Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jessica Simpson to judge ‘American Idol’?

LONDON - Jessica Simpson might take over Simon Cowell as a judge on ‘American Idol’, according to reports.Both Justin Timberlake and Sir Elton John have earlier rejected the role in hit TV talent show, reports the Daily Express.Speculation has mounted over who will fill the vacant judging seat following Cowell’s exit from the programme earlier this year (10), with recent reports listing the ‘SexyBack’ hitmaker and the Rocket Man as possible replacements alongside Harry Connick, Jr. and Chris Isaak.Reps for both Timberlake and John moved quickly to shoot down the claims and now Simpson has become the latest celebrity touted for the job.According to TMZ, a source has told that the blonde beauty has had “several meetings” with American Idol bosses and that there’s “mutual interest” from both parties to bring Simpson on board.An official announcement is not expected to be made until September (10). (ANI)

Spice Girls founders on talent hunt for Asian band

NEW DELHI - FarWest Entertainment, founders of British pop girl group Spice Girls, is planning an all-Asian girls band and is on the lookout for a talented candidate in India.FarWest has launched a global initiative ‘Project Lotus’, which is a movement to find, train, groom, form and launch a global and international Pan-Asian girl band aka the Asian Spice Girls.The band will bring together five good-looking, intelligent and talented young Asian women from China, Japan, South Korea and India.“This is really Asia’s time on the world stage and there’s no better way to connect the world than through music and entertainment. We hope we will build a group that will blaze the way for more talented Asian performers in the international entertainment scene,” Jon Niermann, CEO FarWest Entertainment and former president of Walt Disney (Asia), said in a statement.Producer Eliot Kennedy, who has worked extensively with the original girl band, said: “We look at this as an opportunity for these girls to become ambassadors of their countries and showcase their talent to the rest of the world.”A Grammy Award winning songwriter, Kennedy is also known for his works with Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Robbie Williams and Blue.The responsibility of finding the Indian contender has been given to Alchemist, a young talent solutions company.“It would be a challenge and an exciting task to present the best Indian talent to the international jury from which the Indian finalists will be chosen. We are going to audition in four top metros - Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore - and expect our online partners to do so for all those who cannot make it to these cities,” said Manish Porwal, managing director, Alchemist Talent solutions.Five Indian finalists will be chosen, who will be flown to Hong Kong to meet and train with finalists from the other countries. The band will sing only in English.A 14-part series, “Project Lotus” will be aired on Zee CafĂ©.Music composer Shamir Tandon will lead the judge’s panel of the show in India.The English band members were Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm and Victoria Beckham.

CBI summons IPS officer Geeta Johri in Sohrabuddin case

Gandhinagar, July 29 (ANI): The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday summoned Geetha Johri, the first woman IPS officer of Gujarat, in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.Johri, who was the part of Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case, has been asked to appear before the CBI on August 10.The CBI had already questioned Johri twice before.According to television reports, the line of questioning to Johri will be based on the allegations made by Vasant Solanki, the investigating officer of the case.Earlier, the CBI has also summoned former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) P C Pandey and asked him to appear before it on August 11.Pandey was DGP of Gujarat when the state CID was investigating the fake encounter case.This is for the first time Pandey has been called for questioning by the CBI. It had earlier called other IPS officers, including G C Raigar and O P Mathur.Meanwhile, the CBI team is likely to seek permission from its headquarters to question Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the case.The investigating agency may want Modi to answer some questions in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.The CBI wants to know if Modi was aware of the attempts being made by top police officials to scuttle the probe.If Modi is summoned for questioning, it will be for the second time this year. He was earlier questioned by a Special Investigation Team in 2002 Gujarat riots case.Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2005. (ANI)

