Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thursday 4 September 2008

Times Of India
Thursday 4 September 2008

N-deal to be off if India conducts nuclear test?

Claim By US Lawmakers Makes India’s Task At NSG Tougher

Indrani Bagchi & Sachin Parashar | TNN

New Delhi: In what could raise the bar for the Indo-US deal just ahead of the NSG meeting beginning on Thursday and cause embarrassment to the Manmohan Singh government, the US state department has told its country’s Congress that the pact would be off if India conducts a nuclear test.
    In its replies to US lawmakers, the state department has also said the deal would not mean transfer of any sensitive technology to India or uninterrupted fuel supply — a contradiction of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurances to Parliament which could encourage the NSG countries which are already opposing the deal.
    PM Manmohan Singh, foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee and AEC chairman Anil Kakodkar met late on Wednesday to review the situation.
    “US government will not assist India in the design, construction or operation of sensitive nuclear technologies”. The position, as spelt out to the
US Congress, goes further than the 123 pact which kept a window open for such transfers in future, and could spur those asking for introduction of similar prohibitions in the NSG waiver.
    The replies were made public by
Howard L Berman, chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a known opponent of the deal.
    For the past nine months, there was considerable speculation in India over the state department’s replies to queries from Congressmen on the nuclear deal which were sent to Berman’s predecessor Tom Lantos.
    The disclosure on the eve of the two-day NSG meeting that what some members want only mirrors the benchmark the US has set for itself, could see NSG objectors — like New Zealand and Austria — upping their ante. This could frustrate India’s hopes of wresting a politically palatable waiver.
    Even the predictable assertion that the 123 Agreement conforms fully to the contentious Hyde Act could not have come at a worse time. The hold outs at the NSG have been insisting that the waiver for India must be in line with the prescriptions in the Hyde Act.

State dept’s replies to US lawmakers contradict PM’s assurances to Parliament
Replies had been kept under wraps for months. Disclosure on eve of crucial two-day NSG meeting could see objectors upping the ante
BJP, Left call deal a sellout, accuse govt of misleading nation
‘‘We will only go by what has been communicated to us directly by the US and our position is extremely clear to them,’’ says senior govt official
Washington: The Bush administration has told the US Congress that Washington will terminate nuclear trade with India if New Delhi conducts a nuclear test, and the same assurance should be written into any Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) green signal to India, Washington’s non-proliferation lobby asserted on Tuesday.
    In yet another last ditch attempt to hold the Bush White House to specific commitments before Congress, and possibly torpedo the US-India nuclear agreement ahead of a crucial NSG meeting in Vienna on Tuesday, non-proliferation hardliners here released what they said was a secret letter written by President Bush to a now deceased lawmaker in which the administration seemingly challenges New Delhi’s claim that the agreement will not constrain India’s right to conduct nuclear tests.
    Instead, in the 26-page response to Congressional queries, the administration (and not President Bush specifically) has in effect assured the late Congressman Tom Lantos, who died of cancer in February this year, that any Indian test would compel the ad
ministration to act as per the provisions of the Hyde Act (named after the Lantos colleague Henry Hyde, who also passed away in November last year) and cease nuclear cooperation with India.
    Responding to 45 technical questions posed by members of House International Relations Committee, of which Lantos was the chairman, a senior administration official specifically addressed the contentious issue of fuel supply, which is India’s bugaboo given past record of mistrust on this subject between the two countries. New Delhi has sought iron-clad guarantees that fuel supplies will not be interrupted in the event of an Indian nuclear test.
    The letter says the US would help India deal only with “disruptions in supply to India that
may result through no fault of its own,’’ such as a trade war or market disruptions. “The fuel supply assurances are not, however, meant to insulate India against the consequences of a nuclear explosive test or a violation of nonproliferation commitments,’’ the letter said.
    A minor detail that was misrepresented in the story by a runaway media is that the letter is not from President Bush, but from Jeffrey Bergner, assistant secretary, Legislative Affairs, in the State Department. But Congressional aides said the bureaucracy was conveying the views of the White House and the missive can be said to be from President Bush.
    The letter was released by Congressman Howard Berman, who succeeded Lantos as Chairman, because “because he wants to ensure that his col
leagues have all of the relevant information,” Lynne Weil, the communications director of the committee told TOI.
    According to the non-proliferation lobby, India has been claiming that the deal would not constrain the country’s right to nuclear tests and would provide an uninterrupted supply of fuel to India’s nuclear reactors. In August 2007, PM Manmohan Singh told Parliament, “The agreement does not in any way affect India’s right to undertake future nuclear tests, if it is necessary.”
    But the Indian interpretation of the agreement is that the US and other countries will help maintain fuel supply under mitigating circumstances, such as an Indian test in response to Chinese or Pakistani tests. Implicit in the Prime Minister’s assurance, Indian officials reason, is that while India is committed to not testing, it expects the US and the international community not to punish it if it is compelled to test.
    The non-proliferation lobby insists that the letter makes clear that terminating cooperation in the event of a test could be immediate and was within US discretion, and that the supply assurances made by the United States are not legally
binding but simply a commitment made by President Bush. They want similar provisions written into the NSG waiver that will be deliberated on in Vienna on Thursday.
    “There is no reason why this should not be an NSG-wide policy,’’ Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington think-tank which has taken a lead role in opposing the USIndia agreement, told the Washington Post, which, along with the New York Times, is one of the two media outlets frequently used by the non-proliferation lobby to air its views.
    It’s now clear from both President Bush’s and Prime Minister Singh’s postures that they each choose to interpret the nuclear deal in a way that is most palatable to their critics and constituents. Shorn of complexities and legislative and bureaucratic gobledygook, Bush has told critics of the deal, “If India tests, we will punish, except may be if...” Singh’s line: “We don’t need to test, but if need to we will, no matter the cost.’’ Both sides seem to live in the hope that it will never come to that. The NSG is meeting on Thursday and Friday in Vienna to consider the US-India deal.


