SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Moral Policing
10 held for assault on girls at pub
Bangalore, January 25
The deputy convener and nine other members of the Sri Ram Sene outfit of Mangalore have been arrested by the police in connection with the incident of attack on women in a pub here yesterday.

Terror victims find sponsors
Guwahati, January 25
Even as terrorism has cast its spell on Assam where devastating blasts have killed and orphaned hundreds, the civil society is slowing waking up to its role to provide succor to terror victims in the absence of a government mechanism for rehabilitation.

SPG chief, Montek face security brunt
New Delhi, January 25
The chief of Special Protection Group, which provides security to the Prime Minister, got a taste of his own medicine when his vehicle was stopped by Delhi police personnel posted at the outer gate of AIIMS where Manmohan Singh was recuperating after a coronary surgery.


EARLIER STORIES

Children march with the Tricolour on the eve of Republic Day at Khodshi Dam in Maharashtra on Sunday.
Children march with the Tricolour on the eve of Republic Day at Khodshi Dam in Maharashtra on Sunday. — PTI

Lanka Conflict
DMK gives 3-week ultimatum to Centre
Chennai, January 25
The DMK today gave three weeks time to the Centre to act on their demand to help resolve the crisis hounding the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Birth Pangs in Rajasthan
‘17 kids, 1 mother die every hour’
Jaipur, January 25
Seventeen children die every hour in Rajasthan even before their first birthday while one woman passes away every 60 minutes while delivering a baby in the state.

Brain-dead girl saves three lives
Chennai, January 25
Creating history, a three-year-old brain dead girl ended up saving three lives, including that of a 21-month-old boy, with timely transplant of her organs through a well-coordinated effort by doctors.

Forest destruction by fire declines
Bhopal, January 25
An IT initiative has brought the annual destruction of forests by fire in Madhya Pradesh down from 4 per cent to a mere 0.1 per cent of the forest area. Software, christened “Fire alert and messaging system”, developed by the state forest department is behind the dramatic success.

Sena seeks Ashok Chakra for Shinde
Mumbai, January 25
Demanding Ashok Chakra for GRP Inspector Shashank Shinde, who was killed in 26/11 terror attacks, the Shiv Sena has said it would make Centre “realise Shinde’s supreme sacrifice and bravery”.

428 get gallantry, defence awards
New Delhi, January 25
As many as 428 gallantry and defence awards will be conferred by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on the Republic Day tomorrow.

Police medals for 671
New Delhi, January 25
As many as 671 police personnel will be awarded police medals on Republic Day tomorrow. This includes 15 President’s Police Medals for Gallantry (PPMG) and 12 of these will go to the Mumbai police. Notably, slain Delhi Police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma will be conferred upon this award for the second time.

N-E to celebrate R-Day amid tight security
Guwahati, January 25
Insurgency-hit north-eastern states are preparing to celebrate Republic Day amid tight security under the threat from insurgent outfits, which have given a call for boycott of the celebrations and a general strike tomorrow.

10 ultras surrender
Guwahati, January 25
Ten militants today surrendered before police amidst heightened security for tomorrow's Republic Day celebration.

Tight vigil in MP
Bhopal, January 25
Security has been tightened across Madhya Pradesh (MP) and state capital ahead of Republic Day celebrations, top police officials said. Gun-totting policemen were seen in different parts of the city and heavy police force was deployed in and around Lal Parade ground where the Republic Day function will be held.

Honour for NHRC officer
Brought to fore rights violation by Naxals
New Delhi, January 25
Om Prakash Vyas, deputy superintendent of police, posted in the investigation division of the National Human Rights Commission, has been chosen for police medal for meritorious services on the occasion of the Republic Day.

Padma Vibhushan
What did I get it for, asks Sister Nirmala
Kolkata January 25
“What did I get it for?” was the spontaneous reaction of Missionaries of Charity superior general Sister Nirmala when she was informed this evening that she has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan. “When she heard the news, her first reaction was: ‘what did I get if for?,” MC sources told PTI.

ISRO chief Nair dedicates award to staff
Bangalore, January 25
Padma Vibhushan awardee G Madhavan Nair has dedicated the award to the entire team of the Indian Space Research Organisation and believes that the national recognition has come because of ISRO’s good work in recent years.

Padma Shri for ‘Time Capsule’ writer
New Delhi, January 25
S Krishnaswamy, a documentary filmmaker on historical subjects, who was commissioned by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to do the controversial ‘Time-Capsule’ project during the Emergency in 1975, has been conferred the Padma Shri award.

80 Navodaya children fall ill
Food poisoning suspected
New Delhi, January 25
As many as 80 children of a school in Jaffarpur area of the city were today hospitalised after they complained of illness in a suspected food poisoning case. Most of the children of the residential school, Jaffarpur Kalan Navodaya Vidyala were, however, discharged after a medical check-up and primary treatment.

12 pilgrims die in tractor-train crash
Rae Bareli, January 25
At least 12 pilgrims were killed and 25 others seriously injured when a tractor trailer they were travelling in collided with a speeding train at Unchahar railway crossing here early today, the police said.

Sanitation Facilities
Govt hopes to hit target
New Delhi, January 25
As part of leveraging Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), the Centre is expecting to reach the target of constructing one crore individual household toilets in villages by the end of the current fiscal.

2002 Presidential Poll
Informed Vajpayee of wish to be all-party candidate: Kalam
Chennai, January 25
Former president APJ Abdul Kalam today said he had informed former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he wished to be an all-party candidate for the 2002 presidential poll when the latter asked him over phone, seeking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Attack on Urdu daily head
Editors call for action
Hyderabad, January 25
Editors of newspapers and television channels here have severely condemned the attack on Siasat Urdu daily editor Zahed Ali Khan and demanded serious action against the perpetrators of the attack.

Seat-sharing: LJP mounts pressure on UPA
New Delhi, January 25
Mounting pressure on key UPA ally RJD in Bihar, Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP today demanded as many as 16 seats out of a total of 40 in the coming Lok Sabha polls and termed it as an “effort” to keep the ruling coalition “united” in its fight against JD(U)-BJP combine in the state.

Partial solar eclipse in India today
New Delhi, January 25
As the country celebrates Republic Day tomorrow, a partial solar eclipse will occur in the afternoon when the moon will pass directly between the earth and the sun.

World pledges $630 m for polio eradication
New Delhi, January 25
Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the UK and Germany have committed more than $630 million in new funds to fight polio. World leaders have urged additional donors and leaders of countries where polio still exists to join them in aggressive push for eradication.

Pak envoy receives threat
New Delhi, January 25
Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik has received a threat to his life following which security at the mission located at

AP alliance hits roadblock
Hyderabad, January 25
The nascent four-party opposition alliance in Andhra Pradesh has hit a roadblock with serious differences cropping up over seat-sharing for the coming elections.

Sops rain in AP to woo voters
Hyderabad, January 25
It is virtually raining sops in Andhra Pradesh as the poll-bound political parties are vying with one another in doling out promises to entice voters ahead of the Assembly elections, due in April.

Pressure mounts on SC judges to declare assets
New Delhi, January 25
The pressure on the Supreme Court (SC) judges to declare their assets is on a relentless rise by the hour, with fresh quarters steadily throwing their weight behind the demand.

KC Verma appointed RAW chief
New Delhi, January 25
KC Verma, internal security adviser to Home Minister P Chidambaram, will be the next chief of country’s external intelligence agency RAW.

