Friday, June 25, 2010

Sushil Modi accompanies Nitish in Vishwas Yatra-25/6/10

* Sushil Modi accompanies Nitish in Vishwas Yatra



Patna, Jun 25 (PTI) Signalling a thaw in JD(U)-BJP ties, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi today accompanied Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in his Vishwas Yatra even as the saffron party expected the cloud over the grand alliance to clear "very soon".

"Talks are progressing between senior BJP leaders and JD(U) top leadership in a very, very conducive and cordial atmosphere ... The cloud over the grand alliance between the two parties will be over very soon," BJP national spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters here.

He parried a question on whether the row over an advertisement that showed Kumar and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi holding hands and another that claimed Gujarat government contributed liberally for Kosi flood relief had been resolved.

Chidambaram to meet Malik today-25/6/10


Chidambaram to meet Malik today

New Delhi: Making the first effort to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries, Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan today discussed all issues of mutual concern with New Delhi flagging its core concern of terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil.

Home Minister P Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik would discuss terrorism and hoped that it will help strengthen efforts to address the issue.

Meeting for the second time in four months, Foreign Secretaries Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir described their parleys as "cordial" and "constructive" during which they tried to "understand each other's position" and concern.

Both sides also noted that Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik would discuss terrorism and hoped that it will help strengthen efforts to address the issue. Chidambaram will meet Malik tomorrow on the sidelines of the SAARC Home Ministers Meeting here. Rao, the first senior Indian official to travel to Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, asserted that the orientation of the re-engagement between the two countries was to look at the reasons why there was a trust deficit and how it can be bridged.

"We discussed all issues, obviously our core concerns on terrorism were also articulated," Rao told a joint press conference with Bashir after their meeting. She also noted that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had assured Manmohan Singh in Thimphu in April that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for terrorist activities against India.

Rehman Malik and Chidambaram will meet on the sidelines of the SAARC Home Ministers Meeting being held in Delhi.

"We believe that it is an important commitment and we also believe that we should jointly work together towards our goal of resolution of outstanding issues," she said. After his meeting with Rao to prepare the ground for the meeting of Foreign Ministers on July 15, Bashir said he felt "much more optimistic" about a good outcome at the talks. He said the two countries should "work towards restoring confidence and building trust with a view to make it possible to have comprehensive, sustained and substantial dialogue." "The meeting was marked with a great deal of cordiality, sincerity and earnestness. The dialogue was very constructive... We have been able to review comprehensively the state of our bilateral relations. All issues of concern and interests were touched upon," Bashir said.

Rao said the discussions were not only "exploratory", but the two sides also tried to "understand each other's position." She said both countries must "deny terrorist elements any opportunity to derail the peace process."

Both sides also exchanged proposals on outstanding issues including on Kashmir, humanitarian issues and terrorism, diplomatic sources said. Unlike their last meeting in New Delhi on February 25, the two sides were cautious today in articulating their positions before the media on various issues raised during the parleys.

Source: PTI

Food inflation accerlerates to 16.90%-24/6/10


Food inflation accerlerates to 16.90%

New Delhi: India's food inflation accelerated in mid-June, maintaining pressure on the RBI to tighten monetary policy at a faster pace. India's food price index rose 16.90 per cent in the year to June 12, higher than the previous week's annual reading of 16.12 per cent, government data released on Thursday showed.

The fuel price index remained unchanged at 13.18 per cent in the year to June 12. The yield on the 10-year benchmark bond rose one basis point to 7.62 per cent after the data. It had ended at 7.60 per cent on Wednesday.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has raised rates twice, by a total of 50 basis points, since mid-March to tame inflation and may deliver another hike of at least 25 basis points either at the July 27 policy review or even earlier. Markets' focus now turns to Friday's fuel price meeting for rate cues.

A government panel will meet on Friday to decide on raising domestic fuel prices, a move that may further stoke inflation and spark off protests from the opposition. With the annual headline inflation in May already above 10 per cent, pressure has been mounting on the RBI to raise rates ahead of its policy review, but a liquidity squeeze in the markets may have held it back.

RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao last week said although inflation is getting more generalised and demand-side pressures are building, the bank for now will maintain its stance of a calibrated exit from loose monetary policy.

Policymakers, however, have not yet ruled out the possibility of an off-cycle rate hike. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Television in an interview on Tuesday that the RBI was prepared to act "as and when considered necessary."

Food inflation is near the 17-per cent mark, but Mukherjee said it can be tamed by a strong harvest and increased output of key food items. The country's chief statistician Pronab Sen on Wednesday said headline inflation, the most closely watched inflation gauge in India, in June could be lower than 10 per cent because of a weakening base effect.

However, India's annual monsoon rains, vital to cool food prices, were 11.1 pct below normal for June 1-23, sources at the weather office said on Thursday. If the pace of progress of monsoons lags even in July, which is a critical rain-bearing month, it could further stoke food inflation.


Government hikes fuel price, runs into opposition-25/6/10


Government hikes fuel price, runs into opposition

New Delhi: The Indian government on Friday lifted decades of control on petroleum pricing as it hiked the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas, inviting a barrage of protests from not only opposition parties but some of its own allies.

Pay more: Govt increases petrol, diesel prices

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee approved a proposal to make the prices of auto fuels market-driven and boost the revenues of oil exploring and marketing companies.

Announcing the decision, Petroleum Secretary S. Sundareshan said the prices of petrol "will be market determined both at the refinery gate and retail level".

As a result, petrol will now be costlier by Rs 3.50 a litre.

Simultaneously, the government hiked the prices of diesel by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene -- known as the poor man's fuel, and traditionally spared during periodic fuel price hikes -- by Rs.3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder.

"We are fully aware of the sentiments of the people. We are fully aware of some difficulty it may cause. But in the larger interest of the Indian economy, it is absolutely essential that the consumers also share the burden of rising prices of crude in the international market," Sundareshan told reporters here.

The government decision ran into opposition from its own allies, including the very vocal Trinamool Congress and the DMK.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and its allies accused the government of giving "false arguments to justify these measures" and demanded immediate scrapping of the price increase.

The Marxist-affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) called for a 24-hour public transport strike in West Bengal Saturday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also demanded a rollback.

"The government has made a mockery of the people's trust after winning the (Lok Sabha) elections," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora admitted that Trinamool chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had not attended the EGoM meeting, but added that the other allies including the DMK were part of the decision.

Pay more: Govt increases petrol, diesel prices

However, DMK's Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister M.K. Alagiri later said the decision would put an additional burden on the public.

The move is likely to stoke inflation, which is already high, and further push up prices of essential commodities like vegetables and foodgrain.

The finance ministry's chief economic adviser, Kaushik Basu, admitted that there was likely to be an impact on the wholesale price index inflation, which was 10.16 percent in May.

"The (decontrol of petrol prices), coupled with price increase for LPG (cooking gas) and kerosene, will have an immediate positive impact on inflation. I expect an increase of 0.9 percentage points in the monthly Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation," he said in a statement.

However, he added that since the hike in fuel prices would push down fiscal and revenue deficit, "they will exert a downward pressure on prices".

Sundareshan said that even after the changes, the under recoveries will still be around Rs.53,000 crore at the current international price of crude, which stands at $75 a barrel.

"Government and upstream companies will have to find the funds to compensate the oil marketing companies," he said.

Mamata Banerjee said she was unhappy with the government decision but added that her party would not topple the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

"My party does not support this hike. This puts pressure on the people. The government should reconsider the decision," she said.

There was anger on the street too.

"These steps will break the back of the middle class. We are doomed," cried 31-year-old Pulkit Sharma.

The Congress vociferously backed the government move.

"We believe the government must have been constrained to take these steps and ensure that the impact is minimal as much as possible," spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said.

Pay more: Govt increases petrol, diesel prices

The new petrol and diesel prices would be as follows:

Petrol -- Rs 55.70 against earlier price of Rs 52.20
Diesel -- Rs 41.88 against Rs 39.88

Petrol -- Rs 51.43 against Rs 47.93
Diesel -- Rs 40.10 against Rs 30.10

Petrol -- Rs 55.17 against Rs 51.67
Diesel -- Rs 39.99 against Rs 37.99

Petrol -- Rs 55.63 against Rs 52.13
Diesel -- Rs 40.05 against Rs 38.05

The new prices for LPG cylinder would be as follows:
Delhi: Rs 316.20, Mumbai: Rs 325, Kolkata: Rs 328.70 and Chennai: Rs 350.90

The politically sensitive decision is likely to stoke inflation which is already high and lead to further rise in prices of essential commodities like vegetables and foodgrains.

"We are fully aware of the sentiments of the people. We are fully aware of some difficulty that it may cause. But, in the larger interest of the Indian economy, it is absolutely essential that the consumers also share the burden of rising prices of crude in the international market," Sunderashan told reporters.

Sundareshan said diesel would also be decontrolled eventually.

But the prices of kerosene and cooking gas will continue to be regulated by the government, he said.

The eGoM took the decision based on the recommendations of the Kirit Parikh Committee, which had suggested decontrol of fuel prices.

"This price which is likely to be very reasonable, being market-determined, can be easily accommodated by users of petrol in the country," added Sunderashan.

He said the impact of the hike on a petrol-driven four-wheeler would be only an additional Rs.190 per month, while a two-wheeler user may have to spend out an extra Rs.30-35 per month.

Pay more: Govt increases petrol, diesel prices

"If the eGOM had not done this, the under-recoveries for diesel alone would have been Rs.23,000 crore, which is a burden which the government and upstream oil companies cannot bear," he said.

Kerosene, which is distributed by the government on subsidized rates to below poverty level families, saw the largest hike of 33 percent.

