SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Pawar, Lalu rule out mid-term poll
Patna, October 11
The two leading partners of the UPA government at the Centre, the NCP and the RJD, today ruled out the possibility of the mid-term Lok Sabha polls as a direct fallout of the stand off between the UPA and the Left on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal issue.

Now, N-deal with Russia?
New Delhi, October 11
The Manmohan Singh government is quietly working on plan B (to have a nuclear deal with Russia on the lines of Indo-US 123 Agreement) and plan C (to purchase nuclear reactors from Canada) as the Indo-US civilian nuclear energy agreement is being put in a cold storage. On both counts, there has been quiet, but definite progress.

Amitabh has a quiet 65th birthday
Mumbai, October 11
Bollywood shenshah Amitabh Bachchan turned 65 today and spent a quiet day but his birthday was marred by chaos outside his suburban Juhu home.
In video (56k)

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan accepts wishes from fans and well-wishers outside his residence Jalsa, on his 65th birthday in Mumbai on Thursday. — PTI
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan accepts wishes from fans and well-wishers outside his residence Jalsa, on his 65th birthday in Mumbai on Thursday






EARLIER STORIES




Protesters from the ethnic Gujjar community wave placards during a rally to demand Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe status for them at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday.
Protesters from the ethnic Gujjar community wave placards during a rally to demand Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe status for them at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday. —Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Mid-Term Poll
BJP prepared, says Rudy
Guwahati, October 11
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expects mid-term election in the country anytime and is prepared for it. The party also hopes to sweep Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

Lalu challenges Nitish
Patna, October 11
The RJD supremo and railway minister Lalu Prasad today dared his bete noire Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to face a mid-term election to test his popularity by dissolving the state assembly. He claimed that Nitish’s popularity was at its lowest.

Bid to rape girl; suspect lynched
Dhar (MP), October 11
Taking the cue from mob justice in Bihar and Jharkhand, a group of people lynched a youth, whl attempted to sexually assault a 4-year-old mentally challenged girl in broad daylight here, the police said today.

Consent must to shift govt staff to pvt sector: SC
New Delhi, October 11
In a judgment of far reaching consequence, the Supreme Court today held that government employees could not be transferred to the private sector in the event of sale of state-owned companies.
Pavement artist Ramjan Hussain gives final touches on a pencil sketch of legendary actress Suchitra Sen at a pavement as a part of his wishes for her immediate recovery in Kolkata on Thursday.
Pavement artist Ramjan Hussain gives final touches on a pencil sketch of legendary actress Suchitra Sen at a pavement as a part of his wishes for her immediate recovery in Kolkata on Thursday. — PTI photo

Dowry Deaths
Law panel against capital punishment

New Delhi, October 11
Dealing with the question whether a severe punishment of death sentence be prescribed for dowry deaths by amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provision, the Law Commission has rejected the proposal but said the punishment can be enhanced from seven years to 10 years.

TN Dalit leader arrested
Smuggling submarine parts for LTTE
Chennai, October 11
The sensational arrest of a Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) leader here today by the Tamil Nadu police revealed that he was involved in the smuggling of various parts of submarines meant for the LTTE. The DPI is a constituent of the ruling DMK-led alliance in the state.

Special trains to meet puja rush
Kolkata, October 11
The first special train for puja festival, equipped with AC Rajdhani coaches, was flagged off today from the Howrah station to Dehradun by the eastern railway’s general manager N.K.Goel. It is the beginning of special train services to be provided for visiting various tourist spots in the country during the festival season.

Nitish attends Iftar party of Cong
Patna, October 11
Even though Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sought to justify it in the name of the right of the leaders to socialise on religious occasion, there seems to be more than a mere Iftar party, organised by the Congress here, that meets the eye apparently suggesting the changing political dynamics of this crucial Hindi heartland state.

Government withdraws red wheat from Maharashtra
Mumbai, October 11
The Maharashtra government has decided to withdraw the red wheat imported from Australia and released in the public distribution system.

Panel on Sethu Samudram project meets
New Delhi, October 11
The committee of eminent persons constituted by the Centre on the contentious Sethu Samudram Shipping Channel Project held its first meeting today. After detailed deliberation on the issue, the committee has now decided to invite objections and suggestions from all concerned by October 31.

ElBaradei meets PM, talks N-issues
New Delhi, October 11

IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Thursday and is understood to have discussed civil nuclear energy issues with him. The nuclear issue is believed to have come up in context of the country’s growing energy needs for which India is in the process of finalising an atomic agreement with the US.
ElBaradei is in favour of ending the restrictive regime against India in the nuclear field to enable the country meet its increasing energy needs.

Rly staff to get bonus equal to 70 days’ wages
New Delhi, October 11
Over 13 lakh non-gazetted employees of the Indian Railways will get productivity linked bonus (PLB) equivalent to 70 days wages for the financial year 2006-07.

Sibal for paradigm shift in higher education
New Delhi, October 11
Science and technology minister Kapil Sibal today called for a paradigm shift in higher education by adopting a flexible and innovative approach in rules concerning recruitment and promotion of teachers and researchers and identifying new areas of thrust to meet the challenges of 21st century.

Hogwarts Castle pandal in copyright jinx
Kolkata/New Delhi, October 11
Last year they made a replica of Swami Vivekananda’s residence, before that it was the Titanic. But a Kolkata puja committee seems to have hit a bad spell this year with their Hogwarts Castle pandal attracting a Rs-20lakh fine for copyright violations.

