.

— Oscar Wilde

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Waters of contention
Pakistan, Afghanistan may have tough bargaining to do
by Gurinder Randhawa

Sharing of river waters by Pakistan and Afghanistan is developing into a major row between the two neighbours. With almost complete harnessing of three eastern tributaries (Satluj, Beas and Ravi) of the Indus by India, and the Chenab and the Jhelum by Pakistan, the only major water contributions to the Indus now come from its western tributaries which all originate in Afghanistan. Rivers Kabul, Kunar and their tributaries like the Gorband, the Panjshir, the Kaitur, the Kochi and the Gomal have their origins in the mighty Hindukush and Suleimanki ranges in Afghanistan. Being all snow-fed, these rivers bring water bounty to Pakistan at the time of the year when it needs the most, before the onset of the monsoon.

Faced with an acute water shortage anticipated to worsen further in the years to come, Islamabad is worried as its food production has reached a plateau, forcing it to import even wheat and sugar. With the rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, the demand for power is also rising, widening the gap between the demand and availability. Pakistan is, therefore, eyeing the unutilised waters of Afghanistan rivers by contributing a series of multipurpose dams. But before committing billions of rupees into these projects, Kabul’s consent is essential for assured water availability.

The dams Pakistan has planned include the controversial Kalabagh, which is strongly opposed by the people of North-West Frontier Province. The residents of NWFP and Baluchistan feel that the execution of these projects will mean their lands and villages being submerged, resulting in dislocation of populations and all the benefits going to the people of Punjab and Sindh.

Faced with this grim situation, Pakistan is tying hard to push the signing of a water sharing treaty with Afghanistan at the earliest on the lines of the India-Pakistan Indus Water Treaty of 1960. But having seen though Pakistan’s game, Afghanistan seems to be in no hurry and has different ideas. It has plans to construct its own projects to utilise the maximum water available. It also does not want to commit the mistake India did by not properly securing its right to make even non-consumptive use of water in its riparian areas. The Afghans have thoroughly studied the Indus Water Treaty and seem to have become wiser by the difficulties being faced by India with Pakistan, having taken the matter for international arbitration over the hydel projects being executed by India in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Afghan authorities are in no hurry to sign away their rights on waters before studying it from all angles. Considering the river waters as their precious natural resource, they propose to exact the best out of the rivers originating and having their catchments areas in territory. They are busy collecting the data to analyse and identify Afghanistan’s share and its maximum utilisation. Over and above their own requirement and utilisation, if they find excess waters, they propose to sell their surplus to Pakistan at commercial terms, with a clause to take it back if they feel its requirement at a later stage.

Afghanistan at present utilises just a fraction of Kabul waters to irrigate about 12,000 acres of land. It plans to construct a dam on the Kabul river and set up the Kama Hydroelectric Project to utilise 0.5 MAF water to irrigate additional 14,000 acres.

Pakistan is feeling greatly frustrated in its designs as during Taliban rule it felt more confident in easily concluding a water sharing agreement at most beneficial terms, but the situation has completely changed after the Taliban rout.

Pakistani earnestness to push through the agreement was more than evident during the visit of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to Islamabad in July last year. The Pakistani media trumpeted a big hype, obviously on the prompting of the Pakistan Foreign Office, that the treaty was going to be signed during the visit. But the Afghans just maintained their silence on the subject Mr Karzai’s visit.

The Pakistan government has set up a nine-member committee under the Pakistan Permanent Commission of Indus Waters in Lahore, with members from the Water and Power Development Authority, Foreign Office, Law Ministry and governments of NWFP and Baluchistan to formulate its strategy on the matter. The committee’s interim report on the water treaty draft estimates the water from the Kabul river entering Pakistan at 17 million acre feet (MAF) annually.

Pakistan has accused Afghanistan of not providing the required data on the water availability and utilisation projects. The committee’s interim report also accuses the provincial governments of NWFP and Baluchistan for their failure to provide information on water discharges at various locations on the rivers common with Afghanistan.

