Growing slower, still a billion plus
Southern snub to Vajpayee
Mamata seeks sacrifice for sacrifice
Where real and reel merge
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, March 26: 
Around 50,000 new Indians a day and that is slow. The snapshot census figures unveiled today put India�s population at 1.02 billion on March 1, 2001. In these past 25 days, we have added about 1.2 million.

Growing at this rate, we created more than the estimated population of the world�s fifth most populous nation, Brazil, in a breezy decade.

We could have done worse. That�s what the census-at-a-glance tells us. In the decade between 1991-2001, the population swelled 21.34 per cent, the growth rate dropping 2.52 percentage points from 23.86 per cent in the previous 10 years. The decline was the sharpest since Independence.

Under the frightening weight of numbers lie two building blocks for future generations � a striking jump in the literacy rate and narrowing of the sex ratio gap.

The lowest population growth rate was recorded in Kerala (9.42 per cent), followed by Tamil Nadu (11.19 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (13.86 per cent). Bihar was, however, exception, recording the highest increase in percentage decadal growth, up from 28.47 during 1981-1991 to 29.43.

The gap in sex ratio � the number of females per 1000 males � narrowed, at 933 females from 927 in the last decade. Here too, Kerala came up trumps, bettering its 1991 report card. While it reported the highest sex ratio at 1058, Haryana recorded the lowest at 861.

However, the sex ratio of the population of children till six years of age was 927 compared to 945 in 1991. �The sharpest decline in sex ratio of the child population has been observed in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttaranchal, Maharashtra and Chandigarh,� census commissioner J.K. Banthia said.

The literacy rate stood at 65.38 per cent with the corresponding figures for males and females being 75.85 and 54.16 respectively. This means that three-fourths of the male population and over half the female population are literate.

Kerala is at the head of the literacy race, too. It leads with 90.92 per cent, followed by Mizoram (88.49 per cent) and Lakshadweep islands (87.92 per cent). Bihar has, not surprisingly, recorded the lowest rate of 47.53 per cent.

India�s share of the world population is 16.7 per cent. Uttar Pradesh continues to be the most populous state with 18.17 per cent of the population, estimated to be more than that of Pakistan. Maharashtra contributes 9.42 per cent and Bihar 8.07 per cent.

The country has added 57 more persons per sq km compared to the 1991 census. Bengal is the most densely populated state with 904 persons per sq km, ahead of Bihar with 880.

As Banthia released the population figures, he congratulated his team for doing a �very good job�. �This is the fastest census anywhere in the world. Nobody can do it faster than us Indians,� he said. He added that the final population results were expected in another 21 months as every village had to be covered. Urban trends will be available by May.

�It would be interesting to note that almost two-thirds of India�s population lives in states and union territories, which show decline in growth rate during 1991-2001 as compared to the previous decade,� Banthia said.

On the literacy findings, he said: �Literacy recorded an impressive jump of 13.17 percentage points from 52.21 in 1991 to 65.38 in 2001. It is heartening to observe that the gap in literacy rate between males and females decreased from 28.84 in the last census to 21.70 percentage points in 2001.�

Banthia said it was significant that for the first time since Independence the �absolute� number of illiterates � as many as 31.96 million � had shown a decline. The decline among males is 21.45 million and among females 10.51 million.


New Delhi, March 26: 
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is planning to address rallies across the country to counter the Opposition storm over the Tehelka expose, is likely to skip Hyderabad and Chennai as his strongest allies in the south have distanced themselves from the campaign.

The Telugu Desam has announced that it will not attend any of the National Democratic Alliance�s rallies aimed at defending those accused in the Tehelka tapes. The DMK, too, faced with elections round the corner, is not keen to be seen on the same platform as those tainted by Tehelka.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who has to prepare his party for Panchayat elections in May, told a politburo meeting of the Desam yesterday: �We have to seriously rethink our priorities and political objectives now that this alliance has very little chance of lasting longer.�

The two parties, while pledging support to the NDA government, skipped yesterday�s rally in the capital after which it was decided that Vajpayee would make a tour of the country and address meets in state capitals.

Naidu is more keen on a probe that would exonerate the BJP rather political rallies aimed at taking on the Opposition.

But NDA leaders, upbeat after the �success� of yesterday�s rally, have chalked out the agenda for further meets.

According to the tentative tour programme, Vajpayee will address rallies in Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow and Mumbai, while home minister L.K. Advani and former defence minister George Fernandes will tour other state capitals.

The BJP has also put together a 50-member team of party leaders to run the campaign at the district level to take the sting out of the Tehelka expose.

Barring the two southern parties, all other allies are solidly behind the government.


New Delhi & Calcutta, March 26: 
You lump the Left, I dump the BJP. That�s the give-and-take offer Sonia Gandhi�s emissary Kamal Nath went away with after his talks with Mamata Banerjee in Calcutta late last night.

After the first direct talks between Mamata and a representative of the Congress high command, Kamal Nath said the key objective of the meeting was to establish the fact that the Trinamul Congress had snapped its election tie-up with the BJP in Bengal.

