Gill hails Indian performance in Asiad

Ashwini Chidananda

India’s Ashwini Chidananda celebrates after winning gold as she stands in the podium with silver medallist from China and bronze medal-winner of Japan at the medal ceremony of the women’s 400m hurdles at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China on Thursday. PTI



Sports Minister M S Gill on Friday congratulated the Indian medal winners at the Guangzhou Asian Games in China and said country’s brilliant performance in the quadrennial event has set the foundation for a good show at the 2012 London Olympics. “I am very happy at the outstanding performance of Indian athletes at the ongoing Asian Games. Overall, performance is excellent of our sportspersons. I am confident that they will do well at London Olympics in 2012,” Gill said in his congratulatory message.

“I particularly noted the gold winning performance of Joseph Abraham and Ashwini Chidananda in 400m hurdles. Tintu Luka also did credibly well by winning bronze in 800m. She has got great potential. I also noted the performance of Vikas Krishan, the boxing boy from Bhiwani,” said the sports minister.

Gill also added that the government provided all kinds of financial support to the athletes to prepare better for the event and said the same kind of monetary assistance would be ensured to the sportspersons for the next two years leading up to the Olympics.

“I also hope everybody notes the Government of India’s contribution to this. Against the normal budget of Rs 40 crore for coaching, t

Source:   Hindustan Times

SC questions appointment of Thomas as CVC


Supreme Court questions appointment of P.J.Thomas as the CVC when a criminal case is pending against him. While Congress and the government struggles to provide satisfactory answers, the suspicion that his Christian tag and support from Sonia have helped his rise has been  strengthened. 

Supreme Court of India made strong observations on the appointment of P.J.Thomas as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) in the Central Vigilance Commission. “Without looking into the file, we are concerned that if a person is an accused in a criminal case how he will function as CVC,” a bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said. The bench said it will go through the file and posted the matter after two weeks. Said the bench comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar along with Justice S.H. Kapadia.

The Congress on Monday chose to remain silent on two serious matters relating to the appointment of Thomas as CVC.

Talking to reporters here on Monday, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said it was not for the party to respond. The Law Ministry and other departments of the government dealing with the issue would surely give a response, she said.

Thomas is appointed because he is a christian and a christian party namely congress is in power at center, said one of the comments posted for one of the news items of Zee news.

Interestingly, Continental News, one of the Christian global website had described Thomas as a commited Christian while covering his appointment as CVC. “The previous Telecom Secretary of India, Mr. P. J. Thomas, a committed Christian, was appointed as the 14th Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) of India on Tuesday, September 7, 2010.”

Sources: The Hindu Zeenews Continentalnews

Burkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi exposed by Nira Radia tapes?

   Picture: Nira Radia,  Vir Sanghvi and Burkha Dutt

The Niira Radia episode raises questions about the boundary between legitimate news gathering, lobbying and influence peddling.

The publication of taped conversations between Niira Radia — a lobbyist for Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata with a keen interest in the allocation of ministerial portfolios — and editors, reporters, industrialists and politicians has shone a harsh and even unwelcome light on the web of connections which exist between the worlds of business, politics and journalism.

The transcripts — drawn from 104 phone conversations recorded between May and July 2009 when the Manmohan Singh government was in the process of beginning its second innings — also raise questions about the boundary between legitimate news gathering, lobbying and influence peddling. Even as the journalists involved have strongly defended their conduct, others in the media are divided with some believing the boundary was transgressed.

The transcripts were published last week by Open and Outlook magazines, which sourced them to audio recordings submitted recently to the Supreme Court by advocate Prashant Bhushan as part of a PIL on the 2G scam. The magazines claim the recordings were made by the Income Tax department as part of its ongoing surveillance of Ms Radia. The recordings are believed to be part of a wider set of phone taps, though who leaked this particular selection and why is not known.

Source:      The Hindu

Yedyurappa survives because of contradictions witthin BJP

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S.Yedyurappa was expected to resign under the directions of BJP high command after the allegations of land scams in the state. But BJP decided to continue Yedyrappa. “After consultation with party leaders, the party has decided Yeddyurapp a will continue as the chief minister of Karnataka,” party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters.