Nominations invited for Chameli Devi Jain awards
Chandigarh, January 25
The Media Foundation has invited nominations for its annual Chameli Devi Jain Awards for an outstanding woman mediaperson for 2008-09. Journalists, including photographers, cartoonists and newspaper designers in the print, broadcast, current affairs and documentary film media are eligible.

Obama a messiah for Chennai family
Chennai, January 25
US President Barack Obama may have won more hearts around the world while running for Presidency, but for a Chennai family, he became a messiah five years ago when he helped a woman get a US visa.





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Moral Policing
10 held for assault on girls at pub
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 25
The deputy convener and nine other members of the Sri Ram Sene outfit of Mangalore have been arrested by the police in connection with the incident of attack on women in a pub here yesterday.

Talking to The Tribune, IGP (Western Range) AM Prasad said the arrested had been produced before the magistrate and given judicial remand till Tuesday. On Tuesday, they would be again produced before the court, he said and added that various cases including molestation, trespassing and rioting had been slapped on the accused.

A big group of Sri Ram Sene activists had barged into a Mangalore pub and viciously attacked the women customers who were in the pub. “There were 10 women and 14 men inside the pub at the time of the attack,” Prasad said. The police filed an FIR against 24 attackers, including ten who were named in the FIR, Prasad said. He said the women victims of the attack received minor injuries. The Sri Ram Sene, Prasad said, came into existence about four years back.

Prasad Attavar, the arrested deputy convener of the Sene, reportedly claimed the attack was a spontaneous reaction against flouting of traditional Indian norms of decency by women by going to a drinking joint.

The Mangalore incident was a part of series of incidents of attacks on pubs and other entertain venues by the moral police brigade in Karnataka in recent days.

The moral police went around Mysore city on the eve of New Year to prevent organisers from holding celebrations that could be found “against the culture and tradition of the land”. A unit of the ruling party BJP was itself involved in the drive.

On December 29, Hoysala Sene, a Kannada organisation, vandalised a pub off Brigade Road in Bangalore saying that pub culture was against the culture of Karnataka.

Earlier, activists of the little-known Karnataka Yuva Vedike went on a rampage at a popular pub in Bangalore to protest against ‘pub culture’. They had barged into the Athena pub, a five-star hotel, on the Airport Road, and asked the customers to leave the premises. They later went around damaging property and threatening those seated inside.

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Terror victims find sponsors
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 25
Even as terrorism has cast its spell on Assam where devastating blasts have killed and orphaned hundreds, the civil society is slowing waking up to its role to provide succor to terror victims in the absence of a government mechanism for rehabilitation.

As the saying goes, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Repeated terror strikes have failed to destroy humane values in the society, otherwise 16-year-old Bhagyalakshmi, a Class X standard student, who lost her father Rajesh Choudhury in October 30 serial blasts in the city, would not have found a sponsor to take care of her studies.

An autorickshaw driver, Rajesh Choudhury, a resident of Hengerabari in the city, was killed in the blast at Ganeshguri market, leaving behind his hapless wife and three minor children.The sum of Rs 3 lakh provided by the Assam government as compensation against Rajesh’s life would have hardly sufficed for the widow to take care of the education of her children.

Management of Focus TV, a city-based TV channel, has come forward to bear education expenses of Rajesh’s eldest daughter Bhagyalakshmi till graduation level. To start with, the management today handed her 12 cheques worth Rs 1,000 each for the current year. The cheques were handed over by Amoya Chaliha, chairperson of Assam chapter of Indian Council of Children Welfare (ICCW) and wife of former Assam Chief Minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha.

Education of one of the brothers of Bhagyalakshmi is being borne by Chikimiki Talukdar, a councillor of Guwahati Municipal Corporation.

In a similar gesture, a Guwahati-based couple Dr Amarjyoti Deka and Bithika Deka has decided to take care of education of Joonmoni Das, daughter of another blast victim Jagat Das, who hails from Boko in Kamrup district of the state. Jagat Das was killed during one of the blasts in the city on October 30 last.

Congress MP from Guwahati Parliamentary constituency Kirip Chaliha, who was present when the cheques were handed over to Bhagyalakshmi, said, “The state government should learn a lesson from the members of the society who have come forward to secure the future of some family members of blasts victims. With terrorism becoming a constant threat to us, the government should go for long-term rehabilitation mechanism for terror- struck families.”

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SPG chief, Montek face security brunt

New Delhi, January 25
The chief of Special Protection Group, which provides security to the Prime Minister, got a taste of his own medicine when his vehicle was stopped by Delhi police personnel posted at the outer gate of AIIMS where Manmohan Singh was recuperating after a coronary surgery.

The incident took place in the morning when SPG Director BV Wanchoo arrived in his official car at the AIIMS and was not allowed to enter the premises by alert constables at the premier hospital's main gate.

Even after Wanchoo revealed his identity, the SPG director was not allowed to take his vehicle inside and was made to walk down to the cardio vascular thoracic surgery (CVTS) unit where the Prime Minister was admitted, eyewitnesses said.

The next in line was Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, whose vehicle was also stopped. Both Ahluwalia and his wife then walked down to the centre where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was recuperating from the successful coronary by-pass surgery done yesterday. — PTI

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Lanka Conflict
DMK gives 3-week ultimatum to Centre
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 25
The DMK today gave three weeks time to the Centre to act on their demand to help resolve the crisis hounding the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi today said the party’s general council meeting would be convened before February 15 wherein the strategy to determine the future of Sri Lankan Tamils would be chalked out.

Speaking on the issue in the state Assembly, the Chief Minister urged the UPA government to initiate steps to stop the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka. “The three-week time is our final plea to the Centre. And the party would decide its own future course of action in case the Union government failed to act,” he said.

Speaking at a function here last night, Karunanidhi said: "DMK’s decision will have a clear message to those involved in the genocide of Tamils…While we are celebrating functions here, our brethren in Sri Lanka are being killed everyday,” he said.

Alleging that some people were waiting to gain political mileage out of the crisis, Karunanidhi said the Centre should perform its duty (of protecting the Tamils).

Notably, the Chief Minister's announcement follows the request by PMK leader Dr S Ramadoss, who had said the “final plea” should have a specific ultimatum. It also comes amid intensifying protests by college students and mounting criticism from Tamil nationalist groups, who form the core of the party's traditional votebank.

Vaiko asks students to intensify stir

MDMK leader Vaiko today appealed to the protesting students to intensify their stir seeking Centre’s support in resolving the crisis in Sri Lanka. Denying the allegations by local Congress leaders that the MDMK leader, who has a good following among educated Tamil youth, was instigating the protests, Vaiko said the students had taken up the island Tamils issue on their own. Vaiko also alleged that the Centre was behind the genocidal war.

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Birth Pangs in Rajasthan
‘17 kids, 1 mother die every hour’
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, January 25
Seventeen children die every hour in Rajasthan even before their first birthday while one woman passes away every 60 minutes while delivering a baby in the state.

A state-based detailed report released by the UNICEF revealed a grimmer picture than the one based on national figures in “The State of Women and Children 2009”, released in New Delhi.

Samuel Mawunganidze, UNICEF chief, Rajasthan, while presenting the "Maternal and Newborn Health Report" to the state Health and Family Welfare Minister, Aimaduddin Ahmed, said around 8,000 women die every year due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. And around 1,17,000 infants die before they reach their first birthday, which means death of 13 children per hour. He emphasised on the need to stress on post-delivery and neonatal care as most of the deaths occur in this phase.

