Overseas job bonanza at B-school
House tax net widened
Police code of conduct for Holi
Presidency students on autonomy warpath
Country�s first canine cornea transplant
Singhal plans front against NLFT
AGP authorises Mahanta on saffron tie-up
Mawlong lauds own govt
Mithi launches forestry college
Rallies mark women�s day in Northeast towns

Calcutta, March. 8: 
Students: 215. Overseas bound: 84. Go global is the new mantra for B-school boys and girls at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C).

The results of the annual placements for 2001, announced on Thursday, revealed a 20 per cent jump in overseas job offers from last year. �This is indeed the remarkable feature of this year�s placements,� said director Amitava Bose.

Topping the list on the big-bucks scale are Gaurav Tejwani and Karthik Krishna (KK), both featured earlier in the �Star Spot� column of Metro, picking them as young men to watch out for.

While Gaurav will be joining Lehman Brothers in their World Trade Centre office at New York , for $ 2,25,000 per annum, KK has been roped in by Deutsche Bank for $ 1,75,000, to work in their Global Markets division. �The job profile is just what I was looking for,� said Gaurav. �Frankly, I didn�t expect so much,� smiled �all-rounder� KK, who was not among the toppers in class, but scored in various other fields, including cricket and music.

The fact that the �high� at Joka matched that of Ahmedabad was a source of �great satisfaction� for the Class of 2001. The average salary on offer this time was Rs 18,28,500, with firms from finance, IT and consulting being the prime players. New foreign companies on campus included Capital One, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Reuters Risk, Handelsbanken, and Orbit e-Consulting.

The number of offers from �systems� added up to 113, finance 92, consulting 36, and marketing 34. The list of recruiters was headed by ICICI (20), followed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (17), HCL Technologies (16), i2 Technologies (15), Citibank (10) and HSBC (10). Consulting majors like Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, AT Kearney, Arthur Andersen, Ernst & Young, FMCG giants like HLL, Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, Cadbury and Coke, also played a pivotal part in the placement process.

Describing the placements as �very satisfying�, Prof Bose said: �Big money is not the only reason for the feeling of satisfaction. We are happy as our students have got just the right kind of opportunities to work and excel in their respective fields.�

The other �trend� to be highlighted was the number of IT-related jobs on offer. �Even after the perceived slowdown, the maximum number of offers were from the software sector,� said Bose.

Professors and students, basking in the B-school bonanza, attributed this year�s �success� to �a well-rounded approach� adopted by the oldest IIM of the country. �Here, everything from dramatics to dotcom is encouraged equally,� explained Gaurav.


Calcutta, March. 8: 
If you can�t beat them, get them to join you. This is the strategy adopted by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) for the two-lakh illegal constructions in the city falling outside the tax net.

Realising that the Corporation cannot possibly go about demolishing so many buildings, mayor Subrata Mukherjee has decided to get them assessed and then bring them into the tax bracket. �Tax-payers in the city are already overburdened as almost an equal number of house and flat-owners are not paying taxes,� he said. �It is not possible to demolish all these structures. These people are enjoying all civic facilities, like water, drainage, sewerage and street lights. So, they must pay property tax like any other house-owner.�

According to estimates, imposition of taxes on the unassessed buildings will rake in revenue worth Rs 100 crore. Besides, the civic body could earn more than Rs 500 crore as arrears for the past five years.

�The complicated building rules and assessment procedure have allowed the illegal building-owners to remain outside the tax net till now. Corruption among employees of the building department is also to blame,� said the mayor.

Apart from the illegal buildings, a survey conducted by the revenue department has revealed the systematic �under-assessment� of buildings by the Corporation. Civic staff have placed many buildings on the lowest rung of the tax-ladder, causing an annual revenue loss of Rs 50 crore.

