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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Panetta lets stand report that Israel may attack Iran by June

Panetta lets stand report that Israel may attack Iran by June

Washington Post opinion columnist says U.S. Defense Secretary believes there is 'strong likelihood' that Israel will attack Iran in coming months; Panetta refuses to dispute report.

By The Associated Press and Haaretz Tags: Iran Iran nuclear Israel US


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta won't dispute a report that he believes Israel may attack Iran this spring in an attempt to set back the Islamic republic's nuclear program.
Panetta was asked by reporters to comment on a Washington Post opinion column by David Ignatius that said Panetta believes there is a "strong likelihood" that Israel will attack in April, May or June. Ignatius did not say who told him this.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaking during a ceremony commemorating the 9/11 in Arlington, Virginia September 9, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters
Asked whether he disputes the report, Panetta said, "No, I'm just not commenting."
He added, "What I think and what I view, I consider that to be an area that belongs to me and nobody else."
He noted that Israel has stated publicly that it is considering military action against Iran. He said the U.S. has "indicated our concerns."
In the Washington Post piece, Ignatius writes, "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action, which would be triggered by intelligence that Iran is building a bomb, which it hasn’t done yet."
"Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb," Ignatius writes.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a military operation against Iran must be considered should sanctions on the Islamic Republic do not prove fruitful.
"Today, unlike in the past, there is widespread international belief that it is vital to prevent Iran from becoming 'nuclear' and that no option should be taken off the table," Barak said at the closing day of the Herzliya Conference.
SOURCE

In court, target practice on govt Edge to chief on first day

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120204/jsp/frontpage/story_15091220.jsp

In court, target practice on govt
Edge to chief on first day

SAMANWAYA RAUTRAY
New Delhi, Feb. 3: The Supreme Court today found fault with the government’s decision-making process on the army chief’s age, handing Gen. V.K. Singh a technical victory of sorts but the case is far from settled.
Gen. Singh’s petition challenging the government order that set his date of birth at May 10, 1950, despite his claim that it should be May 10, 1951, has neither been admitted nor dismissed by the court.
Ambushed by a verbal barrage in court — the judges prima facie dubbed the decision-making process which fixed his date of birth on May 10, 1950, as “vitiated” — the government’s lawyers beat a hasty retreat.
“We are not sitting in judicial review on the merits of your decision. We are sitting in judicial review of the decision-making process,” Justice R.M. Lodha said.
The bench of Justices Lodha and H.L. Gokhale asked attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati and solicitor-general Rohinton Nariman, who were representing the Centre, whether the government would withdraw the December 30 order or should the court quash it.
The government lawyers asked the court for time to seek instructions. The matter will come up again next Friday (February 10).
The December 30 defence ministry order rejects the contentions made by the army chief in his statutory complaint to defence minister A.K. Antony. As in an order on July 22 last year, this order was also prepared in consultation with attorney-general Vahanvati.
After once taking a decision in July 2011 to fix the general’s age at 1950 in “consultation” with the attorney-general, the government should not have referred Gen. Singh’s complaint against this decision to the same law officer for a second time, the court observed.
“This is against all principles of natural justice… administrative law,” Justice Lodha said. “It does not pass the test of constitutional principles.”
The attorney-general said he was “duty-bound” to advise the government every time it was sought.
The court noted the circumstances of the case. “What is the man supposed to do? He only has four months left in office,” Justice Lodha observed at one point, virtually giving an ultimatum to the government to either withdraw the December 30 decision and relook at the entire issue or have it quashed.
Gen. Singh retires on May 31, this year, if the government’s decision holds. Otherwise, he may be entitled to an extension for 10 months.
“(The defence minister)… did not base his decision on my opinion,” Vahanvati insisted. He then tried to portray the general’s conduct in poor light.
“There is something very serious in the matter,” he said, referring to an earlier attempt to get the opinion from a legal adviser of the law and justice ministry to support the general’s claim, bypassing the ministry.
“He also gets the opinion of four former CJIs (Chief Justices of India). This is not proper,” Vahanvati insisted. “That is why it was referred to me for an opinion,” he claimed.
The attorney-general had said the dispute was a service matter and asked for the petition to be referred to the Armed Forces Tribunal. The court asked Gen. Singh to weigh his options. He has the options of going to the tribunal, the high court or staying with the Supreme Court.
But at one point during the questioning of the government counsel, the court observed that for the peculiar facts of this case, the tribunal was not the remedy.
“The tribunal has members from the army. While in service, they may have been his subordinates or boss…. In this peculiar facts and circumstances, this may not be the most efficacious remedy,” Justice Lodha said.
Gen. Singh was represented in court by senior counsel Uday Lalit who said that no seniority list was ever prepared on the basis of his date of birth. Ram Jethmalani was also present in the court and he said later that the army chief had sought his counsel.
When Lodha said the defence minister should have decided the issue on his own, solicitor-general Nariman asked: “Does that mean that a declaration of his age as 1951?”
Justice Lodha said there were many ways out of this. The government could withdraw the December 30 order, he suggested.
The attorney-general was quick to agree. “That complaint was not maintainable and should have been thrown into the dustbin,” he said. However, he realised that he may have committed more than required — and criticised the government he was representing — and hastily clarified that he would need instructions on this.
“Tell us, we will quash it and send the matter back to the defence minister,” Justice Lodha said. “We can’t shut our eyes.”

