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N A T I O N

PM promises autonomy for science and tech institutes
Kolkata, July 11
Amidst the raging row over the autonomy of AIIMS and the reservation issue, the Prime Minister today promised to ensure the autonomy of the country’s science and technology institutions while widening access to quality education for all sections of society.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in Kolkata on Tuesday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in Kolkata on Tuesday. — AFP photo

Left opposes FDI in farm sector
New Delhi, July 11
Even as India and the US today signed a MoU to strengthen agricultural marketing systems in the country to increase the competitiveness of Indian agriculture, the Left parties opposed reported moves by the Centre to open FDI in agriculture and the plantation sector through automatic route.








EARLIER STORIES




INSAT-4C was not insured
Bangalore, July 11
Though a probe into the failure of the GSLV is on the cards, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has its hand full answering questions why it did not insure INSAT-4C whose failure has not only dealt a blow to the country’s ambition of entering the satellite launching business but has also affected the proposed Direct To Home (DTH) services of major television channels.

Editorial: Twin failures

India, Pak sign MoU for $ 25m quake aid
New Delhi, July 11
India and Pakistan today signed a memorandum of understanding specifying modalities for the release of reconstruction material worth $ 25 million to Islamabad for affected areas of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir devastated by a powerful earthquake on October 8.

Vajpayee-President correspondence case hearing adjourned 
New Delhi, July 11
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has rescheduled for July 21 the full commission hearing on an application seeking disclosure of correspondence between Rashtrapati Bhavan and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the Gujarat riots.

BJP’s poser to PM on ministers’ accountability
New Delhi, July 11
The BJP today alleged that the UPA government was in a state of drift and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to tell whether ministers in his Council of Ministers were “accountable” to him or not.

Six journalists get awards
New Delhi, July 11
Six journalists, including three photojournalists, were today presented the ‘Udayan Memorial Awards for Excellence in Journalism’ by Union Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh here.

Land allotment to judges: govt order stayed
Hyderabad, July 11
The Andhra Pradesh High Court today stayed the operation of a government order providing house sites at concessional rates to judges and judicial officers. “The allotment of sites at concessional rates to judges will send wrong signals to society.

BJP for stricter laws against pre-natal sex tests
New Delhi July 11
The BJP today asked the Centre to enact tougher laws to deal with pre-natal sex detection tests and female foeticide, which it said was no less a crime than murder. Addressing his party’s women wing rally here at Jantar Mantar, BJP chief Rajnath Singh, also demanded that loopholes in abortion-related laws be also plugged in order to check their misuse for killing unborn female children.

Lawyers studying panel report: Medha
New Delhi, July 11
Claiming that the Shunglu Committee report has not only cheated the people who sacrificed for the sake of development, but also betrayed the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court, NBA leader Medha Patkar said their lawyers were studying the document and planning further action.

Man hacks son to death to appease deity
Bhubaneswar, July 11
A man in Orissa has been arrested for allegedly hacking his eight-year-old son to appease a deity in the belief that it would bring good fortune to the rest of the family.

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PM promises autonomy for science and tech institutes
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 11
Amidst the raging row over the autonomy of AIIMS and the reservation issue, the Prime Minister today promised to ensure the autonomy of the country’s science and technology institutions while widening access to quality education for all sections of society.

‘‘We will de-bureaucratise science and technology institutions and ensure their academic autonomy,’’ he said at a function here to lay the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).

‘‘We will create exciting career opportunities for scientists so that we can retain our talent at home,’’ he said.

‘‘Our government is committed both to excellence and to widening of access to education, especially higher education and research.’’

Accompanied by the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh today also met the Marxist patriarch, Mr Jyoti Basu at his Salt Lake Indira Bhavan residence and sought his help and co-operation in smoothly running the UPA government.

In response, Mr Basu told him that he personally wanted the UPA government to complete the full five year term but the Prime Minister should also follow the common minimum programme on which he was getting support from the CPM and other Left parties from outside.

Though the Prime Minister’s meeting with Mr Basu was officially described as a courtesy call, it was learnt that during his brief meeting, Dr Manmohan Singh conveyed to the veteran leader that he had been under much strain and distress in smoothly running the government following some unnecessary opposition and big-boss attitude of the Left leaders.

The Prime Minister today spent a busy day during his five-hour whirlwind visit to the city. He attended official functions and met Congress (l) leaders.

Soon after his arrival, he laid the foundation stone of IISER at Salt Lake, where he stressed the need for a public-private partnership in the advancement of the country’s science and technological education.