Mukherjee said he had directed municipal commissioner Debasish Som to set up special teams in every borough to utilise the surplus employees in the Corporation to assess the buildings and flats that have not been recorded till date. A special drive will be launched to bring the unassessed buildings under the tax net from April. It has been proposed that assessment camps be organised with the help of local councillors to speed up the process. At these camps, owners of unassessed buildings or flats can get their houses recorded and their names included in the list of tax-payers.

Another cause for concern is the disparity in the tax structure for the city proper and the added areas of Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur. �While the CMC earns about Rs 160 crore annually as building tax from the city proper, it earns only about Rs 12 crore from the added areas,� said Abdul Ohid, additional chief of municipal finance and accounts.


Calcutta, March. 8: 
The city police are all geared up to keep Holi revellers in check. A formidable list of don�ts has been issued by the Lalbazar police headquarters for Calcuttans to follow, and cops to impose. The preventive measures �to keep the festival incident-free� include

Don�t play Holi on the streets

Don�t sprinkle colour on unwilling passers-by or passing vehicles

(For residents of highrises) Don�t throw balloons from balcony or roof-top at pedestrians or passing vehicles

Deputy commissioner of police, headquarters, Raj Kanojia, said: �If we find anyone violating the directives, he or she will be prosecuted. The police have been directed to raid buildings if required, to prevent people from chucking colour balloons from balconies or roof-tops.�

Police will keep a �close watch� on the city throughout Friday. Altogether, 274 pickets will be posted at different corners and 35 police stations have been given additional personnel. The officer-in-charge of every police station has been asked to patrol his area all day. �Policemen of every thana will be divided into four groups and they will patrol their respective areas constantly,� said Kanojia.

In a pre-Holi swoop, police arrested a number of criminals and recovered arms and ammunition from various hideouts. Ranjit Pachnanda, DC, south, said 220 goons were arrested during nightlong raids in south Calcutta. A number of firearms and cartridges were recovered from them. In the north division, 150 criminals were picked up, while 60 were rounded up from central Calcutta.


Calcutta, March. 8: 
Students of Presidency College on Thursday said they would launch a protest, including a boycott of classes, against the University Grant Commission�s move to grant autonomous status to the institution. The students will block the proposed move as the conditions set by the commission �clearly mention� a gradual withdrawal of all financial assistance by the government to the institution within 10 years of granting autonomy.

The UGC recently asked the state government to explore the possibility of granting autonomy to Presidency and six other colleges in Calcutta. The students are concerned over this UGC clause, as they fear it will pave the path for privatisation of Presidency. �That would automatically result in the college hiking tuition and other fees... Students will be the ones to suffer,� they said.

The college, run by the state higher education department, depends entirely on government funds now. �We will fight the autonomy move, and not allow discontinuation of any government funding,� declared Jishnu Dasgupta of the Presidency College Students� Union. �We will launch a movement soon to safeguard the interest of students,� added Julius Gomes, general secretary of the students� union.

A series of meetings, involving members of the union, have been held at Presidency over the past two days. On Thursday, they voiced their decision not to allow �privatisation of the institution, under any circumstances�. They have also decided to examine the UGC�s proposal. For example, the union has appointed a second-year student to prepare a detailed report on various aspects of autonomous colleges.

Principal Amitava Chatterjee admitted that a section of students was opposed to the autonomy move. �This is a very serious issue and it is too early to arrive at a decision. We will finalise our stand after discussing the matter with the students, teachers and the non-teaching staff of the institution,� said Chatterjee. �A workshop will be organised on campus to discuss the matter.�


Calcutta, March. 8: 
Zuby�s owners had resigned themselves to a fate of unrelenting darkness, till they established contact with Kishore Ganguly�s Moitri Veterinary Clinic. Now, they can see light at the end of the tunnel and chances are that the 11-year-old Dachshund, blind in both eyes, will regain 30-40 per cent sight.

After a successful intra-ocular lens implant on a canine last year, Dr Partha Bandyopadhyay again broke fresh ground on Thursday, doing a complicated keratoplasty, or corneal transplant operation, on Zuby at Moitri.

