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

Prosecute Varun Gandhi
BJP must follow democratic norms

I
t
is expected but unfortunate that the BJP has rejected the Election Commission’s advice not to nominate Mr Varun Gandhi as the party’s candidate in the Lok Sabha elections. The commission, after satisfying itself that the CD of Varun’s controversial speech in Pilibhit recently was genuine, had found him prima facie guilty of violating the model code of conduct by his hate speech against the Muslims.

IPL out, hit wicket
Security is more important than tamasha

I
PL
organisers are themselves to blame if they have to pack up their travel kits and go to England, South Africa, or wherever to stage the League matches. The unimaginative and insensitive IPL tournament organisers proposed an ill-conceived schedule for the second edition of the tournament during the very weeks when everyone knew that the general election would be underway.


EARLIER STORIES

Iran as the US master-key
March 23, 2009
Buy the best for armed forces
March 22, 2009
Jail for Telgi
March 21, 2009
Threat to security
March 20, 2009
Punish Varun
March 19, 2009
Marxist manifesto
March 18, 2009
Restoration of Chief Justice
March 17, 2009
Deepening crisis in Pakistan
March 16, 2009
Manifesto of an unborn party
March 15, 2009
Third Front
March 14, 2009
Pakistan on the brink
March 13, 2009


George’s journey
Time for him to call it a day

L
ove
him or hate him, people have rarely ignored him. From the time he aspired to become a priest to the time now, when he is forced to look around for a “ticket” to contest the Lok Sabha elections, after serving as many as nine terms as an MP, Mr George Fernandes has indeed come a long way. It was ironic when the Janata Dal(U) last week “politely” denied him the party ticket.

ARTICLE

Turf war begins
Congress, BJP fight for space in Hindi belt
by S. Nihal Singh

B
ehind
the tension between the two national parties and their regional supporters lies the central departure point of next month's general election. First, the Congress had to give space to the hastily gathered Janata Party in the wake of the country's post-Emergency anger, and then it ceded space to the Bharatiya Janata Party to come to power in Delhi, later losing its ability to rule the country alone.


MIDDLE

A bit of Peshawar in Port Blair
by P.C.Sharma
A
journey in 1933 from Peshawar to Port Blair was the most unthinkable venture for any tourism enthusiast. Surrounded by vast blue oceans, rich in coral treasures Port Blair was a dreaded place as “Kala Pani”.


OPED

Goodbye, Jade
She raised awareness about cancer

F
rom
the moment Jade Goody emerged from Channel 4's Big Brother house in 2002, bursting out of an ill-fitting pink satin dress, she was a media phenomenon and an icon for the reality television-addicted, Heat magazine-loving masses.

French push US on global crisis
by Edward Cody

S
ince
immediately after the global economic crisis erupted seven months ago, France’s whirlwind president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been arguing that more regulation of international finance has to be a big part of the solution.

Delhi Durbar
Agonising wait for Congressmen

Punjab Congressmen spent more than 10 days in Delhi waiting for the high command to finalise the list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls but it was a frustrating experience for them.

  • A judge called Kiran Bedi

  • CPM enters cyber world

 


Top








 

Prosecute Varun Gandhi
BJP must follow democratic norms

It is expected but unfortunate that the BJP has rejected the Election Commission’s advice not to nominate Mr Varun Gandhi as the party’s candidate in the Lok Sabha elections. The commission, after satisfying itself that the CD of Varun’s controversial speech in Pilibhit recently was genuine, had found him prima facie guilty of violating the model code of conduct by his hate speech against the Muslims. While the commission has no powers to disqualify Varun, its “advice” should have received the respect that it deserved. By rejecting the advice summarily, the BJP has shown its utter disregard for norms, belittled the august body and let it be known where it stands on the vital issues involving Varun’s speech .

The BJP allegation that the proximity of the Chief Election Commissioner-designate Navin Chawla to the Congress and the strained relations between Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Varun’s mother Maneka Gandhi led to the Election Commission’s strong action against Varun, is indicative of the party’s questionable gameplan to make political capital out of the Varun Gandhi affair. Predictably, its crusade against Mr Chawla will get sharper by the day and could take the shape of placing the electoral process in doubt if it fails to come to power at the Centre.

