Friday, August 31, 2012



The first in the series of seven Regional Kisan Melas of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) will be held on September 5 at Regional Research Station for Kandi Area (RRSKA), Ballowal Saunkhri, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. The mela with a focus on the theme "Pawan Guru Pani Pita, Mata Dharat Mahatt (Conservation of air, water and soil health)," will be inaugurated by the chief guest, Dr Amarjit Singh Khaira, former Vice-Chancellor, PAU at 10.30 a.m. and presided over by Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, present Vice-Chancellor, PAU. The Deputy Commissioner of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Smt. Tanu Kashyap, will highlight the district development plans with special reference to farmers of Kandi area.

Giving programme details, Dr M.S. Gill, Director of Extension Education, said that the farmers' fair will provide an opportunity to the participating farmers and farm women of the Kandi area to equip themselves with scientific know-how for scientific farming. Besides, an exhibition, showcasing latest farm techniques and technologies, relevant to Kandi region, will also put up to update the knowledge of the farmers about innovative-agri-practices, he told. Informing that the technical session will begin at 11.30 a.m, Dr Gill said that the PAU experts will shed light on the improved varieties of different crops for Kandi area, role and importance of farm literature, management of crop pests and diseases and scope of horticulture, agro-horticulture, forestry and agro-forestry in Kandi area. In addition to livestock management, the farm scientists will dwell upon vegetable production and crop production technology with particular reference to Kandi region and home science management and nutrition, he said, adding that the experts will respond to all the queries of the farmers during the interactive session.The Ballowal Saunkhri Kisan Mela will be followed by that at Faridkot (September 7), Gurdaspur (September 11), Rauni-Patiala (September 14), Usman-Amritsar (September 25), Bathinda (September 27) in addition to the two-day Kisan Mela at PAU Campus, Ludhiana on September 21-22.

News From:

RSS Sarakaryavah Shri. Bhayyaji Joshi’s tour to the United States 6th August to 20th August 2012

1September 2012

"Hindus living outside of Bharat should maintain their identity and values. But we Hindus have a universal message and a mission. So, Hindus should unite and be strong not only for themselves but for the welfare of the whole world." These were the inspiring words and guidance from RSS Sarakaryavah Shri Suresh ji (Bhayyaji) Joshi while talking to Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) karyakartas in the United States. His two-week long first trip to the United States started on 6th August 2012. Shri Bhayyaji traveled to many cities including Houston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York. He also visited a Sangh Shiksha Varg (HSS training workshop) of Midwest region held in Indiana and guided the participants there, majority of whom were American-born Hindu youths.In Houston, a dinner meeting of prominent Hindu community leaders was hosted on the occasion of Shri Bhayyaji's visit. In this well attended meeting, Shri Bhayyaji gave an overview of the accomplishments of RSS in the past eight decades. He gave a very touching account of how Sangh swayamsevaks in Bharat are working selflessly for decades together to create social harmony (samarasata). He narrated many examples of efforts by swayamsevaks, individual as well as collective, to remove caste discrimination and bring social justice. Bhayyaji mentioned how the RSS has created a feeling of national unity in the midst of regionalism, casteism and the tribal-non-tribal divide in Bharat. He also said that Sangh has been successful in bringing to the national stage many important issues such as Kashmir, the Northeast and religious conversions. Later in a very lively interaction, Shri Bhayyaji answered many questions asked by the audience about Sangh position on anti-corruption movements, Assam riots etc. In his concluding remarks he appreciated the concern that Hindus in America have for the affairs of their Motherland. While urging the audience to be loyal and contributing citizens of the country of their adoption, he also congratulated them for actively maintaining their values and being the cultural ambassadors of Bharat. In his concluding remarks, Shri Ramesh Bhutada, HSS national sah sanghchalak (vice president), thanked Shri Bhaiyyaji Joshi for sharing his thoughts.Gatherings of swayamsevaks and sevikas were organized in every city where Shri Bhayyaji visited. While addressing swayamsevaks and sevikas, whether in Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles or in New Jersey, Shri Bhayyaji stressed that being a swayamsevak is not merely about the externals. Being a swayamsevak means having certain qualities. First and foremost is selflessness. Being swayamsevak means having purity of character, both personal and social. A swayamsevak should have a strong and uncompromising commitment towards the cause of Sangh. Most importantly a swayamsevak should constantly strive to become a good Hindu, to practice Dharma, to live for others and keep away from materialism. Shri Bhayyaji's guidance to swayamsevaks was to keep away from arguments but to be constantly active in making Hindu society faultless, self-reliant and dynamic. He conveyed his message very effectively to swayamsevaks of all age-groups through his simple language, practical examples and a very positive approach.In San Francisco Bay Area, environmentalists Sam Bower, belonging to Green Museum and Pancho Ramos Stierle belonging to Service Space met with Shri Bhayyaji. Both of them are also involved in community farming at Oakland. Another environmentalist Prakash Hegde too presented his views on the environmental issues. Ashish Goyal shared his experience working in the area of energy efficiency and solutions. There was a hearty exchange of thoughts, ideas and activities in relation to the environmental concerns. All of them agreed that along with proper governmental policies, the view of humanity towards nature also needs to change. Shri Bhayyaji spoke about the idea and success of the Vishwa Mangal Go-gram Yatra. All the activists were very happy to listen to Shri Bhayyaji. They resonated with his comment that the idea of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', the whole world is a family, should be promoted.While in the Washington DC area, Shri Bhayyaji visited the DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) along with Sewa International karyakartas. DCCK is a charitable organization that not only feeds thousands of homeless people daily, but gives job training to rehabilitate many needy people. Bhayyaji took a tour of the Kitchen to understand their operations. With his vast experience in seva projects in Bharat he asked many questions about their functioning and the impact of the DCCK on the people that they serve. Bhayyaji shared information about similar projects in Bharat with the volunteers and staff of DCCK. He also congratulated them for their yeoman service to the poor. Bhayyaji also commended Sewa International karyakartas for working together with such charity organizations to serve the needy in America.Shri Bhayyaji's visit to Shanti Ashram in Maryland was also very memorable. Shanti Ashram was started by Shri Vyasadev (Victor Landa) who is originally from Peru. Shanti Ashram is an urban ashram involved in teaching Yoga and meditation. The followers also practice bio-dynamic farming to produce sattvic organic food. Shri Bhayyaji was very happy to see them practicing agnihotra on a daily basis. He visited the water and yoga therapy center at the ashram and also the organic food shop. Shri Vyasadev ji presented some literature to Shri Bhayyaji. While sipping the hot chai with organic jaggery, Bhayyaji invited Vyasadev and others to visit some similar projects in Bharat which they heartily accepted.Apart from all the meetings and programs Shri Bhayyaji did some sightseeing as well. Bhayyaji enjoyed the tour to NASA in Houston as well as the various museums in Washington DC. One very important place he visited was the Fullerton Hall in the Art Institute of Chicago. This is where Swami Vivekananda gave his famous speech at the Parliament of Religions in 1893. It was like a pilgrimage for Bhayyaji to visit the hall, similarly the Vivekananda House in Pasedena, CA and the Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters in Los Angeles started by Paramahansa Yogananda. During his New York sightseeing Bhayyaji made it a point to visit the Vedanta Society, started by Swami Vivekananda as early as 1894, and had discussions with assistant minister Swami Paritushtananda.On Saturday 18th August, the meeting with the Native American Ramapough Lenape community was quite an emotional one. Shri Bhayyaji was accompanied by Prof. Radheshyam Dwivedi, President of the International Center for Cultural Studies and other karyakartas. They were warmly welcomed by Chief Dwaine Perry at the community center near New York. After giving a tour of the sacred ceremonial grounds, Chief Perry also told about their ongoing struggle to get approval for the construction of their traditional 'Long House'. Chief Perry said that, similar to Hindus, they also believe in respect for all paths and lead a spiritual life in harmony with nature. Shri Bhayyaji agreed and reiterated the point that this respect for diverse paths only would lead to a more peaceful world.Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA Sanghchalak Prof. Ved P Nanda was present at the gathering of swayamsevaks in New Jersey. He expressed his gratitude to Shri Bhayyaji for inspiring the karyakartas through his visit. Prof. Nanda also appealed to all swayamsevaks to actively participate in the programs commemorating Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary in 2013. Vishwa Vibhag Samyojak Shri Saumitra Gokhale accompanied Shri Bhayyaji throughout the tour.All in all Shri Bhayyaji Joshi's tour to the United States was a great success. It gave a renewed motivation and clarity of the Sangh philosophy to the HSS karyakartas. Bhayyaji satisfied the media persons who came to interview him with his candid and clear answers about the RSS position and various issues. His easy approachability was liked by all the karyakartas and leaders of various organizations. The families where Shri Bhayyaji stayed or had meals were impressed by his simplicity and affable nature. His earnest advice to all those families was to maintain their mother tongue, remain connected with Bharat and to visit other swayamsevak families informally.

News From:

Global carriers resent hike in airport charges at Chennai

NEW DELHI, August 30, 2012

After registering strong protest against the decision of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) to hike airport fees by almost 344 per cent, international carriers, on Thursday, took strong exception to the reported move to hike airport charges at the newly-developed Chennai International Airport.

Stating that any move to hike charges at the Chennai airport would have a negative impact on foreign travel, these international airlines were of the view that it would adversely impact the aviation sector in India.

