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EDITORIALS

Obama on Pakistan
It must not be allowed to misuse US aid
S
oon after taking over President Barack Obama has signalled that all non-military aid to Pakistan will be tied to its performance on fighting terrorism. This is interesting in view of the fact that there is a proposal to triple such US assistance to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over a period of five years.

Tax sops not yet
Exporters do need a helping hand
P
lanning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has ruled out any more tax concessions for the industry during the current financial year. Aware of the precarious condition of the government finances, he feels the government has already announced enough fiscal measures in the last two packages to boost sagging economic growth.



EARLIER STORIES

Words to remember
January 22, 2009
Metro is not for Maytas
January 21, 2009
President Obama
January 20, 2009
Adieu, George Bush
January 19, 2009
Making TV a scapegoat
January 18, 2009
Miliband’s ballistics
January 17, 2009
Terror under arrest
January 16, 2009
Friends or foes?
January 15, 2009
Losing sheen
January 14, 2009
A dangerous trend
January 13, 2009


Having a ball
Nations looking for clues to policies
R
arely in history has a man defined a moment of awesome shift as Barack Obama did. So much so that the world waited with bated breath for the official actualisation of Martin Luther’s dream.

ARTICLE

Bush’s dismal legacy
Obama has to repair damage

by Inder Malhotra
L
OOKED at purely from the Indian point of view, Mr George W. Bush, who has just exited the White House to be replaced by President Barack Obama, appears in a totally different light than in which his own country and the rest of the world see him. There is no doubt that he has left as “one of the least popular and most divisive presidents in American history”.

MIDDLE

Prepare to dye
by Harinder Singh Bedi
I
used to believe that men should age with dignity, not with dye. That was, until I realised that the punkish salesboy in the shopping mall was tactfully guiding me towards the tweed suiting and staid button down shirt area while what I wanted was that flaming Hawain shirt.

OPED

Judges should have been the first to disclose assets
by Kuldip Nayar
W
HEN the declaration by members of Parliament about their assets is only a decade old, the delay by the judges in doing so is not unpardonable. Yet, what is irritating is their nonchalant attitude.

UPA’s economic legacy awful
by S. L. Rao
T
HE NDA government presented its last Budget in March, 2003. The underlying inflationary tendencies in the NDA years came to full bloom under the UPA régime, pushed by rising crude prices, though retail prices of petroleum products were restrained by government subsidies to oil companies.

Delhi Durbar
No longer a VIP
H
ow the high and mighty are forced to face the travails of a commoner once they fall from favour was evident at the recent opening of the new wing of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.


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EDITORIALS

Obama on Pakistan
It must not be allowed to misuse US aid

Soon after taking over President Barack Obama has signalled that all non-military aid to Pakistan will be tied to its performance on fighting terrorism. This is interesting in view of the fact that there is a proposal to triple such US assistance to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over a period of five years. But, unlike the previous practice, Islamabad will now be held “accountable for security in the border region with Afghanistan”, as a foreign policy agenda document released by the White House declares. How seriously the US implements this policy change — which is in conformity with what Mr Obama had indicated during his campaign speeches — will be watched by the world with utmost curiosity. He has earlier voiced the view that the US must strike at the Al-Qaida and Taliban bases inside Pakistan if Islamabad fails to act against them.

But Pakistan remains as belligerent as it has always been. It has responded in a threatening manner by saying that it will “review all options” it has. What course Islamabad takes remains to be seen. But it has got exposed for quietly spending the $10 billion non-military US aid received so far in the name of fighting terrorism to “build up Pakistani forces against India”. That is why even the Bush administration is believed to have suggested, in a classified strategy review, to President Obama that this should not be allowed to continue.

Pakistan should no longer be permitted to deceive the world, as has been its wont, by entering into secret deals with militant jihadi elements. Had it been honestly combating the militant elements, they would not have succeeded in expanding their base in Pakistan’s areas bordering Afghanistan. “Such recalcitrant states as sponsor terrorism must be disciplined responsibly by the international community”, as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has stated. Since Pakistan has emerged as a serious threat to peace in South Asia, the Obama administration will have to be tough with it to force it to abandon the dangerous path it has taken — adopting the policy of promoting terrorism.
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Tax sops not yet
Exporters do need a helping hand

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has ruled out any more tax concessions for the industry during the current financial year. Aware of the precarious condition of the government finances, he feels the government has already announced enough fiscal measures in the last two packages to boost sagging economic growth. These include a 4 per cent reduction in the excise duty and increased government spending on infrastructure projects. Analysts now want the government to speed up work on various public sector projects, especially the construction of national highways, to create jobs and build assets.