The report which highlighted the link between maternal and neonatal survival and suggest opportunities to close the gap between rich and poor countries. He said rapid progress was possible only with sound strategies and said one of these would be for the large army of ASHA sahiyoginis and nurses in the state to work together.

Principal secretary, Health and Family Welfare, RK Meena said, "The state is well aware of the problem and has put in place strategies to minimize these casualties.”

He said the state has increased institutional deliveries from a mere 28 per cent in 2005-06 to approximately 70 per cent and establishment of facility-based newborn care units at every hospital.

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Brain-dead girl saves three lives

Chennai, January 25
Creating history, a three-year-old brain dead girl ended up saving three lives, including that of a 21-month-old boy, with timely transplant of her organs through a well-coordinated effort by doctors.

The case was also historic for another reason as the 21-month-old heart patient ended up as the youngest recipient of a donor organ in the country.

The donor, three-year-old Tamanna, had met with a road accident in Bangalore on January 20 and was declared brain dead, and her father, who was injured, signed the papers for donating his daughter’s organs from the hospital bed.

The boy, hailing from Ahmedabad, suffering from heart ailment was in ‘bad shape’. His name was put on the Heart Registry and his parents had decided to go home when the call came from Bangalore, Dr KM Cherian, director, Frontline Hospital at Mogappair here, said.

“We formed two teams to do this whole process. One team went to Bangalore (by flight) to harvest the heart from the girl and came back to Chennai and another team transplanted the heart on the boy in the hospital here”, Dr Cherian said.

The recipient had a new heart in a procedure, which lasted just two hours and 42 minutes. That was the time it took for harvesting, transporting and transplantation, he said. A team of nine doctors performed the heart transplant. — PTI

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Forest destruction by fire declines
Tribune News Service

Bhopal, January 25
An IT initiative has brought the annual destruction of forests by fire in Madhya Pradesh down from 4 per cent to a mere 0.1 per cent of the forest area. Software, christened “Fire alert and messaging system”, developed by the state forest department is behind the dramatic success.

Using GIS (Geographic Information System), the software analyses data obtained from MODIS satellites, launched by NASA, round-the-clock. As soon as the system receives the data that points to fire breaking out in any forest area, it sends SMSs to the forest officials in charge of the area, right from the conservator of forests to the beat forest guard.

The system, which was put in place in April 2007, has reduced the reaction time to forest fires to 2-3 hours. Earlier, it extended from 10-12 hours to a couple of days. It also helps the forest personnel to pinpoint the location of the fire. Forests cover almost 31 per cent of the area of Madhya Pradesh.

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Sena seeks Ashok Chakra for Shinde

Mumbai, January 25
Demanding Ashok Chakra for GRP Inspector Shashank Shinde, who was killed in 26/11 terror attacks, the Shiv Sena has said it would make Centre “realise Shinde’s supreme sacrifice and bravery”.

“We will discuss the issue with Home Minister P Chidambaram and also raise it in parliament so that all realise Shinde’s supreme sacrifice and bravery,” Sena MP Manohar Joshi said after meeting the slain officer’s family members.

Family of slain inspector has accused the Maharashtra government of failing to convince the Centre to award him Ashok Chakra, the nation’s highest peacetime gallantry award.

“It is Sena’s demand that Ashok Chakra should be conferred on Shinde, “the former Lok Sabha Speaker, who met Shinde’s widow Manasi and daughter Aditi yesterday at the behest of party executive president Uddhav Thackeray, said.

Shinde had retaliated to the indiscriminate firing by terrorists, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and Abu Ismail, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

His initiative and the collective reaction of the GRP is believed to have forced the two terrorists to drop their plan of holding hostages, and flee the station. Upset over reports that Shinde's name may not figure in the list of Ashok Chakra awardees, his family has alleged that politics was involved in exclusion of Shinde’s name from the list. — PTI

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428 get gallantry, defence awards

New Delhi, January 25
As many as 428 gallantry and defence awards will be conferred by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on the Republic Day tomorrow.

Kirti Chakra (13): Lt Col Saurabh Singh Shekhawat; Lt Col Osiris Das; Capt Zala Ajitkumar Arshibhai; Capt Paras Limboo; Subedar Indra Bahadur; Havildar Rale Santosh Tanaji; Naik Tape Yajo; Nitya Nanda Bora; Sapper v Sathish Corps of Engineers/51 Special Action Group (NSG); Constable Arun Raghonath Chitte; Constable Ambadas Ramchandra Powar; Inspector Ssashank Chandrasen Shinde; Home Guard Mukesh Bhikaji Jadhav.

The Bar to Shaurya Chakra Award: Zalim Singh

Shaurya Chakra (30): Maj Rajesh Singh; Maj Amit Slathia; Maj Chirag Singh Barak; Maj Srinivasan Vikram Cherian; Maj Raman Yadav; Maj Vijayant Chauhan; Maj Rajinder Kumar Sharma; Capt Kuldeep Raj; Capt Anil Dhiman; Capt R Balakarthik; Capt Ravinder Singh; Lieut Prashant Siwach; Subedar Dhian Singh Dogra; Havildar Tribhawan Singh; Lance Havildar Aziz Mohd; Naik Sukhvir; Lance Naik Banai Singh Gurjar; Sepoy Sunny Tomar; Sepoy Ravinder Sharma; Rifleman Thoudam Sunil Singh; Praveen Kumar; Group Capt Suryakant Chintamn Chafekar; Superintendent M Sundaram; Asst Exec Engg (Civil) Santosh Kumar Singh; Driver ( BRO) Surinder Pal; Driver ( BRO) Jaikrit Singh Rawat; Capt Amitendra Kumar Singh; Naik Manesh; Pritam Lal, Conductor, Delhi Transport Corporation; Dev Kumar, ITBP.

The Bar to Sena Medal (Devotion To Duty): Col Sanjay Pratap Singh Vishwasrao

Sena Medal (Devotion To Duty), 40: Maj Gen Kulwinder Singh Sethi; Maj Gen Vijay Kumar; Maj Gen Vinod Bhatia; Maj Gen Deepinder Singh; Maj Gen Darshan Lal Chowdhary; Maj Gen Shiv Kumar Sharma; Maj Gen Thykkandy Padmini; Brig Ravi Pandalai; Brig Rakesh Nandan BrigVijay Kumar Pillai; Brig Khurshid Maneck Balsara; Brig Arvind Kumar Rathee; Brig Pattiarimal Mohamadali Hariz; Brig Raymond Joseph Noronha; Brig Mavelimannil John Mathew; Brig Ashok Kumar Ganguly; Col Surender Singh Lamba; Col Vikal Sahni; Col Deepak Talwar; Col Deepak De; Col Arun Pratap Singh Rajura; Col Deepak Garg; Col Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu; Col Mrigendra Kumar; Col Debashis Das; Col Yashvir Singh Rangi; Col Rajesh Kumar Sharma; Col Rajendra Rai; Col Harpal Singh; Col Mukesh Gurung; Col Amar Nath Kukreti; Col Dinesh Kumar Singh; Col Jitender Singh Bangar; Col Yash Pande; Col Anil Khetarpal; Naib Subedar Ming Mar Gurung; Havildar Karamveer; Havildar Pukhrambam Narajit Singh; Mo Anil Kumar Vohra; Maj Gen Abhaya Kumar Gupta.

