SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Now, Karunanidhi questions existence of Ram
Chennai, September 16
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi today questioned the existence of Lord Ram and warned the central government not to succumb to threats from communal forces who were trying to block the Sethusamudram ship canal project on the pretext of “mythological Ram Sethu”.

RJD meeting reflects Lalu’s discomfort
Patna, September 16
Lalu Prasad The outcome of the national executive meeting of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) held in Delhi yesterday perhaps can be viewed as a pointer to the growing discomfort of its supremo Lalu Prasad in view of the apparent acceptance and related political consolidation of his bete noire Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a non-caste leader in caste ridden Bihar.

Delimitation panel order challenged in SC
Reservation of seats with less SC population in Haryana
New Delhi, September 16
The notification of the Delimitation Commission declaring at least four assembly seats with lesser Scheduled Caste (SC) population in Haryana as reserved has been challenged in the Supreme Court, alleging that it was done under manipulation by certain political families among the SCs contesting from there to protect their political interests.






EARLIER STORIES


Poachers kill flood-hit rhino
Guwahati, September 16
A flood-hit one-horned rhinoceros from inundated Kaziranga National Park (KNP) was shot dead by poachers inside Hatikhuli Tea Estate under Kohora Range of the sanctuary last night.

Muslim women demonstrate to protest against the arrest of innocent Muslim youths in the name of bomb blast in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Muslim women demonstrate to protest against the arrest of innocent Muslim youths in the name of bomb blast in Hyderabad on Sunday. — PTI
Policewomen frisk devotees at a temple where they had come to worship Lord Ganesha in Mumbai on Sunday.
Policewomen frisk devotees at a temple where they had come to worship Lord Ganesha in Mumbai on Sunday. — AFP

Enraged Nitish shifts Vaishali DM, SP
Improper conduct of cremation of thieves’ bodies
Patna, September 16
An enraged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today transferred the district magistrate of Vaishali, Lallan Singh, and superintendent of police, Anupama Nilekar, on charges of failing to ensure proper conduct of cremation of bodies of 10 suspected thieves at Hajipur.

Sethusamudram Project
Thorough scientific review needed
New Delhi, September 16
Religious sentiments and political rhetoric apart, the fact is that the controversial Sethusamudram project needs a thorough scientific and environmental review to put to rest environmentalists' concerns, who term the project a perfect prescription for disaster.

UP to fight for retention of Urdu teachers
Lucknow, September 16
The Mayawati government finally came to the aid of 13,000 Urdu teachers appointed by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government today when it decided to file a special appeal in the Allahabad High Court challenging the court’s order quashing their appointment.

Bihar govt to promote Ramayana circuit
Patna, September 16
The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government has decided to promote the famous Ramayana circuit in the state in a big way, targeting Hindu devotees across the country.

Jaya trying to realign with BJP over Ram Setu issue
Chennai, September 16
AIADMK supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa is trying to realign with her former ally, the BJP, as is evident from the manner in which she has criticised the Centre for its affidavit challenging the existence of Lord Ram and has also taken up cudgels against the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP).

Truce with NDFB on the edge
Guwahati, September 16
The proscribed Bodo militant group in Assam, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), has aired its frustration over lack of progress in the on-going peace process with the Indian goernment and issued a camouflaged threat to break free of the truce.

PM recuperating; may be home today
New Delhi, September 16
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is recuperating and might be discharged on Monday after his prostrate surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here, medical sources said Sunday.

Indo-UK forces to carry out exercises in Ladakh
New Delhi, September 16
It’s military diplomacy time for India again. This time with the UK, with special forces from both countries holding high-altitude manoeuvres, aimed at hitting mountain hideouts of terrorists, during 24 days of joint exercises in the forward region of Ladakh from tomorrow.

AP students move SC to protect admission
New Delhi, September 16
Muslim students granted admission in various institutions in Andhra Pradesh under the 4 per cent reservation provided under a law passed by the state but ultimately stayed by the state high court have moved the apex court against the latest order of the high court making their admissions subject to final outcome in the case.

Case lost abroad cannot be fought in India: HC
New Delhi, September 16
In a clear message to NRIs, the Delhi High Court has said that a person who has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in a foreign country cannot vent his grievances against a ruling abroad in an Indian court on the same grounds.

Research on for rudraksha as medicine
New Delhi, September 16
While non-clinical tests have already proved the efficacy of rudraksha beads of having cardio protective and anti-inflammatory properties, new research is now under way at Mumbai University to ascertain dosage and means of administration to utilise rudraksha as a useful healing ayudvedic medicine.

Phasing out ozone depleting things
Montreal Protocol Award goes to India
New Delhi, September 16
India has bagged the prestigious Montreal Protocol Implementers Award, signifying its emergence as a global leader in promoting smooth transition for phasing out ozone depleting substances (ODS).

Left opposes opening up of armament industry to pvt sector
New Delhi, September 16
The government could face further opposition at the hands of its UPA coalition partners, the Left parties, this time on the issue of opening up of the country's armament industry to private players.

Law Commission favours witness protection programme
New Delhi, September 16
In the wake of several important cases falling flat in court due to witnesses turning hostile either under coercion by the accused and persons close to them or exposure to threat, the Law Commission has favoured using video-conferencing technology to record the evidence of such vulnerable witnesses to keep their identity secret.

Neo-Natal Nursing Conference
Need to boost care of newborns: Renuka
New Delhi, September 16
The minister of state for women and child development Renuka Choudhary today said advanced and literate Western countries are lagging behind in breastfeeding. Delivering the inaugural address at the sixth international neo-natal nursing conference here Choudhary said breastfeeding comes naturally to Indian women and is something that needs to be taught to advanced, literate nations.

