Migration on minority minds
Buy an award from Bachchan
Six-day war verdict lies with Sayeed
Summer of domestic discontent
CM sniffs Badal link in job scam
Wife-bashers shatter myth
Cocktail cars, and pocket-friendly too
Ahmad back, twin bonus for Ambika
All�s not bad with Satan America
Calcutta Weather

Ahmedabad, April 22: 
When Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Ahmedabad to remind chief minister Narendra Modi about his �rajdharma�, the Prime Minister set a task: conditions should be created for refugees living in camps to be able to return home.

No one is returning home, preferring the safety in numbers at the camps sheltering some 100,000 people. Some are thinking of leaving Gujarat altogether. A section of minority community leaders is �seriously considering� migration out of Modi�s state to neighbouring Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where, they believe, they will not be hounded.

A social worker, who has been attending these �secret meetings�, said: �Minority leaders are serious about the issue.� A decision, one way or the other, will be taken shortly.

According to the Opposition Congress, migration has already started. �All those who can flee are leaving relief camps for other states,� AICC general secretary Kamal Nath, who returned to Delhi yesterday from Gujarat, said.

BJP sources said they expected Kutch to become a destination for victims of communal violence in different parts of the state. Again, for reasons of safety in numbers: minorities form 60 per cent of the population in Kutch.

In Delhi, home ministry officials denied reports of the minority community leaving Gujarat. �There is no such move,� a senior official said.

An intelligence official said: �Our information is that Muslims are moving out of Hindu areas. The few Hindus who are near Muslim neighbourhoods are also moving out.� But, so far, field officers from the state have not reported migration, he added.

Minority community leaders have taken heart from a reported Andhra Pradesh government proposal to allot 300 acres in the state for Gujarat riot victims. But it appears that it was simply a suggestion made to chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu who has neither accepted nor rejected it.

Even if such a proposal was there, Gujarat government spokesman I.K. Jadeja does not believe it would be �workable�. �Do you think it is possible?� he asked, questioning the premise that people will go all the way from Gujarat to a southern state to begin life anew.

Jadeja was equally dismissive of the possibility of migration to neighbouring states. �It is all humbug. Baseless rumours.�

But minority community leaders do not think that, given a chance, Muslims would reject out of hand shifting to Andhra.

A large number of non-Gujarati migrant Muslims, who lost their means of livelihood in the riots, have already left the state and returned to their homes. Those who have been left behind are only waiting to collect the compensation before they, too, head out, said Harnesh Pandya, a representative of an NGO engaged in relief work.

Over 1,200 families from the north of the state have migrated to Abu Road in Rajasthan, 25 km from the Gujarat border. Pandya said the minority community felt it convenient and safe to settle in Abu Road, which already has a large Muslim population.

Ataullakhan, a businessman, said if community leaders decide that all Muslims should leave Gujarat, he would pack up, too. Ataullakhan has an established business which, he admitted, would be difficult to set up elsewhere. Still, �no one was born with business. Life is more important than anything else�.

Explaining why there could be an exodus, Mohsin Qadri, a leading advocate and community leader, said: �Even if these riot victims are rehabilitated, they will never feel safe in Gujarat. They will be looted again and again. Just as it happened in 1969, 1986, 1992 and now 2002.�

The VHP, Bajrang Dal and other such organisations are asking Hindus to boycott Muslims.

�If Muslims are not going to get jobs in Gujarat and no Hindu is going to do business with us, we will have to migrate. Is there any other option?� asked Qadri.


New Delhi, April 22: 
For the right price, you can �buy� an award from Abhishek Bachchan.

No, not the Big B�s son. This Bachchan calls himself a journalist and runs an institution called the All-India Achievers� Conference that, together with the National Citizens� Guild, gives away awards of excellence to people from all walks of life.

On Wednesday, 46 �achievers� from all over country will be honoured at a function in Delhi.

But the award does not come cheap. To get a citation, a gold medal and a trophy you have to first shell out Rs 19,000 � Rs 15,000 for the National Guild and Rs 4,000 to get a biography printed.