Sena Medals (Gallantry), 91: Col Siddharth Tewari; Col Santha Kumaran Pa; Col Sanjeev Kumar Dutta; Lt Col Gurvinder Singh; Lt Col Patwardhan Sagar Vinaykumar; Lt Col Anil Mahadev; Maj Sudhanshu Dixit; Maj Padmanabhan Ke; Maj Devinder Chaudhary; Maj Hitesh Kumar Dhankhar; Maj Sunil Ganapathy; Maj Sudhir Khandka; Maj Biranchi Narayan Nayak; Maj Amit Kumar Dogra; Maj Suresh Narayanan; Maj Kartikeya Kukrety; Maj Gaurav Singh; Maj R Senthil Velan; Maj Vipin Kumar Singh; Maj Lokanadham; Maj Jagdeep Bhogal; Maj Bhanu Pratap Singh; Maj Pankaj Kumar; Maj Amit Pal Singh; Maj Ram Dayal Vyas; Maj Bandaru Anoop; Capt Jayant Pattanaik; Capt Prabhmeet S Manik; Capt Manish Sobti; Capt Aveg Goel; Capt Abhishek Bahl; Capt Ashok Bhandari; Capt Kunwar Saurabh Singh Bist; Lieut Nallasivam Ravi Kumar ; Lieut Pushp Raj Pandey; Lieut Ishwar Singh Rawat; Subedar Ranbir Singh; Subedar Khogendra Singha; Naib Subedar Salunkhe Arun Nana; Naib Subedar Shiv Charan Singh Gurjar; Naib Subedar Jaibag Singh; Naib Subedar Krishan Kumar; Havildar Ram Chandra; Havildar Pawan Kumar Dogra; Havildar Avtar Singh; Havildar Sukhrib Singh; Havildar Bhanwar Singh; Havildar Sahab Singh; Havildar Diwan Singh; Havildar Anand Singh; Havildar Ilyas Ali; Lance Havildar Bachche Lal Yadav; Lance Havildar W Arun Singh; Lance Havildar Rakesh Kumar; Naik Laxman Singh Negi; Naik Lara Oraon; Naik Khim Bahadur Thapa; Naik Vinod Singh; Naik Venu Gopal S; Naik Lekh Raj; Naik Randheer Singh; Lance Naik Shiv Pratap Singh Shaktawat; Lance Naik Shankar Jai Kishan; Lance Naik Kush Kumar; Lance Naik Bhai Shambhaji ; Lance Naik Javaid Ahmad Wani; Lance Naik Mohan Lal; Lance Naik Satish Kumar; Sepoy Jujhar Singh; Sepoy Prithvi Singh Rathor; Sepoy Sultan Singh; Sepoy Anil Singh Raikuni; Rifleman Prakash Thapa; Rifleman Kesar Singh; Rifleman Vijay Kumar; Rifleman Nagarajan Sampath; Rifleman T Sitachu Fithu; Rifleman Arjun Kujur; Rifleman Gagan Singh; Rifleman Ajay Kumar; Rifleman Mohamad Hadish; Gunner Naveen Kumar; Gunner Chhavi Ram Singh; Paratrooper Jay Karam Tigga; Paratrooper Dipankar Sarkar; Paratrooper Jaiveer Kumar; Maj Sanjay Kandwal; Maj Manish Mehrotra; Havildar K Murugan; Havildar Azad Singh; Naik Sate Singh.

The Bar to Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry): Commander Satyabrata Dam

The Bar to Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry): Wing Commander Amitabh Sharma.

The Nao Sena Medal (Devotion To Duty), 8: Commodore Lingom Venkata Sarat Babu; Commodore Shekhar Mital; Capt Sanjay Jasjit Singh; Commander Yashodhan Pratap Marathe; Commander Sundaresan; Commander Vennam Srinivas; Surgeon Lieut Commander Raveesh Kumar; Bhanwar Singh Charan

The Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion To Duty), 14: Group Capt Shishir Yashwant Koshe; Group Capt Sanjeev Kapoor; Wing Commander Alok Sharma; Wing Commander Rohit Mahajan; Wing Commander Sameer Mehra; Wing Commander Sanjay Dhankhar; Wing Commander Venigalla Srinivas Choudary; Wing Commander Pawan Kumar; Wing Commander Nirmalendu Nath Sinha; Wing Commander Pushpendra Singh Nara; Wing Commander Jasvir Singh Mann; Wing Commander Vikram Pathak; Squadron Leader Nitin Khanna; Squadron Leader Samrath Dhankhar; Commandant (Junior Grade) Ashok Kumar Yadav.

Tatrakshak Medal (Gallantry), 2: Pradeep Kumar and Uttam Navik

Tatrakshak Medal (Meritorious Service), 3: Dy Insp Gen Mohinder Singh Dangi; Dy Insp Gen Ashok Kumar Singh Chauhan; Dy Insp Gen Bikram Keshari Patasahani

Mention-In-Despatches (49): Lt Col Vinod S; Lt Col Harpreet Singh Bhinder; Maj Imon Samanta; Maj Dinesh Singh; Maj Bheemaiah; Maj Ravi Kant; Capt Ananda Bose; Capt Vikrant Prasher; Subedar Magha Ram Khilery; Subedar Hanuman Ram Jat; Subedar Shakti Chand Chandel; Subedar Santosh Pal; Subedar Amar Singh; Havildar Karamjit Singh; Havildar T Kamlalven; Havildar Haosianthang Zou; Lance Havildar Sam Bahadur Gurung; Naik Sukhvir Singh; Naik Chatar Singh; Naik Jagraj Singh; Naik Balraj Singh; Lance Naik Abdul Rashid Khan; Sepoy Angrej Singh; Sepoy Rakesh Singh; Sepoy Dharam Pal; Sepoy P Bosco Maram; Sepoy K Lalbiak Sanga; Rifleman Hans Raj; Maj Gurbir Singh Kahlon; Maj Navneet Bakshi; Maj Ranjeet Srivastava; Captain Mudassar Iqbal; Capt Anil Kumar Mishra; Capt Chetan Sharma;Lieut Abhijeet Yadav; Lieut Arun Singh Chauhan; Subedar Ambeswar Gayan; Subedar Sukhdev Singh; Havildar Sanwar Mal; Havildar Rajender Singh; Naik Dharm Beer Singh; Naik Prabhbir Singh; Lance Naik Navin Singh; Sepoy Amit Singh; Rifleman Chiranjibi Bhujel; Lieut Tej Pratap Singh; Havildar Padam Singh Rawat; Rifleman Kumaresan Sampath; Rifleman Diwan Singh

Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (50): Lt Gen Yatindra Singh Panwar; Lt Gen Arun Kumar Nanda; Lt Gen Anil Kumar Lamba; Lt Gen Raj Kumar Karwal; Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna; Lt Gen Shreedharan Shyam Kumar; Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee; Maj Gen Rakesh Kumar Loomba; Maj Gen Praveen Chandra Kharbanda; Maj Gen Shankar Ranjan Ghosh; Maj Gen Partha Mohapatra; Maj Gen Surendra Pratap Rai; Maj Gen Balakrishnan Venugopal Nair; Maj Gen Kanwaljit Singh Oberoi; Maj Gen Ajay Kumar Singh; Maj Gen Ram Kanwar; Maj Gen Jagbir Singh ;Maj Gen Panemangalore Gopalakrishna Kamath; Maj Gen Jatinder Singh; Maj Gen Munish Sibal; Maj Gen Rajiv Kumar Kalra; Maj Gen Vinod Kumar Tiwari; Maj Gen Syed Ata Hasnain; Major Gen Jai Prakash Nehra; Maj Gen Sankarapilla Sarachandran Nair; Maj Gen Ashok Kumar Choudhary; Maj Gen Subrahmanyam Sunder; Maj Gen Ram Pratap; Maj Gen Hira Lal Kakria; Maj Gen Charanjit Singh; Maj Gen Palvinder Singh Bhalla; Vice Admiral Vasant Shripadrao Dixit; Rear Admiral Bola Radhakrishna Rao; Rear Admiral Ayalur Raman Radhakrishnan; Rear Admiral MP Muralidharan; Rear Admiral KC Sekhar (retd); Rear Admiral Mohinder Badhwar; Rear Admiral Kannan Bhagavatheswaran; Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar;Air Vice Marshal Sapan Kumar Karmaker; Air Vice Marshal Shyam Bihari Bajpayee; Air Vice Marshal Baldev Singh; Air Vice Marshal Belligund Krishnamurthy Murali; Air Vice Marshal Arup Raha; Air Vice Marshal Muthumanickam Matheswaran; Air Commodore Gudipudi Rajendra Prasad; Air Commodore Paramjit Singh Gill; Air Commodore Vinod Kumar Narang; Air Commodore Rao Biradavolu Keshav; Air Commodore Suneel Shripad Soman.