Cooperative for drinking water set up in Uttarakhand
Dehra Dun, September 16
Uttarakhand has rich water resources but 38 per cent of its population lacks access to potable water. In view of this, the Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan (UJS), in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, has formed the Cooperation Centre for River Bank Filtration (RBF) at Haridwar.

India-Myanmar-Thailand highway
Road alignment work completed
New Delhi, September 16
Road alignment for the ambitious 1400-km-long trilateral highway that would connect India, Myanmar and Thailand has been completed.

Youth hangs himself in public view
Bhadohi, September 16
In a bizarre incident, a youth climbed up a 65-feet high tree and hanged himself from its branch in full public view rejecting all pleas by the police and fire brigade officials asking him to come down.

Nitish recommends bravery award for minor girl
Patna, September 16
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to recommend the name of 15-year-old girl Farzana for the bravery award meant for the children to the Centre during the next Republic Day. Farzana risked her life to save five persons from drowning in the swollen waters of the Panar river in Purnea district on Thursday. She saved a woman and three children among others.

6-member panel for pending trials
Lucknow, September 16
Chief Minister Mayawati has set up a six-member committee headed by cabinet minister Satish Chandra Mishra to suggest measures for speedy disposal of pending trials in courts. Inaugurating the Allahabad High Court extension building on Saturday, the Chief Minister, while expressing concern over the growing number of pending cases in the courts said that the situation was harmful for the growth of society.

Eat rasgullah for better eyesight
New Delhi, September 16
Pop a rasgullah, improve your eyesight and remain young. Sounds far -fetched? But now this is possible with a carrot-laced rasgullah being launched in the market.


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Now, Karunanidhi questions existence of Ram
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 16
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi today questioned the existence of Lord Ram and warned the central government not to succumb to threats from communal forces who were trying to block the Sethusamudram ship canal project on the pretext of “mythological Ram Sethu”.

Addressing a DMK function at Erode in western Tamil Nadu, he asked, “Who is this Raman (as Ram is referred to in Tamil)? In which engineering college did he study and became a civil engineer? When did he build this so-called bridge? Is there any evidence for any of this?”

The gathering at the function adopted a resolution which warned the Congress against stalling the project in the name of “Ram Sethu” while Karunanidhi quoted Jawaharlal Nehru’s writings to say that Ramayana was only a piece of fiction representing the conflict between the Aryans and Dravidians.

Karunanidhi is an atheist and in the past had attacked Hindu gods. He blamed communal forces and even Sri Lanka for raising voices against the Sethusamudram project, which he said was a dream of the Tamils for centuries.

The Chief Minister said those trying to block the Sethusamudram project were in fact trying to destroy the Dravidian movement and remarked, “The latest attempt is by a set of jackals, conspirators and sinister elements and their aim is to subvert a major project that we have undertaken for the development of our southern parts.

“Maybe it is Sri Lanka that seeks to undermine this project. May be someone thinks that country’s interests will be affected by the project. Or perhaps, it is the work of those who do not want Tamil Nadu to prosper,” he said.

He lamented that whenever religious issues were raised, people in the country, particularly in Tamil Nadu, were gullible and said, “They would swallow any story about religion or mythology. ‘It is because they will succumb to any sort of foolish superstition that these communal forces are confidently invoking the name of Ram against us.”

Karunanidhi observed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had agreed to implement the project for the benefit of Tamil Nadu and they should not give way to threats by the communal forces. “We raise our voice from the soil that gave us Periyar (late social reformer and rationalist E.V. Ramasamy), who fought all his life to weed out religious superstition from our society,” he added.

He also said, “If it amounts to the project itself being scrapped, the DMK, as a party committed to scientific, rational and progressive ideals, will not accept it.”

Replying to question whether there were differences between the central government and the DMK over the project, he said, “The conflict is between us and communal elements. It is between us and dominant forces that are using superstitions of the people to achieve their ends. It is not a conflict between us and the union government. Our stand is that the centre should not succumb to these communal elements.”

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RJD meeting reflects Lalu’s discomfort
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 16
The outcome of the national executive meeting of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) held in Delhi yesterday perhaps can be viewed as a pointer to the growing discomfort of its supremo Lalu Prasad in view of the apparent acceptance and related political consolidation of his bete noire Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a non-caste leader in caste ridden Bihar.

The decision taken by Lalu Prasad to raise the issue of 10 per cent quota for poor among upper castes is indeed a major shift from his erstwhile focus on Muslim-Yadav (MY) vote bank that had primarily helped him to rule Bihar for 15 years.

Besides, willy-nilly Lalu’s demand of reservation for Dalit Muslims also vindicated the stand of his opposition who always charged him with hoodwinking the minority in the name of vote-bank politics. Lalu had never raised the issue of Dalit Muslims when the RJD was in power in Bihar.

Incidentally, it was Nitish Kumar who had first raised the issue of reservation for Dalit Muslims in a national forum and subsequently had sent Ali Anwar to Rajya Sabha on the JD (U) ticket from Bihar in first opportunity to focus on this issue more prominently on behalf of the party.

Unlike the alleged M-Y vote-bank politics of Lalu, Nitish in his past two-year rule tried to carve a niche for him as a non-caste leader by providing reservation to Extreme Backward Castes (EBCs) in panchayat and civic poll.

EBCs, who reportedly constitute around 25 per cent of population in the state, were by and large always denied of their due share in socio-economic development parameters.

In his bid to blur the caste divide further, Nitish also reserved 50 per cent seats for women in panchayat and civic poll irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The move saw the emergence of Dalit and Muslim women in panchayats who were now taking active participation in grassroots planning for development.

