SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

One killed in Bengal bandh
Kolkata, December 1
A Rapid Action Force personnel swings his baton at activists of the Socialist Unity Centre of India during a strike in Kolkata on Friday. The 12-hour Bengal bandh, called by the Trinamool Congress today and supported by the Congress and 19 like-minded parties, was partial and not altogether peaceful.

A Rapid Action Force personnel swings his baton at activists of the Socialist Unity Centre of India during a strike in Kolkata on Friday. — Reuters photo

Sachar report moots national Wakf corpn
New Delhi, December 1
To tap the economic potential of nearly 5,00,000 Wakf properties in the country, the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee has advocated the setting up of a national Wakf development corporation with a revolving fund of Rs 500 crore coupled with creating a new cadre of officers with knowledge of Islamic law to deal with the specific affairs of the Wakfs efficiently.




EARLIER STORIES


Banks don’t trust Muslims: Sachar report
New Delhi, December 1
Despite the fact that on an average the amount of outstanding per account for Muslims is about half of that of other minorities, their access to bank credit, including priority sector advances, is low and inadequate, according to the Justice Sachar Committee report.

Statue din in Parliament
New Delhi, December 1
The desecration of B. R. Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur paralysed the Lok Sabha today and disrupted proceedings in the Rajya Sabha with agitated BSP members demanding dismissal of the Uttar Pradesh Government and a CBI probe into the incident.

14 arrested for burning Deccan Queen
Mumbai, December 1
Normalcy has been restored in most parts of Maharashtra a day after protesting Dalits, angry at the vandalism of a statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, ran riot in different parts of the state.

Arrested Dalit youth escapes, points finger at cops
Lucknow, December 1
In an embarrassment to the state government, the youth arrested by the Kanpur police for reportedly damaging the statue of Babasaheb B R Ambedkar on Wednesday, escaped from custody and charged the Kanpur police of beating him and resorting to third-degree measures to force a "confessional statement" out of him.

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Displaced get taste of Laloo’s politics
Patna, December 1
In what appears to be politics of favouritism, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav favours rehabilitation of those on the North bank of the river Ganga whose land was acquired for the Patna-Digha rail line connecting the new Ganga Bridge. He wants to provide job to one person per displaced family on the North Bank.

Former US President Bill Clinton interacts with tsunami-affected children in Cuddalore on Friday. Emulate Indian model: Clinton
Cuddalore, December 1
United Nations Special Envoy and former US President Bill Clinton today heaped praises on the rehabilitation efforts in Cuddalore district, which was hit by tsunami in 2004. Mr Clinton said the district be made a model part of the UN strategy to cope with future disasters.


Former US President Bill Clinton interacts with tsunami-affected children in Cuddalore on Friday. — PTI photo

President for law to protect AIDS patients
New Delhi, December 1
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today said that MPs could play a crucial role in putting an end to discrimination faced by people living with HIV/AIDS in their day-to-day lives by sitting together and passing a legislation.

Trials of indigenous anti-AIDS vaccine on
Chennai, December 1
World AIDS Day is being observed around the globe today, and in India, a team of scientists is carrying out trials of an indigenous anti-AIDS vaccine, providing a ray of hope to many suffering from the deadly disease.

SC denies bail to Vikas Yadav
New Delhi, December 1
The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a bail petition of Vikas Yadav, a prime accused in the business executive Nitish Katara murder case.
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SC seeks details on sexual abuse of girls
New Delhi, December 1
The Supreme Court and National Commission for Woman today took note of alleged sexual exploitation of minor girls in a Ghaziabad orphanage, run by a man posing himself to be a swamy and saviour of destitute children.

BJP’s new route to Telengana cause
New Delhi, December 1
In an obvious attempt to corner the Congress-led UPA government on the Telengana issue, the BJP has decided to introduce a private member Bill in the Rajya Sabha on carving out a separate State of Telengana.



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One killed in Bengal bandh
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, December 1
The 12-hour Bengal bandh, called by the Trinamool Congress today and supported by the Congress and 19 like-minded parties, was partial and not altogether peaceful.

Pranay Das, a state government employee at Karandighi, North Bengal, was killed during the bandh in a stone pelting incident. In Kolkata and several other places, at least 200 persons, including the bandh supporters, sustained injuries either by the police or following attacks from the Left parties. The police also resorted to firing at least at three places to disperse the violent mob.

There were also incidents of bomb throwing, brick batting and road blocking by the bandh supporters. Train services were blocked as the activists squatted on the railway tracks. Over 3,000 persons, including 900 from the city were arrested in connection with the bandh.