"It has to be borne that the price of kerosene has not increased since 2002," said the petroleum secretary. In Delhi, the current price of kerosene before the hike is Rs.9.09 per litre.

Oil marketing companies, which were bearing huge losses on selling cooking gas at subsidised rate, also heaved a sigh of relief.

Sundareshan said that even after the changes, the under-recoveries will still be around Rs.3,000 crore at the current international price of crude at $75 per barrel.

"Government and upstream companies will have to find the funds to compensate the oil marketing companies," he said.

BJP and the Left parties condemned the hike and have threatened to launch an agitation.

After dilly-dallying, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) agreed with Oil Minister Murli Deora's proposal to free petrol prices from government control. Union Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar did not attend Friday's meeting.

There was near-unanimity among other members of the EGoM on bringing about market-linked prices for petrol, a fuel generally used by the well-off.

However, sources said that freeing diesel prices was out of the question because the fuel was used by the transport and agriculture sector and, therefore, had close links with the inflation rate.

Freeing of petrol prices would reduce the Rs 74,300-crore deficit by about Rs 5,000 crore. A one rupee per litre hike in diesel prices would cut losses by Rs 3,800-4,000 crore. Deora had, on more than one occasion, briefed the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mukherjee on the crisis that would befall oil PSUs if no decision was taken in this regard.

But the UPA government seems wary of freeing fuel prices as such a move can add to the already-high inflation. In May, WPI-based inflation provisionally entered double digits at 10.16 per cent.

State oil firms currently lose about Rs 215 crore per day on selling fuel below the imported cost. At present, petrol is being sold at Rs 3.73 a litre below its cost, diesel at a loss of Rs 3.80 per litre, kerosene at Rs 18.82 a litre and domestic LPG at a discount of Rs 261.90 on every 14.2 kg cylinder.

India's annual domestic oil product sales in May rose 6.3 per cent, its highest jump since October, to 12.38 million tonnes, on higher demand for auto fuels, government data showed on Thursday.

Petrol sales during the month rose an annual 13.1 per cent to 1.25 million tonnes on a 30-per cent jump in car sales as rising incomes and a rapidly expanding economy coupled with subsidised fuel prices perk up the demand.

Diesel sales grew by 11.1 per cent to 5.30 million tonnes in May, indicating higher demand from farm and industrial sectors. Diesel runs pump sets used for irrigating farm lands. Auto fuel sales rose as dealers stocked the fuel anticipating hike in prices.

Crude oil imports, fell 14.1 per cent to 11.54 million tonnes, or 2.73 million barrels per day (bpd), in May. In May, fuel exports were down by 40.1 per cent from a year earlier, while imports grew 3.4 percent.

The government data does not include imports and exports by Reliance Industries' new 580,000 bpd export-focused refinery at Jamnagar, in western Gujarat state.

Source: India Syndicate/Agencies

Global economic recovery still fragile : PM-25/6/10


Global economic recovery still fragile : PM

New Delhi: Ahead of the G-20 Summit in Toronto, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said it was necessary for the global economy to continue to recover in a stable and predictable manner without succumbing to protectionist tendencies.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

"We need investment and capital flows, as well as an open and rule based trading system that does not succumb to protectionist tendencies," Singh said in a statement before his departure for the two-day Summit from tomorrow during which he will also have talks with US President Barack Obama and other leaders.

Cautioning that the recovery of the global economy was "still fragile and uneven" with new "worrying signs emerging in the Euro zone", Singh said the challenge for the Toronto Summit will be three-fold.

These challenges would be to ensure that global economic recovery is durable, balanced and sustainable; to calibrate exit strategies in the light of growing concerns over expansionary fiscal policies; and to focus on medium and long-term structural issues relating to governance issues, he said.

"As the Indian economy grows and further integrates with the international system, we have an increasingly direct stake in all these matters," he said, adding to meet "our ambitious development targets it is necessary that the global economy continue to recover in a stable and predictable manner."

Singh said the coordinated policy actions taken by the G-20 countries since November 2008 have not only helped to prevent a crisis of the type the world saw in the 1930s but also contributed to global economic recovery.

"This is a sign of the G 20's success. At the same time, we have to be conscious that the recovery is still fragile and uneven. New worrying signs have emerged in the Euro zone," he said.

Source: Business Standard

Let's exchange hearts not dosssiers; Pak's Rehman Malik tells India=25/6/10


Let's exchange hearts not dosssiers; Pak's Rehman Malik tells India

Islamabad: Hours before his meeting with Home Minister P Chidambaram, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Friday said he will "satisfy" the Indian leader on the issue of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks.

Malik, who will host Chidambaram later in the day here, said "instead of exchanging dossiers" the two countries should "exchange hearts".

"Hafiz Saeed is an issue. And we will also satisfy Mr Chidambaram on that. We have no problem in that," Malik told an Indian television channel, when asked about India's insistence to discuss about Saeed.

During the meeting, Chidambaram, the first Indian Minister to visit Pakistan after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, is expected to press for a probe against Saeed, the founder of LeT which carried out the deadly attack on India's commercial capital.

India has been expressing its displeasure time and again over action not being taken against Hafiz Saeed and the JuD founder is being allowed to "roam freely" and indulge in anti-India rhetoric.

Pakistan has been maintaining that there is not enough evidence to take action against Saeed.

Malik said the two countries will discuss all issues with a view to resolve the problems that exist between the two countries.

"I will welcome him to Pakistan. Let us be friends. Instead of exchanging dossiers, we will exchange hearts," he said.

Finding common ground in efforts to tackle terrorism is expected to be a key issue in the run-up to the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan next month despite the positive outcome of the Foreign Secretary-level talks, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

During talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir yesterday, the Indian side raised a number of terrorism-related issues, including the trial of Pakistani suspects linked to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, a spike in infiltrations across the Line of Control and activities of groups like the Lashker-e-Toiba and its front Jamaat-ud-Dawah.

At her joint news conference with Bashir, Rao made it clear India's "core concerns on terrorism" were articulated during the talks and that both countries "must deny terrorist elements any opportunity to derail the process of improvement of relations".

Sources said that the Indian side made it clear during the talks that the trial in Pakistan of seven terror suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, should proceed and "justice should be done".

This, the Indian side said, is necessary because public opinion in India is still "agitated" over the carnage in the financial hub.

The Indian side also referred to an increase in numbers of militants sneaking across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and a spike in ceasefire violations along frontiers in the Himalayan state, describing them as developments that went against trust-building, the sources said.

While the Indian side acknowledged the dangers faced by Pakistan due to the presence of a "terrorism-infested environment", it informed the Pakistani officials that their drive against militant and terrorist groups should have a "non-segmented approach".

In other words, the Pakistani side could not ignore banned groups like the LeT while targeting the Taliban and their allies, the sources said.

India also stressed on the need to rein in LeT founder and JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, whose "virulently anti-India rhetoric" is not conducive to efforts to build peace, the sources said.

Though the Pakistani side maintained its stand that it did not have enough evidence to act against Saeed, an Indian source said: "They have to find the means to stop the propaganda at least."

The JuD has stepped up its anti-India campaign in recent months, particularly on the emotive issue of sharing of river waters.

Saeed made a rare public emergence to lead a rally days ahead of a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan in February and he made a repeat performance by heading a protest in Lahore ahead of yesterday's meeting.

Though Foreign Secretary Bashir said during his news conference with Rao yesterday that all elements of the Pakistan government and "system" were one in taking forward relations with India, observers have questioned whether any effort by the civilian government to crack down on groups like the LeT would be backed by the powerful military.

Though officially banned, the LeT continues to have offices across Punjab province where it also recruits youths.

The LeT, which was raised with the backing of the army and intelligence agencies to wage a jehad in Jammu and Kashmir, is also believed to still have linkages with the security establishment.

Source: PTI

Cabinet approves 107 new Kendriya Vidyalayas-25/6/10


Cabinet approves 107 new Kendriya Vidyalayas

New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) Thursday approved a proposal for setting up 107 new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) during the remaining period of the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12).

Cabinet approves 107 new Kendriya Vidyalayas

Announcing the decision, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the new KVs will cater to about 103,000 students throughout the country.

He was briefing reporters after a CCEA meeeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The total financial requirement for construction and operation of these new KVs will be Rs.526.99 crore during the 11th Plan with a spillover of Rs.279.48 crore towards capital cost during the 12th Plan.

The central sector scheme of Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) was started in 1962 with the objective of providing educational facilities of a uniform standard throughout the country to the children of transferable central government employees.

The scheme started with 20 regimental schools in 1963-64 and has now grown to 980 schools.