Water scarcity in Pakistan is considered as a major hurdle in increasing food production, and experts say if more reservoirs are not constructed, the present shortage of 40 MAF would rise to 100 MAF by 2003 and to 150 MAF by 2025. Their worry is further compounded by the decrease in the storage capacity of the existing dams. They estimate that the capacity of the major Pakistan dams - Mangla, Tarbela, Hub, Khanpur, Chashma and Simly - has come down to 13 MAF from 16.637 MAF.

Pakistan utilises about 50 per cent of its 140 MAF run-off water available and draws about 70 MAF from ground water. Of the total 210 MAF, it utilises 100 MAF for irrigation while 40 MAF reaches the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan has prepared a 25-year perspective plan — the Water Resources and Hydropower Development Programme-Vision 2025 - to augment its water utilisation for irrigation and hydel generation. It envisages raising the height of the Mangla Dam to increase its capacity at an estimated cost of Rs 146.8 billion.

Apart from the irrigation water shortage, the increasing power demand in Pakistan is another major crisis developing for the Pakistan federal authorities. Pakistani experts estimate that the annual increase in power demand is likely to rise above 20 per cent from the present 6 per cent. They ascribe this mainly to the rising industrial activity and fast expansion of the urban areas. The Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority’s generation capacity is 15764 MW. WAPDA estimated a shortfall of 600 MW in 2004, and forecast an acute shortage by 2015 unless the hydel projects on the international rivers were taken up and executed in right earnest.

The Gomal Zam dam on the Gomal river at Khajuri Kack in the South Wazirisatan Agency of NWFP, about 120 km from Dera Ismail Khan, is estimated to cost Rs. 12.829 billion. The758-feet-long-and 47-feet-high multipurpose dam will have a storage capacity of 1.1 MAF. It will irrigate 16,086 acres of land in the Dera Ismail Khan area. Besides, it will generate 17.4 MW power also.

The Miran Dam’s location is on the Dasht river in Makran division of Baluchistan. With a height of 127 feet, it will have a storage capacity of 15200 MAF. Costing Rs 5.811 billion, it will irrigate 73200 acres.

The Sabkazai Dam, also in Baluchistan will cost Rs.1.1 billion, have a capacity of 21646 MAF and irrigate 66800 acres.

The biggest snag in executing all these ambitious projects is the absence of a water sharing agreement with Afghanistan, which has the right of first use over the waters of the rivers originating from its territory. A very hard bargaining is likely to be witnessed, seeing the frustrating eagerness of Pakistan on the one side and Afghanistan not likely to let its rights go for a song on the other. With the new democratic set-up under President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan taking firmer control and theTaliban no longer there to oblige, Pakistan’s problems are not likely to be addressed easily.

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That golden voice
by Chetna Keer Banerjee

AT the time of marriage, most girls like to take along the belongings that have sentimental value for them. One such precious possession also followed me to my marital home. My musical companion of many months, the harmonium.

For, it reminded me of a person who was not only the “melody queen” in my life but also a “mother figure”. Lata Sathe, the gifted Maharashtrian singer and teacher who had honed the musical talents of many a Chandigarhian for nearly 14 years.

When she moved from the city in 1995 to her new home in Gurgaon, not only my guru went, but also the nearest to a gurukul I’ve ever known. For, hers was an open house where one lived music. Some shishyas left at the end of the day, others came to stay.

The harmonium, which I had bought when I became her student, fell into disuse after she left. With her mellifluous voice no longer there to guide me, its sound was no more music to my ears. I broke my promise to her of doing riyaaz daily. And though the harmonium moved from my parental home with me, it scarcely moved from the obscure corner of my new house to which it stood consigned for years.

Until one day, I couldn’t bear to see the harmonium gathering dust. And I gathered the determination to find myself another guru.

