|M J Akbar presents
Paks past and
future in a tinderbox
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Pakistan may have little hope for peace with India but a settlement with New Delhi will help remove the jihad culture ravaging the country, writes veteran journalist M J Akbar in his new book....more
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Hindi, one of the official languages of India may soon give popular languages of the world such as Mandarin and Spanish a run for their money....more
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Inflation shot up to 8.43 per cent in December, from 7.48 per cent in the previous month, as prices of certain food and non-food items continued to show an upward trend.......more
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Tata Motors today said its global sales increased by 21 per cent in December 2010 to 90,294 units on robust demand for commercial vehicles but sales of luxury brands from Jaguar Land Rover remained flat.....more
|Govt planning troop
reduction in J&K
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: The Government is considering reducing the strength of security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir by 25 per cent as a confidence building measure....more
PATNA, Jan 14: The Nitish Kumar Government has made it mandatory for all bureaucrats to submit details of their assets, which would be made public by January 31 on the lines of the ministers.....more
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Regretting that quality education is not accorded the same priority as increasing enrolment rate, Vice President Hamid Ansari today stressed on improving teacher training programme and curricula development to achieve meaningful learning process......more
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: The Delhi High Court today granted bail to former CWG Organising Committee official T S Darbari, who was arrested for his alleged role in the Queens Baton relay scam.......more
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Pakistan may have little hope for peace with India but a settlement with New Delhi will help remove the jihad culture ravaging the country, writes veteran journalist M J Akbar in his new book.
In "Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan", published by HarperCollins India, Akbar embarks on a historical whodunit to trace the journey of an idea, and the events, people, circumstances and mindset that divided India.
The investigation spans a thousand years, and an extraordinary cast: visionaries, opportunists, statesmen, tyrants, plunderers, generals, and an unusual collection of theologians, beginning with Shah Waliullah who created a theory of distance to protect Islamic identity from Hindus and Hinduism.
"There might be little hope for peace with India, given the fundamental divergence on Kashmir, but a settlement with India will help excise the jihad culture ravaging Pakistan," says Akbar.
According to the writer, it is comparatively easier for India to come to terms with Pakistan.
"Economic growth and dreams of becoming a part of the first world have begun to dominate the Indian mind. The Indian middle class has begun to appreciate a simple reality: social violence and economic growth cannot coexist. Liberalization has had an impact on lifestyle and attitudes.
"The culture of consumerism has been quickly adopted by the young, while entertainment television is a mirror of sexual liberation and the fusion of Western mores with Indian sentiment."
He says that the most remarkable aspect of this change was that "even terrorism, often exported from Pakistan, and wearing an Islamic label, did not feed a backlash in the form of Hindu-Muslim riots, even after the venomous terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008."
Akbar feels India is content being a status quo-ist power, determined to preserve its current geography, without serious claims even on territory it believes it has lost to China along the Himalayas and to Pakistan in Kashmir.
"Peace is a logical extension of this position. There is a large and growing constituency in Pakistan that understands this. But unless Pakistan achieves clarity on terrorism, with all its snake-oil justifications, the subcontinent will remain hostage to malevolent mania," he writes.
The book also talks about LeTs involvement in the 26/11 attacks.
"LeTs involvement with the terrorist strike on Mumbai is well known, even if Islamabad will not acknowledge this. Britains Channel 4 showed an extraordinary documentary in 2009, Terror in Mumbai, which contained footage of controllers sitting in Pakistan and communicating with the terrorists in Mumbai on cell phones."
Akbar also mentions how Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari admitted before a closed-door meeting of officials on the evening of 7 July 2009, that conflict with India had bred a nexus between terrorist groups and Pakistans intelligence agencies.
"Militants and extremists emerged on the national scene and challenged the state not because the civil bureaucracy was weakened and demoralized but because they were deliberately created and nurtured as a policy to achieve short-term tactical objectives.
Lets be truthful and make a candid admission of the reality. The terrorists of today were heroes of yesteryear until 9/11 occurred and they began to haunt us as well," Zardari had said.