Source: IANS

Thursday, June 24, 2010

नर हो, न निराश करो मन को

कुछ काम करो, कुछ काम करो
जग में रह कर कुछ नाम करो
यह जन्म हुआ किस अर्थ अहो
समझो जिसमें यह व्यर्थ न हो
कुछ तो उपयुक्त करो तन को
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को

संभलों कि सुयोग न जाय चला
कब व्यर्थ हुआ सदुपाय भला
समझो जग को न निरा सपना
पथ आप प्रशस्त करो अपना
अखिलेश्वर है अवलंबन को
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को

जब प्राप्त तुम्हें सब तत्त्व यहाँ
फिर जा सकता वह सत्त्व कहाँ
तुम स्वत्त्व सुधा रस पान करो
उठके अमरत्व विधान करो
दवरूप रहो भव कानन को
नर हो न निराश करो मन को

निज़ गौरव का नित ज्ञान रहे
हम भी कुछ हैं यह ध्यान रहे
मरणोंत्‍तर गुंजित गान रहे
सब जाय अभी पर मान रहे
कुछ हो न तज़ो निज साधन को
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को

प्रभु ने तुमको दान किए
सब वांछित वस्तु विधान किए
तुम प्राप्‍त करो उनको न अहो
फिर है यह किसका दोष कहो
समझो न अलभ्य किसी धन को
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को

किस गौरव के तुम योग्य नहीं
कब कौन तुम्हें सुख भोग्य नहीं
जान हो तुम भी जगदीश्वर के
सब है जिसके अपने घर के
फिर दुर्लभ क्या उसके जन को
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को

करके विधि वाद न खेद करो
निज़ लक्ष्य निरन्तर भेद करो
बनता बस उद्‌यम ही विधि है
मिलती जिससे सुख की निधि है
समझो धिक् निष्क्रिय जीवन को
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को
कुछ काम करो, कुछ काम करो

The 'garbage girl' of the mountains will get a 'green' award

The 'garbage girl' of the mountains will get a 'green' award at an environment film festival to be held in the Himachal Pradesh state capital next month, an event organiser said in Shimla on Wednesday.

British national Jodie Underhill's contribution towards helping clean up mountains of trash in the mountains surrounding McLeodganj, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in upper Dharamsala, was brought to the fore by IANS in its report, titled "The 'garbage girl' of the mountains" dated May 16.

"We will honour Jodie with 'Green Hero' award at the inauguration of a three-day Shimla CMS Vatavaran-Environment and Wildlife Travelling Film Festival and Forum 2010 beginning July 2. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal will present the award to her," Vishwajeet Ghoshal, Assistant Project Manager with New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies (CMS), told IANS.

After going through the IANS report published in an English daily (The Tribune), the CMS came to know the contribution of Jodie and her group, the Mountain Cleaners towards cleaning the non-biodegradable waste dumped carelessly in the mountains.

Jodie, who is coming to Shimla to get the award, told IANS: "I'm so happy and honoured. The award will be dedicated to Himachal Pradesh and all the volunteers who have helped to make the mountain cleaning dream a reality."

The film festival is sponsored by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The WWF-India is its organising partner.

Jodie came to Dharamsala in January on a tourist visa to sponsor the education of some Tibetan children but soon got involved in cleaning the mountains after seeing piles of garbage.

"Every Monday and Tuesday we visit Triund (the popular trekking route overlooking this town) to collect waste like polythene and paper bags, empty beer and liquor bottles, old tents, food item sachets and clothes. On an average, we are collecting 35 sacks of garbage from the nine-km stretch every week," she said.

Underhill said that 70 percent of what they collect at Triund is plastic bottles.

"During the garbage collection drive, we also educate the local people and vendors about the scientific disposal of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste," the 34-year-old Briton said.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide-22/6/10

By R Shankar, India Syndicate, 22/06/2010

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

The Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to re-examine the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy has recommended that the Central Government dole out an additional compensation worth Rs 1,500 crore to the victims. Where will this Rs 1500 crore come from? Through additional taxes. In short, you and I would have to pay up for the crime that we have not committed. And what about Union Carbide Corporation – the company that was grossly negligent in running the plant at Bhopal despite repeated warnings? Not a penny.

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

And the GoM has another impossible wish - to bring the former chief of UCC - the 91 year old Warren Anderson - back to India after allowing him to flee more than 25 years ago. For what? To crucify him? To make him pay up? To settle old scores?

Instead of the tax payer being made to pay up, why not ask those who allowed Anderson to flee to cough up Rs 1500 crore? We have many on the list of suspects - Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao, the then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh, the CBI. Two of them are no more, so the Congress, not the Centre, should pay up. This because the decision to allow Anderson to go was taken at a personal level; it was NOT a government of India decision.

Not surprising, the GoM report has given a clean chit to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi vis-a-vis the circumstances in which Anderson was allowed to leave the country after being arrested. The report cited the absence of any records either in the Ministry of External Affairs or the Home Ministry which could indicate that the former PM was in the know of things. If there was no evidence, the GoM could have summoned the then foreign secretary Rasgotra or questioned the then US envoy. That ofcourse would have caused a major embarrassment to the GoM and the Congress (read Sonia Gandhi).

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

The GoM quoted "contemporary media reports" to suggest that Rajiv Gandhi came to know of Anderson's exit only after he had left the country. The GoM obviously chose which 'contemporary media reports' to chose and ignored a bulk of media reports that showed that Rajiv Gandhi not only knew of Anderson's exit, but also facilitated it.

If the GoM says that a prime minister did not know of how a man whose company just killed over 15000 people in Bhopal flew out of India saying a sarcastic goodbye , there must be something seriously wrong with the prime minister and his office. Assuming that Rajiv Gandhi knew of Anderson's exit only after the UCC chief landed in the US, what action did the then PM take to bring to books those who allowed a man who killed over 15,000, maimed thousands and damaged Bhopal's soil permanently to flee? The GoM has no answer because it did not look into the issue, rather chose to ignore it.

The GoM has ignored the following media reports:

According to Rajkumar Keswani, one of the first journalists to break the gas leakage story, it was Arjun Singh who allowed Anderson use the government plane after receiving a call from Delhi.

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

Who called Arjun Singh from Delhi and gave instructions to go soft on Anderson? Moti Singh, the then DM, says that there was a call from Delhi to free Anderson. Who was the mysterious caller? Rajiv Gandhi had become prime minister only weeks earlier following Indira Gandhi's assassination.

Once the message reached Arjun Singh, he rushed in and made sure that the authorities treated Anderson well and was released without delay. A magistrate was taken to the Union Carbide guest house, he was granted bail just four hours after his arrest and then he was taken in a police car to the airport where a state plane was waiting to take Anderson to Delhi.

Considering the haste and urgency with which Arjun Singh acted, it is obvious that the call from Delhi was from the highest authority - the Prime Minister's office. So, was it Rajiv Gandhi?

The then CBI director K Vijay Rama Rao has thrown a hint when he admitted recently that the Americans were blocking the extradition. So was it Washington that put pressure on Rajiv Gandhi to let Anderson off the hook and allow him to leave the country?

Brahma Swaroop, the then Chief Secretary allegedly called up the Collector to inform him that a plane was waiting at the airport for Anderson to be taken to Delhi.

Why did not the GoM examine Moti Singh, Swaroop or Arjun Singh while quoting `contemporary media reports'?

"The chief secretary summoned me to his chamber in secretariat and said that Mr Anderson was to be released and sent to Delhi by a plane which was awaiting him at the airport," claims Moti Singh according to CNNIBN.

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

Why not re-question the way the then judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Justice A H Ahmadi allowed the case to be watered down to that of a traffic accident? And how he went on to head a hospital centre funded by UCC?

The GoM has also decided to petition the Supreme Court for a review of its judgment that diluted charges against the perpetrators. Fair enough. But will responsibility be fixed? Will the judges who diluted the charges, the prosecutors who put up half a case and the lawyers who did not press the point in favour of the victims be brought to books?

And what is the price of an Indian life? Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of those dead; Rs 5 lakh for those who suffer from permanent disability; Rs 3 lakh for those with partial liability. Those who lost their eyesight or are suffering from painful cancer or have had children with disability would get a paltry Rs 5 lakh which will hardly be enough to pay the hospital bills.

In the compensation package too, the victims have got a raw deal. The compensation packages are based on old categorisation and figures, according to Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

The GoM has also been unfair to the dead. The total number of registered death cases has been put at 15,274 though the actual figure was 22,146. But for the government record shows just 5,300. Hence only the next of kin of 5,300 people would get Rs.10 lakh compensation recommended in the GoM report. Over 17,000 people are left out. Why did not the GoM recommend a relook at the figures to give the victims a fair deal?

It is evident that there is a mismatch of figures of the 15,274 death claims. This is because the GoM conveniently considered the figures used in the 1989 Supreme Court-brokered financial settlement of $470 million -- which has now come under a clout.

Similarly, compensation for the permanently injured (C category) and temporarily injured (B category) was also decided based on the grossly underestimated 1989 figures.

The GoM was also not fair, rather blundered, on the number of people registered by the office of the Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal, as dead, disabled and injured from 1989 till 1996 -- all because of the gas leak. Hence, a large number of victims, who are indeed eligible claimants, have been left out. They get no penny.

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

The GoM report also leaves out the number of people who died after 1996 due to medical complications caused by the gas leak. Unofficial sources put this number at around 20,000.
The GoM is silent on the second and third generation victims who live in pain and are disabled. They are haunted by constant medical complications caused by the contaminated drinking water as the toxic waste has seeped deep into the soil.

The next big question is on the toxic waste. The GoM has decided to bury the waste and has recommended another Rs 350 crore for this. Rs 170 crore has been kept aside for related environmental purposes and the government of Madhya Pradesh will be asked to bear 25 per cent of this Rs 170 crore from its own exchequer. A unit of the Indian Council of Medical Research will be set up at Bhopal to ensure better health service facilities to the victims; Rs 200 crore will be invested on this.

Thumbing his nose at India, Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemicals Andrew Liveris will not attend the Indo-US CEO Business Forum meeting scheduled to be held in Washington on Tuesday. "He is not attending because of his prior engagement," Dow spokesperson said as an excuse.

A high-level Indian delegation led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee alongwith Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Deputy Chairman's Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and prominent corporate leaders from India will be attending the meeting. Bhopal gas tragedy is likely to figure in the meeting. In 1999, Dow Chemical Company bought the Union Carbide which was responsible for the world's worst industrial disaster in 1984 - the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Dow washed its hands of any liability for the tragedy which occurred when toxic methyl isocyanate gas leaked from Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal on December 3, 1984, killing about 15,000 people while injuring at least five lakh others.