Nitish dealt yet another blow to Lalu’s claim as a ‘messiah’ for the minority by reopening the old cases in the infamous Bhagalpur riots of 1989 which had claimed over 1,000 lives. While the ruling NDA has already decided to give pension to the kin of the victims of Bhagalpur riots, it also urged the Centre to consider compensation to Bhagalpur riot victims on the pattern of Sikh riot victims of 1984.

The two Lok Sabha and seven Assembly by-poll held in the past two years also did not bother Nitish much as NDA candidates had romped home comfortably despite Lalu’s attempt to disturb the equations by backing pro-George Fernandes dissident leaders like Arun Kumar in Nalanda Lok Sabha by-poll, or by lending support to dissident JD (U) leader Upendra Khushwaha.

Khuswaha recently floated a parallel state unit of the JD (U) by accusing Nitish of playing into the hands of upper castes at the cost of Dalits and backwards.

As the Nitish government is set to complete 22 months in office on September 24, an apparently nervous Lalu Prasad is now thus forced to look beyond the M-Y vote bank, including the upper castes.

An overconfident Lalu indeed underestimated the power of a more non-caste polarisation comprising upper castes, EBCs and non-Yadav OBCs, besides a section of Muslims, that helped Nitish to ground the RJD in 2005 Assembly poll.

Above all, Lalu was said to have also taken note of the soft attitude of his ally, the Congress, to Nitish.

Even though the RJD was vocal against the alleged failure of the Nitish government to provide relief and rehabilitation to flood victims, AICC general-secretary Digvijay Singh did not find any fault with Nitish.

Instead, Singh passed the blame of mishandling the flood situation at the initial days on deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi, who was holding the fort on behalf of Nitish. Nitish was then out of the state on an official tour to Mauritius and cut short his trip in view of grim flood situation.

Last but not the least, Lalu’s repeated overtures to another state stalwart and LJP chief Ramvilas Paswas also did not yield desired results in the past. Ramvilas already promised all support to Nitish for his endeavour to develop Bihar.

An apparently desperate Lalu thus now seeks to recast his strategy as the RJD had lost power in Bihar despite winning over 24 Lok Sabha seats in 2004 poll.

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Delimitation panel order challenged in SC
Reservation of seats with less SC population in Haryana
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 16
The notification of the Delimitation Commission declaring at least four assembly seats with lesser Scheduled Caste (SC) population in Haryana as reserved has been challenged in the Supreme Court, alleging that it was done under manipulation by certain political families among the SCs contesting from there to protect their political interests.

A PIL moved by an organistion, Guhla Halka Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, placing on record the latest census figures showing lesser concentration of SC population in them, alleged that these “seats are monoplised by certain families’ group of people… who are enjoying the benefit of such reservation continuously for a long period of time”.

The four assembly seats in question notified as reserved by the Delimitation Commission are Radaur, Guhla, Shahbad and Narwana.

The PIL, moved by Samiti’s lawyer Satinder Singh Gulati, sought to pass a writ direction by the apex court striking down the order of the Delimitation Commission (DC) on the grounds that it violated the constitutional provisions on various counts.

Besides, the petitioner Samiti also has questioned the constitutional validity of the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002 itself, claiming that the legislation violated Articles 82 and 170(3) and some other provisions of the Constitution.

Article 82 and Article 170, respectively, deal with the readjustment of the parliamentary and assembly constituencies after every census.

The petitioner said since the Commission had “frozen” reservation of seats till year 2026, its order clearly violated the provisions laid down under the twin Articles with regard to the readjustment of parliamentary and assembly seats as required after each census.

Therefore, the setting up of the Delimitation Commission as envisaged under the 2002 Act and the exercise being done by it under the provisions laid thereunder were an exercise in futility and, in fact, struck the right to vote and participate in election, which was the basic feature of the democracy.

The PIL said Guhla with SC population of 59,296 was declared reserved in comparison to Radaur, which has over 77,000 SC population. Similarly, Shahabad with 48,233 SC population was notified as reserved and Naraingarh with 74,173 SCs was left as an open seat for the general category.

Another such example is Narwana with 54,778 SC popualation declared reserved, while Tohna with over 82,000 SCs is left as an open seat, the petition said.

The PIL likely to come up for hearing this week has named the Centre and the Delimitation Commission as respondents.

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Poachers kill flood-hit rhino
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 16
A flood-hit one-horned rhinoceros from inundated Kaziranga National Park (KNP) was shot dead by poachers inside Hatikhuli Tea Estate under Kohora Range of the sanctuary last night.

Divisional forest and wildlife officer (DFO) of the national park Bankim Sharma said poachers shot dead the elderly rhino who had fled to the neighbouring tea estate to escape the flood fury inside Kaziranga park, at around 10.30 p.m. last night but failed to take away the horn as forest guards rushed to the spot hearing gunshots.

With this the number of rhinos killed by poachers in the and around the national park so far this year rose to 13.

Meanwhile, flood has wrecked havoc inside Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam much to the plight of animals, which have now fled to highlands deserting their natural habitats standing vulnerable to poachers.

There is a silver lining for Kaziranga park as the flood waters will rejuvenate its sprawling grassland that is essential for survival of its herbivorous denizens, including the rhino.

The flood-hit animals of the 600 sq km Kaziranga park have taken shelter on artificial as well as natural highlands inside the park while many have fled to the hills crossing the NH-37 that passes through the south fringe of the rhino habitat. The vehicular traffic on the highway especially during night hours has been regulated for the safety of flood-hit animals.

However, there is cause for concern for wildlife staffs in the flood-ravaged tiny Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary having highest concentration of one-horned rhinoceros on the globe. It has 80 odd rhinos within an area of just 39 sq km besides buffaloes, wild boars and deer.