Havoc in Aravalis as SC norms are ignored

TOI uncovers a disturbing story of savage exploitation of environment and labour just 36 km from Delhi

Abantika Ghosh | TNN

Sirohi (Faridabad): Every time you see a swanky new building coming up in Delhi, think of the ravaged Aravalis, savagely slashed along the red quartize face, innards gouged out. Think of the labourers working in dust-laden pits and stone crushers for 12 hours, if not longer, for Rs 100 a day — work that, more often than not, leaves them with tuberculosis or silicosis a few years down the line.
    Think of Khori Jamalpur and Sirohi — the two legal stone quarries with a cumulative area of about 267 hectares, adjacent to the Pali-Sohna state highway where it cuts across backward Mewat, bringing to its people some temporary easy cash, but devastating their environment for successive generations. If you saw this bombed out tract of hills, just 36 km from Delhi, you would admit that the supply of stone chips for all constructions in the NCR comes at a high price. Perhaps, unacceptably high.
    The mines were started
here with the Supreme Court’s nod and also its guidelines for mining. When the apex court decided on Monday that the entire Aravali range in Gurgaon district would first be mapped by satellite imagery before new areas are opened up for mining, it overlooked this part of the Faridabad district.
    If it were to map this area too, and back that up with a ground-level survey, it would find that its own guidelines have been thrown to the winds.
    The world’s oldest mountain range, standing guard against the desertification of the Indo-Gangetic plains, has been virtually decimated in these parts. Mining here doesn’t have environment clearance. While the Central Pollution Control Board said in reply to
a RTI application that the mines here don’t have an NOC from them, the Haryana Pollution Control Board claimed to TOI that since ‘‘minor minerals’’ (quartzite) were being mined, no NOC is required.
    The violations appear to be many. We saw child labour in the mines, quarry and crusher workers working without mandatory safety equipment like masks, ear plugs and body suits. We were told about scant medical facilities, common respiratory diseases. We also saw boulder-laden trucks — 3,200 of them carry away 1,000 tonnes of stones every day, according to the manager of the
Khori Jamalpur mines — using the Ballabhgarh-Pali-Sohna state highway, reducing it to a cratered mess, when they are supposed to take another road, specially built for the trucks by cutting through the Aravalis. Cops ignore mining violations: SP
Sirohi (Faridabad): While the Supreme Court on Monday took note of the ecological concern over mining in Aravali range in Gurgaon district and ordered the region to be mapped by satellite imagery before new areas are opened up for mining, at Khori Jamalpur and Sirohi mines in Faridabad it's business as usual.
    The two mines yield stones worth Rs 2.17 crore every day, according to NGO Shakti Vahini that works in this area. For every truck that goes out of the area, the company makes a profit of Rs 6,800 — it pays Rs 1,200 as tax to the government and sells the stones for Rs 8,000.
    When TOI spoke to Faridabad superintendent of police Srikant Yadav about the violation by the trucks, he said: ‘‘They are supposed to use the inner road but the SHO sometimes asks for permission to let them use the main road during the rains when the road meant for trucks is all slush and mud.’’ He rang back to say that trucks carrying stone chips were allowed, but not those with boulders. We mostly saw trucks heaped with boulders on the highway.
    On being told that the main road is used even at such times when the inner road is motorable, the SP said: ‘‘It’s a violation that smacks of connivance with the local police.’’ Gurgaon deputy commissioner Vijender Singh, however, said there is no rule about trucks not being allowed on the road. ‘‘How can you exclude vehicles from a state highway? There are plans to get a cement-concrete road there constructed on BoT basis,’’ he said.
    Inside the mines, it’s a shocking spectacle of a mountain range systematically being torn piece by piece to fuel development. ‘‘We build Delhi,’’ said a proud Surender Sharma, manager of Khori Jamalpur stone quarry. That he surely does, even if it is to the ruin of the Aravalis.

    The mandatory afforestation that mines are expected to do is sketchy here — the sturdy jatropha and Gulmohar have been planted on heaps of malba and waste near the road but not on the Aravali hills for the simple reason that by the time mining is over, there is nothing left in the soil to sustain plant
life. As we went deeper into the mining area, we found the remunerative jatropha had been replaced by keekar, a coloniser, known to deplete any soil of nutrients.
    This, despite a stringent ‘‘sustainable development’’ clause set down by the Supreme Court.
    DC Vijender Singh said
whether the Supreme Court guidelines on afforestation were being followed or not was something to be ensured by the department of mining and geology, government of Haryana. ‘‘I will get it checked nevertheless,’’ he added helpfully.
    M P Sharma, mining engineer with the state’s de
partment of mining and geology, gave a clean chit to the mines. ‘‘Everything that happens there is completely scientific. The water table is 80-90 metres below and the mines never reach that deep,’’ he claimed, even though the mine staff itself said mining stopped only 3 metres above the ground water level.
    And when the water table was breached, pumps were used to pump out the water and go deeper.
    The lease period of both the mines is set to expire in February 2009, but mine manager Surender Sharma said that an application has already been moved for a twoyear extension. If the extension is given, the ruin of the area will be still more extreme. Engineer M P Sharma denied any application for an extension of lease: ‘‘They have only asked for permission to increase their yield from 5 lakh tonnes per month to 9 lakh tonnes. We are considering it.’’ The mines manager, however, said the output was already 8 lakh tonnes a month.
    The DC is categorical that the only complaints he has ever received from the area are about exploitation of workers but ‘‘inquiries have showed there is no truth is them. They have all the facilities and we have organized regular health checkups that do not show that they are surviving from any specific disease.’’
    Nishi Kant, a volunteer with the NGO Shakti Vahini, says that crusher workers cannot continue beyond a few years as they fall prey to tuberculosis or silicosis because they constantly breathe in fine stone dust that line the lungs, soon making them virtually useless.
    We spoke to a worker, who did not wish to be identified. ‘‘We live in cramped rooms,’’ he said. ‘‘There are no medical facilities here. If it’s a minor ailment, they give some medicines but the moment they realise it is something complicated, we are just asked to go home and return when we are ok. Few do.’’ 

GOING DOWNHILL: Mining work at Khori Jamalpur (Faridabad) is wrecking the mountain range

MINTING MONEY: Mines at Khori Jamalpur (above) and Sirohi yield stones worth Rs 2.17 crore daily


Mamata’s stir claims first life

3 Sons Jobless, Land Sold, Singur Farmer Gulps Pesticide

Jayanta Gupta & Falguni Banerjee | TNN

Singur: The Trinamool-led siege that forced the shutdown at Singur claimed its first victim on Wednesday. Having surrendered his one-and-half acre farmland to the West Bengal government, 61-year-old Sushen Sarkar was banking heavily on the Nano project. His three sons — Subhas, Uttam and Bibhas — were beneficiaries of the project with two of them daily workers at the Tata factory. But the dharna and suspension of work by the Tatas shattered his world.
    The resident of Pagepara in Joymolla neighbourhood put himself out of his misery by drinking a bottle of pesticide on Wednesday morning.
    ‘‘He was very upset. My sons have not been paid and since we are dependent on their income, my husband was very tense. Those who forced the factory to close down are squarely responsible for his death,’’ said Balika Sarkar, his widow.
    After trading his land for Rs 18 lakh, Sushen constructed a two-storey house with enough room for all his children and their families.
    While Subhas and Uttam got jobs at BBG —an ancillary bearing manu
facturing unit — Bibhas worked as a material supplier. The family income had jumped from an average of Rs 45 per day from farming only to about Rs 300 per day and the Sarkar family was on the verge of relative affluence.
    But the shutdown threatened that lifestyle, now bolstered with add-ons like a TV set. Since Mamata’s men unleashed their mayhem, Subhas and Uttam had not been able to report for work, losing more than Rs 200 a day.
    Bibhas, too, has been sitting at home with material supply suspended. And now Subhas, whose wife is
pregnant, was particularly worried about losing his job.
    The panic got to Sushen after the Tata announcement on Tuesday evening that the Nano project could be shifted out of Singur. Having watched the news on TV, he went to a local club and discussed the matter with a few neighbours. They had nothing encouraging to say about the future of the project.