THE GREAT FLYOVER FARCE


THE GREAT FLYOVER FARCE

Six months to go, only one-third done
KINSUK BASU
Only a third of the work has been done in one of the city’s biggest infrastructure projects, the Park Circus-Parama flyover, though the completion deadline is barely six months away and no one seems to have a clue when — or maybe if — things will get a move on.
Since November 2009, when the erstwhile Left Front government had awarded the contract to Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), many pillars have come up along the EM Bypass and the Park Circus connector but that is the only work done.
“Thirty-four per cent to be precise,” said a senior official associated with the project.
The flyover rising near Silver Spring and merging with the AJC Bose Road flyover 4.24km away was billed as the cure-all for traffic woes along the burgeoning Bypass and its most popular arterial link, the Park Circus connector.
The “work order” was issued on February 2010 and, according to the contract with HCC — which had built the celebrated Bandra-Worli Sea Link — the completion date is August 2012.
In November 2009, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee regime had promised the Rs 318-crore project would be completed in two years. After coming to power last May, the Trinamul Congress’s urban development minister, Firhad Hakim, had iterated that the project would be completed “by 2011”.
When Metro started probing the delay, the problems plaguing the project started crawling out of the pipelines. They are so many and so varied that they involve various agencies of the state as well as the railways, and sources in the know said it could take “several years” for the tangle to be sorted out.
Here are some of the primary problems:
• Getting the service road ready on the Silver Spring side of Bypass, re-acquiring from farmers in Dhapa what is actually government land and removing encroachments from the Park Circus connector near the approach to the overbridge spanning the railway tracks, popularly known as Bridge No. 4.
• Removing the underground utilities.
• Aligning the flyover with Bridge No. 4 especially because, according to the contract, another agency should be tasked with this job and not the one building the flyover.
• Building a road around the old railway overbridge to facilitate vehicular movement when construction of the flyover begins on this stretch.
• The presence of residential buildings near the Park Circus seven-point crossing, where an arm of the flyover has to be built to allow vehicles heading to Science City to take the flyover directly.
• Battling traffic regulations because of the many fairs that run through the year at Milan Mela, the rush at Science City and the social functions at ITC Sonar Calcutta.
“Unless things are made to move, it would be really difficult to complete the project (at all),” an exasperated HCC official told Metro.
Flyovers, huh?
According to the plan, two flyovers have to be built on either side of the main flyover near the Dhapa crossing on the Bypass to facilitate movement of vehicles that are not taking the Parama flyover.
Till date, only piling for pillars on the ITC Sonar side has been done. The pier and the pier caps on each of these piles can’t be constructed because the CMDA has yet to complete the work on the service road that would allow diversion of traffic. The land on the other side (Dhapa) has not yet been acquired.
“Unless these two flyovers are built, traffic can’t move beneath the main flyover,” said an urban development department official overseeing work on the Parama flyover.
The CMDA, the authority which gave the contract to HCC and under which come both the Bypass and the connector, has done precious little on this front in two years and two months.
So far, the CMDA has handed over only 47 per cent of the land required for the project. About the rest, no one knows how and when.
“It’s true that land is required on the Dhapa side. The land belongs to the CMDA but it has been taken over by a clutch of farmers. We are trying to negotiate with them with the help of the local councillor and others to get the land back,” said Vivek Bharadwaj, CEO, CMDA. “Hopefully, things should be sorted out soon.”
Bridge too near
The CMDA officials were not as forthcoming on the encroachments near Bridge No. 4. “It needs political initiative to tackle the problem of encroachments,” said an official.
Bridge No. 4 is a major hurdle. The two ends of the old bridge have to be aligned with the flyover. A second agency is supposed to do the job. But no agency has been assigned yet.
“We floated a tender earlier in October 2010 but only one agency had responded. Since no company can be awarded the contract on the basis of a single bid, no one was offered the task,” Bharadwaj explained. “We have floated the tenders again and they would be opened soon.” Whoever gets the job will have to work out the design from scratch and then execute the job.
When HCC got the contract, it was decided this stretch would be left for the railways because they own the land below. It was also decided that HCC would co-ordinate with the railways to build a road around the old bridge to facilitate traffic movement while the flyover was being built.
The railways, a CMDA official claimed, later said it would be best if the work was left to an independent agency.
Blunder down under
There are huge sewer lines on the road leading to Bridge No. 4 from the Park Circus crossing. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation was meant to find a way out so that the sewer lines could be shifted and space culled for the pillars. It hasn’t done a thing.
The CMC had, in fact, said this was an impossible task and the HCC should suggest an alternative. The HCC did suggest an alternative: H-shaped pillars instead of a single pillar in the middle. Since then there have been countless meetings.
The CMDA has now decided that instead of asking the CMC to do the work of removing underground utilities, the agency itself would do the job so that construction work for rest of the pillars could begin soon. “We have the expertise (to do the job) but we still require the detailed ground map from the civic body,” an official said.
Out of loop
The plan was to build a loop road around the seven-point crossing to facilitate traffic movement from the AJC Bose flyover to the new flyover. The CMC authorities said this problem “can be resolved easily”.
But when? Why hasn’t it been done in over two years? “Let the pillars first reach the seven-point crossing,” said a CMC official, betraying the attitude of the stakeholders.
When work on the loop begins, pillars would have to be built very close to some of the buildings and concerns are bound to be raised about their safety. At least five residential blocks are likely to be affected.
“There should be complete support from the civic body, who should assure the people that there is no threat to the houses from the flyover. The area needs to be covered adequately for the work and there should be no disruption,” said an HCC official.
Crowded corridor
Some eight to 12 fairs are held through the year at Milan Mela and Science City. Ahead of all the major events, traffic police ensure that some of the areas covered for the construction work is thrown open to traffic.
Removal of the covers means moving all the men and machinery from that part of the site. “We have to do this or else it becomes impossible to manage the traffic during mega events like the Book Fair,” said a police officer.
Cost bomb ticks
The estimated cost of the project at the start was Rs 318 crore. The figure has shot up to around Rs 425 crore already. “The escalation is 34 per cent so far, but the cost will go up manifold by the time we complete the project,” said an engineer working on the project.
Top HCC officials said the Parama-Park Circus project was a rare case where they had struggled to meet deadlines, though not for any fault of theirs.
Sources said the company had finished work either on time or before the deadline on most other projects, including the “complex” 4.4km Badarpur Flyover on the Delhi-Mathura Road. “But we have tripped in Calcutta because of several factors, especially the lack of co-ordination between the various agencies,” said the senior engineer.
Who do you blame for the delay? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com

