Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lanka monks protest over police crackdown

Sri Lankan student Buddhist monks, also members of the People's Liberation Front, shout slogans outside the president's official residence during a protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, yesterday.Picture: AP
Saturday, June 4, 2011
SRI LANKA'S powerful Buddhist clergy demonstrated yesterday urging the president to restore rights of workers and students days after a violent police crackdown on a labor protest killed one factory worker.

About 400 monks marched peacefully in the capital, Colombo, carrying placards and banners before gathering opposite President Mahinda Rajapaksa's official residence where they protested the crackdown that led to clashes Monday wounding 200 more workers and police.

Traffic came to a standstill in some areas during yesterday's protest. Rev Kamburupitiye Gnanissara, a spokesman for an association of undergraduate monks, said the government has unleashed a campaign to suppress people who are fighting for their rights.

"The government is on a wrong path and we urge people to come to the streets and protest against the government's undemocratic acts," the monk said.

On Monday, police used tear gas and later fired live bullets to break up a protest over a government pension proposal, at the country's main industrial zone.

Sri Lanka's police chief resigned this week to take responsibility for the police conduct.AP

US renews pressure on Sri Lanka

SATURDAY, 04 JUNE 2011 17:12

The United States said on Saturday it remained 'deeply concerned' about alleged Sri Lankan war crimes as it distanced itself from a junior US military officer who questioned the credibility of the accusations against Sri Lanka.

The US government rejected an invitation to attend a seminar hosted by Sri Lanka earlier in the week to showcase its success in crushing Tamil separatists by May 2009.

However, the US defence attache in Colombo, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Smith, attended the seminar as an 'observer' and his remarks there were his own 'opinion", the US state department said in a statement received in Colombo.

Lt Smith told the seminar that the credibility of rebel surrender claims was in doubt and he appeared to contradict a Western allegation that Sri Lankan troops killed surrendering rebels.

A key charge in a recently compiled UN report accuses Sri Lanka of executing Tiger political leaders who are said to have worked out a surrender deal through Western diplomats, including those of the United States in Colombo.

Lt Smith told the seminar in Colombo that offers of surrender came from the 'mouthpieces' of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whose words had not demonstrated any control over the leadership. 

Yemeni leader accepts Saudi offer of treatment

Sunday, June 05, 2011, 00:18

Sanaa: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh accepted an offer from the Saudi king to get medical treatment there for wounds from a rebel rocket attack, but had not yet left his country, officials close to the president said on Saturday. 

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters, said Saleh spoke to Saudi King Abdullah shortly after the rocket attack Friday night that wounded Saleh and five top government officials. Eleven security men were killed. 

Sheik Mohammed Nagi al-Shayef, a leader of the Saleh-allied Bakeel tribe, said he met with Saleh Saturday evening at the Defense Ministry compound in the capital. 

"He suffered burns but they were not serious. He was burned on both hands, his face and head," al-Shayef told a news agency. 

He said Saleh also was hit by jagged pieces of wood that splintered from the mosque pulpit. There were about 200 people inside the mosque when the rocket landed. 

A secretary in Saleh's office and a member of his ruling party said the president's plane was still at the Sanaa airport. 
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters, said Saleh spoke to Saudi King Abdullah shortly after the rocket attack Friday night that wounded Saleh and five top government officials. Eleven security men were killed. 

A secretary in Saleh's office and a member of his ruling party said the President's plane was still at the Sanaa airport. 

Bureau Report

On Lucknow stage, BJP rakes up Ram again

Zeenews.comSunday, June 05, 2011, 00:50 

Lucknow: BJP on Saturday attacked the UPA government for allegedly breaching the federal set-up by targeting opposition-ruled states and warned of legal recourse if this was not stopped. 

A day after the BJP national executive took on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of corruption, senior BJP leader L K Advani on Saturday sent a blunt message to the Centre that his party will look at such options to combat attacks on opposition-ruled states. 

Delivering his valedictory address here, Advani said, "If this attitude of the Centre continues then, along with our political fight, we (BJP) will also look for a legal recourse to combat it." 

He criticised the UPA government for using Governors in states as its "political agents" in NDA ruled states.

Earlier, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi moved a resolution on how the UPA regime posed a grave threat to the federal structure of the country by making "hostile, insidious and politically colourable" attacks on BJP and NDA-run states. 

The resolution, which was seconded by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, alleges that the Centre was diminishing financial support to NDA ruled states, misusing Governors as political agents, and forming bodies like Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC) and National Investigation Agency (NIA) which the party said are acting against the federal spirit.
BJP demanded "full and immediate" implementation of the Sarkaria Commission's recommendations, setting up a forum to fight against attacks and discrimination by the Centre and greater empowerment of the Inter-State Council. 