Akbar also recalls how Maulana Azad made some significant predictions about Pakistan in interviews to Shorish Kashmiri, editor of a Lahore magazine Chattan, 1946.
"The moment the creative warmth of Pakistan cools down, the contradictions will emerge and will acquire assertive overtones. These will be fuelled by the clash of interests of international powers and consequently both wings will separate...
"After the separation of East Pakistan, whenever it happens, West Pakistan will become the battleground of regional contradictions and disputes," Azad had said.
Azad had warned that the "evil consequences of Partition" will not affect India alone.
"Pakistan will be equally haunted by them... We must remember that an entity conceived in hatred shall last only as long as that hatred lasts. This hatred shall overwhelm relations between India and Pakistan. In this situation it will not be possible for India and Pakistan to become friends and live amicably unless some catastrophic event takes place." (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Hindi, one of the official languages of India may soon give popular languages of the world such as Mandarin and Spanish a run for their money.
The emergence of India as a hub for global companies seems to be attracting more and more foreigners into learning the language.
"Foreigners who wish to relocate to India or want to set up their business here feel the need to learn Hindi for more upfront results. Though English is still the business language in India, knowledge of Hindi helps to understand the cultural nuances," says Chandra Bhushan Pandey, who runs a coaching institute that teaches foreigners Hindi.
Pandey, who teaches Hindi to around 40 foreigners in a month points out, "The demand to speak Hindi has grown by 50 per cent in last eight years. The ability to speak and understand Hindi increases the opportunity of enjoying Indian culture and history."
Multinational companies have been opening their offices in India and they encourage their officials to learn Hindi for better business results and connection with their Indian clients.
"Foreign professionals who can bond with their Indian counterparts are very successful here. I teach them words like namaskar, shukriya and dhanyawaad to use in their presentations for good results," says Neeraj Mehra, a Hindi language expert based in Gurgaon.
Mehra also imparts cultural training to them which enables them to strike an instant chord with the Indian clients.
"A foreigner who greets you with namaste with folded hands is more appealing than somebody who just greets you with a hello and shakes hand with you," he says.
A number of foreign research scholars and people working with NGOs and UN agencies in India also learn Hindi as their field work requires them to interact with locals.
"I thought English would take me through but I realised during my fieldwork that its a must to know Hindi," says Juliet from Switerzland who works with an NGO in Delhi.
Cecelia, a French student studying in India says she is learning Hindi as she wants to show locals that she is interested in integrating in their country and culture.
The huge popularity of Hindi films abroad is also promoting the Hindi language.
Abuzar, a student from Tajikistan says,"Hindi films are very popular in our country. Thousands watch them everyday and that prompted me to learn this language."
Tourism industry is fast growing in India, with 5.58 million foreigners visiting the country in 2010 and many of them are trying to learn Hindi to make their local experience interesting.
The Indian government is also promoting Hindi and Indian culture abroad.
The Ministry of External Affairs celebrates World Hindi Day on January 10 every year for promoting Hindi language and Indian culture abroad. All the Indian missions abroad celebrate this day and encourage residents of their respective countries to learn Hindi and Indian culture.
"World Hindi Day is celebrated for worldwide promotion of Hindi language. Foreign countries are understanding the importance of Hindi because India is fast emerging as one of key economies in the world," said Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao at the World Hindi Day function this year.
However, there can be some unpleasant experiences that can prompt a foreigner to learn Hindi in India.
"It can be tough dealing with day to day activities in Indian cities. Some people like vegetable vendors, rickshaw pullers and autorickshaw drivers do try to take advantage of your language gap and charge more from you," says Sharell an Australian living in Delhi.
"Thats why, I decided to learn Hindi," she adds. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Inflation shot up to 8.43 per cent in December, from 7.48 per cent in the previous month, as prices of certain food and non-food items continued to show an upward trend.
After moderating somewhat in November, the overall inflation, measured on the basis of wholesale prices, rose in December as vegetable, like onion, and other protein-based items became expensive.