Following are the main reasons for the surprise decision.

Ananth Kumar, Yeddyurappa’s political rival within the party, was hopeful of grabbing the CM’s seat in the recent turmoil. However, it is now being alleged that he tried to sabotage Yeddyurappa’s post with the help of H D Devegowda-led JD (S). The party leadership is apparently irate and has chided Kumar for his behaviour. According to sources in the party, the Yeddyurappa camp has convinced the high command about Kumar’s allegiance with JD(S) boss H D Deve Gowda, who had allegedly engineered the political coup to topple Yeddyurappa. While majority of the MPs from Karnataka supported BSY, only two MPs supported Ananth Kumar. It is said that Ananth Kumar received a dressing down from the national leaders.

Devegowda and his sons are waiting for an opportunity to come to the center stage of state politics. BSY is the only leader in BJP who is capable of tackling him politically. BSY is also considered as the best person to deal with Reddy brothers of BJP. This is the reason why leaders like Sadananda Gowda and V.S.Acharya stood behind him during the crisis.

From 2008, BJP has won seven elections in the state — be it by-elections, council elections, panchayat elections or milk federation elections. If there is any change, BSY argued that the BJP will stand to lose.

Often given to tears, Yeddyurappa talked tough with the BJP top brass in the national capital, telling them to back him or face the consequences. With the party leadership short of options to replace him, the chief minister chose to go on the offensive.

In his interactions with senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, Yeddyurappa reportedly asked why he alone was being subjected to “such a rigorous test of honesty and good conduct.” He sought to know why leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar were not put to such a test. He reportedly said he would be “forced to expose the dealings of these central leaders.” According to an aide, “it is for the first time that he did not visit Sushma’s house in Delhi. He does not feel the need.” The party is quite uncomfortable with the Nira Radia tapes which exposed the involvement of some its leaders. Incidentally, Radia worked closely with Ananth Kumar in the late 1990s when he was the civil aviation minister.

Yeddyurappa also sought to know from Jaitley why neither Ananth Kumar nor the Reddy brothers were questioned for their attempts to destabilise the state government. “ The chief minister reportedly told the BJP central leadership that if he is forced to resign, he will make public the names of BJP national leaders who have received favours, including land allotments and denotifications, from him. He did not give any promise to stop Lingayat MLAs who may resign as a protest against his removal. He also threatened them that he would dismantle all fund-raising activities for the party.

He offered to resign conditionally. The conditions were – all other scam-tainted ministers and party functionaries should also be shown the door; second, the next CM candidate should be of his choice; third, the Reddy triumvirate should be kept out of the new cabinet and fourth, the party’s national general secretary Ananthkumar should be prohibited from meddling in the state BJP unit.

Sources:     Mid Day      The Hindu          Bangalore Mirror

Koreans act as proxies for US-China war

North Korea fired more than 100 artillery shells onto Yeonpyeong Island Tuesday, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians. In March, Seoul blamed North Korea for sinking South Korea’s Cheonan warship, killing 46 sailors.

The United States and South Korea prepared for war games between November 28 – December 1, 2010 as South Koreans demanded vengeance over a deadly North Korean artillery bombardment that has raised fears of more clashes between the bitter rivals. The North, meanwhile, worked to justify one of the worst attacks on South Korean territory since the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea said civilians were used as a “human shield” around artillery positions and lashed out at what it called a “propaganda campaign” against Pyongyang. It claimed the United States orchestrated last Tuesday’s clash so that it could stage joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea with the South that include a U.S. nuclear powered supercarrier — enraging the North and making neighboring China uneasy.

The artillery attack by North Korea against South Korea last week was no random act of senseless violence. It was a super power, China, using a proxy to make a strategic point. It was a calculated move to ramp up tension and challenge the status quo. The Chinese don’t want the Americans and their South Korea allies to hold joint anti-submarine maneuvers in the Yellow Sea (West Sea to the Koreans). The Chinese told the allies that back in July and they were ignored.