But why is Dow Chemicals, which bought over the Indian arm of Union Carbide, not in the picture? Dow Chemicals has washed off its hands and the GoM is silent because two of the senior minister s in the GoM had `favoured' Dow by recommending that the company should not be made liable.

Why did the GoM not look into who in the first place gave permission to Union Carbide to set up a factory in Bhopal. The factory had outdated technology and the permission was rejected more than once. It was during the Emergency that the UCC got the signal to go ahead. How and who was responsible for this?

You and I would pay for Bhopal mess, not Union Carbide

The Union Cabinet will now meet on Friday to decide on these recommendations. But do not expect much. There will be more talk, more recommendations that cannot be implemented and a lot of political gas.

But one thing for sure: you and I will have to dole out more taxes. Nobody would mind that to help fellow Indians, but not at the cost of allowing the perpetrators of the crime and those who abetted the crime to go scot free.
The GoM was set up after a court in Bhopal sentenced seven former employees of Union Carbide to two years in jail. The sentence, perceived as lenient by many, had led to widespread public outrage.

It has also been decided not to dismantle the GoM. It will continue to oversee the Bhopal affair. "The GoM meeting is not over. We will continue to address issues as and when they come up. For immediate requirements, we have made a report," Chidambaram said.

The GoM will spend more money on meetings and reports. What Bhopal victims need is not reports, or assurances but concrete action.

Source: India Syndicate

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Islam and Maternal Mortality in Afghanistan: A Religious and Cultural Approach to Saving Lives

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Rahim Kanani
Rahim Kanani

Master's Candidate in Religion, Ethics and Politics at Harvard University
Posted: June 21, 2010 01:35 PM
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Islam and Maternal Mortality in Afghanistan: A Religious and Cultural Approach to Saving Lives

"When Afghan people are given instruction based on their religious values, they will listen and accept," explained Maulawi Amanudin, an official in Afghanistan's Ministry of Religious Affairs. Using religious values is essential when trying to change behavior in a devout society like Afghanistan. "The Afghan people believe in resolving issues from a religious perspective," said Mawlawi Saddiq, a senior Supreme Court official. Religious teachings can serve as a tremendous lever for societal change, particularly for convincing men to promote women and children's health. "Having a healthy mother and a healthy family is what it means to have a healthy marriage in Islam," Saddiq noted. "Our religion clearly states that there should be 30 months between births to protect the health of children and mothers. When our religious leaders and communities understand that this is what the prophet Muhammad says, then all the misconceptions that exist within families can be resolved and dealt with."

A faith-based education initiative launched in 2007 by the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Asia Foundation has evolved from its original goal of reducing domestic violence by emphasizing healthy family relationships to its current aim of reducing maternal and infant mortality. Involving religious leaders is a key component, for which reason the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Supreme Court were brought into the campaign. The effort illustrates UNFPA's culturally sensitive approaches in advancing women's health and rights, which is a focus of the 2008 UNFPA report titled Reaching Common Ground: Culture, Gender and Human Rights -- required reading for human rights activists and government policymakers alike itching to understand and engage discriminatory social policies or practices in developing societies. Activating local religious and community leaders to address misconceptions of Islam from a health perspective, including the belief that using contraception is forbidden, paves the way in societies where faith and daily life are lived one and the same.

With global estimates indicating that up to 35 percent of maternal deaths could be averted by preventing unintended pregnancies, addressing the contraception crisis in Afghanistan is urgent -- only 10 percent of Afghans use some form of birth control and the average Afghan woman rears six children. The involvement of society's elders is critical for any maternal health intervention to be successful. In fact, in December 2009, a study was published by the U.S.-based nonprofit Management Sciences for Health discussing exactly this kind of intervention. Following the education and engagement of religious leaders, some mullahs began distributing condoms while others quoted the Quran to encourage longer breaks between births. According to the report, use of the pill, condoms and injected forms of birth control rose to 27 percent over eight months in three rural areas -- with up to half the women in one area using birth control -- once the benefits were explained one-on-one by health workers.

"Regretfully, the UN for many years has often presented culture as an insurmountable obstacle, when in reality, culture has both positive and negative attributes. Indeed, we can invoke the positive to change the negative," UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid said recently at the Women Deliver conference in Washington. As the first Saudi Arabian woman to receive a government funded scholarship to study in the United States nearly 50 years ago, Obaid has firsthand experience of how religion and culture profoundly chart the course of one's life. "I'm here because my father interpreted Islam to promote women," she said.

While Afghanistan's overall maternal mortality rate stands at 1,800 deaths per 100,000 live births, one province is also home to the worst maternal mortality rate in recorded history: 6,500 per 100,000 in the province of Badakshan. The U.S. rate is 11 per 100,000. In other words, giving birth in Badakshan is 600 times more deadly than giving birth in the United States. One in 15 Badakshani women die of pregnancy-related causes not simply due to poor health infrastructure, limited transport, rugged terrain, and extreme weather, but equally due to the lack of maternal education, unchallenged cultural practices, and misinterpretations of Islam. Dying to give life is not merely an international "silent scandal" in the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but it is a true felony on the criminal record of modern civilization.

Recently, Melinda Gates announced a new $1.5 billion, five year commitment from the Gates Foundation to support maternal and child health, family planning, and nutrition programs in developing countries, with a portion of the funds dedicated to conducting social and behavioral research on promoting lifesaving practices. In light of the successful engagements described above, I would hope the Foundation dives into the research and practice of educational interventions grounded in faith as they continue to fight maternal and infant mortality worldwide. With 70 percent of the world identifying themselves as members of a religious or spiritual community, and with 40 to 50 percent of healthcare in developing countries provided by faith-based organizations, religious conviction is the largest untapped means to promote and advance women and children's health around the world.

कसाब को पहचानने वाले को स्कूल ने दाखिला देने से किया इनकार.

कसाब को पहचानने वाले को स्कूल ने दाखिला देने से किया इनकार.
Author: रजनीश के झा (Rajneesh K Jha) | Posted at: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | Filed Under: देश
मुंबई हमलों की सबसे कम उम्र की गवाह को स्कूल ने एडमिशन देने से ही इनकार कर दिया. स्कूल अधिकारियों का कहना है कि उसे स्कूल में लेने पर आतंकी धमकियां मिल सकती हैं

11 साल की बच्ची जिसने अगस्त 2008 में मुंबई हमले के केस में गवाही दी और अजमल कसाब को पहचाना था. उसे एक निजी स्कूल ने दाखिला देने से मना कर दिया है. देविका रोटवान के पिता नटवरलाल रोटवान के हवाले से पीटीआई समाचार एजेंसी ने लिखा है कि देविका को बांद्रा के न्यू इंग्लिश हाईस्कूल ने एडमिशन देने से मना कर दिया है. स्कूल के अधिकारियों का कहना है कि उन्हें आतंकी धमकी मिल सकती है क्योंकि उसने मुंबई हमले के मुकदमे में गवाही दी थी

11 साल की देविका छत्रपति शिवाजी टर्मिनल में 26 नवंबर 2008 को हमले में घायल हुई थी. उसने रेलवे स्टेशन पर गोलियां चला रहे अजमल कसाब को अदालत में पहचाना था.

देविका के पिता ने कहा, पहले तो स्कूल अधिकारियों ने कहा कि वे उसे पांचवी कक्षा में भर्ती कर लेंगे लेकिन उसके बाद उन्होंने कहा कि एडमिशन फॉर्म के साथ सरकार से एक चिट्ठी लेकर आओ जिसमें लिखा हो कि मेरी लड़की मुंबई हमले के दौरान घायल हुई थी और उसे इस स्कूल में एडमिशन दी जाए.

व्यापारी और देविका के पिता का कहना था कि वे पत्र लेने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं और साथ ही स्कूल अधिकारियों से अनुरोध भी किया कि इस दौरान लड़की को स्कूल में भर्ती करवाया जाए लेकिन अधिकारियों ने रूखे शब्दों में इससे इनकार कर दिया.

Eminent cartoonist RK Laxman's condition stable-22/6/10

Eminent cartoonist RK Laxman's condition stable

2010-06-22 16:10:00

The condition of eminent cartoonist R K Laxman, who has been admitted in the hospital, is critical but stable.

He is being treated for lung infection and kidney problem.

86-year-old Laxman, who was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital on June 20 after suffering three mild strokes, is responding to medicines and is stable but the next two days are crucial, said doctors attending on him.

"He is being treated for stroke, kidney problem, and also for the infection. Hence, the next 48 hours are critical for him," doctors said.

The Magsaysay award winner suffered a stroke on the right side of his brain a few years ago. This stroke has affected his left brain.

Laxman is a renowned figure in cartoon world. His cartoon bore a special image, known as 'The Common Man'. (ANI)

Seventeen killed in Andhra road mishap|National[Warangal {Warangal (AP), June 22 (ANI): At least seventeen people of a marriage party were killed and 20 others injured when a lorry rammed into two tractors at a village in Andhra Pradesh's Warangal District this morning.

According to sources, the incident took place when a speeding lorry hit the tractors from behind and ran over people standing around them.

Twelve people were killed on the spot, while five others, including the bridegroom died in the hospital.

The injured have been admitted to a government hospital in Warangal and Mehaboobabad Districts. (ANI)

Is Dhoni India’s best captain ever?-22/6/10

By Vedam Jaishankar, 22/06/2010

Is Dhoni India’s best captain ever?

One of the most striking aspects of India’s gripping penultimate-ball win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup cricket tournament in Sri Lanka was skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s remarkable poise under pressure.

