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Thursday, April 29, 2010

BJP to withdraw support to Soren government at 5 p.m

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will meet Jharkhand Governor M.O.H. Farook Thursday evening to move ahead on its decision to withdraw support to the Shibu Soren government in the state, senior leader Gopinath Munde said here.
'The party MLAs and ministers will meet the governor at 5 p.m. to convey their decision to withdraw support to the government,' Munde told reporters, ending speculation that the party may be doing a rethink on the issue.

He said the decision to meet the governor had been deferred by a few hours so that all party legislators could go together for the meeting.

India's 3G Spectrum Bidding hits Rs. 89.14 Billion

Bidding for the faster spectrum -3G in India is about to touch Rs. 90 billion (about $2 billion) while the starting price was Rs. 35 billion, reported Total Telecom. About 94 rounds of bidding have been completed and the amount has risen by 155 percent. The Department of Telecom said that the bidding for the only available pan-India slot will start at Rs. 89.42 billion when the auction resumes on April 29.

Nine local cellular phone operators who're bidding for the 3G Spectrum in India include Bharti Airtel Ltd., Reliance Communications Ltd., Vodafone Essar Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. The government plans to collect about Rs. 4,500-5,000 crore by the end of this auction. But at this pace, it looks like the government may except to exceed the initial revenue amount when the auction actually ends. Communications Minister A. Raja, on April 26, said the government expects to raise Rs. 55,000 crore from the ongoing auctions of radio frequency spectrum for 3G telecom services and for rolling out broadband wireless Internet services in the country.

Successful bidders will be able to offer 3G services from September 1 commercially. The 3G spectrum auction may take about two-three weeks to complete.

Finally, after a long bumpy ride and several delays, the 3G spectrum bidding scene looks promising for privately held companies. However, a shocking report from The Pioneer came out yesterday and dropped a bomb exposing a controversial multi-crore 2G Spectrum scam. As per the report, CBI had tapped phones for evidence against Nira Radia, a PR honcho and stake holder in several consolutancy companies, who was regularly in touch with Telecom Minister A Raja. Radia's role as a powerbroker in 2G spectrum scam was clearly exposed in the documents with The Pioneer.

The report also stated that telephone lines of several other influential businessmen, politicians and advertising professionals have been tapped. The Nira Radia-A Raja phone tapping report had led to the adjournment of Parliament and Central Board of Direct Taxes also came out with a press release for damage control. The press release stated "the CBDT has clarified that the Income Tax Department has not recorded any telephone conversation of influential businessmen, politicians and advertising professionals as alleged".

We don't know if this controversy will affect the current 3G Spectrum auction directly or indirectly. But state-owned mobile operators MTNL and BSNL would certainly face troubled waters. Why? It's because the Indian government has already given both of them a head start in 3G Spectrum with a condition to pay the amount equivalent to highest bid in respective service areas. So if the 3G auction bidding amount goes higher than expected, both MTNL and BSNL will have to pay equivalent amounts.

Madhuri Gupta was ’faithful reporter’, but no documents transferred

April 29, 2010

New Delhi: Sustained interrogation of Madhuri Gupta, the junior Indian diplomatic official arrested for spying for Pakistan during her posting in Islamabad, has revealed that while she passed on reports of the high commission’s activities, there was no serious security compromise and no documents were traded, knowledgeable sources said.

Gupta, 53, who was arrested last week after she was called to Delhi on the pretext of some consultation at the external affairs ministry, has been under sustained questioning by security experts at various levels.

A thorough study of her mails revealed that she was a "faithful reporter" of the events and schedules at the Indian High Commission, giving daily and weekly reports of the engagements of the high commissioner and other staff and other schedules which she diligently kept track of.

But so far there is no evidence to suggest that Gupta, who is in Delhi Police custody, was able to pass on any documents of any sensitivity to her contacts of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for whom she played the mole, the sources told IANS.

"We are pretty certain that no serious damage to India’s security interests have been caused (by her transgressions)," a senior security official told IANS, speaking with full knowledge and authority.

"To the best of our knowledge, she has not passed on a single document to her handlers," the official said. "Most of what she said were pretty routine stuff."

The official said certain sections of the media, particularly TV, were having a free run in their speculation of what Gupta was up to and how much of India’s security may have been compromised by her actions, but said given the sensitive nature of the issue little can be done to counter what were essentially "blatant falsehoods and half-truths".

He said the electronic media was only "feeding on itself" and was trying to make things as dramatic and salacious as possible in their familiar game to garner TRPs.

Gupta, a member of the secondary cadre known as Indian Foreign Service-B, was employed as a Urdu translator in the Indian High Commission.

She had earlier worked with the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), a foreign policy think tank, before she was posted at the Indian high commission in Islamabad. Other sources said she had before her posting shown great keenness to go to Pakistan citing her fluency in Urdu.

In parliament, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said Gupta did not have access to highly classified material but investigations were continuing and she was cooperating with her questioners.

"I rise to inform this august house that as a result of our counter intelligence effort, we had reason to believe that an official in the high commission of India in Islamabad had been passing information to the Pakistan intelligence agencies," the minister said in a statement in the Lok Sabha.

"The position occupied by the official did not involve access to highly classified material. The official is cooperating with us in our enquiries. At this stage, for national security reasons, it is not possible to divulge more detail about the information that may have been compromised or to comment on this case as our investigations are continuing," she added.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lalit Modi :Detractors portray him as a brash while admirers call him a visionary who created the IPL from scratch.

Apr 26, 2010

NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League has in three short years morphed into a money-making behemoth with its showbiz-style mix of cricket, Bollywood and big business.

But the corporate dollars that have driven the league's exponential expansion are now under scrutiny in a widening tax probe, though most experts agree that the IPL itself is here to stay.

Launched in 2008, the tournament -- based on the shortened, made-for-TV Twenty20 format -- has attracted the sport's top international stars to a country where cricket is followed with religious fervour.

Under the stewardship of flamboyant chairman Lalit Modi, who was suspended on Sunday, it has been marketed so effectively that even the lexicon of the game has been changed in an effort to maximise corporate sponsorship.

Thus a six in the IPL is known as a "DFL Maximum" after India's largest real estate developer, while the sponsorship of Citibank means that a wicket is termed a "Citi Moment of Success".

Another IPL innovation was to introduce glamorous foreign cheerleaders, although their skimpy outfits and raunchy routines ruffled some feathers in what remains a deeply conservative country.

According to Indian cricket writer Rahul Bhattacharya, the IPL is the ultimate expression of sport in a materialist age.

"Its relationship with sport is not of participant but consumer. It holds nothing sacred. The IPL knows that it competes not against sport but general entertainment," Bhattacharya wrote.

While the brazen branding and the shortened format have upset purists, their complaints have been drowned out by the plaudits of the league's passionate supporters.

The opening game of the 2010 tournament between Deccan Chargers and Kolkata Knight Riders attracted 42 million viewers -- a 41 percent increase on the inaugural tournament opener -- according to television ratings agency TAM.

Those are numbers that advertisers drool over, and have ensured that the money keeps pouring in, with barely a passing nod to the global financial crisis.

As a result, the IPL's brand value has more than doubled since last year to an estimated 4.13 billion dollars, according to a study conducted by independent consultancy Brand Finance.

When two new franchises were offered this year to expand the current roster of eight IPL teams, one of them went for 370 million dollars.

In comparison, Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich paid 233 million dollars in 2003 for the English Premier League side Chelsea, one of the top clubs in Europe.

Before launching the first tournament in 2008, the IPL organisers studied the English league and sought to emulate its mix of high-profile overseas stars, homegrown talent and foreign coaches.

Where the IPL went a step further was to bring in a host of A-list celebrities from the only thing that rivals cricket as a national obsession -- the Indian film industry.

Three Bollywood superstars -- Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty -- own IPL teams and images of them and other Bollywood glitterati watching games are given a lot of air time in live match broadcasts.

The prime-time matches have become so popular that Bollywood producers try to avoid major film releases during the six-week IPL season for fear of damaging their box office take.

"You have to hand it to the IPL," said Jiniti Shah, vice president of TV ratings firm aMap.

"They married these two Indian mainstays, cricket and Bollywood, and packaged them in a short, prime-time format that caters perfectly to modern entertainment demands," Shah said.

Much of the credit belongs to Modi, 46, a polarising figure who was suspended by Indian cricket authorities just after Sunday's IPL final as the government probes allegations of tax-dodging and match-fixing.

Detractors portray him as a brash, arrogant Svengali, while admirers call him a visionary who created the IPL from scratch.

IPL 2010:Chennai Super Kings registers 21 runs victory over Mumbai Indians

Chennai Super Kings have won the third edition of IPL by beating Mumbai Indians in DY Patil Stadium last night.

Chennai posted a good total of 168/5 from 20 Overs in a wicket that didn’t look in best of shape and favored the slow bowlers more. Suresh Raina played a superb knock of 57 from 35 balls and received support from Captain Dhoni who scored 22.

With 169 runs to win in a slow wicket was always tough. Ashwin started off with a maiden over for Super Kings and was followed by Bollinger’s classic delivery that saw Sikhar Dhawan getting dismissed after Dhoni took his catch.

I was surprised to see Abhishek Nayyar coming up the order when the likes of Saurabh Tiwary and JP Duminy could have been better in that position and even Ambati Rayadu who was in top form.

Both Sachin and Nayyar struggled facing the CSK bowlers in the first 6 Overs but then they tried to reply them back but Nayyar suddenly went out courtesy a direct throw from Captain Dhoni. Sachin was looking good when he got out in long on as Murli Vijay took his catch of Jakati’s bowling.

