Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wednesday 03 September 2008

Times Of India

Wednesday 03 September 2008

Nanda found guilty in BMW case, faces up to 10 yrs in jail

Sentence Expected Today, Defence Plans To Appeal In High Court

Abhinav Garg & Smriti Singh | TNN

New Delhi: Almost a decade after six persons were mowed down in the BMW hit-and-run case, a trial court on Tuesday convicted Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of former Naval chief S M Nanda, for committing manslaughter or ‘‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’’.
    Additional sessions judge Vinod Kumar held the vehicle that killed those six persons early one morning in January 1999 was a BMW car and not a truck, as claimed by the defence, and that Nanda was behind the wheel, inebriated, when he dragged three of them under the bonnet of his car.
    Nanda, who had already spent nine months in detention, has been convicted under Section 304(II) IPC which has a maximum penalty of 10 years’ jail. The sentence is expected on Wednesday. The court rejected the plea that he could be tried only for the offence of rash and negligent driving under Section 304A punishable with
    a maximum of two years.
    Acquitting Nanda’s co-passenger Manik Kapur for
    lack of evidence, the
court convicted Rajeev Gupta and his servants Bhola Nath and Shyam Singh Rana, for destroying evidence.
TIMES VIEW: There are some who find merit in the argument that Nanda should’ve been convicted for rash and negligent driving, which carries a lighter sentence than culpable homicide not amounting to murder. That’s for the courts to decide. What we ask for, though, is uniform application of the law. For every Sanjeev Nanda, there are a hundred bus drivers who drive like maniacs and kill without ever being brought to book. In Delhi, many of the buses are said to be actually owned by politicians and policemen, and nothing ever happens to the drivers of such buses. It’s not our case that the rich and famous be spared; but singling out the rich and famous for punishment doesn’t fully serve the cause of justice either. Also, when accidents occur because of terrible road conditions, poor street lighting and broken dividers, why aren’t government officials who are responsible for such negligence brought to trial?