It wanted free appointments of chiefs of CBI, CAG and CVC to avoid misuse of these agencies. 

"The Congress-led UPA government has breached this dharma more than any other government in free India. It has breached it through insidious and colourable attacks on the states and their domain. These are pincer attacks as they are made by misusing investigative agencies," Modi said.

The BJP alleged that the NAC was contributing to usurping powers of states by the Centre. 

"NAC has drafted a perverse legislation-the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill. It is ill-conceived and it proceeds with an assumption that the majority community is always the perpetrator of communal violence. Reverse discrimination in its worst form!" the resolution stated. 

It also accused the Centre of misusing the NIA. "By setting up the National Investigation Agency the Central Government now obviously wants to take upon itself the responsibility of fighting terror by sidetracking the states," Modi said. 

Modi has a running feud with the Centre on the Sohrabuddin encounter, the post-Godhra riots and other cases. He alleged that NIA has taken away the law-making powers of the states. 

The resolution alleged that the Central government is using the constitutional provisions to make legislation in respect of items in the concurrent list, but is refusing to do its duty to provide necessary financial support. 

"From drinking water to supply of oilseeds there was a trend to increase the control of the centre over plan funds to be spent in the states. Today, they are the Rural Health Mission and the MNERGA," the resolution states. 

By fielding Modi, who is the most prominent face among BJP Chief Ministers, the party also sent across a message to the Centre. 

The role of Governors also came in for criticism in the resolution which states that Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj - though he was not named- had twice recommended imposition of President's Rule in the state without proper grounds for doing so. 

A special resolution on the political, social and economic situation in Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls early next year, was also passed. 

In the resolution, BJP promised to change the "face and destiny" of UP by ushering in Ram-Rajya (an ideal state) if it is voted to power. 

The party declared it would establish fast track courts to deal with crimes committed under the present BSP rule, end anti-farmer land acquisitions and improve the law and order and infrastructure problems of the state. 

The resolution also mentions BJP's Hindutva agenda by talking of making efforts at all levels to build a grand Ram Temple at Ayodhya and stopping cow-slaughter which it claimed was continuing blatantly despite a ban on it in the state. 

BJP has also set-up a 22-member team under former Assembly Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi to prepare a vision document for the state. 


Late-night crackdown at Baba venue Police fire tear gas, take Ramdev out of Ramlila grounds


New Delhi, June 4: Baba Ramdev was taken out of Ramlila grounds in a late-night crackdown by police who fired tear gas and dismantled the stage at his protest venue, hours after the Centre accused the yoga practitioner of reneging on a deal to call off his fast.

Around 3am, Ramdev’s whereabouts were unclear but the Delhi police commissioner said he had been taken to a safe place. Police sources said he would be taken out of Delhi. But the government clarified that he had not been arrested. Section 144 was imposed in the area.
Earlier, Ramdev’s supporters formed a human chain around him. The police fired tear gas as the crowd threw stones.

The police were reported to have withdrawn permission for Ramdev’s yoga camp.
At 7pm, minister Kapil Sibal had held a news conference and released a written undertaking given by Ramdev yesterday to end his protest. Sibal then issued a veiled warning: “If we can reach out, we can also rein (him) in.”

If the tactic was to pressure Ramdev into honouring his commitment, it didn’t work. Aware that his protest might now appear discredited as a mere show, the Baba toughened his stance before a crowd of 30,000 and refused to ever again talk to Sibal, the government’s key negotiator.

“We kept calling him since afternoon but the expected announcement didn’t come. We now learn there was some misconception on black money,” Sibal later said.

Sibal added: “We have said a committee will be formed to frame a law to declare illegally gotten money as a national asset. He thought we are only making a committee, not making the law. We will give him in writing that a law will be made if he wants.”

That clarification was given to Ramdev in writing tonight before the police arrived.
A PTI report said Ramdev had admitted yesterday’s deal with the government but claimed he had wanted to continue the fast to make sure the Centre honoured its promise of giving him in writing that it had agreed to his demands.

According to Ramdev’s written undertaking, drafted and signed by his key aide Acharya Balkrishna, an announcement was to be made this afternoon about the agreement with the government. Then Ramdev would have merely continued with his “tap” (spiritual rites) till June 6.
The letter is understood to have been written in the presence of Ramdev, some of his aides, and government negotiators Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay. It begins with a categorical declaration: “According to Swami Ramdev’s consent....”