It would be a tragedy indeed if a candidate were to be allowed to get away with “grave violation” of the code of conduct and “highly derogatory references and seriously provocative statements of a wholly unacceptable nature against a certain community” as the Election Commission has found in Varun’s case. Since the matter of Varun’s controversial references is pending before a court, one can only hope that the law would take its course speedily and effectively. If found guilty, exemplary punishment must be meted out to him. At the same time, the BJP, which had initially criticised Varun for his acerbic comments against Muslims, must give evidence of its sincerity by accepting the commission’s advice. Taking politics to such low depths of attacking a religious minority by spreading hatred against it can hardly be the way forward for our democracy.

Top

 

IPL out, hit wicket
Security is more important than tamasha

IPL organisers are themselves to blame if they have to pack up their travel kits and go to England, South Africa, or wherever to stage the League matches. The unimaginative and insensitive IPL tournament organisers proposed an ill-conceived schedule for the second edition of the tournament during the very weeks when everyone knew that the general election would be underway. The IPL and the BCCI did not show a sense of responsibility by insisting that the tournament be held more or less as per their schedule albeit with minor adjustments in utter disregard for the country’s security concerns. This was even when the Centre had expressed to the IPL its inability to provide central forces for security even as the Election Commission has begun hinting that it may need more forces for peaceful conduct of the five-phase elections. Thus, the IPL’s decision to relocate its tournament overseas comes as a relief and puts at rest an issue which involves entertainment with business.

Behind the expression of “regret” at shifting a domestic tournament to a foreign venue are calculated commercial interests at play. Holding the second round of this tournament is vital for the League’s money-making inclinations and for helping the tournament to become a brand. For example, the IPL’s assurance to hold the matches at hours convenient to Indian viewers — 4 pm and 8 pm — is because the telecasting right is one major source of earnings. Last year, franchisees alone earned around Rs 27 crore from telecasting rights.

It is not that the government does not stand to monetarily benefit either. For, last year the government earned Rs 91 crore in tax on payments made to players, umpires, coaches and commentators among others. But governments, as they are supposed to be in any responsible democracy and welfare state, are not dictated by commercial benefits. It is far more necessary to ensure the safety and security of a month-long electoral process in the world’s largest democracy, which, unfortunately, is surrounded by a mix of both authoritarian and dysfunctional regimes, one of which believes in exporting terrorism as an instrument of state policy. It is easy for some sections to pontificate that India may have conveyed a wrong message to the world by not allowing the tournament. But should an untoward incident have occurred, it is the government that would have been blamed, not Mr Lalit Modi. If only the IPL and the BCCI had been more mindful of the nation’s security than their profits.

Top

 

George’s journey
Time for him to call it a day

Love him or hate him, people have rarely ignored him. From the time he aspired to become a priest to the time now, when he is forced to look around for a “ticket” to contest the Lok Sabha elections, after serving as many as nine terms as an MP, Mr George Fernandes has indeed come a long way. It was ironic when the Janata Dal(U) last week “politely” denied him the party ticket. Ironic because George has always been a champion of the underdog and seemingly lost causes, and never had to look for anyone to take up his cause. But it should have come as no surprise when he contemptuously turned down the party’s offer to nominate him to the Rajya Sabha. He wrote in a stinging rejoinder expounding why he won’t use the back-door to gain entry into Parliament.

There was a time when a telephone call from the fiery trade union leader would bring Mumbai to a standstill. He brought Indian Railways to a halt in the mid-seventies, which directly led to the promulgation of the Emergency. Mr Fernandes went underground and, ever the romantic, reportedly collected dynamite for an armed rebellion that never took place. He was eventually arrested and sent to prison. When a general election was announced in 1977, he was put up as a candidate from Muzaffarpur in Bihar. He was not released though and it was a cut-out of his that supporters used to canvass for votes. He won with a thumping majority and ever since then Bihar and Muzaffarpur have had a special place in his heart. From jail he went on to become the Union Minister for Industries and promptly banished Coca Cola from the country.