Nanda found guilty of killing 6, including 3 cops, by driving rashly under the influence of alcohol
    Court also convicts businessman Rajeev Gupta — father of Nanda’s friend Sidhartha — and his servants Bhola Nath & Shyam Singh for destroying evidence
    Nanda’s friend Manik Kapoor, also in car, acquitted
Jan 10, 1999 | Nanda’s BMW crashes into 7 people at a police barricade. 6 die, including 3 cops. Following oil trail, cops reach a house in Golf Links where the car was being washed
Jan 11 | Cops arrest Nanda and friends Siddharth Gupta and Manik Kapoor, who were in the car
Jan 14 | Sunil Kulkarni, key witness in the case, appears before police, records statement. Next day I U Khan appointed special public prosecutor
April 8 | Cops formally charge Nanda, Manik, Siddharth, Rajiv Gupta, Bhola Nath & Sham Singh
July | HC orders compensation of Rs 65 lakh to victim families. Next month, HC acquits Siddharth. On Sept 3, witnesses retract statement
2000 | Prosecution drops Kulkarni as witness
May 17, 2007 | Kulkarni, appearing as court witness, identifies Nanda, claims he saw him driving
Sept 2 | Court convicts Nanda
Sec 304a | Normal section for accidents. Relates to death caused by negligence
Sec 304(1) | Death caused by knowledge of rashness and with intent to kill
Sec 304(2) | Nanda has got this rap. Relates to death caused by knowledge of rashness
Nanda staff, car played vital role
New Delhi: After a nine-year-long trial in the BMW hit-andrun case, Sanjeev Nanda was found to have driven his car after the accident to his friend Rajeev Gupta’s residence in Golf Links to wash away the blood stains on it.
    ‘‘The present case is of a very high degree in the gravity of recklessness. The accused was so heavily drunk that a knowledge can be validly imputed upon him that if he drives the vehicle he is likely to cause death of a human being passing on the road. Despite being drunk Nanda instead of carefully and slowly driving the vehicle threw all precautions away and drove the BMW at excessively high speed,’’ observed Kumar, while explaining why he convicted him under Section 304(II) rather than the milder Section 304A.
    The conviction comes close on the heels of a Delhi HC verdict punishing two senior advocates, R K Anand and I U Khan, on the basis of a sting operation, for colluding to shield Nanda by influencing key witness Sunil Kulkarni.
    Since Kulkarni had been attacked and discredited by the defence, the court took pains to say there was enough evidence against Nanda even without Kulkarni’s testimony. The scientific evidence against Nanda included blood samples (showing for instance the impermissible level of alcohol), video of the scene of crime and a mechanical inspection report of the damaged car done hours after the accident. The inspection report revealed broken pieces of number plates, empty fuel tank, missing rear and front number plates and damage to bonnet and front windscreen to identify the BMW car as the vehicle that had hit the victims.
    For ascertaining whether it was Sanjeev Nanda who was driving the BMW at the time of the accident, the court relied on statements of Nanda’s staff to show that the car was then not with his sister Sonali who was the only other person who used to drive it. Injuries recieved by Sanjeev on his lip and matching bloodstains recovered from the car’s steering left little doubt in the court’s mind that it was Sanjeev behind the wheels when the accident occured.
    The court took a dim view of the volte face staged by Manoj Malik, the complainant who escaped death after being dragged by the BMW on the fateful night. Referring to Malik’s claim under oath that he was hit by a truck and not a car, the court said it led to ‘‘only one conclusion that he had been won over by the defence.’’ But since it could salvage some evidence from the testimony of this hostile witness, the court said, ‘‘Some glimpses of truth have come out even from the mouth of this hostile witness.’’
    As for crucial eyewitness Sunil Kulkarni, ASJ Kumar termed him a ‘‘very peculiar personality...appears to be a character from novels of Charles Dickens.’’ Corroborating Kulkarni’s testimony with that of Malik, the court found that after the BMW struck a divider with victims below the bonnet, Nanda and other occupants came out, inspected the damage and reversed their vehicle to rush off.
    ‘‘It stands proved beyond doubt that Kulkarni is an eyewitness,’’ the court held, brushing aside his latter contradictions and improvements as something borne out of ‘‘great mental pressure at the time of recording of his evidence.’’
    Referring to the ‘‘many dramatic twists and turns’’ taken by the case, the judge said ‘‘this trial poses greater questions as to what is the meaning of fair trial and how should the court proceed when the witnesses are being won over and trial is being hijacked by high and mighty.’’
    While lamenting the ‘‘degradation which has crept into the criminal justice system’’ the court was unsparing in its criticism of the police and manner of investigation. ‘‘Although initially police acted with great responsiveness, very soon a great deal of reluctance on the part of police starts appearing in the case...silent termites had started eating the wood from inside,’’ the court noted, adding it was ‘‘not simply a case of hobnobbing between defence and prosecution but also at some stage in the background, the IO has been influenced...the principle of weighing the evidence on golden scales cannot be applied here because taking a technical view is bound tolead to miscarriage of justice.’’

Sanjeev Nanda is led away by policemen after the announcement of the verdict


It’s official: Tatas gearing up to bid Singur goodbye

Work At Nano Plant Suspended


New Delhi/Kolkata: Frustrated with ‘‘continued confrontation and agitation’’ at the Singur site, Tata Motors on Tuesday moved to seriously act on Ratan Tata’s threat to pull out the Nano project from West Bengal. A company statement said Tatas were ‘‘evaluating alternate options’’ and considering relocating the plant and machinery.
    ‘‘Tata Motors has been constrained to suspend construction and commissioning work at the Nano plant in Singur in view of continued confrontation and agitation at the site,’’ the statement said. ‘‘This decision was taken in order to ensure the safety of its employees and contract labour, who have continued to be violently obstructed from reporting to work,’’ it said.
    TOI had first reported on August 28 that the company had started work on a Plan B for the Nano project after Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee directed her partymen, joined by hundreds of cadres from fringe Left parties, to lay siege at the factory site to press for return of 400 acres of land to farmers.
    While the Rs 1 lakh car may yet survive this upheaval, the Tata pullout could signal the end of the road for West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s ambitious industrial revival plan. Protests by ultra-Left activists and farmers over acquiring land in Nandigram turned into a bloodbath that led to the end of an SEZ worth several thousand crores by the Indonesian Salim Group. Bhattacharjee had hoped that saving the Rs 1,500-crore Nano project might alter his state’s image of being hostile to industry.
    On Tuesday, there was acute realization of this. ‘‘It is a very unfortunate day. It is a very bad day for West Bengal,’’ said the state’s industry minister Nirupam Sen. ‘‘The Tatas have communicated their decision to me after a meeting to review the ground situation at Singur,’’ he said.