�It is very clear and that is what has initiated these talks,� he said. He admitted that both sides had to do some homework before the talks could be taken forward.

That homework consists in getting the green signal from Sonia to preclude all possibility of aligning with the Left in Delhi to put up an alternative to the BJP-led government.

This is the price Mamata is demanding for going back on the seat adjustment with the BJP. Closing out the Left option at the Centre at this point of time when the Vajpayee government appears shaky is not going to be an easy decision for the Congress, sources in the party said. Compared with Delhi, its stakes in Bengal are minor.

Accepting Mamata�s condition � though Kamal Nath said there was none from either side � would also mean negation of the Bangalore declaration where the Congress conceded the end of single-party rule and opened itself up to the idea of coalition.

�We cannot keep shifting our ideological stand to fulfil regional compulsions,� said a Congress leader. Other than the Left, few parties in the Opposition will join hands with the Congress.

Kamal Nath was, however, confident of an alliance with Trinamul. The Congress will oppose the Left �tooth and nail�, he said.

Despite the Congress� obvious problems, many party leaders felt that obliging Mamata would not be too difficult since the Bangalore declaration also talks of opposing �Left misrule� in Bengal and Kerala.

Kamal Nath is expected back in Calcutta tomorrow night to take the talks forward after getting the sanction of Sonia, now away in Hong Kong, for agreeing to Mamata�s condition. A preliminary agreement on seat adjustment is expected by Thursday.

�The picture will be clear within a couple of days,� Trinamul leader Pankaj Banerjee said.

The serious business of tackling differences over seat sharing would demand all the patience the two sides can summon. One of these is the Congress insistence on nominating all sitting MLAs. While Mamata is ready to withdraw her candidates from a few constituencies where the Congress won last time, she is refusing to accept Somen Mitra and Atish Sinha.

Mitra said he would withdraw from Sealdah in the interest of the party but would not contest any other seat.


Mumbai, March 26: 
Spumes of frothy, fuming water threaten to swallow you as you race down the river Nile in an unseen craft. Your heart flutters, eyes goggle and hair sticks up when you approach a waterfall.

You are moving too fast. There is no stopping you.

Then, you plunge off the fall�s thundering, spray-clouded, razor-sharp edge. You close your eyes.


No, you are not dead, but on the edge of your seat at the country�s first � and the world�s largest � Imax movie theatre that was opened in the film capital last evening.

It was a head-spinning, stomach-churning experience for an audience of some 1,000 people, mostly Bollywood actors, actresses and filmmakers, who watched spellbound a Hollywood film called Mysteries of Egypt, starring Omar Sharif.

�Incredible,� gasped director Govind Nihalni. �I may now make an Imax film myself.�

�I had to see it to believe it,� gushed Chhagan Bhujbal, coming out of the theatre with chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh after the screening.

Shot with special films and cameras, Imax movies, shown in a specially-designed theatre, can give you the feel of being in the film, blurring the line dividing reel and real life.

Imax, a Canadian company, uses the most advanced projection system in the world and the largest film frame in the motion picture�s history. In other words, its film is 10 times larger than a conventional 35mm frame and its sound four times louder than usual.

A titanic screen and a 12,000 watt digital wraparound sound help create a web of illusion the audience finds hard to escape.

The 100,000 sq ft, onion-domed theatre has been set up at a cost of Rs 50 crore by Manmohan Shetty of Adlabs, the country�s leading film processing laboratory. It seats up to 520 people.

Imax South Asia vice-president Jim Patterson, who was present at the inauguration, called the Mumbai theatre, with a 13,700 sq ft screen, the largest in the world. All other 229 Imax theatres in the US, Canada and Europe, have smaller screens.

hough Imax films, launched in Canada, were around for nearly 30 years, it caught on in recent years as �it is the big and beautiful� in filmdom.

Patterson said they had plans for a total of 10 Imax theatres in India, but none of them would be as big as Mumbai�s. While Mumbai will have another Imax theatre, other cities included Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Chennai.

The Imax executive said they were holding talks to set up a theatre in Calcutta too, but refused to give details. �It�s too early to say anything on the Calcutta project.�

While Bollywood marvels at the new technology, it is not sure the impact it will have on the film industry or about its future.. For one thing, Imax films are expensive to make.

While a regular Hindi feature film costs Rs 10 crore, an Imax film costs four times as much, Nihalni said. This, in turn, inflates the prices of ticket, making a film commercially unviable. A ticket at the Imax Mumbai theatre costs Rs 150. �We wish we could show you sex and violence, but we don�t,� said Patterson. �The effect of Imax sex and violence would be too real to deal with in reel life.�




Maximum: 34.8�C (0)
Minimum: 23.6�C (+2)



Relative humidity

Max: 87%
Min: 39%


Partly cloudy sky. Maximum temperature likely to be around 35�C.
Sunrise: 5.38 am
Sunset: 5.46 pm

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