RSS accuses Church of military designs
Hopes for Raj Kumar’s freedom high
India lanced by limping Cairns
Depression alert in Bengal
Hinduja bid for UK newspaper group
Calcutta Weather

 
 
RSS ACCUSES CHURCH OF MILITARY DESIGNS 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
Agra, Oct. 15: 
Crossing a faint Lakshmanrekha that began taking shape after A.B. Vajpayee’s ascendancy, the RSS has linked Christian missionaries to “military bases” in “strategic areas” and asked Christians as well as Muslims to join the cultural mainstream by accepting their Hindu ancestry.

Sangh chief K.S. Sudarshan alleged that Christianity, as it was practised today, had “more to do with politics and less with religion”. “Church politics is detrimental to the country,” the RSS sarsanghchalak told a press conference at the end of the three-day RSS mahashivir (grand camp) at Shastripuram on the outskirts of Agra.

He said Muslims had the “blood of Rama and Krishna in their veins”. “Indian Muslims should realise that their ancestors did not come from a foreign land. So why don’t they work for the Indianisation of Islam and give a new shape to their religion?” he asked.

Sudarshan also criticised the western model of economic development and the hype about information technology and suggested the adoption of a rural-oriented Gandhian model. “Information technology will not fill your stomach,” he said.

Attacking the Church, Sudarshan said: “The Church was always part of the western army. The Council of Churches brought out a document that said when Burma became independent, the Karens, who were Christians, revolted against the government. Likewise, they said, when India attained Independence, the Nagas revolted and alienated themselves from the mainstream.”

“The Church has a special interest in the Northeast because it is a sensitive, border area and they wanted a base in strategic areas to establish military bases. All this is politics in the name of religion,” the RSS chief added.

Sudarshan, who had recently floated his concept of an Indian church and demanded that all “foreign” churches in India be wound up, appealed to Christians in India to set up an indigenous church if they disapproved of the Church’s “anti-national” activities.

In his valedictory speech, the RSS chief invoked the names of both Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar to buttress his anti-Church tirade.

Sudarshan pointed out that Gandhi had said if foreign missionaries proselytised in the name of offering education and healthcare, they should not stay on. Ambedkar, he claimed, had also propagated the idea of a swadeshi church.

Holding forth on the theme of “cultural nationalism”, Sudarshan for the first time placed the concept categorically within the framework of RSS theory and said culture was linked inextricably to territorial loyalty.

“The idea of nationhood is linked to the geographical territory a person inhabits. The earth is my mother and I am her son. This is what we mean by nationalism — be loyal to the territory you inhabit and share the joys and sorrows of your fellow inhabitants,” stressed Sudarshan.

Sudarshan’s sermon was in sharp contrast with the tone of Bangaru Laxman’s appeal to Muslims to join the BJP when he took over as BJP president.

Calling on Christians and Muslims to integrate into the “Indian mainstream”, the RSS chief pointed out that Pakistan’s exiled Mohajir leader Altaf Hussain had admitted that Partition was a mistake. “Altaf Hussain said there is no justice for Mohajirs in Pakistan and that he would appeal to Indian Muslims to demolish the concept of Pakistan.”

The RSS chief lamented that whenever attempts were made to “correct” the Aryan-Dravidian myth, the exercise was dubbed as “saffronisation of culture and history” by “Euro-Indians”. He claimed recent studies had shown that there are only minor genetic differences between the people living in the north and the south.

On the Babri Masjid demolition, Sudarshan alleged that a member of Narasimha Rao’s kitchen cabinet was involved along with the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal.

Coming down heavily on the western model of development, Sudarshan suggested the adoption of a Gandhian model, which was rural-oriented, less capital-intensive, environment-friendly and employment-generating.    


 
 
HOPES FOR RAJ KUMAR’S FREEDOM HIGH 
 
 
FROM T.N. GOPALAN
 
Chennai, Oct. 15: 
Expectations of an imminent release of Kannada actor Raj Kumar, held captive by Veerappan for the past 75 days, ran high today after “positive signals” emerged from both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

A representative of Tamil nationalist leader P. Nedumaran, who replaced R. Gopal as emissary, claimed this morning he had received information from the forest that the talks were progressing “satisfactorily”. “Positive news is expected later tonight,” he added.