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has proposed to increase the rates which would be valid till 2015-16 and sought the views of all stakeholders.

Leading the charge against the hike is German carrier Lufthansa, which operates flights on the Chennai-Frankfurt route. In a statement issued here, Lufthansa said the proposed unreasonable increase in airport charges at Chennai airport would have a strong negative effect on the economic result of the sector.

"National and international airlines are operating in a very tough market environment in India and elsewhere. Lufthansa is investing in new products, services and new technologies, especially more fuel-efficient aircraft, and, at the same time, is committed to save 1.5 billion euro in an internal cost savings programme in order to remain competitive and profitable. At the same time, Lufthansa is the leading European airline to connect Chennai and the State of Tamil Nadu with Europe, providing convenient access for visitors, tourists and businesses alike. In the interest of our Indian customers and the future joint success of the Chennai-Frankfurt route, we urge the responsible management of Chennai International Airport to reconsider the move," the statement added.

The statement comes in the backdrop of other international carriers such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines joining all Indian airlines in opposing the hike in airport charges.

The proposal mooted by Airports Authority of India (AAI), which developed the Chennai airport, seeks an increase of 118 per cent in international and 48 per cent in domestic landing charges from November 1, minimum landing fee of Rs.5,000 per landing and an 83 per cent hike in parking and housing charges for planes.

It also proposed to impose User Development Fees (UDF) of Rs.165 per domestic and Rs.667 per international passenger from January 1 next year.

From 2013-14 onwards, there would be an annual escalation of 6 per cent each tariff year on landing, housing, parking and UDF, according to the proposal.
News From:

DoT move to curb imports worries Chinese telecom companies

BEIJING, August 30, 2012

An internal strategy proposal by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that suggests restricting imports of certain kinds of telecom equipment has worried Chinese companies and analysts, who have seen the plans as reflecting rising 'economic nationalism' and 'suspicions' of the Indian government towards them.

If enforced, the suggested strategy could derail plans of Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, which are hoping to bid for lucrative contracts ahead of the rollout of fourth generation networks. The internal proposal, which has not been approved, will limit Chinese imports to devices and in telecom manufacturing, and bar their presence in broadband networks, which are viewed as strategically sensitive, according to media reports.

Analysts in China have appeared to take a practical view of India's security fears, calling on both firms and the government to do more to increase trust with India and address concerns about the trade deficit to avoid the possibilities of a trade war. China should "diversify the goods it purchases from India and understand the country better through improved communication to avoid trade wars," said Sun Shihai, an India scholar at the influential Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). "India has very deep suspicion about China," he told the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper, suggesting automobile parts as one area where China could boost imports. "India appears to have been wary of the influx of foreign goods," added Wei Zhong, a professor at the Institute of Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. China needed to "better understand economic nationalism and increase mutual trust with India in the areas of trade and politics," the report suggested.

Huawei and ZTE are already working with a number of Indian companies in third generation network services and have both won contracts to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in selling equipment for 2G networks. Out of Huawei's reported $1.5 billion revenue in India, $1.2 billion derived from its business in networks. Only $300 million came from its devices business.

While Chinese telecom equipment was initially restricted by the Home Ministry, citing security fears, it was given the green light after companies addressed Indian authorities' concerns by agreeing to a range of security requirements. The Global Times said companies such as ZTE, which have been hit by the slowdown in the West, are increasingly dependent on markets such as India. ZTE's operating profit fell by 226 per cent year-on-year to a loss of 863 million yuan ($135.8 million), the newspaper cited a financial statement as saying. The company said it will "focus on countries with huge populations".

Huawei has announced plans to invest $2 billion in India from 2011-15, and will set up a new global R&D centre in Bangalore. Both companies have argued that their competitively priced equipment have enabled Indian companies, which will have to rely on the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Finland and Australia if the DoT proposals are enforced, to bring down prices substantially.

Indian officials have assured Chinese companies that a level playing field would be provided — most recently during the visit of Commerce Minister Chen Deming to New Delhi this week — leaving some Chinese analysts to suggest that the DoT proposal was unlikely to be approved.

Officials have assured Chinese firms that policies would not specifically target them, and security standards that will be set would be transparent and applicable to all countries.
News From:

Federer repeats history with win over Phau

NEW YORK, August 31, 2012

History repeated itself for Roger Federer as the top seed beat Bjorn Phau 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to advance at the US Open 13 years after first defeating the German journeyman. Federer dismissed his second round opponent on Thursday without ceremony to win his 23rd night match at Flushing Meadows without a loss.

Phau remained without a career place in a Grand Slam third round after his defeat in 90 minutes, ended with a stinging ace. Federer is bidding for an 18th singles trophy at a major tournament and is to clash next with Spain's Fernando Verdasco, a winner over Albert Ramos 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

"It was a great match for me," Federer said. "Bjorn had some incredible shot-making. The next match with Verdasco will be another tough one. He's a guy who has been around a long time and had some big wins.

He's a lefty, so that makes thing different."

Tsonga falls

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became the highest seeded player to fall so far at the US Open when the fifth-seeded Frenchman went down 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 to Slovak Martin Klizan.

Another veteran, the revitalised 32-year-old James Blake, rolled back the clock with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 hammering of Marcel Granollers, hitting 90 per cent of his first serve points and producing 29 winners in the rout. Americans Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey both reached the third round while teenaged compatriot Jack Sock put his best foot forward in a defeat of Flavio Cipolla 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

Spanish 11th seed Nicolas Almagro needed five sets in a week already full of marathons, beating German Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Number 12 Croatian Marin Cilic defeated German Daniel Brands 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 7-5. Canadian 15th seed Milos Raonic sent over 30 aces in his defeat of Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Ivanovic, Serena progress

In the women's draw, second seed Agnieszka Radwanska needed to win the last 11 games against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to ensure her trip into the third round.

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-2, 6-4 while French Open finalist Sara Errani rolled over Vera Dushevina 6-0, 6-1. Serbia's Ana Ivanovic put two match wins together for the first time in a month with the former number one advancing 6-2, 6-2 over Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson.

Ivanovic was joined as a winner by 13th seed Dominika Cibulkova, who beat young Serb Bojana Jovanovski 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3), and Russian 14th seed Maria Kirilenko, a winner over Greta Arn of Hungary 6-3, 6-2.

Venus ousted

Two-time champion Venus Williams was eliminated from the US Open losing 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in the second round to sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber.

Williams, the 2000 and 2001 champion at Flushing Meadows, finished with 60 unforced errors. The match lasted 2 hours, 45 minutes.
News From:

Ojha keeps New Zealand at bay

BANGALORE, August 31, 2012

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha helped India seize the initiative on the opening morning of the second Test against New Zealand, taking 2-24, as the visitors reached 108-3 at lunch on Friday, thanks chiefly to Martin Guptill's fluent half-century.

At the break at Chinnaswany Stadium, captain Ross Taylor was batting on 27 and Daniel Flynn was on 7.

Ojha, who opened the bowling despite India fielding two pacemen, bagged the important wickets of Kane Williamson and a well-set Guptill to justify captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's persistence with him.

Ojha trapped Williamson leg-before wicket for 17 and followed it up with the dismissal of Guptill, who was caught by Gautam Gambhir at mid-wicket for 53.

Earlier, pacer Zaheer Khan removed Brendon McCullum leg-before wicket for a duck with a delivery that swung in late.

Guptill, who was dropped by Virat Kohli at third slip off Khan when on 17, played some fine shots after the reprieve.

New Zealand, which lost the first Test at Hyderabad by an innings and 115 runs, is trying to avoid a second successive 2-0 series loss after having lost both Tests on a recent tour of the West Indies.
News From:

Romney blasts Obama as he accepts nomination

TAMPA, FLORIDA, August 31, 2012

Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney asked on Thursday what happened to the excitement that President Barack Obama had instilled when he was elected in 2008.

"Tonight I'd ask a simple question: if you felt that excitement when you voted for Mr. Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama?" he told the Republican National Convention.

"You know there's something wrong with the job he's done as President when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him." Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama hadn't intentionally disappointed voters, but that he lacked the basic experience in the private sector to understand how to create jobs.

"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," Mr. Romney said. "But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. And with your help, we will do something."

Earlier, Mr. Romney declared his acceptance of the Republican Party's nomination to challenge Mr. Obama in the November 6 general elections.
News From:

Court: Samsung didn’t infringe Apple patent

TOKYO, August 31, 2012

A Tokyo court on Friday dismissed Apple Inc.'s claim that Samsung had infringed on its patent the latest ruling in the global legal battle over smartphones that pits the two technology titans against each other.

Samsung Electronics Co. welcomed the Tokyo District Court ruling that its technology to synchronise mobile players with computers did not infringe on Apple patents as confirming "our long-held position."

"We will continue to offer highly innovative products to consumers, and continue our contributions toward the mobile industry's development," the company said in a statement.

In a session lasting a few minutes, Judge Tamotsu Shoji said he did not think Samsung products fell into the realm of Apple technology and dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Apple in August 2011.

Apple is embroiled in similar legal squabbles around the world over whether Samsung smartphones, which relies on Google Inc.'s Android technology, illegally used Apple designs, ideas or technology.

In one such case, a jury in California ruled last week that Samsung products illegally used such Apple creations as the "bounce-back" feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger.

The jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages and a judge is now evaluating Apple's request to have eight Samsung products pulled from shelves and banned from the U.S. market, including popular Galaxy model smartphones.
News From:

Left, SP, TDP demand probe into coal scam

NEW DELHI, August 31, 2012 (PTI)

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and MPs from TDP and Left parties on Friday sat on a dharna in front of Parliament House to seek a judicial inquiry into coal blocks allocation.

Eight parties, including the SP and the Left, have joined hands to protest the continued disruption of Parliament and are demanding a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the coal block allocation issue.

Later talking to reporters, Mr. Yadav said, "We demand that a sitting Supreme Court judge or the CBI should inquire into the scam. If they don't order a probe, we will fight at the national-level and go to the people on the issue."

Asked if the parties would continue to be together in the future and whether this was the beginning of a third front, he said, "This will continue and whatever you want to think, you can do that. "We want the coal block licences should be cancelled and there should be a discussion on the issue in Parliament," he said.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, "Both BJP and Congress want to avoid a discussion because they don't want it. If there is no discussion, many of their secrets will remain safe."

Asked if Mr. Yadav could be trusted, he said, "That is why we are saying that only time will tell what will happen in the future."

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said, "We have united to fight corruption and the efforts to destroy parliamentary democracy. This will not only be in Parliament but outside also. This is the beginning of a new day and era."

TDP leader Nama Nageshwara Rao said, "We want the government to cancel the allocation of coal blocks."
News From:

Gawli gets life term for murdering Sena corporator

MUMBAI, August 31, 2012 (PTI)

Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli was on Friday sentenced to life imprisonment by a special MCOCA court in Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar murder case.

Special MCOCA court judge Prithviraj Chavan also imposed a fine of Rs. 17 lakh on Gawli, failing which he will have to undergo an additional three-year imprisonment.

Ten others were also awarded life imprisonment in the case while accused Sunil Ghate was convicted only under Arms Act and has been sent to three years' rigorous imprisonment.

The court also sent Gawli to ten-year imprisonment each for being a member of the organised crime syndicate and extortion.

While pronouncing the sentence, justice Chavan said, "Instead of death I am giving you life imprisonment."

During the arguments on sentencing, Gawli had told the judge that there was no reason for him to kill the Sena corporator for a "paltry" amount of Rs. 30 lakh.

"After 2007 BMC elections, when Shiv Sena was not in majority it was our Akhil Bharatiya Sena, who gave them support of four corporators (to attain majority). At that time each of our corporators commanded very high monetary value (for providing support) and there was no reason for me to kill Jamsandekar for Rs. 30 lakh," Gawli argued.

On August 24, the former MLA and 11 others were found guilty of murdering Jamsandekar in 2008. Earlier, Gawli's lawyer Sudeep Passbola had argued in the court that his client should not be given capital punishment, as demanded by the prosecution. "Give a dog a bad name and shoot it — that should not be the principle," Passbola had said.
News From:

Now marks in school for keeping fit

NEW DELHI, August 31, 2012

To inculcate awareness of physical fitness and encourage a sports culture that would further improve India's medal tally at international competitions, the Centre on Thursday unveiled a national programme for schoolchildren.

In addition to giving a more physically fit student additional weightage in academic performance, the programme will award children by grading them with stars — an initiative started in 1959 but discontinued. It also proposes to institute six national awards for the best performing State, district and school in physical fitness.

The Exposure Draft on National Physical Fitness Programme, released by Sports Minister Ajay Maken, aims at putting in place a system to assess a child's physical fitness from Class V onwards. It will entail formulation of a scientific programme and criteria to first motivate all school-going children of both sexes to be physically fit and concurrently evaluate their fitness.

Motivational, not coercive

"The scheme needs to be motivational rather than being coercive and to obtain this, the achievement of fitness by a child has to be rewarded in a manner similar to a reward for academic achievements," Mr. Maken said.

Fitness evaluation will have six components: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, explosive strength (jumping) and body composition (percentage of body fat). Fitness tests will be executed at least twice a year — in June and January — which will provide an idea of the status as well as level of improvement of the student's fitness during an academic session.

Quoting a World Health Organisation report, Mr. Maken said one out of three Indians would be either a coronary patient or diabetic by 2030. This projected population at risk would necessarily be school-going children at present. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Haryana did have physical fitness programmes, but the percentage fulfilling the criteria of physically fit children remained low, particularly once they moved to higher classes, where the focus is more on academics.

Open to public comments

The National Physical Fitness Programme — the draft of which will be open to public comments for a month – envisages evaluation of every child studying in Class V and above on the six components of fitness by being made to participate in eight tests. The student's performance will accordingly be graded and fed into his/her Assessment Card and the school's Fitness Assessment Forms, as designed by the Gwalior-based Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education. Data will be collected at the district level.

The top 10 per cent of performers gender-wise in each district will be given an additional 3 per cent in the scores they obtained in academic disciplines. Performers ranking between the top 10 and 20 per cent will get an additional 2.5 per cent; those between 20 and 30 per cent, 2 per cent; those between 30 and 40 per cent, 1.5 per cent and those between 40 and 50 per cent, one per cent.
News From:

Community leaders in Assam urge refugees in camps to return home

BONGAIGAON (ASSAM), August 31, 2012

After staying in a refugee camp for over a month; the biggest concern of Shamshul Basumatary, who fled his home in the face of violence at Noapara village in Chirang district late in July, is that the standing paddy crop in his field will be destroyed if he does not return to tend his fields soon. Fear of fresh reprisals has been keeping him from returning.

However, on Thursday, he was a little more hopeful of his return as leaders of the minority community as well as representatives from the Bodo community arrived at the Mongolian Bajar Camp in Chirang district and urged the 350 inmates sheltered there to go back home.

In an attempt to persuade thousands like Mr. Basumatary to return home, a delegation comprising leaders of both communities came together and visited five camps in Bongaigoan and Chirang districts during the day — the first such visit since the ethnic conflict started. About 2 lakh people are still residing in the 213 camps in different districts.

The delegation was led by Congress MLAs Bhupen Borah and Rana Goswami. The administration could not provide security to every person, and unless people were convinced that they could return, peace could not be restored in the region, they said.

"Once you return home, the district administration will provide necessary relief material in the next 48 hours," Mr. Borah told the inmates.

"This is our new initiative to win over the confidence of those sheltered in the camps by visiting the camps and trying to convince them to return home," Speaker of the Bodoland Territorial Administration Legislative Council Paneram Brahmo said who was also in the delegation.

However, most of the inmates are far from convinced. "Nobody wants to stay in the refugee camp. What we want from you is only to ensure our own safety," Kiramat Ali, who fled his home from Dakhinmakra area of Chirang district, told members of the delegation at a camp in Goraimari in Bongaigaon district.

"Nothing left for us"

While many are eagerly waiting to return home, for some the very thought infuriates them. "There is nothing left for us to return to. Our house was razed to the ground. Life will never be the same for us again," Bijoy Basumatary a resident of the Noapara area of Chirang district fumed.

"The effort to bring leaders of both communities together and assure people that the administration will provide them security can show a way out of the humanitarian crisis," said Shahnawaj Pramanik, working President of the All BTC Minority Students Union, another member of the delegation.

With each day in the camp, life poses new challenges. It is raining all afternoon and the firewood collected after a day's ordeal is getting wet.

"How are we going to cook this evening? We do not have place to store the firewood," said Anwara Khatun, a refugee. "Many families do not have utensils to cook their food. Utensils are shared, as is food. But how does one light the fire? It is so damp here," he said.
News From:

Thursday, August 30, 2012



Dr Wasakha Singh Dhillon, Senior Horticulturist, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), and working as Director, Punjab Horticultural Post-harvest Technology Centre (PHPTC) has been appointed as an Assistant Director General (Horticulture-I), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, for a period of five years.

Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, congratulating the scientist for this remarkable achievement, exhorted him to continue with his consistent and vigorous efforts and make vital contribution to the field of horticulture as well as nations' food kitty. He wished him all success in his professional career ahead.

Dr Wasakha Singh Dhillon has made outstanding contributions to the horticultural research, in terms of crop improvement and post-harvest technology. His scientific findings led to the development of 10 varieties, one root stock and 25 technologies on different fruit crops, which are included in the Package of Practices of the PAU. He has been the Principal Investigator of four research projects, facilitated by ICAR, University Grants Commission (UGC) and other agencies. Earlier, he has served as a Director of Fruit Research Station, Gangian. A leading scientist, known for carrying out research on pear, pomegranate and phalsa fruit crops, he has the publication of 179 research articles, 78 technical articles, three books and one extension bulletin and booklet to his credit.

Besides, the scientist has contributed significantly to the field of education. He is a recipient of Shri GL Chadha Memorial Gold Medal, Fellowship by Horticultural Society of India, Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports and many other awards.

News From:

Vet Varsity Student wins travel award for overseas conference

Ludhiana-30-Aug, 2012

Dr. Emy Elizabeth Varughese, M.V.Sc student at the Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Obstetrics was selected to present two papers, one at the 17th International Congress on Animal Reproduction (ICAR) and the other at 7th International Symposium on Canine and Feline Reproduction (ISCFR) at Vancouver and Whistler, Canada respectively. She was one among the ten to be awarded the "ICAR Student Travel Award" from a total of 62 applicants for her study entitled "Uterine blood flow at various stages of pregnancy in buffaloes using Doppler ultrasonography" co-authored by Dr.Parkash Singh and Dr.Shahbaz Singh Dhindsa which included a sum of $1000. Title of second study was on "Successful management of metastasis of transmissible venereal tumour to lung and mammary region" co-authored by Dr.V.K.Singla, Dr.V.K.Gandotra and Upasana R.

