SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

UP govt to curb ‘transfer-posting industry’
Lucknow, May 14
A day after assuming office and soon after transferring around 200 senior IAS and IPS officers, the first cabinet meeting of Chief Minister Mayawati fine-tuned a transfer policy, deciding to relocate officers only when “absolutely necessary”.

28 charred to death in Gujarat road accident
Anand, May 14
At least 28 persons were charred to death as a bus they were travelling in caught fire near the milk town of Anand in Gujarat on Monday, official said.

Freedom suppressed, artists launch campaign
New Delhi, May 14
On May 10, the self-appointed keepers of the nation’s culture attacked a student of fine arts at the MS University in Baroda. The reason? Chandramohan had apparently strayed into the domains of ‘religious sentiments’.
Artists, cine stars and theatre personalities hold a dharna to protest against the attack on artists by VHP activists in Baroda at Mandi House in New Delhi.
Artists, cine stars and theatre personalities hold a dharna to protest against the attack on artists by VHP activists in Baroda at Mandi House in New Delhi on Monday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal






EARLIER STORIES




Agendas: Leaders take support of PSUs
Patna, May 14
Known for their largely development-oriented functioning, the Public Sector Units are now being used by politicians to further their ‘populist’ agendas and gain political mileage.

Taj turning yellow: Report
New Delhi, May 14
World’s most famous monument of love in the shimmering white marble, the Taj Mahal, is fast losing its sheen and turning yellowish due to pollution.

Human Trafficking
Police grills BSP MP
New Delhi, May 14
Investigations into the human trafficking case appeared to have made some headway today as the police finally questioned a BSP MP, whose name had figured in the emigration racket along with three other lawmakers, who failed to turn up.

Amar Singh dares Mayawati to arrest him, Mulayam
New Delhi, May 14
Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh has dared Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to put him and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav behind bars.

Goa Assembly Poll
Rebels to spoil Cong party
Mumbai, May 14
Vishwajit Rane, son of Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, has rebelled against the Congress and is contesting as an Independent from the Valpoi constituency for the Assembly elections scheduled for June 2.

Parliament derailed again, this time over Babli dam project
New Delhi, May 14
Parliament was again stalled today as both Houses witnessed uproarious scenes over the construction of the Babli dam by the Maharashtra government.






Telugu Desham Party president N Chandra Babu Naidu during a protest demonstration by his party in New Delhi on Monday demanding to stop the Babli project in Andhra Pradesh. — PTI
Telugu Desham Party president N Chandra Babu Naidu during a protest demonstration by his party in New Delhi on Monday demanding to stop the Babli project in Andhra Pradesh.

Rajya Sabha poll
Oppn parties fail to field common candidate
Guwahati, May 14
Consensus eluded key Opposition parties - Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the BJP and the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) - in the Assam Assembly in their bid to find a consensus candidate for the second Rajya Sabha seat.

Presidential poll
Pranab to obey party’s decision
Kolkata, May 14
Maintaining that he does not particularly like or dislike the president’s post, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said he would gracefully obey the party’s decision if he is chosen the presidential candidate. Mukherjee was reacting to the Prime Minister's proposal for his presidential candidature after the expiry of the tenure of President A.P.J Kalam, during a public meeting on the centenary celebrations of the Satyagrah in Midnapore last evening.

Bhandari offers to make way for Khanduri
Dehra Dun, May 14
Independent legislator Rajinder Singh Bhandari, inducted as cabinet minister in the BJP-led government, today offered to resign his Assembly seat to pave way for Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri to enter the state Assembly.

King Charles II Medal for Kalam
New Delhi, May 14
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam has been honoured with the prestigious King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society of London in recognition of his extraordinary contribution in the field of science and technology.

Dr Singh’s simple life
Guwahati, May 14
As the Prime Minister of the country, Dr Manmohan Singh may have a chauffer driven-BMW. But for himself, he owns an old 1996 model Maruti 800 car now worth just Rs 40,000. He does not have any land, except a two-storey house in Chandigarh, and an apartment in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.

Threat to Kerala CM: IB, RAW informed
Thiruvananthapuram, May 14
Taking a serious note of the anonymous threat call from Saudi Arabia on the life of Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, the state police today informed the Central Intelligence Bureau and RAW besides beginning its own investigations.

India, US, Japan to form strategic forum
New Delhi, May 14
In a trail-blazing diplomatic move, a strategic forum involving the United States, Japan, Australia and India is likely to be formed soon. The move is bound to ruffle many a feather in China.

Foster Murder
Magistrate reserves order
New Delhi, May 14
A local court today reserved its order on the extradition of Manendra Pal Kohli, prime suspect in the alleged rape and murder of 17-year-old British girl Hanna Foster.

Now, NRIs can gift cars online
Mumbai, May 14
Most NRIs arrive without any savings and have to put in a few months if not years of gruelling work before they can buy the basic household furniture and appliances for their rented homes. All this time, they have also to send money back home to support their relatives and repay the mountain of debt left behind.

Trains diverted
New Delhi, May 14
More than a dozen trains were diverted today and the New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express cancelled between Gwalior and Bhopal due to derailment of 16 wagons of a goods train.

Gujarat Killings
Amnesty directive to NHRC
New Delhi, May 14
The Amnesty International has criticised India’s topmost human rights organisation, the National Human Rights Commission, for its handling of Gujarat killings since 2002 and has asked the commission to “review its current policy”. It also urged India to set up judicial inquiries into all reported “unlawful killings by the Gujarat police since 2002”.

Monsoon to hit Kerala on May 24
New Delhi, May 14
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today formally announced that the southwest monsoon was likely to hit Kerala on May 24, seven days earlier than the usual onset date.

Nitish’s wife dead
New Delhi, May 14
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's wife Manju Sinha died here tonight following acute pneumonia and chest infection.