Agency reports quoted official sources as saying in Bangalore that the actor was likely to be released either tonight or tomorrow. The official sources said Tamil Nadu police were making “transport arrangements” to bring Raj Kumar back. Karnataka home minister Mallikarjun Kharge also said Raj Kumar would be free “as early as possible”.

However, some sources in Tamil Nadu tempered the optimism, cautioning that the last mile is the longest in such nerve-wracking negotiations, and seemingly minor hitches could throw well-laid plans haywire.

The sources said the Karnataka government was banking on a precedent in a Tada case to secure the release of 51 prisoners — one of the conditions set by Veerappan for freeing Raj Kumar.

The state government woke up to the possibility for manoeuvre after the Supreme Court sought records on the classification of the Tada prisoners. The court had stepped in to prevent the government from caving in to the bandit and releasing the prisoners.

However, the Karnataka government has found that a court order had once said that those classified as “remotely connected” in Tada cases could be set free. The government has now started claiming that most of the 51 in prison belong to that category.

The new delegation to Veerappan is understood to have been told to stress on this plan during negotiations. The wily Veerappan need not be taken in by this, but the authorities are hoping that the argument will convince him that the government was not sparing any effort.

The state governments are desperate to strike a deal with Veerappan before the case comes up for hearing on Tuesday. Since no legal opinion is fool-proof until the judge accepts it, the governments are not keen on risking another day before a plain-speaking judge.

The sources pointed out that Nedumaran, who had a bypass surgery, would not have ventured into the forest without some kind of an assurance from Veerappan.    


 
 
INDIA LANCED BY LIMPING CAIRNS 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Nairobi, Oct. 15: 
It was to have been India’s finest moment after the 1983 World Cup, but Chris Cairns hijacked the ICC KnockOut Kenya 2000 final to make it New Zealand’s greatest day.

Scripting one of the most courageous one-day innings ever, Cairns turned the game on its head to give New Zealand their first major title.

Seeking to overhaul India’s 264 for six — a good 20 short of a winning total on an absolute belter — New Zealand finished on 265 for six with two deliveries remaining.

Cairns, who hobbled for the better part of his innings, remained not out on 102 and only played because this was New Zealand’s biggest final. “That alone was motivation enough,” he said. While Cairns got the Man of the Match award, he surely wouldn’t mind presenting an award to team physio Mark Harrison.

Beaten, and just about, reads the bottomline for India but, as captain Sourav Ganguly pointed out, “there’s no place for losers”. One can sympathise with Sourav, as Cairns (and Chris Harris) rendered his own back-to-back hundred — a turbo-driven 117 — pretty redundant.

Peeved with the team’s failure to make the most of the slog overs (only 57 runs were added) after being invited to have first strike, Sourav minced no words: “At that stage, it was very stupid batting. Some of the middle order batsmen didn’t know what they were doing...”

Stephen Fleming, on the other hand, was unusually generous with his smile. Indeed, had the target been bigger, the New Zealand captain probably wouldn’t have had his lips left: the last half-hour, pulsating as it was, found him regularly biting them.

“For New Zealand, this is a stepping stone for the 2003 World Cup,” Fleming insisted, as a beaming David Trist, the coach, kept twirling his salt-and-pepper moustache. New Zealand collected a handsome $ 340,000. The Indians, who leave for Mumbai tomorrow evening (via Dubai), will take home $ 260,000.

Despite losing, Indian cricket has, in many ways, emerged a winner. Though Zaheer Khan had an off-day today, the newcomers performed well in the tournament and team spirit remained high till the profligate Ajit Agarkar began the last over. That alone is a huge plus.

Hardly a plus, though, is the renewed faith in Agarkar. It came as no surprise that a leg-side full toss from him sealed it for New Zealand.

Sourav, Yuvraj Singh and, of course, India will rue not getting Harris run out when New Zealand were just short of 200, in the 41st over. Sourav will also regret playing the lead role in Sachin Tendulkar’s and Rahul Dravid’s run-outs.

Eventually, it quite turned out to be the tale of three run-outs: Two effected, one missed. New Zealand’s 2-0 “lead” here proved decisive.    


