SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Have autonomy talks
Worth building on spirit of elections
Following the high turnover of the people in the Assembly elections, it was heartening to see a large number of people gather to take part in the Republic Day celebrations in Jammu and other towns of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

End of LTTE
Time to pursue political options
THE Government of Sri Lanka’s successful military operation in capturing the Tamil separatist bastions of Mullaittivu and Kilinochchi and cornering the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a stupendous accomplishment. The Sri Lankan Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka is on the mark when he claims that 95 per cent of the 25-year war against the LTTE is over.


EARLIER STORIES

Pin Pakistan down
January 26, 2009
Civil services: The blunted edge
January 25, 2009
Credibility, the best asset
January 24, 2009
Obama on Pakistan
January 23, 2009
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


RBI opts for status quo
Reluctant to cut rates further
BY leaving the key rates unchanged, the RBI has given the message that it would rather wait to see the impact of its earlier monetary measures than initiate further action.

ARTICLE

Obama’s priorities
How India figures low
by S. Nihal Singh
Leaving aside the euphoria Mr Barack Obama’s presidency has created in much of the world, his tenure will be determined as much by his country’s interests and realpolitik as his predecessor’s.

MIDDLE

Jaya jaya jaya, Hey!
by Aradhika Sharma
Parents embarrass you. That’s an undisputed fact. The first time I remember my father making me feel awkward was when we went to see a film.

OPED

Organic farming useful
Needless controversy over report of farmers’ panel
by S. S. Johl
THE Punjab Farmers Commission has come out with a very logical report which maintains that the whole of the cropped area in Punjab and all the crops cannot be put under organic farming because organic fertiliser resources are not sufficient for more than 20 per cent of the area.

A war on Pakistan's schoolgirls
by Yasmeen Hassan 
I have such fond childhood memories of summer holidays in the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, a place well known among Pakistanis for its breathtaking views, cool summer climate and lush fruit orchards.

Delhi Durbar
Dogs making news
Every dog has its day. But all the Mumbai dogs had their day together on Friday with top legal brains trying to redefine the meaning of “kutte ki maut.”

Problems for BJP
Ministers ‘sweat’

 


Top








 

Have autonomy talks
Worth building on spirit of elections

Following the high turnover of the people in the Assembly elections, it was heartening to see a large number of people gather to take part in the Republic Day celebrations in Jammu and other towns of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. That enthusiasm underscored the fact that the trust which the people of the state had reposed in the democratic process during the recent elections has only grown stronger and they are yearning for good governance, a corruption-free administration and development and welfare schemes which only a democratic set-up can provide. Addressing the Republic Day function, Governor N.N. Vohra alluded to these unique advantages when he said that there is enough space for any divergent thought or opinion in our liberal democratic framework. This kind of inclusive governance is necessary to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the public, torn asunder by years of violence.

The state has had to pay a terrible price for the decision of some to pursue the path of conflict, mainly at the bidding of a meddlesome Pakistan. Mr Vohra did not refer to them as “separatists” but only as “certain elements in our society who have hitherto not been inclined to place faith in the democratic resolution of their grievances”. He urged them to review their options, give up the path of militancy and bloodshed and seriously think about the many advantages of the democratic process.

The turnaround brought about in the psyche of the people following the holding of the free and fair elections – that too while keeping the shadow of the gun at bay – has made it the most opportune time for attempting a rapprochement. It should be the endeavour of the government to revive stalled talks with all those estranged elements which are willing to give peace a chance so that their grievances can be addressed in an amicable atmosphere. Internal autonomy permissible under the Indian Constitution is sufficiently far-reaching in implication for winning over the hearts of the alienated among the people. The elements aided and abetted by Pakistan can never be expected to come to the negotiating table with a positive frame of mind. By rejecting them during the elections, the people have already put a big question mark on their relevance. Autonomy talks soon after the just-concluded Assembly elections will have greater meaning than held later. Autonomy can lead to greater reconciliation.

Top

 

End of LTTE
Time to pursue political options

THE Government of Sri Lanka’s successful military operation in capturing the Tamil separatist bastions of Mullaittivu and Kilinochchi and cornering the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a stupendous accomplishment. The Sri Lankan Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka is on the mark when he claims that 95 per cent of the 25-year war against the LTTE is over. Understandably the mood in Colombo and southern Sri Lanka is upbeat, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s popularity is on a new high. The LTTE has been all but demolished as a military organization and it has no political future regardless of any vestigial capability it may have for hit-and-run terrorist attacks. Even the few important countries which held back from banning the LTTE in the hope that it could be a route for talking to the Sri Lankan Tamils will now be forced to accept the reality — that the LTTE is no longer the political factor it was for resolving the Tamil-Sinhala conflict.