Stifling the Freedom of Expression: Beyond the Obvious

Stifling the Freedom of Expression: Beyond the Obvious
 

Ram Puniyani
 

The whole fiasco of Salman Rushdie not coming to Jaipur Literary Festival, JLF, (Jan 2012) has been a great shame on Indian democracy. With the news that Salman Rushdie will be coming to JLF, Deoband seminary issued a protest against Rushdie’s coming to India to attend the same. This was due to the underlying understanding about the derogatory references to Prophet Mohammad by Rushdie’s in his novel Satanic Verses. As such Rushdie being an India born person has the right to come to the country without any VISA, and has been coming to India off and on. This time around it became a major issue in the public sphere and the conservative Muslim groups took up the issue in a strong way. There were many an associated things, Rushdie dropping his trip on the ground that there is an intelligence report that assassins have been dispatched to kill him. There are claims that this was a hoax deliberately planted to dissuade him from coming. Then, the few authors read non offensive extracts from Satanic verses and were prevented from doing so by the organizers in the face of the strong protest from a group of conservative Muslims.


At the same time the tongues started wagging that the Muslims are fanatic, Islam is conservative and restrictive and many biases against Muslims started re-circulating. This came as one more opportunity for those intensifying Islamophobia. At this time a diverse section of Muslim leadership and scholars also pointed out that Rushdie has full right to express his opinion, to attend the festival. Satanic Verses, a 1988 novel by the author has been banned from being imported to India and its publication was prevented on the grounds that it will hurt the sentiments of section of Muslims. While Ruling Congress has been playing games with the elections in mind, the main opposition BJP has been criticizing the Congress. BJP, while critical of, Congress on this issue has been associated with the groups which have been demanding similar bans and have been vandalizing exhibitions and protesting against M.F. Husain’s paintings, demanding the withdrawal of A. K.Ramanujan’s essay on Ramayana and much more.


One can also recall similar stifling of freedom of expression from Hindutva stable, their agitations-attacks for demanding ban of books/paintings etc. Their acts of vandalizing are a long list, attack on Hussain’s paintings and withdrawal of Ramanujan’s essay from University book being the few of these. In both the responses of Muslim Fundamentalists and Hindutva group, what is common is their opposition to liberal stance, and sticking to the conservative thoughts, protests and much more.  Their interpretation of the works of art and writing is narrow and both have no tolerance for the view of ‘others’, both streams are far away from liberal mind set. Freedom of expression, respect for divergent views, which is the core value of democracy does not exist for them.


While reiterating that freedom of expression is the core pillar of progressive, modern society, one recalls that this attack on freedom of expression has gone up in the society more so during last three decades. It needs to be linked to various political forces globally and locally. The politics of oil, projection of the Salafi version of Islam as the Islam, the Madrassas set up by US to train Taliban, Al Qaeda and the threat perceived by sections of Muslim community globally has given rise to the reaction leading to tendencies of conservative world view. With attacks on many a Muslim countries in the oil zone and demonization of Muslims through US media’s coining of the term ‘Islamic Terrorism”, the psyche of Muslim community has come under a stress. This demonization of Muslim community is so gross that the feeling of insecurity comes in and it strengthens the conservative thought process.