Incidentally, a case was filed in the Supreme Court today by the state Legal Aids Cell against the eviction of farmers from their lands in Singhur for transferring them to Tata Motors. The case will come up for hearing on Monday.

After the bandh, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee claimed that the bandh was successful. She said despite strong resistance from the police and the CPM cadres, people in large number spontaneously responded to the bandh since it was meant for protecting the poor farmers against their eviction.

She declared at a press conference that their movement on the Singhur land issue would continue. On December 4, they will hold a protest rally in Esplanade area and on December 5, the Singhur Kishan Samiti's women wing will hold a rally at Chunsura, Hooghly, against transferring of their lands to Tata Motors.

The Left Front chairman, Mr Biman Bose, however, claimed that the bandh was a failure. He said normal activities prevailed every where despite vandalism and several violent activities by the TMC workers and supporters. Accompanied by the CPI leader, Mr Monju Kumar Majumdar, he visited the Assembly in the afternoon and inspected damages and destructions in the lobby committed by the TMC MLAs yesterday.

He demanded police action against "those persons" involved in the incident.

But Ms Banerjee denied that the TMC MLAs were behind the unfortunate incident. She demanded an impartial probe. However, at the same time she alleged that inside the floor of the House, the TMC MLAs had been beaten up first and the incident later in the lobby was an outcome of that attack.

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Sachar report moots national Wakf corpn
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1
To tap the economic potential of nearly 5,00,000 Wakf properties in the country, the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee has advocated the setting up of a national Wakf development corporation with a revolving fund of Rs 500 crore coupled with creating a new cadre of officers with knowledge of Islamic law to deal with the specific affairs of the Wakfs efficiently.

The committee has suggested increasing the maximum period of lease of Wakf properties from three years to three decades to facilitate its use for education, healthcare and other purposes. It has called for an amendment, exempting Wakf properties from the Rent Control Act.

Regretting that the current annual income from Wakf properties is only about Rs 163 crore amounting to a meagre rate of return of 2.7 per cent, the committee noted that the market value of Wakf properties could be put at Rs 1.2 lakh crore. If these properties are put to efficient and marketable use, these can generate at least a minimum return of about Rs 12,000 crore annually.

The report put a caveat stressing that optimum utilisation of Wakf properties would require proper administrative backup by the Central and state governments.

The committee said the management of the Wakf Boards was unsatisfactory due to inadequate empowerment of the State Wakf Boards and the Central Wakf Council. The attitude of the state governments and their agencies had resulted in large-scale abrogation of the charitable objectives of the boards.

The report desired that the "Centre may revert to the status quo ante and undo the trifurcation of the erstwhile Punjab Wakf Board." The Wakf resources were pooled together and were being utilised for the people of undivided Punjab. This provided flexibility in fiscal matters, particularly provisions for educational, vocational institutions and medical facilities.

However, the trifurcation of the board entailed enhancement of administrative expenditure as now there were three boards and the corresponding administrative infrastructure. There were 11,000 Wakf properties in Punjab but not many Muslims to take advantage. Haryana had a huge Mewar belt where a large number of Muslims were among the most backward but they could not enjoy the facilities of prime Wakf properties in Punjab. The people of Himachal and Chandigarh were bereft of the welfare measures.

The committee felt there should be at least two women each in the Central Wakf Council and state Wakf Board. "Failure on the part of the state and statutory bodies entrusted with safeguarding and administering Wakf properties has caused disquiet in the Muslim community," it added.

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Banks don’t trust Muslims: Sachar report
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1
Despite the fact that on an average the amount of outstanding per account for Muslims is about half of that of other minorities, their access to bank credit, including priority sector advances, is low and inadequate, according to the Justice Sachar Committee report.

“The access of Muslims to bank credit, including priority sector advances, is low and inadequate. The average size of credit is meagre and low compared to other socio-religious category, both in the public and private sector banks,” the report said.

It said the committee was given to understand that some banks used the practice of identifying “negative geographical zones” on the basis of certain criteria where bank credit and other facilities were not easily provided. Such a practice was referred to as “red lining” in the US and “negative zones” by some bankers in India.

It was possible that in some of these areas the Muslim population was high and yet the community was not able to benefit fully from the banking facilities. It pointed out that a few areas like Dharavi, Sewree, Kidwainagar in Mumbai and Gomtipur and Asarva in Ahmedabad were some such zones.

The committee said the number of Muslim account holders under the priority sector advances by all scheduled commercial banks was about 4.6 million per annum of which the predominant share (97 per cent) was with public sector banks. While the amount outstanding was Rs 19,837 for Muslims, Rs 40,686 for other minorities and Rs 59,055 for others in public sector banks, the respective amounts were Rs 1,11,634, Rs 2,01,840 and Rs 2,74,911 in private sector banks.