Yudh Seva Medal (05): Brigadier Bipin Rawat; Brigadier Subrata Saha; Brigadier Umesh Kumar Gurung; Brigadier Devinder Singh Dadwal; Col Mohan Singh Shekhawat

The Bar to Vishisht Seva Medal (02): Maj Gen Umang Kapoor; Brigadier Laipharkapam Nishikanta Singh.

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List of Padma awardees

Padma Vibhushan (10): Dr Anil Kakodkar; Sunderlal Bahuguna; G. Madhavan Nair; Dr Chandrika Prasad Srivastava; Prof DP Chattopadhyaya; Prof Jasbir Singh Bajaj; Dr Purshotam Lal; Govind Narain; Sister Nirmala Social and Dr AS Ganguly.

Padma Bhushan (30): Abhinav Bindra; G. Sivarama Krishna Murthy; Prof Ramanlal C. Mehta; Shamshad Begum; V.P. Dhananjayan & Shanta Dhananjayan (duo); Dr Vaidyanathan Ganapathi Sthapati; S.K. Misra; Shekhar Gupta; Prof Alappat Sreedhara; C.K. Prahlad; D. Jayakanthan; Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia; Kunwar Narain; Prof Minoru Hara; Ramachandra Guha; Dr Brijendra Kumar Rao; Vaidya Devendra Triguna; Dr Khalid Hameed; Lt Gen Satish Nambiar (retd); Dr Inderjit Kaur Barthakur; Dr Kirit Shantilal Parikh; Dr Bhakta B. Rath; Conjeevaram Srirangachari Seshadri, Dr Gurdip Singh Randhawa; Sam Pitroda; Prof Sarvagya Singh Katiyar; Prof Thomas Kailath; Dr Naganath Nayakawadi; Dr Sarojini Varadappan and Anil Manibhai Naik.

Padma Shri (93): Aishwarya Rai Bachchan; Akshay Kumar; Thilakan; A. Vivekh; Dr Ameena Ahmed Ahuja; Aruna Sairam; Devayani Chaymotty; Geeta Kapur; Govind Ram Nirmalkar; Gurumayum Gourakishor Sharma; Hashmat Ullah Khan; Helan Khan; Hemi Bawa; Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar; Iravatham Mahadevan; K.P. Udayabhanu; Dr Kanneganti Brahmanandam; Prof Kiran Seth; Kumar Sanu Prof Leela Omchery; Mattannoor Sankarankutty Marar; Niranjan Goswami; Nirmal Singh Khalsa; Penaz Masani; Prakash N. Dubey; Dr Pratapaditya Pal; Ram Kishore Chhipa; Saoli Mitra; Skendrowell Syiemlieh (Posthumous); Dr Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy; Suresh Dutta; Tafazzul Ali (Posthumous); Udit Narayan; Vadakka Manalath Govindan alias Kalamandalam Gopi; SB Ghosh Dastidar; Ameen Sayani; Abhay Chhajlani; Dr A Sankara Reddy; Dr Bannanje Govindacharya; Dr Birendranath Datta; Prof Geshe Ngawang Samten; Prof Jalees Ahmed Khan Tareen; Jayanta Mahapatra; Dr John Ralston; Lalthangfala Sailo; Laxman Bapu Mane; Dr Mathoor Krishnamurty; Norden Tshering; Dr Panchapakesa Jayaraman; Prof Ram Shankar Tripathi; Prof Ranbir Chander Sobti; Dr Ravindra Nath Srivastava; Shamsur Rahman Faruqi; Shashi Deshpande; Sunny Varkey; Suresh Gundu Amonkar; Dr Utpal K. Banerjee; Dr AK Gupta; Dr Alampur Saibaba Goud; DrArvind Lal; Dr Ashok K. Vaid; Dr Ashok Kumar Grover; Dr Balswarup Choubey; Dr DS Rana; Dr Govindan Vijayaraghavan; Dr Kalyan Banerjee; P.R. Krishna Kumar; Dr R. Sivaraaman; Dr Shaik Khader Noordeen; Prof Thanikachalam Sadagopan; Dr Yash Gulati; K. Asungba Sangtam; Dr Shyamlha Pappu; Prof Syed Iqbal Hasnain; Goriparthi Narasimha Raju Yadav; Prof Pramod Tandon; Bansilal Rathi; Begum Bilkees I. Latif; Cheril Krishna Menon; Rev. Fr. Joseph H. Pereira; K Viswanathan; Keepu Tshering Lepcha; Prof Shyam Sunder Maheshwari; Sunil Kanti Roy; Balbir Singh Khullar; Harbhajan Singh; Mahendra Singh Dhoni; Pankaj Advani; Surinder Mehta; Arunmugam Sakthivel; Dr Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty and R.K. Krishna Kumar. — UNI

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Police medals for 671
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
As many as 671 police personnel will be awarded police medals on Republic Day tomorrow. This includes 15 President’s Police Medals for Gallantry (PPMG) and 12 of these will go to the Mumbai police. Notably, slain Delhi Police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma will be conferred upon this award for the second time.

Another 71 cops will be awarded President’s Police Medals for Distinguished Service while the police medals for gallantry will be awarded to 107 personnel. The rest - 478 - will be the police medals for meritorious service

The list of PPMG awardees from Mumbai is: Prakash More, Bapu Rao Durgude, Balwant Bhosle, Vijay Khandekar, Jaiwant Patil, Yogesh Patil, Rahul Shinde - all posthumously. Bhaskar Kadam, Hemant Bawdhankar, Sanjay Govilkar, Sadanand Date and Arun Jadhav.

The other three on the list are Delhi policemen SK Yadav and Mohan Chand Sharma and Railway Protection Force cop Jillu Yadav

On the list for President’s Police Medal for distinguished service includes CBI personnel RK Mishra, HC Awasthy, Raju Rangarajan, RK Choubey, ITBP officers RS Pathania, DIG, Inder Singh, DIG, R.C. Baijwan. While Pathania is from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, Baijwan is from Kaithal in Haryana.

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N-E to celebrate R-Day amid tight security
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 25
Insurgency-hit north-eastern states are preparing to celebrate Republic Day amid tight security under the threat from insurgent outfits, which have given a call for boycott of the celebrations and a general strike tomorrow.

Security forces are on a high alert in Assam, which was rattled by serial blasts since October 30 last year to January 1 this year that left 93 dead and over 300 injured throughout the state.