Governor agrees to chair talks tomorrow
West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi has agreed to chair talks between a state government panel and the Trinamool Congress, to be held on September 5. The decision followed requests from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to him to mediate personally. A Raj Bhavan statement said the governor’s role would be that of the meeting’s chairperson. P 12 


Dengue grips Gurgaon: 348 cases and counting

Kounteya Sinha & Sumi Sukanya | TNN

New Delhi: After potholed roads, water scarcity, endless traffic snarls and power outages, the millennium city of Gurgaon is now reeling under a massive dengue outbreak. With 28 blood samples testing positive on Wednesday, Gurgaon’s dengue count has risen to 348 cases, with two deaths.
    Alarmingly, as many as 263 cases have been reported from Gurgaon’s urban areas and posh colonies. Inspections carried out by officials from the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases reported the breeding rate of Aedes mosquito (that carries the dengue virus) was alarmingly high in Gurgaon — sometimes 40% of the houses inspected were found to be breeding sites.
    According to NVBDCP records, Gurgaon had reported 297 cases till August 31 this year, as against 36 cases till August 2007 — an increase of nearly 800%.
Delhi till now has recorded 92 positive dengue cases.
    If Gurgaon’s reputation as an upmarket destination and a shining symbol of the new economy was already being tarred by civic woes — and the perpetual hassles of expressway commuters — the dengue situation may well be the last straw for many residents.

Worst months tend to be Sept and Oct. The problem may only get worse
Almost 80% of cases reported from Gurgaon’s urban spaces, which house its posh colonies
Mosquitoes found breeding in 40% houses in some areas. Authorities may issue legal notices to houses where mosquito larvae are found
Legal notice likely for mosquito-breeding sites
New Delhi: The dengue situation in Gurgaon has forced the administration of considering issuing challans as its spraying operations have not been effective enough.
    Many Gurgaon residents have also alleged that dengue patients were being refused admission in hospitals because of unavailability of beds. Gurgaon’s deputy commissioner, Deepti Uma Shankar, said the administration is seriously contemplating issuing legal notices and challans to families whose houses are found to be breeding sites for the mosquito.
    ‘‘The vector responsible for dengue breeds in domestic areas. The community has to therefore take responsibility and ensure their homes don’t turn into breeding sites,’’ she said.
    A high-powered review meeting, chaired by the director general of health services, Dr R K Srivastava, on Tuesday considered proposals on how to combat the outbreak in Gurgaon. Director general of NVBDCP, Dr G P S Dhillon, told TOI, ‘‘Proposals such as training security guards of these posh localities in Gurgaon in identifying mosquito breeding sites is being looked into seriously.”
    According to Gurgaon’s chief medical officer Dr S S Dalal, advent of early rains,
large areas of stagnant water, high density construction work and a failure on the part of residents to regularly check for breeding sites has caused this outbreak.
    ‘‘Dengue has become a serious public health problem in Gurgaon and most cases are being recorded from the posh colonies. At present, 95 officials from the state health department are involved in fogging and containment operations. If the community does not come forward to control breeding, we will see a more serious outbreak,’’ Dr Dalal said.

    According to Dr Dalal, Gurgaon recorded 105 dengue cases in 2005, 204 in 2006 and 183 in 2007.
    ‘‘We already have more than 320 cases till now with the peak season for dengue transmission — September and October — yet to come,’’ Dr Dalal said.
    While doctors and health authorities dismiss it as panic reaction from the public, many Gurgaon residents have said that instead of getting proper treatment, patients suffering from dengue were not even being admitted in hospitals.
    One resident, Ruhana Bhatia, said that her 11-year-old son had tested positive for dengue but the hospital where she took him refused to take the boy in. They said that the patient’s condition was stable and there was no need for him to remain in hospital. ‘‘When someone is suffering from such a disease, how can they refuse to keep him under 24-hour medical supervision?’’ asked a bewildered Ruhana.

    Meanwhile, Dr Krishan Kumar, district malaria officer, said the best possible care was being provided to dengue sufferers. ‘‘All patients are being treated on priority,’’ he said. Dr Ashutosh Shukla from Artemis Health Institute said only those patients who do not need to be in hospitals day and night were being discharged. ‘‘We are taking dengue patients who are in critical condition but those who can be cured without being admitted are being told so. However as there is so much panic among people they might not understand our advise and are making fuss about this,’’ he added.
    Lack of manpower is being touted as a major reason why the menace hasn’t been curbed. ‘‘We have only 95 people in the antilarvae squad who are carrying out fogging. Until we are armed with proper paraphernalia to fight the disease, it is very difficult to control the situation,’’ said Dr Dalal. 


Kerala lines up edu quota for forward castes

Thiruvananthapuram: In a significant move, the CPM-led LDF government in Kerala on Wednesday announced reservation in higher education for economically disadvantaged students among forward castes.
    The quota will be 10% of seats in government-run colleges and 7.5% in universities, in view of the reservation pattern stipulated by the UGC, chief minister V S Achuthanandan told reporters after a cabinet meeting here.
    The quota will be applicable for degree and post-graduate courses, he said. Besides, nine Industrial Training Institutes in the state would also be developed as centres of excellence, he said. AGENCIES
Another IT park to come up in Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM-led LDF government in Kerala on Wednesday announced a slew of measures. It allotted land for yet another software park in the state. ‘‘The state cabinet on Wednesday cleared the decision to allot 70 acres of land for the proposed IT Cyber Park at Kozhikode,’’ Achuthanandan said after the cabinet meeting. ‘‘Already two such parks exist - one in the capital and the other at Kochi. The clearance for a new similar park comes at a time when both existing parks are being expanded. The new initiative will help further boost software exports from the state which crossed the Rs 10 billion mark last fiscal,’’ the chief minister said.

