SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

SC notice to Zee on ‘malicious’ sting operation
New Delhi, February 7
The sting operation in the “warrant-for-cash” scam carried by Zee TV three years ago to expose alleged corruption in the lower judiciary in Gujarat, today turned into a major trouble for the news channel as the Supreme Court issued notices to it and its Ahmedabad-based reporter asking them why they should not be prosecuted for “malicious intent” behind their action.

Manmohan conferred CNN-IBN Indian of the Year award
New Delhi, February 7
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was last night conferred with the honour of 'CNN-IBN Indian of the Year'.

Kalam for forward looking diplomacy
New Delhi, February 7
Calling for purposeful diplomacy, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said today that India should see to it that war was not extended to outer space.

Sonia’s concerns on FDI already addressed: Nath
New Delhi, February 7
Unfazed by the controversy over Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s letter to the Prime Minister expressing concern about foreign direct investment in the retail sector, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath today revealed this letter was a month-old and that he has already responded to the issues raised by her.



EARLIER STORIES


Tulips bloom at the Mughal Garden at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday. The Mughal and Herbal gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan will be open for public viewing from February 10 to March 18.
Tulips bloom at the Mughal Garden at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday. The Mughal and Herbal gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan will be open for public viewing from February 10 to March 18. — AFP

Sealing: Relief for Delhi traders
New Delhi, February 7
The way has been paved for relief for lakhs of traders in Delhi from the "democles sword" of sealing with the Union Urban Development Ministry notifying the 2021 Master Plan for Delhi late tonight, sources said.

Sanjay was not immature: Prosecution
Mumbai, February 7
The prosecution today opposed actor Sanjay Dutt's plea that he be released under the Probation of Offenders Act following his conviction in the 1993 serial blasts case for illegal possession of arms, arguing that he could not be said to have been a "youthful" offender when the crime was committed.

Tribunal relief over Cauvery water
New Delhi, February 7
To facilitate accommodation by the warring parties, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) has ruled that even though monthly schedules of release of water have been spelt out, the states can, by mutual agreement and in consultation with the Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), amend the pattern of water deliveries.

DG (Home Guards) in Vigilance net
Patna, February 7
A special team of Bihar's Vigilance Bureau, comprising retired CBI officials, today conducted raids on the premises of former Director- General of Police Narayan Mishra.

RSS invites Sonia to Golwalkar’s centenary celebration
New Delhi, February 7
The RSS has extended invitation to heads of all political parties, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, to the birth centenary celebration function of its leader Guru Golwalkar on February 18.

RSS to debate Sachar panel report
New Delhi, February 7
The RSS today admitted that it had neither rejected nor accepted the findings of the Sachar Committee saying it would discuss the report at its key meeting in Lucknow scheduled for next month.

Andhra CM distributes family land among landless
Hyderabad, February 7
Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy today distributed 330 acres of land, earlier surrendered by his family, to the landless poor in Konduru mandal of Rajampet taluk in his native Kadapa district.

RJD defends NSG cover for Rabri
Patna, February 7
The Opposition RJD defended the Centre’s decision to provide National Security Guards (NSG) cover for former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi and asked the Nitish government not to be “jealous” about such development.

IBM-ISB pact for research in service sector
Hyderabad, February 7
IBM and the Indian School of Business (ISB) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint research to develop a first-of-its-kind “Research on Service Science, Management and Engineering” (SSME) in India.

Big B gifted a Rolls Royce
Mumbai, February 7
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is over the moon after bring gifted with a Rolls Royce car by film-maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who directed the Bollywood icon for the first time in the forthcoming movie 'Eklavya'.

Now, public-private funding of metro projects: Govt
New Delhi, February 7
The Centre said today all metro train projects in future would be funded through public-private partnership, in which the Union Government would provide up to 20 per cent viability.

Maathai, Lula to get Nehru Award
New Delhi, February 7
The Jawaharlal Award for International Understanding for years 2005 and 2006 will be conferred on Ms Wangari M Maathai of Kenya and Brazil President Luiz Nacio Lula Da Silva, respectively.

Tension in Indore over dais construction 
Indore, February 7
Tension prevailed briefly in the sensitive Karbala Maidan area here today after activists of a saffron group began building a dais for a deity there before being dispersed by the police.