 



Artistes rest on a bamboo stand as they work on a marquee in the shape of Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter series, in Kolkata on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Artistes rest on a bamboo stand as they work on a marquee in the shape of Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter series, in Kolkata on Thursday.

India-China military exercises to be delayed
New Delhi, October 11
The first-ever exercises between the Indian and Chinese armies that are to be held next month will be delayed with the two countries still to work out the finer details, including the dates for the exercise.

10 feared drowned as boat capsizes in Bihar
Begusarai, October 11
At least 10 persons, including women, were feared drowned when the boat they were travelling in, capsized mid-stream in Balan river yesterday.

Case against Dharmendra, Sunny Deol dismissed
Chennai, October 11
A city court today dismissed a cheque dishonour case against Bollywood actor and MP Dharmendra, and his son and actor Sunny Deol.

Hema to donate eyes
Bhubaneswar, October 11
Dreamgirl Hema Malini, brand ambassador of Vision 2020, today announced she would donate her eyes and urged others to think seriously for the blind.

Urban waste can mitigate India’s power woes
Can generate 2,500 MW power
New Delhi, October 11
Urban India generates around 40,000 million tonne solid and 5,000 million cubic metre liquid waste which can be successfully recycled to generate 2500 MW to partially solve the country’s energy requirement problems and also reduce GHG emissions to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

Son still preferred, says report
National Family Health Survey-3
New Delhi, October 11
The family size in India is shrinking but son preference continues to be widespread. Despite a sustained campaign by the government and the civil society on the girl child, one in five women and men in India say they would like more sons than daughters.

Not even a teenager, but pregnant
Chennai, October 11
In a bizarre incident, a 12-year-old girl pregnant with twins even without her parents knowing about it, was taken to a children’s hospital here. This happened after she played “mummy and daddy” game with their landlord’s 16-year-old son.

Conference on human trafficking concludes
New Delhi, October 11
The two-day South Asia regional conference on the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN-GIFT) concluded here today with a Delhi declaration.

Jawan booked for molestation
Guwahati, October 11
The Assam police has registered a case against an Army jawan for molesting a woman at Tipomia village in Dibrugarh district of Upper Assam during a house-to-house search operation against ULFA militants even as public protest is raging over the incident in Tengakhat area of the district.

 



Videos
Festival dance.
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A tribute to Durga.
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Santosh Sivan’s English directorial debut.
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An unusual thriller.
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Pawar, Lalu rule out mid-term poll
Tribune News Service

Patna, October 11
The two leading partners of the UPA government at the Centre, the NCP and the RJD, today ruled out the possibility of the mid-term Lok Sabha polls as a direct fallout of the stand off between the UPA and the Left on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal issue.

NCP chief and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who was here to attend a party programme, claimed that despite differences between the UPA and its Left allies on the nuclear deal, the Manmohan Singh government would not fall.

Addressing media persons here, Pawar said, “Problems do exist between the UPA and the Left on some provisions of the nuclear deal. The Left parties have voiced some concerns, which as the ruling coalition we are obliged to address. But the government will not fall over the issue.”

Pointing out that the UPA-Left committee constituted to resolve the deadlock already had some good discussions following four rounds of talks, he hoped that both sides would amicably settle the issue in future meetings in a meaningful manner.

Asked why then UPA leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, were asking their workers to gear up for the mid-term elections when he did not foresee it, the NCP chief said, “Being in politics we should always be prepared for elections”.

Pawar was here to induct the dissident JD(U) leader Upendra Khuswaha into the NCP as the president of its Bihar unit. Khuswaha was recently suspended from the JD(U) for criticising Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for allegedly betraying the cause of backward castes and the Dalits. Congress leader Sanjay Paswan too joined the NCP in the presence of Pawar.

UPA stalwart, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, echoed the views expressed by the NCP chief Pawar. Addressing a press meeting here, Lalu said, “There is no threat to the Congress-led UPA government despite differences with the Left allies.”

In his inimitable style, Lalu even went a step forward by projecting themselves (read UPA partners) as real Leftists. “We are Leftists and centrists. But it is the BJP, which is the real America, as it believes in the rightist philosophy. Even the people of the country also know this”, Lalu quipped.

Claiming that no political party was in favour of early polls, Lalu said the UPA government was trying to address the concerns voiced by the Left parties in an amicable and cordial manner.

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Now, N-deal with Russia?
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The Manmohan Singh government is quietly working on plan B (to have a nuclear deal with Russia on the lines of Indo-US 123 Agreement) and plan C (to purchase nuclear reactors from Canada) as the Indo-US civilian nuclear energy agreement is being put in a cold storage. On both counts, there has been quiet, but definite progress.

As far as the Indo-US nuclear deal is concerned, there is little forward movement. Though talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei continued for 90 minutes, there was no statement from either the Prime Minister’s Office or the Ministry of External Affairs giving the tone and tenor of the talks.

It is understood that the Prime Minister apprised El Baradei of the complex political situation and that the government would be taking a call on beginning formal negotiations with the IAEA only after sorting out the matter with the Left parties.

Even as the Indo-US deal is facing the risk of being put in cold storage by the Indian government, New Delhi may still find a way out to meet its growing energy needs by having a similar deal with Russia. An Indo-Russian nuclear deal, on the lines of the Indo-US 123 Agreement, is a politically correct move and has the potential of emerging as the mother of all political strokes by the Indian government.