The letter informing the awardees of their selection says: �I have only attempted to add one more valuable feather to your unblemished record of remarkable achievements you have already made.� Money matters come later, when the �achiever� is told he will have to pay a substantive amount before he can take home the award.

Union minister of state for information and broadcasting Ramesh Bais, former ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and S. Venugopalachari, ghazal singer Penaaz Masani and television anchor and journalist Manoj Raghuvanshi are among the patrons of the National Guild�s 13-member board.

But politicians of all shades have dissociated themselves from the �Gem of India Award�.

Naqvi claimed that he had no idea the organisations charged money. �Did they take money also? I was not aware of it,� the BJP national secretary said.

The former minister added that his name was listed among the patrons without his knowledge. �I remember they got in touch once or twice � but my association with them was thin,� Naqvi stressed.

Formal letter pads of both organisations display names of politicians who claim to have had no connection with them in the past 10 years.

�I never had much to do with them after I found out about their financial bungling. For the last 10 years, I have not heard from them or seen them,� Congress MP Girija Vyas said. But Bachchan claims that Vyas is on the advisory board of the Achievers� Conference.

Asked about the money they are charging the awardees, Bachchan is outright rude. �It is my business what I do with the money and how I spend it,� he growls.

�All I will tell you is that I pay taxes and spend every bit of the money.�


New Delhi, April 22: 
An end to the six-day deadlock in the Lok Sabha appeared within sight with Deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed saying he would give his ruling tomorrow on whether a discussion on the Gujarat violence would be allowed under Rule 184, which entails voting, or Rule 193, which does not.

However, the Rajya Sabha impasse is likely to continue.

Sayeed, who tried in vain to evolve a consensus, said he would use his discretion tomorrow and give the ruling, though he did not hint which way he would tilt. All parties had earlier said that as there was no consensus they would abide by the chair.

Parliament veterans, however, felt Sayeed might allow a discussion under Rule 184 after altering the text of the Opposition notice that says the Centre had failed to check violence in Gujarat. Sources said if Sayeed allows a discussion under Rule 184, it would be a moral blow to the Centre though it has the numbers to defeat the motion.

Even today, Gujarat returned to haunt both the Houses, forcing their adjournment within 10 minutes of starting.

There was speculation that a worried government could table a confidence motion to thwart any discussion under Rule 184. But BJP spokesperson and floor leader V.K. Malhotra denied it.

Another rumour was that if the motion under Rule 184 was admitted and the government was defeated in the voting, Vajpayee would resign. But there were few takers for this theory.

Political observers also pointed to the changed circumstances with the government having won the support of the Telugu Desam, which gives it the right numbers to defeat a censure motion in case it was allowed. A senior Cabinet minister claimed that even without the support of the Desam and the Trinamul Congress the government could defeat the Opposition motion.

After the chair�s ruling tomorrow, the business advisory committee will decide on the time and duration of the discussion. It is most likely to be held after the Finance Bill and the railway budget are passed.

While the Lok Sabha is expected to resume normal business tomorrow, the logjam in the Rajya Sabha is unlikely to be resolved soon. There, too, the Opposition is demanding a discussion with the provision for voting � under Rule 170.

Though the government has been boxed into a corner, it received a breather with some allies easing the pressure.

�We are NDA partners. We are all together,� Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee told reporters, saying the Vajpayee government was safe.

Mamata met Sayeed today, but refused to give details. The sources said Mamata also had two meetings with Desam parliamentary party leader K. Yerran Naidu. They said she wanted the Desam to raise the demand for imposition of Article 356 in Gujarat but did not receive much support. She is understood to have told Chandrababu Naidu that Trinamul will support the Desam on whatever stand it takes on Rule 184.

Naidu, who is keeping his cards close to his chest, is in touch with Yerran Naidu and other Desam leaders in Delhi.


Lucknow, April 22: 
If it gets steamy outside, it could get stormy inside.

Weather � who hasn�t felt under it? � does affect the way we behave. Now, data is available suggesting a correlation between the weather and the state of the marriage.

