Monday, June 28, 2010

Ranjita to pen \'how to survive a scandal\'

CHENNAI:Three months after the telecast of the controversial tapes that allegedly showed her with godman Nithyananda in a compromising position, actor Ranjita is busy working on a self-help book, tentatively titled \'How to survive a scandal\'. And the book draws on her experience.

\"I am writing this based on my experiences in the past six months, and there are so many people out there feeling traumatised and suicidal,\" the actor told TOI in an exclusive interview, the first after the controversy broke. \"My book will help people come to terms with personal problems, and I am in talks with a couple of publishers,\" she says.

\"I am also writing a fiction, aimed at the youth of today, but the one drawn from my experiences will come out first,\" says the actor, pushing back her smartly cut hair. \'Autobiography Of A Yogi\' and other books by renowned spiritual gurus line the shelf in her living room. \"I was always a bookworm and you move from fiction to philosophy. I am especially fond of Indian spiritual writing,\" says the actor, who came to Chennai early this month. While struggling for the right word or the perfect phrase, she also took time to meet up with CB-CID officials in connection with the Nithyananda case.

Asked why she went underground when the controversy broke, Ranjita goes quiet for a minute. \"I do not want to hang on to the past. I want to move on. I was very hurt and went through stress and trauma. I decided to hibernate for a while,\" she says. \"The media was writing so many negative things about me, and some were fabricating interviews. Things piled up one on top of the other. You need time to deal with such things, to reconcile, but people think actors do not deserve that kind of time,\" she says with a rueful smile.

She quickly adds that her husband, sisters, parents and in-laws were pillars of strength. She has a short role in \'Raavanan\', but she is yet to watch the film.

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Price stability key to recovery for India, other G20 nations

Toronto,(PTI): Amid concerns over sustaining the recovery through domestic consumption, the world\'\'s most influential leaders have asked their grouping, G-20, to work for price stability - a key challenge for India grappling with double digit inflation. \"Monetary policy will continue to be appropriate to achieve price stability and thereby contribute to the recovery,\" the declaration by G-20 leaders said yesterday after their two-day summit here.

India is battling high overall inflation which touched 10.16 in May, while food inflation is above 16 per cent. The government\'\'s chief economic adviser himself estimated that last week\'\'s decision to raise fuel prices would stoke inflation by 0.9 percentage points.

The Reserve Bank is scheduled to review monetary policy on July 27 amid expectations of rise in key policy interest rates. Though India, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, is on the way to returning to nine per cent economic growth, sustaining it with strong demand would require a fine balancing act.

\"The path of adjustment must be carefully calibrated to sustain the recovery in private demand,\" the declaration said. Sustaining private demand amid stress on government finances in several European countries remains a major challenge for the global economy.


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Monday, June 21, 2010

Cong lashes out at Nitish over Gujarat flood aid row

Congress on Sunday lashed out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the Gujarat flood aid row, saying after running a coalition government with BJP\'s support for four years, he could not \"wash off the sin\" of joining hands with \"communal forces\" by returning the relief money.

\"If he has realised the folly of joining hands with communal forces, he should have snapped ties mmediately....But after heading the government for four years and then returning Rs five crore will not wash off the sin (of joining communal forces),\" Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said at a press conference.

To a query whether Kumar\'s returning the money to the Narendra Modi government had hurt the federal system of the country, Jaiswal said the question did not arise at all.

\"If any CM gets close to a party and then wants to distance himself on the ground of it being communal, this is not the way to keep a distance after four years of rule.

\"If he (Kumar) realises that he should not have made the alliance, and if it was a mistake then he should have broken the alliance. But returning Rs 5 crore is not repentance,\" he said.

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Electric cars can\'t save climate: Experts

LONDON(IAN):The hope that battery-operated cars can save the earth\'s climate by reducing carbon emission is just a \'fantasy\'.

According to experts, the technology used for electric car batteries is so backward that they will die within two years.

The so-called energy efficient cars will be extremely expensive and cover far less distance on one battery charge than the manufacturers claim, they said.

The research carried out by the Institution of Engineering and Technology suggests that claims about the performance of electric vehicles are \'pure fantasy\'.

