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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000

Subject:

India Network News Digest - October 19 , 2000

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Thu, 19 Oct 2000 10:57:22 -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
             Telephone: (419) 352 9335 Fax:  (419) 352 9334
                             Thu 19 Oct 2000
*******************************************************************

***************************************************************
India Network News Digest - October 19 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 181
***************************************************************
Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
-------------------
#1. PM must clarify on Advani's RSS line: Cong.
#2. TN's failure on Rajkumar's security unpardonable: SC
#3. Supreme Court says dams can't be damned
#4. BJP demands Rabri's resignation
#5. Indian economy slowing down: Fitch
#6. Security scenario worsening at the borders: Fernandes
#7. No words can describe the beauty of `Fairy Queen'

------------------------------------------------

#1. PM must clarify on Advani's RSS line: Cong.
By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 18. The Congress today asked the Prime Minister,
Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, to clarify whether the Union Government was being run
under the influence of the RSS. The party took on the Union Home Minister,
Mr. L.K. Advani, for his assertion yesterday that there was no question of
disowning links with the RSS.

The party spokesperson, Mr. Anand Sharma, said it was ``indeed shocking
that no less a person than the Home Minister had equated the RSS with the
father of the nation, and admits to the influence exercised by them on the
Government''.

Mr. Sharma came down heavily on the Home Minister for comparing Gandhi to
the RSS and said ``it is confirmation that the Government accepts the RSS
chief, Mr K. S. Sudarshan's provocative exhortation to the Muslims and
Christians''.

He said these statements made it imperative that the Prime Minister
replied. ``This is first time that the country was being divided between
those who accept Gandhi as the father of the nation and those who accept
the authority of the RSS.'' He said since the claim was of influence on
the Union Government, the people of the country must know whether
``Government policy was based on the RSS doctrine''.

Mr. Advani's comments, Mr. Sharma said, meant that the ``Home Minister
subscribes to the views expressed by Golwalkar, on democracy and his
questioning the patriotism of Muslims and Christians''.

He accused the NDA Government and the Home Minister of double-
speak. ``While Mr. Advani reveres the RSS as much as the country reveres
the father of the nation, the BJP president tries to woo the Muslims.''
Mr. Sharma said this was being done to hoodwink the people, without which
they would not be able to run the Government.

He also took a swipe at the NDA's allies. ``The deafening silence of the
allies on an issue of such import is intriguing; have they forsaken their
secular principles for the sake of power?''

#2. TN's failure on Rajkumar's security unpardonable: SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday termed as "unpardonable" the
Tamil Nadu government's failure to post police personnel at Kannada
filmstar Rajkumar's Gajanur farm house despite having information a year
back that he faced a threat of being kidnapped by forest brigand Veerappan
and indicated that it was not in favour of release of the bandit's 51
associates.

"It is unpardonable that despite getting specific information that
Rajkumar might be kidnapped from the Gajanur farm house, the government
did not take any step to prevent this," a three-judge bench, which had
earlier stayed the release of the associates indefinitely, observed.

Referring to the manner in which the government hastily decided to drop
TADA charges against Veerappan's associates and the designated court at
Mysore passing an order to that effect, Justice Bharucha said "it is an
attempt by the state, by the public prosecutor and by a court to hoodwink
the law."

#3. Supreme Court says dams can't be damned

NEW DELHI: While giving the green signal to the Sardar Sarovar project,
the Supreme Court has ruled that construction of big dams cannot be
equated with setting up of polluting industries so far as their effect on
the environment is concerned.

"What is being constructed is a large dam. The dam is neither a nuclear
establishment nor a polluting industry. The construction of a dam,
undoubtedly, would result in the change of environment but it will not be
correct to presume that the construction of a large dam will result in
ecological disaster," the court said.

Justice B N Kirpal, who wrote the majority judgement in the verdict given
by a three-judge bench on Wednesday, said merely because there would be a
change was no reason to presume that there would be ecological disaster.

"It is when the effect of the project is known, then the prinicple of
sustainable development would come into play which will ensure that
mitigative steps are and can be taken to preserve the ecological balance,
" Justice Kirpal, with whom Chief Justice A S Anand concurred, said.

He said India had an experience of over 40 years in the construction of
dams and added the experience did not show that construction of a large
dam was not cost effective or led to ecological or environmental
degradation.

Justice Kirpal said "on the contrary there has been ecological upgradation
with the construction of large dams."

This ruling came from a three-judge bench, which disposed of a petition
filed by Narmada Bachao Andolan, a NGO led by Medha Patkar, which had
challenged the construction of Sardar Sarovar Project(SSP) on the Narmada
river.