Mumbai got their strategies wrong with their batting order as the run rate catapulted like anything. Kieron Pollard could have been a good option at that point of time but Mumbai took a nasty decision of bringing Harbhajan at that point of time when Kieron Pollard could have been handy. In the end Harbhajan went for a duck and even Tiwary and Duminy failed to provide the magic. Rayadu kept on playing his natural and was late joined by Pollard at 8 who started firing as he scored 22 of Dougie Bollinger in the 18th over.

With 33 needed of the last two overs Albie Morkel bowled the 19th over and the South African was spot on as his over saw Rayadu getting run out and was followed by Pollard’s wicket who went out after making 27 of 10 balls after Matt Hayden took a great catch in mid-off.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

US warns of terror strikes in Delhi markets

Press Trust of India, Thursday April 22, 2010

The United States on Wednesday issued a fresh warning to its citizens in India asking them to refrain from visiting congested areas of Delhi following "increased indications" of terrorists planning attacks.

"There are increased indications that terrorists are planning attacks in New Delhi. Terrorists have targeted places in the past where US citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.

"Markets, such as those located in Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh, Mehrauli, and Sarojini Nagar, can be especially attractive targets for terrorist groups," security/Warden Message issued by the US Embassy said here this evening.

The alert said the US citizens should exit an area where unattended packages were spotted and the matter should be reported to authorities.

It said Americans traveling or residing in India are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, remain aware of their surroundings, monitor local news reports, and take appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.

Govt may earn up to Rs 45,000 Cr from spectrum auction: Raja

April 21, 2010

New Delhi: The government is likely to earn up to Rs 45,000 crore from the auction of 3G and broadband spectrum, Telecom Minister A. Raja said Wednesday. The amount is much higher than the earlier target of up to Rs 35,000 crore.

"The auction of 3G and Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum put together is likely to fetch Rs 44,000 to Rs 45,000 crore for the government," Raja said on the sidelines of a telecom event.

After Tuesday’s round of bidding for 3G, which began on April 9, the government would get at least Rs 25,770 crore from the sale of third generation (3G) spectrum alone. On Tuesday, which was the 9th day of bidding, the base price increased to Rs 6,355 crore for pan-India frequency from Rs 3,500 crore.

Delhi continues to be on top, with a bid of Rs 733.71 crore against the base price of Rs 320 crore. Mumbai attracted the second highest quotation of Rs 667.77 crore, followed by Tamil Nadu at Rs 643.37 crore.

So far 52 rounds of bids have been completed and there is no excess demand in major circles like Delhi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, indicating that the price may not go up further in these circles.

However, going by the rules of the auction, any operator can come back and bid for any of the circle till the government discovers price in all the areas simultaneously. Kolkata is the only circle with excess demand and there are 11 service areas with negative demand.

Office boy arrested for keeping spy-camera in ladies toilet

April 22, 2010

New Delhi: An office-boy of a call centre was arrested today for allegedly installing a spy-camera in the ladies’ lavatory in the office, police said.

Sanjay was apprehended following investigations into a complaint filed by a call centre in north-west Delhi’s Peetampura and its women employees after they found a spy- camera in a packet of freshener.

The incident came to light four days ago but the complaint was made Wednesday, a senior police official said.

A case under Section 509 (for using word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of woman) of IPC has been registered against Sanjay, working in the administration section of the company.

"When one of the women entered the lavatory they saw something blinking in the odonil packet. On closer scrutiny, she found out that it was a camera and informed the company management," the official said.

The company has about 120 employees and 60 per cent of them are from the North-East states.

According to L Lamak Maram, President of Naga students Union who is helping the victims, the women employees confronted the company management demanding that they be shown the footage.

The company assured it will look into the matter, he claimed, adding, they told the employees that a helper in the organisation was responsible for the installation of camera.

"It is very demeaning and we don’t know for how long this has been going on. Some people have seen the footage, which has blurred images of women," an employee said.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There is no chance of resigning -Says Lalit Modi

20 April 2010

DELHI: Despite pressure mounting from all quarters, Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi said he was not stepping down from his post.

“There is no chance of resigning. I will present all my facts at the Governing Council meeting,” Modi told reporters at Mumbai airport after landing from Dubai.

“I think all of you have the same question. On April 26 we have the governing council. We will meet there and discuss all these allegations that are coming out,” Modi told reporters on his arrival from Dubai where he had gone to attend the ICC’s executive board meeting.

Although there is intense speculation that Modi would step down after the IPL finals on Sunday, he did not talk on the subject at all.

“There is no point discussing it. BCCI president Shashank Manohar and Sharad Pawar had already met this morning. They are all united in the same area. Decision will be taken unanimously by the governing council,” he said.

“I will present all the facts against all the allegations. There is nothing to worry about and we will carry on,” the IPL chief added.

The stand against Modi in the BCCI has hardened over the last few days as the rapidly-developing events surrounding Kochi franchise’s stakeholding pattern has opened a Pandora’s box about alleged financial irregularities in the IPL.

Modi himself is under fire for allegedly helping his family and friends buy stakes in various IPL teams.

Modi triggered the entire controversy by tweeting the Kochi franchise’s stakeholding pattern, which also brought the cricket board under the Income Tax department’s scanner.

His tweets about Kochi’s shareholding created a political storm as it emerged that Minister of State for External Affair Shashi Tharoor’s close friend Sunanda Pushkar had a sweat equity worth Rs 70 crore.

Tharoor had to resign, while Pushkar also gave up her stake in Kochi franchise.

Hurt Tharoor says he is ready for ’thorough probe’

April 20, 2010

New Delhi: Two days after being forced to quit over his alleged links to the Kochi IPL franchise, former minister Shashi Tharoor Tuesday said he had done no wrong and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to probe the charges of impropriety and corruption hurled against him.

As the Lok Sabha listened with rapt attention, Tharoor, speaking for the first time after his resignation as minister of state for external affairs, said his conscience was clear but he felt "deeply wounded".

"I am deeply wounded by fanciful and malicious charges made against me and I have requested the prime minister to have these charges against me thoroughly investigated," an emotional Tharoor said amid loud thumping of desks by his Congress party colleagues.

The former UN diplomat and bestselling novelist said: "I have done nothing improper or unethical, let alone illegal. Nonetheless, in view of the ongoing political controversy, I have no desire to be an embarrassment to the government and believe that my departure at this stage will allow the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues to focus on the great challenges facing our nation."

Saying his resignation was in line with "the highest moral traditions of our democratic system", the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said he also wanted to let parliament continue its legislative business stalled by opposition members demanding his sacking.

Tharoor, 54, was blamed for misusing office in favouring his Dubai-based friend Sunanda Pushkar to secure sweat equity in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Kochi franchise worth Rs.70 crore. Some critics alleged that Pushkar was Tharoor’s front -- a charge both of them have denied.

Dressed in a spotless white kurta pyjama with a tricolour scarf draped around his shoulders, Tharoor said that his career as a public servant was unblemished by any financial taint.

"I am new to Indian politics but I have a long record of public services, unblemished by the slightest taint of financial irregularity... I have led an unblemished life of personal integrity and probity and it is important to me that my name is cleared (of the charges)," he said.

The former UN official said he had returned to India after long years of international service "because I had always cherished the desire to make a difference in my own country".

"I returned to India because I believe in an India of openness and straightforwardness, not of hypocrisy and double dealing... I believe in an India of pluralism and diversity, not of religious bigotry and caste politics."

He also underlined his connections to Kerala -- his home state.

"I am proud to represent the capital of Kerala, a state that in so many ways is a trailblazer for India’s progress, though in other respects it seems to have been left behind in the race for 21st century development."

He said it was a "great privilege" for him to have served the government and the Congress under the leadership of Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson and party president Sonia Gandhi - "two of the finest public servants our country has ever had".

The resignation, he said, marked a new beginning for him.

"I am heartened by the love, friendship and loyalty I have received from well-wishers in Thiruvananthapuram, across my home state Kerala and throughout (the) country. I am determined to continue to do my best for India and for the ideals that brought me back here."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kerala IPL team’s fate hangs in balance

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dubai: A solution to the simmering row over Kochi franchise’s ownership appears possible following a meeting between the team’s new chairman Harshad Mehta and IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi who exuded confidence of an early resolution.

An aide of the Dubai-based Mehta, who also had a brief courtesy meeting with ICC’s Principal Advisor I S Bindra, said "he (Mehta) is not willing to comment anything until the IPL’s Governing Council meeting".

Asked to comment on Mehta’s meeting with Modi, the aide said "he would not like to comment on either". The meeting comes in the wake of reports that Sunanda Pushkar, a close friend of outgoing Union Minister of State for External Affair Shashi Tharoor, offered to surrender her sweat equity as she was distressed by the entire controversy.

"Kochi issue would be resolved. I am confident the Kochi team will continue and contribute to the success of IPL," a confident Modi had said.

Both Modi and Bindra, along with former BCCI president Sharad Pawar, are here for an ICC meeting. Modi said he had no personal issue either with the team owners or Tharoor, who is in the eye of a political storm after it was found that her friend Sunanda is one of the Rendezvous stakeholders.

"It is not Modi Vs Tharoor. It is not BJP Vs Congress or any other political party or political leader. My priority is cricket and we would resolve the entire issue at the earliest," Modi said.

Sunanda, on her part, has offered to give up her ’sweat equity’ of nearly 19 per cent of the 25 per cent free equity of Rendezvous in the Kochi franchise.

Although no details were available about the meeting between the two, Modi said that his sole interest was to promote IPL which was created jointly by everybody including all teams and BCCI and for whose success everybody is working together. Modi also refused to comment on Pushkar’s sweat equity, saying that everything would be set right. The raging controversy has led to speculation that Modi’s wings would soon be clipped with a section within BCCI miffed with his way of functioning.