MLA’s bodyguard fires shot at party
Patna, May 14
A day after promising to put an end to the “jungle raj” of the Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s own party member is in trouble for taking the new-found power too seriously.

Uttarakhand scribes form association
Dehra Dun, May 14
Miffed by the step motherly treatment being meted out to the national media in Uttarakhand, journalists belonging to national media organisations, today decided to form a separate body under the banner of National Media Association (NMA).


Samra to head Rainfed Area Authority
New Delhi, May 14
Noted agricultural scientist Dr J S Samra has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the National Rainfed Area Authority. This body would prepare a road map to address the problems of rain-fed areas for sustainable and holistic development.

Dr J S Samra

Sex education creates storm in AIDS-stricken India
Mumbai, May 14
Moves to bring sex out of the closet in largely conservative India have kicked up a mot 5.7 million, a figure that experts say may balloon to over 20 million by 2010.

Eve-teasing
There’s nothing like ‘asking for it’
New Delhi, May 14
Kurtas, t-shirts, sleeveless tops and pyjamas hung loosely with tags not mentioning their price but the age of the girl who the garment belongs to.

Shilpa sick of kiss row
New Delhi, May 14
Even about a month since an innocuous “peck on the cheek” of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty by Hollywood actor Richard Gere, the controversy created by the event refuses to die down.

High-stress workplaces
Banks, media top list
New Delhi, May 14
Top 10 sectors in which the menace of stress and mental fatigue has intensified in recent times at top and middle positions comprise construction, shipping, banks, electronics and print media, government hospitals, star trading houses, courier companies, SSI, retail and card franchise companies to deliver on deadline.


Videos
Gujarat Govt likely to submit report today.
(56k)
Double dose of Big B coming your way.
(56k)
Mask making to earn a livelihood.
(56k)

 

Top









 

UP govt to curb ‘transfer-posting industry’
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 14
A day after assuming office and soon after transferring around 200 senior IAS and IPS officers, the first cabinet meeting of Chief Minister Mayawati fine-tuned a transfer policy, deciding to relocate officers only when “absolutely necessary”.

According to the newly appointed cabinet secretary Sheshank Shekhar Singh, the cabinet held a detailed discussion on the transfer and postings policy with a view to curbing corruption by putting a stop to the “transfer-posting industry”.

It was decided that the chief minister would intervene only in senior-level transfers of the level of principal secretaries or ADG and above. Ministers were also asked to restrain themselves from interfering in these matters.

For the routine postings it was decided that the moribund Services Establishment Board would be revived and given the responsibility of looking after the task in the manner prescribed.

Late Sunday night, the newly installed government decided to appoint new commissioners in 13 of the 17 divisions. Of the 173 IPS officers reshuffled, 18 were of additional director-general rank, 27 of IG rank, 37 of DIG rank and 66 SSPs.

The most significant changes were to the officers of the all-important ‘pancham tal’ (fifth floor), which houses the chief minister’s office. Sheshank Shekhar Singh was elevated as the state's cabinet secretary, a post till now held by the chief secretary. The present chief secretary Shambhu Nath has been retained for the time being.

Singh has apparently been rewarded for refusing to become an approver in the Taj corridor scam in which Mayawati was facing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.

The other important appointments were made in the chief minister's personal secretariat, where V.K.Sharma and Shailesh Krishna were appointed principal secretaries. A battery of five secretaries have also been put in place. They are Rohit Nandan, Anoop Pandey, N.S.Ravi, Navneet Sehgal and Jagdish Rai.

Among the other decisions formally taken at today’s cabinet was to dismantle the Uttar Pradesh Development Council and issue a GO removing the heads of 64 government corporations who, Singh said, should have resigned on their own after the new government assumed power.

The 15th Vidhan Sabha would meet on May 17 and 18 to swear in the new MLAs and appoint a protem speaker. The Vidhan Sabha session would commence from May 21. The cabinet also approved the name of Jyotindra Mishra for the post of advocate- general.

Top

 

28 charred to death in Gujarat road accident

Anand, May 14
At least 28 persons were charred to death as a bus they were travelling in caught fire near the milk town of Anand in Gujarat on Monday, official said.

The Gujarat State Road Transport Corp bus, run on CNG and was going from Mehsana to Panchmahal, caught fire on the National Highway No 8 as a tanker brushed a roadliner giving off sparks. The bus was soon engulfed in fire killing most of the passengers on the spot, the officials said.

The magnitude of the fire was such that fire fighters were at work hours after the accident in the evening even as the bodies were being recovered from the bus which continued to be on fire. — PTI

Top

 

Freedom suppressed, artists launch campaign
Charu Singh/Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
On May 10, the self-appointed keepers of the nation’s culture attacked a student of fine arts at the MS University in Baroda. The reason? Chandramohan had apparently strayed into the domains of ‘religious sentiments’.

The man behind the attack, a BJP activist Neeraj Jain, had stormed onto the premises of the Fine Arts Faculty along with a group of VHP members and assaulted the student.

However, the most shocking bit came when the police later arrested Chandramohan and booked him for hurting sentiments through his artwork. He is behind bars till now.

“A student was nabbed and put behind bars at MS University right in front of our eyes. The incident has deeply anguished me. Moreover, the archives of the department have been were sealed and become a source of contention. This is the manifestation of a deep cultural malaise with two camps and existent polarities,” said Parul Dave Mukherjee, an eyewitness to the Baroda atrocity against artists.

Another eyewitness said, “We strongly object to the fact that Neeraj Jain, a BJP activist, marched right into our faculty without any permission from the Dean. Not only that, there were hooligans with him. We are fighting for justice and for a more liberal framework. I was there at Baroda and went to the police station to file an FIR. However, I was told to file an apology. Thus, I decided to come to Delhi and register our collective protest against the repeated attacks against artists.”

After the attack in Baroda, students mounted a protest exhibition, which was forcibly shut down by the Pro V-C of the university and Prof Shivaji Panikker, the man behind this exhibition, was suspended.