The city had no dearth of music teachers. But they had their own terms and conditions.

Some were too well-established to come home and teach. Others taught only at cultural establishments. To some, it made more economic sense to teach large batches than invest time in a lone student wanting individual attention.

Others believed more in catching ‘em young. They preferred to groom future Sonu Nigams wanting to make music a career than a middle-aged mother seeking music as a hobby. And some were so heavily booked for concerts that their unavailability was disconcerting.

I realised that this search was not only about meeting their terms, but also coming to terms with the fact that a replacement for my Kumar Gandharva-trained guru would be hard to come by in this city. For, she had not been a mere teacher but an institution. It was like looking for a vintage gramophone record in an age when it’s easier to get hold of an MP3.

A yearning for a golden voice soaked in years of shastriya sangeet in an era that produces more of overnight pop sensations and remix gurus.

But, finally, thanks to the efforts of a fellow music lover, my search ended. And at my door arrived a gentleman steeped as much in the classical tradition as well-versed with the nuances of new-age digital recording.

Today, five years after my beloved guru departed from this world, my harmonium makes music again. To carry forward her legacy even though the musical paradise I lost may never be regained.

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Punjabis more active in Canada’s politics
by Lubica Hauswaldova

Ujjal Dosanjh
Ujjal Dosanjh
Herb Dhaliwal
Herb Dhaliwal

FOR an ever-growing number of Punjabi-speaking Canadians, the mid-term election to their lower house of Parliament this week (January 23) was not just about seating more brown faces or turbaned heads in the House of Commons.

With Punjabi becoming the third most widely used language in Ottawa’s Parliament Hill — after the twin official languages of English and French — representation for Indo-Canadians, judging by their numbers in the last two legislatures, is already a fait accompli of Canadian public life.

But for Canadians of Indian origin the latest election was about much more than the number of MPs: it was about integration in their land of adoption, about the ability to push through their agenda at the national level in alliance with “mainstream” groups and even a bid to influence Canada’s external affairs in howsoever limited a fashion.

The election brought the veterans back to the House, where they can now be counted among the senior members: Gurbax Malhi, who was first elected in 1993 and is best known in North America for organising the tercentenary of the Khalsa in Parliament six years ago and institutionalising Baisakhi celebrations; Indore-educated Deepak Obhrai, a fourth-time winner who came to Canada less than 30 years ago; and Ujjal Dosanjh, Health Minister in the previous government who made history as the first Punjabi to become premier of a Canadian province.

In all, the new House of Commons will have 10 MPs, who trace their origin to South Asia, including three whose ancestors first settled in East Africa before they immigrated to Canada. Eight of these 10 MPs speak Punjabi.

The outcome of Canada’s last three elections has shown how far the million-strong Indo-Canadian community — of whom about 500,000 are Punjabis — have come since a small group of their ancestors immigrated one hundred years ago.

With today’s political correctness, it is tempting to forget that these early settlers faced a hostile reception, endured hardship, discrimination and humiliation in political and social life and that they did not have the right to vote or participate in elections until 1947.

It took another 20 years before the authorities realised that European immigrants were not coming in large enough numbers to populate the second biggest country on earth and fully opened their gates to non-white settlers.

Indians are still considerably behind the Chinese in numbers among Canada’s growing ethnic communities, but the Indians — especially the Punjabis — are now objects of a mix of admiration and envy not only among South East Asians, but even among the East Europeans for their seemingly unstoppable march towards establishing a strong political presence.

When Herb Dhaliwal was appointed in 1997 as Federal Revenue Minister by the then Prime Minister, Indo-Canadians hailed the choice as historic for their community. After the latest election, the talk among Conservatives, the new ruling party, was about which of their South Asian MPs will be drafted into Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Cabinet, not whether there will be a South Asian minister at all.

