Patna crown under threat as Supreme Court lobs Laloo to Jharkhand
Pakistan looks at future without Taliban
List letdown
Indian breaks into Tory top tier
Divestment flagged off
Friendship pushes sex out of teen wish-list
Hasina begins street protests
Sharad labours to catch votes
Nizam’s gems come home
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, Oct. 5: 
The Raja of Bihar today suffered a staggering blow when the Supreme Court transferred to Jharkhand 36 fodder scam cases in which Laloo Prasad Yadav is an accused.

Laloo had made a forceful plea that the cases should be tried only in Patna. But a three-judge bench ruled that “all the 36 cases involved in the appeal stood transferred to the corresponding courts within the territories of Jharkhand”.

The former Bihar chief minister will now have to face trial in special courts in Jharkhand and serve time in jails in the state, making it difficult for him to run the government in Patna by proxy. The unfriendly NDA rules Jharkhand. Laloo’s absence from Bihar will also make it easier for the NDA to launch topple bids on the Rabri Devi government.

But Laloo put up a brave front, asserting that the Bihar government was not under threat. “I will do whatever the court asks me to do,” he added.

Ordering the transfer of the cases, the apex court said: “These cases related to a series of orchestrated fraudulent acts, by which a staggeringly huge amount of public money was plundered or looted after creating fake bills and other false documents…, with the active participation or connivance of several high-ups in the administration of the state.

“Though it is unnecessary now to mention the whopping sum so plundered in each case, we are told that the aggregate of them exceeds Rs 720 crore. The persons arraigned in the cases include men who held high offices, besides the two former chief ministers of Bihar (Lalu Prasad Yadav, as his name is spelt in the books, and Jagannath Mishra).”

Patna High Court had earlier dismissed the CBI petition seeking transfer of the cases. The investigating agency then filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the ruling.

Overturning the high court verdict, Justice K.T. Thomas, Justice Syed Shah Mohammed Quadri and Justice U.C. Banerjee said that when an offence is committed under Section 13(1)(c) or Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the sole factor that determines the jurisdiction is “the place where the offence was said to have been committed”.

The court within whose jurisdiction the main offence is committed alone has the jurisdiction to try the case, the judges said.

“In our considered view, all the 36 cases involved in these appeals stood transferred to the corresponding courts within the territories of Jharkhand ,” they added.

But the judges clarified that the evidence already recorded in any of the 36 cases would still stand. “The special judge (in Jharkhand) need not call the witnesses already examined over again for repetition of what has already come on record.”


Islamabad and New Delhi, Oct. 5: 
On a day the US put the final touches to a response to the September strikes, Britain and Pakistan sounded a death knell for Afghanistan’s Taliban, discussing a future for the country that appeared to exclude the hardline Islamic leadership.

“We have agreed that if the current Taliban regime fails to yield up bin Laden and it falls, then its successor must be broad-based with every key ethnic group being represented, including the Pashtuns…,” Tony Blair, on a global dash to shore up support for the terror war, said in Islamabad after talks with Pervez Musharraf.

Across the border, Delhi, too, aimed to sound out London on the post-Taliban scenario as it readied for the last leg of the British Prime Minister’s whistlestop tour. Blair touched down in Delhi late tonight for a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee tomorrow.

During his afternoon talks in Islamabad, Blair reserved a pat for Musharraf, praising his decision to back the US-led campaign against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. “I believe Pakistan has made the right choice… The result will be a significant and lasting strengthening of the outside world’s relations with Pakistan,” he said.

Blair’s visit is seen aimed not only as a show of support for Pakistan’s backing for the US-led terror war and to ensure that position does not waver, but also offers an opportunity to the military government to boost its legitimacy in the eyes of the world.

The British Prime Minister declared that any military action against Afghanistan should be proportionate, targeted and “not directed against the Afghan people, who are not our enemy.”

Musharraf said there was evidence that bin Laden was behind it. “I personally… and my government feel that there is evidence leading to an association between this terrorist act and Osama bin Laden,” he said at a joint press conference. “However, we are not standing in judgement on the details of this evidence,” he added.

The Pakistan President also expressed gratitude to Blair “for his understanding of the problems being confronted by Pakistan and my government”, referring to the opposition to the US campaign by his country’s fundamentalist parties.

“Pakistan certainly looks forward to much healthier, much closer, much better relations with the UK in future,” he said.