    The Tata statement said, ‘‘In view of the current situation, the company is evaluating alternate options for manufacturing the Nano car at other company facilities and a detailed plan to relocate the plant and machinery to an alternate site is under preparation.’’ Last month, Ratan Tata had said he would rather pull out of Singur than expose his staff and machinery to attacks.
    Situation still hostile and the Nano plant can’t operate till the environment is congenial, says a Tata Motors spokesman
    Hundreds of youths from Singur and neighbouring areas have been recruited, says the spokesman. They could now be employed at other sites


Biman Bose


Govt to tax 100% pay arrears of staff this yr

Pradeep Thakur | TNN

New Delhi: For lakhs of central government employees looking forward to receiving 40% of the accumulated arrears on their increased salary next month, in time for some festive spending, here’s a dampener. The government has decided to levy tax on the entire amount of arrears — 60% of which will be paid next year — in the current fiscal itself.
    For most employees, the decision would virtually wipe out almost the entire 40% arrears to be paid to them this year. Senior bureaucrats will suffer most as their tax would be topped with a surcharge of 10%, on income of Rs 10 lakh and above.
    A senior finance ministry official said the surcharge to be paid by officers of the rank of joint secretary and above ranges between Rs 24,600 and Rs 52,500. The impact would be less on the lower grades.
    The Centre had last month announced an average increase of 21% in salaries of its employees. The hikes, effective from
January 1, 2006, would burden the exchequer by more than Rs 17,500 crore annually while the arrears alone account for more than Rs 29,000 crore.


Diesel may cost more for car owners

Sanjay Dutta | TNN

New Delhi: There’s a bump ahead for those who favour big diesel automobiles — both imported and Indian-made — because of the cheaper fuel. PM Manmohan Singh on Tuesday asked oil minister Murli Deora to begin work on a system, which if finally implemented, could see owners of such vehicles as well as industrial users pay a higher price than transporters or farmers.
    Sources privy to the thinking in the government said it was early days yet but the options discussed included levying a prohibitive duty of up to half the value of foreign-made non-commercial diesel vehicles to curb their imports.
Govt charts roadmap for dual diesel pricing
New Delhi: As the government starts working on a dual pricing strategy for diesel, oil minister Murli Deora has declined to comment on whether he met the PM Manmohan Singh towards this end. “I don’t comment on my meetings with the PM. All I can say
is my ministry is examining options to curb unwarranted spurt in diesel demand which is hurting the staterun oil companies... we are looking at pros and cons and practical difficulties of introducing a differential pricing regime,” he told TOI.
    Imported private vehicles attract a tax of roughly 114%, including customs. The new levy will be in addition to the existing levies and is being considered as a ban on vehicle imports was felt to be against India’s WTO norms.
    Diesel has traditionally been priced lower than petrol to keep costs low for farmers
— who use it for running tractors, pumps and threshers — besides transporters. It has also been a problem for state-run oil companies as they lose more money on diesel than petrol because of the government’s pricing policy. The spurt in international crude oil prices over the last one year or so has seen this loss rise as the gap between diesel and petrol has widened to over Rs 10 a litre. The companies now lose Rs 13.69 on each litre of diesel against Rs 6.31 on petrol.
    The gap has driven sale of diesel vehicles, which recorded a growth of around 33% in
recent times. This has fuelled consumption. Demand has been fuelled by industrial users like small factories, hotels and malls which have started using diesel to run furnaces and generators as government’s pricing policy has rendered diesel cheaper than other industrial fuels such as naphtha and furnace oil. The net result has been that diesel demand has grown by 18% despite industrial slowdown against 6-8% earlier.
    Sources said Deora and PM also discussed the issue of supplying subsidised diesel to bulk users like railways and state transport utilities.