Artists had gathered in the capital and at several other cities across the nation today to register their protest, anger and frustration against the sustained attack on artists. They also rued the curbing of their freedom of expression by religious pressure groups and government functionaries over the years.

In fact, the hate campaign against the country’s best-known artist M.F. Husain is a manifestation of the sad trend. Husain now lives in a virtual exile.

Renowned artist Arpana Caur was also present at the protest. She said, “It started with Husain and he has being victimised for many years now. It was his tribute to our country’s culture and there’s no reason to react to his work almost 40 years after it was done. If we talk of morality, there is a humanism to people like Husain that many can’t see. Morality and beauty really lie in the eyes of the beholder.”

Top

 

Agendas: Leaders take support of PSUs
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 14
Known for their largely development-oriented functioning, the Public Sector Units are now being used by politicians to further their ‘populist’ agendas and gain political mileage.

Though railway minister and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and union steel and fertilizer minister Ramvilas Paswan do not see eye-to-eye, these days their respective bids to advance the development agenda has mostly relied on the clever use of the PSUs, apparently targeting the power centre at Bihar.

For instance, during the past two days, the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) organised a series of ‘health camps’ in different parts of Hajipur and Vaishali as part of its ‘corporate social responsibility’.

Ramvilas went a step further, promising to set up a medicinal plant in his constituency in Hajipur, besides a state-of-the art cardiac care unit in the state by SAIL.

The LJP chief, who had missed the Railways portfolio in 2004, has already announced a steel plant in east Champaran district. The revival of Barauni fertilizer factory is also being considered.

Lalu too has been very eager to capitalise upon Indian Railways in his bid to refurbish his image as a development-oriented minister. The turnaround of this biggest ever PSU as a profit-making unit in the past three years has earned Lalu admiration from varied quarters.

From the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad to the scholars of foreign universities, all have been equally eager to learn the ‘rustic’ management skill of the man, which has helped the Railways shed its tag of a white elephant.

Lalu has already announced over Rs 2,500 crore investments for Bihar by the Railways between 2004-2007 by promising to set up diesel and electric locomotive factories in Madhepura and Chapra, as well as a wheel repairing unit at Saran.

Incidentally, while Nitish Kumar was compelled to announce over Rs 5,000 crore of development projects covering almost all districts of Bihar as the Chief Minister, for Lalu and Ramvilas, their focus has primarily revolved around their respective Lok Sabha constituencies in Chapra under Saran district and Hajipur in Vaishali.

The other area, Madhepura, being considered by Lalu Prasad for a forthcoming rail project, is known to have high Yadav concentration.

Sources close to both RJD and LJP further disclose that both Lalu and Ramvilas are now trying to follow Mayawati’s ‘Sarbajan Samaj’ model in UP to bridge the gap between the highly-polarised caste politics in Bihar.

In fact, Ramvilas has stated that he is like the ‘mali’ (gardener) who has always intended to take care of all the flowers (read castes) in the garden.

Further, the people of Bihar have been noticing a much-mellower Lalu who no longer spits venom against the upper castes.

In fact, two RJD ministers in the union cabinet, Raghubansh Prasad Singh and Akhilesh Singh, are now reportedly the men being used by Lalu to launch an attack on the Nitish government.

At the personal level, Lalu reportedly laments losing out Shivanand Tiwari, earlier known to be a key strategist in the RJD camp, to Nitish. Besides, former CM Jagannath Mishra has also been siding with Nitish.

Top

 

Taj turning yellow: Report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
World’s most famous monument of love in the shimmering white marble, the Taj Mahal, is fast losing its sheen and turning yellowish due to pollution.

In its report tabled in Parliament today, a committee, headed by MP Sitaram Yechury, expressed concern that the Taj was becoming yellowish due to the deposition of suspended particulate matter. It recommended that while undertaking any conservation activity at the monument, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should take caution to retain the original glory of the white marble used in it.

The Air Pollution Monitoring Laboratory at Agra has found that the level of air pollutants, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide gases, are generally within permissible limits whereas the suspended particulate matter is always at a very high level, except during the rainy season.

To remove the deposit of pollutants on the Taj, the clay pack treatment, which is non-corrosive and non-abrasive, is carried out, the committee said.

Top

 

Human Trafficking
Police grills BSP MP
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, May 14
Investigations into the human trafficking case appeared to have made some headway today as the police finally questioned a BSP MP, whose name had figured in the emigration racket along with three other lawmakers, who failed to turn up.

The BSP MP from Misrikh, Ashok Kumar Rawat, whose name cropped up during the interrogation of Sunder Lal Yadav, an alleged middleman arrested in the high-profile case, was grilled for nearly an hour by crime branch officials after he presented himself in response to their notice.

However, the other three MPs - Mitrasen Yadav and Mohammed Tahir Khan, both from the BSP, and Ramswaroop Koli (BJP) - did not turn up for questioning despite being summoned by the police to appear before it today.

Investigators sought to know whether Rawat knew Yadav or Rashid, a Hyderabad-based travel agent, who is also under the scanner of the Delhi police and arrested by the Andhra police last week. Yadav had told a court here last month that he had introduced Rashid to the MP.

They also inquired about his visits abroad but did not verify his travel documents. The MP, who allegedly helped smuggle out persons on forged passports in the names of his relatives, came with his lawyers.

He is understood to have told the police that he did not know Rashid or Yadav.

“He has been summoned as a witness in the case and not as an accused and we are totally cooperating with the investigation,” Rawat’s lawyer Harjot Singh said.

The alleged involvement of MPs in the trafficking scandal came to light after the arrest of BJP lawmaker Babubhai Katara at the airport here last month while trying to smuggle a woman and a teenaged boy out of the country.

Top

 

Amar Singh dares Mayawati to arrest him, Mulayam
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh has dared Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to put him and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav behind bars.