Records in Lucknow�s Family Court show that rising temperatures could lead to deteriorating relationships: the greater the heat outside, the graver the dangers within the four walls.

Counsellors and researchers attached to the family court have collected data for over 10 years on divorces, discord and separation between married couples and come up with two distinct trends: that summer is hot and winter is, well, cool.

In a respite for couples who blame each other for distress, the research reveals that cases of marital discord double between April and September. The history of divorces at the court since 1993 shows that of the 987 cases registered since then, a whopping 540 were started in the months of April to September.

Last year, of the 133 cases reported in the court, 84 were filed in the hot months. Only 49 were registered between October and March.

In 1998-99, the difference was almost three times. While in the more pleasant months only 20 cases were reported, summertime came with a boom � or maybe a bang � inside the house. Almost 60 cases were filed by sweaty couples tired of the slugfest in their overheated nests.

The findings have left even the researchers cold in the heart. Extreme cold in dark and dreary winter, by the way, is already known to cause a depressing effect, called in the West �seasonal affective disorder�, SAD.

�It is amazing, but it is true,� says an exasperated Rangit Pandey, a family counsellor who has been looking into �the two deadly factors�.

�Weather has most definitely a very strong effect in the lives of people, especially married couples,� he says adding, �heat and humidity outside can easily fray tempers inside. People generally tend to lose their composure in conditions of unbearable heat. They are either inactive or hyperactive. Temperament during pleasant weather, on the other hand, is more temperate.�

Vandana Awasthi, also a counsellor, agrees. Prolonged power cuts add to the discord. It is not just hot, but also dark and that is a terrible combination, the counsellors said.

October to March is a period of relative marital calm not simply because it�s cooler. It�s also the time of festivities, points out Pandey. The festive mood � beginning with Dussera, and followed by Dipawali, Christmas and New Year and ending in Holi � casts a spell on relationships. �People are too busy celebrating to fight all the time.�

The worst part of the findings is that there has been no change in the trend in the past decade, leaving het-up couples at the mercy of the heat and to find their own way out of the sticky mess.

So, the next time you have a fight at home, blame it on the weather and install an air-conditioner. If you can�t afford it, well there�s nothing like a healthy shouting match with the other half, summer or winter.


Chandigarh, April 22: 
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh today said he does not rule out the possibility of his predecessor and Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal�s involvement in the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) recruitment scam.

�For the last six months, I have been crying myself hoarse on the way the PPSC was being run. I do not believe that Badal was not aware of what PPSC chairman Ravinder Paul Singh Sidhu was up to. Either Badal turned a blind eye to what was going on in the name of recruitment or there was some ulterior motive behind not taking action against Sidhu,� Singh alleged.

The charge is likely to have widespread ramifications in the state�s political scenario in the days to come. Badal was not available for comments.

Sidhu was arrested on March 25 while allegedly accepting bribe from a candidate who had applied for a PPSC executive post. On Friday, five lockers belonging to Sidhu�s mother, brother and sister-in-law in a private bank were broken by vigilance bureau officers to reveal Rs 8.16 crore in cash.

�The investigations into the amassing of wealth by Sidhu are still on. They have not ended as yet. During Sidhu�s tenure, the PPSC recruited 3,446 persons. The recruitment process which was on for 639 candidates, is being cancelled for scrutiny. New recruitments will be investigated to figure out how many candidates paid to get the jobs,� the chief minister said.

Singh, however, tried to play safe when asked if the vigilance bureau�s probe would also include sitting judges or a Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, who had allegedly paid bribes to secure jobs for their children.

�I do not know if anyone is involved, but the law will take its own course. I cannot comment on judges coming under inquiry. But every recruitment will be investigated to find out if any money exchanged hands,� he said.

�The probe will cover all recruitments � from the police to lecturers. I believe that even lecturers had to pay Rs 1 lakh for a job. But of the 3,446 recruitments, there may be many who did not pay to get selected. Each recruitment made under Sidhu would be dealt with individually,� Singh said.

