SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Ludhiana City Centre Scam
SC rejects Punjab plea on Raninder’s bail

New Delhi, November 19
In a mixed relief to both Punjab government and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s son and a kin in the Ludhiana City Centre scam case, the Supreme Court today rejected Punjab’s appeal for the cancellation of their bail but quashed the High Court’s contempt notice to a senior officer of the Vigilance Bureau (VB).

Friends, well-wishers mourn for Pathak
Chandigarh/Delhi November 19
People from all walks of life, including jurists, administrators, politicians, social workers, former colleagues and well wishers of Justice R.S. Pathak, former Chief Justice of India and president of the Tribune Trust, have expressed deep sorrow on the demise of the legal luminary in Delhi on Sunday.
A security personnel of R.S. Pathak gives the last salute to his body in New Delhi on Monday. A security personnel of R.S. Pathak gives the last salute to his body in New Delhi on Monday. — Photo by Mukesh Aggarwal





EARLIER STORIES




Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi arrive at "Shakti Sthal" to pay homage to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 90th birth anniversary in New Delhi on Monday. PM, Sonia pay tributes to Indira Gandhi
New Delhi, November 19
Indian leaders paid tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 90th birth anniversary across the country on Monday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid floral tributes to the late leader at her Shakti Sthal Memorial.





Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi arrive at "Shakti Sthal" to pay homage to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 90th birth anniversary in New Delhi on Monday. — Tribune photograph
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Founder of the Green Belt Movement Prof Wangari M. Mathai of Kenya (right) shakes hands with President Pratibha Patil during an award ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday. Mathai gets Indira Gandhi peace prize
New Delhi, November 19
Nobel laureate Wangari Muta Mathai was today awarded the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for her Green Belt Movement in Kenya at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan here. Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the developed world to join hands in adopting eco-friendly practices and tackle climate change and green house gas emissions.



Founder of the Green Belt Movement Prof Wangari M. Mathai of Kenya (right) shakes hands with President Pratibha Patil during an award ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday. — AFP

HP Cong panel to forward single names
New Delhi, November 19
The screening committee of the Congress for the Himachal Pradesh elections has decided to send single names to the party’s central election committee on nearly two thirds of the 65 seats due to go to polls on December 19.

Al Flights Delay
Govt warns of action against guilty
New Delhi, November 19
The government has warned of a suitable action against those who would be found responsible for the lapses which led to the delay of several Air-India flights in the past two days.

Talks with IAEA begin tomorrow
Mumbai, November 19
India will formally begin talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday over the nuclear deal when the Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar meets with IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei.

Maj Gen indicted for harassing woman Capt
New Delhi, November 19
An Army court of inquiry today found a top armed forces official guilty of sexual harassment of his subordinate woman officer and would be tried by a court martial.

Gowda may turn to Cong now
Bangalore, November 19
The political pendulum in Karnataka is set to swing the other way amidst speculations that the JD (S) supremo is set to turn back to the Congress to stitch together a coalition government in the state.

TN Cong flays Karuna for writing elegy
Chennai, November 19
The Tamil Nadu Congress, which remained silent for more than two weeks, today came out in open to criticise Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for writing an elegy in praise of slain LTTE leader S.P. Thamilselvam.

‘Indo-China joint air exercise soon’
Shillong, November 19
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major today expressed confidence of having a joint air exercise with China to further strengthen military ties.

Change banking norms to stop farmer suicides: Nobel laureate
Pune, November 19
Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus who heads Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank said here today that banking norms need to be changed in order to stop suicides by the indigent farmers.

PM leaves for Singapore today
New Delhi, November 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is leaving tomorrow for Singapore to participate in the Sixth ASEAN-India and the Third East Asia summits to establish a comprehensive regional architecture for cooperation and integration.

No dates for Indo-Pak talks yet
New Delhi, November 19
India today said no dates for foreign secretary-level talks for the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan have been finalised yet.

Gopalswami for common electoral roll
Bhubaneswar, November 19
Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalswami today mooted the idea of having a common electoral roll for the entire country.

GE Food Products
SC notice to centre
New Delhi, November 19
The Supreme Court today sought reply from the centre as how it had exempted packed food manufacturers from not displaying on the packaged stuff whether it contained any genetically engineered (GE) product considered to be hazardous for human health.