As though in response, Britain announced major concessions for Pakistan, renewing defence cooperation suspended since the nuclear tests. Blair also promised Musharraf IMF aid, apart from $40 million for Afghan refugees, and said he would support steps in the European Union for trade and economic cooperation.

Amid the words of praise Blair rained on his Pakistan counterpart, a sceptical Delhi awaited a confirmation from the British Prime Minister of Musharraf’s commitment to rooting out terrorism. Shaken by reports of Pakistan’s hand in the suicide strike on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly earlier this week, it intended to find out from Blair how serious Musharraf was.

Delhi has been trying to convince the West, particularly the US, that Pakistan is “part of the problem and not the solution” of global terror. It has hailed Musharraf’s decision to join the terror fight but is firm that Islamabad’s words must match its actions against terrorists operating from its soil.


Washington, Oct. 5: 
Belying expectations that more Pakistan-sponsored Kashmiri outfits would be cited by the US state department as terrorist organisations, the Bush administration today released a list of such groups with little change from the one it issued two years ago.

This year’s list primarily focuses on al Qaida, led by Osama bin Laden. It also lists several Palestinian groups, including Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah. Harkat-ul Mujahideen continues to remain on the list.


London, Oct. 5: 
The new Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, hitherto regarded as being right wing on race matters, has sprung a major political surprise by appointing an Indian, Shailesh Vara, as a deputy chairman of his party.

Although Vara, a 41-year-old solicitor, does not have executive authority, the appointment has huge symbolic significance. It will widely be seen as an attempt by Smith, whose father was born in Chennai, to acquire a more liberal image.

The Tories are the party that has been headed by the likes of Benjamin Disraeli, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, so Vara’s elevation is a historic first.

Vara, a Gujarati, who was born in Uganda and came to Britain in 1965, describes himself as “British of Indian origin”. Vara’s appointment is the most senior to have gone to a non-white in the party, which has been criticised in recent years for neglecting the ethnic minorities.

Now that Keith Vaz, a former Labour Foreign Office minister, has been persuaded by Tony Blair to fall on his sword because of numerous sleaze allegations, the Indians may want to back Vara instead as the rising man.

Admirably loyal to his party, Vara told The Telegraph: “Being an Indian or from an ethnic minority is not a barrier to promotion. The Conservative Party ensures equality of opportunity and my appointment confirms that.”

Vara, a bachelor who was first noticed by Indians when he started appearing at Ramola Bachchan’s sought-after parties at her Hampstead residence in north London, was once described by John Major as being potential prime minister material.

Today, he refused to accept that his party was right wing, arguing that if there was one person of “unsavoury background” in an organisation with over 300,000 members, it had to be viewed “in context”.

He also defended Smith, saying it was incorrect to present his leadership as “right wing”. He was simply echoing the sentiments of two-thirds of the country with regard to closer integration and a common currency with Europe, said Vara.

“My leader is concerned about ensuring a better Britain,” he stressed. “He has distinctive views on education, law and transport and will ensure that these policies are conveyed to the public.”

He refused to be drawn on the West’s current swing towards Pakistan. “I am not the party spokesman on foreign affairs,” he declared diplomatically.

“The conflict — I prefer to call it conflict — is not against any particular religion or otherwise. It is against terrorism and any decent law abiding citizen will agree with that.”

Vara, a commercial solicitor with a London firm, has not managed to make it to parliament yet. In fact, the Tories do not have a single non-white MP.

Vara stood as a Tory candidate for Northampton South in the last general election in June but lost to his Labour rival by only 800 votes.

He will be one of the four deputy chairmen serving under the overall chairmanship of David Davis, and help to map the course of the Tory Party for the next four years.

“We will come up with policies that will appeal to the public,” he promised.

The portfolio for each deputy chairman will be decided after the Conservative Party annual conference, which takes place in Blackpool this weekend. In his dark suit and wise spectacles, Vara has always looked the perfect Tory politician.


New Delhi, Oct. 5: 
The government finally broke the jinx over its divestment plans today when it cleared the sale of a 51 per cent stake in the Calcutta-based CMC Ltd to the Tatas for Rs 152 crore and a 74 per cent holding in Hindustan Teleprinters to Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd for Rs 55 crore.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment, disinvestment minister Arun Shourie said.

