Monday, May 23, 2011

Tamil Nadu minister dies in road accident

Updated on Monday, May 23, 2011, 11:54

Tiruchirapalli: N Mariyam Pichai, Tamil Nadu's Minister for Environment and Pollution Control and Minorities Welfare, died in a road accident near here on Monday morning, officials said. 

Pichai, 60, was travelling to Chennai, around 330 km from here, to be sworn in as the Member of the state Assembly later in the day. 

According to state government officials, Pichai was sitting next to his driver in the car which hit a truck from behind while trying to overtake it around 7.00 am.

Minister for Sports and Youth Welfare NR Sivapathi, who was travelling behind the car, informed officials about the accident. 

Officials said that seven people were travelling in Pichai's car and all others suffered minor injuries. 

Pichai defeated DMK's KN Nehru in the recently concluded Assembly Elections. 

He is survived by his wife and three children. 


PM, Sonia vow to fight corruption at UPA bash

Posted on May 23, 2011 at 07:39am IST

New Delhi:
UPA-II celebrated its second anniversary on Sunday. But the spate of scams and controversies this past year dulled the festivities.

It was meant to be an occasion to celebrate, but unease over several allegations of scams and corruption, couldn't be missed at the second anniversary bash of UPA-II.

Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi used the occasion to send out the message, irrespective of political damages, battle against corruption was there to stay.

"The UPA Government is determined to take corrective action. The due processes of law are already in motion. We are taking steps to prevent such developments in future," said Manmohan Singh.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi went a step further while displaying her resolve to tackle corruption. Taking a dig at the BJP, she accused the party of being hypocritical while acting against the corrupt.

"It's unfortunate that some opposition parties don't share the same high standards of probity when it comes to their own," said Sonia Gandhi.

The 74 page report card released talks extensively about welfare policies adopted by the UPA-II. Sonia assured that there will be more such programs in future.

"Our Government will bring it right to food bill, land acquisitions and rehabilitation bill," she said.
While the Prime Minister was more subtle and oblique in its message to alliance partner DMK on the issue of corruption, the Congress President was most direct when she trained her guns on the Opposition accusing them of not taking effective measures against its own men accused of graft cases.


Authorities detained a Saudi woman on Saturday after she launched a campaign against the driving ban for women in the ultraconservative kingdom and posted a videotape of herself behind the wheel on Facebook and YouTube to encourage others to copy her.
Saudi woman drives in defiance of ban and posts on Facebook
Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called ‘Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,’ which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. She went on a test drive in the eastern city of Khobar and later posted a video of the experience.

‘This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country’ learn to drive, al-Sherif says in the video. ‘At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving them gets a heart attack?’ Human rights activist Walid Abou el-Kheir said al-Sherif was detained by the country’s religious police, who are charged with ensuring the kingdom’s rigid interpretation of Islamic teachings are observed.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women - both Saudi and foreign - from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

Women are also barred from voting, except for chamber of commerce elections in two cities in recent years, and no woman can sit on the kingdom’s Cabinet. Women also cannot travel without permission from a male guardian and shouldn’t mingle with males who are not their husbands or brothers.

The campaigners have focused on the importance of women driving in times of emergencies and in the case of low-income families. Al-Sherif said unlike the traditional argument in Saudi Arabia that driving exposes women to sinful temptations by allowing them to mingle with policemen and mechanics, women who drive can avoid sexual harassment from their drivers and protect their ‘dignity.’

Through Facebook, the campaigners are calling for a mass drive on June 17. To encourage women to get behind the wheel, al-Sherif went for a drive on Friday as another activist filmed her. Posted on YouTube and Facebook, it has now garnered more than 11,000 supporters.

Dressed in a headscarf and the all-encompassing black abaya all women must wear in public, al-Sharif said not all Saudi women are ‘queens’ who can afford to hire a driver. She extolled the virtues of driving for women, saying it can save lives, and time, as well as a woman’s dignity. Al-Sharif said she learned how to drive at the age 30 in New Hampshire. ‘We are humiliated sometimes because we can’t find a taxi to take us to work,’ she said.