In the intense heat of the battle the veritable 'Captain Cool' came across as a towering leader, whose icy efficiency intimidated the opposition. For his team, his calm, soothing approach provided the inspirational spark in what was fundamentally a nail-biting thriller.

Dhoni, at the post-match press conference, revealed that he was just as anxious and excited as the other Indian players during the course of the nerve-wracking run chase. But his deportment during the game hardly betrayed this, either to his players or anybody else.

Dhoni's dead-pan approach to the task was important, for all around him the pressure was getting to the players. His partner in the match-winning partnership, Gautam Gambhir, for instance, confessed that he had his "heart in his mouth" and he just "could not bear to watch the closing moments of the game."

Sunil Gavaskar

It was in such a situation, that skipper Dhoni, with his calm, collected and almost sphinx-like demeanour radiated a soothing effect on the team. The players, charged-up and with adrenalin levels soaring, were spoiling for a fight that probably would have side tracked them from their goal of defeating Pakistan.

But with Dhoni at the helm, and calling the tune, none crossed the line. He helped ensure that they stayed focused and consequently there was no panic in the ranks. The team almost always looked in control. And this, frankly, was so unlike Indian batting line-ups of the past when panic easily set in at the fall of a wicket and the rest of the batsmen just collapsed under the pressure of a run chase.

Kapil Dev

It is perhaps for this reason that many Indian captains in the past opted not to expose their batsmen to the pressures of chasing a target. But they had no such qualms about piling pressure on their bowlers!

This brings us to the question: Is Dhoni India's best captain ever?

Having covered the game extensively for more than two decades, I've seen Indian captains Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble in action.

Dilip Vengsarkar

Clearly, the more successful ones were Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Azharuddin, Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble. But none of them possessed the qualities that have made Dhoni such a cherished skipper.

Each captain had his quirk, which perhaps defined his captaincy. Kapil Dev who led what was India's most successful team ever (won the 1983 World Cup, 1986 tour of England) had his own set of favourite players: Chetan Sharma, Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath and Maninder Singh. Amarnath was extraordinary during the period. But the others were pedestrian. Kapil, though, almost always preferred them to the others. Of course he was amazingly gifted and could bat, bowl and field like a champion. And his spark of brilliance set up many a win. If only he had as much faith in Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Roger Binny, Ravi Shastri and Syed Kirmani as he had in his North Indian team mates, India could well have been far more successful during that era.

Ravi Shastri

During the same period Gavaskar led the team to victories in the Asia Cup in Sharjah (1984) and the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket (1985). He had faith in a different set of core players. He was a product of Mumbai cricket and his orthodox approach to captaincy was to first ensure that the team did not lose. Then, if chance presented itself he would go for a win. However, it was the shenanigans of these two big wigs of Indian cricket which almost made a mockery of India's gifted team of the 1980s.

Azharuddin who was plonked at the helm to squash the rebellious seniors, Vengsarkar, Srikkanth and others, took to the post slowly. He had an excellent record on tailor-made Indian pitches where his choice of spinners (Kumble plus any two others) ruled the roost. The batsmen too came into their own on the slow, low pitches. But all of Azharuddin's wins came to nought overseas.

Krishnamachari Srikkanth

Azhar himself lived under the shadow of match-fixing and this will be a blot on his and Indian cricket forever.

Tendulkar's first stint at the top was marred by a number of his own team-mates. But Tendulkar too was to blame for some of the failures. He was so gifted that he could not understand the limitations of lesser mortals. He was always perplexed when others could not do everything he could! Also, on some overseas tours he gave a distinct impression that he was happier being captain of Maharashtra, rather than India. His companions off the field were mostly players from Maharashtra and the group was very comfortable sticking to themselves and speaking their own language.

Mohammed Azharuddin

Tendulkar's second stint was ruined by the selectors. At least one senior selector often put him down in meetings. It reached a stage where the maestro preferred to quit rather than put up with further humiliation.

Actually the selectors those days were quite manipulative. They knew some of the players were getting to be larger than life. They bided their time and waited for disastrous results from overseas tours to cut these players to size. They knew the Indian team would get beaten abroad and public opinion would be firmly against them. They used these opportunities to strike at the 'prima donnas'.

Sourav Ganguly

It was Sourav Ganguly who gradually changed this. To start with, he brought his own brash behaviour to the table. This and his backer Jagmohan Dalmiya's presence in the Board neutralised the selectors. Besides he genuinely forged an India unit as he had no regional compulsions to adhere to. For that matter, he was the only cricketer from the East, and it helped. He also had in his ranks three of the most outstanding batsmen of the era in international cricket - Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar and the explosive match-winner Virender Sehwag. Ganguly himself and VVS Laxman further shored up this line-up. Thus for the first time India had the batting to do battle in foreign lands.

The bowling too was at its best. Pace man Javagal Srinath was the spearhead of an attack that had the wily Kumble in its ranks. Harbhajan Singh too was coming of age. Ganguly sat out some key matches, but India were still winning abroad. The 2003 World Cup in South Africa could have been Ganguly's crowning glory. But India lost that final to Australia.

Sachin Tendulkar

Dravid officially took over from Ganguly in 2005. But by then he had already led India to its first Test win in Pakistan in 49 years. He had historic wins in West Indies and England too, but excessive interference from a senior selector was the last straw. He decided to quit captaincy and concentrate on his batting.

Rahul Dravid

Captaincy came late to Kumble. But the dignity, home work, work ethics and diligence he brought to the post were simply outstanding. In a short span of time he left his mark. But time was against him. He was already in his late 30s and was seen as a stop gap till Dhoni was acknowledged as mature enough to lead.

Anil Kumble

It is possible that the captaincy styles of Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble have influenced Dhoni. He has the flair of Ganguly, the resoluteness of Dravid and the quiet efficiency of Kumble. To boot, he takes intuitive decisions and these often work out right for him. A classic example is his calling on rookie Joginder Sharma to bowl the final over in the inaugural T20 World Cup final against Pakistan. At that time, the move seemed illogical. But actually the opponents were lulled into complacency and the rookie rose to the occasion to bowl India to a famous victory.

Indeed Dhoni, at this moment, seems to have it all: flair, resoluteness, efficiency, intuitiveness and, most importantly, luck. No wonder his players say they are willing to stand in front of a speeding truck for him! More power to his arm.

Source: India Syndicate

Images: AFP

Intel signs pact for educational excellence in northeast-22/6/10


Intel signs pact for educational excellence in northeast

New Delhi: Tech major Intel Monday signed a pact for educational and technology excellence in northeast India with a governmental panel that looks after the economic and social development of the region.

Intel signs pact for educational excellence in northeast

As per the memorandum of understand (MoU) signed with the North Eastern Council (NEC), the technology company will work on training selected teachers in each of the eight northeastern states.

"This is to create onsite sustainable resources to help classroom teachers develop student centered learning," an Intel statement said.

President Intel India Praveen Vishakantaiah told IANS that the region had tremendous potential for technology.

"There is a tremendous potential for technology to transform lives in northeast India. We believe that education is the enabler and connectivity is the key driver for this transformation," he said.

He said the Intel had come up with various initiatives to integrate technology in teaching and learning process, ensuring inclusive growth and development of human resource "which is most promising development asset of the northeast (region)".

In India, Intel Education has trained over 12.5 lakh teachers.

Source: IANS

Maharashtra to levy tax on IPL, T-20, ODIs-21/6/10


Maharashtra to levy tax on IPL, T-20, ODIs

Mumbai: Finally ending the political controversy over losses suffered on Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, the Maharashtra government has decided to tax the lucrative cricket tournament, according to an affidavit filed before the Bombay High Court here Monday.

The government's affidavit came in a public interest litigation filed by senior Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai, questioning losses incurred to the state exchequer as the government dithered over levying entertainment duty (ED) on IPL matches, his lawyer Balkrishna Joshi said.

"The state government affidavit states that it will now levy ED on all IPL, T-20 and one-day cricket matches wherever they are played in the state," Joshi told IANS.

The duty would be levied at the rate of between 10-25 percent in the urban, semi-urban and rural areas where the matches are played.

However, the decision would be implemented only in the future, whenever any of these cricket matches are held, Joshi added.

The state government also clarified before the court that the state cabinet had discussed the issue of levying ED only in January.

However, a final decision to tax IPL and other such matches was taken at a cabinet meeting early May.

The high court, at the previous hearings of the IPL, had sharply pulled up the state government for its failure to levy ED on IPL.

The court had also asked the central government whether Pawar's association with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), a profit-making body, does not cause a "conflict of interests".

Last April, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a report said the state government had sustained a loss of Rs.4.99 crore on account of its failure to levy entertainment duty on the first IPL tourney in April 2008.

Desai had filed his written petition alleging that the state government was not implementing its decision to tax IPL and similar other matches, and that on account of this, the state exchequer had incurred huge losses.

Pakistan 10th most failed state of the world: Report-21/6/10


Pakistan 10th most failed state of the world: Report

Washington: Just three places below Afghanistan, Pakistan has been ranked the 10th most failed state in the 2010 Failed State Index released by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine on Monday.

Pakistan 10th most failed state of the world: Report

Pakistan has been ranked the 10th most failed state in the 2010 Failed State Index released by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine.

The list is topped by Somalia, followed by Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Chad.

India is ranked 87 in a list of 177 countries. In India's immediate neighbourhood, Burma has been placed at 13, Sri Lanka (22) and Nepal 25. China is ranked at 57th place. Norway is ranked at the bottom of the list.

"Shattered Somalia has been the No.1 failed state for three years running, and none of the current top 10 has shown much improvement, if any, since FOREIGN POLICY and the Fund for Peace began publishing the index in 2005," it said.