"I dare her to put us in jail. In fact, I would be happy if she puts us in jail because it would be politically advantageous to us. Remember Indira Gandhi benefited after the Emergency when her opponents put her in jail,” Amar Singh said in an interview to CNN-IBN and IBN 7.

Amar Singh accused her of indulging in "vendetta politics" and said that her behaviour during the oath-taking ceremony was an evidence of her intentions.

"The leader of the opposition Mulayam Singh Yadav was present and she would not even greet him. If she wants to pursue vendetta politics, she is welcome to do so. I would be worried if she focused on development and not taking revenge on us," he stressed.

Showing his readiness to face any inquiry that was ordered by the Mayawati government, Amar Singh said he was not afraid. "I have been hounded by Soniaji's UPA government. My phones have been tapped, my friends have been raided. I have been harassed. If Soniaji could not do anything to me, who is Mayawati", Singh said.

Referring to stories about his plants to leave the country, he said, "Mayawati did not leave the country when she was defeated, why should I leave the country now? Victory and defeat is part of democracy. We will fight back. I am sure of that."

The SP leader, who was hospitalised today, denied that he was feigning illness. I have had kidney problem for several months now, but could not get it checked up because of the campaign. My health is important to me. Why should I pretend to be ill?"

Amar Singh did not agree that Mayawati won because of any developmental agenda that she offered to the people of the state. Mayawati won because of her "social engineering", he said and pointed out that the real loss in the election was not of the SP but the Congress and the BJP.

"My vote percentage has not gone down. It is the Congress and the BJP which have lost ground. What happened to Rahulbaba and his roadshows. What has happened to Rajnath Singh who was a former Chief Minister of UP? What happened to Beni Prasad Verma who got zero seats and the Jan Morcha which also drew blank,” he said.

“All these parties tried to finish us, but we have done better than them. Sonia and Rahul have been rejected by the people of UP, not Mulayam Singh. UP is now a two-party state where there is no Congress and no BJP", the SP leader added.

Top

 

Goa Assembly Poll
Rebels to spoil Cong party
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 14
Vishwajit Rane, son of Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, has rebelled against the Congress and is contesting as an Independent from the Valpoi constituency for the Assembly elections scheduled for June 2.

The younger Rane joins Jenniffer Monserrate, wife of the high-profile former town and country planning minister Atnasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate, who is contesting as a rebel candidate from the Santa Cruz constituency.

Another prominent rebel is Churchill Alemao, who resigned as Congress MP to float his own Save Goa Party.

He is pitted against industries minister Luizinho Faleiro in Navelim. Alemao’s brother Joaquim is the party’s official candidate from Cuncolim.

With it becoming clear that the Congress leaders like Rane, Monserrate and Alemao are pulling out all stops in favour of their kin rather than the party’s official candidates, the grand old party will face a tough time at the hustings.

Though Vishwajit Rane today filed his nomination as an Independent, his supporters said in Goa that he was still hopeful of getting party ticket.

The Ranes are old royals from Goa's Satteri taluka of which Valpoi is a part and the Chief Minister’s son hopes to benefit from the feudal links.

Official Congress candidate Bandu Dessai suddenly left Goa after being nominated.

His relatives said he had taken ill and had to leave Goa for treatment. Dessai is yet to file his nominations, though.

The Congress is contesting 34 of the 40 seats in the Goa Assembly, leaving the rest for its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party.

Top

 

Parliament derailed again, this time over Babli dam project
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Parliament was again stalled today as both Houses witnessed uproarious scenes over the construction of the Babli dam by the Maharashtra government.

After both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessed three adjournments in the pre-lunch sitting over the matter, the presiding officers decided to call it a day within minutes after the lunch break.

Repeated uproars have derailed proceedings in both Houses during the past few days on issues like Gujarat fake encounter and Nandigram firing.

Today, it was the turn of TDP members to raise the issue of the dam. They said the dam, constructed by the Maharashtra government, would hit flow of water to Andhra Pradesh.

In the Lok Sabha, where question hour could not be taken up, TDP and Congress members had heated exchanges over the issue, leading to three adjournments in the pre-lunch session. The House was finally adjourned for the day 10 minutes after the lunch break.

Members of the TDP, led by their Leader K. Yerrannaidu, were on their feet as soon as the House assembled, accusing the Maharashtra government of constructing the dam on the Godavari illegally.

In the Rajya Sabha, TDP members, agitated over the impact of the dam on Andhra farmers, forced two adjournments in question hour and one in zero hour before the chair called it a day.

They were voicing concern over the fate of lakhs of farmers in Andhra Pradesh.

As soon as question hour began, TDP members, supported by the BJP and the SP, disrupted proceedings saying that Maharashtra government’s action would affect irrigation in vast areas in Andhra Pradesh.

Ravula Chandra Sekar Reddy (TDP) said he had given a notice to suspend question hour as 11 projects being pursued by the Maharashtra government would affect irrigation in 18 lakh acres of agricultural land in Andhra Pradesh.

After chairman of the House Bhairon Singh Shekhawat refused to meet their demand, TDP and BJP members trooped into the well, leading to two adjournments during question hour.

When the Rajya Sabha re-assembled, the matter was raised again. Deputy chairman of the House K. Rahman Khan adjourned the House within five minutes of zero hour.

Proceedings in both Houses have remained virtually paralysed for over a week now over issues ranging from the Gujarat fake encounter to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s controversial remarks to the Sethusamudram project.

Top

 

Rajya Sabha poll
Oppn parties fail to field common candidate
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 14
Consensus eluded key Opposition parties - Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the BJP and the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) - in the Assam Assembly in their bid to find a consensus candidate for the second Rajya Sabha seat.

The election to two Rajya Sabha seats from the North-eastern state will take place on May 24. For one seat, Congress nominee Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a certainty, with the party's associate members and the Bodoland People's Party deciding to vote only for Dr Singh.