The police and the Army are on the prowl all over the state to thwart any design of the ultras while all venues for celebrations in the state are being kept under round-the-clock vigil by security forces. Sniffer dogs and bomb disposal squads have sanitised all these venues, which have been made out of bounds for the common man. The Assam government has kept the list of VVIPs scheduled to preside over Republic Day functions all over the state a closely guarded secret for security reasons.

Meanwhile, security forces have recovered four grenades from Singrighat in northern Assam’s Sonitpur district on the eve of Republic Day. A police source said personnel of 46 Assam Rifles recovered the grenades from under a wayside sitting bench this morning.

Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were recovered from the Gohpur police station in Sonitpur district yesterday, while a Muslim United Liberation Tiger Assam (MULTA) activist was also arrested last night. Another four IEDs were also recovered from Dhula in neighbouring Darrang district last night.

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10 ultras surrender

Guwahati, January 25
Ten militants today surrendered before police amidst heightened security for tomorrow's Republic Day celebration.

Two ULFA cadres and eight NDFB cadres laid down arms before police in Upper Assam's Golaghat district, police said. They deposited a rifle, two pistols and some ammunition. In another incident, security forces arrested an ULFA cadre, identified as Debojit, from the Naharani area in Upper Assam's Tinsukia district.

Two other rebels managed to escape the operation that was carried out by Army and police in the area. — UNI

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Tight vigil in MP

Bhopal, January 25
Security has been tightened across Madhya Pradesh (MP) and state capital ahead of Republic Day celebrations, top police officials said. Gun-totting policemen were seen in different parts of the city and heavy police force was deployed in and around Lal Parade ground where the Republic Day function will be held. Policemen with sniffer dogs were also noticed at busy places. The security has been beefed up in all the divisions of MP including, Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior and Sagar, police said. State Governor Dr Balram Jakhar will unfurl the Tricolour in Lal Parade Ground here while Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will hoist the national flag at Shahdol district tomorrow.

The policemen were keeping a hawk’s eye in all the bus stands, railway stations, hotels and public places across the state, police said. Out of the 50 districts in MP, the collectors will unfurl the national flag in more than 24 districts. State Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani and his deputy Harvansh Singh will hoist the tri-colour in Jabalpur and Seoni districts respectively. “We are taking no chances in the wake of the 26/11 and the Noida shootout in which two suspected Pakistani terrorists were killed,” a police officer said here. — PTI

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Honour for NHRC officer
Brought to fore rights violation by Naxals
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
Om Prakash Vyas, deputy superintendent of police, posted in the investigation division of the National Human Rights Commission, has been chosen for police medal for meritorious services on the occasion of the Republic Day.

This is for the fifth consecutive time that a police officer from the commission has been honoured with the police medal for meritorious services. Vyas joined the investigation division of the commission in 1995 and has been a part of several important investigations in matters of human rights violations.

Some among them include rescue of three girls from a circus in 2004 and rescue of Geeta Sharma of Dhaulpur, who had remained a captive in her own house for two years. Vyas was also part of the fact-finding team which verified the violation of human rights by Naxalites and Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh.

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Padma Vibhushan
What did I get it for, asks Sister Nirmala

Kolkata January 25
“What did I get it for?” was the spontaneous reaction of Missionaries of Charity superior general Sister Nirmala when she was informed this evening that she has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan. “When she heard the news, her first reaction was: ‘what did I get if for?,” MC sources told PTI.

Later, when contacted, she said, “This is a recognition from the Government of India of the little that we have been able to do for the poorest of the poor.” The mood in the Mother House, the order's international headquarters here, was that of elation as the nuns learnt of the award given to their global head.

“We are all very happy. This is an occasion of great joy for us,” an MC nun said, adding that the good news is being given to all houses of the order in the country and abroad.

The Padma Vibhushan for Sister Nirmala is the highest Indian recognition given to the Missionaries of Charity after the Bharat Ratna which was awarded to the order's founder Mother Teresa in March 1980.

Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, stepped down as the MC superior general in 1996, handing over the reigns of the organisation to Sister Nirmala. About a year after Sister Nirmala became the MC superior- general, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. — PTI

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ISRO chief Nair dedicates award to staff

Bangalore, January 25
Padma Vibhushan awardee G Madhavan Nair has dedicated the award to the entire team of the Indian Space Research Organisation and believes that the national recognition has come because of ISRO’s good work in recent years. “It's a great recognition at the national level. I owe it to the entire ISRO team who are behind me,” the ISRO Chairman said. — PTI

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Padma Shri for ‘Time Capsule’ writer

New Delhi, January 25
S Krishnaswamy, a documentary filmmaker on historical subjects, who was commissioned by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to do the controversial ‘Time-Capsule’ project during the Emergency in 1975, has been conferred the Padma Shri award. Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy made the hugely popular documentary “Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi” which covered every state from Kashmir to Kerala and dealt with contentious issues like untouchability, women being worshipped as deity and being subjected to slavery. Krishnaswamy was also commissioned by Gandhi to write history for her project — PTI

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80 Navodaya children fall ill
Food poisoning suspected

New Delhi, January 25
As many as 80 children of a school in Jaffarpur area of the city were today hospitalised after they complained of illness in a suspected food poisoning case. Most of the children of the residential school, Jaffarpur Kalan Navodaya Vidyala were, however, discharged after a medical check-up and primary treatment. “Around 80 children of our school were admitted to a nearby hospital after they complained of abdominal pain and other digestive problems,” BS Kumawat, principal of the school said.

“The students were admitted to the nearby hospital and were later discharged after primary medical check-up,” he said, claiming that doctors did not confirm any food-poisoning.

He, however, added that nearly seven students were still under observation in the Rawtula Ram Hospital in the locality. Kumawat said all 450 students in the school had consumed normal diet last night and routine breakfast today morning.

But, some of them complained of abdominal pain, uneasiness, other digestive problems and had vomiting tendency around 9.30 this morning, he said. Some of the teachers in the school suspected the hand of students, who wanted to escape the 26 January drill, a part of the Republic Day celebration in the school, in the incident.

“It might be a trick of some students to escape the Republic Day exercise tomorrow,” a senior teacher said. Meanwhile, the school administration has ordered a probe into the matter, Kumawat added. — PTI

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12 pilgrims die in tractor-train crash

Rae Bareli, January 25
At least 12 pilgrims were killed and 25 others seriously injured when a tractor trailer they were travelling in collided with a speeding train at Unchahar railway crossing here early today, the police said.

The occupants of the trailer were on their way to Allahabad to have a holy dip in Sangam, the confluence of three rivers — the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati, when their vehicle hit the Allahabad-Kanpur passenger at the Unchahar railway crossing around 9.00 am, they said. Twelve pilgrims died on the spot, they said, adding the injured have been admitted to the district hospital. Conflicting versions emerged as to how the accident happened.

The police claimed the gates were not functioning for sometime and chains were being used to check traffic. The chains were missing today and led to the accident, they added.

However, Northern Railway sources in New Delhi said the accident took place when the truck in a hurry to cross to the other side dashed a closed manned level crossing and hit the approaching train.

The rail traffic, however, remained unaffected, but the road traffic on Allahabad-Lucknow highway was disrupted for some time, the sources said. — PTI

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Sanitation Facilities
Govt hopes to hit target

New Delhi, January 25
As part of leveraging Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), the Centre is expecting to reach the target of constructing one crore individual household toilets in villages by the end of the current fiscal.