Dr.Ajeet Kumar, Assistant professor in the same department was one of the award recipient's of the "Travel award for young scientists from developing countries" and was selected for his paper entitled " Fertility prediction in buffalo bulls on the basis of sperm motion traits, fertility associated antigen (FAA) and HSP70 expression" co-authored by Late Dr. Jagir Singh, Dr. GR Kumar, Dr. P Singh, Dr. Ranjana Cheema, Dr. SS Ghuman and Dr. VK Gandotra.

Dr.Parkash Singh Brar, Professor-cum-Head of the department was also selected for his paper entitled "Species variations in success of treatment of endometritis and conception rates following infusion of Lugole's iodine in buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and cows" co-authored by Dr.Emy, Dr.Sushil Prabhakar, Dr. AK Jain and Dr. ML Mehra.

News From:

Hike in charges force British Airways to review India strategy

NEW DELHI, August 29, 2012

British Airways, on Wednesday, said it was reviewing its India operations strategy in the wake of the massive hike in airport charges at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport here.

Revisiting strategy

"With the massive hike in airport charges, which are very high, we have been left with no other alternative but to revisit our strategy and assess route profitability," Christopher Fordyce, British Airways\' Regional Commercial Manager (South Asia), told journalists here.

When asked if the airline would pass the hike on to the passengers, he said he could not say anything on the issue at the moment but passengers would be affected.

International airlines such as Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic are understood to have formed an alliance to oppose the hike in airport charges, with some of the impacted airlines having gone to court on the issue.

Mr. Fordyce said as many other cities were also developing new airports, they would also, presumably, follow the Delhi airport's route of imposing high airport fees.

"Airport development is important but the price escalation should also be taken into account as passengers will be affected due to it," he added.

In-flight menu

He also announced the re-launch of British Airways in-flight menu to suit the taste and choice of Indian fliers, in collaboration with Oberoi Flight Services (OFS) on its flights operating out of Delhi and Mumbai airports.

"India is a key market for BA and we are committed to serving best-in-class onboard our flights from India. "We are now launching a refreshed menu, specially created and launched for Indian customers is one of our continuous endeavour to improve their in-flight experience,'' Mr. Fordyce said.
News From:

Murray, Sharapova notch quick wins

NEW YORK, August 30, 2012

Andy Murray followed the formbook with another easy win for a seed as the number three became the first man into the third round of the US Open on Wednesday with 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 thrashing of Ivan Dodig.

Major players have gone through without problems so far at the final major of the season, with Murray imitating the easy victories of top seed Roger Federer and holder Novak Djokovic.

Earlier, women's third seed Maria Sharapova was even more devastating, hammering Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 6-0, 6-1.

"I played really well and stayed aggressive," said the Olympic silver medallist with perhaps some understatement. "Her best results are on clay courts where she has a lot of time.

"I didn't want to give that to her. I played my game, and opened up the court. Overall I'm pretty happy, and happy to be in the third round again." Murray spent just under two hours in going through over Croatian number 118 Dodig, who occasionally slept in train stations and under bridges in his early pro days due to a lack of finance.

Murray is into the Flushing Meadows third round for the seventh straight year.

"I played well. There were a lot of long rallies. He moves incredibly well, very quick around the court. I had to play the extra shot to beat him. I moved my feet well tonight and played well." He will now have two days off under the controversial scheduling of the American event, but knows he will by spending hours on the practice court under the eye of coach Ivan Lendl.

Other seeds advanced in first—round play, with fourth—seeded Spanish quiet man David Ferrer earning a 6—3, 6—2, 7—6 (7—3) defeat of South African Kevin Anderson.

Ferrer is the top Spaniard in the field with the injury absence of Rafael Nadal, but has never generated anything like the headlines that his celebrated compatriot inspires.

But Ferrer still managed to make an impression with a typically fighting win over two and a quarter hours, as he broke Anderson three times while never losing his own serve.

The 30—year—old ironman produced his best career Grand Slam showing at the event five years ago, when he beat Nadal and got all the way to the semis where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

The Spaniard owns 16 career titles and has not lost in the first round of a major since 2005 Wimbledon.

"I feel good. It was not easy match with Anderson," said Ferrer.

"He's a really good player and has a very strong first and second serve. I'm happy, because I played good in my first round." Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic escaped a scare before he put out Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 4—6, 3—6, 6—2, 6—3, 6—2.

American ninth seed John Isner followed up his Winston—Salem title as he beat Xavier Malisse 6—3, 7—6 (7—5), 5—7, 7—6 (11—9) when the Belgian went into boilover mode, yelling obscenities and likely to get at least an official review of the situation and a possible fine.

French 13th seed Richard Gasquet came back from a slow start to defeat Spain's Albert Montanes 4—6, 6—2, 6—3, 6—3.

In women's second—round play, top seed and world number one Victoria Azarenka reached the third round as she crushed Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6—2, 6—2 while fifth seed Petra Kvitova beat Alize Cornet 6—4, 6—3 and Chinese ninth seed Na Li dispatched Aussie Casey Dellacqua 6—4, 6—4.

Fifth seed Petra Kvitova did it easy over Alize Cornet of France, 6—4, 6—3 while holder Samantha Stosur crushed Edina Gallovits—Hall 6—3, 6—0.
News From:

Dravid wins Test player of the year award

BANGALORE, August 30, 2012

A Wednesday night, that celebrated Indian cricket's highs in 2011, added lustre to a string of players cutting across generations.

The Castrol awards for cricketing excellence honoured men as diverse as Ajit Wadekar, who bagged the lifetime achievement award, and Unmukt Chand, who topped the 'Junior cricketer' category.

Strangely, the biggest award winner — Indian cricketer of the year — M.S. Dhoni, was conspicuous by his absence. Another absentee was special awardee Yuvraj Singh.

Rahul Dravid walked away with the Test-cricketer-of-the-year award, while the limited-over category honours went to Suresh Raina and Sachin Tendulkar took the batsman-of-the-year trophy.

Wadekar, who led India to triumphs in the West Indies and England in the early 1970s, said: "It is a moment of pride. The tree we planted has grown so fast and I am glad to see these youngsters, who have made us proud."

There was also a warm passing of the baton moment as the great E.A.S. Prasanna handed over the best bowler award to R. Ashwin.
News From:

Nasheed was not removed in a coup: inquiry Commission

COLOMBO, August 30, 2012

Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was not removed in a coup, the National Inquiry Commission has concluded.

The international Commission set up by the Maldivian government to probe if the events of February 7 – when President Mohamed Nasheed stepped down and Vice-President Mohamed Waheed assumed office as per the provisions of the Maldivian Constitution – has concluded that "there was no illegal coercion or intimidation nor any copu d'etat. The Commission has received no evidence supporting or to substantiate these allegations."

In its 65-page report, the Commission, led by a Singapore Judge said: "A coup d' etat required a positive action against President Nasheed. Non-action and inaction cannot constitute a coup d'etat. Moreover, the Constitution does not call for loyalty of anyone to the President. It calls for loyalty to the Constitution."

The Commission of National Inquiry chaired by Justice G.P.Selvam, said that "as there was no illegally coerced resignation of the President on February 7, 2012, and as the subsequent transfer of power followed precisely the prescriptions of the Constitution, the Commission has no recommendation on these matters."

Having seen the draft of the report, President Nasheed\'s representative Ahmed Saeed resigned on Wednesday night as the Maldivian Democratic Party could not have settled for anything less than the Commission saying that the transfer of power constituted a coup. "He resigned reiterating his initial reservations of incomplete investigation and his responsibility to uphold his moral integrity to the people as a citizen. It appears the CoNI have not been able to reach an \"agreement\" as expected by Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Don McKinnon," the MDP said in a statement.

On Wednesday night, Mr Nasheed and party supporters camped at a rally point in south east Male. Protesters called for the Military and the Police to remove "coup" installed Colonel Nazim from the Defence Ministers position and Police Commissioner Riyaz from his command. They dispersed at around 3 am.

Reports from Male indicate that the capital is calm. Protests usually begin later in the evening in the Maldives and end a little after midnight.
News From:

Egypt president begins Iran visit

TEHRAN, August 30, 2012

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has arrived in Tehran for the first visit by an Egyptian leader to Iran in decades.

Iran's state TV in a live broadcast showed Mr. Morsi being received by Tehran's vice president in charge of executive affairs Hamid Baghaei in the capital's Mehrabad airport on Thursday. The Egyptian president is visiting for a summit of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement.

Tehran cut diplomatic relations in 1979 because of Egypt's peace accord with Israel. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has considered Israel as its arch foe.

Iran's leadership welcomed the 2011 uprising in Egypt that ultimately brought Islamist Morsi to the presidency.

Mr. Morsi is supposed to transfer the rotating leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement to Tehran.
News From:

Khamenei recalls Mahatma’s contribution

TEHRAN, August 30, 2012,

In the first meeting with an Indian Prime Minister in 11 years, the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waxed eloquent on the role played by Mahatma Gandhi in India's freedom struggle and the picking up of the baton by Jawaharlal Nehru, who was instrumental in establishing the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Dr. Singh, after an hour-long meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met the Supreme Leader for 40 minutes. Ayatollah Khamenei said he was deeply impressed by Mahatma Gandhi's "brilliant and illustrious visage'' and recalled his "heroic'' struggle in South Africa which was followed by leadership of the freedom movement, said sources in the government.