Absolute delight for radioheads


    For those who go ga-ga over radio, it’s time for Absolute ecstasy. Times Infotainment Media Ltd, a Times Group subsidiary, has announced the launch of a new music and entertainment brand, Absolute, which will replace its UK rock music station brand, Virgin Radio.

The new name will be marketed with an extensive 16-
week multi-platform campaign — the largest in commercial radio history — using the line, ‘Discover Real Music’. Although the change will formally take effect on September 28, the period of cross-fade to Absolute Radio began at 7.45 am GMT on September 2 with a fresh line-up of presenters.
    The station, which has the largest reach
in the 15-44 years age group in London, has over 5 million listeners in the UK and the rest of the world. It will also diversify into new areas like stand-alone branded properties, event ownership, TV and customer transactions like music subscriptions, downloads and ticketing.
    The station is the only rock format commercial FM ra
dio station in London. It is also the only commercial music radio station that covers all UK in the AM format. The website www.virginradio.co.uk, acknowledged as the leading music radio station website in the world in the commercial sector, will also rebrand as www.absoluteradio.co.uk. Over 50% of its online visitors are outside the UK.
    Two key initiatives — the open www.oneGolden-
Square.com blog and a new approach to playlist meetings with listeners and the music industry — will also be rolled out along with the multi-platform marketing campaign.
    Vineet Jain, managing director, The Times of India Group, on Tuesday said: ‘‘Rock music, internet and digital platforms cut across countries, cultures, and all age groups, especially the youth. Our existing
strong rock music listener base through FM, AM, DAB in the UK and through the internet from across the world, positions us uniquely to develop a new-age, multi-platform Web 2.0 music and entertainment brand.’’ Absolute delight for Radioheads
New Delhi: The Times Group owns 32 radio stations in India and an Absolute Radio spokesperson said its international ambitions were focused on the North American and European markets.
    Besides new presenters, there will be sweeping changes in the schedule. chief content officer Chris Dickens said the new station would have a playlist that was ‘‘deeper, wider and less repetitious’’ than Virgin Radio’s current offering. ‘‘The conventional wisdom in commercial radio is to play the same couple of hundred songs again and again,’’ he said. ‘‘But the typical Virgin Radio listener has over 4,000 songs on his/her iPod. So why would their favourite radio station be playing significantly less than that? We are not going to be playing strange unfamiliar album tracks by artists they have never heard of, but you get credit for allowing them to discover or rediscover songs they don’t normally hear on the radio.’’
    Virgin Radio is now owned by TIML Golden Square, which is a 100% subsidiary of TIML India (which, in turn, is 100% owned by TOI’s holding company Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd). It was purchased from the UK-based Virgin group for £53.2 million in June.
    A P Parigi, MD & CEO, TIML India, said, ‘‘We are going to develop this brand, with radio at its core, and diversify the business and revenue opportunities into other related areas. Our ambition is international—this is just the start.” TNN


Delhi Times


The Censor Board has asked Madhur Bhandarkar to tone down a lovemaking scene in Fashion, but lead actor Arjan says it’s unjustified

NIKHILA PANT Times News Network

    Like everything else fashionable,Madhur Bhandarkar’s next is in the news – again. One of the boldest scenes in the director’s upcoming Fashion has met with objection from the Censor Board. A few days ago, when Madhur showed a few promos of Fashion to the Board, he was ordered to tone down the steamy lovemaking scene between Priyanka Chopra and newcomer Arjan Bajwa. Madhur had no option but to comply.
    If sources are to be believed, Madhur will have to edit the scene or get an ‘A’ certificate. A friend of Madhur said, “Madhur has decided to play down the lovemaking scene in Fashion. He too is fully aware that it has turned out to be extremely steamy.”
    The Board thought that the filmmaker had used too many explicit visuals of the lovemaking scene. A source said, “The scene was shot from multi
ple angles and shown four times in the promos. The scene is very bold. Arjan and Priyanka are lying on a bed and Arjan is shown kissing Priyanka’s back.”
Censor Board regional officer in Mumbai, Vinayak Azad, confirmed the news and said, “The scene shows Priyanka and Arjan lying on a bed and we thought that it was too bold to be shown on TV. We asked Madhur to redo the promos and he complied. I can’t confirm if he will be asked to mellow down the scene in the film as well or get an ‘A’ certificate. I haven’t seen the entire film yet.” M a d h u r said, “Yes,
we’ve followed the orders of the Censor Board.” A friend of Madhur said, “Madhur cannot delete the scene fully, but he will have to edit the scene significantly before the film hits the theatres. We had suspected that the Censor Board would have some issues, but it’s okay. We can’t do much about it.”
    Delhi boy Arjan, however, thinks the Board’s order is a bit “funny”. He says, “In cinema, you have the option of not going to watch the film if you aren’t comfortable with some scenes. But what about TV news channels flashing all sorts of news of physical harassment, women stripped in public and other explicit details? They use bad language and keep repeating the telecast all day. As for the scenes, I don’t think there’s anything explicit or objectionable about them. They’re very much a part of the storyline and shot the way it would happen between two people in love. I think the Censor Board could be a little more liberal about this. The audience and the Board are okay with such scenes in Hollywood films, but every time a Bollywood film has kissing or lovemaking scenes, questions are raised. Nothing else about the film is considered news worthy – that’s surprising.”
    (With inputs from VICKEY LALWANI)