In India, the things are much worse. In the aftermath of Partition, the seeds of communal hatred sowed by the communal organizations, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha-RSS, have led to the mind set which triggered communal violence, which came back strongly in post Independence India. In this communal violence, 90% victims are Muslims, while they are 13.4% in population. The series of violence going from riots to carnage, to pogrom has created an atmosphere of gross insecurity amongst the Muslims. This insecurity is the fertile ground on which the fundamentalists find the merry hunting ground. Salman Rushdie tells us that Satanic verses is not banned in Egypt, Turkey and has been unbanned in post revolution Libya. There is a complex interplay between the global factors leading to Muslim insecurity and the local condition of Muslims, where they face the violence from majoritarian political groups operating in the name of religion. The physical insecurity amongst minorities leads to the situation where identity related issues become more important. This in turn leads to the influence of Mullahs, conservative world view and intolerance to others’ views.


The impact of majoritarian politics in the name of religion has a different dynamics. It creates a feeling of insecurity amongst large sections of majority by projecting the imaginary fear of minorities. In India this has been the handiwork of Hindutva politics. The politics of Hindutva, which resurfaced in the decades of 1980s, is built around the existential anxiety of upper caste/class in the face of social and political changes leading to the entry of downtrodden dalits and women in to the social space. The affluent-upper caste groups, in order to preserve their social-economic privileges hark upon identity politics, the like of Ram Janmbhumi movement-holy cow etc. The agenda of identity politics-politics in the name of religion, any religion for that matter, is to suppress the process of transformation of social equations of caste and gender. This politics of identity projects the ‘outside’ enemy in the form of minorities. The minorities are projected as the threat for majority and so the conservative mind set comes up. So in the country of Konark and Khajuraho, M.F. Husain’s old paintings of nude goddesses are ‘discovered’ and his exhibitions are rampaged. In the country where infinite versions of lord Ram story prevail, a Sahmat exhibition showing the Buddhist Jataka version is attacked, and Ramanujan’s celebrated essay, scientifically telling about diverse versions of Lord Ram story, is made to be withdrawn. This is another threat to freedom of expression, which does not come under as much criticism.


Both, majority and minority fundamentalisms are prevailing in the country; both these fundamentalisms attack the freedom of expression and liberal thought. They are regressive; still their etiology is very different. Amongst minorities the insecurity is the expression of defensive ‘turtle’ psychology while the fundamentalism from the majoritarian groups is expression of offensive agenda and it comes from its projecting the minorities as the threat to majority. No fundamentalism is good, they have their own dangers. The one from minority groups has many times been very visible as in Shah Bano case or in the present one in Rushdie case. The other from, the majoritiarian groups sometimes aggressive; sometimes subtle has much different potential. It aims to abolish democracy and bring in a fundamentalist regime. While taking the government to the task on Rushdie fiasco, one also needs to look beyond and realize that ‘physical insecurity’ (minorities) and ‘constructed insecurity’ (majoritarian politics) are the breeding ground for the intolerance. While recapitulating the Rushdie affair one also needs to keep in mind the aggressive agendas of a politics which cannot tolerate a Ramanujan or a Husain. 

--
Issues in Secular Politics

I February 2012-02-04
Response only to ram.puniyani@gmail.com

Bengal workers to lose right to strike

Bengal workers to lose right to strike


Amidst protests and threats of agitation by different trade unions, West Bengal labour minister Purnendu Bose today defended his tough stand against full trade union rights of state government employees, claiming that as per the Trade Union Act, 1926 not a single employees organisation in the state was registered at present. ''I am not moving a single inch from my stand that government employees enjoy no full trade union rights and it is to be kept in mind that Writers' Buildings (state secretariat) is not a factory where political processions or any activities other than work are allowed,'' Bose told reporters in his office. Ignoring sharp criticism and protests from various trade unions and political parties at his move, Bose said as per the West Bengal government servants' conduct rules, 1959, no employee enjoys full trade union rights. He said he would submit his proposals to the state cabinet to revoke a section of the West Bengal government servants' conduct rules of 1959, for approval. ''My idea is to restore full work culture and to stop, once and for all, processions, political slogans and all sorts of activities which stall normal working environment in a government office,'' he said. This section, he said, was brought in following an amendment by previous Left Front government in 1980, causing dichotomy. The minister said that he was of the view that under the Societies Act, government employees can register their associations or federations for welfare activities of their organisations. ''In that case, if there exists one federation or association, it is easier for the government to hear their grievances or demands,'' he said. "We are keen on removing the dichotomy on the rights of government employees. The matter will be placed before the state cabinet meeting for approval," he said without specifying the date.

The state government will bring an amendment to the West Bengal Service Rules (Duties and Obligation) Act to withdraw the full trade union right of the state government employees in the next session of the West Bengal Assembly. State labour minister Purnendu Bose said that the labour department would make a proposal in this regard in the state Cabinet soon.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Bose had told that the state government was planning to withdraw the full trade union right of the state government employees which was given by the then Left Front government in 1981 by amending the West Bengal Service Rules (Duties and Obligation) Act. Almost all the state government employees’ bodies, barring the Trinamul Congress-backed United State Government Employees’ Federation (USGEF), are vehemently protesting against this plan.
“I stick to what I said yesterday. The state government employees can form associations, but those should not be trade unions. The state government employees cannot be affiliated to any political party. They are crying for a right which they should not have according to their service rules,” Mr Bose announced.
He also threatened that the state government might take action against the state government employees if they join the industrial strike on February 28 called by all major Central trade unions. The CPI(M)-backed state government employees’ body, the Co-ordination Committee, has decided to join the strike. “According to the West Bengal Government Employees Service Conduct Rule, 1956, joining such a strike is illegal for the state government employees. They have to inform the state finance department before joining a strike. The finance department then forms a committee to consider their application and if the committee approves, then only they can go for strike,” Mr Bose said.