Pakistan 10th most failed state of the world: Report

Afghanistan and Iraq traded places on the index as both states contemplated the exit of US combat troops.

"Altogether, the top 10 slots have rotated among just 15 unhappy countries in the index's six years. State failure, it seems, is a chronic condition," the magazine said.

The magazine said Somalia saw yet another year plagued by lawlessness and chaos, with pirates plying the coast while radical Islamist militias tightened their grip on the streets of Mogadishu.

Pakistan 10th most failed state of the world: Report

India is ranked 87 in a list of 177 countries. In India's immediate neighbourhood, Burma has been placed at 13, Sri Lanka (22) and Nepal 25. China is ranked at 57th place. Norway is ranked at the bottom of the list.

"Across the Gulf of Aden, long-ignored Yemen leapt into the news when a would-be suicide bomber who had trained there tried to blow up a commercial flight bound for Detroit," it said.

Afghanistan and Iraq traded places on the index as both states contemplated the exit of US combat troops, while already isolated Sudan saw its dictator, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, defy an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court and the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo once again proved itself a country in little more than name, the magazine said.


Infosys' 40% new hires from rural areas-22/6/10


Infosys' 40% new hires from rural areas

Bangalore: As much as 40 per cent of new employees of Bangalore-headquartered software major Infosys are from non-urban areas, a top company official said.

CEO of the Nasdaq-listed firm S Gopalakrishnan quoted an informal survey in this regard. "We were pleasantly surprised that 40 per cent of new employees joining are not from urban areas," he said to a question from an audience member at an innovation convention, organised by the IIT Kanpur Alumni Association as part of golden jubilee celebrations of its alma mater here.

The survey also revealed that one or either of the parents of majority of these non-urban area employees have not completed SSLC, he said.

Gopalakrishnan termed the entry into the company of the people from non-urban areas as a "quiet transformation" in changing lives of people and in creating "more middle-class."

In this context, he also observed that it's, therefore, is not necessary that businesses go to rural areas; instead, people from rural areas could be recruited.

But he also said many of the IT companies have operations in tier-II cities, and the government is encouraging setting up of rural BPOs. Gopalakrishnan suggested that government make it mandatory for BPOs offering public services to have operations only in rural areas.

Source: PTI

More on news

Major education reforms at advisory board meet-22/6/10


Major education reforms at advisory board meet

New Delhi: A meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), the highest advisory body in the sector, here Saturday formed consensus on a bill for an apex regulator, considered a panel to remove hurdles to implementing the right to education act and decided on a common curriculum for science and mathematics students across the country.

Major education reforms at advisory board meet

The CABE met in the national capital Saturday with the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) topping its agenda.

In a step ahead towards creating an apex regulator for higher education, a broad consensus on the issue appeared for the first time among the states.

"There is a broad consensus, not just on the structure but also on the purpose of the bill," Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal said.

Some states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have expressed reservations to the bill. The central government has asked these states to submit their recommendations in writing in four weeks time.

The task force drafting the bill will take consider the recommendations, following which a final draft will be prepared and submitted to the government.

Major education reforms at advisory board meet

The NCHER bill aims at forming an apex regulator to oversee all streams of higher education, including those presently outside the scope of the HRD ministry.

While the bill already has medical and law education in its ambit, the task force has instructed the government to make necessary arrangements to include agricultural education as well.

Agriculture is presently out of the mandate of the bill as it is a state subject. Its inclusion in the NCHER can be done only after a constitutional amendment.

The CABE also decided to form a committee to look into the problems encountered by states in implementing the right to education act.

The states, meanwhile, demanded additional funds, citing financial difficulties.

"They have a problem of finance which will be considered," Sibal said.

Major education reforms at advisory board meet

The minister, however, added that the states were demanding the central government contribute upto 90 percent of the funds, which was not possible.

Among the major reforms introduced is a common curriculum for science and mathematics in Class 12 which will be introduced from the next academic session.

"A common curriculum for commerce will be submitted by Council of Boards of School Education in July," Sibal said.

The move aims at reducing the gap in education, especially between the state and central boards.

Other announcements made by the HRD minister included a bill for maintaining electronic records of degrees and a national framework for vocational education.

The minister said the bill for maintaining electronic records of degrees will be presented in the upcoming monsoon session of parliament.

The proposed National Vocational Qualification Framework will, however, be finalized only after consultations with all stakeholders.

"We will consult all stakeholders and submit the report back to CABE at earliest, so that it can be introduced in the coming monsoon session," Sibal said.

This was the 57th meeting of the board.

Source: IANS

Child labour prevention act contradicts education act: NGO-22/6/10


Child labour prevention act contradicts education act: NGO

New Delhi: The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act [CLPRA] is in direct conflict with the Right to Education (RTE) Act and needs to be amended, a prominent NGO working against child labour said Monday.

Child labour prevention act contradicts education act

"We want the CLPRA to be amended to bring it in line with the RTE," said Harpal Singh, board chairman of Save the Children.

"The RTE which ensures compulsory elementary education to children between six and 14 years of age is in contradiction with CLPRA. You cannot have one law to regulate child labour while another law guarantees the fundamental right of every child to compulsory elementary education," Singh said.

At the end of their 45-day campaign against child labour, the NGO asked 45 eminent persons to back their petition for the amendment of CLPRA.

The petition will be addressed to the prime minister.

Source: IANS

New B-schools even 'buy' management students=22/6/10


New B-schools even 'buy' management students

The quality of management education in the country could dip with merit taking a back seat, if this practice goes unchecked, caution experts.

New B-schools even 'buy' management students

A few weeks ago, the admission director of a Pune-based B-school received a strange unsolicited phone call from an 'admissions' consultant. "I am willing to supply students to your institute for anywhere between Rs 15,000 and Rs 60,000 a student. I could reduce this if your institute accepts students in bulk," the consultant said.

The director was taken aback. He told the consultant he had no such need. However, he simultaneously made a few calls to his peers and realised this was becoming "a practice which many B-schools, barring the top 40-50, are following to admit students".

New B-schools even 'buy' management students

Test-preparing institutes and education experts confirm the trend. They say many regional Bschools in the northern, northeastern and southern parts of the country appear willing to admit students who were ready to pay astiff fee to sidestep the admission criteria. These new management schools charge anywhere between Rs 4,00,000 and Rs 6,00,000 for a two-year management programme and comfortably adjust the cost of such admissions with the fee they charge.

New B-schools even 'buy' management students

"There are hundreds of Bschools which have opened in the country. Considering these schools are new and do not have aplacement record to lure students with, they have a liaison officer in place who approaches the coaching institutes and sometimes graduate colleges to get students. Many a times, if the students agree to pay the fee, written examination, GDs and personal interviews are compromised on," said a senior official from asouth-based MBA test preparing institute. Being one of the top test preparing institutes, he says he often receives calls from consultants and even B-schools, for such an arrangement.

The calls are only set to increase. Consider these figures. The number of private management colleges in the country is swelling and expected to double over the next two years -- to 600 by 2012 from 300 at present, according to a report titled 'Envisaging Future of Indian Higher Education' by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

New B-schools even 'buy' management students

"If the test-preparatory institute sends more than 10 students to a particular B-school, they also get certain discount on the deal. Because these institutes begin operations with a bigger class size, they try various means to get students in the school. Many B-schools directly go to graduate colleges and pay them a referral fee," says the director of a Delhibased HR consulting firm.

Technical training organisations, which advocate job-oriented training say this is happening because the education system in the country is deficient in providing industry relevant job skills and is struggling to meet industry expectations. Students are armed with a management degree but poor managerial skills resulting in being educated but unemployed.

New B-schools even 'buy' management students

"Relaxing the entry gate requirements further and admitting students on fees, will also result in non-meritorious students, with poor academic record get through, thus edging out meritorious students on the basis of their financial capacity. This is the problem the industry is already suffering from as the quality of managerial resources is declining and people have an MBA degree but do not have the skills to get jobs.

What would really have a positive effect on the employer is the induction of a vocational training component into the present education system," says Ashish Prasad, Director and CEO, Indian Institute of Job-oriented Training (IIJT). IIJT offers short- and long-term courses in the areas of finance, information technology, retail and sales and marketing. When contacted, an official of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which regulates technical education in the country, said the body was not aware of any such admission process in B-schools.

New B-schools even 'buy' management students

The regulatory body received 2,176 applications from various states and individuals this year to open technical institutes. Around 40 per cent of these applications were for management colleges while 30 per cent for engineering. The remaining 30 per cent were for setting up colleges in architecture, pharmacy, applied arts and crafts, hotel management and catering technology. In the last one year, AICTE received around 12,100 applications seeking approval for various technical courses. There are around 2,872 technical institutions across the country with an intake capacity of 10,71,896 seats.

Source: Business Standard

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bhopal GoM wants toxic waste buried-20/6/10

Bhopal GoM wants toxic waste buried

Last updated on: June 20, 2010 17:45 IST

Tags: The Group of Ministers on Bhopal, P Chidambaram, Union Carbide Corp, IPC,

The Group of Ministers on Bhopal gas tragedy is understood to have decided on Sunday to recommend filing of a curative petition in the Supreme Court to fix criminal liability, seek extradition of former Union Carbide Corp CEO Warren Anderson and cleaning up the complex by burying the toxic waste.

Official sources said the curative petition will focus on criminal liability of the accused and seek more stringent charges as the apex court had diluted the IPC section under culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the accused to negligence on their part.

Headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram [ Images ], the Group of Ministers, which met for the third consecutive day on Sunday, favoured approaching the United States to seek extradition of former the UCC CEO to face trial in India [ Images ] in the Bhopal gas disaster case.