The chief minister denied that a commission has been set up to investigate the scam. �The vigilance bureau is handling the job and they are going about it very well. Nobody will be shielded as long as I am the chief minister,� he said.

Evading a question on civil servants being the next targets in the state, Singh said the government will act only on specific complaints. �We cannot look into the affairs of every officer,� the chief minister said. Some key high officials in the state, incidentally, have been facing charges of graft. Singh was non-committal on whether a probe has been ordered against them.

Defending former chief minister Harcharan Singh Brar who had appointed Sidhu to head the PPSC in 1996, Singh said Brar had no idea about what was in store for him and should not be blamed for the appointment. Singh and Brar do not see eye to eye. Brar had contested Singh�s claim to chief ministership along with Faridkot MP Jagmeet Brar.

Jagman Singh, a key Sidhu associate, had expressed desire to turn approver against the PPSC chief. Jagman reportedly named some VVIPs to be involved in the recruitment scam in his confessional statement in a Kharar court yesterday. The exercise took over five hours.

The court had earlier rejected a written confession that Jagman had shown to the police. His request to turn approver has been forwarded to the Ropar special judge court for a verdict.

Tainted VC sacked

The chief minister has announced that Punjab University vice-chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, facing charges of molestation and attempt to murder, would be sacked.

Education secretary N. S. Rattan has been appointed acting vice-chancellor.

Ahluwalia has been accused of molesting a fine arts student of the university, Saru Rana. He also faces charges of attempt to murder following an attack on a lecturer of the university.

Ahluwalia�s term as vice-chancellor would have ended next month. Governor J.F.R. Jacob �also chancellor of the university � removed him on the recommendation of the state government.


Chennai, April 22: 
A study has punctured the popular notion that violence in inter-personal relationships goes down as the levels of education and affluence go up. On the contrary, the study has found that there is a �high level of sexual violence� among men who are well-educated and well placed in society.

The study was conducted by Nata Duvvury, Madhabika Nayak and Keera Allendorf of the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). The findings were presented at a three-day conference � sponsored by ICRW and Usaid � on �Domestic Violence in India� that began here.

�This (trend) requires further research and analysis,� the researchers said of their �aggregate analysis� of data pooled from three states � Punjab (250 respondents), Rajasthan (485) and Tamil Nadu (232).

The cumulative analysis of data from the three states seeks to explain how demographic factors such as age, education, employment and socio-economic status can enrich our understanding of the links between �masculinity and violence� in India.

In the authors� overall assessment of the data from these three states as reported by demographic factors, �wife-beating� (or physical violence) is more prevalent in the �lower classes� (those who have less education, irregular employment, etc.).

Despite India�s cultural, economic and historical diversities, the study found that men in all the regions surveyed agreed that certain characteristics, �including physical appearance (that includes style and dress), conduct, responsibilities and sexuality (virility/ability to satisfy the partner) are markers of masculinity�.

Among the �demographic trends in domestic violence�, the data suggests that physical violence �does decline significantly among highly educated men�. Reporting of physical violence ranged from 46 per cent to 43 per cent among men with 0-10 years of education. But it dropped to 15 per cent among men with over 12 years of education.

However, �in its relationship to education, sexual violence follows almost the opposite pattern from physical violence,� the researchers say. The highest reported incidences of sexual violence were found among highly educated men.

Giving figures, the researchers said 32 per cent of men with no education report sexual violence. This climbs to 47 per cent for men with maximum education of five years. But the figure shoots up to 57 per cent for men with six to 10 years of education.

Similarly, when physical violence in a marital or intimate relationship declines as the socio-economic status of the person increases, the incidence of �sexual violence� among the surveyed groups shows just the opposite trend. Those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder reported the lowest rate of sexual violence at 35 per cent. This zoomed to 61 per cent for those at the top of the scale.


Mumbai, April 22: 
Don�t drink and drive; just let your car do it for you.

Alcohol is on its way to replace petrol in a big way in the country and cut down your soaring fuel bills. Isn�t it intoxicating?

