Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Government offers free vocational coaching to minority students


New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) The government is offering students from minority communities free coaching for admission in various technical and professional courses like IT and business management.

The other courses included in the scheme under the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme for the welfare of minorities in India are medical, engineering and law, states the plan document of the ministry of minority affairs.

The scheme also covers competitive examinations for recruitment to government posts, including police, security forces, public sector undertakings, railways, banks and insurance companies.

According to the ministry, the government has invited proposals from private institutes to conduct the coaching. The selected centres would be given a grant permissible under the scheme.

‘The scheme aims to empower the minority communities, which are relatively disadvantaged section of society, by assisting them as well as those institutions working for them, towards enhancing their skills and capabilities to make them employable in industries, services and business sectors in addition to the government sector,’ according to the plan document.

This is being done keeping in view the ‘market dynamics on a continuous basis so that the target groups are not deprived of the professional acumen demanded by the changing market needs and opportunities for employment at domestic as well as international levels’.
All institutes in the government sector, including universities and autonomous bodies, engaged in coaching and training activities can apply for the scheme. Besides, private universities and colleges, including deemed universities, can also apply.

Candidates who seek coaching at selected centres should have secured the requisite marks in the qualifying examination.
Only candidates belonging to the minority communities with a total family income from all sources not exceeding Rs.2.50 lakh per annum will be eligible.

Benefits of coaching/training under the scheme can be availed by a particular student once only, irrespective of the number of chances he or she may be entitled to in a particular competitive examination.

World title up for grabs in Moscow after long delay (JAPAN)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011



Staff writer
After a one-month wait following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the 2011 world championships originally scheduled for Tokyo are under way in Moscow.
Prior to the catastrophe, Miki Ando looked like the favorite to win her second world title, having enjoyed an outstanding season that saw her win both Grand Prix events she entered as well as the national championships and Four Continents crowns.
Usually when an event is postponed, it favors the competitors who have been lagging in training or results, as it provides them with more time to prepare. So the conventional wisdom would say that both 2010 Olympic gold medalist Kim Yu Na and defending world champion Mao Asada might benefit the most by the delay.
Just the fact that Mao and Kim are taking part in the same competition is certain to generate an enormous amount of electricity among the viewing public and the media.
Kim has not competed since last year's worlds (where she finished second to Mao). The extra month gave her more time to polish her short and long programs under the guidance of new coach Peter Oppegard.
Mao, who struggled with poor results during the Grand Prix season, rebounded to finish second at both the nationals and Four Continents.
News photo
Solid bet: Miki Ando, the 2007 world champion, is the favorite in a strong field at this week's world championships in Moscow after several victories this season. AP
However, the two-time world champion and her training partner, Takahiko Kozuka, had their training schedule interrupted after the disaster, when the Shin-Yokohama Skate Center closed down for several weeks.
The pair returned home to Nagoya, where they have been training with coach Nobuo Sato.
So at the end of the day, questions abound in the ladies' singles event:
Will Kim make a dramatic return and retake the spotlight?
Can Mao win a third world title?
Will Ando complete her comeback with a second world championship?
Could Kanako Murakami (also known as "mini-Mao") surprise and top the podium?
Is everyone underestimating Grand Prix Final and U.S. champion Alissa Czisny?
Perhaps the biggest question of all, is how the Japanese skaters will react on the world stage in the first international competition following the Tokohu disaster?
Whatever happens, it will be great theater. It's just a pity that it won't be in Tokyo.
The men's singles will also boast a talented field led by defending world champion Daisuke Takahashi. He will compete with the likes of Kozuka, Nobunari Oda, Grand Prix Final and Canadian champion Patrick Chan, and up-and-coming European champion Florent Amodio.
Takahashi and Chan are the favorites entering the contest, but there could still be an unexpected winner.
Blast from the past: Midori Ito, the 1989 world champion and 1992 Olympic silver medalist, is making a comeback of sorts. She has entered the adult world skating championships to be held in Germany in June.
Ito has not skated competitively since her short-lived comeback in 1997, when she attempted to make a run at the Nagano Olympics.
News of her return quickly circulated around the skating world, with inquiries made as to whether the story was legitimate. Indeed it is.
A skating insider told Ice Time: "Midori will go to Oberstdorf. She is skating twice a week. The only issue is old pain in her right knee that is bothering her. She is trying to fight through it."
Close call: Sendai native Yuzuru Hanyu, the 2010 world junior champion, was training on the ice in his hometown when the 9.0 earthquake hit on March 11. Like many who felt the massive jolt, he headed for nearest exit.
"I could not do anything," he told "What I could do at that time was just try to stay on my feet. As soon as the big quake stopped, I ran out of the building in my skating boots. I had no time to put on the blade covers, so my blades were damaged. I was terrified of the natural disaster."
Hanyu saw his training seriously disrupted by the titanic tremor.
"It was 10 days after the earthquake before I could start skating again," he told the website. "I went to Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, with my coach and our club members, and now I am practicing at the Kanagawa Skating Rink in Yokohama City."
Olympic news: The IOC approved a team figure skating event for the 2014 Sochi Games at a meeting in London last month. The competition will be similar to the World Team Trophy, which was scheduled to be held this month in Yokohama but canceled after the earthquake and tsunami.
Teams will consist of two men, two women, and one pair and one ice dance duo. The United States won the inaugural World Team Trophy in Tokyo two years ago, with Canada placing second and Japan third.