Sure enough, around 2.30pm, Ramdev had left the dais and entered his tent for “telephone talks with the government”. He came out three hours later to say his fast would continue and that the talks were deadlocked over the issue of tackling black money.

“I will break my fast tomorrow if the government brings an ordinance declaring black money hidden abroad as a national asset. They have agreed to a committee. I want action, not a committee,” he said. He added that he had “put on silent mode” his demand for withdrawal of 500-rupee notes to focus only on black money.

This evening, the two sides appeared locked in a battle of nerves, keen to win the publicity war. Sibal said the government had honoured all its commitments and acted very discreetly, refraining from revealing Ramdev’s letter yesterday.

“But Baba has gone back on his word. We want to make it clear that if the government can reach out, it can also rein in. If we can accommodate, we can also be firm.”
Asked why the Baba was saying the government was trying to scare him, Sibal said: “We don’t want to comment on this. We don’t want to comment on the attempt to scare the government, either.”

Ramdev threatened to continue the fight till his last breath and asked his supporters to carry on fasting if he was arrested.

Although the release of Ramdev’s undertaking appeared to have vitiated the atmosphere, a section in the government felt that causing a dent in the Baba’s credibility was no mean achievement. They said the government needed to send out a tough message amid the popular impression that it had buckled before Ramdev’s agitation.

The Baba had had his last meal of fruits, greens and milk at 7pm yesterday and had only drunk water since, said Jaideep Arya, chief coordinator of Ramdev’s Bharat Swabhiman Nyas.
The yoga practitioner ascended the dais at 4.50 this morning. He started off with a yoga session, featuring mainly breathing and stomach exercises, but spoke at length against black money and English education.

“The police have given permission for yoga, but even speaking the truth is yoga; satyagraha is yoga,” he said.

He peppered his sermons with one-liners. “Whatever the outcome of this fast, our fat brothers and sisters will shed at least 1,000 kilos of weight.”

Leaders from various faiths sat on the dais. Hindutva hawk Sadhvi Ritambhara joined the morning yoga session. Ramdev denied being “communal” and, asked about his RSS links, said he had “sadbhavana” with all social organisations including the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind.

Police cancel camp, Ramdev taken out of Delhi


New Delhi: Delhi Police cancelled permission for yoga camp at Ramlila maidan and ordered Baba Ramdev to stay out of Delhi's limits late on Saturday night. Baba Ramdev was removed from the Ramlila maidan and was escorted to Delhi border by Delhi Police.

Baba Ramdev, after the police orders was immediately surrounded by huge number of supporters who were fasting with Baba Ramdev at the Ramlila ground against the black money stashed abroad. Baba Ramdev appealed to the supporters not to indulge in any kind of violence.

"We have cancelled the permission of Yog shivir and we will ask Baba to leave Delhi immediately" said Delhi Police.

Almost 3000 policemen were deployed in and around Ramlila maidan. RAF of CRPF were also called to Central District.

Section 144 was imposed on Ramlila maidan. Police said that the purpose of setting up the yog shivir at Ramlila maidan was to carry out yoga activities not for any agitation.

Ramdev made it clear after a flip-flop this evening that he won't end his hunger strike until he gets a written agreement from the government on recovering black money.

British Council awards :: Japanese scholarship for international students

British Council awards

The British Council has opened entries for the Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) 2011 Awards. Entrepreneurs who are promoting, managing or running a venture centred on a creative sector like music, performing art, design, fashion or publishing and planning to gain foothold in the strong creative economy of U.K. and build relationships to promote your creative venture to the UK can applyIf you are a creative entrepreneur based in India you have a chance to win a study tour of your respective industry in the UK.
Last date: June 6. Web link:

Japanese scholarship for international students


The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan offers scholarships to international students who wish to study in Japan at a specialised training college, a college of technology and a university (undergraduate study). The scholarships offered are for three years, four years and five years respectively beginning from April 2012.

Subjects eligible

Specialised Training College (Three years): The fields of study offered in the three-year scholarship programme are technology, personal care and nutrition, education and welfare, business, fashion and home economics, culture and general education and others.

College of Technology (Four years): The fields of specialisation (major) offered in the four-year scholarship programme are mechanical engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, information communication, and network engineering, materials engineering, architecture and civil engineering, maritime engineering and others.