Taking a cue from Brazil, Union petroleum minister Ram Naik has permitted the blending of alcohol and petrol for the first time to produce autonol or gasohol, a cheap but effective substitute for petrol popularised by the Latin American country.

And you don�t need to change your car engines. Any vehicles running on petrol can run on this cocktail of alcohol and petrol, say experts.

And this is good news for Naik�s state, Maharashtra, the largest producer of sugarcane and the main raw material for alcohol. Not surprisingly, the first to take advantage of the Centre�s policy is Naik�s party colleague and former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde.

Munde, the BJP national vice-president, declared today that he was setting up a distillery at a cost of Rs 11 crore to produce ethanol or pure alcohol that has no water in it, necessary for automobiles.

He said it will produce 30 ,000 litres of ethanol a day and sell it to public sector oil companies such as Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil for blending.

Munde�s statements, however, were spiked with politics. He accused the Congress-led state government of not allowing the sugar cooperative to set up a distillery when the Union government has okayed the use of ethanol.

Brazil, the biggest producer of sugarcane in the world, was the first country to start using alcohol to run its automobiles. That was three decades ago.

Today, nearly 4.5 million vehicles run on this cocktail of alcohol and petrol in that country, helping it save $2 billion every year in fuel bills.

�If Brazil can do it, why can�t we?� Anil M. Kadakia, Brazil�s honorary consul in Mumbai, a staunch advocate of autonol, asked. �India is after all the second largest producer of sugarcane after Brazil.�

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry is excited at the idea.

�It is going to be a much-needed alternative to petrol and we badly need it,� Ficci western regional director J.K. Mehra said.

Mehra said Naik had learnt of autonol during a visit to Brazil. �The minister was highly impressed and when we pressed for it, he readily agreed.�

Naik�s aides said the minister has allowed the blending of five per cent of alcohol with petrol initially, but would gradually raise it to 20 per cent, close to what Brazil does.

Kadakia, author of a booklet on autonol, said even the use of five per cent of alcohol would help India save nearly Rs 4,000 crore annually.

Mehra added that the biggest advantage of autonol was that car engines would not have to be changed. �It can be used to run any car that runs on petrol. All you need is to make it available at gas stations.�


New Delhi, April 22: 
Ambika Soni, Ahmad Patel, Mukul Wasnik and Vayalar Ravi emerged as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi�s key trouble-shooters, bagging key posts in the much-awaited organisational revamp that concluded today.

With an eye on Gujarat, Sonia brought Patel back as her political secretary, a year after he had quit as AICC treasurer because of differences with his state leader Madhavsinh Solanki and the Congress president�s private secretary, Vincent George.

AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat Kamal Nath has given up his other responsibility � Assam � to focus on the riot-scarred state.

But the day belonged to Soni, who would now double up as Sonia�s political secretary and AICC general secretary in charge of Congress-ruled Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Her appointment to two posts is an exception to the �one-man, one-post norm�. Usually, it is the Congress president who is exempt from the norm, being also the parliamentary party leader.

Soni and Patel would liaise between party workers and the leadership. Soni will also continue to head the Congress President�s Office and the AICC�s media department. Sources said there was general consensus that the Soni-Ahmad-Wasnik-Ravi quartet would phase out the coterie of Arjun Singh, K. Natwar Singh, M.L. Fotedar and V. George that has dominated decision-making since Sonia took over in March 1998.

Wasnik has replaced Mahabir Prasad as AICC general secretary. Prasad, who is from Uttar Pradesh, seems to have paid the price for the party�s performance in the Assembly polls in the state. He has, however, been retained in the Congress Working Committee. Deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Shivraj Patil, has been inducted into the CWC.

The revamp left a lot to be desired in terms of regional balance. There are now four �heavyweights� from Kerala while representation from a poll-bound state like Andhra Pradesh is minimal.

Ravi, who is from Kerala, has been appointed new AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra, Maharashtra and Karnataka. He has also been drafted into the CWC. The working committee already has two members from the state � A.K. Antony and K. Karunakaran � while Ramesh Chennithala, another leader from Kerala, is AICC secretary with independent charge of Tamil Nadu, Goa and the other Union Territories.

