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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Presidential Poll
RJD to back UPA candidate
New Delhi, June 10
The Rashtriya Janata Dal today said it would support UPA's choice of presidential candidate.  Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said not a single vote of UPA for the presidential election would be cast in favour of anybody other than the UPA's candidate
Shiv Sena doesn’t want Patil
Mumbai, June 10
The Shiv Sena will back the candidate for the post of President who is willing to push for the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru, the prime accused in the Parliament attack case.
In video (56k)President will be UPA -Left nominee, says PM.

Climate change drive gets Big B boost
New Delhi, June 10
After HIV/AIDS, the latest cause to catch the fancy of Bollywood film stars is climate change. Those who have now jumped on the climate change bandwagon in order to spread awareness about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions through sheer star power are megastar Amitabh Bachchan, son Abhishek and bahu Aishwarya.


EARLIER STORIES



A foreign tourist holds a poster of Taj Mahal in front of historical Victoria Memorial in Kolkata on Sunday. A campaign has been launched for Indian people to cast their vote through the Internet in favour of Taj Mahal to be considered as one of the new seven wonders of the world.
A foreign tourist holds a poster of Taj Mahal in front of historical Victoria Memorial in Kolkata on Sunday. A campaign has been launched for Indian people to cast their vote through the Internet in favour of Taj Mahal to be considered as one of the new seven wonders of the world. — PTI

Gujjar issue
BJP suspends two MLAs
Jaipur, June 10
The BJP today suspended two of its MLAs in Rajasthan for creating “caste hatred” and “posing a threat” to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje by preventing her entry to her Jhalawar constituency in the aftermath of protests by the Gujjars.

Jobs’n Admissions
Andhra Muslim quota ordinance in a month
Hyderabad, June 10
The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh will issue a modified ordinance within a month to implement quota for Muslims in jobs and admissions in educational institutions.

Anti-mining protest
Students’ union calls for bandh
Guwahati, June 10
The Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has called for 36-hour Meghalaya bandh from 5 am tomorrow in protest against the public hearing being organised by the Meghalaya government on the issue of uranium mining on June 12 next.

Prices of essential commodities rise by 25 pc
New Delhi, June 10
Despite the economic growth standing on a two decade high of 9.4 per cent, the common man appears to be worried as prices of essential commodities have risen by 25 per cent between January-May 2007 and corresponding period last year.

AUDF demand can spark row: Cong
Autonomy to minorities
Guwahati, June 10
The ruling Congress in Assam yesterday raised the alarm over the “communal overtone” in the rival Assam United Democratic Front's (AUDF) demand for autonomy to religious and linguistic minorities living in five districts of the lower Assam.

Modi invites Sidhu to bat for BJP
Ahmedabad, June 10
With assembly elections round the corner in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has invited former cricketer and Lok Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu to take the field and assist him in campaigning for the BJP in the state.

Plan to curb use of mercury in hospitals
New Delhi, June 10
Waking up to health hazards caused by mercury in hospitals, the city government has constituted a high-power committee to suggest ways to curb its use.

World day against child labour tomorrow
New Delhi, June 10
The World Day Against Child Labour on June 12 this year is on elimination of child labour in agriculture, especially the worst forms.



Videos
Change of Om Shanti Om’s release date upsets Bansali.
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Brunches are a huge hit.
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Hollywood goes regional.
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Presidential Poll
RJD to back UPA candidate
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) today said it would support UPA's choice of presidential candidate.

Briefing mediapersons on deliberations during the daylong National Executive meeting held here, party vice-president and rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said not a single vote of UPA for the presidential election would be cast in favour of anybody other than the UPA's candidate.

Asked if the RJD would support vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as an independent candidate for the post of president in view of his cordial terms with the RJD chief, he replied, “Mere exchange of greetings does not translate to a vote.''

Replying to a question on the potential of the recently constituted third front, a grouping of eight regional parties, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh remarked, “Why give it the name of third front? It will not last. The UPA will get a second term.''

The National Executive chaired by party president and railway minister Lalu Yadav passed five resolutions, namely political, economic, organisational besides those related to minorities and the achievements of the Railway ministry.