Orissa Assembly adjourned twice
Bhubaneswar, November 19
Amid uproar, the Orissa Assembly was adjourned twice within three hours as Opposition and treasury bench members virtually clashed in the well over Congress demand for suspension of Question Hour for a debate on lathicharge on farmers and teachers.

SRK wins V. Shantaram award
Mumbai, November 19
Shah Rukh Khan bagged the Best Actor award for his portrayal of a hockey coach in “Chak De India”, the inspirational sports blockbuster, at the V Shantaram Awards held here last night.

Council for land reforms set up
New Delhi, November 19
The government today announced that it had constituted a National Council for Land Reforms under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and accordingly the composition, terms or reference of the council were being finalised.

Bid of imported wheat for $488 a tonne
New Delhi, November 19
The government has received offers in the range of $397-488 per tonne for imported wheat from companies, which participated in the MMTC’s tender process.

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Ludhiana City Centre Scam
SC rejects Punjab plea on Raninder’s bail
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 19
In a mixed relief to both Punjab government and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s son and a kin in the Ludhiana City Centre scam case, the Supreme Court today rejected Punjab’s appeal for the cancellation of their bail but quashed the High Court’s contempt notice to a senior officer of the Vigilance Bureau (VB).

Capt Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh, his brother’s son-in-law Raminder Singh and former minister Ch Jagjit Singh, named as accused in the multi-crore scam, were granted bail by the Punjab and High Court which the state sought to cancel by an appeal in the apex court.

While dismissing the Punjab government’s appeal, a Bench of Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice Markandey Kathu modified the High Court order on bail, clarifying that it would confine only to the FIR in the scam case and not go beyond it to extend to any other case.

Raninder and Raminder in their plea before the High Court had said that they apprehended arrest in the Intranet case, in which the Vigilance Bureau (VB) was planning to question them for the alleged money transaction abroad.

As another relief to the Punjab government, the apex court quashed the High Court’s May 31 contempt notice to a senior officer of the bureau for making certain wrong averments in an affidavit in Chaudhary Jagjit’s case stating that the High Court had passed the order “ex-parte”, which factually was not correct and the High Court had taken exception to it.

The contempt notice was quashed after Punjab’s counsel K.K. Venugopal admitted the mistake and pointed out that another affidavit with amends in this regard was filed in the HC.

The apex court though observed that the case against Capt Amarinder Singh and his kin seemed to be a result of a “political vendetta” between the two top political families of Punjab, it gave liberty to the Punjab government to move the High Court if it felt that Raninder and Raminder were not cooperating with the VB in the investigation.

Senior advocate Uday Lalit, appearing for Raninder and Amarinder told the court that his clients were always ready to cooperate in the investigation. A similar statement was made by Chaudhary Jagjit’s counsel L. Nageshwar Rao.

Today’s order comes almost on the identical lines as was made by the apex court earlier on state’s appeal in Capt Amarinder’s bail, seeking its cancellation. In that order, the apex court had rejected the state’s plea and had said if it had a grievance about his “non-cooperation” in the investigation, it could move the High Court for the cancellation of the bail.

Capt Amarinder Singh after the apex court order in his case, in a statement, said the allegations of “non-cooperation” by the VB against him and his family members were without any substance as he had not received any notice from the probe agency after he was granted anticipatory bail earlier by the High Court, which later had confirmed it as a regular bail.

Another senior advocate Ravi Shanker Prasad, engaged by the Punjab government to contest its two special leave petitions (SLPs) in Chaudhary Jagjit’s case pertaining to his bail and the contempt notice, said the High Court could not pass a ‘blanket’ order on bail extending it to other cases sought to be probed by the VB. Such an order was beyond the relevant provisions of CrPC, he argued.