Always outspoken but not always politically correct, his fate appeared linked with one controversy after another. Having opposed the nuclearisation of the region all his life, he became part of a government which chose to exercise the nuclear option. Accusing Dr Manmohan Singh of betraying the nation on the nuclear deal with the US to calling Mrs Sonia Gandhi names, Mr Fernandes would often appear quixotic. And as if his intemperate outbursts were not serious enough, he shocked liberals and socialists by condoning the post-Godhra communal carnage in Gujarat. He attracted many headlines as Defence Minister when he had to give up his job following the Tehelka sting operation. It has been a crowded and eventful political career. He never had a dull moment, as they say, but who can tell if Mr George Fernandes has got all that he deserved?

Top

 

Thought for the Day

Balancing the budget is like going to heaven. Everybody wants to do it, but nobody wants to do what you have to do to get there. — Phil Gramm

Top

 

Turf war begins
Congress, BJP fight for space in Hindi belt
by S. Nihal Singh

Behind the tension between the two national parties and their regional supporters lies the central departure point of next month's general election. First, the Congress had to give space to the hastily gathered Janata Party in the wake of the country's post-Emergency anger, and then it ceded space to the Bharatiya Janata Party to come to power in Delhi, later losing its ability to rule the country alone. And now the regional parties are demanding space at the Centre in the hope of dividing the spoils of power among themselves outside the orbits of the Congress and the BJP.

This has, indeed, given wind to the sails of the illusory Third Front. The motley group of old warhorses who sporadically ruled the country with singularly unfortunate results in the past are now gearing up to bat again. But there are new elements in political equations whetting the appetites of freelance power seekers. Ms Mayawati has emerged as a considerable force, and if her sway over Uttar Pradesh is not belied by the Lok Sabha election results, she is destined to become an important factor in government formation in Delhi, given the prize of the state's 80 seats.

The difficulties of the two main parties in making deals with their regional supporters lie precisely in the new mood in the ranks of the latter, that the Congress and the BJP are vulnerable to attacks from the periphery. They are giving free rein to their imagination in the hope that the two main parties might not be able to cross the halfway mark together and the disparate groups will then have a chance to make hay. In any case, the regional parties realise that the greater their strength in the Lok Sabha the greater their influence will be in the Delhi Durbar.

This feeling has upset the apple-carts of the Congress and the BJP. The old pattern of sharing seats was for the regional party to secure the lion's share of assembly seats while leaving the bulk of Lok Sabha seats to the parent party. Now regional parties are fighting for a major share of Lok Sabha seats. The results are there for all to see. The Biju Janata Dal chose to break off its 11-year-old alliance with the BJP in Orissa, also with an eye on positioning itself better in the post-election scenario.

The misfortunes of the Congress are not far behind. In what must rank as a singular humiliation, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav handed out the ultimate insult to the Congress by leaving it three seats out of 40, having sewn up a deal with his erstwhile rival, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan. The Congress, he thundered, had no presence in Bihar. In Jharkhand, the JMM leader, Mr Shibu Soren, chose to walk out of a deal with the Congress, and in Uttar Pradesh, the on-again, off-again deal with the Samajwadi Party (SP) left the Congress gasping for breath.

Singularly, both Mr Lalu Prasad and Mr Amar Singh of the SP are singing Ms Sonia Gandhi's praises, the object of their exercises being the unpredictability of the outcome; they might want to shore up a Congress-led future government. Only the master of ceremonies for engineering the Third Front, the Left parties led by the Marxist Prakash Karat, is somewhat at a loose end. The Left is likely to suffer attrition in the election, and its space will be occupied by Ms Mayawati, in all likelihood.

The Left parties did show the way in how they supported the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance without joining it, exercising considerable power over government policies in the bargain. In the end, the Left overreached itself by breaking with the UPA over the Indo-US nuclear deal, smug in the knowledge that the Congress had no option but to heed their objections.

