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INDIA-L  May 1998, Week 1

INDIA-L May 1998, Week 1


India News Network Digest Thu, 7 May 98 .


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India News Network Digest    Thu, 7  May  98     Volume 2 : Issue DC&DH

A Publication of The India Network Foundation, Bowling Green, Ohio  USA
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Today's News Topics:

#1. Fresh probe into Indian Bank scandal likely
#2. Patna turns crime capital, traders want out
#3. Dawood aide flees custody in filmi style
#4. Plague, fever, drought; blame El Niño
#5. Case may delay Mariam's departure home
#6. Indian plane ready for test flights
#7. Dana: The youngest dus numberi
#8. Adoloscents unaware of AIDS, STD threats
#9. Khodays kin shoots wife, kills himself
#10. Ulfa militant, securityman killed
#11. NLFT ultras free bus hostages
#13. Govt tries to mollify China, says it is keen on better ties
#14. Kerala: China to help boost power sector
#15. Centre allays apprehensions over power ordinance
#16.  CPM makes early gains as BJP, Trinamool haggle over alliance
#1. Fresh probe into Indian Bank scandal likely

New Delhi: The Union government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that
it may have to consider ordering fresh probe into the Indian Bank scam by a
new team of investigators after the apex court expressed its "total
dissatisfaction" with the status of investigations which it said appeared to be at
a virtual standstill since it began months ago.

Solicitor-General Santosh Hegde appearing for the government told a
three-judge Bench monitoring the investigations on a public interest petition
moved by Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy that the present team of
investigators had filed closure reports in connection with of several "bad
accounts"of the bank, including one operated at the Singapore branch.

"But since the court is dissatisfied with the investigations the government has
no other way except to have the whole case reviewed by a different set of
persons because the present team had given their opinion that some of the
cases cannot be proceeded with," Hegde told the judges.

The three-judge Bench comprising Justice S C Aggarwal, Justice S P Bharucha
and Justice B N Kirpal told the Solicitor-General during proceedings that the
new government should tell the court what it thought of the case as it had
accused the previous government of deliberately attempting to scuttle the
investigations into the scam, in which several persons closely linked to the
then ruling Tamil Maanila Congress were alleged to have been given huge
unsecured loans by the bank which had run "bad."

In a brief order the court directed the government to file its response to the
issues raised before the court by the amicus cureae Anil Diwan regarding the
alleged inaction by the investigating agencies in booking the guilty bank officers

The case will come up for final hearing on July 21 after the summer vacations.
As soon as proceedings began, the judges took strong exception to a
statement made by the Solicitor-General that investigations into the scam were
on and it would be completed in another three months.

The judges said this reply seem to be a word to word repetition of the same
stand taken by the previous government several months ago. What appeared to
have angered the judges was a closure report filed by the investigating
agencies, including the CBI, regarding an account opened with the Singapore
branch of the bank relating to a loan of Rs 4.45 crore.

The Solicitor-General told the court that the investigating agencies were finding
it difficult to get some documents from the Singapore branch of the bank as the
concerned officer there had informed the head office of the bank that he was
precluded from disclosing the same under Singapore law.

The judges said they were surprised that the head office of a bank registered in
India was not able to get documents from its branch in Singapore. They wanted
to know what the bank would do if it wanted to take disciplinary action against
an officer of the branch.

The judges observed that the investigations into the case appeared to be "very
unsatisfactory." "The stand of the government did not carry any conviction at all
with the court. We find that the same reluctance to investigate into the case by
the previous government being demonstrated again. Mr Solicitor you must tell
this court what specific steps the new government intends to take," the judges

Hegde told the court that though a closure report had been filed because of the
hurdle in getting documents from Singapore, the government had approached
the Interpol for assistance.

To a specific question whether the person authorised to part with the
documents in the Singapore branch was the guilty officer, the Solicitor-General
stated that it might be so.

The judges wanted to know whether the head office had become an outside
agency for the Singapore branch and whether a court order to the head office to
produce the documents would help in securing the documents.

"Mr Solicitor are we to take it that the actions of the former chairman of the bank
Gopalakrishnan in giving such loans relating to the Singapore account is to be
whitewashed because of an inability of the investigating agency to get the
documents," the judges asked.