The industry in general too had stopped pestering the government for more sops after realising the deteriorating fiscal figures. However, the exporters have not yet given up. This is understandable, but they have been hit particularly hard. It is feared that at least 10 million jobs will be wiped out in the export sector by the end of this fiscal. Victims of recession in the US and Europe, they are clamouring for more concessions. A sympathetic Commerce Minister Kamal Nath had raised their hopes. There are reports that the apex committee headed by the Prime Minister is stitching together another stimulus package for the export sector and it is expected to be out early next month, probably before the government seeks a vote-on-account.

However, Mr Ahluwalia’s announcement may have dampened the hopes of the exporters’ lobby, which seeks a tax holiday on export income and bank loans at lower interest rates, among other benefits. If the government finds it difficult to cut taxes, it can at least press the RBI to further slash interest rates, which are still uncomfortably high. Because of expensive loans, the expected revival of demand for houses has not happened. However, the fall in the prices of steel, cement and oil has come as a relief for the construction sector. But that is not enough. The current petroleum prices do not reflect the global oil rates. These may have to be brought down more.

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Having a ball
Nations looking for clues to policies

Rarely in history has a man defined a moment of awesome shift as Barack Obama did. So much so that the world waited with bated breath for the official actualisation of Martin Luther’s dream. And, when Obama took the oath of office on January 20, the event set off celebrations across the world. America had its “Obama Moment” and people in many countries yearning for a transformation of their life and society are now waiting for the Obama Moment in their own cultures and climes. Such is the hope that the 44th US President and the first African- American in the White House has unleashed, that his taking office was accompanied by conspicuous celebrations in several other countries. Never before has any head of government struck such a chord worldwide.

That people in Kenya and Indonesia would celebrate the rise of an iconic figure to the most powerful office in the world was only to be expected. Less foreseen was that people will be celebrating in Afghanistan and India, too. In India, while millions cheered Obama’s oath-taking, there were others who joined in the solemn moment with recitations of the Sundarakand, to invoke the blessings of Lord Hanuman for the man who is known to carry an idol of the monkey god with him at all times. The small community of Masais from Kenya who migrated to India centuries ago to settle in present-day Gujarat made sure that their celebrations did not go unnoticed.

The paradoxical part of the celebration is that while the public in large parts of the world rooted for Obama, his counterparts in other countries were more restrained, if not cautious, in welcoming the Obama Moment. These heads of government are perhaps as overawed as Obama by the great expectations he has stirred; and they would rather await his policies and programmes for their respective countries before they respond than lose themselves in the enthusiasm of the resonant moment.

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Thought for the Day

What would life be like without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors? — Sydney Smith

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ARTICLE

Bush’s dismal legacy
Obama has to repair damage

by Inder Malhotra

LOOKED at purely from the Indian point of view, Mr George W. Bush, who has just exited the White House to be replaced by President Barack Obama, appears in a totally different light than in which his own country and the rest of the world see him. There is no doubt that he has left as “one of the least popular and most divisive presidents in American history”. In his own country his approval ratings had plummeted to just well below 30 per cent and stayed there. According to the BBC – the voice of a country that is America’s camp follower — W. was the “worst American president in the last 50 years”.

Yet to this country Mr Bush’s commitment was sincere and complete. He was enthusiastic about the democracy of a billion people that was also “rising” economically and militarily and had to be reckoned with. He took steps to eliminate the hyphen between India and Pakistan that had been the hallmark of the traditional American policy towards South Asia. Instead, he viewed America’s “strategic partnership” with India in the context of China’s rise and rise. Beijing did not like it but took due notice of the qualitative change in the Indo-US relationship. Without Mr Bush’s big push, the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal might never have gone through the Vienna meetings of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Well before the nuclear deal was initiated the Bush administration had proclaimed that the US, in its own interest, would help India become a major world power during the 21st century.