Modi, however, claimed he had no difference with BCCI president Shashank Manohar. "I have no difference with Shashank Manohar and I have been asked to attend the ICC meeting (on his behalf)," Modi said.

The issue has been simmering since Modi revealed the ownership structure of the Kochi franchise on a social networking site, naming Pushkar in it.

Tharoor run out...but gathers fans along the way

Thiruvananthapuram: He came, conquered the hearts of Keralites a year back only to stumble and fall due to his own indiscretions. Shashi Tharoor was the buzz of the town Monday, a day after he resigned as minister of state for external affairs, with some in this constituency upset and others confident he would bounce back.
Credited for bringing the Indian Premier League (IPL) team to Kochi, the Thiruvananthapuram MP stepped down Sunday night over allegations that he had 'mentored' the Kochi IPL franchise that involved his Dubai-based friend Sunanda Pushkar getting sweat equity worth Rs.70 crore.

'Initially, my family felt he would survive the IPL fiasco, the way he survived all the issues created by his excessive tweeting. But, then we had doubts because of the allegations that surfaced about his friend Sunanda Pushkar. The moment the involvement of a lady surfaced, his downfall was certain,' said school teacher Shiny Benjamin.

Tharoor, a former high ranking UN diplomat who made a lateral entry into politics as Congress' Lok Sabha MP, had Friday clarified that he had not misused his official position and his 'mentoring' the Kerala consortium of the Kochi IPL franchise was 'within the bounds of appropriate conduct'.

Biju Varghese, an engineer, said he developed a 'strange' attachment to Tharoor the moment it became clear that he would contest from Thirunvananthapuram. 'For some strange reason, I felt attached to him, may be because of his personality.'

'I was confident of his victory because many of us felt he is a cut above the usual run of the mill politicians and one who would do something different. And when he became a minister, our excitement increased. Tell me who else would have got Kerala an IPL team?' he asked.

'We are crestfallen that the Congress asked him to resign, but wait and see he will bounce back,' Varghese added.

Others, including those from his party, felt that Tharoor should have addressed grassroots problems.

'See, the problem with Tharoor was that he failed to connect well with the local party leaders who work at the grassroots. This setback will help him understand the nuances of how a Congress leader needs to behave,' said a Youth Congress activist on condition of anonymity.

Ernakulam Lok Sabha member and senior Congress leader K.P. Dhanapalan added: 'If the party wanted, it could have asked him to continue, but our party thinks differently. There is no need for him to resign as Lok Sabha member. He can always return as a minister, if he comes out clean.'

Irrespective of what is in store for Tharoor, it is clear that he has won the hearts of many cricket lovers in Kerala looking forward to the next IPL season when their team would also be playing. Speculation has begun on greats like Brian Lara, Michael Clark and Lance Klusener joining the Kochi IPL team.

'I feel sorry for him. Just because he does not have the quality of a politician, who can always wriggle out of any situation by hook or by crook, he did not get the support from his own party,' said a cricket enthusiast and Kottayam businessman Babu Jacob.

Tharoor was made a sacrificial lamb

April 19, 2010

Yesterday a good, honest man was made a sacrificial lamb on a stage packed with politicians with skeletons in their past, hugely wealthy businessmen, movie stars, suggestions of sexual scandal, gossip material churned out by the media, and the popular sport of cricket that time and again gets tainted by allegations of wrong doing.

Shashi Tharoor's resignation as a minister of state is a shame for India just when the nation is inching towards being accepted as a global power and a true democracy.

The facts and the murky details related to the relatively new Indian Premier League of cricket will be debated and discussed until hopefully some form of truth will emerge. This week's Tehelka has a detailed, in depth article that examines what appears to be the truth and gossip in the very public battle between Tharoor and IPL's chair Lalit Modi. But none of that matters right now.

Tharoor's resignation was disappointing, but also expected. In less than a year that he has served as a junior minister, he has been again and again mired in controversies -- issues ranging from his staying in a five star hotel while his official residence was being renovated, to his insistence on being on Twitter and the official remarks he sometimes made, such as that Saudi Arabia could play a role of a 'valuable interlocutor' in the dispute between India and Pakistan.

Each time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh his government and Congress President Sonia Gandhi backed Tharoor. But obviously their patience was running thin. The IPL scandal is way too ugly, and Tharoor's support for Rendezvous Consortium that managed to win the bid for the team in Kochi became too much of an embarrassment. The scandal will not go away, but the Tharoor controversies were mounting up and so his exit makes the government look clean.

But what was Tharoor's recent crime? Everything he did seems to be in the open, including the business stakes of Sunanda Pushkar -- the woman he is currently dating -- in Rendezvous Consortium. No one has shown any impropriety on Tharoor's part. He was never involved in any illegal money transactions -- at least it has not been proven so far. He said he supported the consortium's bid in the interest of Kerala , the state he represents in the Lok Sabha. He may have made errors of judgment, but why would anyone have a reason to disbelieve his statement?

As a New Yorker I have closely followed Tharoor's career at the United Nations, and as a writer and a novelist. He joined politics in India, not just because his career and life was at a crossroads after his unsuccessful run for the secretary general's post at the United Nations.

Tharoor joined politics, because India needed someone like him -- an educated, bright, articulate and erudite thinker who -- as I had hoped -- would never be accused of being corrupt or taking a bribe.

The Indian political system needed a man like Tharoor with his secular views, as has been reflected his writings. I was confident that his politics was going to be correct.

There are some other bright, young and educated faces in Indian politics, names like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia , but most of them had earned their positions through their family connections -- their late fathers's loyalties to the Congress party and the Gandhi family.

Unlike these young men, Tharoor, 54, was an outsider. He left India years ago to pursue his education and returned after having spent more than half his life abroad. He transformed himself into a politician from Kerala in an organic manner, contested election on the Congress party ticket from Thiruvananthapuram constituency and he won with a huge majority.

Most Indian Americans dream of returning back to their home country. The liberalisation of the Indian economy made it easier for a lot of Indian Americans to return back, taking up cushy corporate jobs or launching businesses in the mushrooming IT sectors in Bangalore or Hyderabad. Some returned home to launch micro credits companies, assisting the poor, while others went back to join India's exploding media companies -- as journalists and managers. But hardly anybody went to India to join politics.

Indian Americans may clamour to attend public receptions hosted in the honor of politicians visiting from India, but most still view the politics in India a messy field, mined with often corrupt, often uneducated, often crass and crude individuals who believe that they have the divine right to lead its people. But in winning the election, Tharoor chartered a path for Indians living abroad to connect with their mother country.

Last year a journalist friend repeated an assessment he had heard about Tharoor -- that while he was doing fine as a junior minister, he had to continuously watch his back. He had enemies within the ruling coalition and the Opposition, people who were envious of his sudden rise to power and his visible persona.

A few months ago I started following Tharoor on Twitter, getting daily updates from him about his meetings with foreign leaders as well the official functions he attended. He never gave away State secrets in his tweets, and often his postings were dull and uninteresting. Yet he was the only Indian politician so openly connecting with people -- sharing drab details of his daily life as a minister.

There is a reason why among celebrities and well known personalities in India, Tharoor leads in the count of followers. He has over 700,000 followers on Twitter. Stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra lag behind with less than 300,000 followers each. Tharoor's followers thrived on his daily, sometimes hourly updates. It was out in the open -- just simple, clean reporting.

It is shameful that India -- a democracy, with a thriving media -- has not found quick, simple solutions to walk beyond its recent ugly past. Instead a man like Tharoor, a breath of fresh air in Indian politics, has been forced to resign for committing no crimes. It is a sad state of affairs.

Article Credit: Rediff News

Scandal Forces India Politician to Step Down (The New York Times Report)

April 18, 2010

NEW DELHI — A former high-level United Nations diplomat who had become a prominent and flamboyant figure in the Indian government resigned Sunday amid accusations that he had wrongly used his official influence to help a female friend get an ownership stake in a new franchise in India’s lucrative professional cricket league.

Times Topic: Shashi TharoorThe official, Shashi Tharoor, 54, submitted his resignation as a junior minister of foreign affairs after leaders of the governing Indian National Congress Party concluded in an emergency meeting on Sunday evening that his position was untenable. Opposition leaders had spent the past week hammering him with accusations that he had exploited his post for personal gain.

“It is a victory of truth,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, a spokesman for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, after Mr. Tharoor resigned. “It is a victory of the democratic process.”

Mr. Tharoor, a prolific author who made a failed campaign to become United Nations secretary general in 2006, was considered a favorite of the Congress Party’s president, Sonia Gandhi, and had become one of the more visible figures in the government, partly by building a large following on Twitter.

The allegations involve Mr. Tharoor’s role in helping organize a consortium from his home state of Kerala that made a successful $333 million bid for a new franchise in the Indian Premier League. The league’s commissioner, Lalit Modi, disclosed that one person in the investment group was Sunanda Pushkar, a woman described as a friend of Mr. Tharoor’s and who had been given an equity stake reportedly worth more than $15 million.

Indian news media have reported that Mr. Tharoor, who is married, has been romantically involved with Ms. Pushkar, though it has not been publicly confirmed. Mr. Tharoor could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

In recent days, he has insisted that he is innocent of any financial wrongdoing and denied that he was involved in granting equity stakes to Ms. Pushkar. He accused the cricket commissioner, Mr. Modi, of trying to stir up controversy because he had favored another bidder for the new franchise.

Mr. Modi countered that he had made his disclosure because even some members of the Kerala consortium were not aware of some of the group’s minority shareholders. “If somebody is trying to hide somebody’s identity, my job is to expose it,” Mr. Modi said in an interview last week in Mumbai. Mr. Modi is also under scrutiny; tax officials raided his office last week.