�This is the first time in the country that a four-step procedure culminating in a corneal transplant, is being done on a canine eye,� said Dr Bandyopadhyay, consultant ophthalmic surgeon.

The four-step microsurgery included iris adhesion splitting or synechiotomy, cataract extraction, IOL implantation and corneal transplantation. Dr Bandyopadhyay, who dedicated this operation to his �parents and friend Dipanwita�, was assisted in Moitri�s well-appointed operation theatre by vets Shankar Ghosh and Shyamal Guha.

�We have seen many a vet in Chennai ever since Zuby lost both his eyes to a severe infection three years back. Later, when we took him to the veterinary college hospital there, the doctors said extensive damage had already been done to the cornea and that vision couldn�t be restored,� said owner A. Ramesh Kumar, deputy general manager, State Bank of India, foreign department, Calcutta, who was transferred from Chennai two years ago.

His wife Usha, who is even more attached to Zuby, said: �We read about the IOL implant on a dog at Moitri last year and contacted Kishore Ganguly. He gave us hope and this difficult microsurgery was planned. But, we have been waiting since last Pujas for a donor with healthy eyes. Thankfully, our wait ended today and we hope Zuby, who is a real tourist, will be able to see now.�

Mother of Stray Cats and Dogs, an NGO run by Keya Gupta, donated the eyes of a dog which died on Thursday, to enable the complicated surgery take place. �This surgery will raise hopes of thousands of helpless blind animals all over the country,� said Dr Bandyopadhyay, adding that plans are afoot to create an eye bank at Moitri to do cornea transplants frequently.


Agartala, March 8: 
The Sanathan Dharma Parishad, an affiliate of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, will form Dharma Suraksha Samiti units in Tripura to protect tribal and non-tribal Hindus from persecution by the National Liberation Front of Tripura.

Stating this at a news conference here today, VHP international president Ashok Singhal said the units would comprise about 15 �unarmed volunteers� each.

They would be engaged in the task of protecting Hindus in a peaceful and non-violent way, he said.

Replying to a question, he said the VHP would launch its reconversion drive in the Northeast also as in other parts of the country.

Singhal said over the past several years, sadhus in Tripura had been at the receiving end of religious militancy in the state. He referred to the killing of Hindu tribal leader Shanti Kumar Tripura at his ashram near Khumlung under Jirania police station on August 27 last year by the NLFT.

He added that Tripura had been warned against preaching Hinduism and was asked to convert to Christianity along with his disciples.

The VHP would work for the uplift of the impoverished tribal and non-tribal Hindus, he said.

�We already have a large network to render service to the people and this will be further expanded,� he said.

He also referred to similar persecution of Hindus in other countries. �The Hindu philosophy and view of life is based on universal laws of science and nature,� he added.

Singhal said the British rulers had deliberately prevented the tribal people of the Northeast from mingling with the mainstream by enforcing the inner-line permit and other regulations. The VHP and its sister organisations were working freely in these states now and had received a good response from the people, he said.

Regarding insurgency in the Northeast, he said sooner or later, terrorism would invariably come to an end.

Citing the example of Punjab, he said there was a time when people thought that Punjab would be lost to the militants. �But the turnaround did come and there is no terrorism in Punjab now,� he added.

Regarding the reported killing of the four RSS pracharaks, he said, �We still have no confirmation of their death. Hence, I appeal to the militants to free them. It will be good for all.�

Singhal also said the VHP and other outfits of the Sangh Parivar had put pressure on the Union government on the issue, �but so far the Centre has also not been able to progress on this because of unavoidable circumstances�.

Replying to another question, he said as per the decision of the �dharma sansad� during �Kumbh Mela�, the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya would �commence on an auspicious date after Shivratri next year�.

He criticised Imam Ahmed Bukhari�s statement that equated the Taliban�s depredations with the destruction of �Babri Mosque� and termed it as �uncalled for and insignificant�.

