The manner in which Indian newspapers and TV channels went overboard covering the London blasts was amazing. At the same time, a blast also occurred in neighbouring Pakistan but was ignored by the media. Though in that blast, the casualties were higher, it got lesser space. But, blasts in Britain got the banner headline! Are we really a nation with an independent thought process? It seems that our minds (read newspapers and news channels) are still dictated by the Whiteman'sburden. In other words, are Indian or Pakistani lives less valuable than British lives?
The residents of four important cities of Punjab are living dangerously as they are breathe polluted air into their lungs. The high level of pollution impairs liver functioning, effects genetic changes and causes blood-related abnormalities. A report titled, A State of Environment, 2005 has disclosed the fact that the presence of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the air in Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar remains high throughout the year, even in residential areas. Based on data of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, this report is prepared by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. The report registered the maximum levels (up to 550 microgram per litre) in Ludhiana, whereas the permissible annual average limit is 140 microgram per litre. In Amritsar, the SPM level is high during the festival season in October-November, especially in the Golden Temple area.
As the Assam assembly elections are nearing, the Congress government doesn'twant to take any chance to displease Muslims. And in the process, Assam Congress Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has asked the Party High Command and Prime Minister, who is also Rajya Sabha MP from the state, to change the present Governor of the state. Grapevine has it that Assam Governor Ajay Singh is on his way out. Even few months back there was a tug-of-war between Chief Minister and Governor on the issue of presence of illegal Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators in the state. Now with the repealing of IMDT Act by Supreme Court, Congress is desperate to woo the Muslims. As a result, Governor may be axed.
Recently, during his Mumbai visit, the newly-appointed chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Ram Niwas Mirdha, underlined the failure of Maharashtra government on promoting art and culture in the state. Not only this, he also lashed out at the present Congress-NCP government for not paying enough attention on the promotion of the arts in the state, known for its rich tradition of music, drama and painting. Mirdha also disclosed the fact that for the past several years successive chief ministers sat on the proposal for setting up academies in Maharashtra on the lines of the national academies like Sahitya Akademi, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Lalit Kala Akademi in the national capital. He also severely criticised the lack of activities in the rebuilt Ravindra Natya Mandir at Prabhadevi and the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point.
The recent terrorist attack on Shri Ramjanma-bhoomi temple in Ayodhya once again exposed the hollowness and lack of coordination in Central Home Ministry. As satellite news channels started beaming reports of gunfight between terrorists and security personnel, Minister of State for Home, Prakash Jaiswal described it as a ?security lapse? and held security personnel responsible for the happening. Every news channel repeatedly showed his statement for a long time. But the Central Reserve Police Force personnel foiled the terrorist misadventure. After this, in his briefing, Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, took just opposite stand from his junior that there was neither an intelligence failure nor a security failure. Even debunking or pre-empting the obvious queries on intelligence failure, Patil disclosed the fact that there were ?specific inputs? on the impending attack at religious places, which was evident in the preparedness of forces, exhibited in the success of the Ayodhya operation. The question arises why Jaiswal put his foot in his mouth? Simple, hailing from UP, he was trying to garner political mileage as the security of temple premises falls under the responsibility of the state government, headed by arch Congress rival, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The Manmohan Singh-led UPA government has asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to explore ways to introduce Islamic banking in the country. The Islamic banking, based on Shariat law, shuns the idea of interest rates and is founded on the principles of profit-sharing. On the directions of Finance Ministry, RBI has formed a team under Anand Sinha, chief general manager in charge, department of banking operations and development, to look into the Islamic code of banking. This team also includes senior bankers from SBI and other government and foreign banks.
To provide total software solution to Malayalam as language of governance and culture, Kerala government has launched a programme?Mission Malayalam?to be jointly executed by the encyclopedic department and the Centre for Development of Imaging. Under the programme, the large and massive volumes of encyclopedic works would turn slimmer and computer-friendly. In last 46 years, the government has published 12 volumes of Encyclopedia of the state and in year 2004-05 the encyclopedic works worth Rs 16 lakh were sold as against just Rs 8 in the previous year. With this, Kerala would become the leading state in the country by providing first tri-lingual facility for Malayalam-English-Hindi translation on computer. The user would be in a position to prepare an article in English and the machine will translate it into Hindi or Malayalam. Not only this, the scheme would also provide facilities such as spell check, grammar check and Malayalam speech-text, indexing and a host of other related activities.
THE UPA government'smuch publicised ?rural agenda? is under attack from none other than the former members of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) and other leaders of alliance. Economist Jean Dreze, who drafted the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, has raised serious doubts over the mismanagement of rural schemes. The food-for-work programme, running in 150 districts of the country, is totally mismanaged, whereas the rural health mission is unlikely to get financial back up till the next budget. Quoting a survey done by a group of students, Dreze has said that barring BJP-ruled Rajasthan, in all other places, the NFFWP has fallen prey to rampant corruption. He blamed the district authorities for not publicising the mandatory ?muster rolls?, which allows the public to scrutinise its implementation and funding. At most of the places, the ?muster rolls? were not available or were manipulated to ensure large-scale siphoning-off of the funds by projecting faulty data. He also accused the authorities that in most places, they are not bothered to pay the daily-wagers the official minimum wages, as was prescribed by the scheme.