#2. Patna turns crime capital, traders want out

Patna: It will not be wrong to term Patna as the crime capital of India.
Kidnapping for ransom, dacoity and killing has touched such an alarming level,
that it has forced the terror-struck trading community to think seriously about
their future in the city.

On Saturday, a well known businessman Ajay Agarwal was abducted from a
busy area of the city in broad daylight. This incident came close on the heels of
another trader, Ajit Singhania, and the son of a merchant navy engineer being

While Ajit Singhania, was killed by his abductors when the police got hold of
some members of their gang, in the other case a demand for Rs 50 lakh has
been communicated to the engineer for his son's release. The news about
Singhania's killing, rent havoc in his family.

His wife committed suicide by consuming poison leaving behind her two little
sons. Amarnath Singhania, a cloth merchant and the father of the deceased,
who had spent days and nights together in the police station to free his son, is
now planning to say good-bye to Patna.

The miserable failure of the State police to check such rising incidents has led
the business community to lose faith in it. In fact, they have acquired a belief
that the active involvement of the police will lead to the killing of their members,
like in the case of Ajit Singhnia.

The Agarwal family, is not running to the police stations to secure the release of
their member, but are frantically waiting for the call of the abductors. "We have
no faith in the corrupt State administration. We have realised that either we pay
or get killed," said a noted trader.

Significantly, such cases have registered a rise after the last general elections
in the State. In this direction some businessmen feel that perhaps they are
paying for voting against the ruling party.

"Such rampant cases of abduction cannot take place without political
patronage," points out a businessman. "If the administration wants then it can
stop such incidents, but here it looks that it is interested in abetting it," he says.

The leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Sushil Kumar Modi charges
that the crime spree in the capital was being carried out by gangs which are
patronised by the ruling party leaders and even ministers.

He also felt that it was in reaction to the RJD's defeat in the Patna Lok Sabha
seat, and the business community were being targeted since they stood solidly
behind the BJP.

Interestingly, however, none of the opposition parties have carried out any
agitational programme against such incidents. Such initiatives have only been
taken up by a section of the affected business family, without the whole-hearted
support of the entire community. But despite patrolling, such incidents have not
been checked.

#3. Dawood aide flees custody in filmi style

Mumbai: In a sensational escapade, two mobike-borne gangsters on
Wednesday stormed into the premises of J J Hospital in south Mumbai and
whisked away Feroze Kinkani, sharp shooter of Dawood Ibrahim's gang, after
firing at the constable escorting him.

Konkani, who was instrumental in killing BJP MLA Ramdas Naik three years
ago, is facing 14 charges of murder including the elimination of two 'Mathadi'
workers (porters) which triggered the second round of post-Ayodhya communal
riots in the megapolis in 1992-93.

The gangster, lodged at the Central Prison in neighbouring Thane district, was
brought to the hospital along with another inmate Salim Abdul Razaque Beg,
for medical treatment, police said.

The injured constable, who sustained a bullet injury on the chest, could not be
identified immediately, police said adding that he was rushed to the hospital
and was reported to be in a critical condition.

Konkani, owing allegiance to Chhota Shakeel faction of the Dawood gang, had
recently assaulted a rival member of the Arun Gawli gang with a razor in the
premises of the sessions court.

#4. Plague, fever, drought; blame El Niño

Mumbai: Paul Epstein, of the Harvard School of Medicine, had written a paper
last year linking the El Niño effect to "hepatitis, shigella, typhoid, and cholera,
as well as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, encephalitis, and plague," all of which
are prevalent in India.

It was also observed that in addition to fires, water-borne and animal-carried
diseases become more prevalent during El Niño-related droughts. Said a
Greenpeace report, "Next on the agenda for India is whether the current El Niño
survives next spring and continues for 1998's growing season.

Too far out for now and only a minor concern at this time. During an El Niño
event, seasonal monsoons in India can fail. This highly populated region is
dependant on the arrival of the monsoons for agriculture; failure of the
monsoons can quickly cause drought and famine. El Niño episodes typically
cause flooding of rivers in Bangladesh and in regions of southeast China."

Experts however are keen to point out that El Niño predictions should be taken
with a pinch of salt, as it is just one of the factors that can predict weather.

Kalsi, spokesman for the Indian Weather Bureau agrees: "It is just one of the
factors that influences rainfall and the weather. We've been studying it closely
and have discovered a positive cooling trend, that basically implies that it is
conducive to the monsoons. It, however, should be remembered that El Niño is
only one factor that goes into predicting the weather."

The met office in Pune has a team headed by V Thapliyal studying the effect.
Scientists have warned that the warming of Pacific Ocean waters due to El Niño
currents may affect the monsoon levels in the country.

India had a record soybean crop last year, though scientists were unsure
whether this was due to El Niño. Scientists do not yet fully understand what
causes these changes in the El Niño cycle.

#5. Case may delay Mariam's departure home

Thiruvananthapuram: Maldivian national, Mariam Rasheeda, one of the
accused in the ISRO spy case, was on Tuesday granted exemption from
personal appearance in two defamation cases against her, but a third case is
likely to further delay her departure for home.

Mariam, held under NSA at the Viyyur central prison, was released on May 1
following the Supreme Court order quashing further investigation into the
espionage case, but she was obliged to stay on in Kerala because of three
defamation suits filed against her by two police officers in connection with
magazine interviews given by her two years ago.

Judicial First Class Magistrate K J Rajan on Tuesday granted Mariam
permanent exemption from personal appearance in the two defamation cases
filed by Deputy Superintendent of Police S Vijayan.

However, hearing in a third defamation case against her filed by sub-inspector
Thampi S Durgaduth, was deferred until June 5, by Judicial First Class
Magistrate C Arumughan in view of a stay granted by the Kerala High Court.

#6. Indian plane ready for test flights

New Delhi: India has made a quiet entry into the world of civilian aircraft
manufacture with the indigenously designed all-composite trainer the Hansa-3,
Union Science and Technology Minister Murli Manohar Joshi announced here
on Wednesday.

The Hansa-3 will cost Rs 35 lakh ($90,000) which is far cheaper than
comparable international models which are sold at over $110,000. Additional
savings can be made by operators because of indigenously available service
and spares.

Test flights for the Hansa-3 are to be inaugurated on May 11 by Dr Joshi who is
also vice-president of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research when
its certification process by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation will begin.

The designers, National Aeronautical Laboratories, under the CSIR, will be
aiming for certification for Hansa-3 under the joint air worthiness requirements
for very light aircraft of Europe both for daytime flying as well as instrumented
night flying.

Certification under stringent international regulations will go a long way
towards ensuring safety as well as building an export potential for the aircraft.

The weight of the Hansa-3 has been kept below 750 kg which is an essential
requirement for certification through optimal design and light-weight material
including a modern light-weight engine.

As a future programme, a stretched version of the Hansa-3 capable of carrying
4-5 passengers is also being designed by NAL to meet the lower end
requirements of air taxi/ air charter/ commuter and executive aircraft.

Enquiries have already come in from Europe, Australia and Latin America
which are seen as potential markets for the aircraft so long as it retains its
price advantage.

Preliminary marketing efforts have already been started by Nal and the
manufacturer Taneja Aerospace and Aeronauticals Limited. Nal and Taal are
also developing a 14-seater multi-role light transport aircraft Saras for which
there is a perceived demand of 250 pieces over the next 15 years.

Saras is expected to meet the demands of feeder airlines, air charter and air
taxi services, executive aircraft and also meet social needs such as air
ambulance, disaster and relief support, surveillance, floriculture development
and the opening up of remote areas.

#7. Dana: The youngest dus numberi

Amritsar: He has spent 10 months in a reformatory home meant for young
criminals, he can rattle off the names of senior police officials and is the
youngest history sheeter in this holy city.

He is 13-year-old Ranjit Kumar, popularly known as 'Dana,' a resident of the
suburban town of Chheratta. He may not have robbed big banks or committed
burglaries but he definitely has lightened the load from many a rich man's
heavy wallet.

According to police records, Dana is the city's most expert and dangerous
pickpockets and his favourite hunting grounds are the city's two main
gurdwaras - the Golden Temple and Gurdware Shaheeda - he lurks around
in remote corners or entrances of these two holy places, selects his prey after a
close scrutiny and then swoops down on them when they were in the process
of bowing their head or kneeling before the holy Guru Granth Sahib.

He is also maestro at picking-up currency notes from on 'top of the goalks' or
donation boxes of religious places. His method is quite simple. He kneels
down with folded hands before the holy scripture and then slowly, but with a
great deal of confidence, covers the notes with his hands and moves away

Dana is dangerous because the police believe he carries a country made
pistol, a claim which the young pickpocket denied when he was recently picked
up from inside the Golden Temple complex after he had deprived a pilgrim of
Rs 5,000.

There are at least five police stations in the city where he has been listed as a
'dus numberi' and some of the Station House Officers have entered Dana's
name in their personal diaries.

Last year, Dana spent ten months at the reformatory jail meant for children at
Hoshiarpur but his stay in the jail did him no good. However, dana claims
whatever he makes is shared with his family.

He says part of his loot is given to his drunkard father for purchasing his daily
quota of liquor, part goes to his mother to rear his five brothers and sisters and
the rest he spends on himself.

Sitting cross legged at the brahm butta police post outside the golden temple,
dana told a group of newspersons that he had learnt the art of pick pocketing
from one of his friends.

He confessed thatit was an easy way of getting rich because if a pick pocket
chooses his target after careful scrutiny, then he can easily earn a couple of
thousand rupees in a day.

Dana alleged that on a number of occasions when he was caught thepolice,
instead of registering a case, let him go after pocketing the money he had
stolen. He also claimed that he had spent a day in the interrogation centre here
when he was questioned about a burglarly which took place in his locality.

Dana, who knows virtually all the pick-pockets operating in the city, alleged that
a number of them enjoyed the protection and patronage of "mohalla'' level
political leaders.

#8. Adoloscents unaware of AIDS, STD threats

Bangalore: Adolescents, comprising one-fifth of the country's population, are
among the most neglected lot and have little knowledge about health services,
according to a study conducted by the Washington-based International Centre
for Research on Women.

Releasing the key findings of the study here on Wednesday, ICRW president
Geeta Rao Gupta, said adolescents were vulnerable to Sexually Transmitted
Diseases and AIDS.

Conducted jointly by Rockefeller Foundation and ICRW in collaboration with five
leading Indian institutions, the two-year research revealed that about 36 per
cent of married adolescents in the age group of 13 to 16 and 64 per cent in the
age group of 17 to 19 have become mothers.

They have either delivered a child or aborted it. Adolescent pregnancy without
marriage was also increasing, especially in the urban areas, according to
hospitals and clinic records, she said.

She said the research was co-ordinated by the ICRW and undertaken by the
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Kem Hospital and Research Centre,
Pune, Foundation for Research in Health Systems, Ahmedabad, Christian
Medical College, Vellore and Swaasthya project.

#9. Khodays' kin shoots wife, kills himself

Bangalore: Unable to bear huge losses in business, a 38-year-old
businessman related to a liquor baron in the city, shot dead his wife and killed
himself at his palatial residence here, early on Wednesday.

Police said the deceased businessman Nagendra Prasad Khoday, shot his
wife meera (35) before firing upon himself. The tragedy occurred while
Khoday's parents and children were sleeping in the house.

#10. Ulfa militant, securityman killed

Guwahati: Two persons, an Ulfa militant and a securityman, were killed and a
businessman kidnapped on Wednesday in unabated violence in Assam even
as the situation in Kokrajhar is tense but under control, official sources said.

The Ulfa militant was killed in Bhotiagaon in central Assam's Nagaon district in
an encounter with State police and CRPF, who raided a Ulfa hideout on a
tip-off, official reports reaching here said.

#11. NLFT ultras free bus hostages

Agartala: All the seven non-tribals who were abducted from a bus by National
Liberation Front of Tripura militants on April 24 have been freed with the
release of the remaining passenger on Tuesday night.

According to police sources here on Wednesday, the remaining passenger,
Manmatha Pal, returned unhurt on Tuesday night and also reported to the
Udaipur police station.

Four persons, including the bus driver, conductor and two passengers also
returned home safely on Monday night, police said. Two others were released
earlier. The militants had abducted the passengers from a private bus at
Lumbacherra on National Highway No. 44.


Youth axes mother, sister-in-law to death

Jaipur: A tribal youth allegedly axed to death his mother and sister-in-law at
Lakhatiya village in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan believing they were witches
responsible for his wife's illness, police said here on Wednesday. Police said
the accused, Nana Damore, killed Deeth (70) and Kanta (35) on Sunday last.

4 ultras killed in Bihar

Daltonganj (Bihar): Four extremists and a CRPF havildar were killed and three
jawans injured in a day-long encounter between police and Naxalites in the
extremist-dominated Palamu district.

District Police Superintendent R K Singh said here on Wednesday that the
encounter took place when the CRPF jawans were engaged in a combing
operation to nab the extremists following an earlier attack by ultras of the Maoist
Communist Centre on assistant Sub-Inspector Harendra Sharma near
Pipratand police picket.

2 killed in Assam encounter

Guwahati: Two persons including a jawan were
killed and a businessman was kidnapped in Assam although the situation in
violence-hit Kokrajhar district remained peaceful. Official sources said a Lance
Naik and an ULFA militant were killed during an encounter. (UNI)Nurses strike
hit servicesNew Delhi: Health services in the capital's government hospitals
remained paralysed for the second day with agitating nurses continuing their
indefinite strike as the Delhi government warned of harsh measures to crush
their stir. (PTI)No English names: GeorgePort Blair: Defence Minister George
Fernandes said the names of freedom fighters incarcerated in the Cellular Jail
should be immortalised by changing English names of places on the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There was no justification in carrying on with
the English names of places even after 50 years of Independence, He said.
(PTI)Trinamul terms for BJPCalcutta: The Trinamul Congress hinted that the
party might consider joining the BJP-led government at the Centre if their
Bengal package was accepted. Party spokesman Sudip Bandopadhyay, MP,
said his party might consider joining the BJP if the Bengal package submitted
by Mamata Banerjee were accepted.
Copyright © 1996 [Deccan Chronicle]. All rights reserved.


                                                                                  Thursday, May 7, 1998

                      George's anti-China remarks glossed over

#13. Govt tries to mollify China, says it is keen on better ties

                                              DH News Service
                                            NEW DELHI, May 6

IN WHAT appeared to be a damage-control exercise, the Government today reiterated its commitment to the process of dialogue for
normalisation of relations and development of a friendly, co-operative, good neighbourly and mutually beneficial ties with China.

In a statement issued here today, the official spokesman of the external affairs ministry emphasised the continuing relevance of the
five principles of peaceful co-existence, jointly enunciated by the two countries for the development of bilateral ties. Both sides have
agreed to build a constructive and co-operative relationship oriented towards the 21st Century, the statement said, virtually distancing
the ministry from Defence Minister George Fernandes` anti- China remarks.

The statement, understood to have been drafted jointly by the prime minister`s office and the external affairs ministry following a
telephonic talk Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is believed to have had with Mr Fernandes, now away in Port Blair on a two-
day visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, noted the gradual deepening of bilateral ties in recent years.

Common endeavour

''The high-level political dialogue has made an important contribution to the deepening of understanding and fostering co-operation
in diverse fields...This development is in keeping with the common endeavour of India and China to develop their respective
economies and to improve the living standards of their people,`` the statement said.

India sees the bilateral ties as one in which the two sides would be ''responsive to each other`s concerns,`` the statement said, noting
that removal of differences and promotion of understanding would contribute to the development of good neighbourly relations
between the two countries apart from promoting regional and international peace and stability.

Further, it recalled that Mr Vajpayee in his capacity as external affairs minister in the Janata Party Government of 1977-79 had taken
personal and active interest in the normalisation of relations with China. ''It was at his initiative that the first understanding regarding
maintenance of peace and tranquility along the India- China border was reached.``

Minister's stand

This process has since continued through high level exchanges and official talks, for improvement of bilateral relations and resolving
outstanding issues, it added.

Mr Fernandes also issued a statement from Port Blair, clarify ing that he stood for continuation of the on-going bilateral dialogue and
''I reciprocate China`s commitment to the on-going dialogue with India.`` He ''believes that the talks between India and China will
lead to a satisfactory settlement of the issues between the two countries,`` a statement released by the defence ministry here today

Seeking to clear his position on the controversy his statements had created, the defence minister said: ''It appears that there is a
feeling in certain circles that I am not keen on an India-China dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues between our two countries.
During the Krishna Menon Memorial Lecture on May 3, 1998 my emphasis was precisely on creating peace and amity between India
and China and between India and Pakistan. Of course, I put the spotlight on the contentious issues with our neighbours with the
purpose of making the Indian people conscious about them. This is because I do believe that matters of national security must
become people`s concerns.``

Remarks downplayed

Mr Fernandes did not address the more controversial parts of his comments on Sunday when he had described China as ''India`s
potential threat number one``.

Beijing had on Tuesday expressed ''utmost regret and resentment`` over Mr Fernandes` remarks and accused him of ''seriously
sabotaging`` the favourable atmosphere of improving bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

Meanwhile, the CPM and Forward Bloc today demanded the resignation of Mr Fernandes as defence minister. A statement issued
here today by the CPM politburo said Mr Fernandes` serious allegations against China showed that he was bent on disrupting the
nationally accepted course of improvement of relations with China.

His ''wild charges`` against China had not only evoked serious response from Beijing but also a rebuttal from the Myanmar
Government. Even the US administration did not share Mr Fernandes` allegation, it said. It was imperative that Mr Fernandes
stepped down in the interest of the country`s ties with the neighbours, the statement added.

Also, it demanded a statement from the Government clarifying that it did not share Mr Fernandes` anti-China agenda.

The Communist Party of India (ML) politburo on Tuesday accused Mr Fernandes of playing the ''US game`` by describing China as
the country`s number one enemy.

In a statement here, the politburo said it would be a dangerous ploy to make India cannon-fodder in the sinister US gameplan.

The nation has welcomed normalisation of Sino-Indian relations not only in the interest of accomplishing peace, amity and mutual
growth in the region, but also for stepping up the Saarc countries` resistance against US pressure, it said.

''There may be debates on the extent of socialism in China, but there can be no denial of the fact that China stands rock firm against
the US hegemonist designs in South Asia.``

It said in the US strategy India fits in as a counterveiling force against China.


                              China to help boost power sector

                                           By A V VARGHESE

CHINA has come to the recue of Kerala in improving the power situation in the State. At a function in Beijing on May 4, Kerala
signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China for setting up small hydro-electric projects in the State. While the State
Electricity Minister, Mr Pinarayi Vijayan, is planning to visit China soon to hold talks with Chinese firms in this regard, a Chinese
team is also expected to visit the State shortly for making technical evaluations of the projects.

Kerala`s Chinese connection goes back millenia and is reflected in the Chinese fishing nets that dot the shoreline of the Kochi
seafront and the backwaters. The temple architecture in Kerala has also been borrowed from the Chinese. Even the Jewish
synagogue in Kochi boasts of Chinese tiles.

More recently, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CPI(M) in Kerala has been looking to the Chinese Communist Party and
history of the Chinese revolution to see if its ideology and praxis could provide a framework for the party`s agenda in Kerala. But
the influence of Chinese communism, or rather the ''thoughts of Chairman Mao Ze Dong" on the radical left in Kerala has been
limited. The Naxalite movement which literally believed that ''power comes from the barrel of a gun`` ended up a failure, also
because the CPI(M) saw these militants as upstarts who did not understand the Chinese revolution and lacked of ''the painstaking
ideological and political work which are necessary for building the revolutionary party of the working class.``

While eschewing the violence of the Chinese revolution, the CPI(M) in Kerala still tried to keep the lines of communication open
with the Chinese and so it has reacted strongly to the statement of Defence Minister George Fernandes that China is the ''threat
number one`` to India`s security.

The state unit of the CPI(M) has been seeking recently to forge even closer ties with the Chinese Communist Party and to strengthen
economic ties. China has served as a model for the People`s Planning Campaign with its emphasis on local self- development which
is underway in Kerala.

The CPI(M) fears that its efforts at drawing upon Chinese resources in a world which is being sewn tight by US-led ''imperialist``
forces might be seriously hampered if relations between China and India sink to a new low and a competitive arms race is initiated
between the two to the detriment of both the countries and the geopolitics of the South-East Asian region.

Kerala Marxists have prided themselves on their proximity with the Chinese. Writing in 1980, CPI(M) ideologue, the late E M S
Namboodiripad lauded the CPI(M)`s decision to become ''isolated`` from both the nationalists and socialists on the Indo-China issue
in the post- 1959 scenario when relations soured between the two nations who had sworn by the principles of the Panch Sheel.

The Marxists experienced persecution and jail for their pro-Chinese stance in the period of tension with China leading to the Chinese
occupation of Aksai Chin and a war in which India was humiliated and Jawaharlal Nehru`s hopes of true friendship with the Asian
giant were dashed. But leaders like EMS wept over the anti-Chinese stance of the Soviet Union and the anti-Sovietism of the
Chinese, factors that weakened the international communist movement. The CPI(M) chose to stick close to the Chinese even at the
cost of incurring the displeasure of the Soviets.

The reaction to Mr Fernandes identifying China as the ''threat number one`` has been caustic on the part of the Kerala Marxists.
Chief Minister E K Nayanar has charged Mr Fernandes with seeking to disrupt the friendly relations between the two nations as part
of an American gameplan and being an agent of American interests.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union which had backed India against the designs of the United States, China remains the only
country to which India can turn when it finds itself under pressure and isolated by US-led forces. The US was keen on isolating
Indian and souring ties between the two big Asian nations which together could halt its ambitions, he added.

Mr Nayanar wanted Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to clarify whether the policy of friendship with China which had evolved
by consensus and had remained consistent despite chages in government at the Centre would be sustained.

Even as Mr Nayanar lashed out at Mr Fernandes, a team led by Kerala`s Power Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was working out deals
with Chinese firms in Beijing to bring knowhow to the power sector in the State. The Kerala State Electricity Board has signed a
MOU with a Chinese firm, the International Network on Small Hydro-Power, for setting up 18 small hydel projects to generate 107
MW of power in the State.

Four projects would be taken up immediately with Chembukadayu and Urumi chosen as the pilot projects. A Chinese team would be
in Kerala soon for making technical evaluation of these projects.

The CPI(M) in Kerala, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, looks to China for both ideological and economic guidance.
This is why Kerala resists moves to view China as an ''enemy`` and seeks closer ties with it as a bulwark against US designs on

#15. Centre allays apprehensions over power ordinance

                         Jaya softens stand as Centre blames MK

                                             DH News Service
                                            NEW DELHI, May 6

The Centre today blamed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for ''misrepresenting`` the Central Electricity Act as
anti-agriculturist and dispelled doubts of any differences with AIADMK over the issue.

Power Minister Rangarajan Kumaramangalam said the Tamil Nadu assembly has given the issue ''a naughty twist`` by propagating
that the Act will force agriculturists to pay tariff and ''if they do not ...Article 356 will be used``.

He also told newspersons that the decision of the electricity ordinance was taken by Cabinet ''with collective responsibility.``

Meanwhile, AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalitha today softened her stand on the power ordinance saying the DMK government
in Tamil Nadu should give up ''cheap attempts to portray that Centre was opposed to continuation of free electricity supply to

The change in her stand came after she had a telephonic conversation this afternoon with Prime Minister A B Vajpayee who
explained to her that the aim of the ordinance was to ensure that state electricity boards (SEBs) did not suffer losses on account of
free distribution of power by state governments to get political mileage.

Mr Vajpayee said the ordinance had nothing to do with farmers and it contemplated setting up an electricity authority which, Mr
Vajpayee said, would fix tariffs for the SEBs.

'MISGIVINGS': Clearing ''misgivings`` on the electricity ordinance the power minister today categorically denied that the Central
Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, 1998, in any way prevented state governments from giving subsidised powers to farmers
and agriculturists. ''All this bill does is that subsidy given by state governments is transparent and clear.``

The minister who shot off seperate letters to Mr Karunanidhi and Ms Jayalalitha to clarify their apprehensions over the new Act, said
the bill ''recognises the plight of farmers and agriculturists and provides specifically a moratorium of three years to give them
subsidy in perpetuity.

''Farmers can get power free perpetually but state governments have to pay the cost.``

TRANSPARENCY: Pointing to ''transparency`` in the new Act, the minister said the Tamil Nadu government has been giving
subsidy without reimbursing the state electricity board. He said SEBs are economic establishments like public sector companies and
''if we do not pay for cannot be produced``. Who ever is opposing the electricity Act is opposing SEBs` growth, he

In a letter to written to Mr Karunanidhi, the power minister said the mandate for setting up State Electricity Regulatory Commissions
(SERCs) and rationalisation of tariff was given by Common Minimum National Action Plan for Power (CMNPP) which was
finalised after two conferences of chief ministers held in October and December 1996, during the regime of the United Front

The said the Tamil Nadu Government had expressed its reservations on the provisions for agricultural tariff on the ground that the
state has been in the forefront in providing free electricity to agriculturists and did not want any change. This point had also been
taken into consideration while drafting the new ordinance.


                       CPM makes early gains as BJP, Trinamool
                                      haggle over alliance

                                           From Prasanta Paul
                                             DH News Service
                                            CALCUTTA, May 6

Despite Trinamool Congress leader Ms Mamata Banerjee`s pre- poll pledge of not allowing a single Left candidate to win
uncontested in the coming three-tier panchayat elections, the CPM nominees have so far romped home unopposed in more than 30
gram panchayat, 100 panchayat samithi and 20 zilla parishad seats, preliminary reports from some of the districts have revealed

And much to the chagrin of Ms Banerjee, three Congress candidates too have won unopposed in Murshidabad district, while only
one Trinamool nominee has returned uncontested in Burdwan district; however, the BJP- Trinamool`s alliance partner has drawn a
blank so far in the village poll slated on May 28 next.

A clear picture of the total number of uncontested winners from amongst the 59,000-plus candidates will emerge in the next 48 hours
as details from the districts reach the State Election Commission office here. With the last date for withdrawal of nomination expiring
on May 2, both the Trinamool and BJP apart from the constituents of the ruling Left Front have been locked in friendly contests in
more than six thousand seats.

The BJP-Trinamool seat sharing talks that was partially salvaged by BJP central observer Kailashpati Mishra early last week after it
nosedived precariously, has to be revived once again in the wake of negotiations on sharing zilla parishad seats breaking down.

ALARMED: Alarmed over the rumblings once again in the 60-day alliance crucial to the Vajpayee government, the BJP central
leadership, specially Mr L K Advani, despatched Mr Mishra to plug as many breaches as possible to stay afloat even if that means
asking State BJP chief Tapan Sikdar to cool his heels. Grapevine has it a miffed Sikdar has gone to Allahabad ''on vacation`` and
efforts to contact him proved abortive.

According to Trinamool Congress Chairman Pankaj Banerjee, in almost all the districts, adjustments at the gram panchayat and
panchayat samithi levels had been reached; but the same could not be claimed about the zilla parishad where agreement on seat
sharing had to be abandoned owing to ''infighting in the BJP``.

He, however, insisted that talks at the local level are still on while the BJP central leadership has been requested to intervene. The
onus of salvaging the talks for the second time once again fell on Mr Mishra who rushed to the city midway from the party`s
convention held at Gandhinagar in Gujarat to broker peace with Trinamool leader Banerjee.

CONFIDENCE: Exuding confidence, Mr Mishra held one round of discussions with the Trinamool chairman before seeking an
audience with Ms Banerjee. The BJP has so far forged an understanding in 50 out of 718 zilla parishad seats with the Trinamool. Ms
Banerjee later had a one-to-one discussion with Mr Mishra and both agreed to issue leaflets to appeal to the voters to vote for either
Trinamool or BJP candidates where there are friendly contests between the two.

Mr Mishra was also keen to placate the BJP State chief who surprisingly skipped the party convention at Gandhinagar presumably in
protest against the leadership`s move to bypass him during negotiations with the Trinamool leadership. Mr Sikdar who ran into an
iceberg in Ms Banerjee, found it difficult to survive the crash with the party top brass totally cold shouldering him during the current
seat adjustment talks.

However, the post-Lok Sabha poll thaw towards the proposal of a joint campaign with the BJP that was evident in Ms Banerjee, has
steadily cooled in the wake of a heat generated between the alliance partners over sharing of seats in the rural poll.

-----------------End Of News Digest----------------------

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