Russia is understood to have asked India to work on a rough draft on a nuclear deal. Moscow has already sounded New Delhi on its keenness to have Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official entourage when he visits Russia later this year. The idea behind the move is to have a meaningful discussion on civilian nuclear energy cooperation.

It is common knowledge that the Manmohan Singh government has been rapped on its knuckles by the BJP-led opposition, the so-called third front as well as the allies from the Left on the nuclear deal issue. While there has been palpable rapprochement between the UPA government and the Left parties and the fast-soaring political temperature has been brought down by both in past couple of days, a question mark continues to hang over the future of Indo-US nuclear deal.

A similar deal with Russia, India’s long-standing tried and tested friend, can do the trick for an energy-starved India. What’s more, this deal can be operational far quicker than the 123 Agreement with the US as the Russian government has total control over its legislature, unlike a powerful Congress in the US which cannot be bypassed by the US President.

Sometime in December, Manmohan Singh is expected to visit Russia for the annual summit meeting, though the dates of his Moscow visit are yet to be decided. 

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Amitabh has a quiet 65th birthday

Mumbai, October 11
Bollywood shenshah Amitabh Bachchan turned 65 today and spent a quiet day but his birthday was marred by chaos outside his suburban Juhu home where hundreds of fans had turned up to greet the superstar.

Bachchan's security guards were reportedly involved in scuffles with some mediapersons and fans while they were jostling for space and vantage points outside "Pratiksha" in suburban Juhu to get a glimpse of their idol.

Bachchan, who enjoys a iconic status in filmdom, however, made it a point to acknowledge the presence of the huge gathering by coming out briefly and waving at them as has been the tradition. Bachchan was later seen leaving his home in a vehicle.

It was a low-key birthday for Bachchan since his mother, Teji Bachchan, is critically ill.

“Since his mother has been critically ill for some time, Bachchan decided to have a quite birthday, without any fanfare," sources close to the actor told PTI. — PTI 

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Mid-Term Poll
BJP prepared, says Rudy
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS

Guwahati, October 11
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expects mid-term election in the country anytime and is prepared for it. The party also hopes to sweep Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

The party’s national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy today said here that given the present stalemate in the Congress-led UPA government over the Indo-US nuclear deal, the election was in the air and the party was prepared to face the polls anytime.

Rudy, who was in the state to discuss strategy with Assam BJP unit for the possible mid-term Lok Sabha polls, said the present political scenario in the country was in favour of formation of a BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in New Delhi.

Describing the Congress-led UPA government in New Delhi as a ‘rudderless and directionless’ one, he took a dig at Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh saying, “The Prime Minister is a helpless soul and it is possibly for the first time in 60 years of country’s history that the PMO was being remote-controlled.”

The BJP leader further said in such a situation where the PMO was being dictated that sooner the UPA government was removed from the power, the better it was for the Indian democracy.

Rudy today expressed confidence of winning the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where elections will be held in December this year. He asserted that BJP’s success in these two states would pave the way for the party coming back to head a coalition government in the Centre.

The BJP leader was critical of slow progress of infrastructure development programmes in the Northeast under the UPA regime and alleged that the current regime in New Delhi had failed to accelerate the N-E development projects that were set in motion by the previous BJP-led NDA government. On the Indo-US nuclear deal the BJP spokesman without going into the merits of the deal said the BJP was against any deal that would compromise the military independence of the country. He rapped the UPA government over the controversial affidavit on the Ram Setu project.

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Lalu challenges Nitish
Tribune News Service

Patna, October 11
The RJD supremo and railway minister Lalu Prasad today dared his bete noire Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to face a mid-term election to test his popularity by dissolving the state assembly. He claimed that Nitish’s popularity was at its lowest.

The immediate provocation for Lalu was recent remarks by Nitish, where he dubbed the proposed ‘chetawani’ (warning) rally by the RJD in Patna on October 28 against him as an effort by the RJD boss to test his own popularity in the changing social dynamics of the state.

Besides, Nitish, yesterday at a BJP function, remarked that the RJD president was scared of a mid-term parliamentary poll. Lalu sharply reacted stating: “I challenge Nitish to dissolve the Bihar assembly and go for a mid-term election to test his popularity, which is at its lowest with spiralling crime and practically no development.” He favoured people’s right to recall their representatives if they fail to deliver.

Lalu was addressing a function to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Narayan at the RJD’s state office here. 

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Bid to rape girl; suspect lynched

Dhar (MP), October 11
Taking the cue from mob justice in Bihar and Jharkhand, a group of people lynched a youth, who attempted to sexually assault a 4-year-old mentally challenged girl in broad daylight here, the police said today.

City Superintendent of Police Manish Khatri said Jagdish barged into the house of a woman at the local Chitnis Chowk area yesterday and started molesting her. On her protest, he took away her daughter and tried to criminally assault here at a nearby house.

Meanwhile, the mother raised the alarm and the crowd nabbed and thoroughly thrashed Jagdish.On a tip-off, the police reached the spot and sent Jagdish to the district hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. — UNI

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Consent must to shift govt staff to pvt sector: SC

New Delhi, October 11
In a judgment of far reaching consequence, the Supreme Court today held that government employees could not be transferred to the private sector in the event of sale of state-owned companies.