For her part, Ms Mayawati will seek to emulate the Left's role vis-à-vis the UPA by being the supporting party to a coalition formed by the Congress or the BJP, although she might prefer to be part of the government. This assumes that she will be able to win around 40 seats for her Bahujan Samaj Party. She is pragmatic enough to realise that she will have to wait for five years before having a realistic chance to fulfil her ambition of occupying the Prime Minister's chair.

Many will bemoan the erosion of influence of the main national parties - the Left parties must be classed as regional as well, given their limited reach. But once the monopoly of the Congress was broken and the BJP acceded to power without a countrywide presence, the strengthening of regional forces was inevitable. It was linguistic nationalism that first heralded the era of decentralisation of power. The BJP's plank of religious nationalism that brought it to power in Delhi proved to be only partially successful and presented many risks to the idea of India.

Ms Mayawati, on her part, chose her wide caste base to win elections. But she realised that one caste alone cannot catapult her to power, choosing instead a wider appeal to other castes and Muslims. Her problem is to replicate her UP success on a larger countrywide scale because each state, even in the North, has its own angularities, the spread of her core constituency, the Dalits, being different from one region to another.

One of the questions that remains unanswered is whether the BJP will be tempted to play its communal card again. As the controversy over Mr Varun Gandhi's hate speech in Pilibhit would suggest, part of the BJP leadership will want to play the Ayodhya card again even though many in the party had earlier come to the conclusion that repeating an old trick was unlikely to yield dividends.

Either way, the election promises to provide thrills unmatched by previous elections. The other prima donna in the election, Ms Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK, has her own contribution to make. After unsuccessfully courting the Congress, she now has one foot in the Third Front. But she made a point of absenting herself from Ms Mayawati's coming out party in Delhi, making it clear that the Third Front's candidate for Prime Ministership, should it come to that, is far from being a foregone conclusion.

Top

 

A bit of Peshawar in Port Blair
by P.C.Sharma

A journey in 1933 from Peshawar to Port Blair was the most unthinkable venture for any tourism enthusiast. Surrounded by vast blue oceans, rich in coral treasures Port Blair was a dreaded place as “Kala Pani”.

In the east of the subcontinent Port Blair was in stark contrast to Peshawar, in the west. Two most dissimilar places, it was difficult to imagine. North-West frontier with its landmass and difficult terrain, was inhabited by some of the most blood-feuding tribals in the world. Port Blair had its inhabitant, the peaceable aborigines, hidden in its bosom of vast forests.

Anaiulla Khan, a strapping lad of 19 years, had his destiny carved out for him to be torn from the land of his forefathers and deported to “Kala Pani”. Tried along with his brother for murder of their father’s assassin, Anaiulla Khan admitted to have committed the vendetta- killing himself. His love for his mother made this brave heart to take the entire blame just to save his brother to be with her in her widowed loneliness.

Saved from the ultimate fate of going to the gallows, Anaiulla Khan was ordered for deportation to “Kala Pani” (for life).

Rendered utterly penurious by struggle for survival and litigation, the mother had nothing to offer her son who was being snatched from her forever.

The grieving mother had most lovingly kept Anaiulla Khan’s driving licence — a metal piece and a small copy of Holy Quran.

Arrival at the island from the landmass broke his heart but the holy book kept his hope alive. “Despair not of the Mercy of God, for God forgives, All sins, for He is oft-forgiving, most merciful.” (Verse 530-Az-zamar No. 39.) His driving licence came to his immediate relief. He was assigned the job of driving jail van for transporting convicts.

A life of “freedom” on the island during day and captivity in the cellular jail at night was both blessing and bane of Anaiulla’s life. He earned the reputation of a most conscientious driver who started loving the land of his new sojourn.

As years rolled on, his reputation soared. And then came his final reward. He was released from the cellular jail.

For Anaiulla it was time to forge new bonds and launch himself on a new course of life. He found a comely lass – daughter of a convict – and fell in love.

A cruel blow of fate struck him again and snatched from him a person he loved most. His wife died during birth of their third child. But this brave heart was from the land of those who never say die. He married again a girl half his age. He did not care that his second wife was a divorcee and had a two-year-old daughter. His father-in-law, being younger in years and looks, was often mistaken to be Anaiulla son-in-law. The highly procreative couple added seven more to their blood of siblings making a unique family of all ages and different patrimonies.