The Congress, which has fielded Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as its candidate for the first seat, has decided not to field any candidate for the second seat to facilitate the smooth victory of the PM to the Upper House of Parliament for the fourth term in a row.

Opposition Asom Gana Parishad having 24 MLAs in the 126-member House has fielded Kumar Dipak Das as its candidate while Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) which has 11 MLAs, has fielded Matanga Singh, a former RS member who represented Congress during the tenure of former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. Both Opposition candidates filed their papers today, the last day for submission of nomination papers.

The AGP had selected its candidate for the RS by secret ballot as there were more than one aspirant.

The BJP, which has 10 MLAs in the Assam House, was readying to field Bijay Kumar Gupta as its candidate. It developed cold feet at the eleventh hour and opted out of the race without making it clear whether it was going to support the AGP candidate or not. There is no question of the BJP supporting the AUDF candidate as ideologically both parties stand poles apart.

Top

 

Presidential poll
Pranab to obey party’s decision
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 14
Maintaining that he does not particularly like or dislike the president’s post, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said he would gracefully obey the party’s decision if he is chosen the presidential candidate. Mukherjee was reacting to the Prime Minister's proposal for his presidential candidature after the expiry of the tenure of President A.P.J Kalam, during a public meeting on the centenary celebrations of the Satyagrah in Midnapore last evening.

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh was also during the meeting.

The PM has reportedly suggested three names from the Congress (l) for the president’s post and the list includes names of former Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Dr Karan Singh. However, so far, the AICC (l) leadership had not decided anything officially. Sonia Gandhi has been negotiating in this regard with the newly-elected Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, DMK leader Karunanidhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav, CPI (M)'s Prakash Karat and others. Meanwhile, Kalam is scheduled to relinquish his office in June and the new president would be sworn in on July 1.

The Left parties supporting the UPA government from outside are scheduled to meet on May 16 to discuss their stand on the presidential elections.

Some leaders have suggested that the speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, would be the right choice. However, the Politburo and the CPI (M) leadership are mum on the issue. Chatterjee also avoided answering any questions on this issue while he was at a function at Bolpur, his constituency, on Saturday.

The Left Front committee meeting today at the Alimuddin Street party office also did not see any deliberations on the issue.

However, the CPI (M) and other small partners at today's meeting yielded to the demand of the three-party mini-front for holding the Nandigram's all-party peace meeting first at the state level and then at the grassroots. Biman Bose, who had strongly opposed to this earlier, today endorsed this decision. The time, venue and agenda of the meeting would be decided later.

Top

 

Bhandari offers to make way for Khanduri
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, May 14
Independent legislator Rajinder Singh Bhandari, inducted as cabinet minister in the BJP-led government, today offered to resign his Assembly seat to pave way for Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri to enter the state Assembly.

With this, speculation has ended over the question of finding a safe seat for Khanduri, who has to contest an election to enter the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly within six months of becoming the Chief Minister. He represents Pauri Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency.

“I am offering to resign in favour of the Chief Minister to ensure faster development of my constituency,” said Bhandari whose Assembly constituency Nanadprayag is part of the Lok Sabha seat represented by Khanduri.

Bhandari, who successfully contested as rebel Congress candidate, was the first legislator to give outside support to the BJP enabling it to form the government. The BJP had fallen short of majority in the Assembly election held in February. Later, two other independent legislators and the three-member UKD group supported the BJP government.

Top

 

King Charles II Medal for Kalam

New Delhi, May 14
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam has been honoured with the prestigious King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society of London in recognition of his extraordinary contribution in the field of science and technology.

Dr Kalam has become the second recipient of the award after Emperor Akihito of Japan, who received it in 1998.

“This is in recognition of the tremendous contribution as a scientist and your roadmap to your country to make India a developed nation by 2020 through the application of science and technoloy.

“We value this and have decided to honour you with the prestigious medal”, said the citation.

Rashtrapti Bhavan sources said the President had accepted the medal. — UNI

Top

 

Dr Singh’s simple life

Guwahati, May 14
As the Prime Minister of the country, Dr Manmohan Singh may have a chauffer driven-BMW. But for himself, he owns an old 1996 model Maruti 800 car now worth just Rs 40,000. He does not have any land, except a two-storey house in Chandigarh, and an apartment in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.

The Prime Minister furnished his and his wife’s financial and property details while filing the nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections from Asom.

According to the affidavit, he has cash worth Rs 10,000 and another Rs 18 lakh in four different savings accounts. He has government debentures, term deposits and bonds worth around Rs 2.22 crore, besides postal savings of another Rs 5.35 lakh.

Dr Singh also has a bank account in Guwahati where he has around Rs 18,000 from which he regularly pays his monthly rental to the house he rented 15 years ago. He submitted that he had constructed the first floor of the Chandigarh house in 1987, spending around Rs 8 lakh and another floor was added 10 years.

Further, in 1993, he also bought an apartment in Vasant Kunj and paid Rs 30,000 to the DDA to transfer the title in his name. The PM’s wife, Gursharan Kaur, has Rs 25,000 in cash and Rs 3.65 lakh in the bank. Neither does she own any vehicle nor any property. She has gold ornaments worth Rs 1,35,000.

This, when even the MLAs have many times more property and money than the Prime Minister's family. — UNI

Top

 

Threat to Kerala CM: IB, RAW informed

Thiruvananthapuram, May 14
Taking a serious note of the anonymous threat call from Saudi Arabia on the life of Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, the state police today informed the Central Intelligence Bureau and RAW besides beginning its own investigations.

Director-General of Police Raman Srivastava said they had sought the help of IB and RAW to track down the source of the call by noting down the number displayed on the caller ID of the phone on which the call was received.

The call in Malayalam, threatening that an attempt would be made on Achuthanandan’s life within 24 hours, was received at the Police Commissioner’s office in Kozhikode this morning.