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Friends, well-wishers mourn for Pathak
Tribune News Service

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda consoles Mrs Asha, widow of R.S. Pathak.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda consoles Mrs Asha, widow of R.S. Pathak.
Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh and his wife console the sons of R.S. Pathak.
Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh and his wife console the sons of R.S. Pathak. — Tribune photos by Mukesh Aggarwal

Chandigarh/Delhi November 19
People from all walks of life, including jurists, administrators, politicians, social workers, former colleagues and well wishers of Justice R.S. Pathak, former Chief Justice of India and president of the Tribune Trust, have expressed deep sorrow on the demise of the legal luminary in Delhi on Sunday.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil mourned the death of Justice Pathak observing that he was an eminent jurist who rendered several landmark judgements during his career. In a message to Asha Pathak, wife of Justice Pathak, the President said Justic Pathak would always be remembered for his legal acumen and his interest in social welfare, environment and ecological development.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee in a message to Asha Pathak said, “Please accept my heartfelt condolence and convey the same to all members of your family. I recall that I met him (Justice Pathak) first in 1954 when he had gone to the Allahabad High Court. Since then I had the privilege of meeting him in Delhi when he was a judge. A judge of great learning, humane attitude and unfailing courtesy. I hope you and other members of the family will have the fortitude to bear the loss.”

The Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, in his condolence message said Justice Pathak was a brilliant legal jurist of international fame and a model of humanistic culture, humility and dignity.

During his long distinguished legal career, Justice Pathak delivered seminal judgements and set noble traditions, which would continue to be a source of inspiration to the legal fraternity for all time, Gen Rodrigues said.

He said Justice Pathak brought glory to the institution of justice, which he served so well. He would always be remembered for a significant contribution in different facets of public life.

Gen Rodrigues conveyed his heartfelt sympathies to members of the bereaved family and prayed to the Almighty to give them the strength to bear the loss.

Himachal Pradesh Governor V.S. Kokje and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in separate messages mourned the death of Justice Pathak.

Conveying his condolences to the bereaved family, the Governor said Justice Pathak was a renowned personality, who had the distinction of being the youngest judge of any high court in the country. Justice Pathak had delivered landmark judgements during his term as a judge and Chief Justice of Himachal High Court and the Chief Justice of India. He said Justice Pathak’s contribution to law would be remembered for a long time to come.

Virbhadra Singh said the demise of the legal luminary was a personal loss as Justice Pathak was his personal friend. With his passing away a great patriot and nationalist had been lost.

The term of Justice Pathak as a former Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court was a memorable period for the people of the state. He would be remembered for his valuable contribution as president of The Tribune Trust giving a new direction to the group of newspapers.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and prayed that the departed soul rests in peace.

He said Justice Pathak would be long remembered not only for his distinguished career as a legal luminary, but also as the head of The Tribune Trust, who made concerted efforts to ensure that the newspaper continued to hold high position in the field of journalism.

Punjab Congress president and leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also expressed grief over the death of Justice Pathak.

In her condolence message, Bhattal said Justice Pathak was a great legal luminary who during his long illustrious career had endeared himself to everybody with his objectivity, clarity of thought and vision.

With his death the country had lost a great personality, which had left an indelible mark on society and legal circles, she said. Bhattal prayed for peace to the departed soul and courage to the bereaved family to bear the loss.

Yamunanagar: The District Bar Association has expressed profound grief on the demise of former Chief Justice of India R.S. Pathak and prayed for peace of his soul.

The Bar said Justice Pathak’s abiding concerns on human rights, social justice, equality of opportunity and probity in public life were reflected in his judgements. Pardeep Kumar Rathore, president of the association, said society had lost a great legal luminary.

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PM, Sonia pay tributes to Indira Gandhi

New Delhi, November 19
Indian leaders paid tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 90th birth anniversary across the country on Monday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid floral tributes to the late leader at her Shakti Sthal Memorial.

Union home minister Shivraj Patil, Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were among other Congress leaders and ministers, who paid their respects to the country’s first female Prime Minister. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi also offered floral tributes to his grandmother.

Noted artiste Bhajan Sopori played the santoor on the occasion. Indira Gandhi was born in Allahabad in 1917 and was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.

She was the recipient of India’s highest civil award, Bharat Ratna. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984.

She was elected to the Parliament for the first time in 1964 and also served as the country’s minister of information and broadcasting in Lal Bahadur Shastri’s government.

She is noted for declaring a state of emergency after a court struck down her election in 1975, and also for her handling of the ‘Operation Blue Star’ against Sikh militants.

Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards at her residence on October 31, 1984. — ANI

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Mathai gets Indira Gandhi peace prize
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
Nobel laureate Wangari Muta Mathai was today awarded the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for her Green Belt Movement in Kenya at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the developed world to join hands in adopting eco-friendly practices and tackle climate change and green house gas emissions.

Asking the developed world to reflect on pursuing development based on high and wasteful consumption, the Prime Minister said if these nations succeed in reducing their per capita emissions, it would be a source of incentive for all other nations.

The Prime Minister said India on its part was willing to accept the obligation that per capita emissions in the country would never exceed the per capita emissions of developed countries.

President Pratibha Patil said for tackling climate change and green house gas emissions, we must work together to find pragmatic, practical solutions which were for the benefit of the entire humankind .

Developing countries, whether in Asia or Africa, need economic growth to provide to their people opportunities for decent lives. The needs and concerns of developing countries should be addressed in global trade negotiations as also climate change discussions, she said.

“I am hopeful India will contribute to increasing the forest cover on the planet,” she said.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who was also present on the occasion, said we know global warming was accelerating at a pace even faster than anticipated. All nations would need to improve upon environmental concerns and management, she said.

The award was conferred on Proffessor Mathai for her commitment to the cause of development, women’s issues and the environment.

Meanwhile, two days after the Congress paid its obeisance to the Nehru-Gandhi family at the AICC session, its leaders appeared to have suffered a bout of amnesia as the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s memory failed to elicit the same enthusiastic response.

None of its union ministers except Arjun Singh turned up for the presentation ceremony of the Indira Gandhi prize for peace, disarmament and development to Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai at the Rashtrapati Bhawan today.

There were red faces all round as the first two rows, reserved for Union ministers and AICC office bearers , were all vacant. Human resource development minister Arjun Singh was the sole occupant.

Petroleum minister Murli Deora was present in his capacity as member of the jury which decided to give this award to the world-renowned Kenyan environmental and political activist.

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HP Cong panel to forward single names
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
The screening committee of the Congress for the Himachal Pradesh elections has decided to send single names to the party’s central election committee on nearly two thirds of the 65 seats due to go to polls on December 19.

The committee, which met for the second time in two days, deliberated for nearly two hours to finalise its recommendations for selection of candidates.

Both the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and PCC chief Viplove Thakur appeared satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. The Chief Minister told The Tribune later that all aspects were taken into account during the discussions on the candidate selection.

Sources said the committee had formed panel of two or three names on seats where there was no consensus. All recommendations of the screening committee would be placed before the election committee that would meet in the next few days to finalise the candidates.

The state Congress has urged central leaders to declare the candidates before or near the start of nomination process to give candidates maximum time to campaign in the winter days.

The sources said nearly five MLAs, including associate members, have not got single-name recommendation from the committee. They said the committee had included those MLAs in the panels who it thought faced local opposition or strong anti-incumbency. The final decision on tickets of these MLAs would be taken by the election panel.

The sources said the screening committee had accepted request of Harsh Mahajan not to contest but left the final decision to the party’s apex body for deciding candidates. They said the committee had accepted request of only a few leaders for tickets for their sons. Some of these leaders are likely to be asked to contest.

The decision on giving tickets to confidants of central leaders such as minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma has also been left to the poll panel. With winnability its main criterion in finalising recommendations, the screening committee has also left issues of representation to women and youth on the election panel.

Besides the Chief Minister and PCC chief, the meeting was attended by senior party leaders Motilal Vora, Mohsina Kidwai and R.K. Dhawan.

Meanwhile, the state election manifesto committee of the party has prepared outline of the document that will be sent to the central party leadership for approval.

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Al Flights Delay
Govt warns of action against guilty
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
The government has warned of a suitable action against those who would be found responsible for the lapses which led to the delay of several Air-India flights in the past two days.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel has taken a serious view of the delays and has also initiated an inquiry to fix responsibility for the lapses which led to heated arguments with the passengers also.

At least six flights out of Delhi’s IGI airport were delayed due to technical and other reasons in the past two days, causing hardships to passengers. Air-India has also ordered a probe into the circumstances, which caused the delay.

Official sources said the minister has warned that strong corrective action would be taken against those found responsible.

Responsibilities would be fixed on all those Air-India staffers who were on duty during the period when these flights were delayed, they added.