“The situation is grim with 95 per cent of rhino habitat of the park being under flood waters for the fifth consecutive day. The problem is compounded by absence of highlands within the tiny sanctuary,” divisional forest officer S. Dutta said adding that flood has caused food scarcity for animals forcing the forest staffs to throw leafy branches of trees to flood-hit animals taking shelter on jungle tracks.

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Enraged Nitish shifts Vaishali DM, SP
Improper conduct of cremation of thieves’ bodies

Tribune News Service

Patna, September 16
An enraged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today transferred the district magistrate of Vaishali, Lallan Singh, and superintendent of police, Anupama Nilekar, on charges of failing to ensure proper conduct of cremation of bodies of 10 suspected thieves at Hajipur.

The 10 suspected thieves were brutally lynched by a mob of 300 in Vaishali on Thursday.

Nitish swung into action after reports of the recovery of partially cremated four decomposed bodies of a total 10 reached him this afternoon. The partially cremated four bodies were allegedly flown to nearby Ganges by the police.

All 10 bodies were supposed to be creamted under official supervision following Hindu rituals at Hajipur today.

Besides, Nitish also suspended the officer in-charge of the Hajipur police station and local development officer for failing to accomplish the task. The partially cremated bodies were later recovered by local people much to the embarrassment of the Nitish government.

Nitish convened an emergency meeting with chief and home secretary, DGP and other officials to instruct the transfer of DM and SP of Vaishali and suspension of two other officials.

Meanwhile, a team of the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes has begun a probe into the lynching of 10 alleged thieves by a mob in Vaishali.

The victims belonged to the Nat community of gypsies, known for its backwardness. The commission will try to find the reasons that led to the gory incident. A three-member team, led by commission president Bal Krishnan Sidh Ram Rengare, today visited Dhelpurwa village in Vaishali district where the incident took place.

The Bihar government has already asked for a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe to ascertain whether the victims were indeed thieves.

Besides, rattled by the current spate of lynching incidents and growing vigilantism, at a marathon meeting, the Nitish Kumar government yesterday decided to slap collective fines on people of the locality where such events take place. "To prevent such incidents, it has been decided to impose a collective fine on people of the area where such incidents occur," home secretary Amanullah said, adding the fine would be Rs 5,000 per person.

Other measures included transferring cops who have spent two years or more in their present place, speedy trial and conviction, recruitment of more cops, drafting of ex-Armymen as special police and more facilities to homeguards.

The government also decided to locate and rehabilitate families of the "thieves" belonging to the nomadic tribe of Nat.

Amanullah today said the CID would take seven to 10 days to complete its inquiry into the incident, while the IG would submit a report on administrative aspects. The preliminary inquiry had suggested negligence on part of the officer in-charge of the Rajapakar police station, police inspector and DSP, and axe is likely to fall on them.

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Sethusamudram Project
Thorough scientific review needed
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
Religious sentiments and political rhetoric apart, the fact is that the controversial Sethusamudram project needs a thorough scientific and environmental review to put to rest environmentalists' concerns, who term the project a perfect prescription for disaster.

Environmental NGOs like Greenpeace say the Gulf of Mannar, between the southern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka, has 3,600 known species of flora and fauna and is home to some rare and endangered species. The Ram Sethu is a natural string of coral reefs that checks rough sea to create a natural sanctuary for marine flora and fauna.

Experts also explain that it is the Adams Bridge, or Ram Sethu as it is more popularly known, which saved coastal Kerala on that fateful day in December 2004 when the wall of sea wiped lives of thousands. Meaning this natural string of coral reefs also provides a natural defence from disasters like the 2004 tsunami.

The chain of coral islets saved coastal Kerala by providing resistance and deflecting tsunami waves in the sea strip between India and Sri Lanka. Therefore by the time waves found another way to reach Kerala around Sri Lanka, they had lost substantial power and force.

Former environment minister Suresh Prabhu recommended a review of the project on Saturday, saying he doubted whether any proper in-depth study or environmental impact study (EIA) of the channel was ever carried out. His view can be substantiated by the fact that when the project was started, it was envisaged that engineers would just have to deal with heaps of sand. In course of work it turned out that there were hard rocks wedged in between sand, showing the lack of scientific or geo-physical information about project with the authorities concerned.

Besides, there is also very little information on other aspects as well, including an expert study on the need, economics and desirability of the project.

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UP to fight for retention of Urdu teachers
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, September 16
The Mayawati government finally came to the aid of 13,000 Urdu teachers appointed by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government today when it decided to file a special appeal in the Allahabad High Court challenging the court’s order quashing their appointment.

Addressing a press conference, principal secretary to the chief minister Shailesh Krishna declared that the government would not spare any legal effort to safeguard the jobs of the under-training Urdu teachers appointed by the previous regime.

Underlining the government’s constitutional duty of upholding the rights of linguistic minority to receive primary education in their mother tongue, Krishna said as soon as the government received the information it had decided to contest.

Thousands of Basic Teachers Certificate (Urdu) teachers had taken out a procession from Subhash crossing in Allahabad to the venue of a function being attended by chief minister Mayawati yesterday to hand her a petition requesting her to intervene.

However, they turned violent and shouted angry slogans and burnt the CM’s effigy when they were not allowed to meet her by the police.

Responding to the judgment, Urdu teachers in various districts had not only demonstrated on the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) premises but even damaged the buildings and declared to continue their agitation till their services were restored.

Earlier, a single member Bench of Justice Arun Tomar had quashed a GO and advertisements dated February 16, 2005 through which the Mulayam Singh Yadav government had decided to conduct two-year special BTC training course in Urdu for appointment of assistant Urdu teachers in various institutions established by the Basic Shiksha Parishad across the state.

Terming the appointment as “illegal and contrary to statutory rules”, the high court order had observed, “How recruitments could be made on posts which are non-existent? The posts should have been created before the recruitment”.