The personal security of the Chief Minister, who was in the state capital, as well as of the government secretariat was stepped up immediately. — PTI

Top

 

India, US, Japan to form strategic forum
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
In a trail-blazing diplomatic move, a strategic forum involving the United States, Japan, Australia and India is likely to be formed soon. The move is bound to ruffle many a feather in China.

It is also indicative of a positive response from Japan and Australia on Indo-US nuclear deal, though the two countries have so far kept their cards close to their chest on the subject.

The issue of Tokyo’s support for Indo-US nuclear deal came up at India-Japan foreign office consultations today. Officially, Japan has favoured “wait-and-watch” policy and said it would take a call on the issue only at an appropriate time.

The broad contours of the proposed forum, still at a nascent stage, would be finalised when Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits India later this year. There is a possibility that Abe may come here as early as August. Topping Abe’s agenda would be taking the Indo-Japan strategic and economic cooperation to a new level.

Abe had proposed the creation of a strategic forum involving Japan, the United States, Australia and India when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Tokyo last December. It is noteworthy here that India, Japan and the US had staged joint maritime drills last month off Japan’s Pacific coast.

The drills were aimed at preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Abe is also expected to discuss with Singh, Japanese assistance to India’s peaceful use of nuclear power and a possible free trade pact. At today’s foreign office consultations, India and Japan discussed at length, ways and means of strengthening their strategic dialogue - an idea which is essentially the brainchild of Japan, accepted by India. The two countries also decided to forge a closer cooperation at the third East Asia Summit to be held in Singapore this year-end.

Today’s India-Japan Foreign Office consultations also discussed the Nalanda University project and Tokyo’s commitment to do its best to ensure that it develops into an institution of excellence.

Top

 

Foster Murder
Magistrate reserves order
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, May 14
A local court today reserved its order on the extradition of Manendra Pal Kohli, prime suspect in the alleged rape and murder of 17-year-old British girl Hanna Foster.

After hearing the arguments, additional chief metropolitan magistrate Kamini Lau reserved the order for clarification on June 1 and orders on extradition on June 6.

Kohli was arrested from Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district while he was trying to cross over to Nepal.

Chandigarh-born Kohli, a graduate from Patiala University, had migrated to England in 1993 and settled down after marrying a British woman. He was working there as a driver with a courier company. Kohli left behind his wife and two children in England after allegedly committing the crime and escaped to India.

Top

 

Now, NRIs can gift cars online

Mumbai, May 14
Most NRIs arrive without any savings and have to put in a few months if not years of gruelling work before they can buy the basic household furniture and appliances for their rented homes. All this time, they have also to send money back home to support their relatives and repay the mountain of debt left behind.

So they do not have the deposit or ‘the down payment’ for a car. Since a car is a necessity for many NRIs to work and to relax, it becomes a priority. A start is made with a second-hand car but its maintenance is so high that an NRI soon opts for a new one.

Before buying a new car on instalments, an NRI must have legal stay and a job to satisfy the financing company. Once he has saved enough to make the down payment, he selects a suitable new car depending on its model and customisation required.

Taking delivery of the new car is a happy event with the smiling car salesmen offering tea or coffee and even a bouquet for his wife. This becomes a landmark in the family saga of settling abroad as the gleaming vehicle is driven home and later to the homes of friends. Clicking photos is mandatory to send to India for his relatives and friends who would perhaps be jealous as they drool over them. — IANS

Top

 

Trains diverted

New Delhi, May 14
More than a dozen trains were diverted today and the New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express cancelled between Gwalior and Bhopal due to derailment of 16 wagons of a goods train.

The derailment of the coal carrying wagons was reported on Gwalior-Jhansi section of Central Railway at 6.35 a.m. today. Sources in Northern Railway said both main lines on the section have been blocked for rail traffic.

Chief public relations officer of North Central Railway B.P. Pandey told TNS here on Monday evening that the tracks are expected to be cleared by 4 am on Tuesday.

The trains that have been diverted due to derailment are 2617 Ernakulam-Hazrat Nizamuddin Mangla Express and 8237 Bilaspur-Amritsar Chhattisgarh Express. They have been divered via Guna-Gwalior stations.

A Press release issued by Northern Railway on Tuesday evening said 2807 Vishakaptnam-Hazrat Nizamuddin Samta Express and 2645 Ernakulam-Hazrat Nizamuddin Millennium Express have been diverted via Guna-Kota-mathura Junction stations.

2651 Madurai-Hazrat Nizamuddin T.N. Sampark Kranti Express, 2137 Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus-Ferozepur Punjab Mail, 1077 Pune-Jammu Tawi Jhelum, 6031 Chennai-Jammu Tawi Andaman Express and 1057 Dadar-Amritsar Dadar Express have been diverted via Bhopal-Kota-Mathura Junction station today.

8238 Amritsar-Bilaspur Chhattisgarh Express, 2138 Ferozepur-Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Punjab Mail, 2708 Hazrat Nizamuddin -Tirupati A.P. Sampark Kranti Express, 2650 Hazrat Nizamuddin-Yashwantpur Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express and 2652 Hazrat Nizamuddin-Madurai T.N. Sampark Kranti Express have been diverted via Mathura-Nagda and Bhopal stations today. — TNS

Top

 

Gujarat Killings
Amnesty directive to NHRC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
The Amnesty International has criticised India’s topmost human rights organisation, the National Human Rights Commission, for its handling of Gujarat killings since 2002 and has asked the commission to “review its current policy”. It also urged India to set up judicial inquiries into all reported “unlawful killings by the Gujarat police since 2002”.

In a statement today, the Amnesty International said: “The NHRC and the Gujarat Human Rights Commission have been unable to ensure that all complaints and reports of unlawful killings in Gujarat are adequately investigated.