The twin approvals, which will net the exchequer Rs 207 crore, underscored the government’s resolve to sell its holdings in 13 public sector units over the next six months.


Mumbai, Oct. 5: 
It’s official. Dil Chahta Hai is more than a movie. It is the definition of “cool” as practised by Indian teenagers — within safe limits.

The findings of a survey, conducted by Coca-Cola and global market research agency NFO-MBL, suggest that the film could have been made after a close study of Indian teenage behaviour.

In the movie, three cool dudes — Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna and Saif Ali Khan — come of age simultaneously and learn to negotiate related problems of fun, sex and career, but the male bonding between them proves to be the last word. According to the survey “Teen Perspectives”, “close friendship” is an overwhelming pleasure for Indian teenagers.

Next to friendship — hold your breath — comes “freedom” and “college”. “Opposite sex” comes only fourth and pure sex nowhere — teenagers are busy preparing for a career.

Almost 80 per cent of the 1,500 respondents listed “close friendship” as what they like about teenage, with less than 40 per cent mentioning the opposite sex.

The survey, conducted on teenagers from upper- and middle-income homes in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore, reports teenagers as would-be high-spenders like the DCH dudes who dash off to Goa at the slightest pretext and chill out with babes.

“The whole thing is very much like the ethos of Dil Chahta Hai,” says Poonam Kumar of NFO-MBL. Though technically the DCH boys are past their teens, being just out of college.

Pocket money is up. “Pocket money for a teenager has gone up from Rs 284 last year to Rs 375 this year. They spend all of it on themselves — on a walkman, on jeans, on fast food,” says Kumar.

It matches the DCH version of cool. “Cool” is being “intelligent”, “funny”, “having good looks”, being “sporty”, having “lots of friends” —in that order, says the survey. But not “rebellious”.

The survey — which Coke undertook to reinforce itself as a teen brand — also reports sexual activity among teenagers as “negligible”.

Seventy per cent say being intelligent is cool, while less than 5 per cent think being rebellious is. “Rebellion is out,” says Kumar. It’s decent to go so far and not farther. “Cool” is about having uninhibited fun — with friends. It is not about being frivolous — but all about “wholesome values”. As in the movie when the thoughtful Sid, played by Askshaye Khanna, is relieved of unsavoury social consequences by the sudden death of Dimple Kapadia, an older woman he loves.

Kumar also uses the DCH guys as markers to define categories of teenage consumers, whose presence in a home is found to accelerate and influence purchase of entertainment durables.

“Akash is a ‘Vibrant Vanguard’. Comfortable with their self-image, the ‘vanguards’ enjoy easy popularity with friends.”

Like Akash, whose designer room is studded with gadgets, they are also the most privileged — highest pocket money, high personal ownership of durables. They are important consumers as they start a trend. The “vanguards” throng Mumbai and Delhi.

“Sid, the Individual Idealist, doesn’t really know what’s in or out and thinks Bata is cool. Sameer, on the other hand, is the Eager Beaver, who feels compelled to do the in thing for that spells social acceptability. Eager Beavers are the segment that watches MTV most,” says Kumar.

Individual Idealists, found mostly in Calcutta, mean bad business while the Eager Beavers, found almost exclusively in Mumbai, are significant as consumers as they take time to catch up with the latest. Therefore, an older brand lasts longer with them.

The two other categories are the Conspicuous Confidents and the Plain Passives.

“Salman Khan in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is a Conspicuous Confident. He is flashy with a strong need for status. They are fashion junkies and, therefore, important consumers found in Delhi and Mumbai, but more in Delhi.

“The Plain Passives are nobodies who go on watching DD,” she added.

“Teenagers now are completely focused on themselves. The rest of the world doesn’t matter,” says Kumar.

“Qualification” is highest on their wish-list and money comes a photo finish second. There is high awareness about AIDS, thanks to the media, says Kumar, but other social issues like communal violence and child abuse are insignificant.

Their role models are self-made people who have earned material success. Sachin Tendulkar tops the list, leaving others far behind.

Following him are Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, A.B. Vajpayee and Amitabh Bachchan. “All the top icons are male, even for the girls interviewed,” says Kumar.


Dhaka, Oct. 5: 
The Awami League began its street shows today to protest what it has called a “rigged” election and demand fresh polls. But the protest rally outside the League’s central office on Bangabandhu Avenue here drew far fewer crowds than the massive meeting with which the party had ended its poll campaign last Friday. The rally did not have much of an impact on life in Dhaka. The movement will begin in the rest of the country tomorrow.