Kolkata’s IISER will be second such institute to be built in the country after Bangalore.

Two more such institutes will also be set up at Pune (Maharashtra) and Jalandhar (Punjab) some time next year.

After meeting Mr Basu at his residence, the Prime Minister held closed door talks with the Governor, Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi, and the Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee , at Raj Bhavan and discussed several development programme in the state for which central funds were needed.

Before returning to the Capital, Dr Manmohan Singh also met a delegation of the WBPCC (l) led by Mr Pradip Bhattacharyya, Mr Somen Mitra and Dr Manash Bhuiya.

Accompanied by the Union Minister of State for HRD, Md Ali Asfar Azmi , and a host of senior officials of the science and Technology Ministry, including Dr C.N.I Row, Dr Manmohan Singh had flown down to Kolkata at about 10.40 a.m and drove straight to Salt Lake. At the airport, he was received by the Defence Minister, the state Governor and the Chief Minister. 

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Left opposes FDI in farm sector
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
Even as India and the US today signed a MoU to strengthen agricultural marketing systems in the country to increase the competitiveness of Indian agriculture, the Left parties opposed reported moves by the Centre to open FDI in agriculture and the plantation sector through automatic route.

The CPM asked the UPA Government, which is under attack from allies and the Congress on the price rise front, “to desist from any such move and rescind any policy decisions if taken on this score.”

The MoU was signed between the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) and the National Institute of Agriculture Marketing (NIAM), India's nodal agency for promotion and training on agricultural marketing.

Under the agreement, USAID will provide technical assistance to NIAM and state agencies in the development of grades and standards, food safety warehousing, cold storage and cold chain management.

Through the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Services Marketing News System (a valuable tool that provides US farmers with accurate, up-to-date agriculture information) as a model, NIAM and USAID will also upgrade India's existing marketing news information and marketing extension system to better serve Indian farmers, according to a press release by the U S Embassy here.

The CPM politburo said it strongly opposes the reported recommendations of a group of ministers headed by the Agriculture Minister to take out agriculture and plantations from the list of prohibited activities and open them up for 100 per cent FDI through the automatic route.

The Reserve Bank of India has itself asked the government to clarify whether it has decided to change the FDI policy permitting sensitive areas like agriculture, plantation, real estate and transfer of shares to non-residents through the automatic route.

The party said such a decision would only aggravate the already deepening agrarian crisis in the country which was marked by growing distress suicides and starvation deaths. Further, producers of commercial crops including plantations had severely suffered in the recent years due to the liberalisation of trade policies in these areas. In Kerala, particularly, lakhs of people were facing pauperisation especially in areas producing coffee, pepper and cardamom.

Meanwhile, the Centre has decided to change its earlier policy and pay the 'market price' to farmers to mop up adequate stocks for the central kitty.

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INSAT-4C was not insured
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 11
Though a probe into the failure of the GSLV is on the cards, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has its hand full answering questions why it did not insure INSAT-4C whose failure has not only dealt a blow to the country’s ambition of entering the satellite launching business but has also affected the proposed Direct To Home (DTH) services of major television channels.

ISRO sources here today disclosed that its Chairman G Madhavan Nair and M Annamalali, Director of the Sriharikota Space Centre, were meeting in Sriharikota today. They said a high-level committee was likely to probe the failure of the satellite launch vehicle on the basis of telemetry data received before the destruction of the GSLV.

However, what is even more worrying is the fact that ISRO did not insure the INSAT-4C satellite nor its launch vehicle. This is the first time that any satellite launched by the country has not been insured. ISRO officials, however, said this was not done because it was a ‘‘home launch’’ and the space agency was confident of it being carried out successfully.

Sources, however, said the earlier success achieved by the agency could have also come in the way of insurance as premiums for such insurance were as high as 20 per cent of the cost of the satellite in only the first six months after the launch. The decision has translated into a major financial blow for the agency with the satellite costing nearly Rs 100 crore and the launch vehicle another Rs 160 crore besides the money spent in launching it.

ISRO officials said this policy was, however, not followed for satellites launched from outside India with the country insuring the INSAT -4A which was launched from French Guyana a few months back for $ 16 million.

Besides the financial blow due to the failure of the launch, ISRO's reputation has also been dented in the $ 2 billion international satellite launching business. Sources said countries with satellite technology were attracted to India's geo-synchronous satellite launch programme, including the USA, with the NASA chief also visiting the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota recently.

Launches from India are expected to cost 30 per cent to 35 per cent less than those from launch centres in other countries and the GSLV was expected to prove the ability to launch heavy satellites like the INSAT-4C which weighed 414 tonnes.