His family became the precursor of several other families that later made the islands’ unique human mosaic.

As the cellular prison heaved out her inmates they adopted the “Kala Pani” as their new home, married locally with brides of different religions, different languages and different customs. It is really a wonder of this island today that in most homes, there are families of various secular hues living with most abiding human bonds.

Aniaulla Khan is one of the icons of this new cultural blend that pervades the Andaman Island.

His life story endures and is now being carried forward by his progeny lead by his charming daughter – now the curator of the tourist spot that the cellular jail has become.

When the sun and light programme resonates the walls of the jail, the voices its inmates who lived and died there — come alive. The curator as the proud daughter of a “convict” holds on to the driving licence and the Holy Quran as the “two most valuable assets of her life”.

Top

 

Goodbye, Jade
She raised awareness about cancer

From the moment Jade Goody emerged from Channel 4's Big Brother house in 2002, bursting out of an ill-fitting pink satin dress, she was a media phenomenon and an icon for the reality television-addicted, Heat magazine-loving masses.

The 21-year-old dental nurse was, crucially, a product of her time, an emblem of a new era of celebrities who were famous for being famous and, through their sheer ubiquity, were known by their first names alone.

Goody's achievements were certainly remarkable. She remained in the public eye long past the perceived sell-by date of the average reality TV star. Furthermore, she turned coming fourth on a reality show into a multi million-pound brand-name business taking in books, perfume, exercise videos and memorabilia, her much-publicised malapropisms masking a keen commercial acumen.

Her treatment at the hands of the media generated a series of debates on such thorny issues as class, race and education. Some commentators went so far as to liken her to Princess Diana, citing the two women's shared hunger for attention and manipulation of the media.

She was pilloried for her appearance, outspokenness, lack of education, dysfunctional relationships and thirst for the limelight. In 2007 she sparked a fierce Anglo-Indian row after making apparently racist comments about the Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty during a stint on Celebrity Big Brother.

During her time on Big Brother, Jade was the target of a vicious hate-campaign by the red-top press who called her variously a "monster", a "pig" and "the most hated woman in Britain". Psychologists warned Big Brother producers that they feared for Goody's sanity and safety when she came out.

Goody's post-Big Brother years were lived in the glare of publicity. She provided the media with unparalleled access to her life, with each development providing material for documentaries, autobiographies and newspaper and magazine heart-to-hearts.

TV appearances included Celebrity Wife Swap, Celebrity Driving School, Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes, The Weakest Link, Jade's Salon and What Jade Goody Did Next. Meanwhile, the Jade Goody brand continued to go from strength to strength.

By 2007 she had opened her own beauty salon, released three exercise DVDs, published two autobiographies and launched her own perfume called "Shh... Jade Goody", the third most popular in the country after Kylie Minogue's and Victoria Beckham's.

Her turbulent love life was similarly catalogued throughout the pages of gossip magazines. A relationship with the television presenter and fellow reality show regular Jeff Brazier, with whom she had two sons, Bobby Jack and Freddie, collapsed after three years.

Goody later castigated Brazier for his lack of financial support. She subsequently began a relationship with the model Jack Tweed, who had appeared alongside her on Celebrity Big Brother, and whose lack of job and difficult behaviour led Goody to split up with him on several occasions. In 2008 Tweed served four months of an 18-month prison sentence after he was convicted of assaulting a 16-year-old boy.

Throughout her career Goody was clearly under no illusions about her talents and viewed the drawbacks of fame, notably the paparazzi intrusion, with equanimity. "I put myself in the limelight and I like my job," she said. "If it wasn't for the paps outside my house, I wouldn't be in a magazine. If it wasn't for someone writing some horrible things about me one week, the next week someone wouldn't write something nice. I know it's a circle and they build you up to knock you down, and I'm happy with that."