The researchers found the batteries are likely to burn out within two years, requiring expensive replacements.

The batteries, which use the same lithium-ion technology as mobile phones, are unlikely to be able to run for more than 100 miles (160 km) between charges, the Daily Mail reported.

Experts said the gap in performance between conventional cars and electric vehicles is so huge that consumers will not want to convert their vehicles to electric ones.

Citing the examples of Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf which is capable of travelling more than 360 miles (576 km)on one tank of fuel, the researchers said, for an electric car to offer a similar level of performance, the batteries alone would weigh 1.5 tonnes.

They would be larger than an entire conventional car and cost approximately 100,000 pounds sterling, they warned.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Past panels on Bhopal a trail of broken promises

More than a dozen meetings of the Group of Ministers (GoM) have taken place over the last 26 years yet little changes on the ground at Bhopal.

As the reconstituted GoM headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram gets underway, activists says the victims may be disappointed again.

Activist Rachna Dhingra said, "The two main members of current GoM, Mr P Chidambaram and Mr Kamal Nath have been lobbying for Dow Chemicals and it\'s foreign investment in India since 2005. We have to see in tomorrow\'s (Friday) meeting that they care for people of Bhopal as much as they have been caring for Dow Chemicals.

Dhingra refers to the letters written by then Finance Minister P Chidambaram, then Environment minister Kamal Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia pushing Dow\'s case for zero liability for the clearing up of the toxic site.

But apart from the question of Dow's liability, the papers on past GoMs lay bare a trail of put-off decisions. For example, the last GoM meetings in 2008 decided:

1. Safe drinking water for 14 localities near the plant by November 2008.Yet 18 months since that deadline- more than 20,000 people still drink contaminated water.

2. No movement yet on setting up the Empowered Commission to deal with rehabilitation.

3. And despite several GoM meetings, there\'s been no movement on the plea for Warren Anderson\'s extradition since 2003.

Finally, some movement in the plan of action – the Planning Commission agreed to clear a fund requested by the Madhya Pradesh government that\'s been hanging fire for years but it is the delay in that decision along with a litany of the GoMs broken promises that have left lakhs of heartbroken victims in Bhopal.


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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Swine flu back on track, 12 deaths in a week

12 deaths due to H1N1 swine flu in a week has become a cause of worry in the South Indian states. And, a gush in issues has been observed since the beginning of monsoons. While 4 deaths were reported one each from Maharashtra and Kerala, 1 death was reported from Karnataka.

Mumbai has reported 3 deaths in the previous week and one in Pune this Friday. Mumbai has also declared 15 confirmed cases and Pune with 16 till date.

In the meantime, the biggest flow in H1N1 issues is in Tirvananthapuram in Kerala. Approximately 15 fresh issues have been isolated at the hospice even as 47 cases are under healing at home and other 65 issues have been sent for experiment. Previous week, 30 fresh issues were reported through out the country. Specialists say the rush is due to high intensity of moisture or humidity.

Health administrator stated that the government is ready for H1N1 flu this monsoon with India\'s original native medicine. Dr. Abhay Chaudhury the Director, Haffkine Institute commented that Government has taken suitable steps for this year. The jabs are available; all the supplies are accurately kept at various hospitals and health center.

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Should Dow Chemicals clean up the Bhopal mess?

As the Bhopal protests erupt once again, the focus has shifted to the US multinational Union Carbide Corporation, which bought Union Carbide in 1999.

But Dow only bought Union Carbide worldwide, minus Union Carbide India, which ran the Bhopal plant. Moreover, in 1994, Union Carbide\'s 50.9 per cent interest in Union Carbide India was sold to the Williamson Magor Group, and renamed Eveready Industries, the reason they say, they are not liable.

It is a view shared by senior lawyers whose counsel Dow has sought over the years, and echoed, by the Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

So are Dow victims of perception?

In 2005, a PIL filed in Jabalpur court held Dow responsible for cleaning the plant site in Bhopal.

A year later, the then Minister of Chemicals and Fertiliser Ram Vilas Pawswan asked Dow to deposit Rs 100 crore towards the clean up of the Bhopal site.

