New ground rules for Net gains
100 taken ill after Kali puja bhog
6month salt ploy for escape
Mayor rules out theatre takeover
Reggae, rock and Rabindrasangeet
The City Diary
Anxiety triggered jawan trouble at airport
Bigbang brigade heckles policeman
Touchscreen data kiosks for Metro
Cerebral palsy meet to bridge links

Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
The rules of the Net game are changing as itís shakeout time for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Calcutta. Nearly half of the dozen-odd ISPs in town have withdrawn service,while those who remain connected are chalking out restructure routes. .

Free. ISP Caltiger is not free any more for nonmetro subscribers. Toprung players like Satyam Infoway (Sify), Wipro, HCL Infinet and BPL Innovision are scouting for strategic partners, shifting focus from retail to corporate, or eyeing the exit door. A recent IMRB study of ISPs indicates that .most players have invested so much in brand building and infrastructure that they are now struggling to meet essential costs of operation..

Forget the smaller players, even Wipro, which holds 49 per cent in Netkracker, is planning to divest. Chairman Azim Premji says a final decision will be taken .this quarter.. Wipro sources, however, said: .Businesses aimed at the retail segment have not gelled with our core operations, and we are looking at opportunities to exit the ISP sector..Wipro has already divested majority stake to ICICI Ventures, and withdrawn its brand name.

Recently, BPL Innovision sold off its ISP business to Data Access, while Sify has said it could divest up to 52.55 per cent. HCL Infinet, the ISP wing of HCL, says it is open to strategic alliances. .HCL Infinet is in talks with a number of companies for technology and business development, but not for funds alone,. clarifies Saurav Adhikari, president, HCL Infinet. The company has so far invested Rs 60 crore in the business, and is bullish about the market but unwilling to buy out dying ISPs. Sify is, reportedly, finding it tough to divest stakes as none of the leading players has so far evinced interest.

Industrywatchers feel the ongoing consolidation in the sector will help leading players secure greater market space. .Those who are likely to emerge stronger from the shakeout are Reliance, HCL Infinet and Bharti. At present, Reliance is operating on a low key, almost experimental basis. Once its broadband network is in place,Relianceís Only Smart will gain momentum,. they say.

But ISPs across the board are focusing on corporate subscribers. Even relativelysmaller players like XPS Online say the corporate segment offers .better margins. than retail. .Selling dialup access hardly gives any margin, and hence we prefer corporate subscribers,. explains XPS Online chief executive officer Santosh Sarraf.HCL Infinet and Wipro, too, say they prefer corporate subscribers. .

The retail ISP business in its current form is just not viable. It is high time the government intervened to save the sector by introducing revenue sharing models and reducing the cost of using the telecom backbone,. feels Ashok Juneja, CEO, Bharti Broadband. Despite the shift in focus,Juneja believes retail investors will benefit from the consolidation. .Subscribers will ultimately stand to benefit as the ISPs offering substandard service and compromising on quality will have to shape up or ship out.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
It was a bhog that turned into durbhog (a disaster), lamented local residents, as over a hundred people in Behala were taken ill on Friday. Twenty of them were admitted to various city hospitals and some of them were stated to be in a critical condition after a Kali Puja bhog at a local club.

Over 6,000 people of the Kalabagan area, along B.L. Saha Road, turned up for the feast of khichuri, a vegetable curry, fried hilsa and boal, and chutney. The first batch sat to eat at around 2 am on Thursday, minutes after the puja organised by the Parbat Giri Ashram Kali Mandir had ended. The servings continued till Thursday afternoon.

The first complaints of foodpoisoning started trickling in on Friday morning. By afternoon, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) had been forced to set up a temporary health camp in the area. .

We have received over a hundred complaints till 4 pm,. CMC physician S.B. Bhattacharyya said on Friday evening.

With the complaint call rising, a war of words broke out between CMC officials and organisers of the puja. Trinamul Congress leader Tarak Singh and former councillor of ward 116 blamed it on the fish served at the bhog. .

The cooking had been carried out beside an open, filthy canal. This could have contributed to the ailment,. surmised Singh.

The organisers, however, put the blame on the .contaminated. water provided by the civic authorities. .Over 6,000 people ate our bhog and only around a hundred were affected,. argued Mohan Sardar, executive committee member of Parbat Giri.

Till late on Friday, at least 20 bhog victims were being treated at M.R. Bangur Hospital, Vidyasagar Hospital and the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Beleghata.