It's likely that neither Goody nor her publicity machine could have anticipated the extent of the furore that followed her appearance on 2007's Celebrity Big Brother, during which, while in conversation with the pop singer Jo O'Meara and the model Danielle Lloyd, she referred to Shilpa Shetty as "Shilpa Poppadom". Ofcom received 40,000 complaints, Goody's perfume was taken off shelves and the paperback version of her autobiography was dropped by publishers.

Even Gordon Brown and the Indian government waded into the debate. Goody once again found herself vilified by the red-tops and held up as a terrible archetype of the white working class.

Denying that she was racist, Goody retreated to the Priory to be treated for anxiety and depression and later travelled to India on a placatory mission. In the summer of 2008 she agreed to appear on the Indian version of Big Brother. It was there in the diary room that she received her original diagnosis for cervical cancer, prompting her to return to the UK for treatment.

The battle with cancer was the final chapter of Jade Goody's extraordinary life. There had been early warning signs of the disease. Pre-cancerous cells had been removed from her womb at 16, and again at 18.

Before flying to India she spent a week in hospital after collapsing with abdominal pain. Her eventual diagnosis brought her back into the media spotlight, with her treatment chronicled through her Living television series Living With Jade Goody.

In the programme she could be seen discussing the side effects of chemotherapy while sitting in the bath, or curled up in the back of her producer's car on the way back from treatment. The public and press largely reacted with sympathy – Gordon Brown and Piers Morgan were among those to publicly offer their support.

Goody was also widely praised for helping to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Following her diagnosis, the charity Cancer Research UK reported a dramatic leap in the numbers of young women seeking information on cervical cancer.

Some found her openness unpalatable, however. The ex-glamour model Jordan was among those to criticise her for exploiting her illness. Goody defended herself by pointing out that she was securing an inheritance for her sons.

In February 2009 it was announced that, in spite of surgery and treatment, the cancer had spread to Goody's bowel, liver and groin. Days after the diagnosis, on Valentine's Day, Tweed proposed to his girlfriend and the couple were married at Down Hall Country House, Essex, two weeks later.

Goody wore a wedding dress given to her as a gift by the Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, which contained a concealed pouch for her medication. She had Kate Jackson, a member of the Living TV crew who had filmed her throughout her illness, as her bridesmaid, and was given away by her 70-year-old grandfather John Caddock.

Tweed was given special dispensation by the Justice Secretary Jack Straw to break his parole conditions and spend his wedding night with his wife. The couple signed an exclusive deal with the magazine OK! worth £700,000 for the rights to the photos. Sales of the publication duly soared: the public appetite for Goody-watching remained undimmed, even in her final weeks.

By arrangement with The Independent

Top

 

French push US on global crisis
by Edward Cody

Since immediately after the global economic crisis erupted seven months ago, France’s whirlwind president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been arguing that more regulation of international finance has to be a big part of the solution.

The message, however, has not been embraced as enthusiastically as he would like in Washington, where people are leery of putting power in the hands of international bureaucrats. So as preparations intensify for a key economic summit April 2 in London, Prime Minister Francois Fillon has been dispatched to New York and Washington this weekend to press the Obama administration to pay more attention to Sarkozy’s repeated appeals.

The Group of 20 gathering, where President Obama will make his debut in global summitry, must be a “major event” demonstrating that he and other world leaders are able to act decisively to resolve the crisis and not just talk about it, Fillon said in an interview on Friday shortly before boarding his plane.

“We have to issue a number of firm decisions,” he added, previewing his message to Washington. “If the image of this round of the G-20 is an image of impotence, that would be dramatic.”

Fillon usually leaves the spadework on Sarkozy’s major diplomatic initiatives to Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner or Sarkozy’s experienced foreign policy adviser, Jean-David Levitte. But Fillon said his meetings Monday, with Vice President Joe Biden and Lawrence H. Summers, head of Obama’s National Economic Council, were designed to “put the full weight of the French government” behind the suggestions on what should come out of the London summit.

Diplomatic exchanges between France and the United States have demonstrated the two countries share the same analysis about the crisis, he said, but not about what to do next to bring it under control. As have other European leaders, he said French officials sometimes feel the Obama administration’s Treasury Department is not fielding a complete team and consequently is timid in the struggle to come up with strong proposals for the London summit.