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India, Pak sign MoU for $ 25m quake aid
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
India and Pakistan today signed a memorandum of understanding specifying modalities for the release of reconstruction material worth $ 25 million to Islamabad for affected areas of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir devastated by a powerful earthquake on October 8.

The Indian quake diplomacy has earned New Delhi positive reaction from the international community, though terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere in India is continuing unabated.

After the disbursement of material worth $ 25 million, Indian aid to Pakistan would amount to an impressive $ 40.5 million which is more than 200 crore Pakistani rupees.

New Delhi had sent relief material worth US $ 5 million for those affected by the earthquake in Pakistan. Besides, relief supplies valued at more than $ 10.5 million were also donated from other government, semi-government and private sources, including relief material handed over across the Line of Control in J&K.

The MoU, setting out the modalities for the disbrusement of Indian reconstruction material worth $ 25 million was signed today by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Mr. Aziz Ahmad Khan.

India had pledged $ 25 million worth humanitarian aid for victims of the October 8 earthquake at the international donors’ conference organised by the UN Coordinator for Emergency Relief in Geneva in October last year.

At the donors’ conference that followed in Islamabad in November 2005, Mr E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs, requested the Government of Pakistan to source reconstruction material from India utilizing these funds. 

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Vajpayee-President correspondence case hearing adjourned 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has rescheduled for July 21 the full commission hearing on an application seeking disclosure of correspondence between Rashtrapati Bhavan and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the Gujarat riots.

Sources in the Commission told TNS that the hearing in the matter did not take place as scheduled as the government sought more time for presenting its case.

The applicant, C.Ramesh, a resident of Chennai, had sought disclosure of information between the two top Constitutional functionaries on the Gujarat riots.

Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah told TNS that they received a request from the government on Tuesday morning saying that they needed more time to prepare for the hearing. ``It was a routine kind of adjournment. Some people had misgivings because of the importance of the case. The bench that heard the case placed it before the full Commission at our meeting

last Tuesday. It was then decided that the full Commission would hear the case as the matter was sensitive and had Constitutional ramifications.''

Mr Habibullah said the Commission wanted to acquaint itself with the views of both parties. He said the applicant was offered the option of video-conferencing but he said that he had already placed his arguments on file.

It was yesterday that the Commission received a call from the applicant informing it that he had authorised two-three persons to represent him.

Asked whether the applicant's representatives created trouble in the Commission's office in old JNU Campus, the CIC said, ``I met Shekhar Singh who was representing the applicant. Another person, Arvind Kejriwal made a bit of a noise. I explained to them that adjournments and postponements of hearings are routine. If one or the other party requests for adjournment on reasonable grounds, it is usually granted unless there is some pressing need.''

Information Commissioner Professor M.M. Ansari said that the Commission rescheduled the hearing in the matter in order to afford a fair opportunity to the government. The DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training), respondents in the case, had said that the information is a very privileged document and cannot be disclosed.

Professor Ansari said the Commission wanted to hear the government's counsel at length as it did not want to give any ex parte directions.

He alleged that some persons claiming to have been nominated by the applicant thronged his office in protest against the CIC's decision to reschedule hearing in the matter. “We suspect that this application is motivated as the applicant has refused to come here for hearing. When our office approached him with the option of video-conferencing, he turned down the proposal. It is clear that some people are behind this application and the applicant does not want to be exposed,'' Professor Ansari said.

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BJP’s poser to PM on ministers’ accountability
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
The BJP today alleged that the UPA government was in a state of drift and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to tell whether ministers in his Council of Ministers were “accountable” to him or not.

Referring to the two totally contradictory reports on the issue of relief and rehabilitation of Narmada dam oustees, BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley said since the Prime Minister had accepted the report of the Oversight Committee led former Comptroller and Auditor General V.S Shunglu, serious doubts had emerged about the findings of the earlier report of the Group of Ministers which had claimed that no relief and rehabilitation work had been carried out for the dam oustees and hence construction work on the dam should be stopped for one year.

Alleging that the ministers’ report was part of a conspiracy to stop the construction of the dam on Narmada, Mr Jaitley questioned the motive of the Group of Ministers in submitting a “false report” and thus “misleading the Prime Minister and the nation” ?

Welcoming the Shunglu Committee report, the BJP leader said though it vindicated the party’s stand that development projects cannot be stalled on the basis of false propaganda but the issue of concern is whether “the three ministers gave a false report and misled the Prime Minister and the nation”.