 
 
DEPRESSION ALERT IN BENGAL 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Oct. 15: 
Two days after the formal exit of the monsoon, winds exceeding 55 km per hour, accompanied by light rain, swept across north and central Calcutta in the afternoon as a depression developed over the Bay of Bengal.

The weather office said the depression is centred about 800 km south of Calcutta and is moving in a north-westerly direction. It has warned fishermen in South 24-Parganas and Midnapore not to venture into the sea.

The ripple effect of this depression over the coastal districts will be felt more sharply in Calcutta as it moves further north. “But there is no immediate alert for Calcutta,” the deputy director of Alipore Met office, Mihir Guha, said..    


 
 
HINDUJA BID FOR UK NEWSPAPER GROUP 
 
 
FROM AMIT ROY
 
London, Oct. 15: 
The Hindujas, who received unflattering coverage in the British press last week after being chargesheeted by the CBI over Bofors, sprang a surprise today by confirming that they are to make a bid for the UK’s ailing Express newspapers.

“It’s true,” said Gopichand Hinduja, second of the four brothers, referring to a report in today’s Sunday Times that the family was prepared to pay “up to £100 million” for the Express, the Sunday Express and the Star, currently owned by United News & Media.

It will be ironic if the Express is sold to the brothers as the paper has been after the Hindujas. It suggested last week that Srichand Hinduja “faces jail if convicted of corruption and conspiracy”.

Asked whether a key British media group would ever be sold to “outsiders”, Gopichand Hinduja said: “Where is the question of outsiders? We are British citizens.”

He added: “We confirm we are making a bid for the Express. We have gone through the details and done our homework. It’s going to be a successful venture.”

Hinduja said the brothers had been looking for suitable titles to acquire. “It fits into our synergy of media and TV. In the past seven to eight years, we have looked at the Herald Tribune, the Independent and the Business Times.

“We are intending to add the Sunday Express and the Star to the daily Express. With a little bit of restructuring and injection of cash, we can turn it round. We have a good record with successes. The papers will be better off with us.”

A formal statement from Christopher Joll, acting as the Hinduja Group spokesman, said: “The London-based Hinduja Group, which has business interests spanning banking, oil, infrastructure, chemicals and media communications, today confirmed newspaper reports that Amas UK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the group acting on its behalf, has expressed an interest in buying the Express Newspaper group and that it is going to be making an offer to United News & Media. Should its offer be accepted, the Hinduja Group will add the daily Express, the Sunday Express and the Star to its fast-growing international media communications business.”

The statement added: “The Hinduja Group has been looking for some time to acquire a print media group to complement its Indian IN cable network, IN Time News and its IN global Internet business. On hearing that the Express Newspapers might be available, the group recognised that this is precisely the kind of business it required. The group believes that with appropriate structuring, good management, a strong editorial team and an injection of cash, Express newspapers can once again become an excellent business investment as part of the group’s media communications business.”

It said: “The Hinduja Group believes that the Express titles are great British institutions with a proud history.”

“If the group’s bid is successful, it intends to appoint a respected board of trustees to guarantee the editorial independence of the newspapers and to encourage a genuine campaigning spirit.”

Today’s report in the Sunday Times said: “If successful, they will turn into Britain’s first Asian press barons.

However, the move by Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, who have British citizenship, is likely to prove controversial because they may be charged with corruption in India. A judge in Delhi rules on November 20 whether to indict them and their Geneva-based brother, Prakashchand. The brothers say that they are innocent of the alleged bribery.”

The Sunday Times said: “Sources close to the Hindujas claim that no government clearance is required for the sale of the Express titles because they are loss-making and the Hindujas have no other British media interests. The Hindujas’ bid was outlined to Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, the banker for United News & Media, the owner of the Express titles, on Friday.”

The paper said the Hindujas were not the only bidders. “Their bid pitches them against another set of billionaire brothers, David and Frederick Barclay Owners of The Scotsman and Sunday Business, the reclusive twinshave bid £75 million for the Express titles.”    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 33°C (+1)
Minimum: 25.3°C (+1)

Rainfall

Trace

Relative humidity

Maximum: 82%
Minimum: 68%

Today

Generally cloudy sky. Possibility of light rain, accompanied by thunder in some parts of the city and neighbourhood

   
 

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