Dow then took steps to fight these charges, steps which had some very influential supporters.

In a letter written in November 2006, Andrew Liveris wrote to Ronen Sen, India\'s ambassador to America, stating that \"the Government of India leaders need to work with all Ministers to ensure that their stated position is reflected in all dealings with the court\" and that \"the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers should now withdraw its demand of Rs 100 crore.\"

Dow suggested that they plan a joint clean up with other Indian corporates. In the same year, one of India\'s best-known industrialists, Ratan Tata, jumped into that same debate, offering that along with other Indian industrialists, he would spearhead the clean-up operation required for Bhopal. He suggested an Indian fund, not Dow money, to clean-up Union Carbide site.

In response, Mr Chidambaram wrote to the PM, saying: "I think we should accept this offer and constitute a Site Remediation Trust under the chairmanship of Shri Ratan Tata.\"

A year later, Kamal Nath, who was Commerce Minister wrote to the Prime Minister asking the government to consider Dow\'s case in a \"holistic manner\" "with a view to sending an appropriate signal to Dow Chemicals, which is exploring investing substantially in India.\"

But despite support from powerful quarters, Dow continued to face the Bhopal after-effects.

In July 2008: a Gujarat government company wanted 50-50 joint venture with Dow, but the Centre\'s Chemicals and Petrochemicals department shot it down, saying the \'proposal may be considered only if the company owns responsibility for the Bhopal gas tragedy.\'

Now, the question of Dow\'s liability will be decided by the group of ministers set up to look into the Bhopal crisis, as the company finds that even a decade down the line, its hard to shake off the shadow of Bhopal.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

करीना कपूर भी ‘पारो’ बनेंगी?

बॉलीवुड में इन दिनों करीना कपूर के नखरे काफी बढ़ गए हैं। न तो वे फिल्‍म प्रचार कर रही हैं और न ही फिल्‍मों के लिए हामी भर रही हैं और तो फिल्‍मकार भी उनके बिना फिल्‍मों की शूटिंग नहीं कर रहे हैं।

दरअसल कई निर्देशक करीना के बिना काम नहीं करना चाहते हैं, तभी तो निर्देशक सुधीर मिश्रा भी तब तक अपनी फिल्म 'ध्रुव' की शूटिंग शुरू नहीं करेंगे, जब तक करीना फिल्म करने को राजी नहीं हो जातीं।

'चमेली', 'ओमकारा' और 'जब वी मेट' में करीना को देखकर सुधीर मिश्रा इतने प्रभावित हुए कि अब वे अपनी अगली फिल्म में सिर्फ करीना को ही लेना चाहते हैं।

सुनने में आया है कि सुधीर और फरहान अख्‍तर की फिल्म, 'देवदास' का आधुनिक संस्‍करण है। और फरहान अख्तर और सुधीर दोनों ही चाहते हैं कि इस फिल्म में 'पारो' का किरदार करीना ही करें।


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Eleven names cleared for NAC

The Prime Minister\'s Office on Sunday finalised the names of 11 members of the National Advisory Council, the consultative body chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi that is intended to serve as an interface between the government and civil society and as the laboratory for inclusive economic and social legislation and policy initiatives.

While economist-activist Jean Dreze, Right to Information campaigner Aruna Roy, retired bureaucrat N.C. Saxena and economist A.K. Shiva Kumar have been renominated into the body, which has been defunct since 2008, seven key civil society personalities have been drafted for the first time.

These are the women\'s rights and minority rights activist Farah Naqvi,businesswoman and philanthropist Anu Agha, agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, Planning Commission member, the former Reserve Bank of India economist and noted Dalit writer Narendra Jadhav, social worker Deep Joshi, ecologist Madhav Gadgil and former bureaucrat-turned-rights activist Harsh Mander.

Rita Sharma, an IAS officer who retired as rural development secretary earlier this year, will be member-secretary.

A few more names will be finalised in the next few days, senior officials say, but the NAC will remain a compact body that can help the government frame key laws like the proposed Food Security Act.

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