HOT, HOT, HOT: Arjan Bajwa & (above) Priyanka Chopra. For more pics of the actors, visit http:// photogallery. indiatimes.com


Abhiash in Abhimaan?

Can Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan recreate the chemistry of Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan in the remake of Abhimaan?


    Now, this is called truly following in your parents’ footsteps. According to industry insiders, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan are set to recreate the
magic of Amitabh and Jaya in a remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan.
    Abhishek and Aishwarya have been signed on for Rajeev Menon’s next film, which is based on Abhimaan, where the sizzling chemistry between Amitabh and Jaya had once set the screen ablaze. The film will go on the floors in February 2009, and has music by AR Rahman.

    Our source says, “Rajeev was very keen to make the film with Aishwarya and Abhishek. The film has the backdrop of music and both Ash and Abhi are playing singers in the film. In fact, Aishwarya was so excited about the
film that she immediately gave dates for the shooting. The husband-wife duo is currently working on Mani Ratnam’s film, Ravana, which is based on the Ramayana. After that, they will start shooting for Rajeev’s film. Rajeev had earlier worked with Aishwarya in Kandukondain Kandukondain, which released eight years ago.”
When contacted, Rajeev confirmed the news, saying, “Yes, it’s true that I am making a film with Abhishek and Aishwarya. I will be starting the film in February and AR Rahman has com
posed the music.” When asked what his film is about, he said he was busy, and hung up.
    In response to an SMS, Amitabh Bachchan replied that he hadn’t heard of the development at all.

Amitabh and Jaya in a still from the original Abhimaan

THE OLD MAGIC? Abhishek & Aishwarya Bachchan. For more pics of the couple, visit http://photogallery.indiatimes.com 


Body count rising, but no protests

Neither the formation of a third body – mooted by the textile minister – nor the 30 per cent quota for young designers has been opposed by either camp in the fash frat