Even so, it must be said, with all due respect, that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did go overboard when he told Mr Bush, “All Indians love you”. No wonder then that at his farewell Press conference at the White House, Mr Bush told skeptical reporters to go to India to find out what people thought of him.

This said, one must turn to the reality of Mr Bush’s dismal and heavily flawed legacy being disliked intensely and widely across the globe and for reasons that are never far to seek. It surely is not entirely his fault that there is a global economic recession that is affecting every country. As he said, in his last address to the American people, he had arrived during a recession and was leaving during a recession. What he failed to add is that the severity of the recession he has bequeathed to his successor exceeds that of the Great Crash of 1929. For this, he must accept a share of blame because of his business-friendly policies of promoting crony capitalism and ignoring the need to have a measure of control on, and regulation of, America Inc.

He alone could have given massive tax concessions to the rich while embarking upon huge spending. The result is that having inherited a projected 10-year surplus of $ 5.6 trillion, he has left behind a 10-year deficit of $ 6 trillion, assuming that President Obama leaves Mr Bush’s generous tax cuts in place.

The global economic meltdown would continue to be extremely painful for quite some time, but much worse, in several respects, has been Mr Bush’s misadventure of launching a war in Iraq to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. The wide world knows today that this war, which is proving to be catastrophic to this date, was started on false and fraudulent grounds. There was deliberate doctoring of intelligence by “neo-Conservatives” about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that turned out to be non-existent. Equally bogus was the “Bushies’ chorus” about the close link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. Ironically, this sinister and jihadi terrorist organisation made its appearance in Iraq only after the US had overthrown Saddam.

Even more ironic and disastrous were three other consequences of the Iraq War that would haunt Mr Bush even in retirement. First, in their arrogance about America’s supremacy in the “unipolar” world, Mr Bush and his cohorts went to war in Iraq against the tide of international opinion and by brushing aside the UN where the then Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powell, made demonstrably false claims. Secondly, Bush and Co. flouted not only the international law but also America’s national laws. There can be no other explanation for the extensive use of torture and illegal deprivation of the American people of their basic rights. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo would remain permanent blots on Mr Bush’s record.

Thirdly, the idiocy of the Iraq War has impeded the justifiable war on terror in Afghanistan that was started two years before the Iraqi misadventure, Foolishly, the Americans declared victory after overthrowing, with the help of the Northern Alliance, the Taliban government in Kabul and left. Only when it was too late, did they discover that the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban had regrouped in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the border. At no stage was the Bush administration able to persuade Pakistan to give up its duplicitous policy of hunting with the US hound and running with the jihadi hare. Whether the extremely messy situation in Afghanistan can be salvaged by Mr Obama’s proposed “surge” remains to be seen.

The list of Mr Bush’s follies and errors is endless. But let me mention just one more: his total reliance on like-minded right-wingers such as Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The latter was sacked at some stage, but Mr Cheney became the most powerful vice-president in American history. His impact on policy and personnel has been as malignant as it has been extensive.

Quite clearly, the damage that President Obama has to repair is frightening and the mess he must clear gargantuan. As the enthusiasm that greeted his election in November and his Linclonesque arrival in Washington the other day shows, the US is swept by a tidalwave of optimism and high hope never seen during the eight years of the Bush presidency..

Yet it would be unfair to expect an overnight miracle from the new charismatic president, especially because his first few weeks, if not months, would be devoted almost entirely to the economic crisis and soaring unemployment. The time to judge him would be after the proverbial first hundred days of his administration.

To revert to the beginning of this analysis, there is as much goodwill for Mr Obama in India as elsewhere. But here the enthusiasm for him is tempered by apprehensions about the policy he might adopt for South Asia. He has repeatedly talked of a Kashmir settlement. However, let his policies be examined after they have been spelt out.
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MIDDLE

Prepare to dye
by Harinder Singh Bedi

I used to believe that men should age with dignity, not with dye. That was, until I realised that the punkish salesboy in the shopping mall was tactfully guiding me towards the tweed suiting and staid button down shirt area while what I wanted was that flaming Hawain shirt.