Such transfers could be done only with the consent of the employees, a Bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and P. Sathasivam said on a petition from BALCO Captive Power Plant Mazdoor Sangh seeking to restrain the NTPC from transferring them to Sterlite group after the sale of BALCO in 2002.

“The government... cannot alter the conditions of service of its employees and any such alteration causing prejudice cannot be effected without affording opportunity of pre-decisional hearing and the same would amount to arbitrary and violative of Article 14,” the apex court stated.

The bench, while setting aside the Chhattisgarh High Court judgment that dismissed the employees’ petition, said: “The transfer of employees from NTPC, a PSU, to BALCO which is a private organisation is bad in law.”

“We are satisfied that the employees have made out a case for continuing their service in the NTPC... All employees are to be retained in the NTPC,” it said, adding that the power company was under constitutional obligation to act fairly with its employees, particularly the posts that were advertised from 1986 to 1988 when the BCPP was not fully commissioned.

The terms and conditions lead to an irresistible conclusion that the NTPC was their employer in all purposes, Justice P. Sathasivam, writing the verdict for the bench, stated, adding that the employees were not heard before changing their service conditions. — PTI

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Dowry Deaths
Law panel against capital punishment
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 11
Dealing with the question whether a severe punishment of death sentence be prescribed for dowry deaths by amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provision, the Law Commission has rejected the proposal but said the punishment can be enhanced from seven years to 10 years.

In a report submitted to the government by Law Commission chairman Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, it has been stated that the offence of murder and dowry deaths could not be placed in the same footing by making identical punishment provisions.

The commission said but where the dowry death falls within the definition of murder as laid in the IPC, the awarding of death sentence is legally permissible, if the case falls within the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court for the award of capital punishment.

Dowry death was quite often confused with the offence of murder. There might be instances where the two overlapped with each other, which was the reason to raise the demand for parity in the matter of sentence but the two offences have to be seen in different parameters.

They are ‘distinct and independent offences,’ the commission said, while spelling out the finer nuances of the offence of dowry death for their better understanding and appreciation to dispel the ambiguity and confusion shrouding it vis-ŕ-vis the offence of murder.

The commission said the report would help in providing clarity on the subject for its correct understanding and appreciation to the authorities concerned while dealing with the cases of dowry deaths. 

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TN Dalit leader arrested
Smuggling submarine parts for LTTE
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, October 11
The sensational arrest of a Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) leader here today by the Tamil Nadu police revealed that he was involved in the smuggling of various parts of submarines meant for the LTTE. The DPI is a constituent of the ruling DMK-led alliance in the state.

Vaniya Arasu, the spokesman of the DPI and editor of its mouthpiece “Tamil Mann”, was arrested by the “Q” branch of the Tamil Nadu police, which deals with terrorist activities, after a consignment of large parcels addressed to him was found to be containing arms and parts of submarines.

The consignment arrived at Chennai port in February from Oslo in Norway but was not collected by the consignee, Arasu. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), on a specific tip off, alerted the Customs and waited for Arasu to catch him red-handed but he did not turn up to collect the parcels.

Intelligence sleuths here believe that 36-year-old Arasu, whose actual name is Jayaraj Rathinam and who is a life convict out on bail, panicked as the heat was on LTTE sympathisers in Tamil Nadu following the banned outfit’s air strike on the Katunayake military air base, 35 km north of Colombo in Sri Lanka, with two micro light aircraft on March 26.

Within a month the LTTE carried out similar air attacks on Palaly military establishment in northern Jaffna peninsula in the island nation on April 24.

Around that time the Indian Navy also seized large consignments of aluminium bars, iron balls, steel ball bearings near the Tamil Nadu coast meant to be smuggled to Jaffna.

The LTTE is the only terrorist organisation in the world which has an air wing possessing aircraft and also a naval wing called the “Sea Tigers”.

The Indian Navy geared itself up while all intelligence agencies of the state as well as the Central government stepped up vigil.

After waiting for several months the sleuths opened the parcels and found various kinds of parts meant for assembling a submarine. There were heavy propellers, steering wheels and other naval equipment which are usually associated with submarines.

Upon interrogation by the sleuths Arasu said they were meant for distribution among fishermen affected by the tsunami. His theory did not convince the “Q” branch since tsunami occurred three years ago and they also found out that while in Madurai prison serving his life sentence Arasu in 1997 befriended a LTTE militant named Karupiah, who was later released. Arasu had also travelled to Sri Lanka on forged documents.

Sleuths here felt that after successfully assembling at least three aircraft, the LTTE’s naval wing, which has many ships fitted with anti-aircraft guns, was contemplating to assemble a submarine to carry out naval attacks on the Sri Lankan Navy.

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Special trains to meet puja rush
Subhrangshu Gupta /Tribune News Service

Kolkata, October 11
The first special train for puja festival, equipped with AC Rajdhani coaches, was flagged off today from the Howrah station to Dehradun by the eastern railway’s general manager N.K.Goel. It is the beginning of special train services to be provided for visiting various tourist spots in the country during the festival season.

According to CPRO Dipak Jha, a total of 108 puja special trains carrying about 1.5 lakh passengers, will be run by the eastern railway till November 28 for meeting the puja rush, which will be mainly directed towards the hills of Darjeeling and various northern states, including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Simultaneously, the sea-resort of Puri will also draw a large crowd and accordingly, several new trains have been arranged.