Bhutan King
New Delhi, February 7
Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck arrived here today on a six-day official visit.

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SC notice to Zee on ‘malicious’ sting operation
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 7
The sting operation in the “warrant-for-cash” scam carried by Zee TV three years ago to expose alleged corruption in the lower judiciary in Gujarat, today turned into a major trouble for the news channel as the Supreme Court issued notices to it and its Ahmedabad-based reporter asking them why they should not be prosecuted for “malicious intent” behind their action.

In the sting operation carried by Zee correspondent Vijay Shekhar in February 2004, he claimed to have procured warrants against President A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the then Chief Justice of India V N Khare, Supreme Court Judge B P Singh and senior advocate R K Jain.

Shekhar had claimed that he had obtained the warrants by paying Rs 40,000 to three lawyers who got them signed by Magistrate M S Brahmabhatt at Meghaninagar court complex in Ahmedabad

But on inquiry by the CBI it was found that in the papers presented before the Magistrate, Dr Kalam’s name was presented as Abdulfakir Jainul Abidil, Justice Khare’s as Vishwanath Khare while the correct name is Visheshwar Nath Khare, Justice B P Singh’s as Vishveshwar Prasad Singh and R K Jain’s as Rajinderkumr Jain.

Solicitor-General G E Vahanvati, appearing for the CBI, told a Bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Mr Justice D K Jain and Mr Justice V S Sripurkar that the agency had not come across any other such instance in the state and this was the only case of issuing warrants by the Magistrate, before whom a fictious complaint was filed by Shekher that he had some property disputes against the persons named in it. Zee had projected it as case of issuing of warrants by the Magistrate against the President, CJI, the Apex Court Judge and a senior lawyer without applying his mind.

Taking serious view of the matter, the Court asked how such things could happen. “This is not a sting operation. It was aimed at tarnishing the image of the subordinate judiciary…this kind of mischief we would not allow,” the Bench said.

Vijay Shekhar soon after the sting operation had filed a PIL in the Apex Court, which had ordered a CBI probe to find out whether such practice of obtaining warrants or summons on false complaint cases was prevalent in the lower judiciary in Gujarat.

Besides, the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court was directed to conduct a departmental inquiry against Magistrate Brahmabhatt whether he was party to the case with the three lawyers who got money from Shekhar. Pending inquiry the Magistrate was placed under suspension.

Both the CBI and the High Court found no evidence against Magistrate Brahmabhatt and he was consequently reinstated by the High Court.

The Solicitor-General said the trial against the three lawyers charge sheeted by the CBI for conspiring to get warrants on taking money from the Zee reporter against the four persons mentioned in the false complaint was pending in a court at Meghaninagar.

After knowing the correct position of the case, the Court asked why action was not initiated against the Zee reporter and the news channel for misrepresenting the facts and conspiring with the lawyers.

Shekhar and Zee TV was given four weeks time to submit their replies why legal action should not be initiated against them for “tarnishing” the image of the judiciary.

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Manmohan conferred CNN-IBN Indian of the Year award
Tribune News Year

New Delhi, February 7
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was last night conferred with the honour of 'CNN-IBN Indian of the Year'.

The Prime Minister, who was not present at the award-giving ceremony, emerged winner from among the list of Indian icons in various fields for "adding stature to the Prime Minister's Office through his silent strength of character, personal integrity and modesty", the award citation said.

Dr Manmohan Singh has demonstrated his resolute statesmanship in successful handling of the recent Indo-US nuclear deal. He has also proved to be an efficient coalition manager and carried along all his partners despite divergent opinions on important issues," the citation said.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee awarded the winners of different categories.

Of the winners, only golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, film-maker Rajkumar Hirani and noted social activist Arvind Kejirwal were present in person to receive the award.

Addressing a gathering of politicians, legislators, bureaucrats, mediapersons, social activists and artists, the Speaker advised the media to take its parliamentary proceedings more seriously and avoid focussing on activities aimed at disrupting the business of the country's supreme legislature.

Issues discussed in Parliament should find adequate place in the media, he stressed.

''Any attempt to denigrate Parliament or to stall its proceedings is dangerous for the survival of democracy,'' Mr Chatterji observed.