    Already work is on to expand the two existing parks. In fact, the chief minister will flag off construction work for the third phase of the Technopark campus here on Thursday. The third phase will be developed over 92 acres of land to be implemented as an IT/ITES SEZ. AGENCIES

Govt to review anti-dowry law

Himanshi Dhawan | TNN

New Delhi: For long, voices raised against the anti-dowry act were dismissed as those belonging to men desperately trying to retain their dominance over women. But now, an increasing number of women complaining against misuse of the act has forced the women and child development (WCD) ministry to initiate a review of the controversial legislation.
    Said WCD joint secretary Kiran Chadha, ‘‘We will be meeting a panel of lawyers and legal experts to review the law. We have been receiving so many complaints against the two laws — section 498A (harassment for dowry) and the domestic violence act.’’
    The meeting is likely to be held on September 17.
    The Indian Penal Code’s section
498A had long been seen by women activists as one of the foremost legal weapons for a woman shunned by her in-laws and her parents. The government’s turnaround comes after an increasing number of complaints came from women themselves — mothersin-law and sisters-in-law who ironically have fallen victim to misuse of the two laws.
    The statistics are telling. Raksha, an NGO working on marital harmony and child welfare, has analyzed figures by the National Crime Records Bureau to deduce that 1.2 lakh women have been falsely implicated under 498A. ‘‘Every 21 minutes, an innocent woman is being arrested. While the number of arrests under 498A is increasing every year, what is not being considered is that the conviction rate in these cases is barely 2%,’’ Raksha spokesperson Anupama Singh said.
    Now, the official view has perhaps finally reflected a change in attitude towards a woman complainant.

1.2 lakh women have been falsely implicated under the antidowry section, 498A, according to figures collated by NGO Raksha
Every 21 minutes, an innocent woman is being arrested under 498A, the NGO states
Study of 3,000 cases showed girls who misused anti-dowry law were mostly graduates living in both metros and small towns
NGO wants dowry offence to be made bailable
New Delhi: An increasing number of women complaining against misuse of the anti-dowry act has forced the women and child development (WCD) ministry to initiate a review of the controversial legislation. One of the most vocal NGOs, Mothers and Sisters Initiative (MASI), has submitted a charter of demands to the ministry that includes suggestions for a ‘‘modified 498A’’. MASI has suggested that in the section which says ‘‘husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty,’’ the clause ‘‘relative of husband’’ be dropped. The NGO has also recommended that the law be made bailable and non-cognizable, and that its misuse be penalized.
    Singh says that misuse of the two laws isn’t restricted to the metros. ‘‘We have studied over 3,000 cases and found that girls who have misused the law are mostly graduates, not necessarily living in a metro city. They can be from small towns and have access to advice from lawyers. This is multi-crore industry that has even enveloped NRIs,’’ Singh said.

    The ministry has been at the receiving end of criticism for some time now. Earlier this year, it had organized a workshop to discuss issues related to women’s legislation that soon turned into a slanging match. In August, the ministry launched an aggressive media campaign on several issues including domestic violence. When queried on the occasion if the campaign was a defensive move following criticism of the law, WCD minister Renuka Choudhary said, ‘‘We are not being defensive. We are being pro-active. I have taken the bull by the horns.’’



    Bihar is witnessing its worst flood in living memory. Many districts are under water, rendering 15 lakh people homeless. These people have lost not just their homes, but virtually everything, including their income. Hunger stalks vast tracts of the state. Helping the flood-hit pick up their shattered lives requires enormous relief work.

The Times of India appeals to its readers to donate generously to the Chief Minister Relief Fund. Contributions will qualify for tax exemption under 80G(2) of the I-T Act. Write your cheque or draft in the name of ‘Chief Minister Relief Fund’, payable at Patna, and send it to: Chief Minister Relief Fund, Chief Minister Secretariat, 4 Deshratna Marg, Patna – 800001. You can also electronically send money into the account of ‘Chief Minister Relief Fund’, SBI, A/c No. 10839124928, Patna Secretariat branch.



Sanjeev Nanda to be sentenced tomorrow
Additional sessions judge Vinod Kumar on Wednesday reserved the order on quantum of sentence for Sanjeev Nanda for September 5. P 2 
Ban on opinion, exit polls? The cabinet is likely to consider on Thursday a proposal to ban publishing or telecasting opinion and exit polls during elections — from the time the EC announces elections till the last vote is cast. P 10 
Puja at school sparks row: Jaipur’s St Xavier’s School authorities on Wednesday suspended seven students for offering puja to Lord Ganesha in their classroom. Over 200 members of the BJP youth wing retaliated by throwing stones at the school. P 7 
UPSC told to reveal cutoffs: Delhi HC on Wednesday directed UPSC to make public cutoff marks obtained by candidates in the preliminary test of the civil services exam. P 7 
SC seeks Orissa pledge: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought Orissa’s commitment on oath to provide protection to people and their property in riot-affected areas. P 10 
Notice to Modi on encounter: With the blot of the Sohrabuddin fake encounter yet to fade, Gujarat CM Modi and the state police faced a similar charge with the SC on Wednesday sending them notices. P 10 


Girl child: Most unwanted in city

Rumu Banerjee | TNN

New Delhi: If the haves and have-nots in the city have one thing in common, its female foeticide. With a sex ratio of 762 girls to 1,000 boys (Lancet Research, 2007), Delhi’s declining tolerance for the girl child is symptomatic of the country’s inability to get rid of old mindsets. A recent study by an NGO has only underlined what we always knew — the city does not want girls to be born in its families.
    The findings of the study, conducted by the Centre for Social Research (CSR) with support from the ministries of health and women and child development, are shocking. The three localities selected for the study — Punjabi Bagh, Narela and Najafgarh — have the lowest sex ratio in the city.
    Here’s a sample of some of the findings — incidents or knowledge of sex-selective abortions or female foeticide, going by responses, is a high 69.9% in Narela, 55% in Punjabi Bagh and 11.5% in Najafgarh. The quest for the male child doesn’t end here. A healthy 18.3% of people in Najafgarh and 26% in Narela even take ‘‘medication’’ to ensure that a son is born. And if that’s not enough, 57.8% of people in moneyed Punjabi Bagh are willing to observe religious ceremonies to get a male child.
    Said Ranjana Kumari, director, CSR, ‘‘The culprits are the private clinics and informal rural practioners or quacks. Community findings of the study show that people know which clinic or hospital conducts such sex-determination tests as well as the
resultant abortions. When we questioned the clinics, however, their staff denied such practices and claimed they were following government norms.’’ According to Kumari, closer questioning led many clinics to claim that ultrasound facility — the tool for sex determination — had been discontinued in the clinic though boards outsidesaid otherwise.
    The study, with a sample size of 1200 respondents and 55 medical units, comprising ultrasound clinics and MTP (medical termination of pregnancy) clinics, showcased findings that are similar across both caste and social standing. Whether it’s the lower classes or the rich, neither wants a girl child.