According to the railway authorities, additional trains would include 34 by-weekly superfast specials from Howrah to New Jalpaiguri, 22 between Howrah and Delhi, 10 from Howrah to Dehradun, 10 from Sealdah to Jodhpur and 16 from Kolkata to Barauni.

The south-eastern railways have also arranged special trains to Puri, Digha, Gopalpur, Vizak, Chennai and Bangaluru. 

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Nitish attends Iftar party of Cong
Tribune News Service

Patna, October 11
Even though Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sought to justify it in the name of the right of the leaders to socialise on religious occasion, there seems to be more than a mere Iftar party, organised by the Congress here, that meets the eye apparently suggesting the changing political dynamics of this crucial Hindi heartland state.

Nitish Kumar indeed surprised his friends and foes alike by joining the Iftar party hosted by Congress state president Sadanand Singh at Sadaqat Ashram last evening along with former Congress Chief Minister, now with the JD(U), Jagannath Mishra.

The Iftar was attended, among others, by AICC spokesperson and union minister of state for telecommunication Shakeel Ahmad, who few hours before this programme at a press conference here refused to doubt the individual credentials of Nitish Kumar, besides stating that the Congress could always consider Bihar Chief Minister as a possible political ally, sans the BJP.

What was more interesting at the party was the remarks made by Jagannath Mishra in the presence of Nitish Kumar where he expressed his willingness to return to the Congress, sans RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

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Government withdraws red wheat from Maharashtra
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, October 11
The Maharashtra government has decided to withdraw the red wheat imported from Australia and released in the public distribution system.

The decision followed allegations from the opposition BJP and the Shiv Sena that the inferior quality wheat was being dumped on areas inhabited by poor tribals.

According to information available from the state food and civil supplies department, it is saddled with nearly 1,775 tonnes of this wheat.

Though the government had procured 3,000 tonnes of this wheat, a bulk of this was released and consumed, officials said. Earlier, the government laboratory had found 229 of the 265 wheat samples defective.

The Sena and the BJP alleged that the wheat was imported at Rs 8 per kg and released it into the market at Rs 16 per kg. 

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Panel on Sethu Samudram project meets
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The committee of eminent persons constituted by the Centre on the contentious Sethu Samudram Shipping Channel Project held its first meeting today. After detailed deliberation on the issue, the committee has now decided to invite objections and suggestions from all concerned by October 31.

Terms of reference of the committee include inviting objections and suggestions from persons concerned, including writ petitioners in Supreme Court and those having interest in the Sethu Samudram Shipping Channel Project.

The committee will consider suggestions, proposals and documents after giving these a personal hearing. To participate in the hearing, a proof of having submitted objections and suggestions in the form of acknowledgement from the committee or a postal receipt will have to be produced by all concerned except the petitioners.

The committee comprises chairman of Monitoring Committee on Environmental Impact Issues of Sethu Samudram Ship Channel Project S. Ramachandrandas, former Professor of history from Delhi University R.S Sharma, president of Aqua Culture Foundation of India M. Sakthivel, former chairman of Central Pollution Control Board Dilip K. Biswas, former director of Zoological Survey of India J.R.B. Alfred, deputy director of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) S.R. Wate, former Vice-Chancellor of Bharatidasan University P. Jagadeesan, former Vice-Chancellor of Kakatiya University Y. Vaikuntham, director of Deccan College K. Paddayya and MD of Indian Ports Association R.K. Jain.

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ElBaradei meets PM, talks N-issues

New Delhi, October 11
IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Thursday and is understood to have discussed civil nuclear energy issues with him.

The nuclear issue is believed to have come up in context of the country’s growing energy needs for which India is in the process of finalising an atomic agreement with the US.

ElBaradei is in favour of ending the restrictive regime against India in the nuclear field to enable the country meet its increasing energy needs.

ElBaradei, who is on a five-day visit to the country, was apprised of the details of the Indo-US nuclear deal by the Indian leaders and officials.

After meeting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday, the IAEA Director General said he wanted India to make full use of atomic energy for its growth.

India is to sign a safeguards agreement with IAEA to operationalize the deal with the US. However, in view of the Left opposition, no formal discussions on the agreement took place during ElBaradei’s meetings.

The UN nuclear watchdog chief said there was no deadline for negotiating the agreement and the agency would wait till New Delhi is ready to discuss with it after the “domestic political dialogue” is over.

He suggested that negotiating the India-specific safeguards agreement would not be difficult as IAEA already has four such arrangements with this country. — Agencies

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Rly staff to get bonus equal to 70 days’ wages
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
Over 13 lakh non-gazetted employees of the Indian Railways will get productivity linked bonus (PLB) equivalent to 70 days wages for the financial year 2006-07.

The decision on the bonus was taken today at a Cabinet meeting presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Information and broadcasting minister Priyaranajan Dasmunsi told mediapersons here that Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) personnel are not eligible for the bonus.

The railway ministry said the bonus is unprecedented in the history of the Railways. Sudhir Kumar, OSD to the railway minister told mediapersons here that 13.30 lakh non-gazetted employees of Indian Railways, out of the total 14.20 lakh employees will get a bonus of Rs 5,800 before Dasera. “They will be paid the bonus this week or the next week. Last year, they got a bonus of Rs 5,200 for 65 days.