At first, the extra pepper ‘n salt snow was a bit of a novelty with myself conjuring up the image of a smart silver fox. But about a month ago, I started to notice that kids were calling me “uncle” and not “dude;” and my financial advisor was bugging me to buy into retirement plans as a sound investment choice “for people your age.”

So I did it. I washed that grey right out of my hair. Or, more precisely, I mixed dye intermediates and preformed dyes with a hydrogen peroxide solution, squeezed the glop onto my beard and moustache — God in his infinite wisdom has spared my head hair at present — but with his sense of humour has given me a turban so I cannot show it off anyway!

You’ll be amazed at how something as simple as getting rid of your gray hair can affect other aspects of your life. The advertisements seductively show us how easy it is to turbo-charge your life and boost your career once you look as good as you feel. Hair is something that has always fascinated and captivated people. It contributes greatly to a person’s looks and a change in colour or style can radically alter the appearance.

Hair dyes go back to Greek and Mughal empire times when mehndi (henna) was first used. So what is it that gives hair its natural colour? My skin specialist colleague told me that it is due to a simple eumelanin pigment. The absence of this with age spells disaster — for your hair starts getting those dreaded strands of gray, which people tend to look at askance.

There is a glut of new men’s products on the market, available in shades for just about every natural tone. Most men’s hair colour products don’t stink like Delhi smog which I thought they would. They tend to apply easily and mess is minimal — easier than Simco.

I have been told that now men have as much a range of colours as women used to have. The results are worth the wait. My hair was returned to its former dark glory.

One must be aware of the down-side too — hair dyes have been implicated (unproven) in cancers, they can cause an allergy and damage skin; the hair is definitely damaged (actually that is the way that dyes work — they break open the hair so that the dye can penetrate in).

But the worst (or best according to where you are standing) is that dyes can cause the user to indulge in activity that is unsuited for his age — “Daddy, please don’t dance in front of my friends !” my son pleads.

I’m happy to be rid of all that grey. My son guardedly calls me “dude” again, and I received a flaming Hawaiian shirt for my last birthday! Whether my life’s been turbo-charged or not, the jury is still out on that one!
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OPED

Judges should have been the first to disclose assets
by Kuldip Nayar

WHEN the declaration by members of Parliament about their assets is only a decade old, the delay by the judges in doing so is not unpardonable. Yet, what is irritating is their nonchalant attitude.

They should have been the first to disclose their assets because a Solomon, famous for wisdom, cannot hesitate to disclose his wealth. Income-tax officers know, but the people do not.

Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan’s assertion that the judges are “not bound to disclose their assets to the public” suggests that they are dragging their feet.

At a time when the impression is that the judiciary has many black sheep, the Chief Justice of India is not sending a right message to the nation.

As far back as on May 7, 1997, the full bench of the Supreme Court passed a unanimous resolution to ask the judges to submit a statement of their assets to the Chief Justice of India.

Surely, the purport of the resolution could not have been to make the statement a secret document. Former Chief Justice J.S.Verma, who was on the bench when the resolution was passed, has said that it was not designed to keep the declarations of assets away from “the public gaze.”

Chief Justice Balakrishnan still insists that his opposition to make the declaration of assets public is according to the Supreme Court resolution.

Verma differs with him. Who out of the two is right can be verified only when the resolution is published.

But the assumption is that the judges are willing to give a list of assets to the Chief Justice. They should have no objection if it is shared with the public because they have nothing to hide.

Nonetheless, the resolution should be released because the two Chief Justices, one serving and the other retired, have differed on what the resolution says.

At stake is something more than the mere declaration: the trust.

There is nothing to stop the government from having legislation to make it obligatory for the judges to declare their assets.

Yet, when MPs are doing it voluntarily, why not the Supreme Court and high court judges? The district judges are already following the practice. This practically covers the entire judiciary.

In any case, the whole matter is now in the public domain. An order issued by the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) says that under the Right to Information Act, the judges have to make their assets public.

The Supreme Court has appealed against the order in the Delhi High Court, which has stayed the implementation of the CIC order. The court must take up the case quickly.

Indeed, the Chief Justice has created an embarrassing situation. Yet he is the one who has allowed the UP police to pursue the case in which they have identified 34 sitting judges, including one Supreme Court judge and 10 high court judges, allegedly involved in embezzlement.

