A dream for the future to cross the stream, no less
Back to form with win
Cheques bounce on ‘mastermind’
BJP plays economic watchdog
Calcutta weather

Calcutta, Aug. 25: 
It was a morning of and for schoolchildren. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, too, stepped aside swiftly for “the future”. “The 21st century does not belong to old people like me... It belongs to you, the new generation,” said Bhattacharjee, in a spontaneous salute “to the young and the brave”, at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence, in Science City.

But Bhattacharjee did take the opportunity to deliver a “look beyond the car-and-comfort dream” message to GenX. “On TV, these days, I can’t understand the messages that keep flashing: ‘Aamar sapno, aamar Maruti; Aapnar badi, aapnar porichoy... What does it mean? Is there no other vision in life beyond a Maruti, no other identity beside a house?” demanded the chief minister, exhorting students to strive for “higher goals” and pursue “bigger dreams”.

Excellence and endurance were the themes for the fifth school awards on Saturday morning, anchored by Barry O’ Brien. True to the spirit of “looking beyond”, Bhattacharjee handed over a new flag to Jiban, a non-formal school.

Adopted by The Telegraph Education Foundation, the evening school for 10 child labourers, between nine and 12, is run by Medical Bank, an NGO. Most of the kids, working throughout the day, have irregular attendance. They meet every evening at 6.30 outside the vacant hawker’s complex on Galiff Street. Medical Bank School is scrawled in blue chalk on a dirty yellow wall. The “logo” is a bird, in the same blue, with eyes as wide as those of the little boys and girls studiously at work with their “slate-pencils”. A small bulb hangs from the chal; pictures of fruits and birds decorate the walls. This is the first school that Shyam and Gauri, Rupa and Sonu have ever been to. Now, the Foundation has given it “an identity”. From Saturday, the school has a name, a song and sparkling blue uniforms.

Among the established lot, Don Bosco Park Circus and Mahadevi Birla Girls High School were jointly proclaimed winners of The Telegraph School of the Year award. The Amul Award for the Best Academic Performance by a School was given to Howrah Zilla School and Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Narendrapur. Loreto Day School, Sealdah, and South Point High School were joint winners of the Sanjeevani Award for a School that Looks Beyond. Jashodeep Datta of La Martniere for Boys won the Shaw Education Foundation Award for the Best All-Round Student, while the Award for Academic Excellence by a Student went to Parthasarathy Dey of Nimta High School.

The Dr Mrs N.B. O’Brien Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award for a Teacher was handed over to Sukai Chacha, an illiterate 80-year-old man from a village near Dankuni who has spent the last four years begging for rice from villagers to raise money for a primary school. The Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage was handed over by Ashok, who survived the Orissa cyclone after being marooned on a makeshift raft for 14 days, to Snehal Sidhu, a Cambridge-bound ex-student of Calcutta International School who has been confined to a wheelchair after being buried by an avalanche in 1994.

The Frank Brothers Award for The Principal of the Year went to Lawrence W. Hartnett, principal of Assembly of God Church. It was a very special moment for all his “old boys” when Reverend Father C. Bouche, retired Prefect of St Xavier’s Collegiate School, took the stage as this year’s inductee into The Telegraph Hall of Fame.

The image that endured long after the applause had died was of a little girl from the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, which won the Patton Award for A School that Cares. She had to be helped off stage by two people and then by a pair of crutches. But she’d just sung “I cross the stream, I have a dream...”. What the chief minister was talking about is what you see on television everyday: “Mera sapna, mera Maruti.” There lies a choice.


Kandy, Aug. 25: 
At the Asgiriya this afternoon, the script was tailor-made for Sourav Ganguly to play a captain’s innings. After 13 failures in succession, Sourav didn’t disappoint and his unbeaten, Man-of-the-Match award winning 98 carried India to a commanding seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka.

This self-belief reinforcing victory is only India’s 16th overseas, with three being credited to Sourav. Its significance, though, goes well beyond the immediate.

Specifically, the win (with well over a day to spare) helped India draw level in the three-Test series and the pressure, in the third Test beginning Wednesday in Colombo, will all now be on Sanath Jayasuriya. While the Galle Test ended before lunch on the fourth day, the one here went two minutes beyond the scheduled tea break (on Day-IV).