It would be the deathknell of democracy if citizens lose interest in democratic institutions, so preservation of the image of these institution was very important, and it should be the vested interest of all to see that it’s not undermined.

Recalling the phases when the Indian democracy came under various strains, he said when the country chose for itself the path of parliamentary democracy, there were several doubts about its survival, but it has survived all odds.But now one can notice a cynicism in people, especially in youth, towards democratic institutions, which was a cause of concern, he said.

''They are questioning the efficacy of governance, so it was high time that we made the process of governance more transparent and accountable,'' said the Speaker, adding that an empowered citizenary should be the torch- bearer of democracy.

In this context, he also emphasised that partisan politics should be kept away from the country's legislatures. The country faces the challenge of providing basic necessities to its people, and institutions like Parliament have to play a crucial role in this task. Any attempt to sideline its importance should be discouraged.

Media, because of its reach to the people, can be a great partner in this task by playing a constructive role and shunning sensationalism and should not compromise with truth. The Speaker, however, appreciated its role in exposing corruption, and citing the case of the sting operation against MPs, he said Parliament took no time in taking action against those exposed by the media.

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Kalam for forward looking diplomacy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
Calling for purposeful diplomacy, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said today that India should see to it that war was not extended to outer space.

Stoutly opposing the weaponisation of the outer space, Dr Kalam’s observation reflected the Manmohan Singh government’s concern with the recent satellite test conducted by China.

Acknowledged as the father of the Indian missile programme, the President emphasised that there was tremendous potential for the peaceful use of space. In this context, he felt that diplomacy in the future may have to take into account the competition for habitat on Moon and Mars.

“In future we may also move towards getting material from Moon and the creation of habitat in Mars. Above all, we have to keep peace in space,” Dr Kalam said here delivering the annual lecture of The Association of Indian Diplomats under the aegis of the Indian Council of World Affairs.

The President said Indian diplomacy had to be purposeful of the present and also look ahead to the future. “Diplomacy has to be a dynamic process,” he told serving and retired diplomats.

He felt the members of the association could take up the task of “redefining the role of diplomacy when India is progressing towards becoming a developed nation by 2020 for the consideration of the government”.

In his lecture titled “Past meets the Present and Creates the Future,” Dr Kalam unveiled a seven-point programme to help modernise Indian diplomacy and make it an effective instrument of creating knowledge products as well as promoting technology and business needs of the country.

The seven point programme should encompass the publication of case studies of effective diplomatic intervention in promoting business, science and social activities for mutual benefit to India and the partner countries.

“This proves that if the core competencies of nations are combined, the best of knowledge products can emanate well ahead of time,” he noted. In this context, he drew attention to the successful Indo-Russian cooperation in creating the Brahmos missile.

Underlining the need to invigorate the country’s economic diplomacy, the President advocated a single window clearance for attracting more foreign direct investment (FDI). With multinationals showing increased interest in starting new joint ventures with Indian companies, the country should adopt a single window clearance system for foreign investment.

Further, the President asked the diplomats to craft a strategy for showcasing the current Indian development to the world. He also said it had become necessary to channel the energy and resources of the 25 million Indian diaspora.

Dr Kalam drew pointed attention to the idea of a Pan-African e-network that would dispense the benefits of tele-medicine, tele-education and e-governance to 53 countries of the continent along with transnational cooperation for creating world class products.

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Sonia’s concerns on FDI already addressed: Nath
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
Unfazed by the controversy over Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s letter to the Prime Minister expressing concern about foreign direct investment in the retail sector, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath today revealed this letter was a month-old and that he has already responded to the issues raised by her.

Mr Kamal Nath, whose ministry deals with this issue, said that Mrs Gandhi’s letter advising caution on allowing FDI in retail was written in early January and he had met the Congress President three times since then to clarify matters. He said he has also discussed this issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The minister said the Congress President’s fears were unfounded as the government had not taken any policy decision allowing FDI in the retail sector. Moreover, he added, there is still no formal agreement between the American retail giant, Wal-Mart, and Bharati, which appears to have pushed Mrs Gandhi into cautioning the government.

In her letter to the PM, Mrs Gandhi had sought greater clarity on this matter. "I have received suggestions from many quarters to first study the possible impact of transnational supermarkets on livelihood security of those engaged in small scale operations,” the letter said.

