Delhi durbar for heartland king
Storm?s orphans in jaws of death
Bedside view across continents
Calcutta weather

Nov 8 
The countdown to the departure of Kalyan Singh as Uttar Pradesh chief minister has begun with Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee summoning the state?s top brass for a meeting in Delhi tomorrow. A decision on Kalyan?s successor is expected to be taken there.

Though Kalyan was invited, BJP sources said he will skip the meeting. His Cabinet colleagues, Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon, as well as Uttar Pradesh party chief Rajnath Singh have arrived here amid speculation on who will fill Kalyan?s shoes. Home minister L.K. Advani and BJP chief Kushabhau Thakre will also attend the meeting.

Singh told The Telegraph: ?This is going to be a very crucial meeting. Our central leaders will explain what they have in mind. If asked, I am going to speak clearly about the affairs of the party and what needs to be done to improve our fortunes.? Asked whether he was in the race for the top job, he said: ?Nobody has sounded me.?

Party sources said while the high command, and the Prime Minister in particular, preferred Mishra, Kalyan and the BJP?s allies in the state are insisting his successor should be a ?neutral?. Mishra, state PWD minister, had allegedly instigated the BJP?s Brahmin legislators to rebel against Kalyan. Therefore, he is considered ?unacceptable? to other castes.

Kalyan and the BJP?s allies, the Loktantrik Congress Party and Jantantrik Bahujan Samaj Party, have reportedly floated the name of Assembly Speaker Kesri Nath Tripathi. The allies have also rejected the choice of an ?outside? nominee in the wake of rumours that Sushma Swaraj may be sent to Lucknow as a ?consensus? choice.

?If at all a backward caste leader has to be replaced with a Brahmin, our choice is Tripathi,? sources close to Kalyan said. Senior LCP leader Chaudhury Lakshmi Narayan told PTI in Mathura: ?If the high command imposes an outsider as a replacement, the LCP could consider withdrawing support to the government.?

BJP sources said Vajpayee and Thakre are backing Mishra primarily because of the immediate need to put the party organisation in Uttar Pradesh in order. ?Kalyan had alienated most of the BJP rank and file. The cadre were hopelessly demoralised during the elections and refused to work for the party. We need someone who can boost their morale. Mishra fits the bill because he is accommodating and being an old organisational hand, knows many workers by name,? sources close to Vajpayee said.

The long-drawn exercise to eject Kalyan gained momentum when Thakre today said he welcomed the chief minister?s decision to resign on his own. His statement fuelled rumours that Kalyan had put in his papers, but the speculation was belied by the absence of Governor Suraj Bhan.

Sources, however, said Kalyan had refused to accept a position in the Vajpayee government. Though a senior party leader rejected the threat of a revolt by the chief minister, a section of the backward caste legislators from Uttar Pradesh has reacted strongly to his imminent departure.

Eight backward caste MLAs submitted a memorandum demanding that a legislature party meeting be convened to decide the leadership issue. They claimed that Kalyan enjoyed support of the majority of party MLAs. Mishra was quick to refute the claim and said the issue could be decided only by the high command.

Union minister Uma Bharti, a Kalyan loyalist, said: ?We will fight to the finish.    

Paradip, Nov. 8 
First the scourge swallowed the parents. Now, it is preying on the children.

With the outbreak of killer diseases, death is staring a huge number of homeless children in the face in Orissa.

?There are more than a lakh distressed children who have lost their relatives,? Deepak Pattanayek, a voluntary worker in a child welfare trust in Cuttack said. ?The exposure to the fury will take long to heal.?

According to official estimates, 24 children have died of diarrhoea in Paradip alone. In the port town, people are drinking the same infected water, filled with corpses, that has cut them off from the rest of the state.

Seven children have died in Cuttack, nine in Kendrapara and five in Puri of the disease, official estimates added, though sources said the toll could be much bigger.

A much higher number of children have succumbed to dehydration in Paradip, doctors said.

Scarcity of saline bottles and anti-diarrhoea drugs is making treatment difficult. By the time parents reach the camps with ailing children, they are too far gone.

In the absence of any government doctor or paramedical staff, a group of voluntary doctors from Andhra Pradesh are helping out.