The share of Muslims in outstanding amount was 2 per cent higher in the private sector banks. The share of Muslims in the amount outstanding was only 4.7 per cent compared to 6.5 per cent for other minorities.

Muslims constituted about 12 per cent of all scheduled commercial banks account holders. While this was close to their share in population, the share of other minorities in accounts was more than 8 per cent. This is considerably higher than their share in a population of 5.6 per cent.

Even though advances from the public sector banks were higher in magnitude compared to private sector banks, the latter were performing better in respect of extending advances to Muslims.

The position was similar with respect to finance from specialised institutions such as SIDBI and Nabard. The 2001 Census showed that the percentage of households availing banking facilities was much lower in villagers where the Muslim population was high. One of the reasons could be non-availability of banking facilities in these villages. The financial exclusion of Muslims had far-reaching implications for their socio-economic and educational uplift.

To empower Muslims economically, it was necessary to support self-employment by ensuring a smooth flow of credit to them.

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Statue din in Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1
The desecration of B. R. Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur paralysed the Lok Sabha today and disrupted proceedings in the Rajya Sabha with agitated BSP members demanding dismissal of the Uttar Pradesh Government and a CBI probe into the incident.

With Uttar Pradesh elections round the corner, the BSP targeted the Mulayam Singh Yadav government and the Samajwadi Party retaliated . Heated exchanges in both Houses led to repeated adjournments.

BSP supremo Mayawati led the party onslaught in the Upper House where SP members countered her demand for a CBI inquiry, saying such a probe should include other incidents of desecration of statues.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri also moved a resolution condemning the desecration of the statue.

The Lok Sabha witnessed similar scenes with BSP members storming the Well in support of their demands. When the House met at 1530 hours to take up private members' business, the BSP members staged a walkout amid sloganeering.

The proceedings of the House collapsed soon after for want of quorum. The Rajya Sabha had earlier witnessed a walkout led by Ms Mayawati.

Both Houses could not take up official business and the presiding officers ordered tabling of papers in the din. The Rajya Sabha later continued with private members' business.

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14 arrested for burning Deccan Queen
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, December 1
Normalcy has been restored in most parts of Maharashtra a day after protesting Dalits, angry at the vandalism of a statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, ran riot in different parts of the state.

Schools and colleges in the affected areas re-opened today and the authorities concerned began restoring transport services here and in other areas.

According to the police, curfew continues in Osmanabad and Nanded towns of Maharashtra. However, curfew was lifted in the Pimpri-Chinchwad area of Pune in the morning.

In Aurangabad, Pune and Pimpri, attempts were made to disrupt public transport, but the situation was brought under control immediately.

In Mumbai and surrounding areas, protesters tried to enforce bandh, but heavy police presence brought the situation under control. Areas like Ulhasnagar, Kalyan, Dombivili and Parbhani continued to be slightly affected as protesters hit the streets demanding the release of the persons who were arrested following violence yesterday.

Senior leaders of the Dalit community like Prakash Ambedkar and Ramdas Athvale appealed for peace. They said the violent protesters of yesterday did not have any leaders and the mob indulged in spontaneous violence.

Meanwhile, the police has begun to arrest people in connection with the burning of the Deccan Queen and a local train. So far 14 persons have been arrested and more arrests are, the police said.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Government may declare a holiday in Mumbai on December 6, the 50th death anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Lakhs of Ambedkar's followers come to his samadhi at Dadar in Central Mumbai to pay their respects.

With record crowds expected this year, Mumbai police commissioner A.N. Roy said roads would have to be cordoned off for smooth movement of traffic.

He suggested to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh that local residents be advised to stay indoors in order to prevent trouble on December 6.

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Arrested Dalit youth escapes, points finger at cops
Shahira Naim

Lucknow, December 1
In an embarrassment to the state government, the youth arrested by the Kanpur police for reportedly damaging the statue of Babasaheb B R Ambedkar on Wednesday, escaped from custody and charged the Kanpur police of beating him and resorting to third-degree measures to force a "confessional statement" out of him.

The lanky youth, Arun Balmiki, in an interview to a news channel accused the police of picking him up from his Ambedkar Nagar house and confining him in Kishori Hotel near the Kakadev police station from where he escaped this morning after breaking a window.

He charged the police of torturing him with electric currents and forcing him to consume liquor to ‘confess’ to the crime for a reward of Rs 10,000. He said the police had paid him Rs 100 in advance and had assured to bail him out after the matter was over.