"I thought I would convey this to you so that you may consider having the relevant issues properly examined before further decisions are taken," the letter added.

In an attempt to clarify matters, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi today said the party does not favour any extreme position on FDI in retail and would like the government to ensure there are sufficient safeguards so that the common man is not affected. He said the party had not asked for a ban on FDI in retail, but was also not for an open-ended approach.

Facing a volley of questions on this issue, Mr Singhvi was unable to explain whether the Congress president’s concerns were limited to the entry of transnational firms in the retail sector and if these also extended to big domestic players like Reliance.

Nevertheless, Mrs Gandhi’s letter has found many takers in her own party and in the Left Front who have been opposing the entry of MNC retailers into India on the plea that this will adversely impact the local stores. Several senior Congress leaders like Digivijay Singh, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi and Margaret Alva have constantly advocated caution in pursuing economic reforms. They were in agreement with the party chief when she asked the government to accord primacy to farmers’ interests while drawing up its SEZ policy.

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Sealing: Relief for Delhi traders

New Delhi, February 7
The way has been paved for relief for lakhs of traders in Delhi from the "democles sword" of sealing with the Union Urban Development Ministry notifying the 2021 Master Plan for Delhi late tonight, sources said.

According to the notification by the Urban Development Ministry, the 2021 Delhi Master Plan has become effective from tonight.

The sources said the MPD 2021 provides for regularising all unauthorised as well as unauthorised regularised colonies as it is besides allowing schools, nursing homes to run in residential areas, thus satisfying the long standing demand of MLAs of the Delhi Legislative Assembly as well as MCD Councillors to bring substantial relief for the common man and traders.

The Master Plan also brings under its purview the 2183 roads notified as commercial or mixed use roads in the September 15 Delhi Government notification. The MPD 2021 also provides for inclusion of more roads as commercial or mixed use roads, the survey for which has already been done by the MCD for their final notification.

The above provisions are expected to bring tremendous relief for traders from sealing.

Sources said in preparing the final proposals of the 2021 Master Plan, effort has been made to accommodate as many suggestions, given by MLAs and Delhi government, as possible so that the maximum people could be benefited as had been assured by Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken time and again in the last few weeks.

Sources also said the MPD 2021 also increases the list of professionals who are allowed to operate from residential areas.

With the notification, the Centre has fulfilled its assurance that the Master Plan would be notified by February 7. — UNI

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Sanjay was not immature: Prosecution

Mumbai, February 7
The prosecution today opposed actor Sanjay Dutt's plea that he be released under the Probation of Offenders Act following his conviction in the 1993 serial blasts case for illegal possession of arms, arguing that he could not be said to have been a "youthful" offender when the crime was committed.

Since the prosecution's argument remained unfinished, special TADA court Judge Pramod Kode extended the time granted to Sanjay and three others to surrender till tomorrow.

Saying that the Probation of Offenders Act was meant for young and immature offenders, Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam pointed out that Sanjay was 34 in January 1993 when he accepted an AK-56 rifle and a Chinese 9mm pistol from Samir Hingora.

He was "mature and adult enough" then to distinguish between a hunting rifle and an AK-56, "a weapon of mass destruction", Nikam contended.

He pooh-poohed Sanjay's defence that he had acquired the AK-56 as he feared for his family's safety during riots that erupted in Mumbai after the demolition of the Babri mosque.

"If this argument is accepted, tomorrow somebody may install an anti-aircraft gun on his terrace, saying he fears an attack by a foreign country's plane," Nikam said, evoking laughter.

Nikam sought to aruge that Sanjay was acquainted with underworld figures like Dawood Ibrahim and Anees Ibrahim, and the latter had provided him the wepaons. — PTI

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Tribunal relief over Cauvery water
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
To facilitate accommodation by the warring parties, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) has ruled that even though monthly schedules of release of water have been spelt out, the states can, by mutual agreement and in consultation with the Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), amend the pattern of water deliveries.

Though there is an element of disquiet in Karnataka about the Tribunal's final award of the Cauvery waters, the CWDT, by way of added caution, has said that the CRA will have to critically monitor the situation, including the availability of storage and rainfall pattern in the different sub-basins.