“God is great, isn’t he?” asked a somewhat overwhelmed Sourav, when The Telegraph congratulated him moments after the momentous victory. Without waiting for an answer, he added: “If I have to, I’ll dedicate this win and my innings to my parents (Chandi and Nirupa) and wife (Dona)... I’ve been through a rough patch, but their support was always comforting.”

India began the day requiring 209 to reach the target of 264 and, as it turned out, the victory-ensuring runs came from the cool Mohammed Kaif. It would, of course, have been appropriate for Sourav to have got them — that would also have taken him to his eighth Test hundred (the first since October 1999).

Later, Sourav acknowledged he was “disappointed”, but added that the disappointment didn’t last for more than a moment. Laughing, he revealed: “I’d asked Kaif to defend, but... Anyway, what turned out to be the last ball could have been a wide or may have gone for byes. So...”

At the ground, the Indians celebrated with beer (to the accompaniment of deafening music on vice-captain Rahul Dravid’s state-of-the-art system), but the evening will see champagne flow at the team hotel’s poolside. In cricket, much can happen within a week.

While Sourav insisted that he was “past the stage of proving a point”, today’s win would have come as a huge blow to his detractors, whose list appeared to be growing. Shockingly, a star name on this list is that of a hyperactive former Board president.

“Look, I’ve always done the best I could... I’ve tried to get the best out of an obviously depleted team (with five first XI players absent)... I’ve been faithful to the job entrusted full-time for the last 18 months,” Sourav pointed out.

India began the series with four top guns (Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, V.V.S. Laxman and Ashish Nehra) missing. And, after Galle, Jawagal Srinath too became unavailable. The build-up to this Test, then, was anything but confidence-enhancing. Worse, the Board refused a replacement.

[Now, there has been a rethink and Ajit Agarkar will reach Colombo “within 48 hours”.]

With the odds multiplying, it was left to Sourav (and coach John Wright) to keep reminding the boys about two recent phenomenal comebacks: In the Test series against Australia at home and in the tri-series in Colombo ahead of the on-going Tests.

Well, the “pep talks” worked. For the captain, extra sessions at nets and practising with wet tennis balls on a cement wicket, also worked. “I can keep trying, can’t really do anything else,” is what Sourav said a few days ago. This afternoon, he was once again prince.

It was at the Asgiriya that England, led by Nasser Hussain, made a phenomenal recovery earlier this year. It’s a remarkable coincidence that then, too, the captain regained form after a tormenting drought. About the only difference is that Hussain got a century (109, in the first innings) and wasn’t left stranded two short of three figures.

England proceeded to lift the three-Test series and, as India have also done so just a few months ago (versus Australia, rallying from 0-1 down), expectations are bound to soar.

“We will play positively and will be disciplined in our approach,” is what Sourav promised.

Incidentally, an Afro-crew cut helped the captain return to form in the ODIs in Zimbabwe; knocking off his moustache brought about even better results in Test cricket. Yet, Sourav is firm that he isn’t turning superstitious.

What the captain may do, more regularly, is interact with the Tony Greigs and Barry Richards’. Even the Ravi Shastris. Whoever he spoke to these past few days, had one good piece of advice: “For God’s sake, be positive.” Today, Sourav was exactly that.

While the flashbulbs won’t leave Sourav in a hurry, significant contributions also came in from “Mr Consistent” Dravid, Zaheer Khan (a MoM contender), Venkatesh Prasad, Harbhajan Singh and Sadagopan Ramesh. Samir Dighe too.

One isn’t sure how many lensmen clicked the bubbly Sourav-Dravid twosome, but that post-victory picture should go a long way towards silencing talk about the so-called differences between them. For the record, captain and vice-captain (75) added a win-facilitating 91 for the third-wicket.


Calcutta, Aug. 25: 
Apart from the “confessions” of four suspects in the Sailen Das murder case, the bank statements of Sudhir Bhattacharya and a few cheques recovered from the house of one of his associates gave him away, police said.

Bhattacharya, 82, a former chairman of the Dum Dum municipality and an expelled member of the CPM, was arrested yesterday on charges of masterminding Das’ killing. The police said Bhattacharya’s plan was to return to the post in the civic body after “winning over” some CPM councillors.