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Bihar govt to promote Ramayana circuit
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 16
The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government has decided to promote the famous Ramayana circuit in the state in a big way, targeting Hindu devotees across the country.

The move is reportedly on the pattern of Nitish Kumar’s recent attempts to promote Buddhist and Jain circuits in the state on the world tourist map.

Incidentally, Nitish Kumar and his party JD(U) apparently distanced themselves from the recent BJP-VHP-sponsored agitation on Ram Setu in the wake of the controversial affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the Congress-led UPA.

Sources said the Nitish government had already entrusted the task of identifying such places associated with Lord Ram in the state with authenticity to the Bihar state board of religious trusts administrator Kishore Kunal.

A former IPS officer, Kunal, was reported to have already studied ancient Sanskrit texts, Khsemendra’s Bal Ramayana,Valmiki’s Ramayana and famous Sanskrit dramas Prasanna Raghav and Anarg Raghav to locate sites associated with Lord Ram and Sita in the state.

The Mithila Mahatmya, an 18th-century work, describes the famous "Parikarma", which covers 128-km distance between India and Nepal. The Parikarma, very popular among Hindu pilgrims, starts from Kalyaneshwar (popularly known as Kalna) in Madhubani of Bihar near the Nepal border.

Going by the age-old texts, some places are already identified with Lord Ram.According to Valmiki’s Ramayana, "Siddhashram" in Bihar’s Buxar town is identified with Ram as he had performed yagna here.

The most important place associated with Ramayana in Bihar is said to be Sitamarhi, the land of Sita.

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Jaya trying to realign with BJP over Ram Setu issue
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 16
AIADMK supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa is trying to realign with her former ally, the BJP, as is evident from the manner in which she has criticised the Centre for its affidavit challenging the existence of Lord Ram and has also taken up cudgels against the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP).

While condemning the central government, Jayalalithaa said by making such remarks, it has lost its credibility of being a secular government by insulting the sentiments of a particular religion.

“The affidavit is an insult to the sentiments of crores of Hindus in the country. Religion is based on faith and the efforts to curb it cannot be accepted,” she added.

The AIADMK supremo went on to say that the Ramayana was considered one of the oldest epics of India and it was absurd to state that there was no evidence to prove the existence of Lord Ram and also that the Ram Setu was not man-made.

She moved the Supreme Court yesterday seeking protection for the “Ram Setu” which she believed would be damaged if the dredging for the Sethusamudram Canal Project in the sea between India and Sri Lanka was conducted.

In her public interest litigation petition, Jayalalithaa stated that she was constrained to approach the apex court to protect a structure of immeasurable historical, archaeological and heritage value from being destroyed in the garb of carrying out an infrastructure project.

“Indeed, the structure in question, by reason of its antiquity and unique feature, is to be treated as a world heritage site. Further, the destruction of the structure by the project is fraught with serious ecological, environmental, climatic and security concerns,” she added.

Jayalalithaa said the Centre should immediately withdraw its “anti-Hindu” affidavit, which had “axed the faith of crores of Hindus all over the world”.

She urged the government to consider alternative plans and pointed out that the Centre had been provided with five alternatives.

Though Jayalalithaa had all along opposed the SSCP which is a favoured project of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Union Shipping Minister T.R. Baalu, she had always raised the question of the interests of fishermen but not the religious issue.

By raising the issue of the “Ram Setu”, which has no takers in Tamil Nadu as the fishermen community feels that the real concern regarding environment and their livelihood has been lost by the SSCP being politicised, she is moving closer to the BJP and the Sangh parivar.

She had already left the UNPA following a spat with Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh just before the Presidential election.

Next week BJP leader L.K. Advani will be meeting her here while quite a few BJP leaders have already spoken to her and met her to discuss about the strategy in the event of a mid-term poll.

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Truce with NDFB on the edge
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 16
The proscribed Bodo militant group in Assam, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), has aired its frustration over lack of progress in the on-going peace process with the Indian goernment and issued a camouflaged threat to break free of the truce.

The militant group, which took up arms in the year 1987 demanding a sovereign land for the Bodo tribe, the oldest among all tribes in the Northeast, declared unilateral ceasefire in 2005 to settle issues with the government through political negotiation. A number of Bodo civil society groups took lead to persuade the outfit to enter into ceasefire with the union government to put an end to bloodbath and violence.

However, the negotiations so far held between the outfit and the centre have remained confined to extension of the ceasefire pact while political negotiation is yet to take place much to the disillusionment of the outfit’s ranks and file.

The members of the NDFB are now lodged in several truce-time camps in the state while its top-rung leaders, including chairman D.R. Nabla, alias Ranjan Daimary, is suspected to be taking shelter in a foreign country.

In a statement issued to the media, the fugitive chairman of the NDFB said there was hardly any possibility for the outfit to achieve the ‘goal’ it set out for 20 years back through peaceful negotiation with the Government of India which is yet to start the actual political negotiation with the outfit even two years after signing of the truce agreement.

The Government of India has reasoned that the political negotiation with the NDFB couldn’t be started because as the outfit was yet to present its charter of demands till date while the NDFB maintains that talks could be submitted even without submission of the charter of demands.

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PM recuperating; may be home today

New Delhi, September 16
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is recuperating and might be discharged on Monday after his prostrate surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here, medical sources said Sunday.

"The prime minister is getting better very fast. The doctors have advised him to take soft foods like soups," said a source at AIIMS.

The doctors are not allowing anyone other than his family members to visit him at the hospital.

"His cabinet colleagues have been sending him 'get well soon' messages and flowers. But no one is being allowed to visit him," the source added.

Manmohan Singh is likely to be discharged from the hospital on Monday.