Russian, Ukrainian Leaders Remember Chernobyl Accident

As Japan struggles with its own nuclear crisis at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said no nation can overcome the consequences of such a catastrophe on its own

Marking the first visit to Chernobyl by a Russian president, Medvedev called on the international community to work together toward unified nuclear safety guidelines to ensure that disasters like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima are not repeated.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster during a memorial service outside Chernobyl's nuclear reactor.

As Japan struggles with its own nuclear crisis at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said no nation can overcome the consequences of such a catastrophe on its own.  

Marking the first visit to Chernobyl by a Russian president, Medvedev called on the international community to work together toward unified nuclear safety guidelines to ensure that disasters like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima are not repeated.

(Photo:Reuter:A veteran "liquidator" at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor places flowers during a ceremony to honor victims of the Chernobyl disaster, in Krasnoyarsk, April 26, 2011)


Kanimozhi 'active brain' behind Kalaignar TV operations: CBI

Read more on »
NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi was the 'active brain' behind the operations of Kalaignar TV and was in regular touch with former telecom minister A Raja regarding the launch of the channel, claims the second chargesheet on the 2G scam filed by the CBI on Monday. 

The chargesheet says Kanimozhi, Karunanidhi's daughter from his third wife Rajathi Ammal , played a role in Raja's reappointment as telecom minister in 2009. It states that Kanimozhi "actively pursued" with "intermediaries" and DMK headquarters the "matter regarding reappointment of acccused A Raja as Minister of Communications and Information Technology in 2009, which clearly establishes the strong association of accused Kanimozhi Karunanithi and accused A Raja in official/political matters." 

The CBI has not identified the identity of the intermediaries. Kanimozhi, according to the CBI, was also in "regular touch" with A Raja regarding the launch of Kalaignar TV and other pending work of the channel. 

"Accused Kanimozhi Karunanithi was also an initial director of the company and resigned only for the reason that her clearance from MHA was pending and could take time and delay the matter of launching the Kalaignar TV channels," the CBI's charge sheet says. 

The agency has also stated in court that Kanimozhi was an "active brain" behind its operations and held 20% stake in the channel. The chargesheet goes on to say that Raja pursued the cause of Kalaignar TV not only for getting registration of the company from the Information and Broadcasting ministry but also for getting it in the Tata Sky bouquet. 

The second chargesheet focuses on the money trail from DB Realty , headed by Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, to Kalignar TV, a channel owned by the Karunanidhi family. The agency has also said that Sharad Kumar, the director and CEO of Kalaignar TV, attended and chaired all the board meetings where the decision to engage in the Rs 200 crores transaction with Cineyug were taken. 

Kumar, according to the CBI, signed all the agreements and all other documents with Cineyug, not only on behalf of the company but also on his behalf and the behalf of other directors and shareholders of the company. Kumar is one of the promoters of Kalaignar TV and owns 20% stake in the channel. 


CWG scam: Suresh Kalmadi to be in CBI custody for eight days


NEW DELHI: Suresh Kalmadi , arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation for his role in the timing scam related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games , was on Tuesday remanded to CBI custody for eight days. 

As Kalmadi made his way to the Patiala House court premises, his smiles gave way to shock after a man hurled a leather slipper at him. It, however, landed a couple of yards away from him. The man, identified as Kapil Thakur from Madhya Pradesh, was overpowered by Delhi Police cops and whisked away for questioning. 

Kalmadi has maintained that the decisions taken by the Games organising committee were vetted by various committees comprising senior bureaucrats. Inside the courtroom, his counsel argued there were records to show that then sports minister MS Gill had approved the deal for which Kalmadi was arrested. The court, however, remained unimpressed, and sent him to CBI custody for eight days. 