On their Facebook page, the group says women joining the campaign should not challenge authorities if they were stopped and questioned, and should abide by the country’s strict dress code. ‘We want to live as complete citizens, without the humiliation that we are subjected to everyday because we are tied to a driver,’ the Facebook message reads. ‘We are not here to break the law or demonstrate or challenge the authorities, we are here to claim one of our simplest rights.’

(Source: Daily Mail Reporter)

Quiet dinner and promises mark UPA-II's second anniversary

Quiet dinner and promises mark UPA-II's second anniversary Amid allegations of a host of scams and charges of graft against some key members of its constituents, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on Sunday marked the second anniversary of its government's second innings with a dinner in New Delhi for all allies.

Hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the lawns of his official 7 Race Course Road residence, the dinner was graced by the members of all UPA allies, though the DMK was ill-represented with just one member.

The star attraction was UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who was seen mingling freely with the guests.

Text: IANS

Image: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh release a report of the United Progressive Alliance titled `Report to the People 2010-2011` on its second anniversary in New Delhi on Sunday, May 22, 2011. (Photographs copyright PTI)

Quiet dinner and promises mark UPA-II's second anniversary

Quiet dinner and promises mark UPA-II's second anniversary Earlier, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, whose daughter and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi was sent to judicial custody earlier this week, had dispatched his parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu for the event, after much debate.

Another DMK leader and former communications minister A. Raja was already in judicial custody last month for the same case, which has caused much embarrassment to the UPA government in general and the DMK in particular.

The DMK has 18 members in the Lok Sabha -- one member less than the second largest constituent of the UPA, the Trinamool Congress - and seven members in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress party has 207 members in the Lok Sabha.

Other leaders at the dinner included Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel of the Nationalist Congress Party, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Mukul Roy of the Trinamool Congress and E. Ahamed of the Indian Union Muslim League.

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, though not a constituent of the UPA, was also present, so were all the Congress party state chief ministers, including newly elected Tarun Gogoi of Assam and Oommen Chandy of Kerala.

Mamata Banerjee, who assumed office as West Bengal chief minister in Kolkata Friday after resigning as the railway minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet, also did not attend the event.

Image: Congress party president Sonia Gandhi gestures to DMK Parliamentary Party chief T R Baalu as she prepares to address a dinner to mark the UPA government`s second anniversary in New Delhi on Sunday.

After Rahul, UP govt arrests Sachin Pilot

Congress leader lashes out at Mayawati govt, says his detention was unjustified 


Posted On Monday, May 23, 2011 at 03:46:32 AM

Noida A week after Rahul Gandhi’s arrest, the Uttar Pradesh police on Sunday arrested Union minister and Congress leader Sachin Pilot when he on his way to Bhatta-Parsaul village in Greater Noida to meet the agitating farmers. He was later released.

“He was detained under Section 151 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code). He was taken to police lines,” said Ram Kishan Sharma, additional district magistrate of Ghaziabad.

Pilot, who was on his way to Bhatta-Parsaul after visiting villagers lodged in the Dasna Jail near Ghaziabad, was stopped and arrested near Lal Kuan on National Highway 24.

Pilot sat on the road and protested against the restriction to enter Bhatta-Parsaul, before being taken to the police station amid slogans against UP Chief Minister Mayawati by Congress workers.

“We were not breaking any law. We were just going to Bhatta-Parsaul to console the families of villagers. My arrest was unjustified,” said Pilot, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, before police took him away.

Cops silent on 25 farmers’ arrest

Some 25 villagers are said to have been detained, though police were silent about the arrest. Most men aged between 18-55 fled their homes following the incident, fearing a crackdown by security forces.

Bhatta-Parsaul grabbed attention on May 7 when four people, including two policemen, were killed when villagers clashed with policemen while agitating for higher compensation for their lands acquired by the UP government.

PM offers financial aid

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday announced financial aid for the victims of violence triggered by land acquisition in Greater Noida.

As per a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, Rs 50,000 would be given to those seriously injured in the stir and Rs 10,000 to those who suffered minor injuries.

Four people, including two policemen were killed in the violence on May 7, while the district collector and senior police officials were injured.