CMC officials refused to comment on the matter. But a team led by member, mayorincouncil (health), Javed Ahmed Khan, went to the spot and collected samples of the food and water to ascertain the source of infection.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
The only thing that 13yearold Gopal Baidya heard as he fell to the ground with a thud was the urgent whispering of two other inmates of Dhrubashram who, minutes before, had managed to squeeze themselves out of the firstfloor window.

Gopal was the third escapee. Fifteen others followed in the next 20 minutes, early on November 7. Stealthily, before the break of dawn, they crept to the broken boundary wall of the juvenile detention home in Belghoria and stepped into .freedom..

Just then, they heard a shrill scream from the durwan. Splitting up into small groups, they ran as fast as they could in different directions.

For Gopal and Tapas Dey, their destination was the Belghoria railway station, from where they would eventually make their way home to Jadavpur.

Back at Dhrubashram on Friday, after being picked up by the police from his Jadavpur home on Thursday night, Gopal recounted how the group of 18 detainees had planned and successfully executed the biggest .jailbreak. in the history of the detention home.

It had all begun about six months ago, Gopal told the home authorities. The brainchild of some of his seniors at the home, the idea was to erode the base of the iron bars with salt and water till they were weak enough to snap at the slightest tug. .

Actually, I did not know about the plans till about a month before we made the break,. Gopal informed the authorities on Friday. .All that I had initially been told was that every day, after lunch and dinner, I was to keep aside some salt, which I was to hand over to my seniors. Some days later, they told me in some detail of the escape plans..

Initially, the idea was that all 24 boys who shared the dormitory where the windows were being .treated. would escape. But some days before the .great escape., six of the boys backed out.

On the night of the escape, just before dinner, the boys had a final and hurried meeting. Some of them had examined the window bars and found them weak enough to snap. After a quiet dinner, they switched off the dormitory lights and pretended to fall asleep. A few hours later, close to midnight, when they were sure that everyone else was asleep, they rose to flee.

Three of the boys yanked the bars out of a window and tied together nine bedsheets to form a rope. They threw the rope out of the window. Then, one by one, they slithered down.

Gopal and Tapas waited for daybreak, at Belghoria station. Then, they travelled ticketless to Sealdah and proceeded to Jadavpur, where they parted company.

On Thursday night, the police reached Gopalís house and picked him up. But Tapas, aware that the police would come knocking on his door, had disappeared.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
The day after it was destroyed in a latenight fire, Biswaroopa theatre wore a deserted look. Barring a few onlookers,no official was seen there on Friday.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, who had visited the site on Thursday, said the CMC will not take over the hall, as it did with Star after the hall was gutted. .The Corporation will help hallowner Jayanti Mishra carry out renovation work instead,. Mukherjee said..We want the theatre to be restored to its original condition..

Mishra submitted all the papers of the theatre to the detective department on Friday. Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner, detective department, said the police were looking into the documents. .

We are leaving no stone unturned. All possible reasons for the fire are being explored. Nothing can be said for certain till the forensic report is available,. Mitra said.

State fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee said: .The officers at the site were roughed up by the same people who had confronted them when Rangmahal was burning.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
Tobu Mone Rekho unfolding in a slowburning blues bias; Sankochero Bihavalata rising to a reggae bit; Birpurush interpreted as a rock opera, with a volley of violins, flutes and cellos forming an extravagant backdrop.

Rabindrasangeet, that most Bengali of Bengali repertoires, is all set to go rock.VisvaBharatiís copyright on the genre could well go by the yearend.And Bangla band Paras Pathar, in collaboration with recording label Asha Audio, is ready to take Tagore songs to the hithertouncharted area of .Rabindrarock.. .

The idea is to give Rabindrasangeet a different sound texture without distorting the songs to reach out to a wider, relativelyyounger audience.Of course, the project can take off only if the copyright is lifted by December 31,. explains Mahua Lahiri, partner, Asha Audio and producer of the proposed album.

Paras Pathar lead singer Ayan also promises there won.t be any distortion of the original Tagore numbers. .The notations will remain the same and the rhythm intact. Only the arrangements will be different, perhaps more complex, and we can bring in western elements like rock, reggae, blues and jazz,while sticking to acoustic mode..

Besides the regular set of leadbassdrumspercussionflutekeyboard, the band plans to use a string ensemble of 10 violins and cellos in numbers like Birpurush and Debatar Grash. .We want to give these a powerpacked timbre, something in the form of rockopera,. adds Ayan, admitting to Ďstrong influences. of The Whoís Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar.