Kalmadi was arrested on Monday on charges of conspiring to award the contract for Games timing systems to Switzerland-based Swiss Timing Ltd -Omega at an inflated cost of 141 crore, causing 95 crore loss to the exchequer. 

CBI had on March 23 arrested sacked secretary-general of the Games organising committee, Lalit Bhanot, and then director-general VK Verma in the case. They are in Tihar jail. 

CBI on Monday also arrested two other former members of the committee, Surjit Lal, who was deputy director general (procurement) and ASV Prasad, who was DDG (sports). More arrests are imminent, a CBI source said.

The charge against Kalmadi and his accomplices is that they awarded the contract to the Swiss company in a pre-meditated and calculated manner, brushing aside the claims of a competitor, MSL-Spain. 

The Spanish company, which had quoted 46 crore for installing the timing equipment at various venues, had provided the system to the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. It was "wrongfully eliminated, thereby causing pecuniary benefit to the bidder left in the fray," the CBI alleges.

Courtesy:Economic Times

Green signal to Jaitapur nuclear project

Aarti Dhar

New law for independent regulator on the anvil

New Delhi: On a day when the world marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, India reaffirmed its commitment to an ambitious nuclear energy plan by pushing ahead with the first phase of the controversial nuclear power plant project at Jaitapur in Maharashtra with additional safety measures and a “generous new compensation package” to be announced soon.

But in a concession to heightened public awareness about the need for proper regulation and oversight, the government on Tuesday promised to introduce a bill in the next session of Parliament creating an independent and autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India that would subsume the existing Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
The AERB has been criticised for being administratively subordinate to the very atomic energy establishment whose operations it is meant to regulate.

The decision to clear the decks for setting up two 1,650 MW reactors at Jaitapur was taken at a meeting convened here by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy and Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. Among those who briefed the Prime Minister were S. Banerjee, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, S.K. Jain of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India that will operate the plant at Jaitapur and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

The meeting reviewed the current status of the Jaitapur project as well as safety concerns arising out of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan and their impact on India's overall nuclear energy programme, Mr. Narayanasamy told reporters here. All factors that led to the Fukushima disaster had been factored in, he said. “The Prime Minister was apprised about the doubts and concerns expressed by the local people in Jaitapur about the project, and the measures being taken to address these concerns,” Mr Narayanasamy said.

The first two units, proposed to become operational in 2019, will have their own stand-alone safety and operational system.
Describing the ongoing protests at Jaitapur as “politically motivated,” Mr. Chavan accused “outsiders” of instigating the opposition, adding that these were based on misconceptions and rumours. “We have engaged with the local community and ensured them that safety will never be compromised,” he said.

The meeting also decided to make public the initial results of the six safety review committees set up after the Fukushima accident, as also the action taken on previous safety reviews. The government will invite the Operational Safety Review Team of the International Atomic Energy Authority to assist in its own safety reviews and audit. All reactors and technologies, whether indigenous or imported, will, without exception, meet the safety standards that are stipulated by the regulatory authorities and there will be complete transparency in the functioning of the nuclear power programme, Mr. Ramesh said.

The meeting reiterated that India's nuclear energy needs were vast and growing and nuclear energy was an important clean energy option which would be pursued with full regard to the safety, livelihood and security of the people.

“Government's intention is to ensure nuclear power that is safe, secure and economical. While imported reactors have their place, indigenously-designed and developed reactors will continue to be at the very foundation of the country's nuclear programme,” Mr Narayanasamy said.

Environmental approval for the Jaitapur Power Park was accorded in November 2010 with 35 preconditions. The Prime Minister was informed that each of the conditions would be adhered to in a fully transparent manner. A comprehensive environmental impact assessment of the two reactors would be done when both become operational in 2019.
Highest priority

An official release said Dr. Singh underscored that safety of nuclear power plants was a matter of highest priority and there was a need for improving public communication and outreach on the part of the Department of Atomic Energy and the National Power Corporation of India Limited.

Courtesy:The Hindu

Foul play in Sathya Sai Baba's death?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 13:15 [IST]

Puttaparthi, April 26: The late Sathya Sai Baba's trusted aide Satyajit has been given police protection following intelligence inputs that he may be facing a threat to his life.

Satyajit, a native of Tamil Nadu, had been the Baba's main 'caretaker' for many years.

He, however, had been facing a lot of allegations ever since the Baba was hospitalised on March 28.

The main allegation was that Satyajit did not feed Baba proper food and gave him lot of sedative drugs, resulting in deterioration of the latter's health, police sources said.