The NHRC has also been unable to ensure that the guidelines issued by it are fully respected by the authorities in Gujarat. It must review urgently its current policy and practice of monitoring unlawful killings to ensure its guidelines on investigations are followed by the authorities.”

The international human rights organisation issued a detailed report of “at least 31 unlawful killings, including those of so-called ‘terrorist’ suspects reported to have been carried out by police officers in Gujarat since 2002”.

Top

 

Monsoon to hit Kerala on May 24
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today formally announced that the southwest monsoon was likely to hit Kerala on May 24, seven days earlier than the usual onset date.

Monsoon had set in over the south Andaman sea on May 10, five days earlier than its normal date and has now covered the entire archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. Predictions for this year suggest an early monsoon onset over Kerala, the IMD said, adding that the forecast model suggested that the monsoon was expected to reach Kerala on May 24, with an error margin of three days.

The southwest monsoon is crucial for the kharif crops like rice, oilseeds and pulses in the country, where a large percentage of the population relies on agriculture as a primary source of income.

The IMD, in its long-term forecast in April, had said that rainfall this season would be 95 per cent of the long-term average. However, international forecast models suggest that the country was expected to receive above average monsoon rain this season, with the possibility of very heavy rainfall in July and August along the western coast region.

During the past 50 years, the earliest monsoon onset over Kerala was on May 14 in 1960 and the most delayed onset was on June 18 in 1972.

While there is no one-to-one correlation between the time when it first hits the Indian mainland and covers the rest of the country, in general, monsoon covers the entire country by mid-July. It arrives in Mumbai by June 10 and over Delhi by June 29.

Top

 

Nitish’s wife dead

New Delhi, May 14
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's wife Manju Sinha died here tonight following acute pneumonia and chest infection.

Manju Sinha was 55. She is survived by her husband and a son.

A teacher in Patna, she was admitted to Max Hospital for the past 15 days for treatment of pneumonia and severe infection in chest.

She was flown in from Patna in the beginning of this month for expert medical treatment and was put on a ventilator after she complained of trouble in breathing.

The Chief Minister was present at her bedside when Manju Sinha breathed her last. — UNI

Top

 

MLA’s bodyguard fires shot at party
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 14
A day after promising to put an end to the “jungle raj” of the Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s own party member is in trouble for taking the new-found power too seriously.

Perhaps, the BSP legislature party leader in Bihar assembly, Ramchandra Singh Yadav, was too happy about the party’s recent victory in Uttar Pradesh. On May 12, Yadav had reportedly opened a volley of fire at his residence to celebrate BSP’s win. However, things got worse yesterday when during his wedding celebrations at a posh club in Patna, Yadav’s bodyguard reportedly fired from his carbine even as dancers entertained on the stage.

The marriage was reportedly attended by several VVIPs including railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Top

 

Uttarakhand scribes form association
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, May 14
Miffed by the step motherly treatment being meted out to the national media in Uttarakhand, journalists belonging to national media organisations, today decided to form a separate body under the banner of National Media Association (NMA).

The association has decided to meet Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri to take up the issues concerning journalists representing national media organisations.

The main aim of the association would be to fight for the professional rights of the journalists working in Uttarakhand. “Our professional requirements like timely information from the state government and giving other basic facilities have been ignored for the past seven years, ever since the state came into being,” NMA president SMA Kazmi told The Tribune.

While Kazmi of The Indian Express was elected president, Jaskiran Chopra Times of India was made general secretary of the association. Other office-bearers of the association are Utpal Parashar of Hindustan Times as vice-president, Deepti of PTI as joint secretary and Avikal Thapliyal of Hindustan as treasurer.

Top

 

Samra to head Rainfed Area Authority
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Noted agricultural scientist Dr J S Samra has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the National Rainfed Area Authority. This body would prepare a road map to address the problems of rain-fed areas for sustainable and holistic development.

The draft policy document prepared by the Planning Commission involves setting up of Rainfed Area Authority with a budget of Rs 300 crore, bringing additional area under irrigation, launching of special wheat production programme with an investment of Rs 841 crore and an action plan for increasing production of pulses.

Samra, presently with Indian Council for Agricultural Research, would hold the CEO post in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

Top

 

Sex education creates storm in AIDS-stricken India

Mumbai, May 14
Moves to bring sex out of the closet in largely conservative India have kicked up a mot 5.7 million, a figure that experts say may balloon to over 20 million by 2010.

Biology teacher Thelma Seqeira infuriates conservatives in India every time she tells her students about masturbation, condoms and homosexuality.

Seqeira is doing exactly wht 5.7 million, a figure that experts say may balloon to over 20 million by 2010.

Biology teacher Thelma Seqeira infuriates conservatives in India every time she tells her students about masturbation, condoms and homosexuality.

Seqeira is doing exactly what the central government wants the country’s 29 states and seven centrally-administered regions to do — fight the exponential spread of HIV/AIDS with information on safe sex.

“Sex education is the best way to prepare my students for adolescence and protect them from HIV/AIDS,” said Seqeira, who teaches at a private school in Maharashtra.

But the governments of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh don’t agree. They have banned sex education at public schools because they say the learning modules are too explicit, and some pictures are too graphic.

Private schools are able to continue the lessons, but many have watered them down to avoid controversy.

Kerala and Karnataka — considered among India’s progressive states with high literacy rates — are also considering bans.

The government has been unable to stop these bans even as it seeks to curb the spread of HIV. In India, about 86 percent of HIV infections occur through sexual intercourse, one key reason being that migrant workers in cities visit prostitutes and infect their wives when they return home.

Ignorance about sex is widespread in the land of the Kama Sutra, where explicit sex acts are celebrated in ancient temple architecture.

But at home, mothers hesitate to talk to daughters about something as simple as menstruation, and even the basics of the human reproductive system are taught with much embarrassment in schools.

Experts are calling for a change in prudish attitudes to help counter the spread of HIV/AIDS. They say the winds of change must first blow through the country’s schools.