From 1997, they have been getting a bonus of 59 days. A bonus of two-and-a-half months has never been given before to railway employees.''

Kumar challenged the theory dismissing the turnaround in the Indian Railways as “accounting jugglery”. He said the ministry is confident of exceeding all targets as freight loading, operating ratio and cash surplus by a decent margin. “You are aware of the performance of the railways till the middle of the year. Our performance for the current financial year will speak louder than our performance of the past three years. The fact that we have increased the bonus this year speaks of our confidence in our ability to deliver even better. Those who doubt the turnaround of the Indian Railways will have to eat their words for the fourth year in succession.” 

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Sibal for paradigm shift in higher education
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
Science and technology minister Kapil Sibal today called for a paradigm shift in higher education by adopting a flexible and innovative approach in rules concerning recruitment and promotion of teachers and researchers and identifying new areas of thrust to meet the challenges of 21st century.

In his valedictory address at the two-day National Conference on Development of Higher Education here, the minister said that universities and other such institutions were not bureaucratic organisations but generators of knowledge and should not feel constrained by rules in their endeavour to attract and promote talent.

He said that due to strict norms governing recruitment, it was difficult to get dynamism and vigour of the youth in scientific institutions.

The minister said though the science and technology ministry had taken initiatives to popularise science among youth, there was need for a cohesive national effort to create an environment which rewards excellence. "In a globalised economy, we have to compete with the rest of the world. Our graduate students should be able to compete globally," he said.

He identified agri-biotech, health and materials as some of the sectors which would open vast opportunities in the coming years.

Urging the educationists to fix benchmarks for excellence, he said the quality of faculty was of utmost importance.

The minister said that access and equity at primary and secondary level had to be improved to increase enrolment in higher education.In his address, eminent educationist Prof Yashpal said that various research laboratories should be opened to universities and teaching should have continous interaction with society.

The conference, which was attended by vice-chancellors of central, state, deemed universities and other eminent educationists, laid emphasis on objectives of expansion, inclusion and excellence. It recommended that access to higher education should be increased to 20-25 per cent in a short-term framework.

The conference recommended setting up a women’s university in each state and setting up campuses of established universities in rural areas. It suggested that focus on professional, technical and market-oriented courses must not be at the cost of humanities and social sciences and conventional courses should be restrutured. It said that universities should not be reduced to skill-development centre and their focus should be intense engagements in intellectual activities.

Calling for rationalising the affiliating system, the conference suggested reducing the number of colleges per university and giving autonomy to bigger and better colleges. Recommending substantial increase in public investment in higher education, the conference said that the strategies for expansion must not rely on the private sector alone, as it will adversely impinge on the goal of equity and inclusion.

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Hogwarts Castle pandal in copyright jinx

Kolkata/New Delhi, October 11
Last year they made a replica of Swami Vivekananda’s residence, before that it was the Titanic. But a Kolkata puja committee seems to have hit a bad spell this year with their Hogwarts Castle pandal attracting a Rs-20lakh fine for copyright violations.

Just when they were getting into the swing of the Durga Puja magic under a giant marquee modelled on the Harry Potter’s school, the FD block puja committee in Salt Lake got a rude shock when they received summons from the Delhi High Court that the decorators must appear in court tomorrow.

According to the organisers, the summons run into 394 pages and mention J.K. Rowling and others as the plaintiff. It states that the puja committee can carry out the puja after paying Rs 20 lakh.

Mr Justice S.K. Kaul issued notice to Kolkata’s Mondal Decorators for depicting Harry Potter characters without seeking the permission of the author, who is based in Britain.

The judge asked the decorator to file a reply to the allegations in the petition.

Counsel Rajiv Nair, appearing for Rowling, who has filed a petition in absentia, alleged in the petition that the decorators violated the Copyright Act without obtaining the mandatory permission from the author.

With only six days to go for the festival, the organisers don’t know what to do.

“The summons has come at a time when the pandal is almost ready. We don’t know what to do now because we can’t afford to pay the fine. We are taking legal help and talking to West Bengal sports minister Subhas Chakraborty, our chief patron, to sort out the problem,” block committee president Hiranmoy Roychowdhury said.

“It appears the case was filed by Penguin, distributor of Harry Potter books in India. Our committee representatives will go to New Delhi to sort out the matter,” he said.

Nirmalya Roychowdhury, the regional sales manager of Penguin India, said: “I am not sure whether the committee has taken permission for using the name of a very popular character. For using anything related to Harry Potter, written permission is necessary from an appropriate authority. Otherwise, legal action can be taken.” — IANS

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India-China military exercises to be delayed
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The first-ever exercises between the Indian and Chinese armies that are to be held next month will be delayed with the two countries still to work out the finer details, including the dates for the exercise.

According to ministry of defence (MoD) officials, the process of dialogue is yet to take place to work out the parameters of the exercise. Apparently, it would take about six weeks to plan out the exercises once an agreement has been reached about the parameters of the exercise, which would come as a major step forward for further improvement of relations between the two countries.

The exercises are to be held in China with the participation of nearly 100 soldiers from each side. Earlier, the exercises have been planned in November but now these might be held next year.

The dialogue for the exercise had begun when former Chief of Army Staff Gen J.J. Singh visited Beijing in May. A delegation of the Chinese army had been invited to New Delhi to hold the dialogue but it has not happened as yet.