However, now with their escape routes closed, The Tamil Tigers may be driven to desperation and, in this situation, seek to impress that they still carry a sting in the tail. One such attempt is using the large Tamil population — estimated between 1,50,000 and 2,50,000 – as a human shield to thwart the LTTE’s final humiliation at the hands of the Sri Lankan Army. These Tamils who remain hostage to the LTTE represent an awesome challenge to Colombo: their lives need to be safeguarded even as the army moves forward to close in on what is left of the LTTE. Civilian casualties in this critical situation may deprive the military success of the political ground to be cultivated for winning over the Tamils.

It is in this context that the visit to Colombo of Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee assumes significance. He has made it clear that there is no sympathy for the LTTE in India, where the overriding concern at the moment is to prevent the Tamil population from becoming victims in the concluding stage of the military operations. President Rajapaksa’s invitation to Tamil Nadu’s political leaders — Mr M. Karunanidhi and Ms J. Jayalalithaa — to prevail on the LTTE to release civilians is a measure of his earnestness to delink the LTTE from the Tamils in the interests of the latter’s safety and security. The DMK and AIADMK would do well to take whatever steps they can in creating the atmospherics for a political resolution of the conflict by responding adequately at this juncture.

Top

 

RBI opts for status quo
Reluctant to cut rates further

BY leaving the key rates unchanged, the RBI has given the message that it would rather wait to see the impact of its earlier monetary measures than initiate further action. The lending rate remains at 5.5 per cent, the reverse repo (the rate at which the RBI absorbs cash from banks) at 4 per cent and the cash reserve ratio (the amount the banks keep with it) at 5 per cent. Earlier this month, the apex bank had cut the short-term rates by 1 percentage point and the CRR by 50 basis points. As the country is heading for the Lok Sabha elections, key policy decisions may not be possible once the code of conduct comes into force. So, perhaps, the RBI has kept for itself another option for intervention should the situation demands.

Belatedly, the RBI has lowered its GDP growth projection for the current fiscal from 7.5- 8 to 7 per cent with a further downward bias. This is based on the assumption that the agricultural performance would remain normal. While complimenting the RBI for keeping private and public sector banks safe as none has faced any trouble so far unlike some major US and European banks, which are on the verge of bankruptcy, one cannot help point out the apex bank’s persistence on painting a rosier picture of the economy than the situation on the ground permits. Besides, it trails private analysts in GDP growth projections.

The RBI is quite slow in cutting rates unlike the central banks of other countries grappling with the ripple effects of recession. It is clear the recent interest rate cuts have not stimulated demand and more needs to be done to keep growth from slipping. There is scope for further rate cuts to arrest the slowdown, especially after the RBI’s forecast of inflation at below 3 per cent by March end and the government’s no to any more economic package.

Top

 

Thought for the Day

Income tax has made more liars out of American people than golf. — Will Rogers

Top

 

Obama’s priorities
How India figures low
by S. Nihal Singh

Leaving aside the euphoria Mr Barack Obama’s presidency has created in much of the world, his tenure will be determined as much by his country’s interests and realpolitik as his predecessor’s. What has changed is the temper of the presidency, its new air of pragmatism and a reassertion of America’s traditional mix of idealism and hardheaded realism. That he is the first black President is an illustration of America’s capacity for domestic reform and a bonus for the pursuit of its policies around the world.

It speaks for the United States’ unique position, despite growing calls for multilateralism that every country, however big or small, is scrambling to put its best foot forward for the Obama administration. And each nation is doing its sums on how far the new dispensation in Washington will help or harm its interests.

In India, it is well for us to understand that President Obama’s attention in his initial days and months will be determined by the hand dealt him, rather than his personal preferences. The problems staring him in the face are the US economy, which has triggered a worldwide crisis, the two wars and the almost universal revulsion to Israel’s devastation of Gaza and its inhabitants. All other problems will take second place, barring new crises that might erupt.