The CWDT observed that it would be advisable at the end of May each year to conserve as much storage as possible during a good year, as it would help in adhering to the schedule of monthly deliveries.

At the same time, if there were two consecutive bad years of monsoon, it would cause distress which, in turn, will have to be tackled by the CRA by relaxing the schedule of deliveries and getting the reservoirs operated in an integrated manner through the states concerned to minimise any harsh effect of a bad monsoon year.

The CRA would be at liberty to alter monthly or 10-day schedule of releases while making efforts to meet seasonal allocations for the crop as far as possible in consultation with the states concerned.

”For ensuring uninterrupted delivery of allocated shares to the parties concerned, we hereby direct no upper riparian state shall take any action to effect the scheduled deliveries of water to the lower riparian state. The states can my mutual agreement and with the CRA make any amendment in the pattern of water deliveries," the CWDT contended. water

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DG (Home Guards) in Vigilance net
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 7
A special team of Bihar's Vigilance Bureau, comprising retired CBI officials, today conducted raids on the premises of former Director- General of Police Narayan Mishra.

Mishra, a 1969 batch IPS officer, is currently posted as Director- General of Home Guards. He had functioned as police chief under the RJD government headed by Rabri Devi.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had promised a "corruption-free" administration soon after he assumed power 14 months ago."No one was above the law," Mr Kumar asserted.

In its bid to check corruption in high places, the Nitish government recently raised the special unit of the Vigilance Bureau comprising retired CBI officials, known as "clean".

Over 50 government officials, including a DM, were arrested in the last one year of the NDA rule as the Vigilance Department stepped up its drive against corruption.

Besides Mishra’s house at Patna, the special team conducted simultaneous raids at his son’s house in Gaya and Hazaribag.

A senior official of the state Vigilance Department said that the raids were being conducted in connection with accumulation of wealth by the officer beyond his known sources of income.

The details of seizures in terms of cash, investment and property documents from the officer's premises were not yet known. The Vigilance Bureau had also filed an FIR against the senior officer.

It was reliably learnt that the higher-ups of the police, from the DGP to ADGP to IG(HQ), were completely in the dark about the raids. The Vigilance Bureau did not seek any help from the police before conducting the raids reportedly to prevent "leakage " of the same.

Of late, Mr Nitish Kumar was annoyed with the growing complaints against the police by the people that flooded his weekly Janata Durbar held at his residence every Monday.

Mr Kumar was said to have remarked in closed circle if "darogas" (officers-in-charge) of respective police stations had functioned properly, it alone could solve half of the problem of the people.

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RSS invites Sonia to Golwalkar’s centenary celebration
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
The RSS has extended invitation to heads of all political parties, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, to the birth centenary celebration function of its leader Guru Golwalkar on February 18.

The move comes in the wake of the Congress staging an event commemorating the centenary of Satyagraha in Delhi last month to which the Sangh and the NDA parties were not invited.

Asked whether the Congress President has been invited, RSS zonal chief Bajrang Lal Gupt said, “Yes, we are inviting her (Gandhi) and heads of all other political parties, besides top academics, writers, sportspersons and celebrities from different walks of life to this programme whose central theme will be social equality”.

Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan and fiery Ayodhya movement leader Ritambhara would be among the key speakers at the February 18 event at the Burari ground here, he said.

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RSS to debate Sachar panel report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
The RSS today admitted that it had neither rejected nor accepted the findings of the Sachar Committee saying it would discuss the report at its key meeting in Lucknow scheduled for next month.

“We have neither accepted it nor rejected it. We will discuss it at our Pratinidhi Sabha in Lucknow next month, RSS leader Madan Das Devi told newspersons here.

In the same breath, he defended the BJP’s objections over the Sachar report, saying the party rightly reacted to vote-bank moves of the ruling Congress.

Mr Devi, who maintained that the Sangh opposed religion-based reservation and minorityism, said he still believed different portions of the report, especially related to lower middle income groups, required careful study.

The findings of the Sachar Committee on Muslims drew flak from the BJP, which called it an attempt by the ruling UPA to please the minority community ahead of the polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources in the Minority Affairs Ministry say the action-taken report on the Sachar report is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the forthcoming Budget session.