BSP chief Mayawati once again demanded President’s rule in the state. She also demanded a CBI inquiry.

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Displaced get taste of Laloo’s politics
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 1
In what appears to be politics of favouritism, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav favours rehabilitation of those on the North bank of the river Ganga whose land was acquired for the Patna-Digha rail line connecting the new Ganga Bridge. He wants to provide job to one person per displaced family on the North Bank.

But he is reportedly not keen on a similar compensation package for the displaced families residing on the South bank.

While South of the river falls in the Patna South Lok Sabha constituency represented by RJD MP Ramkripal Yadav, the North of river Ganga under Saran district falls in the Chapra Lok Sabha constituency represented by Mr Laloo Prasad himself.

It was reliably learnt that Mr Laloo Prasad favoured such "exceptional " compensation for the affected families in the North because they comprised his electorate. For the South, despite the voters having elected another RJD MP, Mr Ramkripal Yadav, the minister was not willing to do so.

Sources in the Revenue and Land Reforms Department of the Bihar Government said they received a letter from the administrative department of the Railways requesting it to identify and subsequently advise the ministry on the exact figures of the displaced persons on the north bank of the Ganga .

According to the letter, this would help the Railway ministry to provide job to one person per family for affected people on the North Bank.

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Emulate Indian model: Clinton
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Cuddalore, December 1
United Nations Special Envoy and former US President Bill Clinton today heaped praises on the rehabilitation efforts in Cuddalore district, which was hit by tsunami in 2004. Mr Clinton said the district be made a model part of the UN strategy to cope with future disasters.

Last May Mr Clinton had visited Nagapattinam district, which was worst hit by the tsunami and accounted for 70 per cent of the deaths in India.

This morning Mr Clinton, accompanied by Cuddalore District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi visited a small fishing hamlet of Thazhanguda, about 180 km from the state capital of Tamil Nadu, and inspected rehabilitation projects, carried out within a short span of time.

Mr Clinton was full of praise for the Mr Bedi, who hails from Faridkot in Punjab and had succeeded in creating a disaster-warning system.

Later, speaking to newspersons, Mr Clinton commended the efforts made in India to tackle the housing problem after any natural calamity. He said in Florida, which was hit by hurricane last year, many people were still living in tents while here the affected people had concrete houses.

He said, “India must be proud of what has been done here to alleviate the sufferings of the tsunami victims. I am trying to learn a lot about what was done here because I want to see this model copied not only in the tsunami areas but also around the world, and then figure out how to make it part of the UN strategy for future disasters."

Mr Clinton was here to inspect UN-supported reconstruction projects as the body’s special ambassador.

Cuddalore had been one of the worst hit areas during the tsunami. The death toll was 648 which included 214 children. Over 2,300 houses and 5,000 fishing boats were also destroyed by marauding waves.

Mr Clinton said, “The Indian Government has begun a process of floating buoys in the sea for an early warning system for a tsunami or the next bad storm. But, to make it work, the authorities should see to it that it reached the people at ground level, the last mile.”

On a totally different note, Mr Clinton implored the warring sides in Sri Lanka to come together to overcome a humanitarian problem by eschewing politics of violence.

“When a global tsunami warning system is developed and is put in place, Sri Lanka will find itself an isolated loser. The conflict there could prevent a nationwide alarm to percolate down to the local communities."

Replying to many questions on the presence of American troops in Iraq, he pointed out that the UN had all along supported the presence of international troops in that country to ensure order.

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President for law to protect AIDS patients
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today said that MPs could play a crucial role in putting an end to discrimination faced by people living with HIV/AIDS in their day-to-day lives by sitting together and passing a legislation.

Speaking at a function organised by the Parliamentarians' Forum on HIV/AIDS in Balayogi Auditorium in the Parliament Library building here to mark the World AIDS Day, Kalam said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was working on a draft legislation. He called upon the MPs to see that a robust and effective legislation was brought into force in the next six months.

“In the meanwhile, MPs can take up the discrimination issue with local administrations, the panchayat authorities and NGOs working in the districts or blocks and create a movement so that the stigma is totally removed in a time-bound manner,'' said Dr Kalam.

He urged MPs to consider taking up the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS from their constituencies within the next five years as an important mission. He said the MPs could create an HIV/AIDS foundation in partnership with philanthropists and NGOs in their constituencies that could provide financial assistance to the people living with HIV/AIDS.

Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat said the HIV infection had direct link with poverty. He said the eradication of poverty and the economic empowerment of the poor were the surest gateway to success in the HIV/AIDS awareness programme.