The positions taken by Nehru "flowed'' from Mahatma Gandhi's struggle and helped create NAM, added the Supreme Leader who also recalled his visit to India three decades back and the meetings with Indira Gandhi and P.V Narasimha Rao.

The Ayatollah endorsed Mr. Ahamadinejad's sentiments regarding the Chabahar project which would provide India an inexpensive route into Afghanistan as compared to the Northern Distribution Network being utilised by the Western forces and the violence-prone link from Karachi port.
News From:

Watery ordeal of oustees continues as jal satyagraha enters fifth day

BHOPAL, August 29, 2012

The Jal Satyagraha, started by oustees of the Omakreshwar dam project under the leadership of the Narmada Bacaho Andolan (NBA), entered its fifth day on Wednesday.

Thirty-four of the oustees, including NBA activist Chittaroopa Palit, continued their watery ordeal even as some of them developed blisters on their feet from standing in waist deep water for the last four days.

The 520 MW Omkareshwar project is one of the several big dams on the Narmada river, built by the Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation a joint venture between NHPC Ltd and the government of Madhya Pradesh.

The current water level of the dam is 189 metres and the protesters fear that if filled beyond that level, the dam will submerge their lands, spread across several villages.

The oustees had started the jal satyagraha protest last month at Ghogalgaon village in M.P.'s East Nimaar region against the State government's decision to raise the water level in the dam to 193 metres from 189.

On Saturday, when the water level of the dam was raised by 1.5 metres, 250 people entered the waist deep water and have been standing there since.

They claim the State government decided to raise the water level without ensuring relief and rehabilitation for them. However, the Khandwa district administration has denied the allegations.
News From:

Prosecutor seeks death for all 32 convicts in Naroda-Patiya case

AHMEDABAD, August 29, 2012

After the special court convicted 32 persons in the Naroda-Patiya massacre case on Wednesday, special public prosecutor Akhil Desai demanded the death penalty as it was the "rarest of rare cases."

He demanded capital punishment for all the 32, including Mayaben Kodnani, a former Minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, arguing that many victims were unarmed women and children who were burnt alive. If the court did not agree to the death sentence for all, those who were given the life term should serve their sentence "till their death."

But defence counsel countered that none of the convicts was habitual offenders; nor did they have any criminal background. He maintained that the mayhem was the result of a surcharged atmosphere stemming from the train carnage.

The police initially arrested 46 people — and after the Supreme Court-appointed SIT took over the probe, 24 more, including Ms. Kodnani, were held. Of the total of 70 arrested, six died before the charges were framed, and one died during the trial, while Mohan Nepali and Tejas Pathak jumped bail and are at large.

After the SIT, led by the former CBI Director, R.K. Raghavan, completed the probe, the trial began in the special fast-track court in August 2009, and charges were framed against 62, including Ms. Kodnani, the former Bajrang Dal convener, Babu Bajrangi, and Vijay Shetty, who died during the trial. The court received some 2,500 documentary pieces of evidence and examined 327 witnesses, including eyewitnesses, doctors, survivors and their relatives, officials, forensic experts and a journalist who conducted a sting operation, in which Babu Bajrangi and some others allegedly made some confessional statements.

Ms. Kodnani, a former president of the BJP's Ahmedabad city district unit and considered close to Mr. Modi, was arrested soon after the SIT took over the investigation and forced to resign from the Cabinet. She was granted bail.

She is perhaps the first senior BJP leader to be convicted in a riot-related case so far. Eleven eyewitnesses told the court that she had made instigating speeches, while 15 witnesses deposed against Babu Bajrangi, who allegedly chased people with a sword, killing some of them.

The Mumbai-based Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which has been supporting the riot victims in their legal battles, and many of the survivors have hailed the conviction of Ms. Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and others. The advocates of the accused, however, said they would study the judgment before approaching the higher court.

State BJP spokesman I.K. Jadeja said the party would decide its future course of action after studying the judgment, but said the Congress demand for Mr. Modi's resignation was unfounded and reminded the Opposition party of the fact that the Congress government in the State did not resign when one of its Ministers, Mohammed Surti, was convicted of terrorist activities by the lower court and his conviction upheld by the Gujarat High Court.

Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of Prashant, one of the non-government organisations co-ordinating with the CJP in handling the riots cases, described the judgment as a "landmark verdict," a "shot in the arm" for the survivors and many others who had been relentlessly campaigning for "complete truth and justice" to prevail in the State.

When the judge asked whether any convict had anything to say, a sobbing Kodnani, a practising gynaecologist, said she was a "victim of politics." She did not elaborate, but added that her husband was ailing and she, too, was suffering from high blood pressure and sought leniency.

Many other convicts also pleaded for leniency on various grounds, including various diseases or being the breadwinner of their families. The defence lawyer told the court that some of the convicts were under prolonged medication and requested that the court direct the jail authorities to take care of their medical needs.

Both the media and the relatives of the accused were barred from entering the court room when the verdict was pronounced. Many friends and relatives of the convicts, who had gathered outside the court room, broke down on hearing the verdict. Many convicts also broke down while being escorted to police vans outside the court, and then to the Sabarmati Central Jail.

Mukul Sinha, convener of the Jan Sangharsh Manch, which is representing the riots victims before the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial commission probing the Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra riots, blamed the "faulty investigation" by the Gujarat police and the SIT for the acquittal of 29 others.
News From:

Parliament adjourned; Mulayam meets left, TDP leaders

NEW DELHI, August 30, 2012 (PTI)

The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day today amid din as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) persisted with its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation provoking Congress members to raise slogans.

The deadlock in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over the CAG report on coal block allocation issue entered its seventh day as the Houses met after a day's break on account of Onam.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2 pm.

In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Meira Kumar took up the Question Hour but nothing could be heard in the din.

BJP members trooped to the Well raising slogans against the Prime Minister. They were countered by Congress members who raised slogans backing the Prime Minister.

AIADMK and DMK members too were heard raising slogans against the government for training Sri Lankan forces at airbases in India.

With members unrelenting, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.

Dharna tomorrow

With Parliament proceedings continuing to be disrupted over the coal block allocation issue, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today met leaders of CPI, CPI(M) and TDP and decided to hold a dharna tomorrow to demand restoration of normalcy in the House and a debate on the issue.

Other Opposition parties, even those from the BJP-led NDA like JD(U) and Akali Dal, do not favour disruption of proceedings and have been demanding debate on the CAG report into the coal block allocation and other issues.

Apart from Mr Yadav, sources said the meeting was attended by CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia, CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta and TDP's Nama Nageshwar Rao.

The leaders of these parties decided to hold a sit-in of their MPs inside the Parliament House complex tomorrow.

The sources said MPs of some other non-UPA parties are also likely to join the dharna and talks were on with them.

Mr Yadav also sought an inquiry into the coal blocks allocation by a sitting Supreme Court judge.

\'Coal\' blocks Rajya Sabha

In Rajya Sabha, BJP members started shouting "coal, coal, coal..." as soon as Chairman Hamid Ansari took up the first listed question of the day.

BJP-led NDA members shouted slogans demanding resignation of the Prime Minister.

All the while, ruling Congress members countered the slogan shouting by praising the Prime Minister.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy, against whose name the first question of the day on time limit for action against corrupt officials was listed, said he was prepared to reply.

"It is a very important question. I am ready to answer...people of this country should know the action being taken," he said amid slogan shouting.

For a few minutes Mr Ansari tried to conduct the proceedings, asking members to raise supplementaries.

But, as slogan shouting BJP members started coming to the Well, he adjourned the House till 2 pm.
News From:

Why should I be forgiven if I’m guilty, asks Modi

WASHINGTON, August 30, 2012 (PTI)

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has refused to apologise for the 2002 riots in the State after being asked if he would apologise for the riots, something that his critics demand. "One only has to ask for forgiveness if one is guilty of a crime. If you think it's such a big crime, why should the culprit be forgiven?" he told The Wall Street Journal.

"Just because Modi is a Chief Minister, why should he be forgiven? I think Modi should get the biggest punishment possible if he is guilty. And the world should know that there isn't any tolerance for such political leaders," he said.

Mr. Modi parried a question whether he sees himself as a future Prime Minister, saying he was concentrating on Gujarat. "I can't think beyond that," he said.

"Malnutrition due to vegetarianism"

The paper said Mr. Modi attributed malnutrition problems in his State partly to Gujaratis being largely vegetarian and partly to body, image issues among young women.

"The middle class is more beauty conscious than health conscious — that is a challenge," he said. "If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they'll have a fight. She'll tell her mother 'I won't drink milk. I'll get fat'," he added.
News From:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nigerian delegates visit to explore collaborative areas

Ludhiana, August 29

A 11-member high level delegation from Nigeria today visited the Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) to find collaborative areas and explore possibilities in post harvest sector. The delegation was headed by Executive Secretary Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria Prof Abubakar Baba Yusuf and National Coordinator of West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme Prof Damian O. Chikwendu.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Abubakar Baba Yusuf said that they wanted to know what was new developments in Indian agriculture scenario. "Though we have institutes in agriculture research 50 years back, but recently government of Nigeria has connected all institutes under the umbrella of agriculture transformation programme," he said, adding that they are looking India as a lead partner. Saying that got impressed with the research initiatives carried out by CIPHET, he said that they were trying to find ways to control post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables, which were as high as 50 percent in Nigeria.