At the crux of the matter is the issue of maritime borders. China wants to create a “no-sail” zone in the China Sea. Under international law, a naval power can positions its warships in international waters 22 kilometers or 14 miles or 12 nautical miles from the low tide mark of the shoreline of a foreign country. The Chinese (and many other countries) want to extend this demarcation to 200 miles or the current limit of their “exclusive economic zone”. In the narrow Yellow Sea that would mean an aircraft carrier like USS George Washington would have to stay about 70 miles off the coast of Weihan, instead of the more aggressive 14 miles which is ‘legal’ under international law. Imagine the reaction of the US Navy if a Chinese aircraft carrier were to position itself 14 miles off the coast of Virginia or Manhattan. The Chinese have already announced that they do not want the US/Korean naval maneuvers to stray over the border of the “exclusive economic” zone.

This latest incident is just one in a long chain of events that have been percolating in the background. In September, the Chinese military announced that it had developed a “carrier-killer”. As described in The Global Times, a Chinese government-controlled newspaper, “China undoubtedly needs to build a highly credible anti-carrier capability. Not only does China need an anti-ship ballistic missile, but also other carrier-killing measures. Since US aircraft carrier battle groups in the Pacific constitute deterrence against China’s strategic interests, China has to possess the capacity to counterbalance.” By Chinese strategic interests, the article is referring to China’s stated objective of creating a “no sail zone” extending 1,000 miles from the Chinese coast. Such a “no sail” zone would push US naval power to the east of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Phillipines, New Guinea and Indonesia, creating the equivalent of the “Chinese co-prosperity sphere”. It would only be a matter of time before resource-rich Australia would be included in the “no sail” zone.

US intelligence anticipated the Chinese announcement of the “carrier-killer” when it staged a show of force in early July by surfacing a new version of the Ohio-class nuclear submarine armed with 154 conventional Tomahawk cruise missiles around the periphery of the China Sea: the USS Michigan surfaced in Pusan, South Korea, the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, the Philippines, and the USS Florida in the Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia (a Los Angeles class attack submarine surface unannounced on November 8th in Okinawa to the chagrin of the Japanese Government during its stand-off with the Chinese over a fishing boat). With this provocation, the US Navy was taunting the Chinese and making clear that it understood that the aircraft carrier was an obsolete weapon system. The admirals were acknowledging that the next war would be fought by submarines and submersible vessels and that they understood the Chinese threat from that corner. Since the US submarine fleet is declining due to exorbitant costs and the Chinese submarine fleet is surging in numbers and capability due to its labor cost advantage and the theft of Western technology ships, the July announcement of joint US/Korean anti-submarine maneuvers on November 28 – December 1, 2010 in the Yellow Sea was a shot across the bow of the Chinese Navy.

With these events as a backdrop, the North Korean artillery attack does not look like a random event. On the other hand, it looks like a carefully orchestrated move by the Chinese to pressure the Americans to back off to a new “no sail” zone demarcated by the “exclusive economic zone”. We will see what our Navy does over the next three days and whether or not this will prompt a proxy war in North Korea. What happened in Korea last week was no random act of mindless violence by a regime crying for attention. The Chinese gave the order.

Sources:        Groundreport        NTDTV           Timesunion

Arundhati, Mirwaiz in trouble on seditious statements

Anti Indian statements by politicians and social activists are being contested by NGOs and social leaders.

Two days after Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Bilal Lone were heckled allegedly by activists of right-wing Hindu outfits at a seminar here, a criminal complaint was filed in a local court on Saturday, 27th Nov 2010, accusing the duo of waging a war against the country by making seditious statements. The complaint was filed by an NGO in the court of Judicial Magistrate Paramjit Kaur who fixed December one as the date for hearing evidences in the case.

In his complaint, Global Human Rights Council chairman Arvind Thakur contended that both the Hurriyat leaders had clear intentions to damage the integrity of the country. “Both Farooq and Lone always praise the policies of Pakistan against India and they themselves claim that Jammu and Kashmir is integral part of Pakistan,” he contended while adding thatspeeches of the two Hurriyat leaders at the seminar were designed to wage a war against the country and create circumstances detrimental to peace and harmony. “The speeches of Farooq and Lone are highly imflammable and directly hitting the national integrity and was an abetment for waging of war by challenging status of Jammu and Kashmir,” he contended.