Mr. Tharoor’s resignation ends a turbulent 11-month run in government. He was reprimanded by the Congress Party after the news media disclosed that he was living in a five-star hotel while awaiting renovations on his official residence. He countered that he was personally paying the bills, but the image of a minister living in luxury undercut a public austerity drive by the party.

He also annoyed some elders in the party with his comments on Twitter, even as he won a larger and larger following among young Indians. “A person who could have been the big middle-class hope now stands sullied,” Barkha Dutt, a television commentator, said during a broadcast on Sunday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bhagawan Baba came back to Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi)

After nine days of Northern India Visit, to Delhi and Shimla, Bhagawan came back to Prasanthi Nilayam to a devotional welcome. Bhagawan's plane touched down at the Sri Sathya Sai Airport at 3:59 and after a fifteen minute ride He was received at the Sai Kulwant Hall with Poornakumbham and Veda chanting. Upon entering the hall Bhagawan came for a half round through the gents' side to ascend the verandah, to stop for a while at the lower portico outside the interview room receiving Arathi. Upon Arathi, Bhagawan retired to Yajur Mandiram at 4:25.

Earlier, Bhagawan took off from Indira Gandhi International Airport at 1345. In the afternoon, Bhagawan left the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre at 12:20 heading towards the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Bhagawan was accompanied by his entourage of boys and senior officials including Mr. Jitendra Cheema, State President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Delhi.
In the morning, Bhagawan blessed the Sevadals who have been on duty throughout His stay in Delhi. Blessing them profusely, hearing State President's prayers to visit Delhi every year, Bhagawan replied in Hindi: Zaroor Aaoonga, meaning will definitely come. Before leaving, Bhagawan spent ten minutes amidst devotees blessing them profusely. Arathis were offered at Bhagawan's residence, then onstage and the final arathi just before departing, near the car. The Lord whose magnanimity and love encompassed Delhi and its environs for seven full days has been given an emotional farewell at the Centre. As the wheels rolled over carrying The Mighty Lord, the "Farewell Song" was still heard, mellifluously rendering the air, and many souls were trying to cover up their emotion with those beauteous momentous moments filling the vacuum created with His departure.

This monsoon, head for Kerala's healing ayurveda touch

How about a warm herbal oil massage that lulls you to peace as you lounge in a traditional thatch-roofed houseboat on a rainy day with lush green rice fields and coconut groves spreading away into the distance? Feeling rejuvenated already?

Holidaying in 'god's own country', Kerala is not just about serene beaches, tranquil stretches of backwaters and exotic wildlife but also about a healing touch -- that of ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine in India that evolved around 600 BC.

Kerala's abundance of forests with a wealth of herbs and medicinal plants and the cool monsoon season -- June to July and October to November -- are best suited for ayurveda's curative and restorative packages.

Even though the arrival of monsoon is nearly two months away, resorts in Kerala are making last-minute arrangements to welcome the new 'ayurvedic season', the most sought after tourism product when the rains lash Kerala for several weeks.

K. Muraleedharan, one of the chief physicians at the famed Kottakal Aryavaidya Sala in Malappuram, says ayurveda is most effective during the monsoon because the body gets weak during that time.

'Hence, any ayurvedic treatment taken during the monsoon time boosts the immunity and it has a long-lasting effect. It also takes into account the vagaries of the weather,' Muraleedharan told IANS.

Moreover, ayurveda believes in the treatment of not just the affected part, but the individual as a whole. It is the natural way to refresh oneself by eliminating all toxic imbalances from the body and thus regain resistance and good health, he said.

Over the years, resorts across the state have come out with tailor-made ayurvedic packages. The duration could go up to three weeks and the cost from as low as Rs.500 to as high as Rs.30,000 (500 euros).

Though the most preferred treatment is a rejuvenation package of massages, tourists also look forward to body slimming, stress management and beauty care packages.

John Muthoot, managing director of Muthoot Hotels here, said over the years they have had an incremental business in bookings at the Taj Green Cove hotel near Kovalam during the monsoon season.

'In our state-of-the-art spa here, we use high quality ingredients which make ayurveda treatment a pleasurable experience,' Muthoot told IANS.

Of late, tourists are seeking ayurveda packages for treating various modern- day ailments like obesity, mental tension, spondylosis and skin problems.

The various treatment protocols in ayurveda include various types of massages -- pouring of a herbal liquid through a special vessel on the forehead and other parts of the body, application of herbal leaves and powders (that are made into pouches and immersed in warm medicated oil) all over the body and herbal juices and medicated oil applied through the nose.

Tomy Pulikattil, who owns a fleet of houseboats, has remodelled one for tourists to get a massage as they leisurely cruise the lake.

'I have one boat with two rooms where I offer clients a day's package which includes massages and food. For two people, the rate is Rs.6,800 all inclusive. Last season, we had more than 30 bookings and this time we are planning to roll out one more boat, because the bookings appear good,' said Pulikattil.

A Mathrubhumi Article

Delhi regains top position in 3G spectrum auction

New Delhi: India Saturday completed 40 rounds of an auction to award radio frequency spectrum for third generation telecom services in the country, with Delhi beating Gujarat and attracting the highest bid price at over Rs.600 crore.
Leaving Gujarat, which had been attracting the highest bid for the last three consecutive days, far behind in the race, Delhi regained its top position and received the highest bid price at Rs.626.37 crore.

Mumbai attracted the second highest bid at Rs.598.59 crore, followed by Tamil Nadu at Rs.549.24 crore, Gujarat at Rs.533.40 crore and Maharashtra at Rs.533.37 crore.

At the end of the 7th day of the auction, which began April 9, the provisional winning price for a pan-India licence stood at Rs.5,710.36 crore, up 63.15 percent up from the Rs.3,500 crore reserve price.

Orissa, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir could not attract even a single player, according to the latest data available on the website of Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The 3G services will facilitate much faster connectivity than what is available now and enable applications such as Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange.

Slots for three-four players are available in each of the 22 circles into which the country has been geographically divided for these services.

The government has already given Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) spectrum for 3G services on the condition that they will pay the same licence fee as would be levied on private players after the auction.

Nine telecom companies -- Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Aircel, Etisalat, S Tel and Videocon Telecommunications -- are participating in the online auction.

It is a simultaneous auction for 22 circles over a secure website. At each round, the price is hiked from between 10-1 percent based on demand.

The auction is being held from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. on all days, except Sundays and national holidays. The process will end only when the demand is equal to the number of slots available in each circle.

The bid data, including the winning companies' names, will be made public after the auction's completion and approval by the government. The winning firms will have to deposit the money within 10 days after the auction.

The successful bidders would be allowed to offer 3G services on a commercial basis from Sep 1.

The government hopes to garner a minimum of Rs.30,000 crore from the auction.

Sunanda to surrender stake in Kochi IPL

In what is being viewed as a compromise formula, Sunanda Pushkar is reported to have surrendered her stake in controversial Kochi IPL, said a TV news channel today. This may come as a huge reprieve for Shashi Tharoor who was under pressure after allegations that he had misused his authority to help his friend Sunanda Pushkar get 'free' equity worth 70 crores in the Kochi IPL franchise.

According to the TV news channel which quoted sources, Tharoor lobbied for Sunanda's stake to be raised even higher and party so far does not accept his explanation completely.

Congress sources say it would have looked better if Tharoor had at least offered to resign, report said.

Meanwhile, Tharoor, a short while back met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to brief him about the Kochi IPL row ahead of the Congress Core Committee meeting on Sunday evening to decide Tharoor's fate.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blast delays IPL game

The Indian Premier League match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Mumbai Indians has been delayed due to a "low-intensity" explosion outside the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

The teams, warming up ahead of the match inside the stadium, were asked to return to the dressing room around 3.15pm local time after a loud noise was heard.

Initial reports suggested an over-heated power generator had exploded before the toss could take place, but police commissioner Shankar Bidari confirmed to reporters the blast was due to some sort of explosive material.

"A low-intensity blast occurred outside gate number 12," Bidari said.

"It appears some sort of explosive material was hidden in the wall, some distance away from the stands.

"Four policemen have suffered minor injuries and a security guard has been seriously injured. A section of the perimeter wall was also damaged

"We have called in forensic experts for further investigation. There is no need for panic and the match will go on."

Spectators were barred from entering the stadium for a period but were later allowed to pass freely.

The Mumbai Indians are already through to the IPL semi-finals, while the Royal Challengers could seal second spot in the table should they win.

The M Chinnaswamy Stadium is due to host two semi-final matches next week

Obama to visit India in August/October: Manmohan

17 Apr 2010

ON BOARD AIR INDIA ONE: US President Barack Obama will visit India in August or October, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Saturday.

Obama will come to India in August or October, the dates have not yet been finalised, Manmohan Singh told journalists when asked about the US president's visit to India.

The prime minister Saturday returned home after an eight-day visit to the US and Brazil where he participated in three multilateral summits and held over half a dozen bilateral meetings with world leaders

Dalai Lama asks China to let him visit quake-hit region

17 Apr 2010

DHARAMSHALA: The Dalai Lama appealed to Beijing on Saturday to allow him to visit a mainly ethnic Tibetan area of China hit by a deadly earthquake, saying he wanted to comfort the victims.

"To fulfil the wishes of many of the people there, I am eager to go there myself to offer them comfort," the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said in a statement issued from Dharamshala, his home in exile in northern India.

The Buddhist monk was born in remote western Qinghai province, where the quake struck on Wednesday, killing at least 1,144 people and injuring more than 11,000 others.

The Dalai Lama, who denies Beijing's accusations that he is seeking independence for Tibet, has been living in India since fleeing his homeland after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bhagavan Baba Visits Shimla after 35 Years

While 15th April 2010 would appear on the gold embossed plaque at the Divine Abode, a peep into His last two visits in the seventies, in 1973 and 1975 would be interesting serving as a refresher while anticipating the magical moments yet again.

Shimla finally had her hunger satiated!

After 35 long years of waiting, when Bhagawan's plane landed at the Shimla Airport just after 11:30, it was a dream come true for many and for the hill station, it was her destined and defined moment, for the sanctifying touch of her Beloved Lord. Entire stretch of thirty five kilometres, from the Shimla Airport to the newly built "Anand Vilas", the Divine Abode in Shimla, thousands upon thousands on the road satiating their lives desire, stealing a glance of the Lord. There was a riot of colours all along, with flowers and buntings welcoming the Lord all over, with rangoli adorning the floor at every every important locations and thousands upon thousands vying for a glance lined up all along the way. There were devotees showering flowers, dusting the ground that touched the "Feet of The Lord", falling at Him in sasthtanga posture, many with moist eyes, but all with their hearts full of Love with beaming faces of having satiated their hunger to have Him in their midst, yet again. It appeared as if entire Shimla township came to standstill welcoming The Lord!

The original convoy of around 15 to 20 vehicles multiplied in to huge proportions, crossing the hundred mark and Bhagawan motored the entire stretch of 35 kms in over 80 minutes, blessing the thousands on His way, to reach "Anand Vilas" at 12:50. At the "Anand Vilas" there was a huge gathering of devotees. Upon arriving, Bhagawan entered His latest of the Abodes, inaugurating and sanctifying the same. Thereafter, Bhagawan moved onto the balcony at the second floor granting Darshan to the devotees assembled inside. It was a moment of great satisfaction and joy for the devotees of the state, a moment to cherish and a dream come true and for The Lord, it was His Sankalpa that materialised.

Earlier, at the Shimla Airport, Bhagawan was welcomed by the Himachal Pradesh Governor, Ms. Urmila Singh along with scores of other dignitaries. A mention should be made of the active participation of the Alumni of Sri Sathya Sai University, contributing their might, making Bhagawan's long pending visit a most memorable one.

On the first evening at the new Divine Abode, Bhagawan emerged for darshan at quarter to six while bhajan was on. As bhajans continued, Bhagawan sat through for almost an hour, blessing the vast assemblage of devotees before accepting Arathi. Upon accepting Arathi, Bhagawan retired for the day.

in Shimla, at Anand Vilas, what one would witness and appreciate is the highest reverence and devotion of the devotees over there that was on exhibition ever since Bhagawan arrived at the Divine Abode. When The Lord emerged in the evening, granting darshan, one could see thousands of hands going up, in pure devotional ecstasy, greeting The Lord. ...And as the assemblage glued their eyes on the beauteous form of the Lord, it was nothing, but bliss of being in the immediate presence of the Lord that was reflecting on each and every face. The huge darshan ground outside Anand Vilas could easily accommodate thousands, almost the capacity that the Sai Kulwant Hall of Prasanthi would hold.

In the twilight, this exquisite architectural marvel situated at Pujarli in Shimla district was shining in splendour as a beacon of Love and Peace. The building that was constructed in the most hostile and harsh climatic conditions prevailing in the cold arid zone in the high altitude mountain ecosystem was executed by Sai Engineering Foundation, a voluntary organisation working for the welfare of humanity without the distinction of caste, colour, creed, region and religion. The construction work was ably supervised by Sri Raj Kumar Verma, a long-time devotee and CEO of the Sai Engineering Foundation, as an offering at His Divine Lotus Feet. Devotees from various parts of the states would come in batches, on every Sunday, to contribute their might in the construction work as their loving offering to Bhagawan.

Greeting and housing The Lord, Pujarli in Shimla is presenting pleasant weather, a marked change for everyone, especially at a time when Puttaparthi and Delhi are under severe summer onslaught.

Today is Vishu, the Kerala New Year, a day when devotees from the state would celebrate in the immediate Divine Presence of the Lord for past many years.

Thirty five years since He made His last visit, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is set to set His Feet yet again on the Shimla soil. The tourist destination that is known for its pine forests and apple orchards, crisp, clean air and breathtaking views is now going to earn a permanent place in His Story, in the history of the Avatar of Age, when He Himself set His Feet yet again sanctifying His Divine Abode, Anand Vilas, which is verily an exquisite architectural marvel!

With the last minute preparations on for receiving Bhagawan, for Anand Vilas, it has been a long journey. The building that took six long years to complete, starting at 2002 to complete in 2008, the Abode, that was christened by Bhagawan Himself has been awaiting for the chosen moment, The Divine Time to arrive to embrace the Divinity.

The Divine Residence that is built in six floors has a spacious bhajan hall with a capacity of almost 300 with a balcony on top wherefrom Bhagawan could view the entire proceedings. The rest of the four floors consist of His residential complex, interview room etc.

Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation of Himachal Pradesh has also set up Sri Sathya Sai School for Children, a residential school in Shimla, to impart value-based education to children. With the Divine blessings of Bhagawan, the school began functioning from 2007 onwards and the classes had started on 21st May 2007. Beginning the school, admissions were open from class 1 to 5 with each class having 30 students. There are separate sections for boys and girls. The school would provide free education as per the ideals set forth by Bhagawan and also would put into practice the system of integral education as given by Bhagawan and strive to develop the character of the students along with academic excellence.

The school is situated amidst lush green verdant hills in a serene and calm environment. Meandering rivulets add natural beauty to the campus. The campus comprises a four-storeyed majestic school building and a four-storeyed hostel with all modern amenities. The school and the hostel are located on adjoining hills, and are interconnected through a glazed corridor which will help the students to go to the school without any inconvenience in inclement weather.

Bhagawan is expected to sanctify the school and hostel building along with a Ganesh Temple and Saraswathi Temple and an auditorium, during His stay in Shimla.

While 15th April 2010 would appear on the gold embossed plaque at the Divine Abode, a peep into His last two visits in the seventies, in 1973 and 1975 would be interesting serving as a refresher while anticipating the magical moments yet again.

Bhagawan’s maiden visit to Shimla was in March 1973 during His 22-day tour of Northern India. It was on 17th March 1973, Bhagawan left Moga for Shimla by car to reach the hill station in the afternoon. Upon His arrival, Bhagawan granted Darshan to a huge concourse of devotees on the Ridge.

On the morning of 18th March, there was Darshan, Bhajan followed by Divine Discourse at the Ridge where every inch of space was occupied by the surge of devotees, and still there were thousands who sat on the surrounding hills to hear Bhagawan and have His Divine Darshan. There was another public meeting on the morning of 18th March 1973 where Bhagawan showered His blessings on lakhs of devotees. Thousands had Darshan in the lawns of Woodville Palace, the residence of Bhagawan during His stay at Shimla. Bhagawan also visited the nearby hill stations of Kufri and Phagu both on the morning of 17th and 18th March 1973 along with a selected group of devotees. After sowing the seeds of love, devotion and spirituality in the hearts of millions of people of the sacred land of Himachal Pradesh, Bhagawan left Shimla for Delhi on the morning of 20th March 1973 by car.

The next and latest visit of Bhagawan to Shimla happened in 1975. It was on the 30th March 1975, that Bhagawan left Bangalore on a ten day visit to Delhi, Amritsar, Shimla and Jaipur.

After completing His engagements in Amritsar and Chandigarh, on 2nd April Bhagawan along with His entourage comprising 20 cars motored to Shimla. Upon reaching, Bhagawan granted Darshan to thousands awaiting Him at the Ridge. Next two days, on 3rd and 4th April, there were programmes of Darshan and Bhajan on the Ridge Maidan, where Bhagavan sang a few Bhajans also filling thousands of hearts with joy and devotion. On the morning of 4th April 1975, Bhagawan gave a nectarine Discourse which was etched in the hearts of simple hill people of this Himalayan region. On the afternoon of 5th April 1975, Bhagawan left for Delhi by car, stopping at Solan on the way for one hour where He gave a Discourse, sang a few Bhajans and blessed the huge gathering assembled there.

Credits SBOI Article

No misuse of official position: Tharoor

New Delhi: Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor Friday clarified that he had not misused his official position and his 'mentoring' the Kerala consortium of the Kochi Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise was within the 'bounds of appropriate conduct'.
Tharoor, at the centre of a row for alleged involvement in the Kochi franchise, said in a written statement: 'My role in mentoring the Kerala consortium was within the bounds of appropriate conduct for an MP from Thiruvananthapuram.'

Tharoor was forced to lay the statement in the Lok Sabha after opposition members created a ruckus over the row alleging that the minister had misused his official position to help his friend Sunanda Pushkar get sweat equity worth Rs.70 crore in the IPL Kochi franchise.

Tharoor could not read out the statement with opposition MPs, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gathered near Speaker Meira Kumar's podium, creating noisy scenes.

The speaker then adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

I am not a proxy for Tharoor: Sunanda Pushkar

New Delhi: Sunanda Pushkar, who has been linked to the Indian Premier League (IPL) Kochi team controversy, Wednesday blasted her critics and denied acting as a proxy for her friend and Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.
In a hard-hitting statement made available to IANS, Pushkar accused the media of ignoring her professional background and international business experience and focussing 'obsessively on my personal life as if a woman cannot be capable of professional or financial success.

'My own business interests and assets are substantial, and efforts to besmirch Tharoor by presenting me as a proxy for him are personally insulting for me as a woman and as a friend.

'I have built up a respectable and successful career while coping with widowhood and raising a child as a single mother. Yet I have been reduced to a caricature in the media, portrayed with inaccuracies and falsehoods,' she said.

Pushkar said she was issuing the statement 'to set the record straight about my role in the public controversy surrounding the Kerala IPL Team franchise'.

