Silent acceptance of violence at home
Decks cleared for govt stake sale in banks
Actor play-acts patient with lady doctor
Sangh sermon to President
Azhar appears before �uncle�
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, Nov. 16: 
They must have been trained not to feel the hurt.

Fifty-six per cent of Indian women surveyed by an agency have justified wife-beating on grounds like neglecting the house or children, or going out without telling the husband.

Domestic violence and its acceptance by women cut across religious barriers. Twenty-one per cent Hindu, Muslim and Christian husbands are chronic wife-beaters, according to the National Family Health Survey 1998-99 (NFHS-2), made public today.

Wife-beating is less frequent among Sikhs and Jains (14 and 7 per cent respectively), possibly due to higher economic and educational levels in the two communities. Women belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes are most prone to violence (58-63 per cent).

The survey was conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The report surveyed 90,000 women in the age-group of 15-49, who are married or had been married.

The survey says almost three out of five women justify domestic violence if the wife shows disrespect to the in-laws or is unfaithful. The wife�s inability to cook properly (25 per cent) and the natal family not providing the expected dowry are cited by a lesser number of women as meriting physical abuse.

The survey was based only on those who were willing to come out on domestic violence, as several women continue to accept abuse silently. The silence is one of the biggest challenges on the way to empowering women.

�The results underscore the widespread prevalence of domestic violence in India, especially violence perpetrated by husbands against wives,� the report said. �The high level of acceptance of wife-beating also revealed by these data suggests that women may feel powerless against such violence and will tend to accept it without question.

�The experience of violence and the silent acceptance of violence by women undermine attempts to empower women and will continue to be a barrier to the achievement of demographic, health and socio-economic development goals.�

Economic independence is no shield against marital violence. Sixty-two per cent women who earn also justify wife-beating. The survey said it was partly due to the fact that many of the women working in India were agriculture workers with very little education.

The violence curve varies from state to state. Tamil Nadu tops the tally with more than 40 per cent of women being physically abused. In the eastern region, West Bengal (17.6 per cent) is behind Bihar (26.6 per cent) and Orissa (28.9 per cent). In the Northeast, Meghalaya leads with 31 per cent incidence of wife-beating, Arunachal comes next (26.4), then Mizoram (20.1), followed by Manipur (19.7) and Nagaland (19).

The survey noted that Himachal Pradesh was the only state where the proportion of violence against married women was less than 10 per cent.

Women who had not borne children experienced less violence than the others � 16 per cent � as they tended to be younger. The survey says younger women � between ages 15 and 19 � are less likely than older women to have been beaten. Similarly, women who have been married for less than five years are less likely to have been subjected to domestic violence � 14 per cent, compared to 23 per cent in the case of women who have been married for longer.

The proportion of women who justify wife-beating declines as the standard of living went up. The survey highlighted that the difference of opinion on wife-beating is greatest between women with a low or medium standard of living (59-62 per cent) and those with a high standard (41 per cent).    

New Delhi & Calcutta, Nov. 16: 
The Union Cabinet today approved a legislation to bring down the government�s stake in 19 public sector banks from 51 per cent to 33 per cent, sparking dismay in the ranks of over 5 lakh bank employees, but elation on the bourses where bank stocks soared on an otherwise lacklustre day of trading.

The approval came in the face of strong resistance from the bank unions who staged a one-day nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest against large-scale retrenchment in the industry. Several banks like Punjab National Bank, Indian Bank, Allahabad Bank and United Commercial Bank have already drawn up voluntary retirement schemes (VRS) to downsize their bloated manpower.

The legislation, which will be moved in the winter session of Parliament which begins later this month, also permits the setting up of a financial restructuring authority that will take over the management of weak banks.

The unions have already threatened to launch a fresh round of agitation the day after the legislation is tabled in Parliament.

However, in a placatory move, the Cabinet scrapped a clause that would have permitted conversion and transfer of existing banks into companies under the Companies Act of 1956 as and when the government share holding dips below 50 per cent.

Sources said this provision was part of the Cabinet note, but was deleted at the last minute due to pressure from the unions.

The stock markets greeted the decision by ratcheting up the prices of bank scrips, with the punters� attention spilling over to the private bank counters as well. Market circles expect private sector banks to bid for the government�s stake in select PSU banks.

The shares of Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Syndicate Bank soared by 8 to 16 per cent. ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, Centurion Bank and Bank of India were bid up by 5 to 7.5 per cent.

Parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan said amendments to the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Acts of 1970 and 1980 would be introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

The Act covers the 19 public sector banks that were taken over by the government in two stages. It does not, however, cover State Bank of India and its seven associates.

The amendment to the legislation will not, however, undermine the public sector character of the nationalised banks.

According to an existing provision in the Act, a shareholder cannot exercise voting right in excess of one per cent of the total equity irrespective of the number of shares he holds.

The government�s holdings will not be divested to a strategic partner and it will be widely held. The government will retain the power to appoint the chairmen and board of directors. Parliament will continue to exercise supervisory control over public sector banks, Mahajan said. The amendment will also permit an increase in the number of whole-time directors from the present two to four. Moreover, a Central government official can now be nominated as director in two banks, instead of being nominated as director in only one bank.    

Bangalore, Nov. 16: 
Snapping into theatrical form, Raj Kumar today said he too played his part, prompted by a lady doctor, in ending the jungle ordeal.

�Bhanu (the doctor) asked me to act ill and that as if I had a heart problem... and I did,� Raj Kumar told a news conference here, a day after his release from Veerappan�s clutches. He was flown to the city this morning in a helicopter.