With the inflation showing no signs of moderation, it is widely expected that RBI will raise the key policy rates during its quarterly monetary policy review on January 25.
For October, the figure has been revised upwards to 9.12 per cent from the provisional number of 8.58 per cent.
It may be recalled, the food inflation, which accounts for over 14 per cent in the overall WPI inflation, has remained high through December and stood at 16.91 per cent.
A worried Government yesterday announced a slew of measures to contain price rise including de-hoarding operations and closely monitoring export and import of food items.
As per the WPI data, prices of primary articlesfood, non-food articles and mineralsshot up by 16.46 per cent on an annual basis, official data released here showed.
However, prices of certain food items declined on an year-on-year.
While wheat became cheaper by 5.09 per cent, pulses fell by 10.89 per cent and potatoes went down by 26.57 per cent.
During the month, fuel and power prices went up by 11.19 per cent, while manufactured goods became expensive by 4.46 per cent on an annual basis.
Manufactured items have the highest weight of 64.9 per cent in the wholesale price index, on the basis of which inflation is calculated.
Within manufactured products, however, sugar prices eased by 9.91 per cent and leather and leather goods by 1.23 per cent on an annual basis. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Tata Motors today said its global sales increased by 21 per cent in December 2010 to 90,294 units on robust demand for commercial vehicles but sales of luxury brands from Jaguar Land Rover remained flat.
Jaguar Land Rover sales were at 21,353 units during December, up just one per cent from the same month in the previous year, Tata Motors said in a statement.
While sales of luxury sedans of Jaguar brand was down by 10 per cent last month at 4,332 units, Land Rover sales was up by 4 per cent at 17,021 units, it added.
Commercial vehicles sales were higher by 29 per cent to 48,168 units from the same month a year ago, it said.
Total passenger vehicle sales stood at 42,126 units in December 2010, up 13 per cent from the corresponding month of the previous year, the company said.
The Tata Motors Group global sales comprises Tata, Tata Daewoo and Hispano Carrocera range of commercial vehicles, Tata passenger vehicles along with the distributed brands in IndiaJaguar and Land Rover.
During the April-December period, total global vehicle sales rose 29 per cent at 7,68,834 units.
While total passenger vehicle sales increased by 30 per cent at 4,06,157 units, commercial vehicle sales jumped 29 per cent at 3,62,677 units in the first nine months of this fiscal. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: The Government is considering reducing the strength of security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir by 25 per cent as a confidence building measure.
Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai also said that India was planning to unilaterally issue six-month multiple entry permits for people of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) wanting to visit Jammu and Kashmir through the Line of Control (LoC).
"As a confidence building measure in Jammu and Kashmir, the strength of the security forces would come down by 25 per cent. We would like to reduce it as soon as possible depending on the ground situation," he said addressing a seminar at Jamia Milia Islamia University here.
Pillai said in Nagaland a few years ago there were two divisions of the Army but now hardly there was any presence of security forces in the state. In the same way there were 60 companies (6,000 personnel) of the paramilitary forces in Nagaland and now there are just two companies there.
"These are things which, if peace comes, if violence is not there, if people are comfortable, we can gradually reduce (the force strength) and make sure that all forces are only at the border and for preventing infiltration," he said.
The Home Secretary said as part of the confidence building measures, India and Pakistan allow people from Jammu and Kashmir and PoK to visit either side with a permit valid for 15 days.
"We suggested that the people visit their relatives more often. So, we have suggested that if you give 15 days permit they have to go through the verification process. So why dont we give a six-month multiple entry permit. Once verification is done, one can be able to visit relatives whenever he or she wants. Now we are planning to unilaterally give six month multiple entry permits for people of PoK," he said.
The Home Secretary said despite hiccups in the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan, New Delhi wants to reach out to people of the neighbouring country through various ways, including cultural exchange programmes.
"Official level composite dialogue has not taken off the way we would have wanted it to take off. But people-to-people talks are on. We are encouraging musical, cultural programmes, and drama festivals between the two countries. We are encouraging Pakistanis to come here on these grounds," he said.