Earlier, Singhal and a host of Hindu sannyasis including Mahant Avaidyanath, Swami Chinmoyananda and Jamatya hoda okra (head priest and community leader) Bikram Bahadur Jamatya addressed a huge rally here. A large number of tribal Hindus from different parts of the state attended the meeting.


Guwahati, March 8: 
Assam chief minister and president of the ruling Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has been authorised by the party to take the final decision regarding forging an alliance with the BJP for the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state.

Mahanta was delegated this authority at a high-level party meeting at his official residence yesterday, party sources said.

After a threadbare discussion on the prospects of an alliance between the AGP and the BJP, a majority of the AGP office bearers expressed the view that the party should explore the possibility of such a tie-up to ensure its comeback to power.

Party insiders said despite strong opposition by the state BJP unit to any such alliance, several top AGP leaders have been lobbying with the central leadership of the saffron party to ensure that the common votebank of the two parties was not divided in favour of the Congress.

Sources said one of the AGP vice-presidents and state municipal administration minister Biraj Kumar Sharma expressed the apprehension that the party might have to give up some key constituencies if such an alliance materialised.

Sharma was apparently worried about his own seat in which the BJP has a stronghold and in the event of an AGP-BJP alliance, the ruling party might have to concede this seat to the BJP.

However, several other party leaders insisted that priority should be given to coming back to power and hence everyone should be ready to sacrifice his or her seat if the need arises.

The AGP central executive committee which met last month also adopted a similar resolution, authorising Mahanta to take the final decision on a poll tie-up with other parties.

Majority of the central executive committee members present in the meeting underlined the need for reaching an electoral understanding with parties having a common stand on issues like unabated influx and scrapping of the Illegal Migrants� (Determination by Tribunal) Act.

Although Mahanta and other senior AGP leaders have been maintaining that the party�s present alliance with the two Left parties would continue, the constituents of the ruling alliance have not held a single meeting so far.

On the other hand, the AGP has been holding parleys with partners of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, Bodo political groups and the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) to explore the possibilities of forging an electoral alliance with them.

The AGP�s tilt towards the BJP ha

s worried the two Left parties. State CPM secretary Hemen Das said his party would hold a meeting with the state CPI leaders tomorrow to discuss the emerging political situation.

Das said being an independent party, the AGP can hold parleys with any parties or groups it likes. �But our party will remain committed to its anti-Congress and anti-BJP stand. If the AGP decides to go along with the BJP, then the CPM will go alone,� he added.

The state CPI unit had earlier dropped a hint that the party may even consider forging a tie-up with the Congress to check the BJP if the AGP decided to go ahead with the saffron party.


Shillong, March 8: 
Chief minister E.K. Mawlong completed one year in office and celebrated this by releasing a list of his �achievements� at a press conference here today.

Topping the list of achievements was the �improvement in peace in public life.� This claim has been hard to swallow for many, including Mawlong�s own coalition partner, the BJP, which had earlier demanded a white paper on the law and order situation. In response to queries from the Press, the chief minister admitted that the government was preparing a status paper on the law and order situation.

The BJP had raised doubts about the veracity of the government�s claims that the crime rate had gone down, while the public perception was that the number of persons being killed in violent incidents and kidnapped by unknown people was rising.

Mawlong�s list had some interesting �achievements.� This included �a budgetary deficit of over Rs 361 crore, likely to be wiped out within the year,� and �a global tender floated for preparation of DPR for the New Shillong township,� which had newspersons wondering where the �achievements� lay. A particular gem of an achievement was the statement that the �state agrees to host the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF).�

The government considered disbursement of Rs 75 crore as house building advance to its own employees as an achievement worth mentioning in the pamphlet, grandly titled �A Year of Achievements.� But the pamphlet did not mention the Meghalaya Parliamentary Forum government or coalition members.


Itanagar, March 8: 
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Mukut Mithi has stressed the need to develop medicinal plants and other horticultural and forest species in the state.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the Horticulture and Forestry College, the first of its kind in the state, at Pasighat, the district headquarters of East Siang, yesterday, Mithi said, �The foothills zone of the state is suitable for growing citrus fruits, guavas, bananas, pineapples, large cardamoms, black pepper, plums, pears and vegetables.