Meanwhile, in another incident at least three Air-India staffers were injured when some irate passengers allegedly became restive and punched them due to the delay of Tokyo-bound flight by about six hours.

The incident, which occurred at midnight, came hours after five international flights of the national carrier were delayed by two to six hours. These were bound for destinations like London, New York, Birmingham, Toronto, Dubai, Bangkok and Muscat.

The passengers, who had blocked the Air-India counter delaying clearance of other flights, were angry over the delay and non-provision of hotel accommodation for them and clashed with Air-India staffers. CISF personnel were then called in to control the passengers.

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Talks with IAEA begin tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 19
India will formally begin talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday over the nuclear deal when the Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar meets with IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei.

The talks are aimed at signing an agreement between India and the international nuclear watchdog that will ratify India-specific clauses that are believed to allow the country a number of concessions presently permitted only to signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Kakodkar’s meeting with ElBaradei will be followed by the regular board meeting of the IAEA on Thursday when the draft agreement between the agency and India will be taken up, say sources here.

Indian officials have already held wide ranging discussions with IAEA officials and sources here believe that a deal is already on the cards.

Kakodkar will be leaving for Vienna on Tuesday along with DAE's Strategic Planning Group Director Ravi Grover, according to officials here.

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Maj Gen indicted for harassing woman Capt

New Delhi, November 19
An Army court of inquiry today found a top armed forces official guilty of sexual harassment of his subordinate woman officer and would be tried by a court martial.

An Army court of inquiry found Gen A K Lal, who was commanding a division on Sino-Indian border in Ladakh, guilty of the charges levelled by Army Captain Neha Rawat in a case filed in September this year, defence ministry sources said.

Lal, who had been attached to Srinagar-based 15 corps after the complaint by Rawat, was tried by a court of inquiry headed by Corps Commander Lt Gen A S Shekhon.

The sources said General Lal has been reverted back to Leh-based 14 Corps to face Court Martial proceedings and summary of evidence in the case.

Earlier, a Major-General in Jaipur-based Western Army Command was charged by CBI for allegedly possessing property disproportionate to his known sources of income. Captain Rawat of Corps of Signals and based in Leh, had filed a complaint alleging misconduct by General Lal during a meditation session. — PTI

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Gowda may turn to Cong now
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, November 19
The political pendulum in Karnataka is set to swing the other way amidst speculations that the JD (S) supremo is set to turn back to the Congress to stitch together a coalition government in the state.

While its curtains for the BJP-JD (S) short lived second coalition once Gowda boarded the plane for New Delhi this evening, there was increased speculation that the JD (S) leader was going to Delhi to renew the talks he held with Congress general secretary and Karnataka in-charge Prithviraj Chavan and parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi last week.

Sources said Gowda, who had already opened the channels of communication with the Congress last week, wanted to hold further talks with the Congress to keep together his flock which did not want to face elections.

While Deve Gowda had his way in the meeting of the Janata Dal Legislature party today, it was not without hiccups. The sources said a few legislators openly voiced the opinion that the party’s flip flop of government formation could affect its standing among the people. They said the legislators also did not want to face elections in the next few months after seeming to have ‘betrayed’ the BJP besides wanting to enjoy the spoils of power for the remaining 19-month tenure of the Assembly.

Earlier, Gowda had sent feelers to the Congress that he was ready to support union minister M.V. Rajashekharan’s candidature for chief ministership.

Rajashekharan is a Lingayat leader and the JD (S) wants to escape the wrath of the Lingayats by dumping its tallest leader B.S. Yeddyurappa. The sources, however, said Gowda was now also trying to forward the candidature of his son H.D. Kumaraswamy by requesting the Congress to give outside support to the government so as to ensure the BJP cannot cash in on the “sympathy factor” in case of a snap poll in the near future.

While Gowda may be able to get some ears at the Centre, the state Congress is clearly not in favour of re-aligning with the JD (S). There are two important factions that oppose any such move - the group of former JD (S) leader Siddaramaiah and that of D.K. Shivakumar.

Even former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh, who became the Chief Minister of the state after the last Assembly elections threw a fractured mandate due to the support extended by Deve Gowda, also seems lukewarm to the idea of re-aligning with the JD (S).