In a similar incident, an Indian court ruled that award-winning author Arundhati Roy could face prosecution for allegedly speaking out on the disputed region of Kashmir. A court in Delhi allowed the registration of a case against Roy and hardline Kashmiri separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Roy, winner of the prestigious Booker award for her novel “The God of Small Things” in 1997, is a fierce critic of Indian policy in Kashmir.

The writer and social activist shared a stage with Geelani in October and backed the idea of “azadi” or freedom for Kashmir, leading New Delhi police to look into charging her with sedition.
Originally, the Indian government was reported to be opposed to prosecuting her.

The main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has called Roy’s comments seditious and accused the Congress-led government of looking the other way by not taking any legal action against her.

Sources:       Hindustantimes          AFP

Indian role in Baluchistan unrest?

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has hit out at Indian Intelligence agencies saying that the RAW or Research and Analysis Wing is inciting violence in the Balochistan province of South-West Pakistan and is actively trying to foster anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan.

Musharraf, currently living in self-exile in Britain, repeated his claims that the involvement of India and Afghanistan in Balochistan is creating unrest in the Pakistani province. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has levelled similar allegations against India in the past but has never backed up his claims with proof.

Musharraf said Aug 26, 2006 military operation against 79-year-old tribal leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in Balochistan was justified as he had been creating trouble in the province. The operation resulted in the death of Bugti and several of his aides.

He alleged that Bugtis men of firing rockets on Sui, of occupying the hill features and firing rockets and weapons on the Frontier Corps. He also alleged that Bugtis men are blowing up the gas pipeline, the electric pylon, the railway line. Bugti’s grandson, Bramdagh Bugti, is currently living in Kabul and is received by agents of Indian intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, when he goes to India. Indians finance him, give him weapons to create trouble.

India’s conduct on Balochistan was like an open book and that Pakistan had never provided any evidence on preposterous allegations. Sources also claimed that India desired peaceful & cordial relations with Pakistan all throughout.

Sources:      NDTV         Economictimes

Bihar Assembly Elections 2010 – Voting pattern

Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal(U)-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, which won four-fifths majority in the recent Bihar election, secured a vote share of only 39 per cent — just a three percentage point improvement over what it polled in October 2005.

The ruling alliance won 206 seats, leaving the combined Opposition clutching at all of 37 seats in a House of 243. But there is a mismatch between the size of the JD(U)-BJP combine’s mandate and its vote share. The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) has compiled the seat and vote statistics. JD(U)-BJP: 206 seats for 39 per cent; Rashtriya Janata Dal-Lok Janshakti Party: 25 seats for 25.59 per cent; Congress: four seats for 8.38 per cent; Communist Party of India: one seat for 1.69 per cent and Communist Party of India (Marxist): no seats for 0.71 per cent. The JD(U) polled 22.61 per cent to the BJP’s 16.46 per cent.

In the October 2005 election, which the RJD fought jointly with the Congress, the two parties together won 63 seats for a combined vote share of 29.54 per cent. The RJD’s share of votes in this was 23.45 per cent, which establishes a vote erosion in the current election of around 4.5 percentage points. In the same election, the JD(U) and the BJP polled 20.46 per cent and 15.65 per cent respectively.

The combined vote share of the RJD, the LJP and the Congress is 34 per cent. Add the Left parties, and the vote share increases marginally to 36.40 per cent — still behind the 39 per cent jointly polled by the JD(U) and the BJP. The JD(U) and the BJP outperformed their principal opponents, the RJD and the LJP in every region of the State. The former had a lead of over 10 percentage points in all but one region, Mithila, where the RJD-LJP polled 27.5 per cent to the JD(U)-BJP’s 36 per cent. The region-wise comparative shares of the rivals: Ang: JD(U)-BJP 37.7 per cent and RJD-LJP 26.50 per cent; Koshi: JD(U)-BJP 39.8 per and RJD-LJP 22 per cent; Mithila: JD(U)-BJP 36 per cent and RJD-LJP 27.5 per cent; Tirhut: JD(U)-BJP 38.5 per cent and RJD-LJP 24 per cent; Bhojpur: JD(U)-BJP 37.5 per cent and RJD-LJP 25.9 per cent; Magadh: JD(U)-BJP 43.9 per cent and RJD-LJP 28.1 per cent.