Dr Damain O.Chikwendu said that they were especially having difficulty in transferring technology to end users. "We are interested how institutes like CIPHET are working in this area. Giving brief overview of the institute activities, Director CIPHET Dr U.S Shivhare informed the delegates that institute was housing two mega All India coordinated Projects (AICRP) with coordinating centers across the country. "We are actively engaged in transferring technologies of this and other ICAR institutes," he added.

Project Coordinator (PHT) Dr S.K Nanda, Project Coordinator (APA) Dr P. Bhatnagar, Head Food Grains Oil Seed Division Dr R.K Gupta, Head Transfer of Technology Division Dr Deepak Raj Rai and Head Atmosphere Structures & Environmental Control (AS&EC) Division informed delegates about research activities in their respective projects and divisions. A film on CIPHET was also screened on the occasion.
News From:



A 13-member delegation of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ACRN) visited Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today and held an interactive meet with PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, deans, directors and heads of the various departments. The delegation, led by the Executive Secretary of ACRN, Professor B.Y. Abubakar, visited the PAU under the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) which is a part of ACRN of Nigeria. Those present in the meet included PAU Registrar, Dr R.K. Mahey, Director of Research, S.S. Gosal, Director of Extension Education, Dr M.S. Gill, Dean of College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology (COAE&T), Dr PPS Lubana, Estate Officer-cum- Head of Farm Machinery and Power Engineering (FMPE), Dr J.S. Mahal, Additional Director Communication, Dr Jagtar Singh Dhiman and Deputy Director (Public Relations) Dr Ramandeep Jassal. The delegation members also visited COAE&T, wherein farm engineers apprised them of the farm mechanization technologies and agri-machinery and equipment, developed and evaluated by the PAU and recommended to the farmers.

Addressing the visiting delegation, Dr Dhillon said that India shares friendly and co-ordial relations with African countries, especially, Nigeria. Stating that the technology available in India is more applicable to Nigeria, he expressed that the duo can enter into collaboration for the student-faculty exchange and research and training programmes. He suggested the establishment of a joint agri-institute and added that both the nations as well as institutes will be the beneficiaries. Dr Dhillon remarked, "When India started progressing in farm sector, during 1960s, the farm mechanization was not that evident. It was PAU that provided the new agri-technologies and inputs to the nation, which later on were transferred to the farmers and thus, paved way for green revolution." Investment in agriculture is a road to eliminate poverty, he said, while briefing the delegation about the organizational set-up of the PAU. In addition to the Kisan Melas, the University has several mechanisms of technology transfer to farmers. Responding to a query by the delegation member, Dr. Dhillon divulged that PAU has set up department of Business Management; Production, Commercialization and IPR Cell and the School of Business Studies and Management. He added that PAU has a strong research-extension linkage.

Prof. Abubakar said that agriculture is a key component of Nigerian economy, contributing nearly 44% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nearly 140 million population of Nigeria is engaged in agriculture and largely consists of small farmers who reside in rural areas, he disclosed. The country has 18 agricultural research institutes and three farm universities, told he, adding that ACRN is committed to reduce poverty and increase food security by contributing to the establishment of sustainable agricultural growth and development in Nigeria. He evinced keen interest in cooperative venture with the PAU in mutually beneficial areas.

The experts explained the delegation members about the commercialization of the farm mechanization technologies, tie-ups of PAU with national and international organizations and industry, functioning of research and technology transfer mechanism, the role of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs), sociological impact of mechanized agriculture, etc. Dr. Mahey highlighted about the fellowships , scholarships and other facilities offered to the students adding that the international students could join the PAU programmes through ICAR route.

Dr Lubana said that the University has strong linkages with the Agricultural Implement Manufacturers Association, with which the experts hold monthly meetings. This helps in the commercialization of farm mechanization technologies, he remarked. Briefing the delegation about the academic programmes of the College, he said that it aims at designing, developing and evaluation farm machinery and equipment to meet the emerging challenges, trends and requirements.

Dr Mahal said, "We are fully dependent on machinery as far as the mechanization for rice and wheat crops is concerned. PAU, industry and farmers work hand-in-hand to enhance standardization of agricultural machines through testing and popularize latest farm equipment, highlighted he, adding that Punjab is a hub of combine harvester machine.

Dr Gursahib Singh, Senior Research Engineer, explained the delegates about the PAU technologies like Happy Seeder, laser land leveler, bed planter, zero-till drill, trench digger for paired row sugarcane planting, vegetable transplanter and mechanical transplanting of paddy. The delegates were also shown round various labs of the FMPE like precision agriculture lab, soil dynamics lab and ergonomics lab.

Earlier, Dr Dhiman, welcoming the dignitaries and the delegates, said that PAU is a premiere institute of agriculture in India. Many agrarian challenges are coming up and PAU is revamping its programmes keeping in view the feedback received from the stakeholders as well as field level functionaries, he added. As the number of small farmers is on rise, the thrust is also being laid on developing cost-effective and viable technologies for them, said he.

The delegation members were presented with dockets of information about PAU.
News From:

Does Shah Rukh Khan want a normal life for his kids?

Mumbai: Aug 29, 2012.

Shah Rukh Khan\'s wife Gauri and son Aryan were spotted at Sahar airport on Monday night enroute to UK. With SRK busy shooting in Ladakh for Yash Chopra's film, Gauri is accompanying her son who will now be studying at the Sevenoaks School in London.

SRK\'s 15-year-old son Aryan was studying at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai. As being reported, Shah Rukh also wants to send his daughter Suhana to the same school.

SRK is often spotted watching cricket matches and partying with his kids. Probably, now he wants them to stay away from the media glare and concentrate on their studies.
News From:

Aila, I look like Sachin Tendulkar: Priyanka Chopra

Mumbai: Aug 29, 2012

In Anurag Basu\'s next film, Priyanka Chopra plays an autistic young woman. To look her part, PC had to be given quite a different look from her usual self. However after her hair was re-done, the actress thought she looked exactly like Sachin Tendulkar.

Anurag explains, \"To prep up for the role, Priyanka was made to meet several autistic kids. We took a few things from here and there to give her a suitable look. After seeing for the first time how she looked like Jhilmil, her character, PC said, \'Aila, I look like Sachin!\'\"" We wonder what Sachin will say to this...

Bee stung? After they appeared on a dance reality show together, there was tongue in cheek buzz about PC\'s lips looking uncannily similar to Darsheel Safary's.
News From:

Castorseed prices drop 10% in a week


With rain lashing growing areas of Gujarat, castorseed futures plunged over 2 per cent on Wednesday. The counter has been witnessing a bear run since the last 10 days with prices dropping over 10 per cent in a week.

The sharp drop is attributed to speculators booking profit with the monsoon gathering pace in August. Rain since the second of week of August covering most parts of the country has shrunk monsoon deficit to 12 per cent at the beginning of this week. Areas such as Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan that witnessed poor monsoon have benefited from the latest showers.

Near-month September contract dipped 2.71 per cent to near Rs 4,000-a-quintal mark. It quoted at Rs 4,064 at noon, down by Rs 113 over Tuesday's close. October contracts were down Rs 118 or 2.72 per cent at Rs 4,216, while November contracts slid 2.03 per cent (Rs 90) to Rs 4,341. December futures slipped Rs 86 (1.91 per cent) to Rs 4,416.

Castorseed prices had rebounded during June-July from the sharp fall during October-May this year. Prices had crashed on record production leading to a supply cut.

Threat of drought in growing areas, lower sowing of castor and export demand buoyed prices.

India is the leading producer of castorseed and castor oil. It accounts for over 80 per cent castor oil production in the world. At least 60 per cent of castor is produced in Gujarat, followed by Andhra Pradesh (19 per cent) and Rajasthan (14 per cent).

During the first quarter of the current fiscal, castor oil exports increased 17.5 per cent.

At the Disa spot market in Gujarat, prices were quoted at Rs 4,023.50 a quintal.
News From:

Moily bats for greater autonomy to regulators

NEW DELHI, August 28, 2012

The Electricity Act, 2003, needs to be amended to meet the challenges arising out of the present economic scenario and the changing needs of the power sector, Power Minister Veerappa Moily said here on Tuesday.

Mr. Moily said the Power Ministry had convened a meeting of State electricity regulatory commissions on Wednesday to discuss the proposed amendment to the Act and give regulators more autonomy in tackling issues that were now impacting economic growth. A task force had already been appointed to look into the matter, he added.

"If you want 10 per cent growth, you need 9 per cent growth in the power sector and that is why we need a strong and enlightened regulator. This is the kind of message we would like to give to the regulators, Mr. Moily said on the sidelines of a function here.

Asked whether the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) would perform the dual function of a coal regulator till the time the latter is finalised, Mr. Moily said it was a policy decision yet to be taken. Attorney General of India Goolam Vahanvati was understood to have felt that the CERC could revise electricity tariffs of power projects by making certain changes in the power purchase agreements (PPAs). "I don\'t know whether there is any report from the AG, there is sanctity for signing of the PPA; it cannot be meddled with that easily. But whether there is a need it needs to be examined on a case-to-case basis under exceptional circumstances and not on a routine basis,'' he added. The Power Ministry has also called for a meeting of power generation companies on August 31.
News From:

DTC needs fresh look: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI, August 28, 2012

The Direct Taxes Code (DTC) will come under the scanner again. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, on Tuesday, stated that the tax reform initiative had undergone a number of changes and would require a fresh look.