24-hr Arunachal Bandh paralyses life

The 24-hour Arunachal Pradesh bandh called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union paralysed the normal life in the state today. The AAPSU called a 24-hour Arunachal Bandh on Wednesday in protest against the custodial death of bus conductor Jumchi Nguso and subsequent non-fulfillment of the students’ body’s demand by the Government. The AAPSU president Takam Tatung said that they would not budge until their demands for action against the guilty police official are complied with. The state government has recruitment to Bayi Nguso, wife of the deceased victim Jumchi Nguso in the transport corporation on compassionate ground. The government also sanctioned a sum of Rs five lakh as ex-gratia payment and Rs 50,000 as a No fault liability. The AAPSU also demanded the government to release the stipend of the poor students pending for last five months. The All Arunachal Pradesh State Transport Welfare Association also called a 12-hour Chakka Bandh last week protesting the government inaction in punishing the guilty cops involved in the death of Tachi Nguso, a conductor of the state transport. The conductor died after being hit by a vehicle of the chief minister’s convoy. He was taken to the Naharlagun police station after the mishap where he was allegedly beaten up by IRB men leading to his death. After the incident, a mob went on rampage in Naharlagun police station. Hundreds of people laid siege to Naharlagun police station and shouted anti-police slogans and pelted stones as the Naharlagun police station. Several police vehicles were severely damaged in the attack. The protesters threatened to bury the conductor’s body inside the police station. Later, the police sought the help of CRPF which resorted to blank firing and burst tear gas shell to disperse the mob. Several students’ organizations demanded immediate suspension of Naharlagun SDPO BS Mehera and Naharlagun Police station officer-in-charge LR Rana for the incident. They also demanded ex-gratia for the victims’ family.

Tight security around Manipur assembly

The security measure put in place in and around the Assembly in view of the ongoing Assembly Session has caused much inconvenience to the people. We have a report on this. The Monsoon Session of the Manipur assembly in underway under tight security arrangement and in view of the session, various security measures have been taken up. The Assembly building is situated adjacent to the BT Road, Rupmahal Tank and parts of Thangal Bazar. The heavy deployment of security forces has caused inconveniences to the business community operating nearby the area. They are incurring heavy losses because of the restrictions put in place. The restriction also comes as a big hindrance to the medical sector of the state as 30% of the state’s medical whole sellers and stockists are located at the vicinity of the Assembly Building. It is estimated that an approximate Rs. 8 to 10 lacs are lost per day due to the restrictions. The All Manipur Chemist and Druggist Association, which is seeking some relaxation of the restrictions particularly for the commuters has also revealed that the matter has earlier been informed to the authorities including the chief minister but no positive step has been taken so far. Due to this, the Association has decided to take the matter to the court if the state government does not take any step in the near future. Besides, there are also a number of other Business establishments in the area that are incurring heavy losses as all the customers are barred from entering the vicinity of the Assembly Building. The Manipur assembly session started on July 7.

Nagaland Forest department refutes Customs claim

The Forest Department of Nagaland has refuted claims of the Customs officials of Guwahati that the timber seized at New Guwahati rail station on July 8 is illegal and is of foreign origin. The department clarified that the timber is of legal origin duly approved by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. The timber had been detained by the custom’s department on the apprehension that they are mixed with contraband goods. Customs officials in Guwahati seized a huge consignment of timber, allegedly illegal, shipped from Dimapur Railway station on July 8. The timber of mix species including moulded timber was destined for Nangloi in Delhi. The forest department of Nagaland however, stated that the timber is fully legal. Dimapur Divisional Forest Officer, Kocha Meyase, while talking to NETV said that the department has provided all the supporting papers to proof the legality of the seized timber and not as alleged. Queried on its origin, the DFO said that it was all sourced from inside the state, within the limit of stipulated norms. The DFO said the Customs people have no written authority, whatsoever, to conduct such an investigation. All the seized timber, the DFO said were sourced from identified forest ‘working schemes’ in the state approved under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and within the purview of the Nagaland Tree Felling Regulation, 2002. The department pointed out that a letter was written to the Railway and Custom authorities in Guwahati by the special investigation team to allow the wagons loaded with timber to proceed to its destination Delhi. However, despite the SIT’s guidelines, the wagons were unsealed by the custom officials. High Powered committee constituted by the ministry of Environment and Forests under directive from the Supreme Court is the sole authority which regulates the export of timber from within the state. Therefore, the DFO alleged that by breaking open the sealed wagons of the train midway have breached that standing order. The seizure was made on July 8 first and the department was informed of the same by the customs department, following which, the department sent a forest official with valid documents to Guwahati for verification. Despite producing the documents, the customs went ahead and unsealed one wagon. According to the forest department, the wagons which moved from Dimapur on July 7, contains 14 wagons of local Teak worth Rs. 29, 48,400, 7 wagons of moulded timber worth Rs. 1, 12, 00,000, 21 wagons of hardwood worth Rs. 2, 94, 84,000.