    The reasons are manifold. From old customs and traditions to economic constraints like dowry and lack of support in old age, everything seems to be against the female child. Added Manasi Mishra, research head at CSR, ‘‘For instance, Punjabi Bagh is a locality which has money as well as educated respondents, yet the sex ratio is only 842,
lesser than Delhi’s 886/1000 as well as the national average of 927/1000 (Figures according to 2001 Census).’’
    It’s the findings of the medical audit that are the most shocking however. While doctors are aware of female foeticide happening in the locality, no one is willing to go on record against the practice. Many pathology labs don’t have a consulting gynaecologist though ultrasound facility is easily available. The awareness level about PC & PNDT Act is abysmal: 69% and 67.9% of respondents in Punjabi Bagh and Najafgarh didn’t know about the anti-sex determination act. Added Kumari, ‘‘The clinics claim to comply with norms — like filling forms after every ultrasound conducted — but it’s only on paper. Information on sex determination is passed on by staff of the clinic, if not the doctor.’’
    The only good news from the finding is the slow, but steady, dissemination of information. Respondents said television was the best message provider, though there’s a grey area about information on whom to complain to about sex determination.
    Interestingly, there’s only one recorded complaint against sex determination that CSR claims has been made till date. Said Kumari, ‘‘A woman, Neetu Khurana, has complained against her husband, a doctor. Khurana has claimed that he asked her to udnergo abortion on learing her twins were girls. The police however have refused to register a case till date.’’ That seems to sum up the city’s attitude.


Meri shakti meri beti'
A study on female foeticide conducted by Centre for Social Research (CSR) for the ministry of health and family welfare and ministry of women and child development
Areas with lowest sex ratio in city
828 girls
Punjabi Bagh
841 Sample size | 1200 respondents and 55 medical units, including ultrasound clinics, MTP centres

38 % in Punjabi Bagh, 71 % in Narela and 13.5 % in Najafgarh say old customs and family tradition are main reasons for male child preference
    Economic compulsions like dowry, education and lack of support in old age from girls as well as last rites being a boy's prerogative also cited
    Awareness and incidents of sex-selection in Narela are 69.9 %, 55 % in Punjabi Bagh and 11.5 % in Najafgarh
    18.3 %, 7.5 % and 26 % in Najafgarh, Punjabi Bagh and Narela take medication for male child
    Majority of sex-selective abortions performed by doctors/nurses of private clinics and informal rural practitioners or quacks
    Though clinics denied incidents, community people named 2-3 clinics and nursing homes in each area
    People aware that female foeticide is an illegal activity but not aware of PC & PNDT Act
    Most of the information on awareness on female foeticide is from television

India has lost over 10 million girls to female foeticide in past 20 years
    The 2001 census figure for Delhi is 886 girls per 1000 boys. The national average is 927/1000

    Latest research (2007) by Lancet, a popular medical journal, for NCR says Delhi has only 762 girls for every 1,000 boys, lower than the national average
    Female foeticide most in Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Delhi


India Gate falls to petty thieves, chains go missing overnight


New Delhi: It will no longer come as a surprise if the civic authorities express helplessness in catching hold of the thieves who steal iron railings from road dividers. In the last few weeks, even heavy iron chains fixed on both sides of the high security zone of Rajpath have gone missing. However, the agencies responsible for the upkeep of this stretch still find themselves clueless.
    The high-profile road between India Gate and Vijay Chowk is perhaps the only stretch in the Capital which is well-lit and sees intense police patrolling round-the-clock. Considering
this, the absence of these chains that were placed to beautify the stretch comes as a shocker. Moreover, a large number of tourists throng this area till late in the night.
    The thieves have even managed to pull out iron chains from the vicinity of two temporary barracks for security personnel in the area. ‘‘This has happened only in the last few weeks. It would have been meticulously planned otherwise, breaking-off these heavy chains and carrying them away is not an easy task. The gangs involved in this are not the ones who take away the iron railings from other roads,’’ said Prem Pal, a hawker.
    Gardeners working in the area also
said they were taken aback to find the chains missing. ‘‘Initially, we thought they might have been taken out for some repair. But, now it’s clear that they have been stolen. If thieves can strike here, what does this say about the safety of other stretches,’’ pointed out Rati Ram, a gardener.
    What is all the more questionable is the role of the agency owning this stretch — Central Public Works Department (CPWD). It does not seem to be having any information in this regard. Even though the issue was taken up with a few senior CPWD officials, none of them admitted to have received any such report. Hence, no FIR has been lodged with the police so far.

    A senior NDMC official said that since the agency takes care of only the horticulture work on this stretch, they were not aware of the problem. ‘‘Only the CPWD can clarify on the state of affairs,’’ he added.
    Despite the fact that security personnel and officials claim drug addicts were the main culprits behind the missing iron railings, others suggest there might be a gang which is executing all such activities throughout the city. ‘‘As soon as these railings go missing, the civic agencies float fresh tenders which means more business to the people engaged in this work,’’ said a government official. 

GOING, GOING, GONE: The chains were stolen from the high-security Rajpath



Flood situation grim in Assam
The flood situation in Assam continues to be grim with Brahmaputra crossing the danger mark in Guwahati and Jorhat and its tributaries maintaining a rising trend elsewhere. P 11 

UP AND SAFE: A flood victim is winched to safety by an IAF chopper during rescue operations in Chakramibasa village of Bihar’s Madhepura district