Speaking on the trust vote today, Dharam Singh said both the JD (S) and the BJP were responsible for bringing politics in Karnataka to the street level.

Meanwhile, the JD (S) is playing safe for the moment. Its spokesman Y.S.V. Datta while reacting to this question said there was no such issue before the party. He said Deve Gowda himself had declared on October 24 (three days before his son extended support to the BJP) that it was better to go to the people.

“But we can say nothing about the future”, he added, indicating anything is possible in the politics of Deve Gowda.

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TN Cong flays Karuna for writing elegy
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 19
The Tamil Nadu Congress, which remained silent for more than two weeks, today came out in open to criticise Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for writing an elegy in praise of slain LTTE leader S.P. Thamilselvam.

TNCC president M. Krishnaswamy said today eulogising leaders of the banned outfit was “unacceptable” and “elements” praising Thamilselvam should be dealt with firmly. However, he did not take any name though he referred to Karunanidhi, who had penned an ode in the memory of the LTTE political wing secretary killed in a Sri Lankan Air Force air strike on November 3.

He said praising a leader of a banned terrorist organisation by those who were in power was “unacceptable” and activities in support of the LTTE should not be tolerated.

Karunanidhi had justified writing the poem by saying, “The one who was killed in Sri Lanka was a Tamil. And it is Tamil blood that courses through my veins. That is why I expressed my condolence.”

However, when MDMK general secretary Vaiko and Tamil Nationalist Movement leader P. Nedumaran tied to bring out a rally to mourn Thamilselvam’s death, the Chief Minister got them arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Karunanidhi had come under severe attack from Opposition leader and AIADMK supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa, who charged him with “treason and anti-national activities” and demanded the dismissal of the DMK government for his poem, but the state Congress had remained silent till the AICC passed a resolution criticising the DMK leader’s elegy saying it was bound to hurt sentiments as the LTTE was responsible for killing Rajiv Gandhi.

Only union minister and senior Congress leader E.V.K.S. Elangovan, a bitter critic of the DMK government and who had on earlier occasions got into trouble within his party for waging personal attacks on Karunanidhi, lashed out at him.

Though he did not mention Karunanidhi by name, Elangovan said, “There are people who write elegies, take out rallies and put up posters for the death of a leader of a banned outfit, which killed our former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. How can it be justified?”

“When questioned, they say Tamil blood is flowing in their veins. When the LTTE killed innocent Tamils, didn’t they realise that it was Tamil blood too?” he asked sarcastically. Voicing the resentment of Tamil Nadu Congress leaders, Elangovan said, “The DMK had neither given due respect to the Congress nor shared power with it in the state. Do they think that we are their slaves? Should the Congress support whatever they say?”

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‘Indo-China joint air exercise soon’

Shillong, November 19
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major today expressed confidence of having a joint air exercise with China to further strengthen military ties.

“We want to have joint exercise with everyone. Hopefully in the near future we may have a joint military exercise with China,” the Air Chief Marshal told a news conference after inaugurating the station commanders’ conference at Eastern Air Command headquarters here.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is adapting to reorient itself to the country’s expanding strategic boundaries through such exercise, he asserted.

“I can’t tell you the time, but there are no issues between India and China which prevent both countries from having a joint exercise,” he said.

“Joint exercises are a part of the learning curve. We get the opportunity of exchanging notes with air forces that are more modern and better equipped than ours,” the IAF chief said. — UNI

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Change banking norms to stop farmer suicides: Nobel laureate
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Pune, November 19
Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus who heads Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank said here today that banking norms need to be changed in order to stop suicides by the indigent farmers.

“If farmers are committing suicide due to the penalty factor, then it was time to redesign the institutional source,” Dr Yunus told reporters today.

Addressing mediapersons a day after he was awarded the Sakaal Person of the Year, Dr Yunus said the people should not die for borrowing money.

“People are more important than the banking system,” he added.

Dr Yunus, a Dhaka University professor who founded the Grameen Bank in Bangaldesh, said he has had discussions with PM Manmohan Singh and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on the issue of farmers’ suicides in India.