The controversy erupted after Indian Premier League (IPL) Commissioner Lalit Modi revealed the ownership pattern of Kochi IPL, stating that Pushkar, a friend of Tharoor, owned free equity in Rendezvous Sports, which is a part owner of IPL Kochi team.

Modi also accused Tharoor of asking him not to reveal the ownership details -- a charge denied by the minister.

Pushkar said she was approached last year by Rendezvous 'inviting me to associate myself with them as a consultant in their various sporting activities and particularly in their potential bid to acquire the franchise of an IPL team.

'I had previously been approached by Karim Morani of Kolkata Knight Riders to join them in a similar capacity and had regretted that the timing was not convenient for me.

'In view of my extensive international experience as a business executive, marketing manager and entrepreneur, I was invited to assist Rendezvous particularly in the areas of fund-raising, networking, elsewhere; event management; and brand building.

'Because this is a start-up effort, I was told that in lieu of a salary they would grant me minor equity in Rendezvous in return for my efforts - which is a common practice across the world for start-ups and projects of this nature.

'I should stress that I have accepted no salary or expenses and am conscious that the equity remains only on paper for the foreseeable future.

'However, with the equity comes an opportunity to participate in the management and promotion of Rendezvous and in particular of its IPL team, a challenge I welcome.'

She said she had 'lived a life of integrity and committed no crime, yet I am treated in a humiliating manner. My parents, friends and family members have been hounded by intrusive journalists.

'My personal life is nobody else's business and if I have a marriage to announce, I will do it myself, rather than leave it to strangers. I would request the media to respect my privacy.'

Shashi Tharoor has hidden agenda: Lalit Modi

MUMBAI: The verbal war between Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor intensified on Friday with the IPL commissioner accusing the minister of state for external affairs of having an 'hidden agenda' in the Kochi consortium's franchise bid.

'They are trying to put dispute into this. But we are here to stay. We have a robust league and we will continue doing a good job irrespective of hidden agendas.

'We will not allow Mr Tharoor to try and shadow this up. Tharoor has a different agenda and it will be shut down, believe me,' Modi said.

The Indian Premier League chairman also alleged that Tharoor wants to move the newly-won IPL Kochi franchise to Abu Dhabi but said he will not let that happen.

'This morning, I learnt from a colleague of mine that Mr Tharoor has approached that 'he would like their support to move the team out to Abu Dhabi. I don't know which way they are going. The theme is to play in India, We will not allow any team to play outside India,' he told 'Times Now'.

'All these allegations are to digress from giving the truth as to who the shareholders are and that's the key and that's what we are looking for. I will raise it in the next governing council meeting,' he said.

Modi also denied accusations that political pressure was put on investors to bid for the Ahmedabad franchise.

'There was no pressure from anybody. They went and met Mr Narendra Modi. He told them very clearly that you won this franchise for Kochi, so keep it to Kochi. They came to ask me to move it. They should have bid for Ahmedabad. They had the opportunity to bid for it.'

Modi was also confident that there was no move within the BCCI to clip his wings by appointing BCCI president Shashank Manohar as IPL co-chairman.

'The constitution provides me to be chairman right now. There is no co-chairman position right now. We will deal with it. This is an internal matter of BCCI and IPL.'

Modi though admitted that there was a divide in the BCCI on the style of functioning.

'I am sure there will be a divide. We have lived with the divide in the past and we will live with it in future. But we are not going to allow it (IPL) to derail. It's a baby we have built together and we will preserve it and preserve it to the hilt,' he said.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death toll rises to 760 in China quake

7.1-magnitude quake hits China's Qinghai

Rescuers search for survivors at a collapsed building in Gyegu Town of Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, northwest China's Qinghai Province, April 15, 2010. Thousands of rescuers fought altitude sickness, chilly weather, strong winds and frequent aftershocks Thursday to dig through rubble and reach survivors of a strong earthquake that has left 760 dead in northwest China.

YUSHU, Qinghai, April 16 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in northwest China's Qinghai Province has risen to 760, rescuers said Friday.

The latest statistics show that 243 people were missing and 11,477 injured, 1,174 severely, said a spokesman with the rescue headquarters in in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in southern Qinghai.

A total of 4,200 injured people have been discharged from hospital, he added.

At least 7,093 rescuers were carrying out search and rescue operation in the Gyegu Town, the seat of the Yushu prefecture government, according to previous statements from the headquarters.

More rescuers were en route to the town that is close to the epicenter and home to 100,000 residents

The quake struck the Yushu County in the Yushu prefecture at 7:49 a.m. Wednesday with a depth of about 33 km. The epicenter was calculated to be 33.1 north and 96.7 east, the China Earthquake Networks Center reported.

A series of aftershocks have been reported so far, with the biggest being at 6.3 magnitude.

The epicenter is at the Rima Village in the Shanglaxiu Township, a pasturing and sparsely-populated area about 50 km west of Gyegu and about 800 km away from the provincial capital Xining.

Many people are still buried in the debris as more than 85 percent of houses in Gyegu, mostly made of mudbrick and wood, had collapsed.

Chinese President holds talks with Indian leader

Brazil - Indian President Pratibha Patil will visit China in May, President Hu Jintao said on Thursday. President Hu made the remarks following a meeting on the sidelines of the second BRIC summit with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

President Hu told Singh that it was in the interest of both countries to resolve their border dispute as soon as possible. He was cutting his Latin America trip short due to the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in China, which hit Qinghai Province on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Singh said the Indian people offered their deep condolences to China over the tragedy and extended China assistance for the quake-hit area.

President Hu met with Singh, before signing agreements with Brazilian President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva, and South African President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India, and over this period the two Asian giants have developed strong political and economic relationships.

But analysts say bilateral trade and investment has been lagging far behind their potential. "China and India are close friends and support each other on the world political stage. But the two countries view each other as economic competitors, which has set barriers in bilateral trade," former deputy commerce minister Long Yongtu said earlier.

"Bilateral trade and investments should be increased dramatically to elevate the two countries' economic ties to the same level as their political ties," Long said.

China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming has said previously that he expects trade between the two countries to rise to $60 billion this year, as the world's two most populous nations are putting the global financial crisis behind them.

However, Amit Mitra, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said the lack of mutual trust has hindered the development of trade relations.

Fan Gang, a well-known Chinese economist said the two developing economies can learn from each other and cooperate in areas, such as expanding domestic consumption and the IT industry in China and improving infrastructure and manufacturing capacity in India.

The two countries are confident enough to work together as two key representatives of the developing world and as Asia continues to become a significant part of the global economy and, he said.

Fu Xiaoqiang, a researcher with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations said both sides want to expand trade ties based on their respective development requirement.

However, due to the security considerations, India has always set restrictions on bilateral trade, Fu said, noting China is not involved in India's infrastructure construction. China News

India's indigenous GSLV D3 rocket fails in mission

The GSLV-D3 seen here on the launch pad in Sriharikota. India's indigenous rocket underperformed after its launch and tumbled into the Bay of Bengal on Thursday.

India's quest to achieve total independence in cryogenic engine technology failed on Thursday when its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV - D3, tumbled into the Bay of Bengal. This happened after the indigenous cryogenic engine ignited on time 304 seconds after the lift-off but the two steering engines of the cryogenic stage appeared not to have ignited.

These two steering engines control the pitch, roll and yaw of the rocket. K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation told the ISRO scientists and engineers in the mission control centre that the performance of the vehicle was normal up to the second stage. And it was speeding at a velocity of 4.9 km per second. Indications were that the cryogenic engine ignited. "However, we saw the vehicle tumbling and losing control as the two vernier (steering) engines may not have ignited.

We will put all efforts to ensure that the next flight with the indigenous cryogenic engine takes place within a year", he said."

Snake boats on Thames to add novelty to Olympic ceremonies

Thiruvananthapuram : Will the Gods Own Country's traditional snake boat race be the cynosure of all eyes in the inaugural ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics? With an object of conducting a mini snake boat race, showcasing Kerala's rich tradition with rowers clad in traditionl 'mundu and baniyan,' on the eve of the 2012 London Olympics, 'Keraleeyam,' a cultural organisation here, is taking efforts to organise a snake boat race in the waters of Thames River on June 9.

He claimed that Kerala Tourism, Industry and Sports Department had already extended its full support and financial cooperation for the project, to be organised at a cost of Rs seven crore.

The event was prior to the annual Oxford Cambridge University's Canoeing competition on June 10, in which Queen Elizabeth would be the chief guest, Keraleeyam Secretary Harikumar told UNI.

It was expected that besides the Queen, the newly-elected president would also be present to receive the boat at the function, he said, adding, after the scheduled programme the snake boat would be presented to the queen.

IPL row: Pranab tells Tharoor to clear stand in LS

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Delhi, Apr 15: Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor may have to explain his stand regarding the IPL controversy in Lok Sabha on Thursday, Apr 15.

According to reports, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has asked Tharoor to give his statement in Lok Sabha on the issue.

On Wednesday night, Apr 14, Mukherjee had summoned Tharoor to listen to his side of the story. The meeting was also attended by Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony.

The Opposition is also demanding resignation of Tharoor in the wake of the IPL controversy.

However, according to sources, no assurances were given to Tharoor.

A final call on Tharoor's future in the UPA government would be taken after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is back in India.

Singh has already indicated that Tharoor would not be spared if there is evidence against him.

India storm death toll rises to 114: official


A violent tropical storm has killed 114 people in India, with 23 new victims reported in the eastern state of Bihar, the state disaster management office told Wednesday.

"Seventy two people were killed by the violent storm in Bihar in four districts," Vayas Mishra, secretary of the Bihar department of disaster management, told AFP late Wednesday.

The death toll in Bihar had previously been 49.