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Six journalists get awards

New Delhi, July 11
Six journalists, including three photojournalists, were today presented the ‘Udayan Memorial Awards for Excellence in Journalism’ by Union Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh here.

While Kumar Gaurav Jain of Rajasthan Patrika, Sanjay Varma of Navbharat Times and freelance journalist Archana Rajhans received the Udayan Memorial Journalism Awards; Aziz Bhutta of Rajasthan Patrika, K.K. Santosh of Mathrubhumi and Atul Yadav of PTI were presented the Udayan Memorial Photojournalism Awards.

Speaking at the function Arjun Singh said journalism, which was once considered a “mission” by its practitioners, had now lost its “true spirit” due to competition and commercialisation.

“In this age of competition, great ideals and values which once used to attract people into journalism are being increasingly sidelined. However, there are some journalists who still pursue the profession with truth and dedication,” he said.

The Udayan Memorial Journalism Awards were instituted in 2003 in memory of journalist Udayan Sharma (1947-2001), former co-ordinating editor of ‘Amar Ujala.’ — PTI

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Land allotment to judges: govt order stayed
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 11
The Andhra Pradesh High Court today stayed the operation of a government order providing house sites at concessional rates to judges and judicial officers.
“The allotment of sites at concessional rates to judges will send wrong signals to society.

People will tend to think that judges are beneficiaries of benevolence of the government and may not be free in adjudicating actions of the government in a fair and impartial manner,” the Bench consisting of Chief Justice G S Singhvi and Justice G Parthasarathi observed.

The government order issued on April 5 provided for the allotment of government land to an extent of 245 acre in Ranga Reddy district, surrounding Hyderabad, in favour of judges of the High Court, MPs, MLAs, IAS officers and journalists.

The Bench observed that none of the judges had approached the government for allotment of land at concessional rates. Directing the government to file a counter-affidavit, explaining the policy governing assignment of land to the weaker sections of society, the Bench also wanted to know how the government perceived judges and judicial officers to be from the weaker sections of society.

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BJP for stricter laws against pre-natal sex tests
Tribune News Service

New Delhi July 11
The BJP today asked the Centre to enact tougher laws to deal with pre-natal sex detection tests and female foeticide, which it said was no less a crime than murder.
Addressing his party’s women wing rally here at Jantar Mantar, BJP chief Rajnath Singh, also demanded that loopholes in abortion-related laws be also plugged in order to check their misuse for killing unborn female children.

“It’s appalling to see a high incidence of female foeticide in a country where goddesses are worshipped. Such an act is the greatest of all sins,” Mr Singh said.

In her address, party leader Sushma Swaraj spoke critically about the tradition that allows a son to light the funeral pyre of his dead father. “I have made a departure from it and given this right to my daughter,” Mrs Swaraj said.

She spoke at length on tricks used by doctors to covertly announce the sex of unborn babies to their parents.

Earlier, BJP women leaders had announced that they would submit a memorandum on the issue to President A P J Abdul Kalam but they had to return without meeting the President after handing over the memorandum to one of the official of President House.

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Lawyers studying panel report: Medha
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
Claiming that the Shunglu Committee report has not only cheated the people who sacrificed for the sake of development, but also betrayed the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court, NBA leader Medha Patkar said their lawyers were studying the document and planning further action.

“It is shameful that eminent members of the committee have brought out data and graphs that are completely baseless,” she told mediapersons here today.

Following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision in this regard, the Supreme Court yesterday declined to stop the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam and allowed raising its height evenly up to 119 metres in all blocks to save it from any damage during monsoon.
Ms Patkar said the long-standing controversy around the dam had been further aggravated with the report of the committee, the Prime Ministers’ statement and the apex court’s interim directive. 

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Man hacks son to death to appease deity

Bhubaneswar, July 11
A man in Orissa has been arrested for allegedly hacking his eight-year-old son to appease a deity in the belief that it would bring good fortune to the rest of the family.

Kanhu Pradhan (38), from Karumaha village in Kandhamal district is the father of three children, the youngest of whom was Surath.

According to the police, Pradhan took Surath to an isolated place outside the village and knifed him to pieces before an idol of Goddess Kali.

The incident, which took place on Friday, came to light when the boy’s mother informed police that her son, a class three student, had been missing. The police began searching and found parts of his body in a drain.

“We have seized pieces of the body of the boy as well as the weapon the man used to kill the boy,” a local police official said.

Pradhan told the police that he was forced to sacrifice the boy following instructions from Kali who came to him in a dream. The man, who allegedly practices black magic, said he committed the heinous act for the good fortune of the family. — IANS

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