India figures low in the list of President Obama’s priorities, except tangentially in relation to Pakistan’s role in the Afghanistan war and its dubious reputation as a terror-producing factory and in its adversarial relationship with India, particularly relating to Kashmir. In fact, in his Person of the Year interview for Time magazine, President Obama linked Iran with Pakistan and Kashmir in talking about the arc of crisis. It is quite possible that the British Foreign Secretary, Mr David Miliband, was peddling the new Obama line in pressing India to get on with resolving the Kashmir issue, however ham-handed his execution of it. Mr Miliband, it must be remembered, is a star pupil of Mr Tony Blair whose fervent pursuit of US foreign policy goals during his long innings at No 10 is no secret.

How the Obama administration proceeds with Pakistan and India depends upon how the veteran diplomat, Mr Richard Holbrooke, of Dayton Bosnia fame, the newly appointed special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, approaches his task. Washington has respected New Delhi’s sensitivities by leaving India out of his official remit, but he can be expected to interact frequently with Indian officials.

The only other special envoy appointed so far, Mr George Mitchell, on the Middle. East includes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its repercussions on the other war in Iraq and on West Asia and the entire Muslim world. It remains to be seen how President Obama’s new approach in talking to Teheran, instead of ostracising and penalising it, will help in rescuing Washington from the hole it has dug itself into. Israelis are showing some signs of nervousness because they fear that the new US administration will not give them the carte blanche Mr George W. Bush gave them in oppressing and continuing their occupation of Palestinians. But the umbilical American-Israeli relationship is as much a matter of domestic US politics as it is a pursuit of foreign policy goals.

At the very least, President Obama’s ideas on the relationship with Iran represent a dramatic shift in Washington’s thinking. Much will depend upon how Teheran’s determination to refine uranium for its power projects can be finessed by a compromise formula. Washington, Israel, the West and many of Iran’s neighbours will find it difficult to reconcile themselves with a Teheran in possession of the capacity to make nuclear weapons.

President Obama’s broad approaches to the economic crisis — pump in a bumper $ 800 billion into employment-creating infrastructure and modernising projects — and the two wars are well known. He will have to wrestle with the US Congress to obtain what he wants in surmounting the economic crisis. His declared goal of withdrawing all US combat troops from Iraq in 16 months is meeting some military resistance but can be fudged through retaining American servicemen in the role of trainers and consultants.

The Obama administration has already fired a warning shot by elaborating the kind of enhanced conditional aid Pakistan can expect to receive, ruffling Pakistani feathers. But the hardest nut to crack will be in persuading the Pakistan Army to cut its overt and covert links with terrorist organisations through the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and otherwise. Pakistanis tend to distinguish the Pakistani Taliban from Al-Qaeda and still look forward to the day the US and NATO leave Afghanistan to let Islamabad reassert its sway there. Pressing India to resolve the Kashmir issue is being viewed as a carrot to offer to the Pakistan Army.

These priorities do not imply that other important aspects of America’s relationship with the world can be neglected. Washington will have to make initial moves towards Russia and how it views it in the 21st century. Equally, the US-Chinese relationship is a matter of intense debate, with some American pundits such as the former National Security Adviser, Mr Zbignew Brzezingski, suggesting that Washington form a Big 2 with Beijing to solve the world’s problems. The Obama administration’s initial foray, that China is manipulating its money rates for partisan advantage, has met with a tart comment.

On another plane are America’s relations with Europe and the future of NATO. Despite the enthusiastic European response to Mr Obama’s victory, a divided European Union still aspires to play a major role in the world. The fault line in the EU is between the newer, former communist members and the weightier continental powers such as France and Germany, but the latter, together with Spain and Italy, are loath to earn Russia’s enmity by further expanding NATO to its borders or by provocatively stationing elements of a new missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. President Obama does have some room for manoeuvre because his administration is not specifically committed to pursuing either of these goals.

A new US administration is traditionally the time of revising and fine-tuning policies. But President Obama comes to office at a time of great turmoil in the economic and political spheres. How he deals with these tempests will decide, in a large measure, the future course of events.

Top

 

Jaya jaya jaya, Hey!
by Aradhika Sharma

Parents embarrass you. That’s an undisputed fact. The first time I remember my father making me feel awkward was when we went to see a film. I was four years old, I think and the film, “Haathi Mere Saathi”. The occasion was when they played the National Anthem at the end of the film. Far from standing in attention, people started shuffling and moving out. My old man grabbed two departing gentlemen, grimly held on to them and hissed “Stand here you*&**#*&. Can’t you see they are playing the National Anthem?”