To achieve this, all gram panchayats have been asked by the rural development ministry to ensure that their villages have complete sanitation. The government plans to achieve total sanitation in the country by 2012, sources said.

Minister for rural development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has even tried to convey to village sarpanches through panchayati raj ministry that if they fail to provide proper sanitation facilities in their villages, then they would not be allowed to contest panchayat elections again.

Under TSC, not only a record number of toilets have been constructed, the ministry has also increased the funding for it from Rs 368 crore in 2004-05 to Rs 1,200 crore now. In 2004-05, there were just 44.8 lakh individual household toilets and now the government hopes to complete one crore such toilets by the end of this fiscal.

Also from 66,000 toilets constructed in 2004-05 in schools and Balwadis, the number is expected to touch four lakh by the end of the fiscal.

Though total sanitation has always been an area of concern for several governments over the years, Singh says the ‘Swaraj’ concept in the Gandhian Philosophy can be achieved only when villages have full-fledged sanitation facilities. — PTI

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2002 Presidential Poll
Informed Vajpayee of wish to be all-party
candidate: Kalam

Chennai, January 25
Former president APJ Abdul Kalam today said he had informed former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he wished to be an all-party candidate for the 2002 presidential poll when the latter asked him over phone, seeking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Kalam said he received the call from Vajpayee just after he returned from a teaching session in Anna University here.

“When Vajpayee said my name had come up (in the NDA) and he sought my consent, I asked him for at least two hours of time to think it over...but he said he wanted only yes or no from me,” Kalam, said, speaking at a felicitation function for former Vice-Chancellors of the University on the occasion of its 30th anniversary here.

“I made around 30 calls to my friends before calling back Vajpayee and told him that I wanted to be an all-party candidate with the consensus of all. In the next 15 minutes my candidature was announced,” Kalam, who defeated Lakshmi Sehgal fielded by Left parties for the Presidential race then, said, adding that Congress also later came forward to support him.

“There it was. Anna University gave India its 11th President,” he said amidst thunderous applause.

Kalam said when Vajpayee called him he was in the penultimate session of the 10-lecture session he was scheduled to deliver at the university.

Reiterating his “Vision 2020”, Kalam said he envisaged an India free of poverty, illiteracy, denial of education on social and economic grounds and reduction of urban-rural divide among others. He said all should strive to achieve these goals. — PTI

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Attack on Urdu daily head
Editors call for action

Hyderabad, January 25
Editors of newspapers and television channels here have severely condemned the attack on Siasat Urdu daily editor Zahed Ali Khan and demanded serious action against the perpetrators of the attack.

“This is not the first such attack on Zahed Ali Khan, whose paper has been fearlessly exposing the misdeeds of some Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leaders and unlawful acts of other elements,” the editors said in a statement here today.

“Some leaders of the MIM have been threatening the Siasat and its editor Khan for quite sometime ,” they added.

The editors alleged that the state government and the police, who have every responsibility to take action against such incidents, have been callous even after the Siasat editor lodged complaints. — PTI

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Seat-sharing: LJP mounts pressure on UPA

New Delhi, January 25
Mounting pressure on key UPA ally RJD in Bihar, Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP today demanded as many as 16 seats out of a total of 40 in the coming Lok Sabha polls and termed it as an “effort” to keep the ruling coalition “united” in its fight against JD(U)-BJP combine in the state.

“We will not settle for less than 16 seats if an alliance takes place. Otherwise we will contest all the 40 seats alone,” party MP Ramchandra Paswan, younger brother of the LJP chief, said.

The demand for 16 seats by the LJP this time is double than what the party asked for in the previous parliamentary elections. The party, however, won only on four seats. Of the 40 LS seats in Bihar, the RJD had then won 22 seats out of 26 on which it contested. Congress contested four and won three.

The LJP chief sometimes ago ruled out any possibility of an alliance with the RJD, but his party now says “it is open to tie up” provided Lalu Prasad agrees to “respectable” number of seats for Paswan’s party. — PTI

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Partial solar eclipse in India today

New Delhi, January 25
As the country celebrates Republic Day tomorrow, a partial solar eclipse will occur in the afternoon when the moon will pass directly between the earth and the sun.

The partial phase of the eclipse will be visible in southern India, the eastern coastal belt, most of the north-east, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep, director of Nehru Planetarium N Rathnashree said.

The eclipse will be annular in regions covering south of Africa, Antarctica, South East Asia and Australia.

Annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon is farther from the earth than normal in its elliptical orbit and hence, its apparent size is not sufficient to cover the sun completely, director of Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) CB Devgun said.

Therefore, even though the sun-moon alignment is perfect, the moon will appear slightly smaller in diameter than the sun and a thin ring of sunlight will remain visible around the dark silhouette of the moon, he said.

Perfect-alignment of the sun and the moon means the apparent sizes of both celestial bodies will be the same when viewed from earth.

The eclipse will begin at 10.26 am though it will be visible in India only from the afternoon and end at 04.30 pm tomorrow, passing through various stages.

The first city to witness the eclipse in India will be Kanyakumari at 02.08 pm while it will be visible from 02.17 pm in Port Blair, the last Indian territory in which the celestial phenomenon will continue till 04.25 pm. At its greatest phase, the eclipse will be 92.9 per cent, which will last for 7.51 minutes, Devgun said.

Port Blair will witness a greater phase of the eclipse at 39.4 per cent. In other parts of the country, the visibility will range from 2.2 per cent in Hyderabad to 21.4 per cent in other areas, he said.

During an eclipse the moon is in the apogee (farthest point from earth). Hence the entire disc of the sun is not covered, which is otherwise covered at perigee.

On July 22, there will be a total solar eclipse when moon is at the perigee. It will not be advisable to watch the eclipse with naked eyes, cautioned Devgun. — PTI

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World pledges $630 m for polio eradication
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the UK and Germany have committed more than $630 million in new funds to fight polio. World leaders have urged additional donors and leaders of countries where polio still exists to join them in aggressive push for eradication.

Even with the new investments - and earlier ones from Canada, Russia, the US and others - the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is reportedly short of $340 million for 2009-10.

Among new contributions, the Gates Foundation is awarding a $255 million challenge grant to Rotary. The UK is giving an additional $150 million and Germany is giving an additional $130 million, both to the GPEI.

Even though huge finds have come in, new funding and government support is still required, polio experts say. While polio has been completely eliminated in the Americas, the Western Pacific and Europe, the wild polio virus persists in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

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Pak envoy receives threat
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik has received a threat to his life following which security at the mission located at

Chanakyapuri here has been further strengthened.

According to Pakistan High Commission sources, the mission had received a letter in an envelope by post a few days back, which asked Malik to leave India immediately or face dire consequences.

“We don’t know who sent the letter since it did not carry the name of any individual or organisation,” they added. The high commission promptly informed the External Affairs Ministry about the receipt of the letter.

Indian officials said security had already been intensified at the high commission in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Further, necessary action has been taken after the high commission

brought to the the Indian governent’s notice the receipt of the threat letter.

Indian security agencies claimed that the letter was a prank but the government should not take any chance.

An additional vehicle carrying security personnel has been stationed at the high commission.

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AP alliance hits roadblock
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 25
The nascent four-party opposition alliance in Andhra Pradesh has hit a roadblock with serious differences cropping up over seat-sharing for the coming elections.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is fighting for a separate Telangana state, has threatened to walk out of “Maha Kootami” (Grand Alliance) if its demand on allotment of seats was not met.

The TRS, seen as a major political force in Telangana region, has been demanding a share of ten Lok Sabha seats, out of 17 in the region, and 50 out of a total of 119 Assembly seats in the region.