The tragedy, which occurred in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, has left over 15,000 people dead and thousands maimed.

The GoM is also likely to recommend the burying of contaminated soil at the site itself in a scientific manner and the Madhya Pradesh [ Images ] government will carry out the task for which the central government will provide financial and technical assistance, the sources said.

Chidambaram told media persons after the meeting that the GoM has covered all the subjects that were identified and is expected to submit its report to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] on Monday.

"The minutes are being drawn up. Tomorrow, the GoM will meet again to finalise the minutes -- finalise the recommendations and conclusions. I expect to send the report to the Prime Minister tomorrow (Monday) afternoon," he said.

Chidambaram said the fourth and final session of the GoM on Sunday discussed remediation and environmental issues.

"Remediation of contaminated soil, contaminated water, the toxic waste that are at the site and the corroded plant, the corroded steel and other material," he said.

The sources said the GoM extensively discussed the issue of providing additional compensation to the victims, as the relief given so far was inadequate.

The compensation should be based on health classification like injuries suffered and the after effects of exposure to poisonous chemicals including cancer, long term diseases, disability and death of next of kin.
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SC notice to Centre, states on honour killing-21/6/10

SC notice to Centre, states on honour killing

June 21, 2010 11:07 IST

Tags: NGO, Shakti Vahini, Supreme Court, Patnaik, West Bengal

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and some states on the growing cult of honour killings being reported across the country.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik sought response from the respective governments on the petition filed by NGO 'Shakti Vahini' expressing grave concern over the recent spurt of such killings carried out at the instance of khap panchayats.

The NGO complained that though there was a spurt in such killings in Punjab [ Images ], Uttar Pradesh [ Images ], West Bengal [ Images ] and Haryana, neither the Centre nor the state governments were taking steps to curb the menace due to "vote-bank politics."

Mobile phone users face ‘brain tumour pandemic’, say campaigners

Mobile phone users face ‘brain tumour pandemic’, say campaigners

Mobile phone users face a “brain tumour pandemic” according to campaigners who say that the health risks of using handsets have been under-estimated.

By Martin Beckford
Published: 7:00AM BST 15 Jun 2010
Mobile phone users face ?brain tumour pandemic?, say campaigners
The world?s 4billion mobile phone users are advised to keep handsets away from their heads Photo: GETTY

A study warns that the danger of heavy mobile use is 25 per cent greater than was suggested in a recently published landmark investigation.

The new report claims that the £15million, decade-long Interphone study was so flawed that all of the risk levels it produced must be increased significantly.

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It says that the world’s 4billion mobile phone users should keep handsets away from their heads and bodies to lower the increased risk of developing cancer, and that governments should strengthen their public health warnings on the topic. However cancer charities said the new claims were “overblown”.

Lloyd Morgan, a member of America’s Environmental Health Trust lobby group, said: “What we have discovered indicates there is going to be one hell of a brain tumour pandemic unless people are warned and encouraged to change current cell phone use behaviours.

“Governments should not soft-peddle this critical public health issue but instead rapidly educate citizens on the risks.

“People should hear the message clearly that cell phones should be kept away from one’s head and body at all times.”

Interphone, the long-delayed study into the potential health risks of mobile phone use set up by an agency of the UN’s World Health Organisation and carried out in 13 countries, concluded last month that making calls for more than half an hour a day could increase users’ risk of developing brain cancer by as much as 40 per cent.

But the researchers admitted the results were not conclusive and could have been affected by statistical error or bias.

Now Mr Morgan, an electronic engineer, has re-assessed Interphone’s findings to take into account its flaws.

He believes its main problem was “selection bias”. Many of the healthy subjects chosen for comparison with tumour sufferers were likely to be mobile phone users themselves, while others whose experience would have been useful to the study were either too ill to take part or refused to do so.

Mr Morgan believes the “systemic underestimation of risk” in Interphone means that the true risk of developing brain tumours for mobile phone users is at least 25 per cent higher than previously thought.

One of the Interphone studies found a 24 per cent increased risk of glioma - the most common type of brain tumour - from "regular" use on the same side of the head as the handset was held.

But this rose to 55 per cent under Mr Morgan’s analysis, and after 10 years or more the risk doubled for those who use mobiles just at least once a week.

However Ed Yong, head of health information for Cancer Research UK, said: "The warnings of a ‘brain tumour pandemic’ are overblown.

“The majority of studies in people have found no link between mobile phones and cancer, national brain cancer rates have not increased in proportion to skyrocketing phone use and there are still no good consistent explanations for how mobile phones could cause cancer.

“Even after the minor adjustments reported in this new analysis, the results from the overall Interphone study are still either not statistically significant, or right on the borderline.

“This means that any link between mobile phones and cancer that the conference presentation quotes could well be down to chance or anomalies in the data they collected.”

Elder Abuse in India”-15/6/10


How we are treating our elders: Topping the kinds of abuse faced was: 40.2% elderly felt disrespected, followed by verbal abuse (37.8%), neglect, economic abuse (28.2%), emotional abuse (25.8%) and physical abuse (14.1%). Bhopal had the highest percentage of elderly who faced abuse (79.3 %) and Delhi came out as the go...od city with the lowest (15.4%). Physical abuse was the highest in Kolkata (22.8%), Hyderabad (21.7%), Mumbai (21%) & Ahmedabad (20%) in comparison to other cities.

Tuesday 15 June 2010
HelpAge India’s ‘Report on Elder Abuse in India” brings out some startling facts marking WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY 2010

June 15, New Delhi (National).
Today, on the “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” (which falls on June 15), HelpAge India, the nation’s premier charity working for the elderly brought out some startling facts from a study it conducted across 8 cities in India on Elder Abuse.

The methodology of the study was primarily through HelpAge India’s network of Senior Citizen Associations and individuals. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques were used. The main survey was quantitative with structured interviews among elderly men and women in the age group of 60+ years primarily among the educated middle class. A sample size of 800 (approx.) was carried out in 8 cities with 100 per city (approx.). The 8 cities were: Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Chennai, Patna and Hyderabad.

The qualitative component included In Depth Interviews carried out with respondent * such as Legal Experts, members of Senior Citizen Associations, Police Officers, Medical Experts, Social Welfare Officer, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Psychologists, Corporate and Individual donors.

One fifth of the elderly did not know what constitutes abuse and among those that were aware, more than one third felt elder abuse constitutes: from feeling disrespected to verbal abuse, economic abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and physical abuse. Topping the kinds of abuse faced was: 40.2% elderly felt disrespected, followed by verbal abuse (37.8%), neglect, economic abuse (28.2%), emotional abuse (25.8%) and physical abuse (14.1%).

Bhopal had the highest percentage of elderly who faced abuse (79.3 %) and Delhi came out as the good city with the lowest (15.4%). Physical abuse was the highest in Kolkata (22.8%), Hyderabad (21.7%), Mumbai (21%) & Ahmedabad (20%) in comparison to other cities.

44% elders consider Neglect as a form of abuse and of those abused, 33.7% stated that they faced neglect. Topping the reasons for Neglect stated by the elders was that family members were too preoccupied with their own lives & work.

Nearly 50% of elders live with their sons (49.5%) and of those that are financially dependent - 57% are dependent on their sons. Of those facing abuse, 53.6 % of the elderly stated, they were abused by their own son followed by a close second by their daughter-in-law (43.3%).In Delhi, Domestic help was another source with 19% elderly feeling abused by them.

The reasons for taking no action against abuser were mainly: the belief that nothing concrete will happen, second a sense of shame in the community, followed by fear of further abuse.

53.4% elderly took no action when faced with abuse and 25.5% elderly prefer to discuss it with family or community to resolve matters.

33% of those that registered a complaint against the abuser felt nothing concrete came out of it. Maximum number of the senior citizens felt that the elderly should be given protection by law enforcing agencies followed by home visits. Close to two fifth (38%) of the elderly perceive the role of police and lawyers as non supportive.

The main context of abuse was Property (35.4%) followed by Lack of Emotional Support (30.2%). The percentage of elderly who owned property was highest on Delhi (68.3%), Patna (68%) and Bhopal (62.1%). The main source of income for most elderly was their Pension (45 %) with Delhi once again topping the list with 62%.

Nearly one third each of the elderly reported facing abuse because of lack of emotional support (30%) and lack of basic necessities (29%).

A large number of elderly are unaware of existing laws to protect them, with only one third of the elderly (33%) being aware. The awareness of laws and programmes is highest in Delhi (53.8%) followed by Mumbai (44.7%) and Kolkata (40.3%). The awareness level is lowest in Bhopal (8%).

‘Having steady cash flow’, ‘making adjustments within family’ and ‘having own property to reduce economic dependency’ are the major measures suggested by the elderly to control elder abuse.

The qualitative study respondents* suggested that families need to interact with one another and maintain harmony and peaceful relationships to control elder abuse. The children and the elderly both need to make adjustments. Donors feel that civil society needs to be made more aware of the issue of elder abuse. To facilitate this, the Corporates are willing to support the cause as they believe that they are part of the society and it is their social obligation to participate in social issues.

HelpAge India feels that Awareness about Elder Abuse is the first concrete step in tackling the problem. Awareness of what it constitutes, of the laws available to tackle it and most importantly open and healthy dialogues between people though discussions, forums, educational mediums among other things.

नीतीश कुमर ने गुजरात सरकार को सहायता राशि लौटाई !!-20/6/10

नीतीश कुमर ने गुजरात सरकार को सहायता राशि लौटाई !!