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Trials of indigenous anti-AIDS vaccine on

Chennai, December 1
World AIDS Day is being observed around the globe today, and in India, a team of scientists is carrying out trials of an indigenous anti-AIDS vaccine, providing a ray of hope to many suffering from the deadly disease.

The vaccine, which has been developed by an Indian virologist, is being tried on 32 volunteers.

"At the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), the vaccine being tried is a part of a multicentric trial where other countries are also taking part. The vaccine trial is being done only in Chennai, and is designed by a virologist from another ICMR institute, the National Cholera and Enteric Disease Centre from Kolkata. The virologist is Dr Shekhar Chakravarty," said Dr V.D. Ramanathan, Deputy Director, Department of Clinical Pathology, Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai.

The vaccine has been specifically designed to detect strains of HIV commonly seen in India. It has been tailored to the HIV strain C, the sub-type of the virus most common in India.

The Chennai trial results are likely to be made available by mid 2008.

Vaccine trials on humans for different strains of the virus are already being conducted in the United States, Europe, Africa and South America.

India is an active participant in the global search for an AIDS vaccine, and a part of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), which sponsors research partnerships to develop and test promising vaccine candidates.

Available studies indicate that an AIDS vaccine, even with 50 per cent efficacy, provided to 30 per cent of the population would avert 17 million new infections worldwide between 2015 and 2030. — ANI

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SC denies bail to Vikas Yadav
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 1
The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a bail petition of Vikas Yadav, a prime accused in the business executive Nitish Katara murder case.

Since his sister Bharti Yadav completed her deposition yesterday, a Bench comprising Mr Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice D.K. Jain refused to hear his petition on merits. The Bench said the petitioner was at liberty to move the Delhi High Court.

Vikas’ counsel sought bail on the ground that earlier the prosecution had opposed it on the ground that till Bharti had deposed, he should not be released from the jail.

The court made it clear that the petitioner had came to the Supreme Court after the High Court had rejected his petition on that point and since that situation was now over, the remedy for him would only lie with the High Court.

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SC seeks details on sexual abuse of girls
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 1
The Supreme Court and National Commission for Woman today took note of alleged sexual exploitation of minor girls in a Ghaziabad orphanage, run by a man posing himself to be a swamy and saviour of destitute children.

An apex court Bench, headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, sought complete details about it from the National Human Rights Commission, the NCW and Ghaziabad District Magistrate by December 4 when the matter will be taken up for further hearing.

The court took note of the petition, which was specially mentioned before it for taking urgent action in view of the passive approach of the authorities, including Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chaudhary.

Meanwhile, the NCW took note of a TV channel’s sting operation exposing the alleged exploitation of girls in the orphanage, where 65 children were living.

NCW member Malani Bhattacharya said it had sought details from the district authorities about the children and also spoke to many of them.

Officials had been sent to the spot to ensure that no harm was caused to any child and they were being taken to safe places.

The Uttar Pradesh Director-General of Police had also been asked to look into the matter, she said.

In the meantime, the Central Industrial Security Force personnel had been asked to guard the orphanage during the night to ensure safety of the girls, Bhattacharya said.

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BJP’s new route to Telengana cause
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1
In an obvious attempt to corner the Congress-led UPA government on the Telengana issue, the BJP has decided to introduce a private member Bill in the Rajya Sabha on carving out a separate State of Telengana.

BJP Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj has written a letter to President A P J Abdul Kalam urging him to recommend the introduction of the Bill in the Upper House. She has sought President’s recommendations under Articles 3, 117(1) and 274(1).

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BRIEFLY

Red-carpet welcome for Hrithik, Rakesh
PANAJI: Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan and his father director Rakesh Roshan received compliments during the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here for their contributions to mainstream cinema. The organisers rolled out the red carpet for the Roshan family, which arrived here on Thursday for the screening of their latest blockbuster "Krissh" at the festival. The Goa Government conferred a special award on Rakesh Roshan for his contribution to films. — PTI

His master stroke
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
: A 29-year-old man from Kerala has broken his own record, producing enthralling musical sounds of the mridangam, tabla, chenda, thakil and drum without using any of the percussion instruments but just by the stroke of his fingers. Mr T.C. Rajan, a Gospel worker from Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district, near here, on Thursday performed the feat over five hours non-stop to break his earlier record of three hours. — UNI

India, Jordan ink four pacts
New Delhi:
India and Jordan here on Friday signed four agreements in investment protection, agriculture, tourism and cultural exchange in presence of the visiting King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The agreement-signing ceremony was organised after the two leaders held wide-ranging talks at Hyderabad House. They also discussed the West Asia peace process and underlined the need for its peaceful resolution for a stable region. — TNS

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