In its political resolution, the RJD National Executive has criticised the BJP government in Rajasthan for its inept handling of the recent clashes between two communities on the question of reservation.

In a resolution related to minorities, the party has said that the BJP, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena are trying to tarnish the image of the minorities.

RJD secretary-general and leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha, Prof Ramdev Bhandari, told TNS that the party has embarked on a membership drive and plans to strengthen its base in Punjab and Haryana.

“At present, we are very weak in these two states. We see tremendous scope in Punjab which is home to a large number of economic migrants from our home State and other Hindi speaking States.''

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Shiv Sena doesn’t want Patil
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 10
The Shiv Sena will back the candidate for the post of President who is willing to push for the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru, the prime accused in the Parliament attack case.

Sanjay Raut, party MP and editor of mouthpiece Saamna, told reporters today that the party would not support union home minister Shivraj Patil as India’s next President only because he was a Maharashtrian.

“No one can take our support for granted just because he is from Maharashtra,” Raut said.

The editor, who is also a Shiv Sena MP, said anyone seeking the party’s support in the presidential polls like Patil or even vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekawat would have to share Bal Thackeray’s stand on various issues.

The Sena wanted the presidential candidate seeking the party’s support to promise a commitment to hang Mohmmed Afzal.

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Climate change drive gets Big B boost
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
After HIV/AIDS, the latest cause to catch the fancy of Bollywood film stars is climate change. Those who have now jumped on the climate change bandwagon in order to spread awareness about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions through sheer star power are megastar Amitabh Bachchan, son Abhishek and bahu Aishwarya.

In any case, these days it is both politically correct and fashionable to proclaim commitment to environmental issues and climate change. Shilpa Shetty, in the limelight after her success in UK TV show Big Brother followed by the much-controversial peck with Hollywood star Richard Gere at an HIV/AIDS awareness programme, has also decided to support the cause of global warming.

While there are plenty of stars who would like to talk about their green credentials, Bachchan, like always, is the first one to pioneer Bollywood’s commitment to the cause of global warming via the prestigious International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) event, currently on in the UK.

IIFA this year is dedicated to the cause of global warming and climate change and Bachchan, in Yokshire with his multi-star family in tow, has been vocal on his commitment to do everything possible through his voice and face to raise awareness about dangers of climate change in India and the world. Particularly concerned about India, Bachchan recounted how experts predicted that India would be one of the worst affected by depredations of climate change. The issue was also discussed at the IIFI-FICC Global Business Forum.

In the past Bollywood stars, like their counterparts in Hollywood, have been active in several social causes, including expressing concern over the rising threat of AIDS in India. They have also been roped in by the government to lend their names to various social causes. Bachchan in particular has been involved with polio awareness programmes and Heroes Project.

Shabana Azmi and husband Javed Akhtar have active in supporting the cause of slum dwellers. Lately, Akhtar has also been lending active support in campaign against encounter killings of Gujarat. Salman Khan, who has always been in news for wrong reasons, is also involved in a project for old people and has even taken to painting to raise money for his dream project.

Preity Zinta and Shah Rukh Khan have also appeared on the TV with brooms in hand to propagate the virtues of cleaning their city. And not to forget Amir Khan, who managed to land himself in some political trouble after he supported the Narmada Bacaho Andolan. Recently item girl Rakhi Sawant too donned the avtaar of a social activist after she orgainsed a morcha against the garbage in the lane near her building . She also threatened to go on a hunger strike with residents of her building if the BMC did not solve the problem of garbage near her building.

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Gujjar issue
BJP suspends two MLAs

Jaipur, June 10
The BJP today suspended two of its MLAs in Rajasthan for creating “caste hatred” and “posing a threat” to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje by preventing her entry to her Jhalawar constituency in the aftermath of protests by the Gujjars.

Suspending Attar Singh Bhadana and Prahalad Gunjal, state BJP president Mahesh Sharma asked the duo to file their reply to the show-cause notice-cum-suspension order within seven days, a party spokesman said.

If they failed to reply, the state party unit would recommend their expulsion to the central leadership, Sharma said.