 The West Bengal government's plans to drop a clause in service rules of its employees that gives them full trade union rights have drawn the ire of a majority of workers' organisations.
"If the right to strike is taken away from government employees, all the central trade unions will rally behind them with all solidarity," All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary and Communist Party of India (CPI) MP Gurudas Dasgupta said.
Describing as "unfortunate" state Labour Minister Purnendu Bose's comments that the amendment will be repealed, Dasgupta said the remarks were against the "constitution principles" and the rights upheld by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention.
The minister said Tuesday: "As per their service rules, government employees shouldn't be criticising the government."
The clause introduced as an amendment to the service regulations of the government employees in the 1980s by the then Left Front government was "illegal", he added.
The state service rules do not permit government employees to be part of organisations affiliated to political parties, he said.
According to the Left Front amendment, the 900,000 state government employees were allowed to set up associations and unions for collective bargaining and such bodies did not require any recognition from the government.
They could also resort to protests and organise strikes or demonstrations as part of the collective bargaining.
The Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress' (INTUC) state president Pradip Bhattacharya termed the move "improper". "The government should hold a meeting with all central trade unions before deciding on any such step."
The opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) labour arm Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) was scathing in its criticism.
"This government is totally on the road to fascism. We will not allow it to snatch the rights of the workers. This is a draconian act. We will protest with all our might," said CITU state secretary Kali Ghosh.
But the Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress (INTTUC), owing allegiance to the ruling Trinamool Congress, saw nothing wrong with the plans.
"No central trade union can have any comment on this. The state government employees are not permitted to form trade unions for their collective bargaining. As per their service rules, they cannot join any trade union affiliated to any political party. The minister has only reiterated this," said state INTTUC in charge Dola Sen.

Bengal may bar govt staff from taking part in union activities

Romita Datta, romita.d@livemint.com

West Bengal proposes to bar its 900,000 government employees from taking part in trade union activities of any nature by reintroducing an antiquated British law under which government employees weren’t allowed to form pressure groups.
The Left parties, which ruled West Bengal for 34 years from 1977, in 1980 amended service regulations to give state government employees “full trade union rights, including the right to strike”.
State government employees were allowed to form associations and unions, and such pressure groups for collective bargaining didn’t require any recognition from the administration, according to a clarification issued by the finance department in September 1981. This implied that state government employees in West Bengal could freely form as many pressure groups as they wanted, whereas in industrial units, such bodies require the recognition of the management to legitimately represent workers.
Purnendu Bose, West Bengal’s labour minister, on Tuesday said at the Writers’ Building, the state secretariat, that the government will place before the state cabinet a proposal to withdraw the rights of its employees to form unions.
The 1980 amendment of service regulations by the erstwhile Left Front government was “illegal”, according to Bose and, hence, will be repealed. “Government employees shouldn’t be criticizing the government,” he said.
West Bengal recently withdrew the rights of the state’s police officials to form pressure groups for collective bargaining.
The Left Front and Congress-backed associations of state government workers criticized the proposal.
“The Constitution of India provides freedom of speech and the right to form associations,” said G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president, Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc), the labour arm of the Congress party. “We will challenge it legally.”
Intuc plans to immediately launch a statewide agitation to protest against the proposal, said Shyamal Kumar Mitra, one of its leaders at the Writers’ Building.
There are 57 associations representing state government employees—most of them are affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, which is the labour arm of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The motivation for the move by the Trinamool Congress, which ended the Left Front’s 34-year unbroken rule last year, isn’t immediately clear.
“What is the need for activism if the chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) is willing to sort out our problems through discussion,” said Sanjib Pal, general secretary of the Federation of Secretariat Employees, which is backed by the Trinamool Congress.
Those opposing the move said it betrays the Trinamool Congress’ inability to make inroads into West Bengal government employees.
“The move to disband associations of state government employees is completely unconstitutional,” said Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary of the All-India Trade Union Congress, which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India.
“The Left parties will collectively decide how to politically oppose this move,” added Dasgupta, a lawmaker at the Centre.

April2000 - British Auction Fetched $34b - $50b in Today’s Money

April2000 - British Auction Fetched $34b - $50b in Today’s Money

Everyone Telecom and Supreme Court Judges with Computers and Internet also had access or could knew about British Auctions. In 2000 itself International practice was to go for Open Bidding and it lasted 160 rounds.

British population is just 60m compared to 1200m for India and 300m middle class.

Indian auctions could have fetched $200b at least in 2000-04. Indiaadopted outdated technology that is additional loss of $100b.

[In October 1999, one of Germany’s two largest mobile-phone operators, Mannesmann, took over Orange for almost $35 billion. >> In the event, Vodafone took over Mannesmann for about $175 billion. There is no evidence that this led to any inefficiency in the auction bidding. After the auction, Orange was bought by France Telecom for over $40 billion.]

It is also interesting third ranked operator Orange was taken over by German company for $

But tragedy is that India is managing with 2G even today – UK auctioned 3G in 2000.

Roughly Rs.5,00,000 crores worth 2G investment from 2000 due BJP Pramod Mahajan Corruption resulted in India buying Substandard and Outdated technology.

It was Vajpayee, Advani and Gen Kandhori who indulged in Open Loot in NHAI projects and posted SK Dubey to Koderma, Jharkhand to be murdered.

Bhushan and Kejriwal sabotaged Supreme Court Proceedings and delay CBI investigation in to SK Dubey murder.

Supreme Court didn’t convict even OPEN loot.

Ravinder Singh
Fenruary03, 2012

Abstract: This paper reviews the part played by economists in organizing
the British third-generation mobile-phone licence auction that concluded
on 27 April 2000. It raised £22,5billion ($34 billion or 2.5 % of GNP) and was widely described at the time as the biggest auction ever.

The first round of the auction took place on 6 March, 2000, when a little more than the sum of the reserve prices £500 million($750 million) was bid. The first withdrawal came in round 94 as the price of the cheapest licence passed £2 billion ($3 billion), and four more withdrawals followed almost immediately. However the last three withdrawals took longer. The final bid took the cheapest licence price past £4 billion ($6 billion), and after 150 rounds of bidding the auction finished on 27 April, 2000 with a total of about £22.5 billion ($34 billion) on the table–five to ten times the initial media estimates.


In 1997, when our advice was first sought, four mobile-phone companies operated in Britain using “second-generation” (2G) technology. The incumbents were Cellnet, One-2-One, Orange, and Vodafone. British Telecom (BT), the erstwhile state-owned monopolist privatized under Mrs. Thatcher, held a 60% stake in Cellnet which it increased to 100% in 1999.) The proportion of the population using a portable phone was rising rapidly and, as in other parts of the world, the cellular telephone industry was regarded as a runaway success; the industry was set to become even more important with the introduction of the “third generation” of portable telephones that would allow high-speed data access to the internet.

Licence A is the largest, comprising 2x15MHz of paired spectrum plus 5MHz
of less-valuable unpaired spectrum. Licence B is a little smaller, comprising 2x15MHz of paired spectrum, but no unpaired spectrum. Licences C, D and E are all roughly the same, each comprising 2x10MHz of paired plus 5MHz of unpaired spectrum, but these three licences were thought substantially less valuable than the other two.

The four incumbents won licences, with Vodafone paying about £6 billion ($9 billion) for licence B, compared with the £4 billion ($6 billion) or so paid by the other incumbents for each of licences C, D and E. The reserved licence A was taken by the entrant TIW (largely owned by Hutchinson Whampoa) for about £4.4 billion ($6.6 billion).

Not only are the incumbents’ 2G businesses complementary to 3G, but their costs of rolling out the infrastructure (radio masts and the like) necessary to operate a 3G industry are very substantially less than those of a new entrant, because they can piggyback on their 2G infrastructure.

6.3. The Vodafone-Mannesmann Takeover

In October 1999, one of Germany’s two largest mobile-phone operators, Mannesmann, took over Orange for almost $35 billion. >>>>>>

In the event, Vodafone took over Mannesmann for about $175 billion. There is no evidence that this led to any inefficiency in the auction bidding. After the auction, Orange was bought by France Telecom for over $40 billion.

Man ties Dalit girl to a tree for 4 hrs for grazing sheep

Man ties Dalit girl to a tree for 4 hrs for grazing sheep
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Nirmala Kantappa, a 14-year-old Dalit girl from Budihal PH village in Bijapur district, was tied to a tree by a man because she stole grass from his land on Thursday.

Nirmala, whose family owns a few sheep, was allegedly caught grazing her sheep at Nigamu Biradar’s land. Biradar, in retaliation, tied her to a tree at 8.30am.

Biradar was enraged as he he had caught Nirmala grazing sheep on his land. He decided to teach her a ‘lesson’ this time by tying her to a tree. At 12.30pm, one of the villagers called the Sindagi police station and intimated them about the incident. A police team arrived
at the scene at 12.45pm and released the girl. Biradar, however, fled the scene. The girl was not admitted to a hospital as she did not sustain injuries. The police station dispatched four teams to nab iradar, who was caught on Thursday night. “We believe that it was not Biradar’s intention to bring harm to this girl in any way. He just wanted to show the rest of the villagers that he had caught the thief red-handed. The photograph of the girl being tied up was actually taken by her father, who then circulated it to the media. We will investigate this case further,” said SP DP Rajappa.

It’s Plain Murder, By Rote Is the teaching in our schools actually educating our children? Not really, according to a few grim surveys...

R.A. CHANDROO
High literacy? Students at a govt school in Kancheepuram, TN
EDUCATION
It’s Plain Murder, By Rote
Is the teaching in our schools actually educating our children? Not really, according to a few grim surveys...