Thanks to Indo-Canadian MPs, new passport offices have been opened in the Greater Toronto Area enabling the elderly and non-English speaking immigrants to go to those offices accompanied by interpreters or relatives.

Watching the people of Indian origin campaign in the elections, it was clear that they have now built a network that can match those of other successful immigrant groups. On the penultimate day of campaigning in the latest election, Paul Martin, the outgoing Prime Minister, made Brampton in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), his final stop for the day. Brampton is home to 85,000 South Asians and there were half a dozen Punjabi candidates from different political parties for its parliamentary seats.

Indo-Canadians have so far been tied up predominantly with the Liberals because the party has successfully marketed itself as immigrant-friendly and attracted new ethnic voting blocs. Besides, during the last 12 years of unbroken Liberal rule, Indo-Canadian ministers, MPs and other party leaders from their community at various levels have been more visible and vocal.

But Indo-Canadians are not a political monolith. And their perceived tilt towards the Liberals is set to change now because many older and more conservative Sikhs are turning their back on the Liberals after the party supported legislation allowing same sex marriage during the term of the previous Parliament.

So despite the change of colours in Ottawa, where “blue” Conservatives under the leadership of Stephen Harper are taking the torch from “red” Liberals, there will be strong Punjabi voices to speak among Conservatives.

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Cheap flights cause higher gas emissions
by Martin Hickman

THE boom in foreign travel generated by cheaper air fares and no frills airlines will wreck attempts to bring climate change under control, environmentalists fear.

As the travel industry prepares for record bookings in 2006, green groups expressed concern over the “failure” of the British Government to curb the availability of cheap flights that have sent aviation pollution surging. Fumes spewed out by jets are expected to become the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The increase reflects the steady rise of overseas travel, which is growing at between 5 and 6 per cent a year. According to a study by Mintel this month, tourism from the world’s leading 15 outbound tourism markets is likely to double between now and 2020. Britons, second only to the Germans for volume of travel, are forecast to take 101 million foreign trips by 2020. Greenpeace warned that level of air travel would be “catastrophic” for climate.

The Government’s stated aim is to cut carbon emissions in the UK by 60 per cent by 2050, but the figure does not include aviation, which currently accounts for about 15 per cent of Britain’s carbon.

According to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, aviation will generate 43 million tons of carbon by 2050 - a seemingly unworkable 66 per cent of the Government’s 65 million ton target.

On present trends by 2050, one green organisation, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, estimates that air travel will account for the entire “sustainable” carbon quota of this country.

“The forecast growth in aviation represents one of the most unsustainable trends in UK society,” the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee warned.

The shadow Environment Secretary, Peter Ainsworth, who chaired the Environment Audit Committee at the time of its report in 2003, is likely to push the issue up the agenda. He said aviation pollution was one of the areas being examined by the party’s quality of life commission, led by Zac Goldsmith.

The combination of the amount of fossil fuel required to take off and the carbon emitted was a “cocktail of disaster,” Mr Ainsworth said. “I think there’s a huge degree of ignorance about this. But it’s the hardest of the climate change problems to solve because people really like leaving the country and they don’t care that it’s bad for the balance of payments or bad for the environment.”

The Government believes that a proposal to include airlines in the EU’s carbon emission trading scheme will alleviate the problem — a move which does not satisfy environmentalists.

Over the next few years travellers may find themselves at the centre of an ever-louder debate about the impact of their journeys. BA already offers long-haul passengers the option of paying a levy that goes to plant trees to offset the carbon emitted on their flight. The industry magazine Travel Weekly believes other airlines may soon follow.

Another idea is for personal carbon allowances; consumers may have to wrestle with whether to experience the enjoyment of travel or to stay at home.