Dr Yunus said existing laws governing bank credit in India should be changed so that borrowers are not penalised for being unable to repay their loans. Citing the example of his own Grameen Bank, he said borrowers are not penalised if they are unable to pay back their loans due to financial problems. “We convert the existing loans into long-term loans even as we advance them fresh loans to pull themselves up,” he added.

Interestingly, Grameen Bank only charges simple interest from its borrowers. But it also does not write off loans. “We always persuade our borrowers to pay back,” says Dr Yunus. According to him Grameen Bank recovers 99 per cent of the advances made to its borrowers thereby making it one of the banks with the least amount of non-performing assets in the world. Grameen Bank is also Bangladesh’s highest income-tax payer.

“We created the bank to lessen the misery of the poor and not to aggravate their agony. If we come across a loan defaulter, our first instinct is to find out the problem and render greater support to the borrower and not to punish him,” Dr Yunus said.

Referring to the sub-prime crisis, Dr Yunus hit out at the conventional banking industry for categorising borrowers into prime and sub-prime categories. “We lend to the beggars of Bangladesh, several hundred thousands of them and we still recover our loans,” he said. He noted that the bank functions on the deposits collected from the borrowers themselves. “We go to our 7.5 million borrower members in Bangladesh from whom 67 per cent of our deposits are collected. The borrower and the bank is one family,” Dr Yunus said.

Dr Yunus also called for the establishment of “social businesses” that are self-sustaining so that these can fund social causes without expecting any returns.

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PM leaves for Singapore today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is leaving tomorrow for Singapore to participate in the Sixth ASEAN-India and the Third East Asia summits to establish a comprehensive regional architecture for cooperation and integration.

Briefing newspersons, secretary (east) in the ministry of external affairs N. Ravi said leaders would exchange views and review the progress made in capacity building in areas like human resource development, IT, science and technology and some of the initiatives since the last summit in the Philippines.

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No dates for Indo-Pak talks yet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
India today said no dates for foreign secretary-level talks for the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan have been finalised yet.

In response to a question on the subject, foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon said though four rounds of composite dialogue have been completed but no dates have yet been fixed for the foreign secretaries of the two countries.

In response to another question, Menon said the groups based in Pakistan are exporting instability in the region but declined to say whether these are being supported officially.

In a long-term perspective, terrorist and drug trafficking activities from across the border have come down but in short term, these activities do increase, Menon said.

India favours a stable and peaceful Pakistan as we want a peaceful periphery for our own interest, Menon said during a briefing on the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Uganda for the Chogm meet on Thursday when Pakistan’s issue will be discussed.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) last week laid down five-point criteria for Pakistan to meet before action against it can be decided at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (Chogm) on November 22, he told newspersons.

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Gopalswami for common electoral roll

Bhubaneswar, November 19
Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalswami today mooted the idea of having a common electoral roll for the entire country.

Addressing the 8th All-India State Election Commissioners’ conference at the Raj Bhawan here, Gopalswami said such a common electoral roll should be prepared scientifically and seamlessly to make it flawless at every step.

He said such a system would help the state governments use the electoral roll for holding the panchayat and urban bodies elections more smoothly.

The CEC urged the state governments to provide more functional and financial autonomy to the State EC to conduct the election more effectively. Orissa Governor M. C. Bhandare underscored the need for a model electoral law for conducting panchayat and urban bodies elections in the states. — UNI

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GE Food Products
SC notice to centre
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 19
The Supreme Court today sought reply from the centre as how it had exempted packed food manufacturers from not displaying on the packaged stuff whether it contained any genetically engineered (GE) product considered to be hazardous for human health.

Taking cognisance of a PIL by Gene Campaign, an NGO, and a food scientist on the issue, a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran issued notices to the department of science and technology and the ministries of environment and forest and food processing industires, seeking their replies.

They have sought to strike down the August 23 notification issued by the centre exempting food manifacturers from displaying on food items’ packaging the mandatory warning about genetically engineered products, stating that it violated the constitutional right to life and liberty of citizens.

Apart from allowing manufacture of the food stuff without any warning about the presence of genetically engineered products, the PIL said the notification also permitted the food prcessors and traders to import, export and store such products.

The notification in question was issued by the government by making certain amendements in 1989 rules framed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the PIL said.