“Sex education does not mean you are encouraging sex which is how it’s interpreted,” Renuka Chowdhury, minister for women and child development, told Reuters last month.

“Sex education is an insurance for your child. It will protect your child.”

Among the course elements that have generated much heat are discussions on homosexuality and descriptions of sex acts, including masturbation.

Proponents of the ban say the sex education course — modeled on those taught in many Western countries, will make students imbibe “decadent western morality”.

They point to polls showing that an increasing number of young people — mostly India’s moneyed youngsters that live in cities — have postponed marriage, but not sex.

An India Today poll revealed one in four women between 18 and 30 in 11 cities had sex before marriage. One in three said she was open to having a sexual relationship even if she was not in love.

“AIDS is spreading because of cultural decadence and sexual anarchy,” said Shajar Khan, a prominent student leader who opposes sex education at schools.

Analysts say conservative political parties, such as the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s main opposition group, are panning sex education courses at least partly to make political capital out of opposing the West.

But for parents bringing up children in rapidly modernising India, sex education may be a matter of life and death. — Reuters

Top

 

Eve-teasing
There’s nothing like ‘asking for it’

New Delhi, May 14
Kurtas, t-shirts, sleeveless tops and pyjamas hung loosely with tags not mentioning their price but the age of the girl who the garment belongs to.

Confused? These are striking testimonials to a unique project of Blank Noise, an initiative aimed at curbing harassment of girls and women on the streets.

“There is no such thing as asking for it”, as the title of the project goes, is an attempt to make people look at the issue of eve-teasing — a euphemism for sexual harassment on the streets, a phenomenon that is more endemic to northern India - from a different angle.

“Who asks for it? Who decides what is asking for it? Is wearing a particular dress reason enough for men to pounce on us?” asks Priya, a student and volunteer of the project.

Thinking along these lines, the group, headed by Jasmeen Patheja, has asked women to donate any item of their clothing in which they were sexually violated on the street. Mentioning their age and the place they are from, the clothes are then hung up for public view.

Hence what one saw at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) over the weekend were actually dozens of testimonials - in the form of clothes - of girls from Jaipur, Lucknow, Delhi and Bangalore. When the group receives 1,000 such garments, it plans to install them on the streets of different cities across the country.

“Besides the clothes initiative, we are also distributing letters from anonymous girls to people in which she expresses her feelings towards the issue. In one such letter, which is addressed to a ‘stranger’, the girl says that she doesn’t expect anyone to look at her as a mother or a sister but simply as a citizen who can move on the road without feeling insecure or threatened,” said Abigail Crisman of Blank Noise (blanknoise.blogspot.com).

“We also have audio testimonials from men on this issue, including a constable’s in which he clearly says that once when a girl approached the superintendent of police to complain about a case of sexual harassment he told her that it was her dressing style that must have provoked the man,” Annie Zaidi, another supporter of Blank Noise, said.

“But haven’t you ever seen a burqa-clad woman whistled at? Or a mother of two taking her kids to a park being hassled with lewd remarks? The issue is that of mindset, of attitude and not really of what she wears.”

Narrating an incident, Ashima, a student and a volunteer of the group, said that once a 14-year-old girl asked her mother if she could go out and play in the evening. “The mother said no because the boys in Delhi are not nice, to which the girl innocently replied that it’s the boys who should be locked up inside the house then and not the girls!”

Operating since 2003, Blank Noise, with its various innovative projects, has been working in Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai. And it’s not just women they work with. “We have a number of male volunteers who feel strongly towards this cause and help us greatly,” said Zaidi.

“Two years back if a man tried to get close to me in a bus or passed a lewd remark I would simply ignore. But now, I simply look straight into his eyes and tell him to move away very sternly. You have to be confident of yourself and not let anyone take advantage of you,” she added. “We want girls to feel confident to go out for a walk at any time of the night,” said Crisman. — IANS

Top

 

Shilpa sick of kiss row

New Delhi, May 14
Even about a month since an innocuous “peck on the cheek” of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty by Hollywood actor Richard Gere, the controversy created by the event refuses to die down.

No wonder then, the very talk of the said incident, which occured at an AIDS awareness event on the outskirts of Delhi on April 15, causes Shilpa a feeling of disgust.

“I am so sick and tired of this whole thing. Gosh, I didn’t even know that he (Richard Gere) had kissed me two or three times. It was over and done with in a flash. However, the media seems to be going on and on and on - pausing, replaying, looping it, slow motion, they dedicated some 45 hours on prime time, this is pretty long,” Shilpa told CNN while talking about the controversy. — UNI

Top

 

High-stress workplaces
Banks, media top list
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Top 10 sectors in which the menace of stress and mental fatigue has intensified in recent times at top and middle positions comprise construction, shipping, banks, electronics and print media, government hospitals, star trading houses, courier companies, SSI, retail and card franchise companies to deliver on deadline.

These places are becoming high stress zones like BPO, call centres and IT and ITE sectors, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

In an analysis on “Level of stress in workplace”, conducted by the body, it has been revealed that top executives such as civil engineers, architects, contractors, engineer officers, masters in various departments, branch and marketing managers, doctors, production managers, quality controllers, editors, reporters, copy writers, operations and marketing managers, quality controllers, supervisors and sales and marketing managers brave stress and carry home its adverse impact.

However, professional firms like CA, lawyers, tax consultants and sectors like automobile, infrastructure, advertising, NBCFs are found under stress, but have better working conditions, says ASSOCHAM secretary-general D. S. Rawat.

The key factors for stress in these sectors are scheduled time period for completion of targets and projects, overloaded work pressure throughout the year, high demand for performance, working conditions, shortage of staff, and threats from competitors.

As far as low stress zones are concerned employees in central government offices, state government offices, institutions and bodies funded by the Central and state governments have very low stress.

Top

 

 

 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |