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State News And Discussion - II
losers are frothing at the mouth... <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Sangh needs to align with INC.
Rajesh, You should post the text and highlight the relevant parts for there is a new alignment of forces in taking shape in South India.
BTW Rediff had the a report from TVR Shenoy about he recent Mulayam Singh being agitated about the Iran vote.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Jockeying for the Muslim vote

February 10, 2006

Mulayam Singh Yadav was, as those with long memories may recall, the defence minister of India from 1996 to 1998. The joke in South Block was that he was more interested in the conquest of Lucknow than of Lahore! <b>So what has led the Samajwadi Party boss to threaten to table a no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha following the Manmohan Singh ministry's decision to vote against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting?</b>

There is a simple answer: Muslim votes. The Samajwadi Party and the Left Front are absolutely delighted with the current turn of events. We can expect the Election Commission to announce the polling dates in West Bengal and Kerala very soon. The Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha still has some way to go but the political situation is so fluid that the jockeying for position has already begun.

<b>The vote against Iran might not have made a particularly catchy election issue, but recent events have conspired to make it otherwise. I refer, of course, to the Cartoon Riots that have spread across the world. They have, once again, made it clear that there are some issues that concern Muslims across the globe irrespective of nationality. A large section of Muslims -- perhaps even the majority -- now seem to believe that the 'West' is conspiring against Islam, thus making the Danish cartoons and the efforts to rein in Iran seem part of a larger 'conspiracy.' </b>

This perception leads both Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Marxist comrades to believe that the Congress has blundered. If the United States is anti-Muslim, and the Manmohan Singh ministry voted with the Americans against an Islamic power, then the Congress is itself inimical to Muslims. That is the logic that the Samajwadi Party and the Left want voters to believe.

As far as West Bengal is concerned this may be the first truly fair election since 1977, with the Election Commission determined to be as strict as it was in neighbouring Bihar. Personally, I think the Left Front will still romp home but the Marxists are taking no chances. Kerala should be, if anything, an even safer bet for the Left given the truly pathetic performance of the Congress-led United Democratic Front ministry. But margins of victory are traditionally small in Kerala, and every vote counts.

Conspiracy theories about a 'Christian West' manoeuvring to target the world of Islam carry a lot of resonance in southern India. I was in Bangalore last week, and was surprised to hear a friend tell me that the Congress was secretly against Muslims. He was very serious about it, giving me a breakdown of the Congress leadership in the south.

The two chief ministers who have led the UDF ministry in Kerala are Christians, namely A K Antony and Oomen Chandy. Antony is in charge of Karnataka, which is also represented in the Congress Working Committee by Margaret Alva and Oscar Fernandes (Christians both).

The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasekhara Reddy, is a Christian, as is CWC member N Janardhan Reddy. Vayalar Ravi, who joined the Union Cabinet in the recent reshuffle, is married to a Christian. And so on and so forth. As my interlocutor put it, rather bitterly, south of the Vindhyas the only 'minority' recognised by the Congress is the Christian segment.

I am fairly certain that the same compilation has been made by the CPI-M. Marxist cadres are already spreading the word in Kerala that Mani Shankar Aiyar was shunted out of the petroleum ministry because he was pushing for the gas pipeline from Iran, thus inviting American wrath. Sonia Gandhi's 'neglect' of Muslim leaders from southern India and her government's friendship with the United States are really two sides of the same electoral coin.

The campaign to spread this impression seems to be faring quite well in Kerala (where I spent 10 days last week). But I honestly cannot say how much of an impact it will have on the election. The Antony and Oomen Chandy ministries made such a name for themselves for non-performance that it is hard to believe that any additional unpopularity would make much of a difference!

<b>But if all this pleases the Left and Mulayam Singh Yadav, such talk goes down badly with the DMK and the Muslim League. Both parties are already enjoying the fruits of power, meaning berths in the Union Council of Ministers. Both also count, to a lesser or greater extent, on Muslim votes.</b> With Prakash Karat and Mulayam Singh Yadav both raising the tempo about the Manmohan Singh ministry being 'pro-American' -- by implication 'anti-Muslim' -- <b>the DMK and Muslim League are scared of guilt by association.</b>

I am absolutely sure that we shall hear more, a lot more, <b>about the American influence in Delhi, until the elections are held in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.</b> But there is no truly serious debate about foreign policy in the future. The true aim is the Muslim vote.

T V R Shenoy

There was cryptic remark in Telegraph in a story regrading the Nuke issue, about a Congress leader saying that we dont want to alientate the Muslim voters.
Here it is:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><span style='color:red'>Although the Congress backed the government’s stand, privately many members felt an excessively pro-US tilt in foreign policy would not go down well with their own rank-and-file, weaned on the non-aligned concept.<b> Besides, the party would not want to alienate Muslims, said sources.</span></b>

linK: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060210/asp/...ory_5828159.asp
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Secularists left speechless </b>
The ancient rituals of tribals at the Shabri-Kumbh Magh Mela proves they are Hindu, says Tarun Vijay

Something unbelievable is happening in the forested tribal areas of south Gujarat, the Dangs. I see miles after miles of people coming down the hills and village roads making it almost impossible to drive up to the venue where Shabri Kumbh - commemorating the legend of Shabri - is being held.

Till Saturday afternoon, more than 3.5 lakh tribals from every nook and corner - from the far Northeastern States to Port Blair and Uttaranchal to Kerala - had arrived. At midnight, they were still reaching from places as far away as Itanagar in Arunachal. It's a unique event in the tribal history post-independence India, and its magnitude is difficult to measure for a reporter who is able to see only a part of the whole even after a hectic day-long tour around the five sq km stretch of the venue on the full moon day of the month of Magh.

Why should tribals feel threatened in a nation whose Constitution provides protection to their cultural and religious identity? It is so "because the constitutional provisions have not been used effectively so far", says Mr Jagdeo Ram Oraon, a tribal leader from Chhattisgarh and president of the largest NGO working among tribals, the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram. Mr Oraon who is also chairing the Shabri Kumbh Committee. <b>"We are not against any religion or institution, but are trying to put our own house in order. What's the fuss about?"</b> he asks.

Later in the evening, I meet the lady pastor of the local CNI church. Her grandfather was the first pastor of the same church established in 1932. She says they have nothing to fear from such gatherings as the tribals are always non-violent though there are bad memories of a few incidents that occurred in 1998 in this region. This time the administration has given them full protection. "It's the media reports that make us anxious," she said. And she was right. In spite of everything remaining peaceful, a section of the media tried to create fear amongst the Christians.

It is noteworthy that the tribals have fought more than hundred recorded battles against the British led by heroes like Alluri Sitaram Raju, Birsa Munda, Sidho, Kanho Chand and Bhairon, Pazhsi Raja and Rani Gaidinliu. Without exception, all of them had to resist the onslaught of Christian missionaries, too, as the battle against the British also meant battling to safeguard their religion.

Take the example of Rani Gaidinliu of Nagaland. She had led a heroic guerrilla war against the British and when defeated by the mightier army, was rewarded life imprisonment by means of a "fair trial" -- all this when she was just 16. Nehru met her in Kohima jail and wrote poetically about her heroism calling her "fit to be a Rani", hence the title of Rani.

After independence, it took Nehru more than a year to see her out of jail. Indira Gandhi awarded her the Padma Bhushan and also a tamra patra in the silver jubilee year of independence. <b>But Kohima church and the Christian leaders of the NSCN opposed vehemently when there was a proposal to have her statue installed in Kohima after her death because she had declared her Heraka and Zeliangrong movements Hindu and had refused to convert to Christianity</b>.

In order to convert a tribal, his beliefs, customs and deities are condemned, pronounced "incapable of providing salvation"; his entire worldview is sought to be replaced with Romanised concepts and ways of worship. It was the fear of this aggression that made Congress leader and current Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh create a Dony Polo mission. He also began motivating tribal public educational institutions so that his people were saved from conversion.

Shabri, who waited a lifetime to welcome Ram, is believed to have treated the Lord with her part-eaten wild berries in the Dangs (derived from Dandakaranya) according to the beliefs of the local tribal population. Surely, she has emerged as the most powerful icon of tribal-nontribal harmony, the legend thus helping the evolution of a unique cultural chemistry.

<b>The same place is today witnessing a powerful assertion of tribal rights to protect their identity and culture. They have given an unambiguous call to their converted brethren to return to their original fold. "We are not giving a call to the citizens of Vatican to convert to Hinduism, but calling our own people back," asserts Morari Bapu, world-renowned preacher. In the village of Shabri, it was an unprecedented sight: Revered Shankaracharyas, sannyasins and Brahmins were embracing the tribals and seeking forgiveness if they had been wronged in the past.</b>

But the secular Taliban-like voices refuse to see anything good happening to Hindus. They tried their best to ban Shabri Kumbh, some media persons surveyed the venue in advance and the prophets of doom declared the programme a threat to environment.

Those who merrily lauded the fraud of Benny Hinn, went hammer and tongs against a great Hindu event. But all of them have been silenced by the grandeur and peaceful conclusion of the biggest expression of tribal assertion in our history. This is also the beginning of a new order, which declares: Come what may, obstructionist politics of hate cannot stop the march of the indigenous people.

Great event is over and no news in mainstream media.
These guys even tried to bring a stay order on this great event citing 'environmental concerns'. SC threw away the petition..

These same rascals were doing shashtang dandavat pranaams to benny hinn when he came to do his dog and pony show. <!--emo&<_<--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/dry.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='dry.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<b>Will Jayalalithaa split the DMK alliance?</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Tiwari puts in papers with Sonia </b>
Namita Kala/ Dehra Dun
Uttaranchal Chief Minister N D Tiwari took the wind out of the sails of friends and foes alike when he announced he had sent in his resignation to Ms Sonia Gandhi on Saturday.  

In his statement, he said given his age (he is 81), he no longer felt he would be able to lead the State, especially in view of the coming elections.

Mr Tiwari said he was going to give the high command a month to decide on his successor and after that would hand in his papers.

His announcement comes in the wake of a stormy Cabinet session on Friday. Sources said, <b>the entire Cabinet virtually cornered Mr Tiwari on a grievance that most Ministers have been having with the bureaucracy. There have been complaints from every politician in the State that the bureaucracy cold shoulders orders of Ministers</b>.

On Friday, the complaint became particularly vociferous with even his close supporters like Tilak Behar unsheathing their swords.

Besides, a section of the party believes his latest missile is an ingenious way to worm his way into the Centre. T<b>he thinking is that with the Rajya Sabha seat from Uttaranchal due for elections on March 28</b>, Mr Tiwari is trying to inveigle his way to the Centre via Rajya Sabha. Interestingly, at the time when Mr Tiwari made known his intentions to quit, Mr Moti Lal Vohra was with PCC chief Mr Harish Rawat in Almora.  <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Who is afraid of Mulayam Singh?</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Mr Mulayam Singh has every reason to gloat over the Congress dilemma. He used the anti-Bush protest in Delhi to target the Congress for compromising the interests of the minority community. The formidable Left-SP combine staged the protest in Delhi while the Government watched mutely.

Congress doublespeak is apparent from the fact that while it is critical of the SP for playing the minority card on a foreign policy issue, <b>the Prime Minister himself is reportedly ready to discuss the Iran issue with Muslim intellectuals.</b>

The submission of the controversial UC Banerjee committee final report and its televised press conference was once again an obvious conspiracy between the Congress and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad to prevent the Left and the SP from hijacking its minority plank. <b>So scared is the Congress of Mulayam Singh Yadav that a whisper campaign is on in the corridors of power in Delhi that the SP was behind the Varanasi blasts</b>.

But despite all, Mulayam Singh Yadav continues to cock a snook at 10 Janpath.
<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Spiritual Varanasi recovering? What about UP? What about India?


Posted online: Friday, March 10, 2006 at 0000 hours IST

Don't read this if you are a spiritual tourist. For, fear reportedly has gone up in smoke on the ghats of Varanasi. The city isn’t beaten. Its spirit lives on. Francoise from France and Molly from Washington have told reporters that while the bombs at the Sankatmochan temple and the railway station proved life can be so ephemeral, Varanasi still showcases the eternal.

But there’s life beyond spirituality, there’s a Varanasi beyond its awesome antiquity, there’s Uttar Pradesh beyond Varanasi and there’s India beyond UP. If you are inclined to such earthly preoccupations, the Varanasi story hasn’t ended. Neither did it just begin when the ammonium nitrate-based explosives went off. The real story has many beginnings. Let’s take an odd one.

In 1995, the then Reserve Bank governor commented while visiting Varanasi that UP’s credit deposit ratio was worrisomely low. Translated, that meant there wasn’t enough demand for bank loans from industry and trade in UP, not even five years into economic reforms and the end of the licence-quota regime, not even when India as a whole had started showing unmistakable signs of dynamism.

In 2006, that dynamism has assumed such proportions that level-headed, seen-it-all realists are seriously wagering that India can finally make it. But the world’s second-most populous nation can’t make it because heavily across its heart sits the world’s sixth most populous “nation” — Uttar Pradesh. UP drags India down (of which some evidence later). The battle between the India-we-have and the India-we-want is being fought in UP. War dispatches so far suggest the India-we-want is losing. We lost in Varanasi, undented spirituality notwithstanding.

The bombs, whether a work of JeM, or set off by LeT, came right in the middle of a strangely sectarian interrogation of India’s foreign policy. People died in riots over foreign cartoonists and foreign presidents. The people responsible for people dying are, of course, thinking of 17 per cent (the proportion of Muslims in UP’s electorate) and 130 UP constituencies (where Muslims constitute between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of voters).

Fomenting trouble for bloc votes is par for the course in Indian politics. Appallingly cynical electoral entrepreneurs have pitted Hindus against Muslims, Muslims against Hindus, not to mention any number of antagonistic pairings in the whole caboodle of castes. But all that nastiness was about fighting for a bigger share of the Indian pie. The current mobilisation in UP seems dangerously about pie in the sky. Even the Left chose, if only once so far, to see it that way — and it happened in UP. And in UP, again, the search has begun for that Hindu card that was happily all but lost.

At this rate what will happen in the state in 2007 — assembly elections are due then — is that it will successfully challenge the still-being-written Indian political story. Ordinary Indians finally voting for ordinary things are writing that story. It happened in Bihar just over 100 days back. That’s because Bihar broke a mould UP may not be able to.

Electoral politics is usually at its retrogressive worst when its most important determinants are all at constituency levels. At that level, little else matters but the ability to first form local social coalitions and then to reward them. That means the crucial political actors are second- and third-rung leaders. More so when candidate-level anti-incumbency is strong and winning candidates’ vote share is getting smaller. Electoral strategies then mean building relatively small, local alliances.

The big picture doesn’t matter because, rationally, it makes no sense for political players. It makes no sense for voters, either. When elections are being micro-managed by mix-and-match identity politics, change can’t get either a force or a face; no Nitish Kumar for UP. But local competition means that the status quo can get more ugly. That has started happening.

Now, if in UP, local electoral arithmetic produces an uglier kind of politics, the area the state occupies in the national mindspace makes migration of that idea likely. India simply can’t afford another reworking of the “communal” question. Broadly left-of-centre politicians may be too compromised to look for the answers. Broadly right-of-centre politicians may become too righteous (a dangerous quality in politics) to want to look. Others won’t matter.

But UP, un-liberated by electoral verdict, will. There are less than 3,000 big and medium industrial units in this huge state. Per capita income in UP has been growing at less than one per cent since the 1990s (national average is around 5.5 per cent). Its infant mortality rate is 87.6 per cent (national average is 67.6 per cent). Its child immunisation coverage is 21.2 per cent (national average is 42 per cent).

One-sixth of India’s population is in UP. Take UP out of the equation, India’s averages improve. But say this about the state, it entertains us even as it keeps us back — the state’s electoral populism is a hard-to-match spectacle.

Kalyan Singh created jobs for 40,000 primary school teachers and 10,000 panchayat level teachers just before the 1999 polls. Rajnath Singh promised to implement pay commission awards before the 2002 elections; he was facing a Rs 80,000 crore state debt. Mayawati spent crores in Periyar festivals. Mulayam Singh Yadav appointed thousands of Yadavs in the state administration. By the late 1990s, salaries, pensions and interest payments were absorbing three out of every four rupees the state was earning; two rupees out of every five earned were going to service debt.

For this stasis to be broken, UP needs a change of politics, a change of election pattern, maybe a change of luck. What are the current omens? Amar Singh is permanently in the doghouse of controversy. Jaya Bachchan becomes a first Rajya Sabha MP to be sacked for rules violation. The Allahabad high court’s verdict on BSP MLAs’ defection is the first such ruling since the anti-defection law was changed.

Okay, Mohammed Kaif, a cricketer so easy to root for, led UP to Ranji trophy victory. And he scored a typically gutsy 90-plus in the first test against England, probably saving India the blushes. But he was dropped for the second test that started yesterday.

If I was a spiritual tourist in Varanasi, I would take that as a bad omen.
What is the Sant Tukaram controversy in Maharastra 12 th class exams? The govt has apologised and four question setters suspended. Any insights?
Some links and new on this Ramana.
State board chief assaulted for insult to Tukaram
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The state education board chairman was assaulted by some Warkaris — a religious sect — over a question in the Marathi paper of the HSC exams saying it showed Sant Tukaram in bad light.

<b>In the concerned question, students were required to answer questions from a paragraph. In one of the  passages, Sant Tukaram was allegedly quoted as saying that he is mad, illiterate and a villager. This section of the paragraph angered the Warkaris, who worship Tukaram as a saint. </b>

The exam was held on Tuesday. On Friday, about 150 of them, reportedly including doctors, accountants, MA graduates, went to the board office in Shivaji Nagar, Pune and demanded to meet Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education chairman Vasant Kalpande to voice their protest.

A delegation of 15-20 people who hail from Alandi village were permitted to meet Kalpande.

The delegation objected to the way the saint was portrayed in the question paper.

While voicing their protest in chaste English, one member of the delegation who was carrying a staff assaulted Kalpande. He collapsed under the impact.

Kalpande’s peon, V D Takale, intervened to save Kalpande who escaped and locked himself up in his ante room.

Takale suffered the brunt of the Warkaris’ rage.

They thrashed Takale before leaving the board office shouting slogans and demanding action against the person responsible for the ‘insult’ to the saint. Deccan Police Station Senior Inspector B R Patil said they have registered a complaint against the attackers.

Suresh Pawar, regional joint secretary (Pune), MSBSHE said the board would investigate the matter and assured action against the person who set the question paper.

He also said that the board would see to it that the mistake was not repeated.

• “The board will investigate the matter and action will be taken against the person who set the question paper”
— Suresh Pawar, regional joint secretary (Pune), MSBSHE

Warkaris in Kalyan go to war on Tukaram
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Warkari community —known as ardent followers of Saint Tukaram —is on the warpath after an incident which they believe is a slur on Maharashtra’s revered saint.

On Monday evening, over 200 Warkaris from Kalyan and nearby areas staged a protest at the tehsildar’s office against the higher secondary education board for casting aspersions on the 17th century saint in the HSC Marathi question paper on February 21.

<b>The Marathi paper set for HSC students this year had a passage on page four which said that Tukaram belonged to the business community known as Vani in Maharashtra. The protestors dismissed this as completely wrong information and said the saint did run a shop but was not a Vani, and by birth was a Maratha.

The first line in the passage said Tukaram was a rustic who knew nothing of business. The passage claimed that Tukaram chose to became a saint and recite abhangs (devotional song form) after he ran huge losses in his business. The passage also said this catapulted Tukaram to fame.</b>

A delegation of the protesters handed over a memorandum to the tehsildar, the chief minister, the home minister and the education minister.

They demanded strict action be taken against the person who wrote the passage and higher secondary education board chairman Dr Vasant Kalpande for insulting the saint and hurting the sentiments of Warkaris.

“If the state government does not take action against people responsible for the insult to the great saint, we will start Jail Bharo andolan throughout the state” said Padmakar Lele from the Kalyan Bhajan Mandali.

“They (the board) are misguiding the new generation by writing this rubbish about saints” said 70-year-old Dattatray Derwankar, member of the Kalyan Bhajan Mandali.


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Taking serious cognisance of the lapse, board chairman Vasant Kalpande ordered an inquiry. He released a statement saying that an inquiry committee had been set up under Dada Gore, convenor of the Marathi language academic board, to look into the matter.
"Stern action will be taken against those responsible for including the paragraph in the paper," Kalpande said. A three-member team of Marathi subject experts, drawn from different divisions of the state board, was assigned the task of setting the paper.
Each member will now be heard by the Gore panel, which will also inquire into other related evidence prior to reaching a conclusion<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Thanks Viren. I would like to know from Marathi speaking members if this is a Romila Thapar moment in Maharashtra to denigrate beliefs and saints. It seems unnecessary questions for the exam. How come by now the exam paper setter's comments are not to be seen? Its like questioning Ramadas of Golconda a contemperorary.

BTW, NT Rama Rao made an inspiring movie called Panduranga Mahatyam on Sant Tukaram which is a classic Telugu Movie.
Here is a link on Sant Tukaram
Whats with Modi ? <!--emo&:flush--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/Flush.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='Flush.gif' /><!--endemo-->

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No new mutts on Tirumala: Government

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The State Government will not allow new mutts to come up on Tirumala although the last meeting of the board of directors of TTD had passed a resolution seeking permission to set up one.

Minister for Endowments J.C. Diwakar Reddy told the Assembly during question hour that the Government would not permit new mutts to save Tirumala from real estate business. He said it had come to his notice that the TTD board had resolved to request the Government to permit a new mutt but it would not be allowed in any case.

Responding to another question, Finance Minister K. Rosaiah appealed to applicants of contractual jobs for the post of drug inspector not to be carried away by the lure of touts who were making money promising employment.

Mr. Rosaiah said the Government sanctioned 50 posts of drug inspector on contract basis in view of their severe shortage.
Result of tussle between Supreme court, corrupt MCD, morally bankrupt union minister and sleeping CM Dixit.
End result -

<img src='http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v130/indiaforum/aaa.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
I am not sure whether you are aware of recent tussle between MCD and SC in Delhi.

3-4 months back SC ordered Delhi MCD to seal/demolish all illegal commercial building in residential area, demolish house/building encroaching Govt land.

MCD/state govt came up with there own trick and slow down whole process and filed couple of PIL. Now SC had appointed monitoring committee to supervise sealing process.

MCD/State both are ruled by Congress came up with another ploy.

Situation is pretty grim; it is affecting lot of traders and institutions.

Next step should be, traders and public should ask MCD, State and Police to return bribe money.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The members of the monitoring committee are Mr.KJ Rao (famous for Bihar election), chairman, Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) Mr Lal and Major General (retd) Jhingon, Kirti Chakra, VSM. The committee has been entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the law, namely sealing of offending premises in terms of the letter and spirit of the court's direction in the matter of MC Mehta v/s. Union of India and others etc.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Even last Friday, the unruly councillors of the Congress-controlled MCD cocked a snook at the apex court passing a resolution extending the mixed land use in residential areas to 229 roads. All this happened in a very dramatic way, hours after the highest court of the land had thrown out the petition filed by the MCD asking it to review its earlier order on sealing of the shops in residential areas.

The resolution was passed even as the MCD Commissioner Ashok Nigam refused to bring the requisite preamble to introduce the resolution. The Commissioner did not attend the meeting and the councillors arm-twisted another official to participate in the deliberations, which even without a proper list of which are the "229 roads", passed resolution.

<b>And this is just an illustration Mr Home Minister. The dossier of their constitutional misconduct is bursting at the seems. The High Court has already threatened to dissolve the Corporation. You too enjoy such power. Isn't it time to use them?</b>
<b>DMK poll promise: Color TV set for every family</b>
Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | Nayan

The DMK made a series of promises to woo voters in the Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.To match the AIADMK government's free bicycle scheme for students, the DMK, in its manifesto released by party president M Karunanidhi here, promised to provide colour television sets to every family in the state. Likewise, it promised to give Rs.1,000 per month for six months to pregnant women to match the cash dole of Rs.1,000 in rural areas and Rs.2,000 in Chennai to the flood-hit people. Good quality rice at Rs 2 per kg and free power to weavers are the other promises made by the DMK.

This one is below the belt.
<b>Lust and the lonely city</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->
The biggest inadequately recognised hoax is the CBI, though its thorough politicisation has been exposed recently because of brazen lying over the Bofors episode. But there is clearly a conspiracy to nurture mutual egos, between a band of laggard reporters, who wrongly imagine they are professionals, and these Keystone cops, engaged in theatrical raids.

One reads of countless cases being started, spectacular raids and the like but almost never of a successful conclusion to them. <b>And it's hard to recall when someone ended up serving a prison term because of CBI investigations</b>. But India is the natural home of the absurd where everything is false and falsity itself not to be trusted, so unreliable has trust become as well. Perhaps the CBI should investigate the troublesome conundrum!

<b>The most remarkable person in Delhi is its Chief Minister</b>, whose innocuousness insinuates an innocence of the world that mandates her instant incarceration to introduce corporeality. There lingers a suspicion that <b>she is a particularly splendid creation of the magnificent craftsmen of Madam Tussaud's, powered by solar batteries.</b>  <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->  She appropriately leads an ostensible team of comprehensive invisibility, apart from one moustachioed Ram Babu Sharma, who occasionally comes to life, suggesting that the London craftsmen sometimes show off by rather overdoing things.

In the final analysis, nothing operated by the city's municipal authority delivers the intended services at all. And all political authority has the shameless arrogance to demand is more taxes, which already exceed a marginal three-quarter, as simple arithmetic will confirm. But on the spending side it is loot, loot and more looting. <b>Abdul Rehman Telgi got 10 years for shifting tens of thousands of crores of rupees, when in fact a Bharat Ratna would have been more appropriate in recognition of his unrivalled excellence in the principal national pastime of stealing</b>.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Whole article is must read.
Dear Friends

Here is a Reuters report on Madrasas in West Bengal, and a response that.
V Ramaswamy
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Lessons in harmony, the Bengal madrasa way</b>
Posted online: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 at 1127 hours IST
Updated: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 at 1140 hours IST

Kolkata, April 4: Schoolgirl Julita Oraon, a devout Christian, never misses Sunday mass, but the rest of her week is spent studying Arabic and Sufi literature among other subjects at an Islamic religious school, or madrasa.

Oraon is one of tens of thousands of Hindu and Christian students in West Bengal now attending such schools, considered breeding grounds for religious intolerance and even terrorism in much of Asia.

In this part of India, madrasas are emerging as beacons of tolerance. A quarter of West Bengal's population of 80 million are Muslims and one percent are Christians.

In the wake of violence in the 1960s and 70s after the creation of Bangladesh, officials moved to reform West Bengal's schools and especially its madrasas.

In 1977, they started reviewing the Islamic schools, introducing history and social science to the staple of Koranic study. And after 2002, on the recommendation of a specially appointed committee, students had to study science, geography and computing. There are plans for foreign languages soon.

The changes have been credited with bringing about a change in the social outlook of the state's various faiths, and have attracted both teachers and students from other religions to the madrasas. School boards have recruited non-Muslims in a bid to find the best tutors for their students.

Now about 25 per cent of the 400,000 students who attend madrasas, and 15 per cent of their 10,000 teachers, are non-Muslims, officials say.

"In the 1970s, the mistrust grew and Muslims were thought to be friends of Pakistan and mostly spies," says Ahmed Hasan Imran, the general secretary of the Muslim Council of Bengal. "But that perception gradually changed with the reforms in the madrasas as well as other education institutes."

Getting along
Swapan Pramanik, a leading sociologist and vice-chancellor of Vidya Sagar University in Kolkata, agrees that the reforms have helped bridge the divide.

"The conservative outlook of the Muslims as well as Hindus have changed," he says. "The changes have rubbed off on parents and whole communities, who have been able to spread the message of harmony."
The reforms have saved lives, experts say.

After the Ayodhya incident in 1992 much of India was wracked by deadly communal riots. But in Bengal students from madrasas, both Muslims and
Hindus, led processions denouncing the demolition, Imran says.

In the aftermath of the Gujarat riots a decade later, Bengal's Hindus, Christians and Muslims were quick to meet to ensure passions were cooled. The state government offered riot victims the chance to come and settle in West Bengal.

"People find it difficult to believe, but our madrasas ... are reflecting modern aspirations and expectations of the community irrespective of religion," Kanti Biswas, the state's education minister, told Reuters.

"We had carefully planned the madrasa reforms to make young minds understand the values of religious tolerance and it is finally paying off."

Top of the class
In Jalpaiguri district, about 500 km north of Kolkata, 14-year-old Julita is posting higher marks in Arabic tests than her Muslim classmates at the Badaitari Ujiria Madrasa.

"I like the subject very much and that fact that I am a Christian has never been a problem with my Muslim friends."

Tapas Layek, the Hindu headmaster of a madrasa in south Kolkata has several co-religionists as colleagues. "We are loved and respected by our Muslim students who are also friendly with their Hindu classmates," he said.

Bengali Muslim scholars say that the view that madrasas are simply Islamic finishing schools is a corruption of their traditional role.

"Our madrasas are the perfect examples of what such institutes should really be," said Dr. Mohammed Sahidullah at Calcutta University.

Renowned Bengali filmmaker Mrinal Sen, a former jury member at the Cannes festival, said the state's experiment should be copied across the country.

"I can't help but be amazed at the way some of these religious schools are working towards communal harmony," he said.

Officials from other states -- including Maharashtra and Rajasthan -- have come to West Bengal to see the impact of the changes for themselves, said education minister Biswas.

"The perception of the respective communities about different culture and religion has helped residents of West Bengal to bridge the gulf of mistrust and come together," said sociologist Pramanik. "This has been a significant development in madrasas for the entire world to see."


It was nice to read the piece about Bengal's madrasas - but I'm afraid this is a "planted" story, by a cynical publicist, not so coincidentally with the assembly elections around the corner.

This is very much an "establishment" view, witness the people quoted. For someone living in West Bengal and aware of things, some of the quoted names are hardly regarded with any respect or seriousness - such as Swapan Pramanik, a well-known party stooge and bankrupter of academia; Kanti Biswas, the sacked education minister; and Ahmed Hasan Imran, who is hardly a person of any integrity.

The scenario regarding primary education of the state's Muslims, including the Urdu medium schools, is very bleak indeed. A huge number of the Muslims in the urban areas like Calcutta and Howrah live in acute poverty, backwardness and illiteracy. Regarding reforms - there has been a Madrasa Board, for secondary and higher secondary education for quite some time. But the no. of madrasas receiving state support - is a miniscule proportion of the total no. of madrasas in the state. Madrasas - must therefore be seen in this context, of being the formal schooling option for a section that lacks any other means. And speaking of state-supported madrasas - the pitiable condition of the glorious institution of yesteryears, the Calcutta Madrasa, is testimony to the true attitude of the state towards Madrasas.