Party activists and sympathisers shouted slogans echoing their leader Sheikh Hasina’s rejection of the poll verdict. But the dominant tone was more of frustration and sadness than anger.

While party supporters were yet to come to terms with its humiliating defeat, blaming it on a “conspiracy jointly hatched” by the caretaker government and Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, more and more voices within the party are speaking up against mistakes of the leadership.

At a meeting of the party leadership yesterday, several district leaders accused some of the central leaders of “misleading” Sheikh Hasina.

Worse still for the party, the critics even accused Hasina of having promoted her own relatives in her government. There were also dissenting voices that urged her to reconsider her decision to boycott the next parliament.

They also wondered how the party could take part in the October 8 repolling in 90 centres if the leadeship wanted the entire poll cancelled.

But Hasina stuck to her guns, ignoring not only these voices within the party but also appeals from the diplomatic community and foreign poll observers’ teams who met her here today before she left for Chittagong. In fact, she brushed aside a suggestion that she might eventually succumb to pressures from the international community. “How can Sheikh Mujib’s daughter succumb to any pressure,” she asked.

Meanwhile, reports of attacks by the BNP and its poll partner Jamat-e-Islami on League supporters are pouring in from all over the country. In many of these incidents, the attackers smashed portraits of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founder of the nation.

Activists of the BNP’s student wing, Chhatra Dal, are on the rampage at Dhaka and other university campuses, assaulting Awami League’s student activists and chasing them away from the university hostels.


New Delhi, Oct. 5: 
For Sharad Yadav, the switch from civil aviation to the Union labour ministry, may not turn out to be such a bad deal after all. Having overcome initial reservations about the job, Yadav is now concentrating on turning his new portfolio into a “vote-catching” opportunity.

“The minister is going all out to put into place a network of social security measures that will widen his popularity among the poor,” a labour ministry official said.

Yadav recently announced a string of new measures to expand the base of the beneficiaries of the Provident Fund, extending its reach among workers in the unorganised sector.

Experts say Yadav’s predecessor, Satya Narain Jatiya, had also initiated social security policies to cushion the most vulnearble sections from the effects of globalisation. But Jatiya had barely begun when he was shunted out of labour and put in charge of the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

For Jatiya, a former trade union leader, the new ministry could throw up opportunities that pay political dividends. “For instance, it would be interesting to see if the minister tries to project his Dalit identity while heading a ministry with a host of schemes for Dalits,” says an official.

During his tenure in the labour ministry, Jatiya had steered clear of any attempt to project his Dalit identity. Those familiar with him say Jatiya was never interested in using the Dalit card for furthering his political career. “But now it may help him to spread out his popularity base,” the official said.

The welfare minister could spread the reach of policies for scheduled castes to his political advantage.

But more than Jatiya, it is Sharad who needs to keep intact his support among the backward castes. It was with their help that he had trounced the Raja of Bihar last time — Laloo Prasad Yadav.

If the labour minister wants to keep his Lok Sabha seat, he will have to keep up his spree of “social security” bonanzas which endear him to the weaker sections. And Yadav is likely to receive adequate support in this from the Vajpayee government which needs to offset hard liberalisation policies with a dose of social security.

However, the question of labour law reforms will hang like a sword over Yadav’s head just as it had over his predecessor.


Hyderabad, Oct. 5: 
For the first time in the history of the city of Hyderabad, the jewellery of the last Nizam, Osman Ali Pasha, including the famous Jacob diamond, will be on display for two months from November 14.

The Centre had purchased 173 pieces of jewellery from the Nizams’ personal and private collection, which was in the Bombay Mercantile Bank for over three decades after they were declared antiques and their sale overseas, was prohibited.

The beneficiaries of the jewellery trust of the Nizam, including Prince Mukaram Jah, had opposed the government purchase as their value abroad, as assessed by the London-based Christees, was 300 times more. The state government has also enlisted the the Central Industrial Safety Force the task of guarding the jewels.




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Minimum: 25.9°C (+1)


3.2 mm

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 95%,
Minimum: 72%


Possibility of light rain, accompanied by thunder, in some areas.
Sunrise: 5.33 am
Sunset: 5.17 pm

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