A team of doctors led by N.P. Gupta, head of the department of urology at AIIMS, conducted the operation Saturday to treat benign enlargement of the prostrate. — IANS

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Indo-UK forces to carry out exercises in Ladakh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
It’s military diplomacy time for India again. This time with the UK, with special forces from both countries holding high-altitude manoeuvres, aimed at hitting mountain hideouts of terrorists, during 24 days of joint exercises in the forward region of Ladakh from tomorrow.

The exercises, code named Himalayan Warrior, will continue till October 11. Army officials here said that 150 marine commandos from Britain and an equal number of special forces men from India would be in action in long endurance and survivability manoeuvres on snowy Himalayan heights.

The exercises would involve honing of skills and raids by self-contained small bands of troops operating at heights of more than 3,500 m.

Britain is at the forefront of fighting the war against terrorism and the thrust of the exercises would be to finetune tactics against terrorists, officials said. Apparently it was on the request from Britain that the Ladakh region has been picked for the joint manoeuvres. The terrain has an uncanny resemblance to the rugged highlands of Afghanistan, where the US-led coalition forces are combating Taliban militia.

Most of the 150 strong Royal Marines, including 10 officers, have been drawn from contingents that have had an operational stint in Afghanistan.

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AP students move SC to protect admission
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 16
Muslim students granted admission in various institutions in Andhra Pradesh under the 4 per cent reservation provided under a law passed by the state but ultimately stayed by the state high court have moved the apex court against the latest order of the high court making their admissions subject to final outcome in the case.

Apprehending that their entire study might come to naught if the court’s final order went against them, the Muslim students sought intervention of the apex court to protect them from any such possible adverse verdict.

The high court in its order of July 24 had said that all admissions to Muslim students granted under the 4 per cent special quota for them, “shall remain subject to the final adjudication and this fact be incorporated in the letters of admission of otherwise notified to the students.”

The Muslim students in their petition questioned such a directive of the high court when the matter was pending before the apex court.

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Case lost abroad cannot be fought in India: HC

New Delhi, September 16
In a clear message to NRIs, the Delhi High Court has said that a person who has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in a foreign country cannot vent his grievances against a ruling abroad in an Indian court on the same grounds.

The court passed the order while allowing a petition seeking the quashing of criminal proceedings on a complaint filed by the former wife of an NRI, who alleged that her in-laws were torturing her and not returning her share of joint property.

She lodged the complaint against her in-laws in a police station here after she lost a divorce case filed by her husband in a US court.

Justice S.N Dhingra, while quashing criminal proceedings against the woman's in-laws, said, “This is not a case where she had not submitted to the jurisdiction of the US court or the court had no jurisdiction.”

“Once a competent court has passed an order in respect of return or exchange of dowry articles, no offence can be tried for the same articles in India,” added Dhingra.

“She lodged the FIR only to settle her personal scores. Criminal law cannot be allowed to be used to settle personal scores, neither can the courts be allowed to be used as tools,” he said. — PTI

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Research on for rudraksha as medicine
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
While non-clinical tests have already proved the efficacy of rudraksha beads of having cardio protective and anti-inflammatory properties, new research is now under way at Mumbai University to ascertain dosage and means of administration to utilise rudraksha as a useful healing ayudvedic medicine.

According to rudraksha therapist Tanay Seetha, who is in the Capital in connection with an exhibition of rare and exotic rudraksha beads, new research is being conducted at the Institute of Chemical Technology at Mumbai University for pharmaceutical application of the divine beads.

Besides, a research-cum-study is also under way to see effectiveness of rudraksha in controlling blood pressure and diabetes. “Preliminary indications are that rudraksha is very useful ayurvedic herb to cure these diseases,” he told The Tribune today.

According to Seetha, in 2005 Rudralife, an organisation of which he is the founder, sponsored scientific researches on the mystical beads in Mumbai University. “Till date non-clinical tests have been successfully concluded in three areas that prove that rudraksha beads are cardio-protective in nature, have inflammatory properties and have memory and intelligence enhancing attributes,” he said.

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Phasing out ozone depleting things
Montreal Protocol Award goes to India
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
India has bagged the prestigious Montreal Protocol Implementers Award, signifying its emergence as a global leader in promoting smooth transition for phasing out ozone depleting substances (ODS).

The country, which will receive the award tomorrow, observed the 13th international day for preservation of the ozone layer to commemorate the date of signing the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer today.

The Montreal Protocol is a landmark international agreement to protect the ozone layer. The protocol was negotiated under the framework of the Vienna Convention for the protection of the layer, which outlines governments’ responsibilities for protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of ozone depletion.

The treaty was first signed in 1987 and amended in 1990 and 1992. The protocol stipulates that production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere-chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform-are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform). These compounds significantly deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the planet from damaging UV-B radiation. Till date, 191 countries have signed the protocol.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s theme for 2007 is Celebrating 20 years of progress of the Montreal Protocol’s goals. The protocol has been hailed as perhaps the most successful international treaty to date and provides a message of hope for working cooperatively to solve major environmental problems. In recognition of the importance of the protocol and its works, various activities are planned by regions/countries worldwide to celebrate this event and to further raise awareness on ozone layer protection.

Minister of state for environment and forests Namo Narayan Meena today said India became a party to the Montreal Protocol in 1992 and shared the global concern for phasing out the ODS.

Meena said his ministry was specifically focusing on small and medium scale enterprises by encouraging them to actively participate in the phase-out process.

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Left opposes opening up of armament industry to pvt sector
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
The government could face further opposition at the hands of its UPA coalition partners, the Left parties, this time on the issue of opening up of the country's armament industry to private players.

Already up in arms against the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Left parties have expressed their opposition against opening up of the sector and this incidentally has also held up an official announcement on conferment of Rakshya Udyog Ratnas (RUR) status to 14 leading private sector companies.