University (Undergraduate study) (Five years): The fields of study offered in the five-year scholarship programme are social sciences and humanities: (A - law, politics, pedagogy, sociology, literature, history, Japanese language and others. B: economics, business administration and others), Natural Sciences-A:-(electric and electronic studies, mechanical studies, civil engineering and architecture, chemical studies, and other fields. Natural sciences-B:-(agricultural studies, hygienic studies and science), and Natural Sciences–C:-(medicine and dentistry).
Eligibility: Candidates must have been born between April 2, 1990 and April 1, 1995 and must have completed a twelve-year (plus two or higher secondary) regular course of school education.

He/she must be willing to undergo one-year intensive course of Japanese language and then receive education at a specialised training college/college of technology/university in Japan.


The candidates will be requested to sit for an examination at the premises of the Consulate-General of Japan at Chennai.

The date and time of the examination will be informed to the candidates accordingly.
Please note that Japanese language skill is not compulsory for this examination. The final selection will be made by the MEXT and its results will be forwarded to the elected candidates by February 2012, along with the name of the institute.

The prescribed application form and the outline of the scholarship can be obtained from the Consulate-General of Japan (Culture & Information Department), 12/1, Cenetoph Road, Teynampet, Chennai 600 018. Application can also be downloaded from For further details, contact (044-24323860-63). The application document has to be submitted no later than 30 June 2011.

Fully–sponsored wind energy course

Under the Memorandum of Understanding with Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) and Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA), Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore, will begin offering two new PG diploma programmes in wind energy. C-WET is the apex body for wind power development in India under the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, New Delhi. IWTMA is the association of all wind electric generator manufacturers in India, who are also the global leaders.

Post Graduate Diploma in Wind Power Development

Eligibility: B.Tech./ BE with at least 60 per cent marks in electrical/ electrical and electronics /electronics/ electronics and communication/ mechanical/ production/ instrumentation engineering. Duration: 2 semesters. Number of seats: 15
Post Graduate Diploma in Wind Resource Assessment (PGDWRA)
Eligibility: B.Tech. /BE with at least 60 per cent marks in electrical/ electrical and electronics /electronics/ electronics and communication/ mechanical/ production/ instrumentation engineering or M.Sc. degree with at least 60 per cent marks in physics, mathematics or statistics. Duration for the course is 2 semesters. Number of seats: 15.

Web site: Last date: June 15.

Sir Syed Excellence in Science Award (SSESA) 2011-2012

Rehan Baqri announces Sir Syed Excellence in Science Award. congratulates the winners.

Assalam Aleikum!

On behalf of the advisory committee of the Sir Syed Excellence in Science Award (SSESA) and the Aligarh Alumni Association of New England (AAANE), I am pleased to inform you that the following candidates have been awarded the 5th Annual SSESA scholarship for 2011-2012.

(in alphabetical order)

1. Amaj Ahmad Laskar (Biotechnology)
2. Hanadi Falki (English)
3. Husain Bin Qasim (Electronics Engineering)
4. Iffat Ali (Chemical Engineering)
5. Medha Sharma (Electrical Engineering)
6. Mohammad Nizam (Physics)
7. Nida Rahmani (Biochemistry)
8. Raghib Ashraf (Biotechnology)
9. Ruchi Dana (Medicine)
10. Sabiha Khatoon (Zoology)
11. Sadaf Ahmad (Agriculture)
12. Sameer Husain (Chemistry)
13. Sarfaraz Alam Khan (Computer Engineering)
14. Syed Mohammad Faisal (Biotechnology)
15. Syed Shabih Hasan (Computer Engineering)

Due to unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances at AMU, we could not hold the test and interview as scheduled earlier. Using academic merit as the sole criterion, we have drawn up this list of candidates.The selection committee strongly believes that these candidates have a great potential and stand a very competitive chance of securing admission in prestigious graduate programs in US universities. We wish to thank the selection committee their commitment, support and hard work.  Special thanks to Prof. Saleemuddin, Dr. Suhail Sabir and Dr. Shahid Jameel for the preparation of test and interviews.

This year we were able to offer awards to almost double the number of deserving students compared to last year because of generous donations from AMU organizations and well wishers of SSESA.

With best regards,

Saif Sheikh

SSESA Executive Committee

Rehan M Baqri
PhD student, Miller Lab
Neuroscience Program
Michigan State University

Metabolism of hunger strike Yoga should help, otherwise choose the right flashlight


June 3: If Baba Ramdev resists the UPA’s advances and presses ahead with more than a token fast, his self-professed yoga skills will also be put to the test.

The skills that the yoga televangelist has learnt and preached for years should help him handle his planned indefinite fast with relative ease and longer than it would be possible for untrained people, physiologists and yoga experts have said.