  • 73: India’s ranking, just above Kyrgyzstan, in a study of 74 countries on maths, science and reading
  • 90%: Students in Himachal Pradesh who lack baseline reading literacy, 89 per cent lag in science
  • 60%: Students in India’s top private schools show lack of sensitivity towards AIDS victims
  • 10%: The drop in arithmetic ability nationally of Class V children in rural areas
***
Which of the following is true: nearly 10 per cent of Class 4 students in top urban Indian schools believe that Mahatma Gandhi is alive. In Tamil Nadu, only 15 per cent students in the 15-year age group are skilled in maths. About three-fourths of Class 3 students in rural India can’t solve two-digit subtraction problems.
All true. How did you score?
Three recent reports—Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the Programme For International Students Assessment (PISA) and the Quality Education Study (QES) by Wipro and Educational Initiatives—serve a gloomy, telling reality check, busting some long-held stereotypes about the strengths of Indian students. The smart Indian techie, the world-beating Indian students at spelling bee contests and math quizzes, the brainy, high-IQ geniuses at Ivy League colleges, are they all a thing of the past? The new breed seem to portend a horrifying tale: not only are our kids not getting any smarter, they actually seem to know less than their peers from a few years ago.
 

 

More than a third of Class 4 students think Rajiv and Indira Gandhi are still around.
 

 
Consider this: in the top 89 urban schools across the country, the QES report says, there has been a 5-10 per cent drop in learning levels in the last few years in math, science and reading literacy. The PISA report, which conducted an extensive study among 4,800 15-year-olds in the high-literacy states of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, is even more grim. Among 74 countries—including the US, UK, Canada, China, Korea, South Africa—Indian students rank second to last, at 73rd position, just above Kyrgyzstan. This, despite a high enrolment rate of nearly 97 per cent, the Right to Education being in place since 2010, propped up by a wave of progressive schools and teaching tools. “I know a lot of people who’re up in arms saying these reports are not valid, but why can’t we just accept that there is something seriously wrong with the way we’re teaching?” wonders Maya Menon, director, The Teacher Foundation, an organisation that looks at enhancing teaching techniques. The system is dumbing down our children, undermining their capacity to learn, breeding a whole lot of boredom in classrooms, she feels. HRD minister Kapil Sibal admits as much. “What we need is a paradigm shift in the way we teach and the way children learn,” he says.
“We don’t have a clear vision. We are merely tasting new flavours, not changing anything fundamentally.” Maya Menon, Director, The Teacher Foundation
“What we need is a paradigm shift in the way that we teach as well as in the way that our children learn.” Kapil Sibal, HRD minister

“The IT-MBA boom’s taken the best students from science, maths. India has very little cutting-edge research today.”S.R. Srinivasa Varadhan, Professor of Mathematics, NYU
“Just setting up more schools and spending money will not bridge the fundamental gap. We need to set standards.” Rukmini Banerji, Director-Programmes, Pratham

“Students today need to work twice as hard to achieve the same results students did a few years ago.” Anand Kumar, Founder, Super 30
“A lot of exciting work is happening on the ground. The use of technology in classrooms looks promising.” Shantanu Prakash, Founder, Educomp
The issues are not new, but the paradox looms larger than ever. India has one of the world’s youngest populations, it is poised to become the knowledge engine of the world to China’s manufacturing mettle—this is what we are led to believe. But can the new generation fill those shoes? These findings impart a new urgency and depth to our understanding of India’s education crisis. “The average Indian kid has greater ambition, greater access to information, greater aspiration and is far more secure,” says Giri Balasubramanium, founder, Greycaps, a quizzing company. But our classrooms have failed to match up to that challenge, or channel that swelling ambition. “We don’t have a clear vision as far as education is concerned. Rote learning continues to thrive in our best schools, and even while we’re trying out new methods of teaching, it’s like tasting new flavours, not changing anything fundamentally,” says Maya Menon.
 

 

More than half of Class 5 students in rural areas can't read Class 2-level textbooks.
 

 
There have been a few tentative steps in the recent past. Apart from the Comprehensive Continuous Evaluation (CCE) that is already in place in many schools, last week the move for a single engineering entrance test was announced, to try and tweak the nature and frequency of exams. But are these changes radical enough to stem the rot that appears to have set in at the very core of education? “It’s our legacy of 60 years,” says Sibal, “and it can’t change overnight. It’s a very complex issue.” There’s also the challenge of age-inappropriate textbooks, unimaginative teaching and a 1.2 million shortfall of teachers. “The impact of the rte will be felt only after 5-7 years. The state of education is essentially at the doorstep of state governments, they haven’t invested enough in it over the years,” adds Sibal. “We must ensure the quality of government schools matches that of private schools.”
That may not seem like such a good idea anymore. After all, top private schools tested by the QES have revealed a serious lack of basic skills in students, pointing towards a sociological shift in attitudes towards learning. “The real culprit for the decline in learning are changes in lifestyle, where entertainment has taken the space of education,” says IIT computer science professor Sanjiva Prasad. India’s traditional urban middle-class ethos of a single-minded approach to academics is under threat with the post-liberalisation generation of parents and their growing children, say some sociologists. “Schooling is not at the centre of their lives. They have so many distractions—social gaming, social networking, hanging out with friends—and it all takes away from learning,” says sociologist Meenakshi Thapan. But all the networking with the outside world has not helped in changing some deep-seated prejudices. According to the QES findings, the societal biases of children in private schools in the metros are rather glaring. For example, nearly half of Class 8 students in top private schools in the cities feel that girls needn’t go to school. Says Vyjayanthi Sankar of the Ahmedabad-based Educational Initiatives, who conducted the QES with Wipro, “Unless we inspire our kids to think on their own, they won’t think around these biases, and society is not going to get better.”