The production house promises to be .careful enough not to hurt sentiments...We are not venturing on this project as a cheap gimmick. Itís a sincere effort to broaden the audience base for Rabindrasangeet.We know, commercially, it might be disastrous and purists might scoff at the idea,. says Lahiri.

Some feathers are sure to be ruffled, but the listener will decide. .Everything depends on the audience.After all, they have been used to certain norms of rendition of Tagore all these years,. observes Rabindrasangeet exponent Subinoy Roy.

Indranil Sen, one of the most successful among the present crop of Tagore singers, too, feels the audience will have the last word. .The people of Bengal are most profound in this repertoire and have a cultured ear for Tagore.However, I personally feel, if they are confident they can produce this album without distorting the originals, they should go ahead with the project and not wait for December 31,. says Sen.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 

Two Kali puja pandals gutted

Two Kali Puja pandals were gutted in separate incidents of fire in the city since Thursday midnight, according to the police. The images of the goddess were damaged in both cases. The pandal of Amra Sabai Club on Lake View Road caught fire, possibly from an electrical shortcircuit around 5 am on Friday (picture below). Four fire tenders arrived soon but could not save the pandal.A pandal at Maheshtala, on the southern fringes of the city,was gutted around midnight. Tension prevailed as two groups came to blows over how the fire broke out. Police rushed to the spot and arrested six of them. .

Moon sighted, Ramzan begins

The Ramzan moon was sighted on Friday night and the holy month of fasting will begin from Saturday, said Maulana Mohammad Shabir, Imam of Nakhoda Mosque in the city.

Chomsky speech

.Internationally acclaimed linguist Noam Chomsky will deliver a lecture on .Threats to Human Survival. at Science City auditorium on November 20.The function, organised by the department of information and culture of the state government, will be presided over by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Dhaka flights

.Indian Airlines will resume its flights to Dhaka from November 21, according to an official release. The flights IC 723/724 will operate thrice a week on Mondays,Wednesdays and Fridays leaving Calcutta at 1.30 pm. The return flight from Dhaka will reach Calcutta at 4 pm.

Sai Baba rally

.A rally will be taken out on Sunday morning to observe the 76th birth anniversary of Sri Sai Baba. The rally will commence from Nehru Childrenís Museum and will end at Deshapriya Park.

Held for theft .

A person from Meghalaya was arrested on Thursday on charges of stealing Rs 8.5 lakh from an office on Ganesh Chandra Avenue in August. The arrested man was identified as Mohammad Murtaza. He worked at the office as a parttime driver. Deputy commissioner of police, detective department, said Rs 4.5 lakh was recovered from Murtaza. .He deposited the rest of the money at the bank.We will recover it soon,. the DC,DD, added.

Station eviction

Eastern Railway has asked encroachers on the platforms of stations in the Sealdah division to vacate by December 31 or face eviction.Official sources said the decision was taken following persistent complaints from passengers against setting up of unauthorised structures like stalls, clubs and offices of political parties, at various stations. In some cases, encroachments are leading to deceleration of trains, passengers claim.

Civil servant dies

.Madhu Sudan Mukherjee, 63, former chief secretary of the Himachal Pradesh government and a member of Central Administrative Tribunal died at the ashram of Saibaba at Puttaparti, on Thursday, family sources said. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughterinlaw. Mukherjee was a resident of Udayrajpur in Madhyamgram. He was an IAS of the 1964 batch of Punjab cadre.

Krishna festival

.A twoday festival organised by Krishnayam and the Anamika Kala Sangam will be held at Nalban on Saturday. Lord Krishnaís nauka vihar and makhan chori lila will be enacted.    

Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
Thursday eveningís drunken outburst by a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawan at the airport had a human element to it that was revealed during interrogation on Friday.

Vishnu Kumar, the CISF jawan, who woke up with a hangover around 10 pm on Thursday, picked up his rifle and threatened to shoot, had asked for leave to visit his mother in Ranchi. She had undergone heart surgery on Wednesday.

Kumar was one of the 550odd CISF personnel who came to Calcutta a few days ago and was undergoing a special antihijacking training before being deployed at the airport. Denied leave, the .frustrated. man hit the bottle and then threatened to shoot his colleagues.

Kumar did not know, and neither did his colleagues, that the rifle he brandished did not have a single bullet. The spot where the incident occurred . near gate no. 8 of the airport . is very close to the busy Jessore Road, officials said. .A shootout on the airport premises could have triggered trouble outside as well,. one of them said.

Kumarís colleagues, realising he was drunk and brandishing an unloaded rifle, pinned him down and snatched the weapon away.