    Those present at the jampacked gathering at the meeting convened by Textiles Minister Shankersinh Vaghela – the first serious political interface with the uber glam fashion set in a long, long time – would have had much to carry back as food for thought, long after all the post-meeting snacks had been dispensed with.
    Firstly, the meeting, for once, did not have a factional tussle as its primary agenda, was not about the Delhi-Mumbai fashion divide, and there was no pious endeavour whatsoever to bring any warring groups together either. Despite the undercurrents of misgivings that the key ‘F’ acronyms – FDCI, LFW, FFI – have with respect to each other, there was nothing to read between the lines in terms of the agenda that the government brought before the design fraternity. Vaghela had said a day earlier that he was not interested
in taking any sides in the intra-industry spat or even resolving it, and he did just that, addressing the industry as a single entity. The ministry’s brainchild, the Indian Fashion Council (IFC), as and when it comes into being, is not likely to be either aligned with or hostile to any of the existing bodies, even if all of them might not be elated at the idea of its formation.
    Secondly, the apprehensions that the exercise was going to be an effort to bring the FDCI to heel, either via raising a parallel competing body or by initiating governmental intervention in its functioning, proved to be largely unfounded. Anyone who came looking for mudslinging or in search of hidden ‘plan’ behind the
meeting would have gone back disappointed. Vaghela was at pains to clarify that the body being set up, whatever its final shape, would not be in competition with the FDCI. He told DT that he specifically wanted to dispel the impression that existed before the meeting – that the exercise was primarily to create a body parallel to the FDCI. “They are, in any case, mostly senior and established designers, the juniors can be no competition to them. And our plans for the juniors, such as sending five top NIFT students abroad each year, will in fact work better with help from the FDCI,”he said.The top brass of the FDCI can therefore breathe easy, since the minister either isn’t inclined to raise any questions about its functioning, or is displaying remarkable sagacity by keeping mum about it.
    Still, the ministry and the FDCI aren’t completely in sync yet. FDCI president Sunil Sethi feels that it would be better to promote young talent via the FDCI itself, or by setting up a more generic Design Council Of India along the lines Rathi Vinay Jha has proposed. He also questions how an IFC will handle 3,000 members who will come and join it each year after passing out with degrees in fashion and design, when running the 160-odd member FDCI has proved to be no mean task. The minister, however, was unambiguous while speaking to DT after the meeting that the new council would be formed, while reasserting that there was no reason for FDCI to be apprehensive over it.
    Thirdly, the issue of a quota for junior designers – which appeared to be a fairly radical proposal, one of those likely to be interpreted as a potential flashpoint – met with
    hardly any opposition
from anyone, and is effectively a fait accompli for the ministry.Sethi,for one, is all for introducing a quota in the FDCI’s own events to promote younger designers and says he has no discord with the ministry on the issue. Rina Dhaka believes that the FDCI has, in fact, had a quota for some time, though former president Ritu Kumar says she’s never heard of it. Rathi explains that while the FDCI has been fairly proactive in giving space and financial assistance to young designers over the past few years, it couldn’t possibly be called a quota. Maybe, as Vaghela says, since it is not a caste or creed quota, it’s difficult to find a ground to oppose it. At the end of the day, the government
    seems to be fairly clear on its agenda. While various attendees at the meeting interpreted the discussion in their own ways, later in the day, Vaghela was emphatic while speaking to DT – “there is no change in our plans. Council banegi. We will set up the body, not in competition with anybody, but with the help and cooperation of all concerned.” As Rathi opines, “the writing is on the wall. They mean business and they will set up a council. What shape it takes – whether an organisation similar to existing ones, even if not competing with them, or an overarching one like the Design Council, which I felt would benefit a greater number of people – is the only question which remains to be addressed.”

There’s no competition with anyone. Lekin council banegi
There was an impression that we were doing all this to create something in competition with the FDCI. So firstly, I have attempted to clarify that there is nothing like that.Secondly,I feel the people for whom we want to set up a council will all be juniors,so they in any case can be no competition for
the senior designers in bodies like the FDCI. And yes,there was no objection by anyone to having the 30 per cent reservation for juniors.There is, however, no change in our initial plans, we will set up the body, with the help and cooperation of all concerned.
    – Shankersinh Vaghela

Fashion goes beyond apparel
I proposed setting up of a Design Council since bodies such as the FDCI,and the IFC if it is formed, generally tend to define fashion only in terms of apparel and garments,whereas fashion is a wider term which should extend to accessories,lifestyle,
crafts. I therefore feel that a wider Design Council may be more pertinent if our aim is to promote young talent across the board, as a body that complements rather than competes with existing ones. From what I understand, the majority of designers were in agreement with the idea. – Rathi Vinay Jha

We will give a quota to youth
The government is not anti-FDCI.Also, in principle, FDCI has no opposition to having any promotional activities for young designers. FDCI is willing to give young designers a quota at the events it organises, so long as they meet the
minimum basic criteria for participation. We’d prefer an umbrella body like a Design Council, which takes care of multiple activities instead of posing as competition.The minister has displayed sincerity.We have a common point, which is to achieve the broader objective as far as young designers are concerned - to give them a platform and support them . – Sunil Sethi