I learnt to live with this quirk of my father’s and at the end of every movie, became pretty adept at pretending to melt into the background when they played the National Anthem, all the while, standing as stiff as a board. Leaping to my feet on hearing the “Jana Gana Mana” was an unquestioned response with me, even when I went through the phase, as most growing up boys and girls do, of negatively comparing the country and its polity to other “advanced” nations.

Years passed and people kept shuffling out on the strains of “Jana Gana Mana” at the end of the movies till at last, it was decided to stop playing it.

Cut to the present. One day last year, I went to watch a movie in a multiplex, (this time I forget which film it was). I settled down with a packet of popcorn and a cuppa cardamom ‘chai’, when suddenly, there was that old familiar tune again. I leapt up to my feet, probably as an effect of my conditioned response. But, to my utter amazement, so did all the other people in the picture hall.

In one single instinct the entire hall rose and stood still in a shared feeling of national pride as the Anthem played. At the end of it, there was one coordinated sigh and everyone settled down.

I think that was one of the moments that I have felt a true sense of nationalism and bonding with my countrymen and my country. When we all stand up in a shared feeling, getting goose pimples at the same moment, our hearts filling up in one single response, letting patriotism and pride surge through us, that’s when the National Anthem makes so much sense.

I still remember lip syncing “Jana Gana Mana” in the school assembly when the music teacher would stop us midway and tell us to put more “josh” into our singing. We would deliberately drag our singing so that our first period would get shortened.

Well, today, no one needs to tell me to do that. I join my countrymen in standing up in picture halls or wherever the anthem is played and loudly singing: “Jaya jaya jaya, jaya hey!”

Top

 

Organic farming useful
Needless controversy over report of farmers’ panel
by S. S. Johl

THE Punjab Farmers Commission has come out with a very logical report which maintains that the whole of the cropped area in Punjab and all the crops cannot be put under organic farming because organic fertiliser resources are not sufficient for more than 20 per cent of the area.

Further, the report maintains that organic farming can be profitably practised on vegetable and fruit crops. They have expressed concern on food security if organic farming is practised on cereal crops, specially wheat and rice.

There is nothing wrong in the logic because it is an admitted fact that in the initial years of the shift to organic farming, productivity is affected adversely. The decline in productivity may be marginal only, yet over the total area under these crops it makes a huge difference, which may affect food security of the country.

There is no point in raising a hue and cry about the report and it is blatantly too much to assign motives to such dispassionate analysis. 

The commission’s estimates of area that can be covered under organic farming may be low, yet the impossibility of covering all crops and total cropped area under the organic farming system cannot be denied.

It is, therefore, desirable to prefer horticultural crops for organic farming that have lucrative high-end national and international markets.

Organic farming is one of the practices that promote conservation agriculture, which involves enhancing/developing, conserving and improving the use-efficiency of production resources in quantity and quality in order to provide sustainability to the production process on an upwards shifting production curve driven by the positive effects of constantly improving techniques and technologies.

The conservation practices have to be all inclusive in nature involving soil, water, environment, efficient use of resources, economic viability, equity concerns and social implications. 

Organic farming is the system that meets all these requirements of conservation agriculture. It is (1) size neutral that addresses the issue of equity, (2) does not pollute water with excessive chemical load (3) does not degrade, rather improves the soil health, (4) is eco-friendly (5) encourages the utilisation of farm and household wastes (5) reduces the cash costs of the farmers (6) produces quality food free from chemical residues and (7) if fully adopted with certificate of traceability, the system can yield much higher income to farmers in the high — end national and international markets. 

The National Horticulture Mission is pursuing organic farming in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh through NAFED with the help of international traceability systems, IIT New Delhi and INDOCERT.

They have covered an area of 15,000 hectare in Uttar Pradesh and 3000 hectare in Punjab. Every farmer is assigned an ID in the registration record by the National Horticulture Mission.

They follow a cluster system approach wherein a group of about 50 farmers and around 50 hectare of area under different crops in the adjacent area is put in one cluster.

A fully trained cluster-in-charge is put in place who is responsible for training and guiding the farmers in his day-to-day activities. They are responsible for monitoring the practices and tasks being performed. Every action, input and activity performed by farmers is recorded in a booklet provided to the farmer.

This system uses two cultures of micro-organisms (Culture-I and Culture-II) that are isolate from the same area/region soils. The culture is multiplied with the applying of one kg of culture-I mixed in a solution of one kg jaggry and one kg gram flour to one quintal of cow-dung.