Doctors who treated the Baba in the Satya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences neither confirmed nor denied that sedative drugs were given to him prior to his admission in hospital following respiratory problems.

Satyajit, along with the Satya Sai Central Trust secretary K Chakravarthi, is said to be enjoying the cheque signing power on behalf of the Trust and is seen as a most powerful man in the Ashram affairs.

"There are some people within the Ashram as well as outside who are antagonistic to Satyajit. There is a possibility of someone causing harm to his life in the wake of the Baba's demise. As such he is being provided police protection," a senior police official said.

Satyajit made only a brief appearance near the Baba's body last evening and remained mostly confined to his room in Prasanthi Nilayam where the Baba lived.

It is learnt that Satyajit has been advised to stay confined to Prasanthi Nilayam till the last rites of the Baba who died on Sunday after battling multi-organ failure.


Slipper thrown at Kalmadi inside Patiala House Court complex

New Delhi, Apr 26 :

 Public anger against Commonwealth Games corruption came into sharp limelight today when a slipper was hurled at former Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi within the Patiala House Court complex here today.

A man threw the slipper at Kalmadi, who was being taken for a hearing before a special CBI court after being arrested yesterday for his alleged involvement in irregularities in Commonwealth Games projects.

The man, later identified as Kapil Thakur, was immediately detained by the policemen who were escorting Kalmadi.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief has now joined the illustrated company of former US president George Bush and home minister P Chidambaram, who have also endured similar experiences in the past

ED continues to grill Puducherry guv


Puducherry, Apr 26 :

Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials continued to grill Puducherry Lt Governor Iqbal Singh on Tuesday over his suspected links with India’s alleged biggest tax evader Hasan Ali Khan.

 A four-member ED team started questing Singh at 10.30am at Raj Rivas here.

The interrogation is being videographed, said sources.

Singh was questioned for five hours on Monday.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Apr 19 permitted the ED Singh.

On Apr 18, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram met Singh and said the LT Governor is willing to make a statement to the ED on the issue.

Singh has already admitted to helping Ali get a passport in a letter written to the home ministry.

However, he reportedly denied having any links with the Pune-based businessman and claimed to have only recommended his name for the passport based on a plea made by Congress leader Amalendu Pandey on Apr 4, 1997.

He added that he does not know Ali personally, has never met him and had only made the plea based on “compassionate/health grounds”, reports said.

Singh on Apr 15 had been issued summons by the ED in connection with stud farm owner Hasan Ali procuring passport using forged papers and some foreign investments.

Another big shot, Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary Vijay Shankar Pandey, who was removed from his post on Apr 16 after reports of alleged links with Ali, is also expected to be called for questioning by the ED by this week.

The names of Singh and Pandey had emerged following the questioning of Bihar Congress politician Amalendu Pandey by the ED regarding procurement of a passport by Ali from Patna using forged papers.

Kolkata businessman Kashinath Tripathi, a close aide of Ali and also in ED custody now, may also have to face ED questioning again over fresh leads that emerged following the Bihar politician's questioning.

Dubbed the country's highest tax evader, Ali is currently in ED’s custody facing charges of massive money laundering and stashing away black money in foreign banks


Kalmadi reads newspapers, allowed home-cooked food


2011-04-26 20:00:00

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Like every day, former chief of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Suresh Kalmadi began the day Tuesday by reading newspapers. But, instead of his comfortable house, he was in a sparsely-furnished lock-up of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) where he spent the night.

Kalmadi, who was arrested Monday for alleged conspiracy to favour a private timing device firm in Switzerland for the October 2010 sporting event, stayed at the CBI lock-up located on the first floor of the newly-constructed CBI headquarters at CGO complex in Lodhi Road in central Delhi.

'He was kept in an air-conditioned lock-up room which has all the basic facilities like bed, table and chair. He had a comfortable sleep Monday night and just asked for some medicines and home-made food, which were provided,' a CBI official told IANS.

'His wife, Meera Kalmadi, came to the CBI headquarters around 8 p.m. in the night with home-made food - chapatis and two kinds of vegetables, including a dish of mixed vegetables -- and change of clothes,' he added.
Throughout his detention, Kalmadi was quiet, composed and was provided with whatever he asked for.

'Of course, he can't be provided mobile phone as it can be used for tampering with evidence. But yes, food, clothes and newspapers were provided,' said the official.
He has been allowed home-cooked food.

Kalmadi woke up early around 5 a.m. He did not ask for anything but newspapers. 'He started the day reading newspapers,' the official said.
'He is not a convict. He is an accused and after arrest he is in our custody. We have to take care of him,' said the official.