In reply to a question at a press interaction after his meeting with top officials of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) here, Mr. Chidambaram said: "The DTC has gone through various versions...I need time to look at the DTC. I am only 28 days old...It requires a fresh look."

With this, it is highly uncertain whether the intended reforms in both direct and indirect tax laws by way of the DTC and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will roll out next fiscal starting April 1, 2013.

The initiative on DTC seeking to replace the archaic Income-Tax Act, 1961 was Mr. Chidambaram's brainchild when he was Finance Minister in the UPA-I coalition government. Since then, it went through a number of revisions in drafts on the basis of consultations with stakeholders. While the DTC Bill, introduced in 2010 by his successor Pranab Mukherjee, has little resemblance to the original version, a number of new provisions were added later by way of tax exemptions which were not there in the first draft.

Moreover, apart from changes recommended by the Standing Committee on Finance to the controversial provisions relating to retrospective tax amendments and GAAR (General Anti-Avoidance Rules), the Finance Ministry chose to pick them up for enactment in the Finance Bill, 2012, which are now under review.

As for the GAAR controversy, Mr. Chidambaram said that he was awaiting the report of Shome Committee, which is reviewing its provisions to address the concerns expressed by foreign and domestic investors.

On the indirect tax front, Mr. Chidambaram expressed confidence that the revenue collection target of Rs.5.05 crore for the current fiscal would be met. At the same time, he noted that while the authorities would be friendly to tax compliant assessees, the department would be firm with tax evaders for whom "non-compliance is a business".

"Most people would like to be compliant with tax laws. It is only a very small number that wishes to be non-compliant. I have told the department that we have to be firm with the small number of those non-compliant people," he said.

Mr. Chidambaram said that he had told CBEC officials to zero down on the top 100 tax payers in each charge pertaining to excise, customs and service tax.

"If you take customs and excise zone wise, top 100 tax payers of the customs, top 100 in excise and top 100 in service tax account for about 95 per cent of taxes collected…So really, each charge has to focus on top 100 ... All the others contribute only about 5 per cent. So if we maintain an interactive, friendly tax administration with them ... we will achieve our target,\" he said.

"It\'s only a small number which makes its business to be non-complaint with tax laws. I have held this philosophy very long ... We should be friendly to the large number of tax payers who wish to be complaint with tax laws and we have to be firm with the small numbers (who do not comply) with tax laws,'' he said.

As for service tax, Mr. Chidambaram said that while 16 lakh people were registered for paying the levy, 10 lakh did not do so. "…This could be out of ignorance, this could be because they do not have adequate assistance to understand how to pay service tax ... So we are going to launch a massive campaign that people must pay taxes and the tax administration will help them pay taxes and will be friendly to tax payer," he said.
News From:

Iran seeks to reap summit rewards

29 August 2012,

Under international sanctions for its controversial nuclear programme, Iran has faced down further Western attempts at economic and diplomatic isolation by hosting this year\'s meeting of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and is seeking to reap the benefits, reports the BBC\'s Mohsen Asgari in Tehran.

As Tehran prepares for some 7,000 visitors to descend on the city, a five-day public holiday has been called to clear the city of its stifling traffic and pollution.

Many families in the city have made the best use of the conference to take a long holiday at the end of summer while schools are still closed.

The northern part of the capital has been beautified, with lamp-posts and road markings freshly painted in shining blue and signs displaying doves of peace.

Continue reading the main story


Start Quote

The presence of the senior world officials in Tehran will prepare the way for bilateral and multilateral negotiations to help Iran bypass the Western sanctions"

Iranian lawmaker

Placards, banners and posters declaring \"The Non-Aligned Movement is a symbol of independence throughout the world\" or \"Lasting peace through joint global governance\" are visible everywhere.

For Iran, the NAM conference is an important opportunity to portray itself as part of the international scene, despite intensive efforts by the United States and Israel to isolate it over its disputed nuclear programme.

\"Holding the event in Tehran is a source of dignity. The world will see that the plots by the world\'s arrogant powers against the country are fruitless,\" an Iranian vice- president, Ebrahim Azizi, said.

\"The conference proves it is not the global community that has problems with Iran, but the US and its puppets like Israel,\" said Ahmad Lotfi, a professor of international relations at the Islamic Azad University.

\"Interestingly enough the Obama administration is admitting the point by trying to dissuade various leaders from attending the meeting,\" he added.

Guest list

Iranian officials have not yet given the full guest list for the summit, but leaders confirmed so far include Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi as well as Cuban leader Raul Castro and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will also attend, and Qatar\'s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman are expected to show.

But it is the planned attendance of UN chief Ban Ki-moon that has drawn the fiercest criticism, with Israel describing the move as a \"big mistake\" and the United States calling it \"strange\".

Continue reading the main story

Non-Aligned Movement

Formed in 1961, originally an alliance of newly independent Afro-Asian states

Currently 120 members, comprising nations ostensibly unaligned with the major world powers

Aims to represent the political, economic and cultural interests of the developing world

Profile: Non-Aligned Movement

US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters: \"We frankly don\'t think that Iran is deserving of these high-level presences that are going there.\'\'

Her comments came a few days after the new president of Egypt, a country that has long been alienated from Iran, said he would also attend the summit meeting - a decision that disturbed the Israelis.

Mohammed Mursi\'s decision is seen as a landmark trip after Iran cut its diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1979, following Cairo\'s peace deal with Israel.

\"Iran and Egypt are moving towards restoring diplomatic relations which were severed more than three decades ago,\" Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview published on Tuesday.

\"We will pursue this path and restoration of relations depends only on protocol measures.\"

The NAM is a grouping of nations that ostensibly see themselves as neither for nor against any of the world\'s major powers.

Trade talks

Some experts believe pressure from the US and Israel could not stop delegates from attending the conference.

Mohamadreza Salimi, a political journalist in Tehran, said: \"Fifty-five per cent of the world\'s population are citizens of non-aligned nations. It\'s not something the United Nations secretary general can easily dismiss.

\"How can [Mohammed] Mursi close his eyes on the biggest political gathering in the world after the UN while he needs to establish his foreign policies at the beginning of his term?\"

The NAM summit also promotes the Islamic Republic\'s political face and could serve as a good political backup for Iran in its future talks with the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.

The summit is also likely to help Iran boost its economy.

\"The presence of the senior world officials in Tehran will prepare the way for bilateral and multilateral negotiations to help Iran bypass the Western sanctions, establish joint banks, set up transportation and transit networks,\" Iranian lawmaker Seyyed Hosseyn Naqavi told reporters.

The Islamic Republic Guard Corps has deployed tight security around the NAM meeting, deploying thousands of police on street corners and vehicle checkpoints.

They are blocking off the roads around the summit venue so that inside politicians can open new roads for Iran back into the international community.
News From:

Syria\'s Assad says military \'needs time to win battle\'

29 August 2012,

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the government needs more time to \"win the battle\" against \"terrorists\".

In an interview with pro-government al-Dunya TV, Mr Assad also dismissed as \"unrealistic\" the idea of creating humanitarian buffer zones within Syria.

Opposition activists say the army has launched offensives across the country to regain control of rebel-held areas.

Heavy shelling was reported on Tuesday in the capital, Damascus, Aleppo, and the north-western province of Idlib.

Mr Assad said the Syrian government was \"fighting a battle both regionally and internationally\".

\"It definitely needs time to bring it to a decisive end. But I can sum it up in one sentence: we\'re heading forward,\" he told al-Dunya.

\"The situation on the ground is better now, but the conclusion is not there yet. That needs some time.\"

The president also addressed the proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to set up a United Nations-sanctioned buffer zone inside Syria to shelter refugees and help distribute humanitarian aid.

\"Do we go back because of the ignorance of some Turkish officials or do we focus on our relationship with the Turkish people, especially those people who have stood by us during the crisis and were not swayed by the media and material propaganda?\" he asked.

Mr Assad said recent defections by senior government and military officials meant Syria had been \"cleansed\" of people lacking patriotism.
News From:

Isaac makes landfall in Louisiana, over 170,000 without power

HOUSTON, August 29, 2012 (PTI)

Hurricane Isaac made landfall in the US state of Louisiana, bringing high winds, soaking rains and posing the first test for the costly flood-protection system built after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina that killed over 1800 people in 2005.

Isaac, which was upgraded from tropical storm to Category 1 hurricane yesterday and was packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometres per hour, lashed the area with heavy rains and strong winds, as residents hunkered down.

The landfall, however, was less powerful that originally expected. But it still threatens to inundate the historically flood-prone, low-lying regions with a major storm surge and heavy rain.

Over 170,000 people were plunged into darkness, media reports said.

Indian-American Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal has decided to skip the Republican party's convention to focus on preparatory measures.

The US National Hurricane Centre said a "dangerous storm surge" was occurring along the northern Gulf Coast.

Shortly before the category one Isaac made landfall, it said storm surges of up to eight feet had already been reported in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in charge of recovery operations, and more than 4,100 National Guard troops have been activated. The Louisiana National Guard has deployed 48 boat teams and 13 communications teams.

The Coast Guard has closed the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.