Replying to a question of a Kashmiri student as to why did it took the Centre four months to react to the deaths of students in Jammu Kashmir in last summer, Pillai said, "I agree it should not have taken so long but governance is a huge issue for the Central government.
"Why cant the state government solve some issues on its own. At every stage the Centre is expected to fill in. You have to empower the people. The government has to be decentralised, has to reach out to people," he said.
The Home Secretary said transparency was important and it was extremely important for people to know what was happening, where was the money, what was the money available for various schemes and how it was being spent.
"That is why the setting up of an Information Commission in Jammu and Kashmir as well as strengthening of Human Rights Commission, setting up of a Child Rights Council are issues which are part of confidence building measures. We hope that the state government would take up such things in the coming days," he said.
Pillai said the Central government was taking up the issue of discrimination against the Kashmiris with some of the state governments.
He also said the Centre was also asking corporate India to give jobs to youths of Jammu and Kashmir in different parts of the country.
"We think they can absorb 1,00,000 youths in jobs all over India in the next 12 months," he said. (PTI)
PATNA, Jan 14: The Nitish Kumar Government has made it mandatory for all bureaucrats to submit details of their assets, which would be made public by January 31 on the lines of the ministers.
"For bureaucrats who fail to comply with the directive their salaries will be withheld thereafter," official sources said today.
They would have to file the details in the formats prescribed for the ministers, the sources said adding they would have to furnish moveable, immoveable assets list along with property details of their spouses and children.
The ministers submitted the details of their assets on December 31, 2010 to the chief minister in his bid to bring in transparency in governance and to weed out corruption in public life.
"Now, that a decision has been taken to make the assets of bureaucrats public, Bihar would be the first state to do so and could prompt other states to take a cue from it," ruling JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh said.
In Bihar, the sanctioned strength of IAS officers is about 242, while the number of IPS officers is 231. In the state cadre there are over 2,000 gazetted officers, including those in the state administrative service and state police service. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Regretting that quality education is not accorded the same priority as increasing enrolment rate, Vice President Hamid Ansari today stressed on improving teacher training programme and curricula development to achieve meaningful learning process.
He said that while the imperative for ensuring access to elementary education is well understood and enshrined as a fundamental right, "quality agenda" is still not accorded the same priority.
"Evidence from around the world demonstrates that efforts to expand enrolment must be accompanied by attempts to enhance educational quality if children are to be attracted to school, stay there and achieve meaning learning outcomes," he said.
He suggested that this "challenge can be achieved with a sharp focus on quality improvement on teacher training and curricular material development".
Releasing the Annual State of Education Report compiled by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, Ansari said education governance and management at the grassroot level "should be participatory" and engage with local communities and cultures.
"We have made a positive beginning with RTE which mandates constitution of school management committee comprising parents, elected representatives of local authority, teachers and local educationists tasked with monitoring the school," he said.
The education report has said that in 2010 percentage of children enrolled in schools in the age group of six to 14 in rural areas touched an all time high of 96.5 per cent.
It said 5.9 per cent of girls in the 11-14 age group are still out of schools though this percentage has gone down compared to 6.8 per cent in 2009.
Pratham, which is conducting the education survey since 2006, also underlined the performance of Bihar where the percentage of out of school girls and boys in all age group has been declining steadily.
While in 2006, 12.3 per cent of boys and 17.6 per cent of girls were out of schools in the 11-14 age group, the figure had come down to 4.4 per cent and 4.6 per cent for girls, it revealed.
The survey reached 522 districts covering over 14000 villages, three lakh household and seven lakh students. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: The Delhi High Court today granted bail to former CWG Organising Committee official T S Darbari, who was arrested for his alleged role in the Queens Baton relay scam.
Justice Hima Kohli allowed the bail plea of Darbari, a close aide of CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, saying the CBI has failed to complete its probe and file the chargesheet against him within the stipulated 60 days.
During the hearing, Darbaris counsel contended that his client is eligible to be released on bail as the CBI has failed to complete its probe within the prescribed time limit and his client cannot be kept behind bars indefinitely.