The Kannada matinee idol said he was surprised to hear a woman�s voice when P. Nedumaran�s team of negotiators reached the bandit�s hideout a few days ago. �I first heard Nedumaran speak to Veerappan and later was surprised to hear a woman talk. A few moments later, Bhanu walked up to me with a stethoscope and said she wanted to do a medical examination,� the actor said.

Bhanu then told Raj Kumar to pretend that he was not feeling well. �I went along, acted tired and sick and told Bhanu when Veerappan was within earshot that my heart was giving trouble,� Raj Kumar said. �She then took my pulse and told Veerappan that it was low.�

As reporters were wondering about the mysterious doctor, a close-cropped, short woman made a dramatic entry into the hall where the news conference was being held. No introductions were made but it was clear who she was. Bhanu greeted the journalists, refused to answer any questions, retired to the back of the hall and quietly slipped out later.

Raj Kumar took pains to argue that it was Nedumaran who had drawn up the plan for the �play-acting�. By doing so, Raj Kumar sought to scotch speculation that his release was orchestrated by the LTTE.

However, earlier at Bhoodappadi village in Tamil Nadu�s Salem district, Raj Kumar had admitted that Kolathur Mani, a Tamil nationalist leader, had accompanied the negotiators. Mani, who clinched the deal with Veerappan, is a known LTTE conduit.

Even Bhanu is learnt to have links with nationalists. She is believed to be part of a well-known Left organisation whose leader, a woman, is a common sight at Tamil nationalist fora.

Raj Kumar, however, was silent on whether any LTTE supporter was part of the delegation.

The actor scoffed at the efforts of Nakkeeran editor R.R. Gopal, who was left out of the final mission. �Gopal came several times to the forests, but nothing seemed to come out. But the moment Nedumaran stepped in, there was a visible difference,� he said.

The 72-year-old star admitted that he often lost hope and wondered when he would see his family again. �Every night brought with it the horrors of being away from the people I love,� he said.

In Bhoodappadi, Raj Kumar said he believed it was his karma which had landed him in the bandit�s clutches. The actor hoped that the past would be forgotten and Tamils in Karnataka and Kannadigas would share a �harmonious relationship�.    

New Delhi, Nov. 16: 
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh wants to convince President K.R. Narayanan of its agenda to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, have cow-slaughter banned and the importance of the anti-conversion drive.

The Sangh has sought appointments with the President, Vice-President Krishan Kant, Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to make them aware of the massive two-month-long jan jagaran (public awareness) campaign launched yesterday.

RSS leaders, however, know they cannot go very far with their Hindutva arguments with these institutional heads.    

Hyderabad, Nov. 16: 
Ending his self-imposed exile, Mohammed Azharuddin slipped out of his house this morning to meet �uncle� Madhavan at a city hotel.

Cousin Abrar whisked Azhar away under the nose of the reporters keeping vigil outside. The former captain entered the hotel unnoticed through the backdoor and took the staff elevator to former CBI joint director K. Madhavan�s room.

The disgraced cricketer emerged six hours later to face the cameras for the first time since the CBI report on match-fixing became public. The report names five players, including Azhar who has admitted to fixing at least three matches.

Madhavan was appointed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to look into the CBI report. He said he had questioned Azhar on his statements to the CBI and on what others had to say about him. �We signed a 12-page document which contains all he had to say about the CBI report and the match-fixing charges,� the former CBI officer said.

Asked whether Azhar was nervous or uncomfortable, Madhavan said: �During the questioning, he kept calling me uncle in a gesture of his confidence. Though he was tense initially, as he must have imagined me to be a beast or something like that, he was very relaxed later.� On Madhavan�s advice, Azhar posed for photographers who had been waiting for almost 12 hours.

The cricketer was scheduled to meet Madhavan at 9 am but there was no sign of him even hours later.

At 9.30 am, his lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani called on Madhavan. Some of the cricketer�s relatives followed later. Azhar had managed to elude reporters both outside his house and the hotel. Azhar was a former director of the Shakti group of industries, which owns the hotel where the meeting was held.

The former captain had raised the question of his security when Madhavan summoned him to Chennai on November 11 and 12. Azhar also pointed out that he had not seen the CBI report.

�I sent him a copy by November 12 and I fully agreed with his concern over personal security after what happened at the press conference of Ajay Jadeja and the attack on Manoj Prabhakar�s wife�s parlour,� Madhavan said.

The former CBI joint director said he planned to submit the report by November 25, so that it could be discussed by the BCCI general body in Calcutta on November 29.

�I have completed my field visits. The CBI has given me all the evidence they had collected in support of their charges against the players. After Ajay Sharma�s meeting, I will start writing my report,� he said.

Madhavan said he will question Ajay Sharma in Delhi on November 19. Sharma could not come to Chennai as he was not well.

Former honorary BCCI president Kishore Rungta, groundsman Ram Bahadur, players Manoj Prabhakar and Nayan Mongia and former physiotherapist Ali Irani have already been interrogated.

Madhavan said he had a discussion with A.C. Muthiah, president of the BCCI, on the comments against board officials in the report.

�Muthiah is a busy industrialist and is presently away from the country and I am confident that he will provide me the details soon enough for me to complete by job,� he said.

Madhavan claimed that the CBI has vindicated the body, accusing it only of negligence in curbing match-fixing.

�There is no evidence of nexus of BCCI. However, other irregularities of the BCCI are under inquiry by the CBI, which is a different issue,� he said.

Madhavan said the CBI evidence was not conclusive enough to file a case. It only warranted an in-house inquiry, which he was presently working on. �Besides, the CBI has categorically said there was no offence of cheating in the match fixing episode,� he added.    



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