West Bengal is one of the prime failure cases of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, with the project money being returned unspent. Speak to any madrasa teacher and they will say that they hear so much about funds and programmes to upgrade madrasas but they don't see any evidence of this.

Notwithstanding the acceptance of the need to modernise madrasas and their education, curricula, resources etc - besides some sporadic efforts in some places, nothing has really happened. Basically there is no "owner" of such an initiative in govt / party, who can steer it through, diligently and sustainedly. This shows the crisis of leadership of the Muslim community, the govt's / party's alienation and distance from the common people, and its lack of much commitment to this issue.

Regarding people from other states coming to West Bengal to study the madrasa reforms - the truth is that the human development status of Muslims in West Bengal is among the lowest in the country. The Muslim community - is simply an object of strategic deprivation, to provide a permanent pool of cheap labour.

This is only a pathetic means to undo the damage caused by the chief minister's bigoted outburst some years back about madrasas being dens of terrorism or something like that. But nobody's fooled. In a situation of having nothing to show to Muslims before this election, a feebleattempt is made to drum up support by showing all these so-called achievements - through a foreign news agency, for the edification of the so-called secular, educated middle-class and the intelligentsia. No representative of the govt. would have the courage to say any of these things before the Muslims at the grassroots.

West Bengal and the ruling party have a large no. of "intellectuals" - like Mrinal Sen - who pay glowing lip-service to communal harmony, participate in token rituals of "communal harmony" etc. But in reality they are completely divorced from any existential engagement with Muslims, within a society that is deeply stratified and polarised. People are socialised in this milieu. Nor is the intellecutals' commitment backed up by any real effort. They like to believe that West Bengal is a haven of peace. Yes, the state has been committed to preventing communal riots. But communal sentiments abound in step with the Hindutva wave, including among CPM members and supporters; and while Muslims' lives are somewhat secure, they are dying of poverty (witness the inordinate gap between Hindu and Muslim infant mortality). This is not the peace of well-being, but the peace of the graveyard. When establishment secular leftists like Mrinal Sen are told about this reality, about the crying need for drastic measures to uplift the Muslim community (the overwhelming majority of whom are in poverty) - they froth in the mouth and accuse the person of being communal and destructive.

If we really want India to be a secular, democratic society - there is much to be done by the educated, privileged sections (who are predominantly "Hindu"). That would also be something transformative, most of all at a personal level, in terms of one's thoughts, attitudes, conduct, actions, lifestyle etc. Merely wishing well does not make it happen.

Yes, on the ground, in the flesh and blood of the common people of West Bengal, there is tolerance and mutual affection. And that, rather than anything done by the state, keeps West Bengal intact despite the crushing failure of the state. But poverty, backwardness, acute disparities, corruption, mis-governance - undermine and erode this endowment.

The plight of Muslims - is also the plight of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state, of the rural and urban poor. The Maoist extremism in some of the adivasi areas of the state, and the state's inability to confront this - illustrates the fact that all is hardly well in West Bengal. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

But then this looks like just another hilarious fairy tale from the likes of Reuters so one can simply ignore it, except for some much needed mirth and hilarity, since its a nice piece of black humour.

V Ramaswamy
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This is only a pathetic means to undo the damage caused by the chief minister's bigoted outburst some years back about madrasas being dens of terrorism or something like that.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
And Madrasas don't teach terror?, last time I checked the deobandi teachings gave rise to the Taliban, wherever there are madrasas there is terror and mayhem and why should the secular state of India fund any religious schools like madrasas at all, I thought secularism means separation of religion and state or does that only apply to separation of state and Hinduism?

And neither the gov't nor anyone else is to blame for Muslim poverty and backwardness, no one is preventing them from educating themselves, other so called minorities like Sikhs, Jains and Parsis have porspered and are well represented in different fields (Sikhs in the army etc) so cut your sob stories about Muslim poverty. According to the Quran Muslims are not to make friends with non believers and should live as far away from them as possible, if you want I can get the relevant quotes, so now we know why they live in their mini Pakistan ghettos, commit treason and are in poverty.

We are sick of hearing nonsense about the worn out cliches of "Hindu communalism" and persecution of Muslims, we know that commie traitors are the real communal forces, they hooked up with all the Islamic orgs when Bush was here to protest and tried to pass it off as a protest by the Indian people when the fact is that it was the protest of commie traitors and bigoted Muslims about causes that have nothing to do with Indian national interests, the blood of the 3 Hindus who died in the Lucknow riots by Muslims is on the hands of Communists, p-secs and Muslims.

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