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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000


India Network News Digest - October 18 , 2000


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Wed, 18 Oct 2000 10:19:27 -0400





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Today's India Network News Digest is compiled by the India Network Services
               P.O. Box 556, Bowling Green, OH 43402, USA
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                             Wed 18 Oct 2000

India Network News Digest - October 18 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 180
Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
#1. BJP-RSS ties 'historical', says Advani
#2. Rajasthan makes it mandatory for doctors to work in villages
#3. SC clears decks for controversial Sardar Sarovar dam
#4. Sonia seeks new image to shore up party's waning appeal
#5. Krishna hopeful of positive outcome to hostage crisis
#6. Utter confusion in UP over Uttaranchal cadre
#7. Indian barrister to monitor UK visas

#1. BJP-RSS ties 'historical', says Advani
By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 17. The Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, today
asserted that the bond between the BJP-led coalition Government and the
RSS was unbreakable and based on moral principles.

Comparing the relationship of the Vajpayee Government with the RSS with
that of Mahatma Gandhi and the Nehru Government, Mr. Advani said that the
RSS exerted moral influence over the Government in the same manner as
Gandhi had over the Congress Government.

``The relationship of the Vajpayee Government and the RSS is based on
mutual respect and regard for each other's views,'' he said while speaking
to presspersons informally here against the backdrop of his presence at
the ``Rashtra Suraksha Mahashivir'' of the RSS at Agra on
Sunday. Mr. Advani left little doubt that the RSS-BJP relationship would
endure any crisis for the bond was ``historical''.

Asserting that nobody either in the then Jan Sangh or the BJP ever tried
to distance himself from the RSS, Mr. Advani said that anybody questioning
the relationship of the Vajpayee Government with the RSS should not forget
that the BJP was born only when the Janata Party had ``wanted us to
disassociate from the RSS.'' This was a clear hint that the BJP-RSS
relationship was more important than even the survival of a Government,
that the party would rather demit office - as it did in 1979 - rather than
disown the RSS. He said that the Morarji Desai Government was not
questioned over its ties with Loknayak Jaiprakash Narain and his
policies. So, why was the BJP now being cornered on its relationship with
the RSS? he asked, adding that all the talk on pursuing a charter or
agenda should not be there.

Pointing out that the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, too had
visited Nagpur and met the RSS leadership during the BJP's Nagpur
conclave, Mr. Advani ruled out any possibility of BJP leaders
disassociating or distancing themselves from the RSS. During his
fortnight-long visit to the U.S. in September, Mr. Vajpayee had described
himself as ``always a swayamsevak'' during a meeting at Staten Island near
New York, drawing sharp political reaction back home. Mr. Vajpayee had
then clarified that he had made the remark in the context of his being a
volunteer in the service of India and its people and dubbed the
controversy as a needless one.

``If anybody has any question on the BJP-RSS relationship, they should not
forget the birth of the BJP,'' Mr. Advani asserted, indicating that the
umbilical cord between the two would not be snapped.

#2. Rajasthan makes it mandatory for doctors to work in villages
HT Correspondent
(Ajmer, October 17)

NEW DOCTORS appointed through the Rajasthan Public Service Commission
would have to serve at least three years in rural areas of the state so
that the people of the rural areas could get the medical treatment at
their doorstep, said Rajasthan Health Minister Rajendra Chaudhary here

The Health Minister said that the Government is all set to fill all the
vacant posts in the hospital at the earliest.

He said it is the Central Government job to identify the families living
below the poverty line (BPL). He said that almost all the hospitals of the
State are full with patients. To cope with the problem the patients with
minor diseases would be told in future to contact their nearest

Mr Chaudhary said that the rural patients referred by government hospitals
would be treated by expert professors of big hospitals of the State.

He said private social organisations and government doctors should come
together to give the poor best treatment. Praising the social
organisation, under whose banner a polio operation camp was being held, he
said that more such social organisations should come forward to help the

District Collector Mrs Usha Sharma, DIG Manoj Bhat, Ajmer MP Rasa Singh,
Dr Baheti and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

#3. SC clears decks for controversial Sardar Sarovar dam

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court today cleared the decks for the construction of
controversial Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river which will benefit
three states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat as per the
tribunal award but made any further construction subject to clearance from
environmental and rehabilitation authority.

The dam, at present, has a height of 88 metre but the court last year had
given clearence for the construction till the height of 90 metre. The
tribunal envisages the maximum height of the dam at 138 metre.

``Construction of the dam will continue as per the award of the tribunal
keeping in mind the cost economics of the project,'' a three-judge bench
headed by Chief justice A.S. Anand held by a majority of two to one.

Justice S.P. Bharucha who gave lone dissenting judgment ordered immediate
stoppage of construction activities at the dam site but said the work
could be resumed only after the Environmental Impact Group of Ministry of
Environment and Forests took a detailed survey of the project and cleared

The majority judgment written by Justice B.N. Kirpal said the construction
work of the dam till a height of 90 metre could be taken up immediately
saying the relief and rehabilitation of the oustees has been carried out
satisfactorily by three state governments of Maharashtra, MP and Gujarat.

The bench said for the construction in stages however, will depend on the
clearances given by the Environmental Impact Group and authorities
monitoring the rehabilitation work.

#4. Sonia seeks new image to shore up party's waning appeal

NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi is going for an image makeover
to shore up the ailing fortunes of Congress, but analysts say substance
rather than style remains her chief stumbling block.

Sonia Gandhi is desperately trying to shed the image of an aloof leader,
ensconced in her tightly-guarded New Delhi home and surrounded by a
coterie of close advisers. She last month eschewed her trademark security
paraphernalia and for the first time took a scheduled train to visit a
troubled area in Uttar Pradesh.

She normally traverses India by plane or helicopter, often turning up
hours late for public meetings and then leaving after a short speech
delivered in heavily-accented Hindi and a wave to the teeming
crowds. Political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan said Gandhi's moves were aimed
at internal Congress party elections in November to choose provincial
leaders as well as the party president.

"I don't know how far the makeover will be successful ... there is a great
sense of unease in the party as it has not been able to function as a main
opposition party and capitalise on the shortcomings of the
government." Rangarajan said Gandhi had failed to derive political mileage
out of several issues -- a spurt in militancy in Kashmir, the recent sharp
increase in fuel prices and an industrial slowdown. "The situation in the
Congress is like a cricket team whose numbers have dwindled. She has the
difficult role of playing the captain and all-rounder. "To put the party
back on the map, she has to give out a message -- that the Congress stands
for stability and cares for the the underprivileged. A simple image
makeover will not guarantee that," Rangarajan said.

Gandhi last week attended a Congress training camp in Rajasthan. Unlike
earlier times, she did not stay with the state governor but within the
camp and freely interacted with delegates. She is scheduled to undertake
an unprecedented "yatra" or tour of impoverished and trouble-prone areas
in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Starting on November 8 and ending
several days later, it will be her longest train-cum-road tour. A senior
party leader said on condition of anonymity that Gandhi's moves were aimed
at countering public opinion of an upper-class individual with little
connection to the realities facing the vast majority of Indians. "These
trips, apart from enabling her to communicate more informally with the
cadres, are also aimed at dispelling the general impression in party
circles that the Congress chief is too much dependent on a coterie and
cannot function without advisers," he said.

Both Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru had tight control over the Party
and displayed a common touch despite being born in a very rich and
aristocratic family. Rajiv Gandhi, educated in a public school and
Cambridge University, had power thrust upon him after his mother's
assassination in 1984. He was widely perceived to be out of sync with the
plight of the poor and India's problems when he started out. But his
halting Hindi and his speeches improved with time and he had acquired a
populist appeal by the time of his assassination in 1991. Analyst Pran
Chopra of the Centre for Policy Research said makeover or no makeover,
Sonia Gandhi would be overwhelmingly re-elected Congress president, but
future parliamentary elections were another matter.

"After Rajiv Gandhi had spent at least a year-and-a-half without doing
anything to overcome his image of an upper middle class leader, his spin
doctors also put him through the paces with similar trips across villages
and dusty zones and he still lost the
(parliamentary) elections. "Basically Sonia has to re-invent the party,
ensure devolution of power and win back dissidents if she wants the
Congress to recapture its former glory." AFP

#5. Krishna hopeful of positive outcome to hostage crisis

Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna on Wednesday said he was hopeful of a
positive outcome to the hostage crisis involving matinee idol Rajkumar,
held captive by forest brigand Veerappan.

In a brief chat with reporters at Begumpet airport here, Krishna said
"Rajkumar is well. His health is alright and that is what we were worried

To a question, he said "patience and perservance are essential for
successful conclusion of the crisis".

The Karnataka Chief Minister arrived here alongwith State Home Minister
Mallikarjun Kharge to receive the AICC President Sonia Gandhi who made a
transit halt here on her way to Raichur in Karnataka.

Senior Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh including APCC President M
Satyanarayana Rao, CLP leader Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, former chief
ministers N Janardhan Reddy, N Bhaskar Rao and others were present at the
airport and had a brief chat with Sonia at the airport lounge before her
departure to Raichur.

#6. Utter confusion in UP over Uttaranchal cadre

Confusion continues to prevail even as the date for constitution of
Uttaranchal draws near. The Union and the state governments are yet to
decide on the formula for cadre allocation of the all India service

The UC Aggarwal committee entrusted with the responsibility of deciding
the bifurcation of UP cadre of IAS, IPS and IFS officers is still
grappling with itself. The state government, facing tremendous pressure
from IAS lobby, is all set to send a formal proposal to the Union
government requesting it to send officers to the hill state after securing
their consent.

The Aggarwal committee is inclined to adopt the roster system as against
seeking option from officers. Sources said the head of the committee had
clarified earlier that options were not sought from officers during the
division of Punjab. However, faced with pressure from the IAS lobby, the
government is seeing the indecision in the Centre as the best chance to
push in the state`s views. Sources said the state will ask the Aggarwal
committee to allocate Uttaranchal cadre only to officers who have opted
for the new state.

Meanwhile, the new state`s constitution has been delayed by eight days and
will now come into being on November 9. The delay is a result of requests
by leaders from the hills who saw the first day of the new month as

In the absence of a formula for cadre allocation, the state government has
unilaterally started transferring officials to the hill districts for
manning the new adminisration. They include officers who have opted for
the Uttaranchal cadre. However, added an official: But it is still not
clear if the officers who have opted for new state will actually be sent
there. If the Aggarwa committee sticks to its stance of roster system,
then they will have to come back.

However, the government feels the officers who have opted for the new
state may stay there even after the roster system is adopted.  The
officers who are domiciled in the region and want to be part of the new
state can be absorbed for filling the 'insiders` quota or the home
cadre. But those from other regions like southern states, Orissa and other
states who have opted for Uttaranchal may have to come back, said an

#7. Indian barrister to monitor UK visas

London, Oct. 17: Rabinder Singh, 36, a highly regarded Sikh barrister, has
been appointed Independent Monitor of entry clearance (visa) refusal
cases, by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

Singh, who specialises in public law and human rights, is from the famous
Matrix chambers, of which Prime Minister Tony Blairs wife, Cherie Booth is
one of the founding partners. Having grown up in a working class area in
Bristol, Singh graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, and during his
doctorate was a Harkness Fellow at Berkley in California.

He has acted on behalf of the Home Office and for immigrants in several
cases. But he will give up his immigration work, while he holds the
part-time post of Independent Monitor.His job will be to review cases
where people wanting to visit the UK have been refused entry clearance and
have no right to appeal.

It will involve travelling to entry clearance posts abroad, including
those in the Indian subcontinent, and examining cases to see if they have
been handled fairly. But he will not be making recommendations in
individual cases. He will submit an annual report to Robin Cook.

Foreign Office Minister Keith Vaz, responsible for entry clearance
operations overseas praised the appointment of Rabinder Singh. He has been
selected because he is the best candidate out of a very, very good
field. He is one of the brightest barristers of this generation, said
Vaz. The Minister hopes that Singh will visit the Indian subcontinent.

He further added that a person as busy and talented as Rabinder Singh is
taking on this role because he believes in public service. Singhs
appointment comes at a time when over 30,000 extra overseas workers are in
line to be granted permits next year, in a drive by the government to
allow more qualified foreign recruits into United Kingdom.

End of India Network News Digest

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