Thirty-eight died in West Bengal state and another four perished in northern Assam state when winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) an hour tore across northeastern India overnight Tuesday.

A further two deaths have been reported in Bangladesh, taking the total toll to 116.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Armed forces not required to fight Naxals: IAF chief

The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief on Monday said that any decision to use air power to tackle the Naxals must follow a clear strategy to minimise collateral damage and added that it was always ready to face any challenge to the country's internal security.

'We have the capability to conduct strikes with utmost precision. However, it must be understood that if a 250 kg bomb is dropped at a spot, its impact will be in a radius of at least 800 metres and that may affect many people who may not themselves be insurgents,' Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told reporters in Allahabad.

At the same time, he said his personal view was that the armed forces were not required to fight the Maoists.
'If at all a situation arises where the use of Air Force becomes inevitable, there has to be a clarity on the magnitude of the force we are supposed to use so that the collateral damage is minimum.'

'After all, we are dealing with our own people in our own territory,' the IAF chief said.
Replying to a query, he said, 'So far we have not been approached by the Home Ministry for any type of help in combating Naxalites.'

In an answer to a question, the Air Chief Marshal pointed to an news channel interview where he had said that the armed forces were not yet needed to fight Naxals.

'I personally still hold the view,' he said.
'We would, however, like to add that even though not involved in active combat, the Indian Air Force has done its bit by conducting reconnaissance of Naxal-infested areas and sharing the inputs with the governments concerned,' he said.

When asked whether the IAF had provided the Chattisgarh government with inputs prior to the Dantewada massacre Naik said, 'We had deployed UAVs in the tribal state a couple of years ago and had provided inputs at that time.'
He added that those inputs could not have been of any use now as at present the Air Force is not conducting any reconnaissance in the region.

All-India 3G bid at Rs 4,324 cr; Delhi, Guj see highest prices

12 Apr 2010,PTI

NEW DELHI: The third day of spectrum auction for 3G telephony saw the all-India licence bid touching Rs 4,324 crore at the end of 16 rounds,ensuring that the government would get a minimum of Rs 17,636 crore.

With today's closing, the bid has gone up nearly 24 per cent more than the base price of Rs 3,500 crore and 5.85 per cent higher than Rs 4,085 crore in the last round on Saturday.

The government has set a target of garnering up to Rs 35,000 crore from sale of spectrum for 3G and broadband wireless access (BWA) services.

The Rs 416.43-crore bid for Delhi was the highest among all metros. The bid for Gujarat at Rs 416.42 crore almost matched the one for Delhi, according to details available with the Department of Telecom (DoT).

The bid for Gujarat also saw the highest increase of Rs 20.82 crore from the last round of auction on Saturday.

Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra saw bids rising to Rs 404.54 crore, while that for Karnataka was Rs 396.58 crore ahead of Mumbai at Rs 392.66 crore.

The bid for Rajasthan was Rs 159.47 crore, UP (E) Rs 157.66 crore, Kolkata, Kerala Rs 150.16 crore each, Madhya Pradesh Rs 149.02 crore, Haryana Rs 140.09 crore and Punjab Rs 123.63 crore.

There were negative demands in nine circles -- West Bengal, HP, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, North East, J&K and Haryana. Excess demands were seen for eight circles with the maximum being for UP (E). These circles did not see any increase in their bid price since Friday.

The government is auctioning three slots of 3G airwaves in 17 telecom service areas. Only two slots are up for sale across the country for broadband airwaves, which will begin after the conclusion of the 3G auctions.

On Friday, the first day of the 3G spectrum sale process, the government had received bids worth a total of Rs 3,919 crore for a pan India licence- this was 12% higher than the base price of Rs 3,500 crore

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Darshan in Delhi


New Delhi, 11 April Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba are delighted to have an opportunity for his darshan in the Capital after a gap of over a decade.

On Saturday, Bhagawan came out at around 11 a.m granting ten minutes darshan at the main stage in the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre, Delhi. Blessing the concourse, Bhagawan moved on to the stage of the Primary School within the compound wherein tiny tots from the school had a twenty minute cultural programme emphasising the greater importance of Unity of Religions.

After the programme, Bhagawan moved around the complex, sanctifying and blessing various facilities including the computer lab etc. Many devotees and sevadals got to have the blessing of closer darshan and paadanamaskaars.

Friday, April 9, 2010

BJP Comes In Support Of Chidambaram In The Darker Phase

April 09

In the verge of CRPF’s massacre that send the country into a shock wave, India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram has stated to quit after receiving a strong criticism and in this reaction the opposition party BJP leaders had asked him to confront the challenge, asking him not to quit.

Regarding Chidambaram’s current phase the Opposition party stated, “He is a victim of his own idiom." In contrary to his absurd decision to quit, the BJP leaders strongly criticized for taking into a defeat instead of confronting the challenge of Maoist."

In consequence to Chidambaram’s decision to quit, the opposition party has asked him to stay on his position instead of brooding over his responsibility for the massacre of CRPF jawans as when the nation is in a delicate position with extreme threats from the Maoist there is need to sort out things to combat the current phase of situation. Since his quit can demoralize the spirit of the nation to overcome their stance to combat against the Maoist and win over them.

In this context, BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy with an encouraging word to Chidambaram stated, "The BJP is not demanding his resignation. The government needs to do its best and provide logistical support to the war against Naxals."

3G spectrum auction kicks off, first round completed

New Delhi: The first-ever auction of the radio frequency spectrum for third generation (3G) telephony that would facilitate high-speed mobile services in India began Friday.
As many as nine telecom companies -- Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Aircel, Etisalat, S Tel and Videocon Telecommunications -- are participating in the online auction process which will be held from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. on all days, except Sundays and national holidays.

Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular and Aircel are bidding for all-India spectrum, while Videocon, S Tel and Etisalat are bidding only for selective circles.

It is a simultaneous auction of 22 service areas over a secure website on the Internet. The auction has multiple rounds.

During the e-auction, the telecom operators will have to match the base price, set at Rs.3,500 crore for one 3G slot by the government.

At each round, the price would be hiked from anywhere between 10-1 percent over the previous round's price depending on the demand.

Till 1.00 p.m., the first round of e-auction had been completed, according to sources.

The auction will end when demand is equal to the number of slots available in each service area.

According to a senior DoT official, it is difficult to set a time-frame for the 3G bidding.

'It may take even a month,' the official said.

The bid data will be made public after the auction is completed. The winning firms will have to deposit the money within 10 days after the auction.

The successful bidders would be allowed to offer 3G services on a commercial basis from Sep 1.

According to the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) issued in February, of the 22 telecom circles, five states - Punjab, Bihar, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir - will have four private players for the auction.

Other circles, including the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, will have three private players.

The number of slots up for grab exclude those allotted to state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, which were allotted licences last year and have since started offering 3G services in their operating circles. But they will have to match the price paid by the highest bidder in their zones.

The 3G telecom services will allow faster connectivity than what is available now and enable applications such as internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange.

For broadband services, the auction will begin two days after the process concludes for 3G spectrum.

As many as 11 companies -- Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Aircel, Augere Mauritius Limited, Infotel Broadband Services, Qualcomm, Reliance WiMax, Spice Internet Service Provider, Tata Communications Internet Services, Tikona Digital Networks and Vodafone Essar -- will bid for broadband wireless access (BWA) services.

The government has set Rs.1,750 crore as the base price for a BWA slot.

The Centre hopes to garner Rs.45,000 crore from these auctions.

Apple says over 300,000 iPads sold on debut

San Francisco: Apple sold over 300,000 iPads when the eagerly-anticipated tablet computer was launched Saturday, the company announced Monday.
The sales figure included units that had been pre-ordered online and which were bought directly from retail stores, Apple said. The official sales figure was broadly in line with earlier Apple estimates.

But it was just half of the widely quoted sales figure of 600,000 to 700,000 units estimated by analyst Gene Munster Sunday.

Reports in the US also indicated that despite long lines at Apple's retail stores early Saturday, Apple had ample supply of the devices and customers could walk in to buy iPads without any waiting later in the day.

Apple hopes that the touch-screen device will bridge the gap between smartphones and laptops and popularise a new kind of digital device - this despite the failures of earlier tablet computers to catch on with consumers over the past ten years.

'It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world - it's going to be a game changer,' said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. 'iPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad.'

Cabinet approves 20 pc stake sale in SAIL

Cabinet has approved a 20 per cent stake sale in state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd in two tranches.

The sale is expected to fetch the government 80 billion rupees ($1.8 billion) in the first sale of 10 per cent, cabinet minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters.

The government currently holds 86 per cent stake in SAIL, India's top domestic maker of the alloy.
The federal government hopes to raise around $9 billion through stake sales in state-run firms in the 2010/11 fiscal year that began on April 1.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Delhi visit

According to the latest news Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba would be leaving for Delhi, the capital of India, on 9th April to stay there until 15th April. from there He is scheduled to leave for famous hill station in north India, Shimla.
The details are awaited. At the end its all Swami's will and His decision is final...

Programme Schedule

Public Darshans at

DC-10 DDA Grounds (Near Dawarka Sector-10 Metro Station) Dwarka

on Entry 3:00 pm onwards 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th April 2010

General Public is hereby informed to please use the Blue Line of Delhi Metro to reach Dwarka Sector-10 or Sector-11 station.

Both these stations are located within walking distance of DC-10, DDA Grounds, Dwarka.

Please carry a valid photo ID to the venue.

Please do not bring pens/pencils, handbags, briefcase, eatables, radio/transistor, mobile telephone and pager, tape recorder, camera, binoculars, digital diary, palm-top, laptop, notebook, computer, remote controlled car lock keys, arms and ammunition, thermos flask, water bottle, cigarette, bidi, gutka/paan masala, matchbox, lighter, knife, razor, scissors, screwdriver, blade etc with you, as all such items will not be allowed into the seating enclosures.