Chief Justice Balakrishnan has also written to the high court Chief Justices to force subordinate court judges of doubtful integrity to take voluntarily retirement. Why should he make a song and dance about the disclosure of assets?

Chief Justice Balakrishnan should realise that the judges became suspect in the eyes of the public when former Chief Justice Bharucha said that 20 per cent of the judiciary was corrupt. He neither elucidated his statement nor did he follow it up with the government with any concrete evidence.

In fact, an advocate from Rajasthan, the state where Bharucha made the statement, wrote to Bharucha to give the details of his charge, which the advocate said, would help him take up the matter with the Rajasthan High Court. Bharucha did not acknowledge the letter.

Justice Verma picked up the thread by writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting him to “devise a suitable procedure with legal sanction, without any further delay, to provide for such situations.”

This was more than two years ago. The Prime Minister did not reply. However, the Law Ministry introduced in Parliament in 2007 a Bill to empower a judicial forum to deal with complaints against judges.

Apparently, it was only an effort to pacify the public, which demanded that the judges be made accountable. Nothing came out of the exercise.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee turned out to be correct. He had said that if the government had been serious, it would have issued an ordinance to give powers to a judicial forum to look into the allegation of corruption against the judges.

The government’s intention is clear from its statement on the complaint made against retired Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, who while in office, sealed certain properties in Delhi that benefited his sons in real estate business.

The Law Ministry said that the Judges (Protection) Act barred courts from entertaining any civil or criminal proceedings against a sitting or retired judge “for any act, thing or word committed or spoken by him or in the course of acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official or judicial duty or functioning.”

I wonder if the chapter and verse quoted by the ministry was germane to the case. The act protected a judge against litigants feeling aggrieved over the verdict.

The act did not cover the allegations made against the judge. It is not understandable why the ministry entertained the complaint in the first instance.

Chief Justice Balakrishnan has said in public that no probe, much less action, can take place against the high court and Supreme Court judges without prior permission of the Chief Justice.

However, this does not in any way lessen the gravity of the charges made. It only adds to the suspicion.

I wish Sabharwal would volunteer a probe. Since his involvement continues to be the talk of the town he should write to the Chief Justice of India to examine the charges. Without an inquiry the odium of suspicion will not go away. By keeping quiet or by ignoring the whole issue, the government does not help Justice Sabharwal. The matter will keep surfacing in one form or the other in the days to come.
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UPA’s economic legacy awful
by S. L. Rao

THE NDA government presented its last Budget in March, 2003. The underlying inflationary tendencies in the NDA years came to full bloom under the UPA régime, pushed by rising crude prices, though retail prices of petroleum products were restrained by government subsidies to oil companies.

The seeds for rapid GDP growth were also sown in the NDA years with substantial public investment in infrastructure projects, especially roads, and a massive programme to stimulate primary education.

While the NDA managed to keep deficits under control, the UPA squandered the high tax revenues during the growth years to reach record deficit levels, a strong reason for inflation.

The foreign exchange reserves rose through the NDA and UPA years and the rupee exchange value improved under both governments until the rupee collapsed after November.

The foreign exchange reserves declined from $309 billion in March 2008 to $246 billion in November. The foreign portfolio investors sold their equity holdings and repatriated dollars, the RBI sold dollars to prop up the rupee’s value and the external fund raising by Indian companies fell. Foreign bank branches in India also repatriated large amounts to shore up the liquidity of their head offices.

Earlier policies to stimulate volatile inflows, like the exemption from short-term capital gains taxes to investors from Mauritius, the anonymous inflows and outflows through participatory notes and the ease of opening and operation for foreign bank branches in India, damaged our foreign exchange reserves.

In 2007-08 the foreign exchange reserves shot up over the previous year because of a doubling in external commercial borrowings and an almost four-fold increase in foreign investment, primarily portfolio investment but also some direct investment.

When FIIs disinvested their stocks and foreign banks sent money home, the stock market and the rupee-dollar exchange value collapsed.

Both NDA and UPA governments did little to stimulate the real economy of agriculture, industry and manufacturing, whose share in the GDP fell from 57 per cent in 1994 to 48 per cent in 2004.