This mixture is covered for seven to eight days. The culture so multiplied is enough for one acre of any crop. Before applying this culture three to four tonnes of farm yard manure is applied to the field which is enough for the whole year crop rotation.
This culture contains nine micro-organism isolates which serve as fertiliser and controls soil-borne diseases, including nematodes as well as root rot, stem rot and leaf diseases.

The second, Culture-II, is prepared the same way in drums of water. The water is decanted and cleared of suspensions and sprayed as a pesticide. It is claimed to have controlled all insect pests.

On the basis of random selection, organic carbon in the soil was estimated in October, 2007, before sowing the crops under the organic farming system and then in November, 2008, after the harvest of crops. 

This analysis was done in the laboratories of the Department of Agriculture of the Government of Punjab. It was recorded that organic carbon content of the soils improved between 0.25 and 0.7 per cent after the one-year rotation under organic farming.

In respect of productivity and economic costs and returns, all the farmers experienced a marginal decline in productivity, but invariably higher returns were realised on the strength of low costs involved and higher prices received.
This is the first year of conversion to organic farming which is marked as (C1) in the registration records. The second year under conversion will be marked as (C2) and the third year it will be (C3). 

The produce from the system will be certified as an organic product after three years external verification by the INDOCERT. Implementation of the programme and internal control is the responsibility of the International Trace-ability Systems.

The success of the system can be assessed not only technically and with working out net returns and improvement of organic content in the soils, but more so by the acceptability of the system by the farmers on a sustained basis.

I happen to see some mango and bitter gourd crops in Uttar Pradesh and kinnow, tinda, okra, bitter gourd and fodder crops in Punjab.

The farmers appeared to be visibly satisfied and were anxious to follow the system in the coming years. They got better prices by simply stating that “no chemical fertilisers and pesticides had been used on the produce” they brought to the market.

They look forward to certification with traceability after two more years, when their organic produce will be certified and have definitive credibility, which it is hoped that the high-end national and international markets would recognise.

Thus there is no point of dispute with the observations of the Punjab Farmers Commission. The future certainly belongs to organic farming for the sake of nutritional security and access to healthy food.

Yet the limitation of organic resources of fertilisation and pest and weed control cannot be denied. There is, in fact, a need to create special cells in the National Agricultural Research System at the level of the ICAR and state agricultural universities for focussed research on organic farming for the development of a credible system and packages of practices and continuous impact analysis for imparting credibility to the organic farming systems that are being pursued and would be pursued in future.

Top

 

A war on Pakistan's schoolgirls
by Yasmeen Hassan 

I have such fond childhood memories of summer holidays in the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, a place well known among Pakistanis for its breathtaking views, cool summer climate and lush fruit orchards. 

But today the Swat Valley is experiencing heartbreaking pressures, as the Taliban strike with disconcerting regularity and, among other atrocities, impose a ban on the education of girls.

Even before this ban was put in place on Jan. 15, more than 100 schools for girls in Swat, as well as more than 150 such schools in the greater Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), had been shut down, many after being bombed or torched, leaving approximately 100,000 girls out of school. 

Radio announcements warned girls that they could be attacked with acid if they dared to attend school, and teachers have been threatened and killed. A week ago on Monday, five more Swat Valley schools were bombed.

The attacks and threats have not been confined to schoolgirls. Women and girls have been ordered to wear full veils. Directives have been issued requiring that women be accompanied by male family members in public places and forbidding women from carrying compulsory government identification cards displaying their photographs. 

About a dozen women have been shot for "immoral activities," including Bakht Zeba, a 45-year-old social worker committed to advancing girls' education. The area seems to be in competition with Afghanistan over which will establish the worst record on women's rights.

The Pakistani and Afghan governments have responded similarly to the Taliban's penchant for terrorizing the population. A few months ago, Afghanistan sought to enter into negotiations with the Taliban, a precondition of which would be the imposition of sharia (Islamic law). 

While those talks have not yet gone forward, Pakistan seems to be on the brink of accepting enforcement of sharia in the FATA territories. Reports indicate that more than 70 Taliban courts already operate in the Swat Valley, a first step toward implementation of the Taliban's interpretation of sharia. 

That the government is open to negotiating on this issue shows that it has no regard for what such a move would mean for Pakistani women.

The lives of Afghan women and girls remain precarious. Schoolgirls continue to be attacked. Women in public office are threatened or killed. 