In Puri and Cuttack, at least 32 children were found wandering aimlessly on the streets. ?Many of the estranged boys and girls are emaciated, the horror of the cyclone writ large on their face. They need institutional care. But in the mad chaos of relief work, it is not possible,? said Himanshu Pattanaik, a social worker at Paradip.

After the devastation, surrounded by rotting flesh and bloated bodies, many children have even watched the mass cremation of their parents.

Ironically, some children of even those who survived the cyclone have become orphans. In the desperate scramble to escape the onslaught of wind and water, several parents left their children behind.

?The supercyclone has rendered a large number of children orphans,? said Paradip?s additional district magistrate B.K. Sharma. At least 15 such children, who saw the cyclone destroy everything at Jambu island near Paradip, are from Bengali fishermen families of Bangladeshi origin.

Settled for at least 40 years, they used to be a boisterous community.

?When the cyclone started, the tidal waves just sucked the village into its vortex,? said Rajat Panda, a police officer. ?When the waves receded, only the bamboo structure of hutments that dotted the coast were left.?

Five children, who could not tell their parents? names, were rescued. One of them was stuck in an uprooted tree.

?Orphaned and alienated from their families, these children, for the first time in their lives, have been exposed to the elemental powers of nature,? said Dr Vasant Kumar, an army medico stationed in Paradip.

?Destruction, lack of food and homelessness have made them emotionally distressed. The outbreak of diarrhoea has made them more susceptible,? he added.    

Bangalore, Nov. 8 
From America, N.K. Gupta?s family paid him a ?virtual visit? in a hospital here.

When Gupta, senior general manager of Mecon, had a heart attack, his family was away in the US. A neighbour rushed him to the Wockhardt Hospital and Heart Institute where doctors, after speaking to his son Avaninder who works in Silicon Valley, performed an emergency angioplasty on him.

In the next 72 hours, Gupta?s family participated in a ?miracle? that, according to Avaninder, even Silicon Valley has not seen yet. They could ?visit? him and hear in his own words how well he was recovering.

The miracle on offer is a ?virtual family visit? facility over the Internet. An audio-video recording of the patient is done with a web camera, a laptop and a microphone. It is then loaded on to the server and posted on the hospital?s website, [email protected]

Names of all the patients are available on the website. But each is given a code, available on request from the hospital. The recording can be seen only by those who have the code.

Developed by Thinkahead, one of Bangalore?s upcoming companies, the software allows relatives to not only see and hear the patient, but also gives them the doctor?s analysis of the surgery.

Ever since the facility was created, the hospital?s website has been flooded with messages. A happy relative wrote from the US: ?My dearest dad, I literally saw the colour on your cheeks. Brought me great happiness to see mom and you. Hope you can resume your golf soon.?

It was Wockhardt?s general manager Vishal Bali who came up with the idea of a website after replying to a lot of e-mail from anxious relatives.

?There were a lot of cases where the patients were alone and their family could not be with them in their hour of crisis. I thought, instead of the family members being only able to read messages, why not let them actually see the patient recovering,? said Bali. ?Get well? messages can also be posted on the website.

According to Bali, it cost the hospital about $ 15,000 to create the facility which is offered free to all patients, even if their relatives are in Bangalore or elsewhere in the country.

Doctors said patients who got psychological support from relatives ? even if they were physically present ? recovered faster.

If the e-mails received from the US and Europe are any indication, the facility is perhaps the first of its kind.

Recently, the president of Howard University Hospital in Washington, ranked among the best in the US, wrote to say that he visited the website and thought it was a great idea. He also wanted Wockhardt?s help in setting up a similar facility at his hospital.

Bali said he would like to share the technology after getting a copyright.

Meanwhile, he hopes to introduce this facility at Wockhardt?s only other hospital in India, the Wockhardt Hospital and Kidney Institute at Calcutta, which specialises in kidney transplants.    

Temperature: Maximum: 31.8?C (+2) Minimum: 21.8?C (+3l) Rainfall: Nil Relative humidity: Maximum: 93%, Minimum: 43% Today: Partly cloudy sky. Clear night. Slight change in night temperature. Sunset: 4.52 pm Sunrise: 5.50 am    

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