Lives, Hopes Of Many In Singur Ride On Nano

Falguni Banerjee | TNN

Singur: For the thousands of people in Singur who had got employment in some way or the other in the Nano plant, the consequences of a Tata pullout is obvious. But even for thousands of others who had nothing to do directly with the Nano project, it will have a terrible economic fallout. Lives here have become inextricably linked with the Nano.
    Take Bimal Nandi, a local spice trader, for example. With restaurants supplying hundreds of meals to workers at the plant site, Nandi’s offtake had spiralled in recent months. Against eight people employed at his unit a year ago, there are now 25. However, ever since Mamata Banerjee began her campaign on August 24, business has nosedived and orders cancelled.
    ‘‘If the Tata factory comes up and thousands get employment, the order for meals will be huge. I may have to employ 100-120 youths,’’ he said.
    ‘‘While fearing the worst, we are hoping for the best. There’s

still a lot of time for production to commence. But we are already benefiting from the project,’’ said Nandi.
    For Shyamal Das, a vegetable seller at Singur bazaar, life hasn’t changed as dramatically. But there’s been one perceptible difference. With overall sales shooting up, it has insulated farmers from being hit by the fluctuation in prices of one crop. ‘‘Singur block is primarily agriculture-based. Till last year, a sharp drop in price of a crop like potato would hit farmers hard. It would mean distress sales, failure to repay loans and losses. By this time, gloom would have set in and the Puja ruined. But not so this year despite a decline in potato price. That’s because the overall basket size has increased,’’ he said.
    The 40 banana trees in his
backyard are proving a huge blessing. He is selling the fruit at Rs 1.50 to Rs 2 a piece at the Singur station. A year ago, 200 bananas fetched a meagre Rs 20 during a bumper harvest.
    ‘‘Whether we like it or not, our fortunes now depend on the project,’’ said Krishna Ghosh who has been recruited in the Tatas’ medical unit.
    For those involved in the project, it’s a windfall. ‘‘As the days progress, our earnings will increase,’’ said construction material supplier Swarup Barui. His business has exploded ever since the factory construction began. He still hopes to clock a small success story, building houses for executives after the factory is completed.
    Tanmay Nandi from Howrah has set up an eatery beside the Tarakeswar-Baidyabati road to capitalize on the opportunity. ‘‘Till Saturday, I got regular orders of Rs 2,500-Rs 3,000 from Toor India, one of the ancillary units setting up shop in Singur.’’ Though sales have plunged since the agitation began on Sunday, he knows business will pick up once the factory becomes operational. In 2005, he had purchased 40 cottahs at Rs 1 lakh a cottah to set up a fuel station. Then, the Tata Motors factory came along. ‘‘It has already been a windfall. Now, the land price has shot up to Rs 4 lakh a cottah,’’ he says.
    Over the past six months, Ashok Guchait’s store retailing prepaid cellphone cards has changed dramatically. Located next to Kamarkundu, the station after Singur, it has grown from 50 sq ft to 200 sq ft. Business has zoomed.

Appointment by Tata Motors: 752 ITI trainees
For construction activity: 4,000 workers and labourers (daily)
22 construction supply syndicates: 4,500 labourers
Associated small businesses: 500 workers

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: A girl walks past a board that bears messages and signatures of supporters of the Tata plant, in Kolkata on Wednesday


Global warming packing power into hurricanes

Warm Seas Convert More Energy Into Cyclone Winds

Paris: Global warming is likely to boost the power of the strongest tropical cyclones, a study released on Wednesday says.
    An additional 1°C in sea temperatures in tropical regions where cyclones breed could lead to a nearly one-third rise in the number of the most powerful storms, it says. “As the seas warm, the ocean has more energy to convert to tropical cyclone wind,” say authors of the paper, released by London weekly Nature.
    Previous research, based on observations over the past 30 years, has already suggested that hurricanes — as cyclones in the Atlantic are known — have become more intense as a result of warmer seas.
    But the observational record for the Atlantic is more detailed and goes back farther than for storms in the Indian Ocean, known as cyclones, or those in the Pacific, which are called typhoons.

    Seeking to fill in the blanks, a trio of US scientists crunched satellite data for the period of 1981-2006 in all of these storm basins. They totted up the number of storms and the maximum wind speeds attained during each event, and compared this with sea-surface temperatures.
    Over the 25 years under scrutiny, they saw no increase in the overall number of storms. But there was a significant increase in wind speed among the most powerful storms, or those in roughly the top quarter for intensity. Measurements of the
energy pumped into the air from the warm waters — essentially fuel for hurricanes—has increased dramatically since the mid-1990s, mostly in the strongest of hurricanes.
    The Atlantic is seeing an increase in storms rated among the strongest. In the past four years, eight storms have reached Category 4 with winds of at least 211kph. AGENCIES

STORM FRONT: A satellite image shows a full disk western hemisphere view of the earth. (Left to right) Hurricanes Gustav (over the US Gulf coast), Hanna (over Haiti and Cuba), and Ike and Josephine can be seen churning further in the eastern Atlantic Ocean


Pak scientist indicted in US

New York: A Pakistan-born US scientist Aafia Siddiqui, with suspected links to al-Qaida, has been indicted on federal charges that she tried to kill the American interrogators after her arrest in Afghanistan.
    The 36-year-old neuro-scientist was arrested in Ghazni province of Afghanistan in July this year while loitering around the governor’s compound.
    Siddiqui was held for questioning by army officers and FBI agents, but she allegedly snatched an army officer’s M-4 rifle and fire it at other members of the US interview team. She repeatedly stated her in
tent and desire to kill Americans, according to the indictment filed on Tuesday.
    According to a statement re
leased from the US court, Aafia has also been charged with attempt to murder, triggering terrorism, armed attacks on US forces in Afghanistan and keeping illegal armaments. If convicted, she might have to undergo life imprisonment, 20 years imprisonment and eight years imprisonment for each charges respectively.
    Siddiqui, who had been missing for five years and reappeared in Ghazni under suspicious circumstances, was arrested on July 17 and brought to the US the next day on the ground that she had been planning a suicide attack. PTI

Aafia planned attacks on NY City landmarks? Aafia Siddiqui was carrying handwritten notes that made a reference to carrying out “mass casualty attacks” on New York City landmarks like Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge when she was arrested. According to a federal indictment, the list also included the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Plum Island and a federal disease research facility. ANI


Ambani bros in powerful people’s list

London: After making their way into the league of richest persons, India’s warring billionaire brothers — Mukesh and Anil Ambani— have been named together among the world’s 100 most influential and powerful people by British fashion magazine Vanity Fair.
    Ambani brothers are ranked at the 67th place in the 100 list which is topped by Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin while media baron Rupert Murdoch is in the second spot.
    “The economy may be in shambles, but the moguls of the 100 list are still moving, shaking, merging and acquiring, the magazine said in an accompanying report. The
founders of search engine major Google — Sergey Brin, Larry Page — and its CEO Eric Schmidt have been ranked at the third spot.
    Apple’s chief executive and the brain behind iPods and iPhones — Steve Jobs has cornered fourth rank followed by legendary American investor Warren Buffet in the fifth place. India-origin venture capitalist Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures is ranked at the 92nd position.
    Both Mukesh and Anil together have a combined net worth of $85 billion and they inherited their father’s sprawl
ing industrial conglomerate in 2002, “but never figured how to play together nicely”.
    Later in 2005, the business was split with Mukesh getting the oil, gas, and petrochemical business while Anil got the telecom and banking operations. “Already a big player in Bollywood, Anil is on the cusp of buying into DreamWorks with a $500 million plus capital investment. He also plans to finance films for the pro
duction companies of George Clooney, Tom Hanks, and Brad Pitt,” Vanity Fair said.
    Other names in the top 10 are Web retailer Jeff Bezos (6th), Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum (7th), Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich (8th), Hollywood celebrity couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (9th) and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore (10th).
    Prominent personalities like former American president Bill Clinton, Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim, celebrity director Steven Speilberg, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are also part of the list.