However, the main Opposition Telugu Desam Party, headed by former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, is finding it difficult to accommodate the demands of its new-found ally.

The TDP, facing a do-or-die battle for power, has offered seven LS and 40 Assembly seats to TRS and expressed its inability to stretch beyond this figure as it needs to accommodate other two alliance partners-the CPI and CPM.

“We are already under severe pressure from our own party leaders from the region. If we give away 10 LS seats to TRS and another three to the left parties, we will be left with just four seats. How can we convince our cadre?” said E Dayakar Rao, TDP MP from Warangal, a nerve center of Telangana statehood movement.

Sticking to its demand, the TRS said it was in a position to dictate the terms of electoral arrangement since it was a major force in the region.

“We are in a position to win 45 Assembly and 7 Lok Sabha seats,” the TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao claimed. “We are not the takers. We are the givers,” he asserted.

Amid deadlock over seat-sharing negotiations, the TRS has made it clear that it was ready to fight the elections alone rather than accepting less number of seats.

Despite being bitter rivals in the past seven years, the common cause of defeating the Congress and preventing a split in the opposition votes has brought the TDP and the TRS together now.

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Sops rain in AP to woo voters
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 25
It is virtually raining sops in Andhra Pradesh as the poll-bound political parties are vying with one another in doling out promises to entice voters ahead of the Assembly elections, due in April.

The leaders of major political parties have already hit the roads to reach out to the masses and started dishing out freebies at breathless pace. The latest in the “sop opera” is the promise of the ruling Congress to provide a set of pulses and spices for Rs 50 every month for all the poor families.

“A select range of spices and pulses that are typically used by housewives will be supplied at Rs 50. They include turmeric, chilli-powder, coriander seeds, Bengal Gram, cumin seeds, cloves and fenugreek seeds, all put together weighing around 600 gm,” the Civil Supplies Minister K Venkata Krishna Reddy said.

The scheme would be first implemented in five districts on experimental basis and would be extended throughout the state in phases, he said.

Meanwhile, president of the main opposition TDP N Chandrababu Naidu, who is currently conducting a road show in the coastal region, has promised that his party, if voted to power, would supply LPG cylinders at fifty percent cost and provide monthly old age pension to all the poor people in the state.

Naidu, once seen as poster boy of reforms, has also promised 12 hour free power supply for farmers and for poor households who consume less than 50 units of power per month, unemployment dole of Rs 1,000 per month, hike in old age pension from the present Rs 200 to Rs 500, loan waiver for all categories of farmers and free housing for the poor.

The opposition leader has also promised three grams of gold to every poor bride and free housing for the poor families across the state if his party was voted to power.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister told a public meeting in his native Kadapa district that his government would bring down the cost of LPG refills to Rs 200 within the next two years. On his part, actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, who will be testing his political fortunes in the coming elections, has promised that his Praja Rajyam Party would supply power at 50 percent price to all the rural consumers.

At present, the Congress government is supplying free power to farmers, entailing an annual burden of Rs 2,500 crore, in tune with its promise made before the 2004 elections.

Loan waiver for farmers, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes, health insurance scheme for the poor, low-cost loans for women self-help groups and housing for weaker sections have been the high points of the government’s populist policy.

In a game of one-upmanship to win over the confidence of the poor, the government has revived the Rs 2 per kg rice scheme which was once associated with TDP patriarch and former Chief Minister late N T Rama Rao.

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Pressure mounts on SC judges to declare assets
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 25
The pressure on the Supreme Court (SC) judges to declare their assets is on a relentless rise by the hour, with fresh quarters steadily throwing their weight behind the demand.

The latest to lend further substance to the chorus was none other than Law Minister HR Bhardwaj who had supported the judiciary on various issues, including the present procedure for the appointment of judges through the collegium.

The minister has reportedly said since the Supreme Court had made it mandatory for candidates contesting elections to declare their assets, it was only fair that its judges also complied with it. It was time the judges heeded the growing public demand, he felt.

The demand has been gaining momentum ever since the Central Information Commission (CIC) asked the Supreme Court recently to provide details of the assets of its judges to a petitioner who had approached the CIC under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan refused to part with details, maintaining there was no law that stipulated that judges should declare their assets and the apex court promptly challenged the CIC order in the Delhi High Court and obtained a stay.

Despite the HC relief, the apex court finds itself in the midst of a situation that threatens to go out of control with more and more people supporting the demand. Noted jurist Fali S Nariman kicked off the grounds well, declining the HC’s offer for being the friend of the court in the SC appeal. Nariman said he was biased in favour of the demand.

Since then, several senior advocates and some Bar associations have added gist to the mounting pressure on judges. SC judges showed the first signs of a climb-down, with the CJI announcing that individual judges could post their assets details on the apex court’s website if they so desired. There were also reports that the CJI was mulling convening the Full Bench to arrive at a consensus after some judges expressed their intention to come clean on the issue.

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KC Verma appointed RAW chief

New Delhi, January 25
KC Verma, internal security adviser to Home Minister P Chidambaram, will be the next chief of country’s external intelligence agency RAW.

Verma, a 1971-batch Jharkhand cadre officer, will take over the responsibility after the tenure of the incumbent Ashok Chaturvedi comes to an end on January 31.

The officer was earlier appointed as the head of the Narcotics Control Bureau in 2005, before being elevated as secretary (security) in the Cabinet Secretariat, they said.

Home Minister P Chidambaram had last month assigned him additional responsibility of being his internal security adviser, sources added. — PTI

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Nominations invited for Chameli Devi Jain awards

Chandigarh, January 25
The Media Foundation has invited nominations for its annual Chameli Devi Jain Awards for an outstanding woman mediaperson for 2008-09. Journalists, including photographers, cartoonists and newspaper designers in the print, broadcast, current affairs and documentary film media are eligible.

The criteria for selection would be excellence, analytical skill, social concern, insight, style, innovation, courage and compassion. Equal preference will be given to small town/rural and Indian language journalists. The entries will be evaluated by an independent jury panel. — TNS

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Obama a messiah for Chennai family

Chennai, January 25
US President Barack Obama may have won more hearts around the world while running for Presidency, but for a Chennai family, he became a messiah five years ago when he helped a woman get a US visa. For Sujatha Adsumilli, Obama has a special place in her heart. She even prayed for the success of the Illinois Senator after the Democrat was named for the Presidential race.

Sujatha wanted to fly to the US in 2004 for her son A Vijay Kumar’s house-warming ceremony, but officials at American consulate denied her a visa as she was a widow and they considered her a “potential immigrant”, her elder son A Ramesh Kumar said.

“Officials feared she could end up living there with my brother Vijay Kumar, who has the US citizenship. Vijay wrote to then Illinois Senator Obama, telling him of the problem, who wrote to the state department and the Consulate in Chennai asking them to consider the matter under the department of state guidelines,” he said.

This was enough to spur the officials into action to grant her a 10-year multiple entry visa to the US. Sujatha left for the US in 2005 for the ‘grahapravesam’ and also tried to personally thank Obama, but in vain. She rues missing the opportunity to meet him “as he had just left his office.” “But the staff at his office extended great hospitality and promised me that they would convey my greetings to him,” Sujatha said.

The family now prizes the sheet of paper the US President sent, which allowed Sujatha to join her son. “I cannot put in words the value we attach to the letter from Obama. In fact, we were so happy when he responded to my brother’s letter at a mere representation,” Ramesh said. — PTI

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