Source: The Hindu

Passive smoking kills 60000 people

Around one in a hundred deaths worldwide is due to passive smoking, which kills an estimated 600,000 people a year, World Health Organization (WHO) researchers said on Friday, 26th Nov 2010.

In the first study to assess the global impact of second-hand smoke, WHO experts found that children are more heavily exposed to second-hand smoke than any other age-group, and around 165,000 of them a year die because of it. Children’s exposure to second-hand smoke is most likely to happen at home, and the double blow of infectious diseases and tobacco “seems to be a deadly combination for children in these regions,” they said.

Commenting on the findings in the Lancet journal, Heather Wipfli and Jonathan Samet from the University of Southern California said policymakers try to motivate families to stop smoking in the home. The WHO researchers looked at data from 192 countries for their study. To get comprehensive data from all 192, they had to go back to 2004. They used mathematical modeling to estimate deaths and the number of years lost of life in good health.

Worldwide, 40 percent of children, 33 percent of non-smoking men and 35 percent non-smoking women were exposed to second-hand smoke in 2004, they found.This exposure was estimated to have caused 379,000 deaths from heart disease, 165,000 from lower respiratory infections, 36,900 from asthma and 21,400 from lung cancer. For the full impact of smoking, these deaths should be added to the estimated 5.1 million deaths a year attributable to active tobacco use, the researchers said.

While deaths due to passive smoking in children were skewed toward poor and middle-income countries, deaths in adults were spread across countries at all income levels. In Europe’s high-income countries, only 71 child deaths occurred, while 35,388 deaths were in adults. Yet in the countries assessed in Africa, an estimated 43,375 deaths due to passive smoking were in children compared with 9,514 in adults. Pruss-Ustun urged countries to enforce the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which includes higher tobacco taxes, plain packaging and advertising bans, among other steps. Only 7.4 percent of the world population currently lives in jurisdictions with comprehensive smoke-free laws, and those laws are not always robustly enforced.

In places where smoke-free rules are adhered to, research shows that exposure to second hand smoke in high-risk places like bars and restaurants can be cut by 90 percent, and in general by 60 percent, the researchers said. Studies also show such laws help to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by smokers and lead to higher success rates in those trying to quit.

Sources: Reuters

Christians clash with Police in Egypt

Egypt’s attorney general ordered the detention of 156 protesters involved in clashes with riot police after the authorities blocked construction of a church in a Cairo suburb.

The authorities had halted construction of the church although the Copts said they had an official permit. Some Christians demonstrated near the church and others near the Giza governor’s office on Wednesday, 24th Nov 2010. One Christian was killed and dozens were wounded in Giza on Wednesday when about 3,000 Orthodox Copts hurled stones at police lines. Some officers threw them back and Muslims also lobbed rocks at the Christian protesters from behind the security cordon.

Thirty lawyers tried to attend police questioning of 120 of the protestors late on Wednesday but were blocked from entering the public prosecutor’s office in Giza, a rights group said. Five lawyers who later managed to enter the building were told by the general prosecutor that they could attend the questioning but could not consult privately with the accused, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said in a statement. “The prosecutors denied the lawyers’ request to consult privately with the accused. They refused to put on record the lawyers’ arguments questioning the validity of the proceedings and they also refused to put on record the injuries sustained by some of the accused,” the group said.

Giza Governor Sayyed Abdel-Aziz said the Christians appeared to have misused a permit for a social center to build a church. The Christians said they had the right permit and would continue to build the three-storey domed structure. Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s 79 million people.

Source: Reuters