    “While most of us wince when we pull up to gas pump, wonder about sudden decline in market values of our houses, and worry over the looming eco-catastrophe, these realities do not seem to be hampering the lifestyles of 0.00000002% who are portrayed in these pages,” magazine said. PTI

Mukesh (L) and Anil are ranked 67th in powerful people’s list made by British fashion magazine Vanity Fair


Moment of reflection

Looking quite unlike a superstar, wearing his moustached and bespectacled look in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, King Khan came to shoot at Golden Temple. “I am here to pray for my family, country and its peace” is all he said, and bore it out by kneeling to wash his feet at the taal


‘Dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps’

So says the quietest of the Pataudi siblings – Soha and Saif’s sister, Saba, who has been appointed as the successor to her father in a religious role

PURNIMA SHARMA Times News Network

    With two siblings in Bollywood and her mother a famous yesteryears’ actress, Bollywood might have been an obvious choice for Saba Ali Khan. But the daughter of Mansur Ali Khan of Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore, and the sister of Saif and Soha, prefers a life away from the arclights.However,she has been in the news recently for having been nominated her father’s successor in his religious capacity. A jewellery designer, Saba is all set to become the naib mutawalli (chief manager) of Auqaf-e-Shahi, a body that looks after royal Wakf properties of the erstwhile princely state of Bhopal. “The matter is still under consideration, though. The council meeting of the Wakf Board was to have been on August 30, but has been postponed by a few days,” says Saba. Her father, the current mutawalli, had written to the Madhya Pradesh Wakf Board, expressing his desire to appoint his elder daughter as his deputy. “I’d known for quite some time that my father wanted me to follow in his footsteps. I’ve been getting to know more about what it would entail and going to Bhopal as of
ten as I can,” Saba informs.
    Calling herself a traditionalist, Saba says her father decided only after he’d discussed it with the family. “If I or any of my siblings had any objection to it, my father would have reconsidered. But everyone was okay with it and it’s something that I’d like to do for my father,” she says, adding, “In any case, a certain kind of nature is what this job needs. And of the three of us, I guess I’m more suitable for the role.”
    And that’s because, she says, she’s “not a very modern girl, preferring a conventional lifestyle” for herself. “I am more of a saree and salwarkameez person. Actually, I’ve imbibed a lot of traditional values from my grandmother,” states Saba. “We are a very close-knit family. In fact, I will soon be visiting Soha in Mumbai. My brother is abroad, so I wouldn’t be meeting him there this time,” she smiles.
    And what about Kareena? “I’m very fond of her. She’s a wonderful person, so spirited and yet so sensitive,” says Saba. And she has no doubts that she’ll fit into the family beautifully. “Our families are alike, with so much history behind us. Kareena will make a wonderful part of our family,” she adds. 

ETHNIC CHIC: Saba Ali Khan


And the applause goes to...

    There was loads to cheer about at the National Film Awards ceremony in Delhi on Tuesday. For one, the actors there, coming from cinema of different languages,
shared great bonhomie, especially Priyamani, adjudged the best actress, and Konkona Sen Sharma, who got the award for best supporting actress.
    But the loudest applause was reserved for Madhur Bhandarkar, who got appreciative pats on the back for announcing that he would give the Rs 2,50,000 he received as part of the best director award to the families of three debt-ridden farmers from Maharashtra who’d committed suicide. “This year, I came across many stories of farmers
who had ended their lives to evade the debt trap they were in,” Madhur said. “As my movies always portray a real face of society, I really want to help people by any means.”
    This is one of those rare occasions when regional and Bollywood cinema share the same dais. This year, at the 54th National Film Awards for 2006, they also equally shared the limelight. Though stars came by the dozen to Delhi to attend the evening, the evening lacked the glam and glitter of a Bollywood awards’ nite.
    Apart from the stars present, I&B minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi was also there, urging filmmakers to “shoulder a social commitment through their films”. He also announced that as the president had wished, and stated during the presentation of the 53rd national film awards, the award money had been increased five fold.
    The world record holder for being the youngest film director, 12-year
old Kishan Shrikanth, took the Best Children’s Film Director award from prez Pratibha Patil with a proud smile. He won the award for the Kannada film, Care of Footpath, which had been directed by Kishan when he was nine years old.
    Thespian Dilip Kumar, and veteran actress Saroja Devi received the Lifetime Achievement Awards to commemorate the 60th anniversary of India’s Independence, and Tapan Sinha received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for contribution to cinema for 2006. As Dilip Kumar, who
looked dapper, and remarkably younger than his 86 years, walked up to the stage, he got a standing ovation from those present at Vigyan Bhawan.

The Best Feature Film: Pulijanmam, Malayalam Best Popular Film (providing wholesale entertainment): Lage Raho Munna Bhai Best Feature Film in Hindi: Khosla ka Ghosla Best Feature Film in English: Quest Best screenplay: Lage Raho Munna Bhai Best Lyrics: Lage Raho Munna Bhai Nargis Dutt Award for the Best Feature Film on National Integration: Kallarli Huvagi, Kannada Indira Gandhi Award for the Best First Film: Eakantham, Malayalam, by Madhu Kaithapuram and Kabul Express, Hindi, by Kabir Khan Best Film on Social Issues: Hope,Telugu Best Director: Madhur Bhandarker for Traffic Signal Best Children’s film Director: Kishan Shrikanth for Care of Footpath Best Actor: Soumitra Chatterjee for his role in Podokkhep, Bengali Best Actress: Priyamani, for Paruthiveeran, Tamil Best Supporting Actor: Dilip Prabhavalkar, for his role as Mahatma Gandhi in Lage Raho Munna Bhai Best Supporting Actress: Konkona Sen Sharma, for her role in Omkara Lifetime Achievement Award: Dilip Kumar and Saroja Devi Dadasaheb Phalke Award: Tapan Sinha Best Make-up Artist (introduced this year): Anil Motiram Palande for Traffic Signal
Best Animation Feature Film (introduced this year): Kittu,Telugu Best Child Artist: Divya Chahadkar for Antarnad