Many are not getting a chance
There is a growing concern that many people are not getting a chance because of a few.And this was expressed by the minister as well, which is true. I guess it is a really good initiative - to think about the young designers.If they succeed,we suc
ceed. People are bored of the same old stuff that has been showing for the past 30 years.Eighty to 90 per cent of the students who graduate from design school work in export houses,but the council could make life much easier for the ones who want to be standalones with their creativity. – Narendra Kumar Ahmed

We can benefit from a tie-up
The government has a plan to help sustain growth of the fashion industry,help with the trade and marketing,and assist everyone who needs it – like they are doing with NIFT.The 30 per cent quota was never an issue in the meeting because the FDCI already has a quota for upcoming designers.And it’s not
driven by caste and creed,but need.The ministry has asked for a feedback wishlist in the next 15 days,after which they will arrive at a consensus.The ministry is larger in scope and reach than our entire fraternity put together.They also have various tie-ups with other bodies and even countries – we could benefit from it. – Rina Dhaka

The minister surprised me...
The minister surprised me through his understanding of the changes coming in the garment industry and his intent was clear in his wise words.The effort of the textile ministry will not go in vain - they have the power to unleash the great Indian talent
on a global platform.The architecture of this vision,however,needs to be world class and Indian in its DNA. – Raghavendra Rathore

    FDCI can’t have a quota
The quota system is a very government kind of thing. But then,if they are serious about this,they will have to start their own body, because FDCI, being an NGO,cannot have any quota system.And no,in all my tenure with the FDCI,I have never heard of any

    quota system. But yes, NIFT is planning to diversify in a big way, and start institutes in Rai Bareilly,Assam, Kannur and other places.So,maybe there’s merit in what Mr Vaghela is planning. Because designers from these areas will definitely benefit from a quota.We have to understand that fashion in our country works at various levels – it’s not only about pret and couture. I understand there has been talk of an independent design council under the aegis of the textile ministry.It may include handlooms,handicraft,and the NIFTs operating out of the above-mentioned crafts rich areas.The new body may not necessarily be in conflict with the FDCI, or any other fashion body for that matter. – Ritu Kumar
(With inputs from Mandvi Sharma & Jyothi Prabhakar)


Katrina Kaif’s mastering Hindi

    Did you know that the gorgeous Katrina Kaif is on a new mission these days? Any guesses as to what she’s up to? We hear that she’s finally mastered Hindi. “Nowadays she speaks in Hindi with Salman and her friends as well. In fact, during her appearance on Salman’s TV show, she spoke in Hindi,” says her friend.
And coming soon will be a Prakash Jha film where Kats has been given full-length dialogues.

    A source revealed, “Prakashji was very impressed with the way Katrina took Hindi classes, and the speed with which she learnt the language. She has a very serious role in Rajniti and wanted to be perfect for it. Thus, the lessons in Hindi language. This is the first time that Katrina is playing such a serious character. Prakash felt that it would be a challenge to present Katrina in a never-seen-before role. But, he’s confident of succeeding at it.” What remains to be seen is, whether after all this, her voice will be dubbed in the movie or not.

Katrina Kaif


Sajid Khan turns a blogger

    After Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Ram Gopal Varma, its anchor and director Sajid Khan’s turn to start blogging. We heard that he has been approached to pen down his experience on his blog. “He has been approached by a leading website to write his blog,” his friend told us. Well, let’s hope what he writes is as funny as... Well, haven’t you ever heard him speak?

Sajid Khan


Two Indian students on Arctic voyage

They will be studying the impact of climate change on the Northern hemisphere. They will also be doing film and photography related projects on the issue of global warming

    Two Indian students are among an international group of high school children who will embark on an Arctic tour to study the impact of climate change in the northern ice fields through a series of artistic experiments and projects. The 28-member voyage, Cape Farewell Youth Expedition 2008, includes students from Canada, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Mexico and Britain.
    The project, envisioned by British artist David Buckland, will bring together top scientists, artists, educators and high school students to raise awareness about climate change and to equip young people to become climate change ambassadors at home and abroad.
    Shruti K Neelakantan of Sri Sankara School in Chennai and Dhruv Sengar of Seth MR Jaipuria School in Lucknow will board the MV Akademik Shokalskiy at Reykjavik in Iceland on September 7 to go to Iqaluit at Baffin Island in Canada on September 20.
    Shruti, a Class XII student, believes that saving our planet is everyone’s responsibility, whereas Dhruv is currently trying to discover ways to reduce carbon footprints of an area. They will develop science projects in climatology, oceanography, and bio-geography. Each genre will be accompanied by an art project in films, photography, fine arts, performing arts and literature on micro-issues