According to reports emanating from the Ministry of Defence, the CPI-M-led Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) met in Nasik today to plan an all-India agitation programme against the UPA government's move to open the defence industry to private sector.

A move to give the RUR status to 14 private sector companies would make them eligible along with blue chip defence PSUs to receive technology transfer and part of expected defence off sets from foreign companies as part of the deals, which India would sign with other countries in the future.

The Left parties are of the view that opening up of the sector to the private sector would imperil the country's security and have declared that they would l never allow this.

It is not the CITU alone, the other equally dominant unions in the state-owned armament factories like Congress' AITUC and BJP's HMS are also opposing the move.

They met Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently and submitted a memorandum to him expressing their total opposition to any privatisation of the armament sector.

They feel that the grant of RURs and opening of defence sector is just a charade to open doors to foreign equity in India's vital defence sector.

The opposition of the Left comes at a time when the private sector has already pumped substantial investment in the defence sector.

The country's leading corporate houses like TATAs have ventured into making of multi-barrel rocket launchers and un-manned aerial vehicles.

Larsen and Toubro is already a major stakeholder in building sub-systems for warships and submarines and are on the verge of floating an independent shipyard.

Other major businesses, which have ventured into the defence sector, include Mahindra and Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and Godrej.

According to reports, government's move to withhold names of short listed companies for RURs status comes at a time when certain private players were negotiating with major foreign companies like American Lockheed Martin and Boeing, European consortium EADS and British Aerospace for building advance systems like missiles, electronic counter measure equipment and network centric warfare systems.

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Law Commission favours witness protection programme
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 16
In the wake of several important cases falling flat in court due to witnesses turning hostile either under coercion by the accused and persons close to them or exposure to threat, the Law Commission has favoured using video-conferencing technology to record the evidence of such vulnerable witnesses to keep their identity secret.

The commission’ voluminous report, prepared during the tenure of its former Chairman Justice M Jagnadha Rao and under the consideration of the government, placed witness protection at a higher pedestal than the right of the accused for open trial in the interest of justice.

Justice Jaganadha Rao had submitted over 500-page report to the government before relinquishing office on August 31 last year, and the commission’s post had since then remained vacant for nearly six months till incumbent Justice A.R.Lakshmanan was appointed its new earlier this year.

The commission, while recommending devising of adequate mechanism for recording of the evidence of a witness under threat without exposing him to the accused and their close relatives, said that the use of video conferencing technology had since been approved by the Supreme Court as legal and should thus, be used vastly by the prosecution.

The right of the accused for open trial could not be put above the witnesses’ right to safety and protection, as their deposition was vital for the administration of justice, the law panel said, pointing out that the safety of a witness becomes important from the very outset of the registration of a case and launching of the investigation.

Under the procedure recommended by it, the prosecution should approach the trial judge or the magistrate in his chamber instead in the open court at the preliminary stage of the investigation to inform him about the need of concealing the identity of a witness apprehending threat. At the preliminary stage of investigation of a case, the accused was not entitled to be heard by the magistrate, who needed to consider and rely upon the material available with the prosecutor to show that a particular witness faced real threat to his life and his identity need not be made public.

Even the identity of such vulnerable witness should not come on record in the material placed before the magistrate at this stage to ensure that it did not fall in the hands of defence to know the identity of the witness whose name is kept secret, the commission suggested.

It was of the view that concealing the identity of a witness during the trial and even after conclusion would not create any illegality provided a fresh application was moved during the formal trial after filing of the chargessheet before the court about the need for such protection.

The procedure of cross-questioning could be done by using the two-way close circuit TV technology, where the defence lawyer as well as accused could not view the image of the witness, but the magistrate could during the cross examination. This mechanism of witness protection had been successfully implemented in various advanced countries.

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Neo-Natal Nursing Conference
Need to boost care of newborns: Renuka

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
The minister of state for women and child development Renuka Choudhary today said advanced and literate Western countries are lagging behind in breastfeeding. Delivering the inaugural address at the sixth international neo-natal nursing conference here Choudhary said breastfeeding comes naturally to Indian women and is something that needs to be taught to advanced, literate nations.

The conference is being hosted by India for the first time with the joint efforts of National Neonatology Forum and the UNICEF, India Country Office.

The distinguished audience at the conference, comprising nursing professionals from nearly 20 countries including Australia, Canada, Finland, Russia, U.K and USA, had no choice but to accept the minister's candid advice.

Choudhary said she used the public service broadcasting channel, radio and television, on the International Day of Breastfeeding to disseminate information on breastfeeding.

The minister, however, said it was distressing that modern Indian women don't take time off to breastfeed their newborns, due to work pressure. She bemoaned the fact that a lot of babies born in India lose out on access to colostrum because of superstitions and cultural practices. “I tell women that colostrum for the newborn is like a kavach (amulet) of immunity from diseases.”

Choudhary, who has also served as health minister, said India has a huge shortfall in patient doctor and patient nurse ratio. “We have shortage of nurses in the rural areas and very specialised areas of medicine.”

The minister also launched the Indian Association of Neo Natal Nurses. Describing the conference as a milestone, Choudhary said it would provide participants learning and understanding of best practices in neo-natal care and stumbling blocks that India encounters.

Emphasising the need for encouraging institutional deliveries, she said India has alarmingly and embarrassingly high infant mortality and maternal mortality rate. “Under the National Rural Health Mission, the government is committed to improve the newborn care and bring down the neo natal and infant mortality to meet the millennium development goals.

The government is planning to operationalise the primary health centres (PHCs) for round-the-clock deliveries and upgrade the health facilities at the district hospital and referral centres. The aim is to promote institutional deliveries and improve care at the health facility level.