The police said Bhattacharya’s bank records show that Rs 1.10 lakh was withdrawn through bearer cheques a few days before the murder. This figure, the police said, matches with the amount that another suspect, municipal worker and Amitabh Bachchan fan club chief S.P. Kamat, says he was paid for arranging the killing.

Besides this, the police said, two bearer cheques — of Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 — issued by Bhattacharya were recovered from Kamat’s home. While Kamat says this was part of the money paid for the killing, Bhattacharya, according to the police, cannot provide any “plausible reason” for the monetary transactions.

“Bhattacharya complains of failing memory and chest pain every time he is asked uncomfortable questions,” said North 24-Parganas superintendent of police Kuldip Singh. “He even says he does not know why he gave the cheques to Kamat. But to us it is clear that Bhattacharya found in Kamat a person who could be completely trusted and involved him in this mess. Kamat has broken down after three days of interrogation and told us everything.”

The police said Bhattacharya has been making contradictory statements even about his movements in the last two days. However, he has steadfastly refused to admit his involvement.

“We cross-checked each and every detail before we arrested him,” an official said. “After all, he is an important person in the area.”

At the root of the killing, the police said, were real-estate dealings. According to the statements of three arrested promoters — Babulal Sharma, Tapan Bhattacharya and Mritunjoy Ghosh — who have apparently confessed to their role in the crime, the deal was that after Das’ killing Bhattacharya would manipulate his return to the civic body’s top post. All five would then prosper; building plans would be easily sanctioned and money passed all round.

Bhattacharya was produced in the Barrackpore subdivisional magistrate’s court and remanded in police custody for five days.


New Delhi, Aug. 25: 
The BJP has taken upon itself the task of closely monitoring the working of key economic ministries in the Vajpayee government dogged by allegations of scams and mismanagement.

The BJP high command is upset that the Madhavpura and UTI debacles have adversely affected the government’s image and punctured its claim of being a “party with a difference”, though, for the record, party president K. Jana Krishnamurthi praised the NDA dispensation for its “prompt” action in sacking the former UTI chief.

BJP sources said Krishnamurthi not only wanted to unravel cases of fiscal bunglings and bring them to the notice of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani but also to spot lapses that might be the result of “incompetence” on the part of the minister concerned.

Sources said the leadership chanced upon a letter written by Shiv Sena MP Satish Pradhan to food and civil supplies minister Shanta Kumar alleging that an advertisement released by the Food Corporation of India stated that rice was being sold at Rs 6 per kg in the wholesale market in Mumbai, while in ration shops the same rice was selling for Rs 13.40 per kg. This, the MP alleged, was the result of a Rs 400-crore rice-distribution scam in the Mumbai public distribution system.

The sources said though an “informal” inquiry was conducted, Kumar was “able to defend himself” and Pradhan’s charges were dismissed.

According to the sources, the BJP also “unearthed” an alleged irregularity in the award of a highway contract, though minister B.C. Khanduri said he was unaware of it.

The sources said tenders were invited for a Rs 700-crore World Bank-funded four-lane highway between Calcutta and Delhi. There were two main bidders: the Larsen and Toubro and Hindustan Construction Company combine and Gammon India with an international partner. World Bank rules allow a 7.5-per cent price difference between international and domestic bidders.

The sources said though the Larsen and Toubro combine’s bid was better than its rival’s, a senior official of the National Highways Authority of India changed the rules to favour the other party.

This was brought to Khanduri’s notice. After professing ignorance, the minister finally promised to intervene.

Though in the past party presidents, including Kushabhau Thakre and Bangaru Laxman, had called for “better and more effective” party-government coordination, under Krishnamurthi’s leadership, the rhetoric has been translated into practice.

He told reporters today that he was “happy” the government had accepted some of the party’s decisions. He was referring to the code of conduct committee that the NDA has set up. He had stressed the need for this panel.




Maximum: 32.9°C (+1)
Minimum: 26.4°C (0)


5.4 mm

Relative humidity

Maximum: 97%,
Minimum: 74%


Light to moderate rain accompanied by thunder in some parts
Sunrise: 5.19 am
Sunset: 5.59 pm

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