The court is slated to hear later during the day the bail plea of another former CWG OC official M Jayachandran, who too has been arrested for his alleged role in the same case.
Earlier, a Delhi court had rejected the duos bail pleas, saying the corruption in awarding the contracts in the CWG has tarnished the image of the country.
Darbari and Jayachandran were arrested by the CBI on November 15 and 21 last year respectively.
They are facing charges of causing losses to the exchequer in award of contract to the tune of Rs 1.55 crore with regard to QBR on October 29, 2009 in London before the mega event.
The case against them has been registered under different Sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act. (PTI)
MUMBAI, Jan 14: Indians have better financial literacy levels than most others globally and rank second out of 10 leading nations in having a basic financial literacy level, according to a recent survey.
Indians turn out to be the second out of 10 leading nations in the world to have a basic financial literacy level (55 per cent), just behind the Japanese, an ING Consumer Resourcefulness Survey, said.
A majority of Indian consumers have not only shown better skills in managing their household financial budget but are also confident of facing any financial impediments in future as compared to citizens of nine other countries, the survey said.
The survey was carried out among 5,000 consumers across ten major nations, including India, the USA, Mexico, The Netherlands, Romania, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Korea and Japan.
The survey shows that a whopping 84 per cent of Indians prefer buying life insurance products as compared to 54 per cent globally. A similar percentage of Indians believe in maintaining a household budget with a focus on savings.
"The survey shows that Indians are better at managing their finances than most of the other countries in the survey, including being better prepared for their various life stages, especially retirement," ING Life Indias Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Uco Vegter, said.
"However, they do tend to get lost in sourcing good advice to become better at money. We at ING Life India clearly see a lot of opportunities through this survey, as our products are focused at various life-stage needs of our customers and our advisors are trained to help them manage their financial future," Vegter said.
Indians are much "risk averse" in case of borrowing money, the survey said.
"While average Indians manage their finances in a much organised manner, they borrow money in case of needs such as buying a home (50 per cent) and purchase of a car (43 per cent)," the survey said.
87 per cent of Indian households have an emergency fund compared to 33 per cent globally. "Apparently this helps Indians feel less despair than the global average when it comes to negative emotions around debt," it said.
The survey finds a correlation between a persons financial literacy and his or her emotional well-being.
"The more people are financially literate, the more they experience feelings of happiness," the survey said.
Overall, the survey revealed that Asians are by far the most financially literate and also eager to learn more. They actively follow their budgets and develop habits of acquiring knowledge before taking financial decisions, the survey said.
"With this survey, ING wants to reinforce its customer-focused approach by making finance easier to understand and transact," ING Vysya Bank, Head Product & Marketing, Sonalee Panda, said. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Vice-President Hamid Ansari today called for giving equal emphasis to improve quality of education along with efforts for increasing enrollment in schools.
"Quality indeed lies at the heart of the goal of Education for All. What happens in classrooms and other learning environments is vitally important to the future of our citizens, and indeed to the future of our Republic," he said.
The Vice-President was speaking after releasing the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)- 2010 here at a function.
He said ASERs simple, reliable and scientific methods of sampling and assessment on a nation-wide scale were important for highlighting the quality agenda in education.
"Education of acceptable quality must address basic learning needs, enrich the lives of learners and their overall experience of living and well being... Efforts to expand enrollment must be accompanied by attempts to enhance educational quality if children are to be attracted to school, stay there and achieve meaningful learning," said Mr Ansari.
This was, he said, more glaring in the context of the public policy "because we neither have an inbuilt evaluation culture nor adequate trained human resources with both technical knowledge and field experience to check and monitor outcomes."
Public policy could address this challenge with a sharp focus on two issuesquality improvement in teacher training and curricular materials development.
"It is also essential that what students are meant to learn ought to be clearly defined, well-taught and accurately assessed. Ideally, this should not be limited to knowledge alone but also cover skills, attitudes and values," he said.