The BJP’s action came a day after a Gujjar mahapanchayat in Kota adopted a resolution to bar Raje from entering her Jhalawar constituency and the community decided not to vote in favour of the party in the next poll. The resolution was proposed by the two MLAs.

Since Bhadana and Gunjal proposed the resolution by voice vote, it amounted to party indiscipline and caused an insult to BJP’s legislature party leader Raje, Sharma said in his suspension letter to the duo. — PTI

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Jobs’n Admissions
Andhra Muslim quota ordinance in a month
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 10
The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh will issue a modified ordinance within a month to implement quota for Muslims in jobs and admissions in educational institutions.

“We have decided to bring out an ordinance within 30 days to see that the reservation policy is implemented from this academic year itself,” the Chief Minister Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy announced here today.

The High Court had, on November 7, 2005, quashed an earlier ordinance providing for five per cent reservation to Muslims, terming it as “unconstitutional and arbitrary”.

Since then, the Reddy government has been maintaining that it would work a way to come out of the legal quagmire and implement reservations for the Muslims.

Reddy, speaking at a function organised by the state Urdu Academy to distribute computers to the students of madrasas today said the proposed ordinance would seek to “remove all legal lacunae so that no court could strike it down”.

Sources in the government said the modified ordinance will categorise certain sections of Muslims as socially and economically backward and seek reservations for them. This is being done to counter the legal hurdles against religion-based reservation.

The reservation for Muslims is also likely to be pegged at 4 per cent to ensure that the total reservations do not exceed the 50 per cent ceiling prescribed by the Apex Court.

In tune with its election promise, the Rajasekhar Reddy government had first issued a G.O in July 2004 providing for reservations to Muslims. It was struck down by the High Court in September 2004.

Later, the government constituted a four-member Backward Classes Commission and based on its report issued the quota ordinance in June 2005, categorising the entire Muslim community as Backward Class.

While quashing the ordinance, the court pulled up the Commission for not following proper methodology while recommending inclusion of Muslims in the BC list.

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Anti-mining protest
Students’ union calls for bandh
Bijay Sankar Bora

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 10
The Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has called for 36-hour Meghalaya bandh from 5 am tomorrow in protest against the public hearing being organised by the Meghalaya government on the issue of uranium mining on June 12 next.

The KSU bandh is aimed at derailing the proposed hearing on uranium mining issue. The KSU,which is spearheading the anti-uranium mining issue, termed the proposed public hearing an attempt on part of the government to mislead people.

The KSU is opposed to mining of the strategic mineral in the hill state on the ground that it would lead to catastrophic impact on public health and environment.

The public hearing is being organised by the state government at the instruction of the Central government.

Meanwhile, the four-day night blockade of the National Highway 44 called by the KSU over the issue ended this morning even as the administration promulgated Section 144 of the Cr PC in the state.

The Meghalaya government has issued directive to all of its employees to attend offices during the bandh hours called by the KSU to escape stern disciplinary action from the government, besides salary cut.

Meanwhile, the Shillong Bench of the Gauhati High Court directed the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board to look into objection raised against the public hearing by the Meghalaya People’s Human Rights Council.

The Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement and the Hill State Peoples’ Democratic Party, the two coalition partners of Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Allaince have stated that the state government has to take cognisance of the ruling of the High Court Bench.

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Prices of essential commodities rise by 25 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
Despite the economic growth standing on a two decade high of 9.4 per cent, the common man appears to be worried as prices of essential commodities have risen by 25 per cent between January-May 2007 and corresponding period last year.

Analysis carried out by Assocham on impact of buoyant growth rate on essential commodities prices between January-May 2006 and January-May 2007 shows that only sugar prices fell by 33 per cent in the period while wheat, pulses, spices and condiments, edible oil, meat and meat products, milk products, fruits and vegetables, on an average, shot up by over 25 per cent, forcing the aam adami to question the authenticity of much promised inclusive growth.

Rise in prices of essential commodities go unabated despite India witnessing growth of 15.8 per cent in 2006-07 in its national income. Likewise, per capita income attained a level of Rs 29,382 in 2006-07 against Rs 25,716 in the previous year, showing an increase of 14.3 per cent.