NCC takes up noble job; NCC to clean up Shillong River

The National Cadet Corps has proposed to clean the Wah Umkhrah River in Shillong and has approached the state government for financial aid. The NCC will also conduct a mass awareness rally in Shillong to support its cause and clean up the river basin. The National Cadet Corps is going to start an ambitious environment protection programme — Project Pynkhuid Wahumkhrah — as a pilot project to address the massive pollution of the river flowing through Shillong. The project will be carried in a phased manner at a cost of Rs 7 lakh. If there is any additional expenditure, the State Government will bear the amount. However, Colonel in-charge Group Commander Jose Purakel said that the NCC headquarters at the initial stage was starting awareness programme among the general public as well as among the officials of various government organizations in the State about the proposed green project. Wah Umkhrah in Shillong is being polluted day by day as people dump garbage into the river. More dangerous is the dumping of medical waste mainly by Shillong Civil Hospital. This river is connected to the Umiam reservoir. If the pollution of this river is not stopped, in the days ahead it would be more hazardous. The River which originates at Demthring is 5-km long and is of immense significance to Shillong. But the infusion of effluents and other polluting substances into the Wah Umkhrah river is a major cause of concern, as this water source feeds the reservoir at Umiam. As the river flows through the Shillong town, nearly 80 percent of the city’s waste, garbage and effluents are being discharged into the river every day. The Umiam, Wah Umkhrah and Umshyrpi rivers have been recognised as highly polluted. Though the state government had initiated various campaigns for a clean Shillong involving students, no major work was undertaken. The state is facing a serious problem of surface and ground water pollution because of indiscriminate discharge of untreated waste. Known as the Scotland of the East, Shillong has lost its pristine charm.

AGP-BJP honeymoon over?

Though none of the parties have admitted it, but the rift between the AGP and BJP is wide open now. A decision snapping the ties with the saffron party may come very soon from the AGP camp. In the recently-held Chintan Baithak of the BJP, the party decided to continue its alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad till the 2011 assembly polls. The BJP leadership in both central and state level is in a mood to continue the alliance with the AGP. However, the alliance between the two parties is in jeopardy especially after the Lok Sabha elections. BJP national President Nitin Gadkari’s comment on the poll pact during his maiden visit to Assam too added fuel to already bitter relation between the two. Now, the BJP leader P. Chandrasekhar’s comment on AGP over the matter of infiltration problem has finally sealed the fate of the tie. BJP leader P. Chandrasekhar recently criticized the AGP for its inaction over infiltration problem during its regime. On the other hand, Varun Gandhi’s appointment as the election in-charge of Assam has also made AGP to rethink over its tie. Moreover, Varun Gandhi’s reputation as a hardcore Hindutva leader and his appointment as Assam in-charge have sent a clear signal that the party will heavily bank on Hindu votes in the next assembly election. Following these developments, the AGP is most likely to severe its tie with the saffron party very soon and a decision in this regard could be expected in the General Council meeting of the party scheduled for next month. The general Council meeting of the AGP is likely to be held in August where the steering committee’s decision on poll alliance is likely to be finalized and a new political equation will start in the state.

ED to grill Niranjan, Juel, 11 others

In a significant development, the enforcement directorate rolls up its sleeves to grill altogether 13 persons accused in the multi crore scam in Dima Hasao district of Assam. A special court in Guwahati on Wednesday has allowed enforcement directorate to quiz these persons inside the Guwahati central jail. The National Investigation Agency probing the terror funding case in Dima Hasao district has unearthed many startling revelations. NIA has already grilled DHD(J) commander in chief Nianjan Hojai after he was captured in Kathmandu. Of late, the things are set to take a new turn. In a significant development, the enforcement directorate has received permission to grill altogether 13 persons accused in the multi core Dima Hasao scam. They include suspended social welfare officer R H Khan, DHD(J) chief Juel Garlosa, his military chief Niranjan Hojai. The enforcement directorate was accorded permission to proceed by a special court in Guwahati when it was hearing a petition filed in December, 2009. Special judge Adhir Kumar Das on Wednesday allowed enforcement directorate to grill these persons inside the Guwahati Central Jail. The enforcement directorate is also probing the recent hawala scam. The involvement of enforcement directorate in the probe into the multi crore scam will indeed help the authorities unearth more clues.