The theme of the exercise is “Anti-terror scenario in a mountainous region”. China’s mountainous Chengdu military region is mentioned as a possible venue for the event.

While neither side is publicly saying so, China is believed to be contending that the dialogue be conducted at the defence minister’s level.

Incidentally, the mechanism for the annual defence dialogue is in place, but the issue of conducting exercises would not be discussed at that level, officials here said.

The annual defence dialogue is a component of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed during then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to China last year, during which he also toured a number of military establishments there.

The MoU has been seen as a major step forward in improving India-China ties that had remained frosty since the two countries fought a bitter border war in 1962.

The thaw began in the mid-1980s and the two countries have made considerable progress since then with the two countries putting the border issue on the backburner as they move forward in the economic, political and cultural spheres.

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10 feared drowned as boat capsizes in Bihar

Begusarai, October 11
At least 10 persons, including women, were feared drowned when the boat they were travelling in, capsized mid-stream in Balan river yesterday.

District Magistrate (DM) Sanjay Hans said here today, the accident occurred when a boat ferrying 28 passengers from Tari ghat to the other side of the river, was caught in a strong river current and capsized. While 18 people managed to swim to safety, 10 others went missing.

Later, two bodies of women were retrieved from a nearby spot, the DM said, adding that a major rescue operation was launched to trace and rescue those who were still missing. A number of divers and country-boats were pressed into service by the district administration, the DM said. — UNI

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Case against Dharmendra, Sunny Deol dismissed

Chennai, October 11
A city court today dismissed a cheque dishonour case against Bollywood actor and MP Dharmendra, and his son and actor Sunny Deol.

Metropolitan Magistrate C Thirumagal dismissed the case “as withdrawn” after the complainant took back his complaint.

On September 12, the court had issued summons to the father-son duo to appear before the court today.

However, when the case came up for hearing, the complainant appeared in person before the court and filed a petition seeking permission to withdraw the complaint.

In his complaint, R Bhagavandoss Bajaj, proprietor of Sheela Enterprises and Associates, had submitted that in April 2006, Ajay Singh Deol, on behalf of his company Sunny Sounds, had borrowed Rs 10 lakh to complete a Hindi film “Big Brother”.

He had promised to repay the amount to the petitioner after the movie’s release.

However, when the two cheques for Rs 5 lakh each, issued by Deol, were presented for payment, they were allegedly returned as unpaid for the account holder had made a stop payment request. — PTI

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Hema to donate eyes

Bhubaneswar, October 11
Dreamgirl Hema Malini, brand ambassador of Vision 2020, today announced she would donate her eyes and urged others to think seriously for the blind.

“I’ll donate my eyes. India needs at least two lakh eyes every year but we get only 34,000. It is urgent to meet the need,” the 59-year old actress-turned-politican told reporters here.

Making a fervent appeal to the people to come forward in donating their eyes, she also gave tips for natural eye care.

“Wash your eyes with cold water regularly. Don’t expose eyes to direct sun light. And children should not sit before TV set for a long time,” she said.

Hema appealed to parents not to keep more than one television set in their houses. “The more the children are exposed to viewing televisison, more eye aliments will occur,” said Hema Malini. The actress was here to attend a function on the occasion of the World Sight Day. — PTI 

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Urban waste can mitigate India’s power woes
Can generate 2,500 MW power
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
Urban India generates around 40,000 million tonne solid and 5,000 million cubic metre liquid waste which can be successfully recycled to generate 2500 MW to partially solve the country’s energy requirement problems and also reduce GHG emissions to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

A study on “Mitigating Climate Change: The Indian Perspective” has recommended expediting the setting up of waste energy projects.

The ASSOCHAM and E&Y study, released today, indicates that about 40,000 million tonnes solid and 5,000 million cubic metre liquid waste is generated every year in urban areas. By setting up waste energy projects about 1,500 megawatt of power can be generated from urban and municipal wastes and an additional 1,000 megawatt of industrial wastes in the country by 2010. The cost of setting up such facilities will be around Rs 200 crore, which can be generated through municipalities and local governments along with subsidy from state governments, it recommends.

According to ASSOCHAM New and Renewable Energy Committee chairman Rakesh Bakshi, India’s energy policy also includes nuclear energy as one of the promising areas to increase power generation capacity to 20,000 MW by 2020.

Several studies on the Indian power sector reveal the potential of saving around 20,000 MW through various energy efficient measures, including the renovation and modernisation of old power plants, adoption of cleaner coal technologies, HVDC transmission and distribution with HVDS, energy efficient distribution transformers and installation of capacitor banks. Energy efficiency and demand side measures in the power sector can also be used to gain carbon credits, something that some generating and transmission companies have already started doing. Besides this, India has the potential to reduce its projected emissions over the next 30 years by nearly one-quarter for less than $25 per tonne of carbon equivalent. According to E&Y associate director Dipankar Ghosh, some of sustainable development strategies that could help India in reducing its GHG emissions and mitigating climate change impacts were using cost-effective energy-efficient technologies in power sector for generation, transmission and distribution.

The study has sought the shift from fossil fuels like coal, diesel, and petroleum to natural gas and renewables. “With abundant availability of renewable sources like biomass across the country, India has a vast potential to replace the current usage of fossil fuels in various industrial/commercial applications. This will not only reduce the dependence on fossil fuels in the industrial systems, but will also reduce the GHG emissions and increase the economic value of the biomass fuels to improve the social and economic condition of rural areas,” it adds.