Malalai Joya, a female political leader who has been wrongly suspended from parliament, has been forced into hiding because of threats against her. 

Only a few months ago, Malalai Kakar, Afghanistan's most senior female police officer, was shot dead. Pakistan must not become another Afghanistan.

The unfolding disaster in Pakistan demands an immediate response both from the Pakistani government and the international community. 

Pakistan must accept its responsibility to take urgent action to protect the rights of women and to curb the Talibanization of the country. Any intervention must be based on upholding Pakistan's commitments under its own constitution and under international human rights instruments that it has ratified. 

The various branches of government — the legislature, executive and judiciary — must work in concert to address this situation in a comprehensive manner.

Last week, the Pakistani government announced that it will reopen the schools in the northern areas in March, after their winter recess, but in view of the loss of huge areas to the effective control of the Taliban, it is clear that will be difficult. 

On January 20 — Inauguration Day in the United States — Parliament voted unanimously to condemn and reject the January 15 Taliban school closings. Now the government should immediately announce its commitment to implementing a plan to ensure that all girls have access to education, as well as to safeguard them not only in school but also outside of school.

President Obama has put Pakistan at the forefront of the war on terrorism. The 2008 Biden-Lugar bill in the Senate calling for a tripling of nonmilitary aid to Pakistan, to $1.5 billion annually for five years, is expected to be revived this year as the Kerry-Lugar bill and has the support of the Obama administration. 

To avoid the mistakes of the Bush administration, not only should there be greater accountability for how these funds are used, but the money should be conditioned on the Pakistani government taking active steps to curb the Talibanization of the country and, in particular, to uphold and protect the rights of girls and women. The consequences of inaction or inadequate action could be devastating.

The writer is a Pakistani lawyer and the deputy director of programmes at Equality Now, an international women's rights organisation based in New York.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

Top

 

Delhi Durbar
Dogs making news

Every dog has its day. But all the Mumbai dogs had their day together on Friday with top legal brains trying to redefine the meaning of “kutte ki maut.” 

The place was the Supreme Court — Court No. 1 headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, to be precise. The issue was the Bombay High Court order, giving a free hand to the municipal authorities to catch and kill stray dogs which are a nuisance. 

After prolonged arguments by Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati and senior counsel Fali S. Nariman and T.R. Andhyarjuna, the CJI Bench stayed the HC order and observed dogs could be put to sleep only if they had rabies, were incurably sick or mortally wounded. 

Within hours, the news spread far and wide, prompting animal lovers to laud the apex court verdict. 

“It’s fabulous news,” one of them said. Who says dog biting man doesn’t make news? Dogs make big news even without biting at a time when the “Slumdog Millionaire” is making waves.

Problems for BJP

Two letters from the BJP’s leaders in Rajasthan have sparked a debate inside the party — one by its treasurer Ramdas Agarwal, a Rajya Sabha member, and another by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh. Both letters are addressed to BJP PM-in- waiting L.K. Advani

The two leaders have accused the rival factions of working against the party interests and trying to sabotage Advani’s prospects of becoming the PM after the next general election.

Whereas Agarwal, a known camp follower of former chief minister Vasundhra Raje has sought to accuse former Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat of trying to promote his son-in-law Narpat Singh Rajvi at the cost of ‘Vasu’, Jaswant Singh has directly charged the former Rajasthan chief minister with trying to sabotage the prospects of his son, Manvendra Singh’s return to the next Lok Sabha.

Recently when the RSS decided that Advani’s word would take precedence over all others till the next general election notwithstanding the existence of BJP president Rajnath Singh, Advani was immensely pleased but now from hindsight it seems it was not such a good idea, keeping the PM-in-waiting bogged down in intra-party rivalries.

Ministers ‘sweat’

The Press Information Bureau (PIB) received a peculiar order from the government recently: find out why senior ministers sweat whenever they brief the media at the conference hall even when it is biting cold outside.

It was found that the sweat on the ministers’ faces was not due to face uncomfortable questions they had to face but because of the powerful heating system in operation in the conference hall. On top of it, the lenses of photo journalists would also remain focussed on the ministers, adding to their woes.

The PIB has now been asked to keep the heating system at a low whenever there is a briefing at the conference hall. Obviously, the government does not want the ministers to be wiping their faces in front of TV cameras, thus presenting an unpleasant sight. 

Contributed by R. Sedhuraman, Faraz Ahmad and Ashok Tuteja

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |