Saturday, March 19, 2011

AIADMK working out patch-up formula with allies


2011-03-19 02:38:10

Chennai: Tamil Nadu's major opposition party AIADMK on Friday inked seat sharing deals with seven of its allies and also held marathon discussions with other allies upset at the party's declaration of 160 constituencies for the polls.

AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa met the leaders of MNMK, SMK, AIMMK, RPI, TNKYF, Communist Party of India (CPI) and FB and finalised 19 seats for the allies in the April 13 assembly elections.

"We had identified the list of constituencies and it was agreed to," CPI's State Secretary D. Pandian told IANS late Friday night.

According to him, leaders of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and DMDK are discussing with Jayalalithaa on sharing of constituencies.

Faced with the prospect of its major allies - the two left parties, DMDK and other - not only breaking away but also teaming up and opposing the party, the AIADMK leadership was in a conciliatory mood and decided to reconsider its earlier decision to contest 160 of the 234 seats at stake in the assembly elections.

It is also learnt the AIADMK is willing to accommodate the Vaiko-led MDMK by offering it 15 seats, up from nine offered earlier.

Queried about AIADMK's offer, an MDMK official told IANS that the party would decide its course of action March 19 at its district secretaries' meeting.

It was a day of hectic consultations between the leaders of AIADMK and its allies. The AIADMK's leaders met the leaders of CPI, CPI-M, DMDK and other allies to arrive at a solution.

"The AIADMK is saying the list 160 constituencies was issued owing to some mix-up," a CPI leader told IANS.

Later in the evening Jayalalithaa met the leaders of CPI, CPI-M, DMDK and other allies at her Poes Garden residence and held marathon discussions with them to work out a revised constituency sharing formula.

First to emerge after the long session late Friday night was the CPI team while talks with other two parties - CPI-M and DMDK - continued.

The DMDK team led by its presidium chairman Panruti S. Ramachandran gave Jayalalithaa its constituency wish list.

Trouble arose for AIADMK after it Wednesday unilaterally released the list of constituencies it would contest even while discussions were going on with allies on the seats the AIADMK would cede to them to contest.

Most of the parties in the AIADMK front were furious Thursday on seeing the list.

The AIADMK list included many seats currently held by the Left parties and also those requested by them and other allies like the DMDK, led by actor-turned-politician Vijayakant.

Most upset in the alliance were the DMDK, the CPI-M, CPI, MMK and the Forward Bloc (FB).

The leaders say the AIADMK had no business announcing which 160 seats it would contest when discussions on seat sharing were still on.

On Thursday, leaders of the Left and some smaller parties met here amid indications that at least a few of them favoured forming a Third Front to take on both the AIADMK and the ruling DMK.

The AIADMK had said it decided to contest 160 seats, leaving the remaining 74 for its 10 allies: DMDK (41), CPI-M (12), CPI (10), MNMK (3), PT (2), SMK (2), RPI (1), FB (1), KYF (1) and AIMMK (1).

With the announcement, the AIADMK had dumped its long-time ally, the MDMK which also upset the allies

Filing of nominations in Tamil Nadu begins Saturday


2011-03-19 02:43:20

Chennai: Filing of nominations for the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly elections will begin on Saturday.

The ruling DMK-led front, barring the Congress, has announced its candidates.

The DMK Thursday announced its 119 candidates with 58 new faces. The PMK has also released its candidate list.

The Congress has started receiving applications from aspirants and the final list will be decided by the party's high command in New Delhi.

In the final line the DMK will contest 119 seats, the Congress (63), PMK (30), KMK (7), MMK (1), VCK (10), IUML (3) and a Nadar party (1).

The opposition camp is sorting out the differences that arose after the front leader AIADMK released a list of 160 constituencies it would contest even as constituency identification talks were on with the allies.

Most of the AIADMK's allies - DMDK, the two Left parties, PT and others - upset with the announcement, explored the option of forming a Third Front Thursday.

However, talks between AIADMK and its allies resumed Friday and it is expected the differences would be sorted out Saturday.

AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa on Friday aigned seat allotment deal with five of its allies for eight seats.

The AIADMK has signed agreement for 74 seats with 10 allies: DMDK (41), CPI-M (12), CPI (10), MNMK (3), PT (2), SMK (2), RPI (1), FB (1), KYF (1) and AIMMK (1).

The last date for filing of nominations is March 26. Scrutiny of nominations will be held March 28 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is March 30.

Dr. M. I. H. Farooqi

A retired Deputy Director, and Scientist In Charge, Plant Chemistry Division, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India, Mr.Farooqi has authored around two dozen books and 150 Research Papers (National and International Journals) on Plant Chemistry and Economic Botany.

 The much-admired books are, “Plants of the Quran” (7th Ed. 2008), “Medicinal Plants in the Traditions of Prophet” (3rd Ed. 2010), “Muslim Societies - Rise and Fall” (IsT Ed 2010), and “Dictionary of Indian Plant Gums, Resins, Dyes” (Ist Ed 2008).
More than 100 articles   are published in Newspapers, Magazine in India and Abroad, in languages such as English, Urdu and Hindi on Islamic History and also on  social problems facing the community.

”Plants of the Quran”, has been translated, and published (apart from English), in Persian, French, Urdu, Hindi, Bhasha (Indonesia), Malayalam, Kannada, and Arabic (Bulletin)

He is a member in Several Scientific Societies, Secretary in “Sir Syed Scientific Society”, “Urdu Scientific Society”. He has several awards, both National and International. He is also associated with, “UNESCO Project for QURANIC BOTANICAL GARDENS”

Lucknow Scientist Honoured by Sultan of Oman

Hindustan Times; THE TIMES OF INDIA

Lucknow –  14th March,   Ruler of Oman,  Sultan Qaboos bin Said has honoured Dr. M.I.H.Farooqi, retired Senior Scientist ( Deputy Director), NBRI, with an Award of 25 Thousand US Dollars (Rs 12 lakhs)  in appreciation of his  acclaimed books PLANTS OF THE QURAN and MEDICINAL PLANTS IN THE TRADITIONS OF PROPHET MOHAMMAD. Both the Books contain scientific descriptions (Botanical, Chemical & Medicinal) of plants mentioned in Quran and Sunnah.

Dr. Farooqi is the first Indian Scientist to receive this Honour from Oman King.
Dr. Farooqi is a well known Plant Chemist with more than 125 research papers to his credit, published in Indian and Foreign Journals on Plant Chemistry and Economic Botany. 

He is also the author of several books and more than hundred articles in English, Hindi and Urdu on science subjects of common interest like environment, modern technology, medicinal plants, economic plants, Islamic Science and Prophetic Medicine. Many of his articles can be found in various websites of Magazines, Newspapers, Scientific Journals and Islamic Organizations. His book 'Plants of the Quran has been acclaimed internationally by Muslim scholars and Ulema around the world.

 Recently King of Morocco, H.M. Mohammed IV in a personal message to Dr. Farooqi has observed, “ I deeply appreciate and want you to know how impressed I am by your work on Plants of Quran and Medicinal Plants in the Traditions of Prophet Mohammad.  Your keen interest both in Quran and Prophetic Traditions has enabled you to make invaluable contributions to Islamic writings. ”

'Plants of the Quran', has been translated and published in several languages including Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Kannada, Malayalam and Indonesian languages.

Based on Quranic and Prophetic Plants, UNESCO has approved Multimillion Dollars Project of Quranic Botanical Gardens in the Gulf countries. Works on the establishment of such gardens in Sharjah and Qatar have already started. 


a serial write up continued from March 17.....

Goal and Objectives

1.11 The goal of this Policy is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women. The Policy will be widely disseminated so as to encourage active participation of all stakeholders for achieving its goals. Specifically, the objectives of this Policy include

(i) Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential
(ii) The de-jure and de-facto enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all spheres – political, economic, social, cultural and civil
(iii) Equal access to participation and decision making of women in social, political and economic life of the nation
(iv) Equal access to women to health care, quality education at all levels, career and vocational guidance, employment, equal remuneration, occupational health and safety, social security and public office etc.
(v) Strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women
(vi) Changing societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women.
(vii) Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development process.
(viii) Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and the girl child; and
(ix) Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women’s organizations.

Policy Prescriptions
Judicial Legal Systems

Legal-judicial system will be made more responsive and gender sensitive to women’s needs, especially in cases of domestic violence and personal assault. New laws will be enacted and existing laws reviewed to ensure that justice is quick and the punishment meted out to the culprits is commensurate with the severity of the offence.
2.2 At the initiative of and with the full participation of all stakeholders including community and religious leaders, the Policy would aim to encourage changes in personal laws such as those related to marriage, divorce, maintenance and guardianship so as to eliminate discrimination against women.

2.3 The evolution of property rights in a patriarchal system has contributed to the subordinate status of women. The Policy would aim to encourage changes in laws relating to ownership of property and inheritance by evolving consensus in order to make them gender just.

Decision Making

3.1 Women’s equality in power sharing and active participation in decision making, including decision making in political process at all levels will be ensured for the achievement of the goals of empowerment. All measures will be taken to guarantee women equal access to and full participation in decision making bodies at every level, including the legislative, executive, judicial, corporate, statutory bodies, as also the advisory Commissions, Committees, Boards, Trusts etc. Affirmative action such as reservations/quotas, including in higher legislative bodies, will be considered whenever necessary on a time bound basis. Women–friendly personnel policies will also be drawn up to encourage women to participate effectively in the developmental process.

Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in the Development Process

4.1 Policies, programmes and systems will be established to ensure mainstreaming of women’s perspectives in all developmental processes, as catalysts, participants and recipients.Wherever there are gaps in policies and programmes, women specific interventions would be undertaken to bridge these. Coordinating and monitoring mechanisms will also be devised to assess from time to time the progress of such mainstreaming mechanisms. Women’s issues and concerns as a result will specially be addressed and reflected in all concerned laws, sectoral policies, plans and programmes of action.

Economic Empowerment of women

Poverty Eradication

5.1 Since women comprise the majority of the population below the poverty line and are very often in situations of extreme poverty, given the harsh realities of intra-household and social discrimination, macro economic policies and poverty eradication programmes will specifically address the needs and problems of such women. There will be improved implementation of programmes which are already women oriented with special targets for women. Steps will be taken for mobilization of poor women and convergence of services, by offering them a range of economic and social options, along with necessary support measures to enhance their capabilities

Micro Credit

5.2 In order to enhance women’s access to credit for consumption and production, the establishment of new, and strengthening of existing micro-credit mechanisms and micro-finance institution will be undertaken so that the outreach of credit is enhanced. Other supportive measures would be taken to ensure adequate flow of credit through extant financial institutions and banks, so that all women below poverty line have easy access to credit.

Women and Economy

5.3 Women’s perspectives will be included in designing and implementing macro-economic and social policies by institutionalizing their participation in such processes. Their contribution to socio-economic development as producers and workers will be recognized in the formal and informal sectors (including home based workers) and appropriate policies relating to employment and to her working conditions will be drawn up. Such measures could include:

Reinterpretation and redefinition of conventional concepts of work wherever necessary e.g. in the Census records, to reflect women’s contribution as producers and workers.
Preparation of satellite and national accounts.

Development of appropriate methodologies for undertaking (i) and (ii) above.

Photos:Cortesy BBC News

to be continued............

Muslim women are oppressed in India: says minority social activist

(Photo shows Mrs.Umai Banu,a social activist from Salem,Tamil Nadu receiving award from Mrs.Qudsia Gandhi IAS,in the prsence of Hon.Justice Akbar Ali)
Muslim dominated nations give equal status and rights to women. This is how the Muslim minorities feel in this Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. These Muslim minorities also feel that the government schemes do not reach them. "There are welfare schemes relating to education, health, employment and so on but even the Muslim Concentrated Districts (MCDs) remain ignorant about them where it the implementation of these schemes is mandatory, what to say of districts which have sporadic population of minorities," said Aftab Alam, a social activist who is working in one such MCD –Bahraich – in Uttar Pradesh.

The issue cropped up during a consultation meet on Mid Term Appraisal of XI Five year Plan, which was held in the state capital Lucknow, last week. The meeting focused on "listening to the voices from the field" and was organised by the Planning Commission, Government of India with support of UNIFEM, UNICEF, UNFPA, Voluntary Health Association of India and National Alliance of Women.
 The issues which were covered in the day-long brain storming sessions included minorities, health, women and children.

The presentations emphasised on lack of quality education as far as Muslim population of India is concerned.
"The government policy has the provision for 25 percent enrolment of Muslim girls but hardly 5 percent girls are enrolled in government schools," the representatives of minority group pointed out.
 The group included social activists working for the uplift of Muslims, from different parts of the state. The state of madarsas is more or less the same. "The condition of the madarsas, which get the government aids, has improved a bit as now they teach subjects like computer and English. But such madarsas are very few in numbers. Majority of madarsas are still in pathetic shape and imparting not so relevant education in terms of employment," said Aftab Alam.

Talking of employment, the minority representatives pointed out that a large section of Muslim community comprises craftsmen but the government does not provide them any opportunity to excel and promote their crafts.
"On the contrary, capitalists and industrialists are taking over various traditional crafts and arts and the artisans and craftsmen are becoming labourers who are working for these industrialists," said Shaista Amber, a woman social activist and the president of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board.

The group representing the minorities sounded united when they claimed that a major portion of Muslim population was unaware of the government welfare schemes. Besides, the schemes, which the minorities knew of, were hardly reaching the beneficiaries.

"The overall objective of the whole exercise was to obtain communities' perspective towards various programmes and schemes and their effectiveness," said Manju Agarwal, the founder director of Path – the Lucknow based organisation, who was facilitating this consultation. Such consultations are being conducted at state and regional level (clusters of five to six states) to assess the communities' participation in the central government programmes.
"The exercise would also assess the level of knowledge of the community on various components of the national level schemes designed for them," said Manju Agarwal.

The group of minorities gave a few recommendations as well:

- Include minority representatives in the policy making.

- Propagate the government schemes through madarsas.

- Scholarships should go directly to the account of the students so that there is no mediator to exploit the students. 

- Sachchar Committee report should be given the status of a legal document so that it has a binding on governments for the implement of its recommendations.

- Special protection/shelter homes for single women who become homeless after their talaq (divorce), or who after their husbands' death or due to jahez (dowry) are thrown out of their in-laws houses.
Alka Pande, CNS

68% Indian rural women can’t afford sanitary napkins--survey

by Neharika Sabharwal - February 28, 2011            

Despite good menstrual hygiene being a crucial part of every girl and woman’s life, the taboo surrounding this important sanitation issue in India prevents them from articulating their needs.
As a result, the problems and the proper requirements for managing menstruation have been ignored or misunderstood.
Gynecologist Dr Malvika Sabharwal from Jeewan Mala hospital added, "Talking about menstrual health is still a societal taboo. Women are barred from entering temples and kitchens at such times. Some don't even take a bath during periods. Such practices need to change.
Women menstruating should take a bath more than twice a day and change sanitary towels thrice a day. Unhygienic practices could lead to ascendinginfections -- bacteria entering the urinary tract or uterus from outside."
A nationwide survey
A nationwide survey into the menstrual hygiene management was carried out in October by community development organisation Plan India.
For the purpose of the study, the researchers questioned 1,033 women of menstrual age and 151gynecologists.
The survey found extremely low levels of feminine hygiene care, which is a matter of grave concern for the overall health and development of Indian women.
Though print and visual media are full of sanitary napkin (SN) advertisements, from a total of the 355 million menstruating women in the nation just 12 percent use them.
The study found that awareness on the basic health and feminine hygiene is very low. Approximately 75 percent of the women respondents were not psychologically prepared for menstruation.
Financial constraints make it difficult for a major section of the women to buy quality sanitary napkins, with merely 68 percent of the rural communities able to afford them.
Many women and girls resort to unhygienic sanitary practices like cloths, sand and ash which make them vulnerable to infections and diseases.
The survey highlighted the fact that 81 percent rural women use unsterilised cloths since they are relatively cheaper than sanitary napkins.
It was also noted that 45 percent re-use cloth while 70 percent dry the cloth in the shade which can fuel the odds of infections.
Other findings of the survey
In the survey, nearly 31 percent women reported a drop in productivity levels during their periods and missed on an average 2.2 days of work.
Adolescent girls in rural India do not know how to manage their menstrual cycles and are forced to go back home if their periods start in school. As a result they end up missing nearly 50 days of schooling.
The survey found 23 percent of the rural adolescent girls (aged 12-18 years) quit studies because of improper sanitary facilities in schools.
Nearly 97 percent of the gynecologists questioned felt that sanitary napkins can thwart reproductive tractinfections, while 64 percent believe napkins lower the risk of cervical cancer.
The state of feminine hygiene was worst in eastern India with 83 percent of the respondents saying their families can't afford napkins.
Nearly 70 percent of those who use cloth feel insecure during periods and wished they had better knowledge on the subject.
Bhagyashri Dengle, executive director, Plan India stated, "Menstruation is a subject that has culturally been considered a taboo and is entrenched with misconceptions and disregard, with little cognisance of the hazards of inadequate menstrual protection.
"The survey has highlighted how the subject of feminine hygiene is grossly neglected at all levels."

India should learn from Japan episode: Jairam Ramesh

2011-03-18 17:40:00

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) India is not prepared to abandon nuclear power as a source of energy, but should definitely take lesson from the nuclear disaster in Japan and review its safety structures, Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said Friday.
'Nuclear energy contributes to three percent of our electricity supply and that's planned to grow to six percent by the year 2020 and to about 13 percent by 2030. We cannot envisage a situation where India should say unilaterally that we are going to put a complete ban on the use of nuclear energy. That is an unrealistic position to take,' Ramesh said at the India Today conclave in the capital.

'Let us look at our safety structures, let us learn from what has happened in Japan, let's certainly get (feedback) from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on radioactive waste management issues, then certainly we should make those improvements,' he added.

Ramesh said that appropriate lessons should be taken from the unfolding crisis in Japan.
'In Japan, 30 percent of the electricity supply comes from nuclear energy. I don't think it's time for us to push the rewind button or the fast forward or stop button, we should just push the pause button. I think it's time to review our preparedness to face situation like a tsunami and then move on,' he said.

'We have to do a thorough, independent, professional audit of our systems. We have to see how well the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is equipped. I have set up an expert group in the environment ministry to look at our state of preparedness to tackle tsunami kind of situation as part of environmental impact assessment,' he added.

Japan has been reeling under an unfolding nuclear crisis after the Fukushima nuclear plant facility was damaged due to last week's magnitude-9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami in which more than 6,000 people have been confirmed dead so far.

Govt can't confirm veracity of cables leaked by WikiLeaks: PM

PTI | Mar 18, 2011, 02.44pm IST   

NEW DELHI: Refusing to buckle under attack over the Wikileaks expose, Prime MinisterManmohan Singh today rubbished charges of bribery during the 2008 Trust Vote based on "speculative and unverified" cables and asserted that no one from Congress or government engaged in any "unlawful act". 

Making a statement in both Houses of Parliament, an assertive Singh hit out at the Opposition for lending "dignity" to "purported" correspondence between the US Embassy here and State Department in Washington and raising "old charges that have been debated, discussed and rejected by the people of India." 

Amid thumping of desks by the Treasury Benches, he said, "No one from the Congress party or government indulged in any unlawful act" during the July 2008 Confidence Motion. 

"An issue was raised that the offence of bribery was committed in India. Government rejects the allegations absolutely and firmly," he said, referring to the charges in the Wikileaks that bribes were paid to win the Confidence Motion of UPA-I after Left withdrew support over Indo-US nuclear deal. 

Raising questions over the cables cited by the Wikileaks website, the Prime Minister said in identical statements in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that, "The government cannot confirm the veracity, content or even the existence of such communication." 

To press his contention, he said those who have been named by the Wikileaks have "stoutly rejected" the charges. 

Hitting out at the Opposition, he said it was "unfortunate" that it continues to raise the "old charges". 

"It is most surprising that speculative, unverified and unverifiable communications should be given dignity and seized upon by the Opposition parties to revive old charges that have been soundly rejected," Singh said. 

He pointed out that the UPA-I had won the Confidence Motion in July 2008 with 275 votes in favour and 256 against. 

These allegations of bribery were investigated by a committee of the 14th Lok Sabha which concluded that there was insufficient evidence to draw any conclusion. 

"I am disappointed that the Opposition has forgotten what happened thereafter. The Opposition repeated the allegations of bribery and how did the people respond," he said, citing the increase in Congress seats from 141 to 206 in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls as compared to BJP whose tally declined from 138 to 116 and that of Left parties from 59 to 34," he said.