Veteran Motilal Vora will be in charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh.

Sonia, however, failed to prune the AICC secretariat. Last year she had made over 100 appointments, creating dozens of new departments. Today, she added more, accommodating Renuka Chowdhry in the �Khet Mazdoor� department.

There was speculation that Sonia would drop many AICC secretaries. But she eased out only four � Santosh Chowdhury, Sudha Joshi, Omem Deori and Buneshwar Kalitha � and added three � Krishna Tirath, Parvez Hashmi and Iqbal Singh.

There was disappointment at 24, Akbar Road as the revamp, deferred several times, raised expectations of �sweeping changes�.


Washington, April 22: 
�Yankee go back, but please take me with you!� This popular joke about protest chants by anti-American demonstrators in Third World countries has been reinforced by a new opinion poll in five Arab countries, three non-Arab Muslim countries as well as France and Venezuela.

America may be widely perceived to be at war with Islam because of its current campaign against terrorism and its support for Israel, but the vast majority of those surveyed in the Islamic world have overwhelming admiration for American movies and television.

The most surprising support for US entertainment industry comes from Iran, where America has been condemned as �The Great Satan� since the Islamic revolution nearly a quarter century ago. A whopping 75 per cent of Iranians polled said they enjoyed American movies and television.

In Pakistan, the respective figure was 62 per cent and in Indonesia 77 per cent. Even in Saudi Arabia, where there are no cinemas, US film productions received a favourable vote of 54 per cent while both in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, the figure was 64 per cent.

Predictably, in France, which prides itself as the bulwark against the McDonald�s culture, American movies and television got a favourable rating of only 47 per cent.

Except in Iran and France, American education received high marks among those polled. In Iran, where the post-Khomeini generation has had no exposure to US academia, only 20 per cent favoured American education. In France, the comparative figure was 27 per cent.

Again, in Iran, which has no trade with the US, 84 per cent of respondents favoured American goods to anything else. This is probably because Iranians have been used to American products during the decades of Pahlavi rule, when the US was the closest ally of the Shah.

In Pakistan, 75 per cent of those polled wanted Americans goods, in Lebanon 72 per cent and in Indonesia 71 per cent. The highest rating of 89 per cent for US goods came from America�s continental neighbour, Venezuela.

US products enjoyed much less support in Saudi Arabia (53 per cent) and in Kuwait (57 per cent), countries where European goods have traditionally had an advantage. In France, once again, a bare majority of 51 per cent wanted American goods.

Views are, however, not so unanimous when it comes to politics.

In Iran, an overwhelming majority of 92 per cent of respondents said they viewed American versions of freedom and democracy unfavourably while in Indonesia, 53 per cent of those polled had similar views.

The picture was, however, vastly different in other Muslim countries. In Saudi Arabia, which has none of the trappings of democracy or free speech, 52 per cent of respondents extolled the virtues of US democracy and freedom, while in Kuwait, the only Gulf state with an elected parliament, the figure was 58 per cent.

In Pakistan, France and Venezuela, 71 per cent of those polled had a good opinion of the American people while a negative opinion fluctuated from 41 per cent in Indonesia to 48 per cent in Iran.

The most unfavourable rating of 51 per cent for the American people came from Saudi Arabia, Washington�s close ally and home to a big US military base.

Of course, negative ratings of US policy towards Arabs and Palestinians were pervasive � upwards of 72 per cent � in all the Muslim states surveyed. In Pakistan, 72 per cent of respondents concurred with this view.

An incredible 88 per cent was the return from Kuwait, which the US helped liberate from Iraqi occupation in 1991. Kuwait also harboured a deep dislike of Palestinians for their support for the Iraqi occupation.




Maximum: 34.2�C (-2)
Minimum: 28.1�C (+3)



Relative humidity

Max: 91%
Min: 57%

Sunrise: 5.37 am

Sunset: 5.09 pm


Generally cloudy sky, with possibility of light rain, accompanied by thunder, in some parts

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