Prices of pulses, spices and condiments rose by a minimum of 32 per cent, while edible oil has been the worst hit with the rise of over 35 per cent between January-May 2006 and January-May 2007. Shortage of supplies was the main cause for price rise, which was further fuelled on account of hoarding by wholesalers and even retailers, says chamber president Venugopal N Dhoot.

He said although the inflation has come down by 5 per cent in the last one year and the supply-demand gap of some of the essential commodities has narrowed down to some extent, the prices of essential commodities are refusing to settle down at justifiable level.

Prices of fruits and vegetables have been rising as their differential has gone around 30 per cent because of the entry of retailers in organised market.

The prices of milk and milk products have risen by 37 per cent due to exports, adds the chamber analysis.

Pulse prices continue to maintain upward momentum because domestic pulse production has declined by over 22 per cent.

The chamber’s analysis suggests that priority of the government should be to bring down the prices by maintaining a balance between demand and supply.

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AUDF demand can spark row: Cong
Autonomy to minorities

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 10
The ruling Congress in Assam yesterday raised the alarm over the “communal overtone” in the rival Assam United Democratic Front's (AUDF) demand for autonomy to religious and linguistic minorities living in five districts of the lower Assam.

Congress MP from the state Anowar Hussain and other senior minority leaders of the party termed the AUDF demand as ‘'baseless’' and a part of design to create communal tension in the state to gain political mileage in the coming panchayat election.

"The demand for autonomy for religious minorities doesn't have any basis as the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution grants autonomy to only ethnic groups living in the Northeast. The religious minorities (Muslims) and linguistic minorities (Bengalis) are not covered under the Sixth Schedule," the Congress MP said.

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Modi invites Sidhu to bat for BJP

Ahmedabad, June 10
With assembly elections round the corner in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has invited former cricketer and Lok Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu to take the field and assist him in campaigning for the BJP in the state.

Sidhu, a massive crowd-puller, had successfully campaigned for the BJP-Akali Dal alliance during the Punjab assembly polls. He has been asked to spend a month campaigning in different parts of Gujarat.

"Modi is the best chief minister that India can ever get. I adore him a lot," Sidhu, now on a visit to this city as part of a five-member Punjab government delegation, told PTI in an interview.

"I will be campaining in Gujarat for the assembly polls on a special request from the chief minister," said Sidhu, who shares a friendly relationship with Modi.

"He has already told me twice and asked me to spend a month in Gujarat before the elections (to be held later this year)." The invitation to Sidhu comes at a time when Modi is facing problems within his own party as rebel BJP MLAs are regrouping under Modi-detractor and veteran leader Keshubhai Patel before the elections. — PTI

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Plan to curb use of mercury in hospitals

New Delhi, June 10
Waking up to health hazards caused by mercury in hospitals, the city government has constituted a high-power committee to suggest ways to curb its use.

"The committee will document the use of mercury in hospitals and assess the threat perception for healthcare staff with respect to mercury," Health Secretary D S Negi, who heads the panel, said.

Mercury, a metal that vaporises in air, is widely used for accurate pressure and vacuum measurements and in dental amalgams in hospitals.

This is the first time that the government is seriously contemplating ways to curb the use of the metal. It has asked hospitals to provide data regarding mercury spills and its handling in their premises.

A study by the NGO Toxic Link claimed that, on an average, a hospital pumps almost three kg of mercury into the environment every month while close to 70 thermometer breakages occur in hospitals with 300 to 500 beds during the same period. — PTI

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World day against child labour tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
The World Day Against Child Labour on June 12 this year is on elimination of child labour in agriculture, especially the worst forms.

As per International Labour Organisation, which is organising roundtable discussions on “Agriculture without Child Labour: Harvest for the Future” to mark the day on Tuesday, the world over agriculture is the sector where the largest share of working children are found, nearly 70 per cent that is.

Worldwide, over 132 million boys and girls in the age group of five to 14 work in crop and livestock production, helping supply some of the food and drink we consume and fibers and raw material we use to make other products.

In India, livelihoods of a large majority of families depend upon subsistence agriculture and allied activities, both in rural as well as urban areas. The 2001 Census estimates 12.05 million children involved in labour.

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