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Son still preferred, says report
National Family Health Survey-3
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The family size in India is shrinking but son preference continues to be widespread. Despite a sustained campaign by the government and the civil society on the girl child, one in five women and men in India say they would like more sons than daughters.

The final report of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) released here today has reported that only two-three per cent say that they would like more daughters than sons.

Two-thirds of Indian women and men consider the ideal family size to be two children or less.

“Most men and women would like to have at least one son and one daughter, nonetheless, son preference is widespread,'' the report says.

The NFHS survey provides information on population, health and nutrition in all the 29 States of India.

The ministry of Health and Family Welfare designated Mumbai based International Institute for Population Sciences for the survey.

For the first time, the NFHS survey provides information on men and unmarried women.

Fred Arnold, vice-president of Washington based Macro International that has lent technical support for the survey told mediapersons here today that they used a very rigorous methodology with a scientific representative sample of women and men across the country.

He said 1, 25, 000 women in the 15 to 49 age group and 74,000 men in the

15 to 54 men were interviewed.

Infant mortality rate in India is steadily declining and immunisation coverage has improved substantially since

NFHS-1 (1992-'93) where only 36 per cent children were fully immunised.

Empowerment of women is still a dream as only 37 per cent of married women take part in key decision making in the family. Teenage pregnancies are common. Most men and women believe that information on HIV/AIDS should be part of the school curriculum.

The unmet need for family planning among currently married women is 13 per cent.

G.C. Chaturvedi, mission director of the National Rural

Health Mission (NRHM) who released the report said, “Now that we are armed with the latest scientific evidence from

NFHS-3, we are in a powerful position to move forward with more effective policies and programmes to improve the health and welfare of our people.''

Maria MacNeil, communication associate with Washington based Macro International that has lent technical assistance for the survey told TNS that they will now work on State Health Survey reports.

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Not even a teenager, but pregnant
Arup Chanda/TNS

Chennai, October 11
In a bizarre incident, a 12-year-old girl pregnant with twins even without her parents knowing about it, was taken to a children’s hospital here. This happened after she played “mummy and daddy” game with their landlord’s 16-year-old son.

Doctors at the Institute of Child Health at Egmore were surprised when she was found to be four months pregnant after she was taken there by her father since she complained of fever and vomiting for the past few weeks.

Her father, who works in a butcher’s shop, took her to the government paediatric hospital as local physicians could not diagnose the reason for her “ailment”.

The Egmore hospital doctors immediately informed the Pallavaram police. The girl’s father pleaded ignorance as he received a bolt from the blue after learning about his daughter’s pregnancy.

After much prodding, it was found out that she was friendly with their landlord’s son.

The girl was alone most of the day since she had dropped out of school. The girl’s elder brother also works and her younger brother goes to school, leaving her alone at home.

The boy admitted having physical contacts with her as they grew intimate while playing.

The police has registered a case of rape but since the boy, too, is minor, he will be produced before the juvenile court. The girl has been admitted to a government hospital and her condition is stated to be weak. Doctors are unsure whether to medically terminate her pregnancy or not.

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Conference on human trafficking concludes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The two-day South Asia regional conference on the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN-GIFT) concluded here today with a Delhi declaration.

The 20 point declaration recognises that every person has a basic human right against being trafficked for exploitation. The declaration read out by Gary Lewis, representative UNODC Regional Office for South Asia, called upon distinguished audience comprising delegates from all SARRC countries, to strengthen the ‘legal processes wherever required, including the protection of the victims.’

The declaration has urged all concerned, including police, prosecutors and judiciary to ‘undertake concerted action in law enforcement so that offenders are punished quickly, certainly and severely in a time bound manner.’

It has urged the states to ratify the UN Transnational Organised Crime Convention and its supplementary protocols to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. The conference has also called for protecting all children from sexual exploitation. 

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Jawan booked for molestation
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, October 11
The Assam police has registered a case against an Army jawan for molesting a woman at Tipomia village in Dibrugarh district of Upper Assam during a house-to-house search operation against ULFA militants even as public protest is raging over the incident in Tengakhat area of the district.

A case has been registered by the police against Raju from the 11 Guard Regiment on the basis of a compliant lodged by Jyotsna Konwar, a mother of two children. The woman alleged that she was molested by the jawan during a search operation conducted by an Army team in the village on Monday night.

The incident has sparked massive protests by villagers from 20-odd villages in the area led by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and rights activists who have given three-day time to the government to rein in the Army or face intensive agitation, including the blockade of the national highway.

The protesters laid siege to the Circle Office at Tengakhat a couple of days ago protesting ‘repeated violation of human rights by the Army personnel in the name of counter-insurgency operations.’

However, the Army has stated that there was no solider by the name of Raju in the Army team from 11 Guard Regiment based at Lengrai in the area that went to conduct search against ULFA militants in Tipomia village.

The Dibrugarh-based battalion headquarter of the 11 Guard Regiment in a statement stated that its personnel even didn’t search the house of the complainant Jyotsna Konwar as the operation was conducted only in some selected houses in the area.

However, the Army said it would cooperate with the investigation into the alleged incident of molestation by the police that had registered a case under Section 354 of the IPC.

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