The Organisation reserves the right to include/exclude any other material(s), not notified above, at any time without prior notice. The Organisation also reserves the right to deny admission to person(s)/group(s) without assigning reasons.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

War on India, with govt all the way: BJP

New Delhi: Apr 07, 2010

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that the UPA govt must take strong measures to crush the Naxal menace.

The BJP rallied behind the Congress-led UPA government after the Dantewada attack, saying it would support every move by it to crush the Naxal menace in the country.

The BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, where the worst Naxal took place early on Tuesday, and Chief Minister Raman Singh have both had a good working relationship with Union Home Minister

P Chidambaram over the anti-Naxal operations in the state till now.

“The UPA government must take strong measures to crush this menace, and the BJP will support them in all such measures,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said.

“It is a war on India... This is an attempt by the Maoists to usurp and overthrow Indian democracy. The government should launch an all-out offensive and it should be a fight to the finish. The BJP would support the government in this,” said party spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy. He also added that the Union government and state governments must act together on the matter.

Profile: India's Maoist rebels

The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of poor tribal people
India's bloody Maoist insurgency began in the remote forests of the state of West Bengal in the late 1960s.

Decades later Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as India's "greatest internal security challenge".

Maoists are also known as "Naxalites" because of the violent left-wing uprising in 1967, which began in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari.

Although this was eventually quashed by police, over the years India's Maoists have regrouped and asserted control over vast swathes of land in central and eastern India, establishing a so-called "red corridor".

This spans the states of Jharkand, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh and also reaches into Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka.

The Maoists and affiliated groups are thought to control more than one third of India's 600-odd districts.

And more than 6,000 people have died in the rebels' long fight for communist rule in these states.

Maoist aims

The Maoists' military leader is Koteshwar Rao, otherwise known as Kishenji.

Thousands of rebels are said to swell his guerrilla ranks - estimates vary from 10,000 to 20,000 armed fighters. They are said to get most of their weapons by raiding police bases.

Analysts say the longevity of the Maoist rebellion is partly due to the local support they receive.

The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribespeople and the rural poor who they say have been neglected by governments for decades.

Maoists claim to represent local concerns over land ownership and equitable distribution of resources.

Ultimately they say they want to establish a "communist society" by overthrowing India's "semi-colonial, semi-feudal" form of rule through armed struggle.

Major rebel attacks

And over the years the Maoists have managed to launch a series of damaging attacks on Indian security forces.

In 2009, rebels gained virtual control of the Lalgarh district in West Bengal barely 250km (155 miles) from the state capital Calcutta.

For many months, rebels, supported by local villagers, held hundreds of paramilitary forces at bay. The Maoists declared it to be India's first "liberated zone" but Indian security forces finally overwhelmed the rebels.

March 2010 saw rebels ambush paramilitary troops in the dense jungles of central Chhattisgarh state, killing at least 75 soldiers. Correspondents say it was the worst-ever Maoist attack on Indian security forces.

In 2007, also in Chhattisgarh, Maoist rebels killed 55 policemen in an attack on a remote police outpost.

Almost every week, Maoist rebels are blamed for minor skirmishes and incidents across India's north-east - common tactics include blowing up railway tracks and attacking police stations.

But the Maoists are now facing India's biggest ever anti-Maoist offensive - Operation Green Hunt.

Nearly 50,000 federal paramilitary troops and tens of thousands of policemen are taking part in the operation across several states.

Rebels have vowed to intensify their attacks unless the government halts its offensive against them.

India's government in turn has pledged to crack down even harder unless rebels renounce violence and enter peace talks.

Analysts say the chances of dialogue or any kind of rapprochement are slim.

A BBC Report

China hackers 'stole' N-E, Naxal data

New Delhi: Apr 07, 2010

A year after Indian embassies across the world were compromised by a China-based cyber espionage network, investigators have uncovered the extent of the spy ring, revealing that computers in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) were infected, giving the hackers access to confidential documents on the security assessment of Northeastern states and Naxalite movement, besides information on missile defence systems and military equipment.

More than 35 sensitive computers belonging to the NSCS, Indian Air Force, the Army’s Military Intelligence and Indian missions in Kabul and Moscow were accessed by the spy ring for long periods of time after they got infected by ‘GhostNet’, a Chinese cyber network that first came to light last year when investigators were looking into loopholes in the Dalai Lama’s computer systems in Dharamsala.
While during the limited period of the investigation no secret documents were accessed, the extent of damage is still not known, considering that the Chinese spy network could have been operational for several years.

7.7 Earthquake Shakes Indonesia

06 April 2010

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake has jolted the Indonesian island of Sumatra, triggering a brief tsunami watch but no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck before dawn Wednesday. It was centered about 205 kilometers northwest of the island, 31 kilometers under the Indian Ocean.

The USGS initially measured the quake at 7.8, but now says it was a 7.7 magnitude.

The quake triggered a local tsunami warning which was canceled two hours later.

There is no word yet on damage or casualties. But witnesses report power blackouts in several parts of Aceh province and on Simeulue Island, west of Aceh.

Sumatra is the largest Indonesian island. A 9.1 magnitude quake struck off Aceh in December, 2004, triggering a historic tsunami that killed 226,000 people.

Indonesia is located in the Pacific Ocean's so-called Ring of Fire, where the continental plates meet. This creates conditions for frequent earthquake and volcanoes from Asia to the American Pacific coasts.

Mexico: 25,000 Affected by Quake

The earthquake that struck Baja California on Sunday has affected an estimated 25,000 people, the state’s governor said Tuesday. The governor, José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, said that the 7.2-magnitude quake caused the worst damage in the rural area south of the city of Mexicali, and that more than 5,000 families had reported that their homes were destroyed or damaged. The earthquake killed two people and injured more than 200.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jubilant BJP govt doles out Rs 22,500 crore bonanza for Bangalore

Bangalore, Apr 5

Buoyed by the victory of Karnataka's ruling BJP in city corporation election, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa today said government would spend Rs 22,500 crore for boosting infrastructure in Bangalore.

He termed BJP's capturing the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) as a "fitting reply" to opposition Congress and JD(S) and said the verdict has "silenced critics".
"We had already prepared an action plan for over Rs 22,500 crore to be implemented over the next three years. This will substantially improve infrastructure in Bangalore", he told reporters.

According to state officials, out of the total 198 wards in BBMP, BJP won in 110, Congress in 61, JD(S) in 14 and others in seven, with six more results being awaited.The Chief Minister said the mandate was for developmental initiatives of his government in the last 22 months for Bangalore as well as the entire state.

Government would make efforts to put in place the Bangalore Governance Act to ensure better coordination and enable empowering ward-level committees."It will also bring increased accountability and efficiency in planning and execution of works. In the next 2-3 years, we will take up comprehensive improvements of all water bodies in BBMP areas", he said.

"In order to ease the traffic-related problems, we have already written to Ministry of Railways for a circular train in Bangalore and we have agreed to share the cost of this project. We have also decided to build modern multi-level car parking facilities in at least ten important areas in Bangalore this year", Yeddyurappa said

BJP captures Bangalore City Corporation bagging 112 out of the 189

B.J.P creats History

Bangalore, April 5, 2010: The BJP captured power in the 198-member Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) by bagging 112 out of the 189 wards, whose results have been declared. The people voted for the development works taken up by the B S Yeddyurappa government in the City, claimed leaders and Ministers in the BJP government.

P R Ramesh of the Congress, who fought legal battle to hold elections, lost against the BJP candidate Anil Kumar. The former MLA Chandrashekar of the Congress won the elections.

The Opposition Congress has won in 67 wards while the JD (S) has emerged victorious in 13 wards. Independents and others have been declared elected in 6 wards. The BJP required only 95 seats to capture power in the BBMP. But it already won one hundred seats.

Counting of votes for the BBMP elections held on March 28 began at 8 am in 28 different counting centers in the City. The counting of votes in about 38 wards was yet to begin. The process of counting in one station will be taken up only around 2 pm to facilitate the completion of SSLC examination that is underway.

Minister for Labour B N Bache Gowda said the voters of the city taught a fitting lesson to the JD (S) which launched the NICE campaign against the BJP Government. The Congress too won less than the expected seats on account of its poor leadership.

The BJP’s efforts to rule the civic body will be further bolstered by the voting rights enjoyed by as many as 32 non-BBMP councillers - MPs, MLAs and MLCs residing in Bangalore. Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bangalore that he was glad with BJP's performance in the BBMP polls.

Prominent among the winners include former Congress Mayors K. Chandrashekar, also a former MLA, and M. Narayanaswamy and former leader of the Opposition in the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) Mr. Ganghabhyraiah, BJP.

BJP candidate from Vasanth Nagar Mr. Katta Jagadish Naidu, who is also son of Minister for Information Technology Mr. Katta Subramanya Naidu, has registered a victory. Similiarly, Rajarajeshwarinagar BJP MLA M. Srinivas’ son Venkatesh Babu has won the elections. However, Mahalakshmi Layout assembly segment’s Congress MLA N. L. Narendra Babu’s brother N. L. Ravishankar was among the losers.

Reacting to the results, Karantaka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said the victory of the BJP candidates had once again proved the saffron party's strength and the support of the people has increased the responsibility of the state government to fulfill their aspirations.

''The verdict is a reflection of the good work done by the BJP government in the state during the last two years,'' he said. He said the focus of the new civic body would lay on improving infrastructure facilities, housing for slum dwellers, improving drinking water and power supply.

However, the Congress party alleged that the success of the BJP candidates was due to electoral malpractices.