The government has already announced it will implement the report in toto.

In separate comments, the Sangh leader rebutted news reports that he had met BSP chief Mayawati.

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Andhra CM distributes family land among landless
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 7
Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy today distributed 330 acres of land, earlier surrendered by his family, to the landless poor in Konduru mandal of Rajampet taluk in his native Kadapa district.

The land was distributed to 108 identified beneficiaries, who were given title deeds for 2.62 acres each at a specially organised programme attended by AICC general secretary and in charge of Andhra affairs Digvijay Singh.

This is part of the 997 acres of land, owned by Forest Plantation of India belonging to the family of the Chief Minister and surrendered by Reddy’s daughter Sharmila Reddy to Kadapa district collector on January 27.

It may be recalled that the Chief Minister had kicked up a political storm when he declared in the last Assembly session that his family had purchased 310 acres of assigned land in Idupalapaya village and another 997 acres of government land in Konduru mandal.

Admitting that the transactions were illegal and against the state land ceiling and transfer laws, he, however, took cover under the ruse that his late father and other family members were not aware of the violations since the revenue and registration officials duly authorised the purchases.

While 330 acres of the land distributed today at Konduru is arable, the other, which falls in the hilly terrain, needs development. The government plans to develop these tracts under the Indira Prabha programme through a MoU between the Kadapa district administration and AP Forest Development Corporation under the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Following his self-declaration, which was widely seen as a ploy to target his political opponents and a media baron, the Rajasekhara Reddy government enacted a new law that provides no punitive action against those who surrendered assigned land within 90 days from January 29.

After this grace period, the government will initiate proceedings to confiscate lands identified as assignment land. It is under this new legislation that the government had issued notices to Ramoji Film City, Satyam Computers, Sanghi Polysters and recently to Tamil Nadu former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s vine yard on the outskirts of the city.

Speaking on the occasion, Digvijay Singh compared Reddy to Vinoba Bhave, whose Bhoodan movement was launched in Andhra Pradesh, and asked the rich to voluntarily surrender the assigned lands purchased from the poor.

The opposition parties, however, are not impressed. “The CM is not donating anything. He should, in fact, be prosecuted for purchasing assigned land and occupying government land. We also demand that he should surrender his other properties in Hyderabad which were also illegally obtained,” TDP leader and former Minister N Janardhan Reddy said.

Claiming to have set a precedent to others to follow, the Chief Minister said the government was determined to resume all assigned lands in the hands of the landlords and distribute them to the poor.

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RJD defends NSG cover for Rabri
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 7
The Opposition RJD defended the Centre’s decision to provide National Security Guards (NSG) cover for former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi and asked the Nitish government not to be “jealous” about such development.

Addressing mediapersons here today, the national general secretary of the RJD and party’s spokesman, Mr Shyam Rajak, chose to describe the move as a timely intervention by the Centre in view of the threats posed to Ms Rabri Devi’s life from the Ranvir Sena.

Mr Rajak claimed that as a leader of the “poor and the backward” Ms Rabri Devi was facing threat to her life from the Ranvir Sena, the private army of upper castes in Bihar. “Even the IB has evidence regarding this on the basis of which the Centre instructed NSG cover for her”,he said.

Mr Rajak also advised the ruling NDA not to be jealous about this on the ground that Rabri’s security cover was now higher than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. “We do not have any objection if the security cover of Mr Nitish Kumar is also stepped up. But the NDA should not poke its nose into the issue of the NSG cover to our leader”, he added.

Mr Rajak referred to the cases involving former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh and Mr Rajnath Singh, who too were enjoying NSG covers. “There is nothing unusual in it”,he said.

The decision of the Centre, however, precipitated a confrontation with the Nitish government by asking it to provide logistics for nearly 30 NSG commandos to be posted at Patna for this purpose.

The Bihar Government reportedly has questioned the need for this arguing that Ms Rabri Devi already got the highest security cover, including a bulletproof car and some 95 police personnel drawn from the Bihar Armed Police, Special Branch and other affiliates.

It was learnt that the political battle for a “higher security cover” began with Ms Rabri Devi’s husband, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, writing a letter to the Home Ministry recently asking additional security cover for his wife after some high-frequency wireless sets were removed from their Patna house as those were the privileges of the Chief Minister.