�Production of apples, walnuts and kiwis should be developed on the rain-shadow area of the hills having 1,000 mm annual rainfall�.

The college will be affiliated to the Central Agriculture University, Imphal. The institution will function independently, official sources said.

Mithi said with the establishment of the Horticulture and Forestry College, the state was expected to make rapid progress in these fields in a couple of years.

Mithi thanked the vice-chancellor of the Central Agriculture University, Imphal, S.S. Baghel, whose co-operation led to the realisation of the college, earlier promised by Union agriculture minister Nitish Kumar.

The chief minister hoped that the college would use the available technical manpower to relay lab information to farmers to help them develop high quality and quantity of horticulture and forest products.

Mithi, however, expressed concern over the development of high-yielding variety of agriculture crops as many indigenous species were becoming extinct.

�We must not forget that low-yielding varieties of wild agricultural and horticultural crops are future insurance for the survival of high-yielding varieties,� he added.

Mithi felicitated the state horticulture department for bagging 10 prizes at the all-India apple show held in Nainital.

He also lauded the department for developing the latest technology and establishing large nurseries at Shergaon and Dirang for multiplication of genuine and disease-free planting material to cater to the farmers� demand.

In both the nurseries, 26 cultivars of apple are being maintained as mother plants.

The chief minister also called upon the authorities to take appropriate action to ensure that the rich bio-diversity and germ plasm of the state are not affected adversely in a bid to maximise production.


Guwahati, March 8: 
Rallies and dharnas were staged by different women�s organisations in different parts of the city today to protest against the atrocities against women on the occasion of International Women�s Day.

The state branch of the All-India Mahila Sangram Samiti staged a dharna in front of the Doordarshan Kendra, protesting against the creation of negative image of women by vested interests.

The samiti expressed serious concern on the proliferation of liqour shops in the city, which has allegedly led to an increase in antisocial activities.

Women activists were seen carrying placards reading �Stop discrimination against women� and �Give equal opportunities to women� at different places in the city to mark the day.

Shillong function

Women social workers called on the Meghalaya government to urgently set up a women�s commission at a state function held to celebrate International Women�s Day in Shillong, says our Shillong staff reporter.

State Social Welfare Advisory Board chairman Theilin Phanbuh reminded the chief guest, chief minister E.K. Mawlong, that Meghalaya remains one of the only states without one and asked him to expedite the process for setting a commission in place.

Rising violence against women in the state, both in the domestic and external spheres, has made it imperative for the state to have a panel, argued Phanbuh, pointing to the high number of rape cases in the state, a new phenomena. Domestic violence is also on the rise, she said.

�We do not have a women�s commission to address the issue of women who are victims of these and other social evils,� said Phanbuh. She said all the other states, including the neighbouring states of the region, have already accepted the need to have a women�s commission. The function was a grand affair with the programme presided over by social welfare minister Maysalin War.

Most of the speakers, including the chief minister, harped on their belief that the women of the state are far better off than women in other parts of the country.

�We have no discrimination or gender bias here, which we often hear being discussed about in other places,� said Mawlong, pointing out that here there is no dowry, no child marriage and no other repressive practices towards women.

He, however, conceded during his speech that �broken families� are becoming a big problem in the state.

In the tribal matrilineal society of the state, Mawlong asked the audience to remember �it is the right of men in our society which is being debated.� He also noted that in Khasi society, women are not allowed to participate in the dorbars and are also left out of many decision-making bodies. He said this being a common phenomenon, it is being addressed by the country through such steps as reservations for women in the political decision-making bodies.

He said women have a great role to play as �mothers, working mothers, and homemakers.� Mawlong felt that most of the problems of rural women could be solved through the self-help groups.

�Successful families depend on the mother. It is sad to see that there are so many broken families and it is for the self-help groups to go into depth of why there are so many such families,� Mawlong said.


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