Illusional summits A class in the open at a government school in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh. (Photograph by Narendra Bisht)
That can come only with a complete overhaul in how we teach. For instance, the PISA research finds that the Indian curriculum covers more topics, compared to, say, the UK or Australian syllabus, which provides students with a broad learning base, so they are able to respond well to questions where they need to retrieve information. But where they have to interpret and integrate, most Indian students find it a challenge. “This has an impact on the quality of human resource. Students may get employed easily, but what about the quality?” asks Ratna Dhamija, manager, Australian Council for Educational Research in India, which conducts the PISA test. That’s a serious concern, particularly for the future of maths and science. Is the land of C.V. Raman and Srinivas Ramanujan drying up? “The power of education has increased,” says Anand Kumar of the well-known IIT coaching centre Super 30 in Patna, “but knowledge levels have dropped,” he says. So much so that he has had to double the number of classes at his institute in the last year, from three days a week to six. “Today’s students have to work twice as hard, as their basics in subjects like mathematics aren’t strong enough.”
 

 

How many legs on an ettukapoochi (eight-leg insect i.e. spider)? Nearly half of Class 4 TN students said 6.
 

 
Recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared 2012 as the National Mathematical Year. The subject could well do with all the attention it can get, says S.R. Srinivasa Varadhan, a mathematician at the New York University. “The IT and MBA boom has taken the best students away from mathematics and science,” he says. Agrees D.V. Prabhu, professor of chemistry at Mumbai’s Wilson College: “The number of students opting for a degree in science and mathematics has reduced by about 50 per cent. This is paradoxical, as the avenues for science graduates have increased due to jobs created by the nuclear energy and space programmes.” Gaurav Tekriwal, president of the Vedic Math Forum, sees a crisis looming. “Even though parents and kids are warming up to Vedic Maths and Abacus classes, the maths scene in India is mostly driven by competitive exams like the IIT-JEE and CAT. No student wants to take up maths as a profession. I see a serious shortfall of maths teachers very soon,” he predicts.
 
 

One in ten students of Class 4 from 89 India's top schools thinks Mahatma Gandhi is still alive.
 

 
There is a mismatch between the mathematical needs of modern society and the curriculum, feels Sanjiva Prasad. “At the moment, the CBSE curriculum is seeing a dumbing down. What we’re hit by is students not internalising math but just learning formulas and falling into the question-solving mould.” Over the years, a certain grade inflation has taken place, with ever-increasing percentages of toppers in board exams and larger pass percentages, leading to an illusion that standards are improving. A ripple effect is already being felt beyond the classroom. At the Indian Statistical Institute in Delhi, for example, mathematician and professor Rajendra Bhatia worries about the quality of research candidates. “There is a general decline in school education, and by the end of college, the standard of learning becomes quite poor. The quality of research, therefore, is by and large not on a par with international standards. Finally, this also impacts the quality of manpower in the industry,” he says.

Education in half measure Children at a primary government school on the outskirts of Calcutta. (Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee)
So, yes, we are losing the edge in pure sciences and mathematics, and academicians also see a decline in cutting-edge research in India. In 2010, China published about 10 lakh scientific papers whereas India could muster up only about two lakh. “Schools are pushing a large number of students to take entrance exams for professional schools. As a result, students are not motivated to pursue academic work in mathematics and the sciences. They enter these fields as an alternative when they fail to get into the professional schools,” says Varadhan. Even at professional schools, however, the levels of learning are slipping. At IIT, for instance, there is a lot of variability in the top 150-200 ranking candidates. “A small number is outstanding, but others struggle to pass the basic math and computing courses, and there is a general decline in language, writing and proof skills over the last 10 years,” says Prasad.
 

 

Nearly half of Class 8 students in top private schools feel that girls needn't go to school.
 

 
It’s not that there are no changemakers. They are too few. “There has been a revolution in mindsets of a sizeable number of parents and children, which itself is a great thing. Now, teachers are realising that the old methodologies of teaching have to give way to collaborative learning. That mindset has to translate to the reality on ground,” says Sibal. Viewing this changing climate closely is Teach For India CEO Shaheen Mistri, who is overwhelmed at the number of youngsters who are willing to put their lucrative careers on hold to contribute to teaching. “Thousands apply to our fellowship each year, young people from consulting firms, media firms, but only 7-10 per cent get selected,” she says. Even more optimistic is Educomp founder Shantanu Prakash, who’s working with popularising technology in classrooms, among other things. “There is so much exciting work happening on the ground, especially at the non-governmental level. Using technology in teaching, I feel, is promising for the future of education. When you look at the input into education versus the output ratio, the scenario isn’t so bad.” Sibal is ready to wager that future PISA or Pratham reports will paint a drastically different picture. We hope his optimism is well-founded.