When package tourism took off in the 1960s and 1970s few could have imagined the phenomenal rise of air travel. Once the annual holiday was typically spent by the British seaside, now Europe, America, Africa and even the Far East are the destinations. —The Independent

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Chatterati
Delhi-ites turn to golf
by Devi Cherian

MOVE over P3 parties with their share of air-kissing and falling hemlines, Delhi has found a more savvy way to unwind and network. So instead of night clubs and discotheques, Delhi’s elite meet at golf courses. And why not if such dos come with a snob quotient that can give any midnight revelry a run for its money!

For one, playing golf is expensive and a privilege of the few. A golf club membership costs as much as Rs 3-5 lakh and the equipment is also expensive. The membership comes with add-ons like access to the swimming pool, gym, and restaurant, which are offered exclusively to the members at subsidised rates.

The very nature of the sport also fosters social camaraderie. “There is no other game that provides four-and-a-half hours of solitude to the two players. It’s more a social exercise than a sport,” where co-operate deals, romances and head-hunting go on side by side.

Golf is popular in Delhi because it has beautiful surroundings and an atmosphere of old world languor. The city also has history, culture and monuments. And of course, it has the best infrastructure in the country.

A golf course is a place for social networking, where important contacts and business deals can be forged. If you want to go to a place where you want to meet the who’s who, it has got to be the golf club.

For the same reason celebrities like Kapil Dev, Suresh Oberoi, Diana Hayden, Pooja Batra and Manpreet Brar are thronging the greens. It’s also a style statement!

Hyderabadi biryani

Do you know Hyderabadi haleem has become popular in the Delhi social circle? Bollywood’s Govinda and Sanjay Dutt place orders all the way to Hyderabad. Sanjay Dutt developed a taste for the delicacy on his visits to the city and Dilip Kumar too gets his biryani from Pista House.

With the parcel facility to other metros in place, orders from other stars and celebrities are pouring in. M.A. Majeed has huge orders from Govinda’s residence.

Come Ramzan and the shop on the Shahali-Banda road gears up to cater to the growing demand for haleem. As jobs are scarce they know that the place employs a lot of people during the festival season. Work starts early here. Everyone is up by 4 am.

Sound of trinkets

It’s an age-old belief in old Delhi that the peepal tree near the Delhi Gate emits the sound of trinkets at dawn and sunset. Many local guides are cashing in on this assumption to make a quick buck out of gullible foreign tourists.

Kallu Nai, the barber who has been running his mobile salon under the peepal tree for the last 20 years, says that people believe that during the reign of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah, a young bride accidentally died under the tree. Since then her ghost is said to visit the tree in the morning and evening. As she was said to be in bridal attire and wearing jewellery, the sound of her trinkets is heard by many.

Though Kallu himself denies having faith in the folklore, he is the chief of self-appointed guides who bring foreign tourists to the spot. Some say he charges Rs 20 per session.

It is so clear that you can even visualise the physical movements of the bride dressed in her bridal finery. Many cricket lovers who came to watch the India vs Sri Lanka test match at Ferozeshah Kotla were spotted paying local guides to hear the so-called “payal ki jhankar”.

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From the pages of

February 6, 1924

Prohibition in America

BEFORE prohibition was adopted in America the newspapers that were making money from liquor advertisements claimed that it would ruin trade. Since prohibition was adopted trade has flourished exceedingly in America while it has languished pathetically in license countries.

Before prohibition American parents were told that the revenue from the manufacture and sale of alcohol was necessary to run the schools of the country and that without it education would be ruined. Since prohibition the schools have flourished as never before and the rising generation is being given such opportunities as those who preceded them in the days of license never knew.

Before prohibition it was said that labouring men would not consent to such a law, that even if they would consent they could not do their work without beer.

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“God expands and restricts.” People need not become complacent or despondent when the tide of their fortune goes up or down; by referring all affairs to God, they can attain equanimity.

—Islam

The hardest heart and the grossest ignorance must disappear before the rising sun of suffering without anger and without malice.

—Mahatma Gandhi

The state of the one who truly believes in God, cannot be described.

—Guru Nanak

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