Cargo terminals within the Port of New Orleans have ceased operations. Entergy officials said they are taking one of their nuclear power plants west of New Orleans offline.

States of emergency was declared in Louisiana and Mississippi, allowing authorities to coordinate disaster relief and seek emergency federal funds.

Mr Jindal issued a series of executive orders, including outlining the use of state vehicles to transport non-state employees during an emergency.

"We have learned from past experiences that you cannot wait and you have to push the federal bureaucracy. We think it's important to be aggressive and do everything we can to protect our people and our property," he said.

A day earlier he had written a letter to US President Barck Obama in this regard.

In a conference call shortly after the system was upgraded to hurricane status, federal officials warned again and again that the storm, which killed 29 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, would generate high seas, intense rain and serious flooding in coastal and inland areas for days.

The hurricane will be the first test of the $14.5 billion, 133—mile ring of levees, flood walls, gates and pumps put in place after Hurricane Katrina by the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that built the defences that failed this city catastrophically in 2005.

Forty-one parishes have issued emergency declarations.

Seven parishes have announced mandatory evacuations in their jurisdictions. The Department of Corrections has moved prisoners from coastal parishes to state prison facilities.
News From:

India hot topic at Republican meet

TAMPA, August 28, 2012

India may well be poised to receive top billing at the ongoing Republican National Convention here in Florida, as an alleged draft party platform inadvertently posted on the convention website defined India as the U.S.' "geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner".

The copy, which was obtained by Politico before being pulled down from the site, went on to note, "We encourage India to permit greater foreign investment and trade. We urge protection for adherents of all India's religions. Both as Republicans and as Americans, we note with pride the contributions to this country that are being made by our fellow citizens of Indian ancestry."

The draft also added that the working relationship between India and the U.S. was "a necessary, though sometimes difficult, benefit to both, and we look toward the renewal of historic ties that have frayed under the weight of international conflict".

Commenting upon other nations in the South Asia region in this context the Republican Party draft foreign policy remarks said that the U.S. should "expect the Pakistan government to sever any connection between its security and intelligence forces and the insurgents". No Pakistani citizen should be punished for helping the U.S. against terrorists, it added.

India will also feature at the convention via the much-awaited speech by Indian-American Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley (40), who has often highlighted her Indian heritage and economic links with India, including in an interview with The Hindu earlier this year.

Wednesday's events will also feature an invocation by Ishwar Singh, a member of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, whose inclusion gains significance in the wake of the August 5 shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, where an alleged white supremacist killed six worshippers at the gurdwara.
News From:

Sounding out the Red planet

LOS ANGELES, August 29, 2012

The first recorded human voice that travelled from Earth to Mars and then back to Earth was released on Monday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The voice playback was released along with new telephoto camera views of the varied Martian landscape during a news conference at JPL.

In spoken words radioed to the Mars rover Curiosity and then back to NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) on Earth, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden congratulated NASA employees and the agency's commercial and government partners on the successful landing of Curiosity earlier this month, reported Xinhua.

"Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future," said Mr. Bolden in the recorded message. The telephoto images beamed back to Earth show a scene of eroded knobs and gulches on a mountainside, with geological layering clearly exposed.

The new views were taken by the 100-mm telephoto lens and the 34-mm wide-angle lens of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument.

Mastcam has photographed the lower slope of the nearby mountain called Mount Sharp, according to JPL.

"Those layers are our ultimate objective. The dark dune field is between us and those layers. This is a very rich geological site to look at and eventually to drive through," said Mastcam principal investigator Michael Malin.

A drive early Monday placed Curiosity directly over a patch where one of the spacecraft's landing engines scoured away a few inches of gravelly soil and exposed underlying rock.

Researchers plan to use a neutron-shooting instrument to check for water molecules bound to minerals at this partially excavated target, JPL said. Curiosity already is returning more data from the Martian surface than have all of NASA's earlier rovers combined, according to JPL.
News From:

Former Gujarat minister, 31 others convicted in Naroda-Patiya case

AHMEDABAD, August 29, 2012 (PTI)

BJP MLA and former minister in the Narendra Modi government Maya Kodnani and a Bajrang Dal leader were among 32 people convicted by a special court today in the 2002 Naroda-Patiya riots case in which more than 90 people belonging to the minority community were killed.

Additional Principal Judge Jyotsna Yagnik held Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi guilty under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of IPC in the post-Godhra riots case, while acquitting 29 others.

The quantum of sentence is likely to be announced later.

The massacre had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.

On February 28, 2002 when a bandh call was given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a large crowd gathered in the Naroda-Patiya area and attacked people belonging to minority community that resulted in the death of more than 90 people while 33 others were injured in the violence.

The trial began in August 2009 and charges were framed against 62 accused. One of the accused, Vijay Shetty, died during the course of the trial.

As many as 327 witnesses, comprising eye witnesses, victims, doctors, police personnel, government officials, forensic experts and journalists including Ashish Khetan, who conducted a TV sting operation on the accused, have been examined by the court.

Initially, 46 people were arrested by the Gujarat Police, whereas 24 more people were apprehended after the probe was handed over to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) in 2008. In all, 70 people were arrested in the case.

Six persons died before the charges could be framed and trial started, while two others identified as Mohan Nepali and Tejas Pathak jumped bail and are still absconding.

Kodnani was arrested by the SIT when she was a minister of state for women and child development in Modi government in March 2009. She was an MLA at the time of the incident.
News From:

Bandh violence adds to Assam woes

GUWAHATI, August 28, 2012

Riot-hit Assam, which has been limping back to normality, suffered a fresh jolt on Tuesday when one person was killed and over 30 people were injured in violence during a 12-hour State-wide bandh called by the United Movement for People's Rights (UMPR).

The shutdown was to protest the government's "failure" to rehabilitate inmates of relief camps and curb recurring ethnic violence.

The sporadic incidents triggered tension and curfew was clamped in the Barpeta Road police station and Howly outpost areas of Barpeta district, in Tezpur town in northern Assam and in the Ambagan area in central Assam's Nagaon district to prevent escalation of violence.

Inspector-General (Law and Order) L.R. Bisnoi told The Hindu that one person was killed at Khairbari under the Barpeta Road police station when clashes broke out between bandh supporters and shopowners.

652 persons arrested

The police fired rubber bullets and teargas shells in eight places and resorted to lathi charge in 17 places to disperse bandh supporters, who turned unruly and threw stones at them. One person was injured in police firing. Eight policemen, including two women constables, sustained injuries in stone throwing. About 30 persons were injured in the lathi charge and two of them were admitted to hospital. Mr. Bisnoi said 36 persons had been arrested. Also, 652 persons, were picked up, 20 of them for the Barpeta Road incident.

Several mediapersons who were covering the incidents on Barpeta Road and at other places were also injured in attacks by bandh supporters.

In Guwahati city, the bandh did not have any impact but in the afternoon rumours of outbreak of violence spread like wildfire, prompting shopkeepers to down the shutters and students to leave educational institutions. Public and private transport vehicles went off the road in some localities. However, the district administration and the police moved swiftly and made announcements over loudspeakers, appealing the public not to believe rumours.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi appealed to political parties and organisations to refrain from calling bandhs and issuing provocative statements. He said Tuesday's bandh, called by UMPR, under the banner of 29 organisations, only added to tension and hampered the government's efforts to restore peace and harmony in the violence-hit State.

Mr. Gogoi said the government had asked the security forces to seize all illegal arms.

As many as seven Cabinet ministers and two Parliamentary Secretaries were camping in and touring Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bongaingaon, Dhubri and Barpetato closely monitor law and order situation.

Late Monday night, one person was killed and five were injured in firing by armed miscreants at Pakrital near Fakiragram in Kokrajhar district.
News From:

26/11: Supreme Court upholds Kasab\'s death sentence

NEW DELHI, August 29, 2012 (PTI)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, saying that waging war against the country was the primary and foremost offence committed by the Pakistani terrorist.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad dismissed the plea of 25-year-old Kasab challenging his conviction and death sentence confirmed by the Bombay High Court.

The bench rejected his contention that he was not given a free and fair trial in the case.

The bench also observed that the failure of government to provide him an advocate at the pre-trial stage did not vitiate trial court proceedings against him.

It also held that the confessional statement given by Kasab, which he retracted during the trial, was very much voluntary except a very small portion.

Kasab along with nine other Pakistani terrorists had landed in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008 night after travelling from Karachi by sea and had gone on a shooting spree at various city landmarks, in which 166 people were killed.

While Kasab was captured alive, the other terrorists in his group were killed by security forces during the counter-terror operations.
News From:

Rs. 2-crore apartments for Rajya Sabha MPs

NEW DELHI, August 29, 2012 (PTI)

Rajya Sabha MPs will get to stay in new four-bedroom apartments, each costing Rs.2 crore, under a housing project whose foundation stone was laid on Tuesday by Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

There will be a total 14 apartments, 28 servant quarters, a common reception hall and a gym, besides some other facilities, which will come up on a 0.6-acre land on Talkatora Road. Apart from the Constitution Club, this will be the first gym in a complex meant for MPs.

The building will be seven-storeyed, and each storey will have two apartments, each with four bedrooms, a drawing room, a dining room and a kitchen.

The construction work will begin from October, and it will take 16 months to complete the new complex for MPs.

The apartment is being designed keeping in mind the current requirement of the MPs, said a senior Urban Development Ministry official.
News From:
eXTReMe Tracker