related to impact of greenhouse gases and temperature rise on the Arctic ice sheets. “The changes in climate will increase and become more unstable,” said artist David Buckland, a featured speaker at the September 4 launch of the event at the Ontario Science Centre. “If we have learned anything (from past expeditions), it is that the forces that will be released against us will not be manageable,” said Buckland.
    An art installation project ‘On Thin Ice: Youth Respond to International Polar Year’ will be a part of the expedition. “We will use science as the lens to inspire and actively engage people in new ways of seeing and understanding the world. The students’ responses to their remarkable journey and the changing landscape of the polar region will assist us in achieving this vision,” said Lesley Lewis, chief executive officer of the Ontario Science Centre.
    Award-winning illustrator and author Genevieve Cote of Montreal and Colette Laliberte of the Ontario College of Art and Design will co-head the programme.
    Students from across the world can participate online in the voyage by uploading data about their region such as local temperature and precipitation measurements or photographs of local landforms. Warming is a major cause for concern in Arctic.
    A new report, Arctic Climate Impact Science – An Update, says climate change is having a greater and faster impact on
    the Arctic than previously thought.


India’s other gold medallist at Olympics

    Did you know that India won two gold medals and not one at the 2008 Beijing Olympics? Sunita Lamba, a fine arts artist from Delhi, won a gold at the games for her sculpture, but so far she has received no felicitation from the government.
    Lamba, the sister of late cricketer Raman Lamba, had sent her sculpture, Spirit of Unity, for Olympic Fine Arts 2008, an exhibition put up by the organising committee at Beijing, and it was selected for display.
    “The chairman of the International Olympic Committee inaugurated the exhibition Aug 11 and on the very same day they announced the gold medal for me,” said Lamba. “I was also given an Olympic torch besides the certificate of winning the gold medal,” Lamba added. Shooter Abhinav Bindra is the only sportsperson to have fetched a gold for India at the games this time.
    Lamba’s gold medal will be given to her after the 40-day exhibition gets over. The show will run for a few months in different areas of China itself and after that it will move to countries across the world. The stars in her eyes clearly spell the joy of winning the gold medal, but the pain of being ignored by the authorities shows just as much.
    “Is ‘art’ a discipline which doesn’t hold any importance for the country? More than 20 days have passed since I won the medal but no one has contacted me yet,” Lamba, who is 40 plus, said. “I am not against any reward for any sportspersons but it pinches when the authorities completely ignore you,” she added. “I belong to a sports family and I believe in sports. My aim is to move ahead in life,” said Lamba, who works with a leading five-star hotel in the capital and is a resident of west Delhi.

    Before leaving for Beijing, she had even tried to contact Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi and union Culture minister Ambika Soni to tell them about her participation. “I have been making sculptures for the last 25 years and my work was selected from among 10,000 entries for the final 110. Before leaving for Beijing I tried to contact both of them, but didn’t get any response from them,” Lamba said.
    After waiting for long, she finally decided to contact the government herself and called Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit last week. Dikshit asked her to come to the felicitation function of Olympic bronze medal winner in wrestling Sushil Kumar at her residence. “But even here, Dikshit just introduced me to the media and that was it,” Lamba lamented. She was not even given a bouquet of flowers. Is ‘art’ not a discipline in itself?” she asked. “Everyone decorates their houses with costly art pieces, but they are not ready to recognise it as a discipline,” Lamba said.
    The saving grace was a call from the father of boxer Vijender Singh, who won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. “He congratulated me and expressed his regret over people’s ignorance. He said that art is also a sport and I really felt nice talking to him,” she said.
    The artist will now soon be travelling to Beruit and the US where she will be showcasing her work. “I have also decided to organise an art show in India in which I will invite the international artists who took part in the Olympics art exhibition,” she said.
    Her elder brother, Rajan Lamba, was quite vocal in expressing his disappointment over her sister being ignored by officialdom. “The authorities only remember a few people and forget everyone else,” he said. IANS

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