Author: Kusum Thakur | Posted at: Sunday, June 20, 2010 | Filed Under: देश

बिहार के मुख्यमंत्री नीतीश कुमार द्वारा गुजरात सरकार की ओर से कोसी बाढ़ राहत आपदा के लिए दी गई पांच करोड़ रुपए की राहत राशि लौटाए जाने से नाराज बिहार के उपमुख्यमंत्री सुशील कुमार मोदी ने रविवार को नीतीश की 'विश्वास यात्रा' का बहिष्कार कर दिया।

श्री नीतीश कुमर इन दिनों प्रदेश भर में विश्वास यात्रा निकाल रहे हैं और सरकार की उपलब्धियों का बखान कर रहे हैं। मोदी लगभग उनकी हर यात्रा में साथ रहा करते थे। लेकिन रविवार को जब नीतीश कुमर विश्वास यात्रा पर ग्रामीण पटना के लिए निकल रहे थे तो मोदी नहीं पहुंचे।

मोदी के एक करीबी नेता ने बताया, ''नीतीश के प्रति भाजपा नेताओं में बढ़ते असंतोष के मद्देनजर मोदी ने शनिवार रात को ही तय कर लिया था कि विश्वास यात्रा में शामिल नहीं होंगे।'' मोदी के इस रुख को प्रदेश की भाजपा और जनता दल (युनाइटेड) की गठबंधन सरकार के बीच रिश्तों में बढ़ती खटास के रूप में देखा जा रहा है। भाजपा के प्रदेश अध्यक्ष सीपी ठाकुर नई दिल्ली पहुंच गए हैं, और भाजपा के केंद्रीय नेतृत्व के साथ एक अहम बैठक में हिस्सा लेंगे।

पिछले दिनों पटना में भाजपा कार्यसमिति की बैठक के दौरान स्थानीय अखबारों में एक विज्ञापन छपा था, जिसमें नीतीश कुमार और मोदी की तस्वीर एक साथ छपी थी। एक अन्य विज्ञापन में इस बात का जिक्र था कि वर्ष 2008 में कोसी बाढ़ आपदा के समय गुजरात ने बिहार को पांच करोड़ रुपए की मदद की थी।

उसी दिन इन विज्ञापनों पर नीतीश ने सार्वजनिक तौर पर अपना गुस्सा प्रकट किया और विज्ञापन को बिहार की अस्मिता से जोड़ते हुए गुजरात को पैसा लौटाने की धमकी दी थी। विज्ञापन से नाराज नीतीश ने भाजपा नेताओं को दिया जाने वाला रात्रिभोज तक रद्द कर दिया था। इसके बाद गत शनिवार को नीतीश ने गुजरात सरकार को पांच करोड़ की सहायता राशि लौटा दी।


Spare Dhoni, he's still one of the best skippers: Murali


Spare Dhoni, he's still one of the best skippers: Murali


New Delhi: India's Twenty20 World Cup flop show notwithstanding, Mahendra Singh Dhoni remains one of the best skippers in international cricket and it is unfair to criticise him on the basis of just one bad tournament, said Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan.

Spare Dhoni, he's still one of the best skippers: Murali

World's highest Test wicket-taker both in Tests and ODIs, who plays under Dhoni in the Indian Premier League champion side Chennai Super Kings, said he was amused to see the outrage that greeted India's early exit from the showpiece event in the West Indies.

"He is one of the best captains. He won the IPL for Chennai Super Kings. A week later India were knocked out of the World Cup and in India when you win you are the best but when you lose you become the worst," Muralitharan quipped.

"But you cannot become the worst in just a week. The media cannot bring him down like that," the off-spinner said.

Spare Dhoni, he's still one of the best skippers: Murali

Apart from the team's poor batting and fitness, critics attributed India's dismal show to Dhoni's uninspiring captaincy as well.

Muralitharan said India cannot be overnight labelled a bad team as it has proved itself in the Test and ODI arena.

"They don't lack skill. They are the number one in Tests and number two in ODIs. You cannot reach there if you don't have the skills," he reasoned on the sidelines of a function to announce the Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) awards which would be held in Sri Lanka this year.

Spare Dhoni, he's still one of the best skippers: Murali

"Twenty20 is a game anybody can win on his day. While in Tests and ODIs, there is time for you to come back. There is no such thing in Twenty20. India had a good team but they lost the grip after winning two matches initially. In Twenty20 you need a bit of luck also.

"England was the best team and they won the title but Australia won all their matches and lost in the final. It just shows that you need some luck too. Like in IPL, the game can change in just one over," he said.

As for the IPL post-match parties, which Dhoni had blamed for exhausting players, Muralitharan said he never attended any of them.

Spare Dhoni, he's still one of the best skippers: Murali

"No, I don't think it's fair to blame the IPL. I never attended the parties. As a franchisee, we never attended those parties. So, I cannot say," he said.

Nursing a groin now, the ace off-spinner is all set for a comeback in next month's Asia Cup.

"I will be there at Asia Cup. I am fine now," he said.

Muralitharan will quit the game after 2011 ODI World Cup in the sub-continent and the 38-year-old veteran of 132 Tests and 334 one-dayers said he wants to sign off on a high.

"I never dreamt of getting what I have got. I have everything and I want to go on a high, instead of when I am down," he said.

Source: PTI

Saina Nehwal wins Singapore Open-20/6/10


Saina Nehwal wins Singapore Open


Singapore: Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal clinched the second Super Series title of her career by winning the Singapore Open with a straight-game triumph over qualifier Tzu Ying Tai in the finals here.

Saina Nehwal wins Singapore Open

Top seed Saina took just 33 minutes to beat Chinese Taipei's Tai 21-18 21-15 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The world number six, who was the lone Indian left if fray after others crashed out by the semifinal stage, had bagged her maiden Super Series title in June last year when she claimed the top honours at the Indonesian Open.

Saina Nehwal wins Singapore Open

The in-form Saina came here after winning the India Open Grand Prix Gold title only last week.

In a game that was close to start with, Saina was locked 18-18 with her rival at one stage before edging ahead. Saina had seven smash winners to show against her rival's three in the opening game.

Saina Nehwal wins Singapore Open

In the second game, Saina displayed a better net game and outwitted her rival in rallies to emerge triumphant.

Source: PTI

Common entrance for medical, engineering courses soon-19/6/10


Common entrance for medical, engineering courses soon

New Delhi: A common entrance examination for engineering and medical streams is on the cards as the government moves towards making education more student friendly.

Common entrance for medical, engineering courses soon

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said that the All India Pre-Medical Test and All India Engineering Entrance Exam will be combined as both have common subjects.

"Physics and chemistry are the common subjects for the entrance exam. Depending on their choice, students can take maths or biology," Sibal said.

The minister was speaking to reporters after a meeting of the National Foundation for Teachers' Welfare attended by state education ministers in the national capital.

"It will reduce the pressure on students who have to appear for 10 or 15 entrance exams," he said.

Sibal's announcement comes as the government is making a slew of efforts to reduce the burden on students.

After introducing grading in the Class 10 board exams and making the examinations optional from 2011, the HRD ministry is now focusing on easing the pressure on Class 12 board examinees.

Common entrance for medical, engineering courses soon

Among the ministry's future plans is holding a general awareness and aptitude test after Class 12. The scores of this test will be combined with the board examination marks and a weightage will be calculated.

A common core curriculum for science and maths formulated by the Central Board of Secondary Education will be a stepping stone for this.

"This will help in controlling the growing trend of coaching institutes. Even institutes like IITs agree that the best talent is not coming due to increasing coaching institutions," Sibal said.

A National Institution for Assessment and Evaluation, digitization of certificates in DMAT form to avoid forgery and inclusion of physical education and value education in the school curriculum are the other innovative measures the government is taking to improve school education.

Sibal also proposed a National Vocational Education Framework for evaluation of vocational training institutes.

"We have got positive response from the states on almost all plans," Sibal added.

18/06/2010 Panel to discuss higher education regulator bill New Delhi: An education advisory panel will meet on Friday to take a final decision on a


Panel to discuss higher education regulator bill

New Delhi: An education advisory panel will meet on Friday to take a final decision on a draft bill aimed at creating an apex regulator for higher education in the country, human resource development (HRD) ministry sources said.

Panel to discuss higher education regulator bill

The Central Advisory Board on Education will discuss the draft bill on National Commission for Higher Education and Research - an overarching body which will oversee higher education, sources said.

"The CABE will now take up the bill (NCHER). Once it is approved, we will move further," an official from the ministry said.

CABE is the highest advisory body to the central and state governments in the field of education. The two-day meeting which will conclude Saturday is also likely to take up critical issues like the proposed education finance corporation.

The NCHER bill aims at creating an overarching body which will oversee higher education in the country. Sources said the bill will be presented during the monsoon session of parliament.

The draft bill which has faced opposition from many states will be placed before the council for recommendations. Once approved by the CABE, the draft bill will be submitted to the government for final decision.

The council will also take up a proposal on the National Education Finance Corporation which proposes the creation of a corpus to give education loans at low interest rates.

The central government is expected to ask states for contributing to the corporation which will have an initial corpus of Rs 5,500 crore.

The NCHER bill is being presented to the council with some changes following recommendations from the states. Many states had opposed the bill saying it is against the federal character of government.

"There are some changes which increase the power of state governments, it will now be discussed in the meeting," an official said.

Among the changes, the central government has proposed setting up a council of state representatives which can veto the decisions of the commission with a two-thirds majority.

The bill has faced opposition as the HRD ministry is pitching for bringing higher education in the fields of medicine, law and agriculture under the commission.

Presently, these branches are not under the HRD ministry. The move has faced stiff resistance from health and law ministries. With agriculture being a state subject, a constitutional amendment will be needed for bringing it under NCHER.

Source: IANS