The high-frequency wireless sets were removed from Ms Rabri Devi’s residence after she had lost the electoral battle to Mr Nitish Kumar in 2005.

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IBM-ISB pact for research in service sector
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 7
IBM and the Indian School of Business (ISB) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint research to develop a first-of-its-kind “Research on Service Science, Management and Engineering” (SSME) in India.

As part of this initiative, the ISB and IBM will create a cutting edge research and develop case studies to streamline service processes and replicate them across industries.

“The aim of this agreement is to support the ISB to open the SSME Programme, which includes high-end research, development of case studies and curriculum for the executive education and the postgraduate programme in management with the help of IBM so that the discipline of service science can be developed and lead to nurturing specialised human resources”, said Dr Daniel M. Dias, Director, IBM India Research Laboratory.

Prof Viswanadham, Executive Director, Centre for Global Logistics and Manufacturing Strategies (CGLMS), at the ISB pointed out that with 30 per cent of our economy dependent on it, the service sector played a very important role in the Indian economy. The CGLMS would explore innovative possibilities to streamline, transform and automate processes and develop human resources to deliver services more efficiently. The study would focus on service chains connected with ITES, retail, textiles, logistics, supply chain finance, human resource management, business services and others.

Services now accounts for more than 50 per cent of the labor force in Brazil, Russia, Japan and Germany and over 75 per cent of the labor force in India, the USA and 
the UK.

This shift to services had created a skills gap, especially in the area of high value services, and many leading universities across the globe had begun exploring and investing in this area, working in tandem with thought leaders in the business world, a press release here said.

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Big B gifted a Rolls Royce

Mumbai, February 7
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is over the moon after bring gifted with a Rolls Royce car by film-maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who directed the Bollywood icon for the first time in the forthcoming movie 'Eklavya'.

''I am over the moon, though the choice of a Rolls Royce car was entirely Vinod's decision,''Amitabh said, after getting the keys of the stunning Silver Phantom Rolls Royce from Vinod's mother at his office 'Janak' in Juhu, North West Mumbai this afternoon.

The actor said he always wanted to work with Vinod. — UNI

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Now, public-private funding of metro projects: Govt

New Delhi, February 7
The Centre said today all metro train projects in future would be funded through public-private partnership, in which the Union Government would provide up to 20 per cent viability.

The Delhi metro project is being built through a special purpose vehicle, but after the successful beginning of the Mumbai rail transit system, it had been decided that all such metro projects in future would be implemented through the PPP model.

Speaking at the international conference on infrastructure by the World Bank, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy said the first phase of the Mumbai metro had been given to the private bidder and bids would be soon called for the second phase of the project. The bids would be finalised for Hyderabad metro project through the PPP model, he said.

The centre would provide up to 20 per cent viability gap funding for such projects. In addition, the states could also provide financial support to these projects, but they would have to invite competitive bids in a transparent manner. — TNS

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Maathai, Lula to get Nehru Award
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
The Jawaharlal Award for International Understanding for years 2005 and 2006 will be conferred on Ms Wangari M Maathai of Kenya and Brazil President Luiz Nacio Lula Da Silva, respectively.

Ms Maathai, who became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, is internationally recognised for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation.

The jury which selected the awardees was headed by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

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Tension in Indore over dais construction 

Indore, February 7
Tension prevailed briefly in the sensitive Karbala Maidan area here today after activists of a saffron group began building a dais for a deity there before being dispersed by the police.

The police intervened after activists of the Dharam Rakhsa Samiti began constructing, without permission, the dais on a piece of land at the maidan for Naag Baba.

Thirty persons, including city Corporator Parag Londhe and six women, were arrested from the spot, Superintendent of Police Anshuman Singh Yadav said.

Local Hindus offer puja at the maidan on the occasion of Naag Panchmi festival. The activists of the Samiti suddenly arrived at the spot today and started constructing the platform, Yadav said.

The police had been deployed in strength in the area and the situation there was peaceful, he said. — PTI

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Bhutan King

New Delhi, February 7
Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck arrived here today on a six-day official visit.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and National Security Adviser M K Narayanan called on him soon after his arrival. — TNS

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