Kerala : Diverting from real issues


     A state that has virtually no industries and the highest number of suicides has no time for real issues. Communists are more interested to divert atttention from real issues confronting the citizens.


‘Separate season for women at Sabari Mala
7 Feb 2008, 1601 hrs IST , PTI
 THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala government has mooted a separate pilgrimage season for women at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple to end the controversy over ban on entry of women of certain age groups at the hill shrine.In its affidavit filed in the apex court on Wednesday in response to a case seeking a direction to lift the traditional ban on women between the age group of 10 and 50 at the temple, the government has also suggested that the court could form a scholars’ panel to study the proposal.

      The affidavit said the government was of the view that there should not be any “gender discrimination”. Though the government was for maintaining equal status for men and women, a separate season for women was necessary in view of the practical difficulties in providing facilities for women when lakhs of devotees converge there during the pilgrimage season between November and January, it said.

       Apparently referring to strong opposition by conservative groups against the entry of women of all ages, it said the government was not the “last word”, as customs and traditions would also have to be taken into consideration.

      Therefore, the court could appoint a scholars’ panel to study various aspects of the issue as the government had no plan to bring in a legislation. The government will go by the court’s decision, the affidavit, which was filed in response to the petition by Young Lawyers Association, said.

Karnataka Govt set to bar women from night shifts

Govt set to bar women from night shifts
22 Feb 2008, 0214 hrs IST , TNN

BANGALORE: The Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961, bars women from working at night.

However, an amendment in 2002, brought in as per recommendation of the state’s IT policy, exempts IT, IT-enabled services, BT and essential services. Essential services include hospitals, railways, and media organisations.

After the Pratibha Murthy murder in 2005, the then labour minister Iqbal Ansari said he would strictly enforce the law and invoke the ban.

He said a notification would be issued to ensure that women are not employed at night. In case of industries where women would be allowed to work at night, company managements would be responsible for their security.

In case they failed to provide adequate security to women, they would be fined, Ansari said.

However, the notification was never issued, thanks to widespread agitation by women’s groups.

As of now, the ban stays, but IT and some other industries are exempted

Air Lines will compensate for Lost Baggage: Supreme Court

Verdict: Airlines must pay for lost bags

New Delhi: From now on if you lose your luggage in transit, the airline is bound to compensate you, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

Lost baggage costs the global aviation industry $2.5 billion annually, says a report by air transport IT service provider SITA. On Friday, Air France was set back by Rs 1 lakh.

An SC bench headed by Justice BN Agrawal upheld a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission order to Air France to pay compensation to Jalandhar-based Sonali Arora.

     Arora lost her handbag at Heathrow in July, 1998, after being forced to get off by the airline. In a move bound to benefit those fighting similar cases in the country under the Consumer Protection Act, the court also declined Air France’s plea that the order not be treated as a precedent.

Unlike the orders of District Consumer Forums, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and the National Commission, which can be challenged before superior judicial forums, this order will be the law of the land as it comes from the SC.

      “At Heathrow and Frankfurt that handle 100 million passengers annually, missing baggage will be an issue,” said an industry expert.

      Arora’s first complaint before the district commission in Jalandhar was rejected in September 1999 following which she moved the State Commission in Chandigarh that allowed her plea after five years.

     The National Commission too, ruled in her favour in March 2007.

Interestingly, last month, the apex court granted Rs 25,000 compensation to a woman whose uterus was unauthorisedly removed by a gynaecologist.

© Copyright 2008 HT Media Ltd.

NRI :Women who fought for Kiranjit, win British award

Women who fought for Kiranjit, win British award

London: A group of feisty Asian women who fought for a battered wife, on whose life Bollywood film ‘Provoked’ is based, has bagged a lifetime achievement award in London. 

      Southall Black Sisters, a group of politically radical women named after a west London suburb where they have a small office, were handed the Asian Voice Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony in the House of Commons on Thursday. 

      The group shot to fame when they successfully campaigned for Kiranjit Singh Ahluwalia, a Sikh battered wife, who had killed her husband in 1989 after suffering his brutality for 10 years. 

      Their high-profile campaign – the first of many – led to the release of Ahluwalia from life imprisonment in 1992. The campaign also created sorely needed awareness on domestic violence among the Asian community in Britain.

      Southall is one of the largest Asian-populated neighbourhoods in London. Ahluwalia later wrote a book on her life, “Provoked”, which was made into an English-language Bollywood film in 2007. 

       “We wanted to honour achievements in public services not only through politics but also through community work,” said C. B. Patel, the owner-editor of Asian Voice newspaper, an Asian weekly that has instituted the award. 

      “The idea is to make it an inclusive award that is multi-racial and cuts across political parties. We also wanted to honour future potentials,” Patel added. 

      The Asian Voice Political and Public Life Awards 2007 were given away by former cabinet minister John Reid at a ceremony held in the Members Dining Room of the House of Commons. 

      Awardees included: Education Secretary Ed Balls (minister of the year), Tory Party home affairs spokesman David Davies (shadow minister of the year), Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (politician of the year), Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (Asian personalities of the year).