The RBI, a strong regulator, prevented financials in relation to trade flows from growing as in the USA. Yet, the slow growth of the “real” economy of goods means low levels of consumption in India, and a continuing high level of poverty.

Savings and capital formation rose steadily during both regimes. However, foreign capital inflows enabled this increase in investment with foreign inflows rising from around 9 per cent in 2000 to 13.6 per cent in 2007.

Liquidity crisis and bank failures in the USA and Europe will slow foreign capita inflows. Domestic savings will fall with the slowdown.

Hence investment in the real economy will fall. That is bad news for our growth ambitions.

Like Bush and Obama, our government is using Keynesian massive public investment to stimulate the economy.

The difference is in our administrate system, which has demonstrated poor capability of spending funds allotted for infrastructure and social welfare.

There is also much leakage due to corruption, inefficiency and poor targeting. We cannot expect the announced increases in government expenditures to much stimulate our economy. It will add to deficits and inflationary potential.

The substantial addition to liquidity by the RBI will not help. Much of the additional liquidity is being absorbed by the RBI as it sells dollars for rupees to hold up the rupee.

Public sector companies are borrowing on the security of government bonds given to them in lieu of selling at prices below cost.

Banks are also averse to lending to companies and to individuals for fear of defaults.

Lowering interest rates will not stimulate borrowings by companies with declining results nor by individuals fearful for their present salaries and even jobs.

If lending is to resume, the government must insure banks against defaults by companies and by individuals.

We need a strong safety net for individuals who are laid off to safeguard their homes and families. A moratorium for those unable to pay installments on old borrowings would keep them going. None of these bold actions are being taken.

Fortunately, the crisis is urban and industrial, not rural and agricultural except for poor handicraftsmen affected by declining exports.

They need government support till sales resume. So long as crops are good, rural markets will help many industries.

But they cannot replace the decline in demand for exports and in domestic urban markets. These need support.

The UPA in its last few months will leave an awful economic legacy for its successors to manage.
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Delhi Durbar
No longer a VIP

How the high and mighty are forced to face the travails of a commoner once they fall from favour was evident at the recent opening of the new wing of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

While ministers in the UPA Government, both present and past, got the VIP treatment, one person missing from that list was former minister and AICC general secretary Margaret Alva, who was considered a part of Sonia’s inner circle until her rather ill-timed comments that the party ticket was sold during the Karnataka assembly elections.

The former minister walked in from the gate reserved for common guests and even had to make her way through by standing in a queue showing her invitation card and going through the security drills reserved for commoners. Incidentally, another seasoned Congress leader Ram Niwas Mirdha was also in the same queue.

Face to face

Since Bhairon Singh Shekhawat raised the banner of revolt against the BJP leadership causing discomfiture to the Prime Minister-in-waiting L.K. Advani, the two have been consciously avoiding crossing each other’s path.

But on January 17 they eventually met accidentally in the lobby of Maurya Hotel. The occasion was the wedding reception of the daughter of noted journalist M.J. Akbar. Both Advani and Shekhawat attended the wedding reception.

But woefully for newsmen who were naturally there in good numbers, the two were not there together. Advani came and left after a brief stay. As he was leaving Shekhawat was arriving. They met in the hotel lobby. The two greeted and embraced each other warmly, before parting company without waiting to discuss any issue.

Spy camera in SC

A virtual demonstration on the use of the spy video camera in sting operations was part of the proceedings in court number two of the Supreme Court this week.

As the three-judge Bench kept on seeking clarifications on the functioning of such cameras, the counsel for NDTV, which had conducted the sting operation that resulted in the punishment of two lawyers in the BMW road accident case, brought one such set and showed it to the judges.

All the three judges had a good look at the sleek camera with its lense resembling a coat button so that it can be camouflaged.

As the judges raised further queries such as what was meant by the expression “wired,” the lawyer explained how the camera was hidden at the back, with the lense replacing one of the buttons of the reporter conducting the sting. The court was in splits when one of the judges wanted to know the cost of such cameras.

The defence counsel also had a close look at the camera and came out with his observation: it can easily be switched on and off during the sting to record only those portions which would implicate the victims of such an exercise.

Contributed by Girja Kaura, Faraz Ahmad and R. Sedhuraman
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