The nurses will play a pivotal role as primary health care providers in the institutional based health care.''

Speaking at the conference, Dr Eimar Barr, deputy director, programmes, UNICEF, said India accounts for more than 25 per cent newborn deaths every year across the world. “Effort is needed both at the community and facility level to reach out to newborns.”

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Cooperative for drinking water set up in Uttarakhand
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, September 16
Uttarakhand has rich water resources but 38 per cent of its population lacks access to potable water. In view of this, the Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan (UJS), in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, has formed the Cooperation Centre for River Bank Filtration (RBF) at Haridwar.

UJS superintending engineer P.C. Kimothi said international water company Stadtwerk Dilsseldrof AG and the University of Applied Sciences, Dresden, Germany, would provide scientific and intellectual support to the RBF centre.

An international workshop in this regard would be organised at Roorkee and Haridwar on September 22 on ‘Pathogen removal during riverbank filtration. Eminent international experts, engineers, scientists and researchers would deliver lectures, he added.

The RBF, as a provision of drinking water, was consciously used only at few sites in India. Haridwar of Pant Dweep island (surrounded by Ganga) in Uttarakhand was one of them where bank filtrate had been abstracted for many years by the UJS to provide good quality drinking water, he added.

The water quality investigation conducted there since 2005 showed that all parameters for drinking water from the production wells were within possible limits.

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India-Myanmar-Thailand highway
Road alignment work completed
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
Road alignment for the ambitious 1400-km-long trilateral highway that would connect India, Myanmar and Thailand has been completed.

This means that in foreseeable future, an Indian tourist can drive through the scenic landscape of northeastern hills and travel to Myanmar and Thailand by road.

The development has immense strategic significance also as the trilateral highway project will change the North-East of India from being land-locked to being land-linked.

It was in April, 2002, when India, Myanmar and Thailand had agreed to cooperate in the construction of a trilateral highway that would link the three countries. “The road alignment for the highway, which would be 1400 km in length, has been completed. While work has started, it could move much faster,” external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said in his address at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University on “India’s Look East Policy: Implications for Thailand and South East Asia.”

As part of India’s “Look East” policy, concerted efforts are being made by New Delhi and its eastern neighbours to connect missing links in the road that goes from Moreh in India, through Bagan in Myanmar, to Mae Sot in Thailand. A number of stretches of the road would also be upgraded.

For India, it would mean road connectivity with all of ASEAN nations. For Thailand, it would mean road connectivity with a market of more than a billion people. For both countries, the trilateral highway would be a highway to greater prosperity.

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Youth hangs himself in public view

Bhadohi, September 16
In a bizarre incident, a youth climbed up a 65-feet high tree and hanged himself from its branch in full public view rejecting all pleas by the police and fire brigade officials asking him to come down.

The youth, who appeared to be mentally challenged, climbed an eucalyptus tree yesterday evening and threatened to jump, the police said adding fire brigade and police officials tried in vain to convince him to not to take the drastic step.

The incident occurred in Gyanpur locality where the youth took off his nylon belt, tied one end around his neck and the other to a branch of the tree strangling himself to death in the full public glare, the police added.

Circle Officer, Gyanpur, Anurag Darshan said the youth was yet to be identified. — PTI

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Nitish recommends bravery award for minor girl
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 16
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to recommend the name of 15-year-old girl Farzana for the bravery award meant for the children to the Centre during the next Republic Day. Farzana risked her life to save five persons from drowning in the swollen waters of the Panar river in Purnea district on Thursday. She saved a woman and three children among others.

A boat carrying nearly 12 persons and two motorcycles overturned in the river. Even though some persons were able to swim back to safety, some were swept away by the strong current.

District officials said Farzana jumped into the river without wasting time after she heard their cries for help.

Known as an expert swimmer in the area, she learnt swimming at a young age. Farzana reportedly has now become a household name in the district after she saved the lives of people. Senior police officials and some local leaders have already announced a reward for Farzana for her bravery.

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6-member panel for pending trials
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, September 16
Chief Minister Mayawati has set up a six-member committee headed by cabinet minister Satish Chandra Mishra to suggest measures for speedy disposal of pending trials in courts. Inaugurating the Allahabad High Court extension building on Saturday, the Chief Minister, while expressing concern over the growing number of pending cases in the courts said that the situation was harmful for the growth of society.

Speaking at the function , the Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G Balakrishnan urged all the chief ministers to provide more infrastructure to the judiciary as this arm of the government played a great role in maintaining law and order in the country. Underlying the fact that the number of pending cases were highest in the Allahabad High Court, the CJI said the beginning of a mediation and conciliation centre in the High Court would bring down the number of pending cases.

The other committee members set up by the government under S.C. Mishra are Advocate General J.Mishra, chief secretary Prashant Mishra, Principal secretary Shailesh Krishna and secretary Parliamentary affairs Pradeep Dube.

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Eat rasgullah for better eyesight

New Delhi, September 16
Pop a rasgullah, improve your eyesight and remain young. Sounds far -fetched? But now this is possible with a carrot-laced rasgullah being launched in the market.

The sweetmeat enriched with vitamin A and anti-oxidants, known as the herbal rasgullah, has been prepared by the food technology department of Jadavpur University in Kolkata. “Carrots are a good source of carotene compound, an active anti-oxidant required in large amounts by the body among all age groups,” Utpal Roychowdhury, head of the department of food technology and biochemical engineering, said.

The herbal rasgullah can help fight diseases like cancer, malnutrition, lung diseases, high cholesterol and slow the ageing process, he claimed.

“Foods mixed with anti-oxidants are in great demand in western countries as they are value-added healthy food. They are also a cheaper alternative to medicinal vitamin supplements,” Roychowdhury said. — PTI

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