NRI: Indian Shop keeper gets support in UK

Support gathers in UK for Tony Singh

London: An ethnic Indian shopkeeper who fears he may be charged with murder after stabbing an armed burglar to death is fast gaining the status of a hero in Britain. 

     Public opinion is solidly behind Tony Singh, who killed armed robber Liam Kilroe with the criminal’s own knife after being attacked Sunday night outside his convenience store in the town of Skelmersdale in Lancashire, northwest England. 

     A customers told the local Skelmersdale Advertiser newspaper: “Tony only did what he thought was right and stood up for himself, and yet he is the one facing a possible murder charge. 

     “The robber had form as long as your arm and simply paid the price for his own yobbery. There are going to be times when the victims fight back.” A fellow shopkeeper said: “Tony is a much-loved shopkeeper who has worked hard all his life, often doing 13- and 14-hour days. He wouldn’t dream of harming anyone – yet it seems he is the one being treated as a criminal.” Gaynor Bell who works opposite Tony Singh and knows the family very well said that he is a pillar of the local community. 

      “The Singh family do a lot for the community. Tony is not just a shopkeeper, people talk to him and he is very hardworking.” 

     And Sarah Vincent who works at Angels Beauty Salon, round the corner from Singh’s shop, said: “Maybe this will teach people a lesson. We didn’t know Tony personally, but when we go in the shop they are very friendly.” 

      Skelmersdale is a small town of less than 40,000 people in Lancashire – a region that is home to a large number of ethnic Indian and Pakistanis, many of whom once worked in textiles mills before they closed down decades ago. But 34-year-old Tony Singh has got the support of not only ordinary Britons. 

      Shailesh Vara, the Conservative Party deputy leader in the British parliament, criticised the government’s failure to amend legislation in favour of citizens who defend themselves against attack. “It is premature to comment on the facts of this case. However, it is highly regrettable that [Justice Secretary] Jack Straw did not take up my Private Member’s Bill which sought to raise the standard in such cases to protect the innocent when they act to defend themselves and protect their property.” 

     National newspapers have splashed Singh’s photographs on its pages, showing the bespectacled man beaming in a smart Reebok cap and a Timberland casual jacket. 

      On the Times newspaper’s website dozens of ordinary Britons have written to express their support and even thank Singh, with one man saying the shopkeeper deserved a medal. 

      Newspapers have also listed the criminal history of Liam Kilroe in detail, going back to his beginnings in1999. Kilroe absconded while on bail pending a retrial for another case. Police were attempting to track him down when he launched his final attack. 

      However, Singh is not the first man in Britain to find himself facing the law after confronting armed criminals. In 1999, a Norfolk farmer, Tony Martin, shot dead a teenage burglar in his farm and served three years in prison for manslaughter, prompting strong demands by the Conservative Party for a review of the law covering self defence. The current law permits people to use “reasonable force” to defend themselves and others. However, critics claim it is weighted in favour of the criminal. 

      A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We will be submitting a file to the CPS [Crows Prosecution Service] in the next few days and it will be up to them to decide whether the force used by the shopkeeper was reasonable force.

     If they think he has used excessive force there is potential for a charge such as murder, manslaughter or assault.” 

Source: Indo-Asian News Service

NRI: British visa fees to go up again

British visa fees to go up again

 London: The impression that the British government thinks immigrants from non-EU countries like India to be cash cows has been strengthened by new home office plans to make immigrants pay higher visa charges to help “fund public services”.  

       Home Secretary Jacqui Smith speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday confirmed that visa fees would be raised for a special transitional impact fund to cover the extra burden on public services. New tests would be devised for acquiring a British passport.   

      The levy, likely to raise an extra £15m, is being dubbed a trust fund. “Money for the British Trust Fund will be raised through increases to certain fees for immigration applications, with migrants who tend to consume more in public services — such as children and elderly relatives — paying more than others,” a government document stated. 

       Keith Best, chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service, and Raj Balu, an immigration consultant, criticised the proposals as an unfair tax on migrants, many of whom, were young men who did not use schools and hospitals. “Unfortunately, migrants are being made the ‘milch cow’ to make up the shortfall in government finances,” Best told the BBC.  

        Last year, the UK Visas Agency raised £190m from 2.7 million applicants.  Reports suggest that the additional fee could be set at 10 per cent of the cost of a visa, which would be an extra £20 on top of the typical £200 charge for those wishing to stay in the UK beyond six months. 

       Under the earlier proposal, to be made effective from April 1, the fee for Highly Skilled Migrant T1 (General) Programme, which is popular among Indians, was to go up steeply from £400 to £600.  The fee for a work permit and visitor visa (long-term) was to be increased from £200 to £205, while the settlement visa was to go up from £500 to £515.  The Visitor visa was to be set at £65. (British High Commission in India set an exchange rate of Rs. 80 for a pound in February).

      Now, if the present plan is implemented all these visas will cost 20 per cent extra.  © Copyright 2008 HT Media Ltd. All rights reserved

New parking plan for Def Col market

      Parking vehicles especialy in market areas and office complexes is a major head ache for Delhites. The misery is compunded by the nexus between contractors, traffic police, and the MCD.

      Citizens are fleeced mercilessly at these ‘parking lots’ , and have no one to turn to.

New parking plan for Def Col market

extracts from  Mail Today Bureau New Delhi

      THE MUNICIPAL Corpo­ration of Delhi (MCD) seems to have had enough of contractors and wants to pay them back in the same coin. In a pilot project, the corporation will award parking sites at two places to traders’ associations — consequently, doing away with contractors.

       “We have decided to give parking to traders’ asso­ciations at two places,” said Delhi mayor Aarti Mehra. “These are the surface parking at Defence Colony and Lajpat Nagar. It will be done on pilot basis for one month. We will check the feasibility of the project. If it is found to be successful, we will submit the report to the higher authorities and the project will be implemented at other parking sites in Delhi.”

        The revenue earned will be shared by the MCD and the traders’ associations. “After paying attendants and other staff employed at the parking sites, the remaining profit will be shared equally between the MCD and the traders’ association.”

     A similar parking scheme was tried at Yusuf Sarai and Hauz Khas about a-year-and-a-half ago. “It was successful over there,” said Mehra. “That is why we will extend the scheme to these two areas.”
The MCD has 220 parking lots under its purview in Delhi.

Airports ready,but how to get there?Bangalore, H’bad

Airports ready, but how to get there?

       Bangalore: March 2008 will see the unveiling of two state-of-the-art international airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore, two of India’s fastest growing cities and rivals for the crown of IT hotspots.

     But the question is: How do you get there?

      This also means the existing airports in both cities will shut down, effectively doubling or even tripling commute times for passengers to these new air strips. And, that is where a tussle is brewing among developers, governments, air transport operators and, of course, passengers.

       At the heart of the simmering impasse is the poor connectivity to these new airports, located kilometres away from city centres. And the state governments haven’t helped matters by not speeding up work on linking these hubs to the city centres.

      As things stand, commute times in both cities to these new air hubs range from one-and-a-half to three hours. That has left many stakeholders fuming.

     In both cities, there is a rising public demand that the existing airports be allowed to continue operations until better connectivity to the new airports is in place, but the bipartite agreement doesn’t permit that.

        Several prominent citizens in both these cities have argued that the government should not have agreed to such a clause, but then we need to understand that for the investors’ consortium, setting up an airport is a business and not a social responsibility.

      It is because the government has failed to fulfill its responsibility that private players have come in. And if they make a few bucks out of the deal, so be it.

       Lopsided priorities and lack of planning have led to this impasse. While planning and executing these airport projects, the government obviously overlooked the question of connectivity. It’s like building a mega apartment complex without providing for the elevator, or constructing a bridge without approach roads.

      What stopped the respective state governments from thinking about the approach roads then?  And both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh governments should take the rap for missing out on this.

      Another major concern for passengers is the user development fee. BIAL has sent a proposal to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry seeking to levy a development fee of Rs 675 on outgoing domestic travellers and Rs 955 on international travellers.

Source: P.Venugopal (India Syndicate)

RTI:Why is the Indian Govt afraid to open files on Netaji ?

Why is the Indian Govt afraid to open files on Netaji ?

       It is an intriguing fact that the governmeny of India has never been forthcoming in relation to the last days of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.       

      Sixty years after independance the public is still being denied accesss to all documents.

      So what if the names of foreign countries are mentioned in those files? In case any foreign government has been involved in any act against the interest of a Indian hero is the public not entitled to know?

      Or is it that the government of India did not take adequate actions to bring the hero home?

      Who is the government trying to protect?


CIC asks PMO to make public list of 29 files on Netaji

New Delhi: Rejecting the PMO’s refusal to provide a list of classified files relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked it to make public a list of 29 such files.The Commission’s decision came after the PMO produced before it 33 classified files on the revolutionary leader.

It, however, exempted four related files as they had reference to foreign states.

Acting on an RTI application of ‘Mission Netaji’ – a Delhi-based research trust – challenging the PMO’s refusal to make public its classified files on Netaji, the CIC had, in its order of January 25, asked the latter to produce in a sealed cover a list of classified files for its perusal.

The Prime Minister’s Office while declining to produce the list of the classified files had earlier said that divulging their contents could affect India’s sovereignty and relations with foreign nations.

Perusing through the files as produced by the PMO, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said four of the 33 classified files had a reference to foreign nations. Therefore, the remaining 29 files should be given.

In its order passed yesterday, the CIC also noted that out of the 29 files, seven were classified “top secret,” three “confidential” while the rest were marked “secret.” Apart from the 33 files, the PMO also informed the Commission about two recently de-classified files.

“Under the circumstances, the PMO will provide a list of the 29 remaining files in addition to the two recently de-classified files, and list their titles,” Habibullah said while directing the PMO’s information officer Amit Agrawal to provide the list within 10 days to Anuj Dhar, a Mission Netaji functionary.