When asked if some special treatment was being given to Kalmadi as he is a member of parliament from Pune, the official said: 'There was no special treatment. He is just treated like the rest of the accused in the case.'

Kalmadi, who was suspended from the Congress party Monday, was Tuesday remanded in eight days CBI custody by the Patiala House court. He will spend that period in the same lock-up.

Along with Kalmadi, two other senior officials of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee -- Surjeet Lal, deputy director general (procurement), and A.S.V. Prasad, director general (sport), who too were arrested Monday -- were also remanded in CBI custody till May 4 by Special CBI judge Talwant Singh. They are in different rooms at the CBI complex.


2G charge sheet: DMK likely to lie low

P C Vinoj Kumar  | 2011-04-26 17:24:44

With the CBI including Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi in its supplementary charge sheet in the 2G spectrum case, the focus has shifted to the political fallout of this much anticipated development.

All kinds of speculations are doing the rounds. Will the DMK withdraw support to the UPA Government or at least withdraw from the ministry and volunteer to give outside support to it?

Before we examine the possibilities, let's look at the sequence of events that culminated with the CBI charge-sheeting Kanimozhi in the 2G case.

Media reports have been hinting at Kanimozhi's inclusion in the case even before the CBI filed the first charge sheet on April 2. But apparently the CBI withheld naming her along with former union telecom minister A Raja and eight other accused in the first charge sheet as a concession to the Congress - DMK alliance, which was facing an important election to the Tamil Nadu Assembly on April 13.

It was felt that naming Kanimozhi then would have tilted the scales against the alliance and given the AIADMK-led Opposition undue advantage. The CBI told the Supreme Court, which is closely monitoring the case, that it would file a supplementary charge sheet soon.

The supplementary charge sheet indicting Kanimozhi does not contain any fresh charge against her apart from the issue of transfer of Rs.200 crores from the Shahid Balwa owned D B Realty to Kalaignar TV between December 2008 and August 2009. According to the CBI, the money came into Kalaignar TV through ''a circuitous route'' from D B Realty.

The CBI had questioned the top brass of Kalaignar TV in connection with the money transfer early March. Those questioned were: Kanimozhi, who holds 20 percent stakes in the channel, Karunanidhi's second wife Dayalu Ammal who holds 60 percent stakes and the channel's Managing Director Sharad Kumar, who holds another 20 percent stakes.

The CBI's case is that the money may be part of the kick-back for the favour shown to Balwa's Swan Telecom, said to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the 2G scam.

The central investigating agency is seeking to establish the ''strong association'' between Raja and Kanimozhi and is relying, among other things, on the latter's interest in getting Raja the telecom ministry, as revealed by the Niira Radia tapes, to prove its point.

While Kanimozhi and Sharad have been named in the charge sheet, Dayalu has been cited only as a witness. The reason given by the CBI is her old age, deteriorating health and her lack of knowledge of any language other than Tamil.

The non-inclusion of Dayalu's name in the charge sheet has triggered charges of CBI's bias to the DMK first family. This may snowball into a political controversy in the days to come. AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa has already demanded that all members of the Karunanidhi family should be named in the charge sheet.

Coming back to the question of possible DMK response to the developments, which is likely to be discussed at the party's high level committee meeting in Chennai on Wednesday, it appears that the overall mood in the party is to lie low, and adopt a wait-and-watch approach.

Many feel that withdrawing from the central ministry is not going to serve any purpose. When the DMK used the threat during the seat-sharing talks with the Congress, it fell flat after the Congress was assured of support from Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party which has 22 MPs - against the DMK's 18 MPs.

Also, the argument against this move is that the party leadership would be seen in poor light as the public perception would be that Karunanidhi withdrew from the ministry due to personal reasons; because his daughter had been charge-sheeted in the 2G scam case.

As a senior leader put it, ''It is better to be part of the central government when you are not sure about the outcome of the Assembly polls.''The DMK has two cabinet rank ministers and four ministers of state. The idea is to retain power at the Centre by all means, even if the State slips out of their hands when results to the April 13 assembly polls are announced on May 13.

Some, though, are in favour of withdrawing from the ministry and extending outside support to the UPA government. The reasoning behind this strategy is that it would pre-empt the Congress from demanding share in power if the DMK-Congress alliance secures a majority in the Assembly. 

But the most likely outcome of tomorrow's meeting is that the party leadership may take the high level committee into confidence on the recent developments and then arrive at a unanimous decision to let the law take its own course. The party may well stick to its stand that being named in the charge sheet does not make a person guilty, until the charges are proved in court.