In this connection, the Vice-President referred to the World Education Forum at Dakar that adopted the Dakar Framework for Action in 2000, which recognised that education was a fundamental right, the key to sustainable development and peace and stability within and among countries, and thus an indispensable means for effective participation in the societies and economies of the twenty-first century, which are affected by rapid globalisation.
He said the international community committed itself at Dakar to achieving free and compulsory universal primary education of good quality by 2015, and eliminating gender disparities in education.
It specifically decided to improve all aspects of the quality of education so that recognised and measurable learning outcomes were achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills, he added.
He also said education governance and management at the grass roots and institutional level should be participatory and engage with local communities and cultures.
Mr Ansari said a positive beginning had been made with the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, which mandates the constitution of school management committees consisting of parents, elected representatives of the local authority, teachers and local educationists, and tasked, inter alia, with monitoring the working of the school and maintenance of prescribed norms and standards.
"I do hope this statutory initiative would be utilised for enabling parents and the local community a greater say in the monitoring of educational outcomes," the Vice-President said.
Civil Society organisations such as ASER and Pratham have an important role in building technical capacity of the members of the school management communities, Mr Ansari said . (UNI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Gearing up to intensify its play in luxury segment, car market leader Maruti Suzuki India will be launching its sedan Kizashi on the second of next month.
The vehicle, to be imported fully from parent Suzukis facility in Japan, will be positioned between likes of Honda Accord and Toyota Camry at the upper end and Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta and Toyota Corolla at lower end. These cars are priced around Rs 12 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.
"This (Kizashi) is our attempt to be future ready, as we believe the A4 and A5 segment (luxury) is going to grow. It is small at the moment but the way the economy is growing, this segment is going to be big," Maruti Suzuki India Managing Executive Officer (Marketing & Sales) Mayank Pareek said PTI.
As per industry estimates, the size of the A4 and A5 segment is over 55,000 units per year.
"In another 5-7 years time, this volume is going to be big and to sustain our leadership position in the market we are looking at this segment seriously," he added.
MSI currently commands nearly 50 per cent of the total Indian car market which was at 1.87 million units in 2010.
Pareek said MSI will consider the option of assembling the Kizashi in India in future if the demand justified but declined to give a time frame.
Kizashi is powered by a 2.4 litre petrol engine and will be available in both manual and automatic transmission options and will be formally launched on February 2.
He said the launch of Kizashi is not only aimed at sales volume but also to understand customer needs for the upper luxury segment so that the company can meet their needs better.
"There are nine million Maruti Suzuki customers at present. Many of them want to move up and have been asking after the SX4, what next? What we are doing here is to provide them options in luxury segment," Pareek said.
MSI has been trying to get into the bigger car segment. While its first attempt with Baleno in the past didnt meet with much success, it has been able to make a mark with the mid-sized sedan SX4 in 2007. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Paramilitary forces are not getting any rest as they are continuously called for deployments across the country and their burden can only lessen after state governments fill their vacant ranks, Union Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai said here today.
Pillai said that even the companies (comprising about 100 personnel) which are earmarked for training have to be deployed for various law and order duties once need arises.
"It is a big problem. Many of our central paramilitary forces are not getting any rest at all... 24X7, 365 days duty...They are not getting any rest.
"Even our training companies are all the time are pulled into active duties because of the requirements from the states," Pillai told reporters on the sidelines of an event.
He was asked if the continuous deployments of these forces is a big problem.
"Our request to the states is that they have huge vacancies of sanctioned strength... We are asking them to fill up these which are running into lakhs and once the sanctioned strength is filled up then we will not need to call central paramilitary forces so often," he said.
Central paramilitaries like CRPF, ITBP, SSB, BSF and CISF regularly deploy their men and women in a company or battalion format to counter various law and order situations, elections, rallies and other big events in various states, besides guarding the countrys borders and undertaking counter-insurgency and anti-Naxal duties.
A battalion has more than 1,000 personnel and is designed on a seven companies pattern out of which one company is earmarked as a training company. The CISF is an exception to this battalion format as it deploys its personnel on the need of strength basis. (PTI)