Konkona & Priyamani

Lifetime Achievement Award for Dilip Kumar

Pratibha Patil presents the Best Feature Film in English award to Amol Palekar

Vishal Bharadwaj collects his award

Gurdaas Mann, Best Playback Singer

Pulijanmam director, Priyanandan

Kishan Shrikanth, Best Children’s Film Director

Best Actress Priyamani and Best Child Actress Divya Chaphadkar

Children’s Film Society of India Chairperson Nafisa Ali (centre) with Divya Chaphadkar and Priyamani (R)

Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani and Kabir Khan with their awards

Madhur Bhandarkar receives his citation from prez Pratibha Patil

Soumitra Chatterjee, Best Actor, for his role in Podokkhep

Konkona Sen Sharma & Prosenjit


ISHANT’s T(urning)20 moment

Piyali Dasgupta

BIRTHDAY BOY: Ishant Sharma celebrated his 20th birthday recently.
Ruby Singh Sehrawat hosted the party that was attended by Dhoni, Ashish Nehra, Virendra Sehwag and many others. Ishant said,
“My best birthday gift is Viru’s presence at this party.” Close bonding, what say?

Dhoni, who walked in to the do before Ishant, was seen wishing the birthday boy over the phone. Soon, Dhoni rushed out of the venue escorted by six bodyguards but later came back for
the dance party that went on till the wee hours of the morning. GIFT? WHAT’S THAT? Nehra told us, “I came back from London only this morning and I d i d n’ t know that it was Ishant’s birthday today.” And when asked what he had got for his friend, he said, “Main kya doon? Usko toh bahut gift milenge.”
MAA: Ishant’s mother, Girisha, was full of praise for her son. She said, “I feel very proud of my son. Woh aur tarakki kare, that’s all I wish for him. We had a small puja at home in the
morning.” EK AUR MAA: Viru’s wife, Aarti, was also present at the do and spoke fondly of her son. “He has just turned 10-month-old. We had taken him to Sri Lanka recently. He is too young to understand cricket, but I guess he gets excited when he sees his father play.” Learning young, we must say.
Ishant’s sister, Eva, said, “I had personally invited Dhoni. If he wouldn’t have come, then I would also have given this party a miss. I’m glad he kept his word.”
SPOTTED: Ishant, Girisha, Vijay and Eva Sharma, Ritu and Ruby Singh Sehrawat, Aarti and Virendra Sehwag, MS Dhoni, Bharti and Amit Bhandari, Chetan, Shikhar Dhawan, Kunal Mittal


Amit Bhandari with wife Bharti

Ashish Nehra

Vijay Sharma and Ruby Singh Sehrawat

Chetan and Shikhar Dhawan

Eva Sharma

MS Dhoni

Aarti Sehwag

Ishant addresses the media


By God ki kasam

This trip to a gurudwara, unlike Akshay’s recent ones, wasn’t for seeking approval of the Sikh community. SRK, Anushka, Yash Chopra and crew members of their upcoming film, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, went on a location shoot to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. We bring you a few snapshots...

‘SPECTACLE’D: Shah Rukh Khan

CHALTE CHALTE: SRK and Anushka shoot for the film

Yash Chopra



Do you think youngsters are addicted to surfing social networking sites?

“Yes, we all are glued to social networking sites. It is almost like one’s mobile phone. One has to stay linked all the time. I begin to feel something is amiss if I don’t log on at least once everyday.”
    Saurabh Karan I 18 I Student

“Our busy schedules hardly let us meet our friends. This leaves us with only those social networking sites to interact with each other. And hence, I think, we are addicted to these sites.”
Shephali Jatwal I 20 I Student

“These sites have helped me reunite with old friends. And now, I spend a lot of time logged on to these sites. I begin to miss my friends or the actual process of logging in if I don’t log on to these sites frequently.”
    Ritesh Agarwal I 18 I Student

“Yes. I constantly surf the social networking sites – they are forever open on my computer. But, I haven’t grown addicted to them. These sites have just bridged the gap that existed because my friends are miles away from me.”
Sajal Agarwal I 21 I Student


Preity’s pretty image change

    Preity Zinta may have done glam doll roles, but the lady is more than happy to keep it simple in The Last Lear. It’s interesting to note that PZ wears beautiful sarees and salwar kameezes in the film. And looks like this change has proved to be quite a breather for Zinta, as she tells us, “What a pleasant change it was, from all the dolled up work I have done. I got to play Shabnam, someone so real! I love my look in the film. Ever since the posters of the film are out, the compliments haven’t stopped coming!”

Preity Zinta


Tanishaa in Kajol’s shoes

    Kajol’s little sister Tanishaa just became hotter! Clad in a pink top with brown hot pants, the girl will groove to a Latino club number in a film titled Tum Milo Toh Sahi. This will mark Tich’s debut as an item girl! For the song, Tanishaa had to rehearse for a week. Considering elder sis Kajol too did salsa and more in U Me Aur Hum, did Kads give her some salsa tips? “Negative!” says Tanishaa, “But yes, I did borrow her dancing shoes for my rehearsals!” Well, let’s hope the magic gets transferred too, and Tich’s dainty toes perform some magnificent ‘feat’!

Tanishaa Mukherjee


Hansika Motwani’s 15 children

    Li’l girl Hansika Motwani seems to have grown up. The actor who celebrated her 17th birthday last month (should we believe her age?) did something more than special on her big day. She took up the responsibility for the education and general welfare of 15 orphaned children! It was because Hansika was celebrating more than just her birthday. Apparently, her hit Telugu film Desamuduru completed 275 days and is still going strong! Isn’t that reason enough to celebrate?

Hansika Motwani

1 comment:

SandeepB said...

MASi ( mothers and sister nitiative ) Regd. and some other NGOS are fighting to reduce misuse of 498a ( Dowry LAw) .websites are linked at

Ways the Govt. can reduce the misuse of 498a ( Dowry LAw)
1. Bailable for all.
2. make it Non Cognizable . So police haas to go to court approval first to register FIR or arrest.
3. Applicable only for husband and his parents. This way married sisters and her husbands etc. will escape the
torture of this Law. The LAw is arrest without investigations, non bailable.
4. Bailable for all except husband .
5. Bailable for all except husband and his parents.

Non-cognizable offences are those criminal infractions, which are relatively less serious. Examples of non-cognizable offences include Public Nuisance, Causing Simple Hurt, Assault, Mischief etc.

The Police cannot register criminal cases or cause arrests with regard to non-cognizable offences. In all such cases, the Police have to take permission from a magistrate for registration of a criminal case.

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