Referring to the submergence of villages, the court said the SSP reservoir
level at 455 feet would affect 193 villages in Madhya Pradesh, 33 villages
in Maharashtra and 19 villages in Gujarat.

Of these only four villages(3 in Gujarat and one in Madhya Pradesh) are
getting submerged fully and the total area of submergence was 11279
hectares (1877 Gujarat, 1519 Maharashtra and the rest, Madhya Pradesh).

Comparing SSP with Hirakud Dam in Orissa, Shriramsagar in Andhra Pradesh,
Gandhisagar in Madhya Pradesh, Tungabhadra in Karnataka, Nagarjunasagar in
Andhra Pradesh, the court said "ssp has the least ratio of submergence to
the area benefited (1.97 P er cent) . The ratio of some of the existing
schemes is as much as 25 per cent."

The court said displacement of people due to major river valley projects
had occurred in both developed and developing countries.

In the past, the worrying factor was the absence of any rehabilitation and
relief scheme, it said and added in case of SSP there was a definitive
scheme under implementation.

#4. BJP demands Rabri's resignation

PATNA: The Bihar unit of the BJP on Wednesday demanded the immediate
resignation of the Rabri Devi ministry for its "abject failure" to check
caste violence, riots and extremism in Bihar.

Opposition leader in the state assembly, S K Modi, who headed his party's
team to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in strife-torn
Biharsharif, Siwan and Nawada districts, told reporters that 30 of the 55
districts in Bihar should be declared trouble-prone and be handed over to
para-military forces.

"The Rabri Devi ministry has totally failed to check the recurrence of
violence...Criminals and extremists are ruling the roost...The government
should resign if it doesn't have the will-power to arrest gangsters and
extremists", he said.

Referring to Biharsharif where the Nalanda district administration was
compelled to impose curfew to disperse karesevaks who started constructing
a temple at a disputed site on October 9, Modi held Laloo Prasad Yadav and
Biharsharif MLA, Pappu Khan, responsible for the tension.

He also demanded the immediate arrest of Akhilesh Singh and Ashok Mahato
for allegedly killing five people in Nawada district on Sunday.

On the Siwan killings, Modi accused the state government of providing
patronage to criminals and demanded a judicial inquiry into a series of
carnages in the district.

He also demanded stern action against RJD MP from Siwan, Sahabuddin, for
allegedly masterminding the killing of 11 members of a family at
Mojahidpur in Siwan on Friday night.

#5. Indian economy slowing down: Fitch
PTI
(Calcutta, October 19)

Fitch Ratings India (FRI) on Thursday warned against the slowing down of
the Indian economy as evident from the lower capital formation, inadequate
credit expansion and low tax base.

"The economy is suffering from inadequate capital formation, which is
imperative for future growth, " the FRI said in its latest 'Economy
Update' report.

For four consecutive months since May, 2000, the capital goods sector
recorded negative growth rates whereas the growth recorded last year was
four per cent.

"What is even more alarming is that, a combination of a likely lower
domestic savings during the current period and a much less than desired
FDI flow can act as a major hindrance in meeting India's investment
requirement, given the pitiable state of physical infrastructure, " the
report said.

Quoting world investment report of UNCTAD, it said the FDI flow to India
was down by as much as 17 per cent to 2.2 billion dollars during 1999.

On credit expansion, it said although the overall expansion in credit
looked impressive, a major part of the same is attributable to larger
borrowings forced on oil companies on account of mounting receivables from
the oil pool account.

Also a large number of corporates have gone in for fresh borrowings (in
the light of soft interest rate scenario) to repay old debts which were
contracted at higher rates.

Though the tax collection showed a 24 per cent growth during April-July,
2000 over the same period last year, the fact remains that the growth was
achieved on a lower base.

#6. Security scenario worsening at the borders: Fernandes
UNI
(New Delhi, October 18)

WARNING THAT the security environment in India's immediate and extended
neighbourhood was continuing to deteriorate, Defence Minister George
Fernandes on Wednesday called for continuous efforts to monitor and
analyse developments in the region.

He said the Group of Ministers was expeditiously considering the
recommendations of the task forces that had been set up after the Kargil
conflict to look into areas of intelligence apparatus, internal security,
border management and defence management.

Speaking at the annual Combined Commanders' Conference of the Armed
forces, the minister said cross-border terrorism was growing rapidly, both
in magnitude and sophistication.

He stressed on the geo-strategic importance of the Central Asian Republics
and countries in the sub-Saharan African region, particularly the Indian
Ocean rim states, and ASEAN countries which lay in India's extended
neighbourhood.

The minister said the expeditious modernisation of the forces and
acquisition of state-of-the-art weaponry was high priority for the
government in the light of the Subramaniam Committee report. He disclosed
that the Government had approved the construction of an indigenous
aircraft carrier.

He called for mandatory and time-bound scrutiny of all major defence
deals, past and proposed, to ensure utmost transparency. Such a system
would put to rest allegations of irregularities in different defence
deals, he added.

Mr Fernandes said the world was now poised for another revolution in
military affairs with IT and advanced military systems set to transform
the very nature of war.

He said in this context there was now a growing recognition of the role
that India can play in ensuring regional and global peace and security in
the emerging polycentric world.

He congratulated the armed forces for the victory in Kargil and the
professionalism shown by the Indian UN Peacekeeping Force in Sierra
Leone. He noted that India had emerged from the Kargil conflict as the
clear victor both in military and diplomatic terms.

#7. No words can describe the beauty of `Fairy Queen'
Biresh Banerjee/New Delhi

Be a king and shoot tigers in Rajasthan for just Rs 10,000. And as
royalty, stay in a palace in the middle of the forest and get there in the
oldest working steam locomotive in the world.

Open your wallets to the new holiday package being offered by Indian
Railways in collaboration with the Sariska Palace Hotel in Rajasthan.

The one night two day package includes food, boarding and lodging in the
Sariska Palace Hotel and also a ride to Alwar on the "Fairy Queen", the
world's oldest working steam locomotive.

And you get more than what you paid for. As the train leaves Delhi Cantt
Railway Station, it moves out into the countryside. Muddy brown fields,
stacks of hay on the ridged plots of land, merrily orange marigolds give
the eyes the change they were looking for.

It takes a while to sink in. The absence of car horns and the pollution
makes one feel slightly distant from the scene at first and then things
change. The shrill whistle of the "Fairy Queen", the quiet around you and
the bright colour outside, accommodate you in all their beauty.

The service in the coach is in a word, kingly. Six feet tall Rajput
waiters wearing black sherwanis and coloured pagris serve you lunch, cold
drinks and anything else which might be your pleasure, your highness. The
seating for the six hour journey to Alwar is comfortable. The coach might
not have air-conditioning, but you are the king of all you survey,
literally.

The old lady, the "Fairy Queen" is the greatest pleasure of them
all. Chugging along at a leisurely forty kilometres per hour, she has to
be refilled with water at four stations and her old wheels oiled. A piece
of history, you look at her and you fall in love. You ride her, you want
to marry her. If the engine driver lets you, a ride in the engine is a
memory of a lifetime.

Steam all around you. A copper dome which houses the steam regulator,
pressure gauges which have been there since 1855 when she first rolled out
and black coal. Coal and steam spray blacken your clothes and your shoes.

The heat is intense especially when the driver opens the furnace to push
coal into it. The furnace is a boiling cauldron. The fire inside is as
orange as any impression of hell.

But the most novel treat of them all is when the driver lets you blow the
whistle. The shrillness pierces your ears but the feeling stays forever.

And as you pass by towns, platforms and railway crossings, people stand
and wonder at the train they are looking at. They aren't used to it, but
they know there is something about it. They look at you, they look at the
train and they smile, and wave. The feeling can't be described in words.

On arrival at Alwar junction, a bus takes you to your palace where you are
greeted by your subjects in traditional Rajasthani style. The evening
holds a Rajasthani treat with dances (the Bhowai is really popular),
traditional food, hookas, puppet shows. You are king remember. Above all,
the night sky takes your breath away. You recollect there are things
called stars and remember how beautiful they look.

The next morning is the tiger safari at Sariska Tiger Reserve. An open
gypsy takes you trough the forest in the cold October morning and you keep
your eyes wide open. A movement here, a twig snap there, could it be the
tiger? You look and look, but the elusive creature is a king himself. He
will show you when he pleases. Though he leaves you with the consolation
of seeing some freshly made pugmarks.

And then it is time to go. Fifty odd passengers make their way to the
station to go back home and work and tension. And the train leaves for
home.

The queen will make nine trips this year with the aim of as Mr M S Saini,
Joint Director Tourism Railways puts it, "making people aware of the
nation's pride and heritage." Director Sariska Palace Mr Gaurav Singh
Rathore agrees and welcomes you to the hotel.

--------------------------------------
End of India Network News Digest
======================================

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