The French government has been running at full speed on the crisis since September, he noted, while Obama has yet to get all his senior economic aides into position and the U.S. Embassy in Paris has been operating without an ambassador since the inauguration.

In Fillon’s briefcase as he left was a joint stand adopted Friday by the 27-nation European Union, essentially endorsing Sarkozy’s emphasis on reforming the international financial system and urging concrete steps in that direction from the Group of 20. Among other goals, the European leaders urged a decision to set up “colleges of supervisors” assigned to scrutinize all international financial institutions before the end of this year.

“Our objective is to go up a notch in regulation,” Fillon said.

A former labor minister with experience in union negotiations, Fillon sought to underline what Paris and Washington have in common as he set out on his mission. He said, for example, that the Obama administration’s priority on economic stimulus spending should not be viewed as a contradiction of the goal of increased financial regulation sought by Sarkozy and other European leaders.

“It would be a mistake to oppose stimulus plans to the necessary moralization of the economic system, which is essential for a return of confidence,” he said.

In any case, Fillon made it clear that the French government has no intention of going any further in its own stimulus spending. The deficit has already ballooned, he said, and decisions taken to soften the impact of the crisis, such as increased unemployment benefits and one-time payments to the poor, are just starting to be paid out.

The main goal in intensifying regulation, Fillon said, consulting a little leather-bound notebook, should be making sure all financial actors, including hedge funds, come under some kind of supervision, even if they are domiciled in countries that now guarantee secrecy for financial operations and bank accounts.

“There should not be any territory, any financial activity, that escapes coming under a regulatory authority,” he said.

By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

Top

 

Delhi Durbar
Agonising wait for Congressmen

Punjab Congressmen spent more than 10 days in Delhi waiting for the high command to finalise the list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls but it was a frustrating experience for them.

Such was the agonising wait that a middle-rung leader remarked in the typical Punjabi style: “this high command needs to be told that Punjab will win more seats for the party than Bihar or UP”.

His comment came after the fiasco over seat-sharing between the Congress and its allies in Bihar on the one hand and the Congress and the Samajwadi Party in UP on the other.

And as the wait for the clutch of leaders and their hangers-on got extended, it was time for them to sample food at upscale eateries in the Khan Market while the more affluent among them preferred the five-star Taj Mansingh Hotel nearby.

Snacks were, of course, from the Bengali Market located at a stone’s throw away from Punjab Bhawan. Food at Punjab Bhawan was preferred by senior Congressmen, who could not move out due to security reasons or paucity of time.

A judge called Kiran Bedi

The first woman IPS officer, Kiran Bedi, says she felt like becoming a judge after being denied the post of Delhi Commissioner of Police.

Unable to take the denial in her stride, she put in her papers last year. It was at this time, a television channel approached her to be the anchor and arbiter of its reality show involving litigants who wanted speedy, informal justice and an end to their ordeal.

Bedi grabbed the opportunity, feeling that her prayer to become a judge had somewhat been answered. She says she enjoys doing the show as she is able to make use of her 35 years experience in the police department, her law degree and the experience of running a non-governmental organisation for 21 years.

She also has the satisfaction of educating litigants about legal options they have, just in case they are not satisfied with the justice rendered by her on the show, which will be taken to Chandigarh soon. She says she is convinced that the present workload on the police and the judiciary could be reduced considerably if people set up informal courts themselves at the local level, be it resident welfare associations, colleges et al.

CPM enters cyber world

The CPM, a party largely opposed to computerisation, has got down to launching a dedicated website for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and joined the cyber bandwagon.

It is a free website where users don’t have to pay anything to register themselves – was the argument the party extended while explaining the necessity of entering cyber space vis-à-vis the Left’s professed socialist stand, where every penny matters and counts.

The CPM has done well to use its website – vote.cpim.org – for strengthening the party’s financial position. There is a full section in the website that seeks monetary support for the party from users and gives them details of banks where contributions can be sent. It also tells them how to send contributions.

Contributed by Ajay Banerjee, R Sedhuraman and Aditi Tandon

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 |