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Orissa Assembly adjourned twice

Bhubaneswar, November 19
Amid uproar, the Orissa Assembly was adjourned twice within three hours as Opposition and treasury bench members virtually clashed in the well over Congress demand for suspension of Question Hour for a debate on lathicharge on farmers and teachers.

Soon after the House paid tributes to former MLAs who passed away recently, leader of opposition J. B. Patnaik sought a special discussion on the recent lathicharge on agitating farmers and teachers as also a BJP MLA at Bargarh.

As Speaker Maheshwar Mohanty rejected the demand to suspend the Question Hour for holding the debate, slogan shouting opposition members were up in arms and rushed to the well carrying a poster which sought to portray the ruling BJD-BJP as pro-industrialist. As both sides clashed and virtually came to blows, the Speaker first adjourned the House till 1230 hours. When the House reassembled, it was again adjourned till 1500 hours by the presiding officer, sensing the mood of the members. — PTI

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SRK wins V. Shantaram award

Mumbai, November 19
Shah Rukh Khan bagged the Best Actor award for his portrayal of a hockey coach in “Chak De India”, the inspirational sports blockbuster, at the V Shantaram Awards held here last night.

The Shimit Amin directed film won Best Film (Gold), Best Director (Silver), Best Actor, Best Editor and Best Sound. Shah Rukh bagged the award for Best Actor for his powerful portrayal of a hockey coach, Kabir Khan. The movie also bagged the awards for Best Film and director Shimit Amin bagged two awards for Best Director and Best Editing. Best Film and Director trophies were given away in three categories; Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Chairman of Yash Raj Films Yash Chopra said, “We are extremely proud of ‘Chak De India’ and being awarded ‘Best Film’ by a jury of distinguished film personalities makes it even prouder. These honours only strengthen our resolve to create unique films that not only resonate with audiences across the country, but also stand the test of time, as I believe ‘Chak De India’ will.”

Some other prominent winners included “Guru” which bagged awards for Best Music, Best Cinematography while director Mani Ratnam bagged the best director (Gold) category award. Last year’s blockbuster “Lage Raho Munnabhai” also fetched three awards for Best Supporting Actor (Arshad Warsi), Best Story and Best Screenplay. — UNI

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Council for land reforms set up

New Delhi, November 19
The government today announced that it had constituted a National Council for Land Reforms under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and accordingly the composition, terms or reference of the council were being finalised.

Minister of state for agriculture Kanti Lal Bhuria, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, said the government was taking various steps through the Coconut Development Board (CDB) to encourage value additions of coconut to virgin coconut oil.

The CDB and the Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, have developed a technology for the production of virgin coconut oil from coconut milk by centrifugal process.

He said the board was providing financial assistance to entrepreneurs for setting up processing units for the production of virgin coconut oil under the Technology Mission on Coconut. So far, financial support was extended for setting up 16 virgin coconut oil production units with a capacity to process 38,000 nuts per day.

Bhuria said virgin coconut oil (VCO) was the purest form of coconut oil and contained natural vitamin E and was rich in nutrients and aroma. It has good export potential and fetches higher marked price than traditional coconut oil. Due to high nutritional content, the VCO could be used as a food supplement and had wide application in neutraceuticals and cosmetics industry and provided an excellent opportunity to small coconut growers for improving their income, he added.

The minister admitted that the use of geographic information system, global position system, simulation modelling had helped increase agricultural production in the country. He said nano-technology had the potential to enhance resource use efficiency in terms of soil-water nutrient pesticide. — UNI

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Bid of imported wheat for $488 a tonne
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
The government has received offers in the range of $397-488 per tonne for imported wheat from companies, which participated in the MMTC’s tender process.

According to officials, eight companies, including Glencore, Cargill and Concordia agritrading, participated in the bidding and offered to supply imported wheat at $397.03 and $487.95 per tonne.

The tender document of bidding firm Starcom was rejected while AWB India, a firm floated by Australia wheat board, participated for the first time in the tender this year.

On November 12, the MMTC floated a global tender for importing unspecified quantity of wheat limiting the vessel size to ports’ handling capacity. The decision on the tender would be taken by November 24.

Global suppliers have quoted the lowest price if imported wheat is supplied at Mundra port while quoting higher rates for delivery at other ports, the officials said.

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