Ramdev, who claims to have a postgraduate degree in yoga, has threatened to begin an indefinite fast from tomorrow, though the government appeared optimistic about a turnaround in two days.

“Yoga allows a person to develop the discipline of detachment from everything, and that includes food,” said Lauren Manning, a South African yoga specialist at a yoga retreat in Portugal that offers fasting detoxification programmes, far from the feverish developments in New Delhi.

“It doesn’t mean the body does not need food — it’s just easier to go without food,” said Manning, who has been teaching yoga for 16 years. “Instead of thinking ‘I’m hungry, I’m hungry’, the mind might just say ‘the sky is beautiful, the sky is beautiful’.”

But water is essential for anyone on a fast, physiologists caution. Without water, the body will experience dehydration.

Anna Hazare, in whose footsteps Ramdev is trying to follow, had sipped water during his fast. Ramdev has not yet specified if he would be drinking water. If he stays away from water, he can look up to Mamata Banerjee who survived a 25-day hunger strike that her party had described as “nirjala upas” (fast without water) in 2006.

Physiologists say the number of days a person can go without food depends on individual body metabolism and energy expenditure. Tragedy had often struck between 58 and 74 days. (See chart).

If such heroic and grim instances abound, so do tales of mirth springing from satyagraha hotspots. In Kerala, which can give Bengal some competition if a derby for protests is held, long-stemmed stainless steel flashlights used to be spotted beneath the mattresses in satyagraha tents. Legend has it that bananas as well as a cylindrical (and filling) delicacy called puttu used to replace the batteries in the
flashlights — a nocturnal fallback option that sheds light on the science-beating staying power of some satyagrahis.

Doctors say prolonged fasting initially leads to the breakdown of stored fats in the body. Then, if fasting is continued, proteins break down, which leads to the production of harmful molecules and to life-threatening physiological complications that eventually cause death.

“In general, a younger person or a person with a heavy body composition may tolerate fasting longer — but it depends on how robust the person’s metabolism is,” said Shashank Joshi, a consultant endocrinologist at a private hospital in Mumbai.

This is where yoga comes in. “A trained practitioner of yoga may be able to lower metabolism and reduce the energy expenditure,” said William Selvamurthy, a senior scientist with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation who has studied the physiological effects of yoga.

The fast-induced changes in body metabolism appear to involve a cascade of physiological pathways that originate in the brain, act through the pituitary gland, and touch the thyroid gland that plays a role in regulating metabolism, Selvamurthy said.

If the government is unable to dissuade Ramdev, it should be prepared for at least a 12-day haul. “Twelve or 13 days’ fasting with adequate intake of water is possible with relative ease,” said Ishwar Basavaraddi, director of the National Institute of Yoga.

For law-enforcers, force-feeding is an option. The standard medical intervention to prevent starvation or dehydration is intravenous feeding to correct the body’s electrolyte imbalance and deliver appropriate nutrition. The process is similar to the treatment given to severely ill patients who are unable to eat or drink.


The Telegraph

The Telegraph, 3 June 2011

There is a new ogre striding across the Indian political landscape. The ogre is called civil society. The instrument that this giant uses to send shivers down the spine of the political establishment is fasting against corruption in high places. It is not an edifying spectacle to see the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, appealing to one Baba Ramdev, a godman of doubtful provenance, to withdraw his fast. What is even worse — bordering, in fact, on the disgraceful — is the sight of four ministers rushing to the airport to persuade Ramdev not to undertake his fast. It would appear from the panic in the ranks of the government that Ramdev and his fast are being perceived as a major threat to the stability, if not the survival, of the government. The only sensible response to this craven attitude of the government is the following: if a fast undertaken by a fabulously wealthy yoga teacher threatens the government, then perhaps the government deserves to fall. There is something surreal in the way the prime minister and his colleagues have reacted to Ramdev.

It is important to remember that those like Ramdev and Anna Hazare, who are claiming to be leaders and voices of civil society, represent a very small section of Indian society. They are also not the elected representatives of the people. They are not accountable to anybody; sometimes not even to their own conscience. By giving such people undue importance, the government is only inflating their egos and images. It is becoming clear that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the principal mobilizer of support for Ramdev. This should suggest that Ramdev is not without political linkages since no one believes anymore that the RSS is only a cultural organization. There is another ominous angle that cannot be ignored. The present government, somewhat unexpectedly, is bestowing importance on religious figures. Witness the presence of the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi at the funeral of Sai Baba and the fuss being made now over Ramdev’s fast. In independent India, attempts to pander to religious sentiments by a government committed to secularism have always had dangerous consequences. The prime minister should watch his step.