Apart from the anxiety about his motherís health, Kumar had been upset ever since his father died six months back. .His anxiety about his mother, combined with the refusal of his leave and the trauma of his fatherís death, had turned him into a wreck,. his colleagues said.

Kumar was taken to the CISF headquarters and detained. The .human element. prevented the authorities from slapping a case on him, officials said.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
The state government is perturbed by open defiance of court order ban on soundproducing crackers and Thursday morningís assault on an IPS officer, Rajesh Singh of south 24Parganas.

Even on Friday evening, a truckful of people on way to immerse the Kali idol at Babughat burst soundproducing crackers on Red Road, close to Fort William, Hospital Road and in front of All India Radio.

Policemen in Radio Flying Squad (RFS), patrolling the area, turned the other way as chocolate bombs and kali patkas landed close to passing vehicles.

In the early hours of Thursday, Singh, additional superintendent of police, industrial, was patrolling Sarsuna and Sodepur areas when he heard soundproducing crackers bursting.

As Singh approached the place, he found a mob, half of them drunk, bursting crackers and lighting firework well past the time prescribed by the Supreme Court .

Sources said Singh initially tried to reason with the crowd but they were defiant..We will burst crackers. Let the police go to hell,.. they shouted and booed the police officer.

The mob then surrounded Singh and began to heckle him. .They pushed him. Even his bodyguards, who tried to throw a ring around him,were assaulted,..Shyamal Das, a local resident, said. .

The mob was led by a middleaged lady Khuku Sengupta,.. Amal Manna, another witness said. Sensing that he was outnumbered, Singh picked up his wireless and asked for reinforcements.

Within a short period, policemen from neighbouring areas arrived. They lathicharged the crowd in an effort to push them away from the area.

Sengupta and eight others were taken into custody. Singh was not available for comments. His office said the additional superintendent of police was busy trying to contain a communal flare up in Metiabruz and Mahestala on Friday.. Superintendent of police,south 24Parganas,D.K. Ganguly said 158 persons were arrested on charges of bursting banned crackers. .

Singh and other officers also cracked down on those lighting fireworks much after the prescribed hours. Police won.t be cowed down by defiant and a violent mob,.. he added.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
The cityís underground activity is all set to increase. But the police are not worried about this new area of action. Though arousing a lot of interest, it is totally legitimate. .Touchscreen information kiosks. will be the latest concept to be added to the Metro Railway.

Railwayís chief operations manager J.K. Mitra is scheduled to inaugurate the first of these kiosks on Monday at the Park Street station. The kiosks will initially provide information on products and services. Later, useful information, like hospital addresses and phone numbers, and even maps showing directions to prominent puja pandals, will be added. All at the touch of a finger. .

About 4.5 lakh people use the Metro every working day, spending up to 10 minutes waiting for trains to arrive,. said Sanjeev Bajaj, director of Citation Infowares. This multimedia and web development company has entered a fiveyear deal with Metro Railway to run such kiosks on all the 17 platforms . .

A person with average intelligence would take between 30 and 45 seconds to go through the pages of a particular product or service,. Bajaj said.

Powered by a 128 MBRam, P III computers in tough, tamperproof fibreglass casing, the touch screens will be much faster than the ones the public is familiar with. .

We have tied up with Computer Maintenance Services, who look after the ATMs of various banks, for the upkeep and servicing of the kiosks.With each unit costing around Rs 2 lakh, the kiosks would need some care all year round,. said Bajaj.


Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
Sayomdeb Mukherjee uses his tongue to operate a computer, while Madhuri Kapoor literally uses her head.They are among the very few youths, who have been able to break free from the shackles of cerebral palsy and communicate with the .outside world..

Cerebral palsy is a multiple disability that can impair a personís limb mobility, hearing, vision and speech. Spastics, or persons so afflicted in varying degrees, are otherwise mentally alert, can be extremely intelligent, and have feelings. They yearn to be able to speak out, like Jeeja Ghosh, who has completed her masters in social work.

A threeday international meeting beginning in Calcutta on Thursday will provide an opportunity for about 15 million persons with cerebral palsy in India to gain and exchange knowledge on the latest developments in communication skills for the physically challenged.

More important, it will focus on the need to fulfil the rights of the disabled,which are still being neglected by the government and private sectors despite the adoption of the Disabilities Act in 1995.

Being organised by the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (formerly Spastics Society of India), Silent Voices will be the firstever conference in the country on augmentative and alternative communication, disability and human rights.


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