152 killed in Pak plane crash

A plane carrying 152 people crashed near Islamabad on Wednesday, killing everyone on board. The plane operated by private carrier Airblue slammed into the Margalla Hills near the Pakistan capital Islamabad. The plane was traveling from Karachi to Islamabad, and was preparing to land in cloudy and rainy conditions when it crashed. The exact cause of the crash is unknown at this time. A passenger jet crashed into the hills surrounding Pakistan's capital amid poor weather Wednesday, killing all 152 people on board and blazing a path of devastation strewn with body parts and twisted metal wreckage. 146 passengers were on the flight along with six crew members. Local TV footage showed twisted metal wreckage hanging from trees and scattered across the ground on a bed of broken branches. Fire was visible and smoke rose from the scene as a helicopter hovered above. The army said it was sending special troops to aid the search. The search effort was hampered by muddy conditions and smoldering wreckage that authorities were having trouble extinguishing by helicopter. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said the government does not suspect terrorism. The plane left the southern city of Karachi at 7:45 a.m. for a two-hour scheduled flight to Islamabad and was trying to land during cloudy and rainy weather. Airblue is a private service based in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and Wednesday's flight was believed to be carrying mostly Pakistanis. Rescue workers scouring the heavily forested hills recovered 50 bodies from the wreckage. The plane was about to land at the Islamabad airport when it lost contact with the control tower. The crash site covered a large area on both sides of the hills, including a section behind Faisal Mosque, one of Islamabad's most prominent landmarks, and not far from the Daman-e-Koh resort. At the Islamabad airport, hundreds of friends and relatives of those on board the flight swarmed ticket counters desperately seeking information. A large cluster of people also surrounded a passenger list posted near the Airblue ticket counter. The Airblue has announced an investigation into the cause of the crash. The plane had no known technical issues, and the pilots did not send any emergency signals. Officials at first thought it was a small plane, but later revised that. The Pakistan Airline Pilot Association said the plane appeared to have strayed off course, possibly because of the poor weather. A spokesman for the airline said an investigation would be launched into the cause of the crash. He said the plane had no known technical issues, and the pilots did not send any emergency signals. The last major plane crash in Pakistan was in July 2006 when a Fokker F-27 twin-engine aircraft operated by Pakistan International Airlines slammed into a wheat field on the outskirts of the central Pakistani city of Multan, killing all 45 people on board. Airblue flies within Pakistan as well as internationally to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, India has expressed grief over the death of the 152 people in the plane crash.

New Delhi, July 28, 2010

A woman from Manipur, nursing two-months-old baby was beaten and outraged her modesty by two men at Sikanderpur, Gurgaon last night. Two men who came to visit Mercy were also merciless beaten. People from North East India are severely facing racial attack and discrimination in Delhi and NCR continuously without any measurement taken by the government and police forces.A source reaching to North East Support Centre & Helpline says that Marcy (name changed) age 28-years-old is wife of an Indian army from Manipur posted at Lucknow, is nursing a two-months-old baby, residing at Sikanderpur, Gurgaon, Haryana. Incident happened when her a lady friend visited at around 9 PM along three boys from her village in Manipur who were leaving next day for study at Bangalore. After half and hour, Mercy’s friends left the house and a man age of 30, from same locality, name not known, started beating them. When Mercy heard the sound of beating, went out to stopped the man beating her friends. The assaulted and abused her to outrage her modesty with vulgar remarks in Hindi (gandagi aurat and bazaar aurat).Neighbors came forward and sided with local man and abused her and her friends. Another man, name not known came and joined the local and started slapping Mercy repeated six times. Mercy and other north east boys and girls who are living in the same building and localities were threatened and warned not to report to police, otherwise face consequences.Mercy reports to North East Support Centre & Helpline, “Whole night I was so afraid with my little baby locked up the house and stayed in side till I could get friends from Manipur to come and help. I informed to my house owner and he did not come to help me also.”North East Support Centre & Helpline have reported the matter to Mr. Anil Dawal – Deputy Commission Police Crime Branch and he assured to take up the matter. Meanwhile North East Support Centre & Helpline has appealed the North East Welfare Association, Gurgaon to help the Mercy and her friends to file a complaint in police station.North East Support Centre & Helpline is submitting a memorandum to Chief Minister of Haryana and Director General Police to take up the preventive measurement to stop the racial attack and discrimination meted out to the people from North East India, particularly in Sikanderpur village, Gurgaon.source - north east suppport centre and helpline

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No compromise on sovereignty: NSCN-K

Guwahati, July 26: The NSCN (K) said New Delhi should not blunder by viewing the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) as a “weak force”.“The ULFA with cadre strength of 7000 is still a force to reckon with,” senior NSCN (K) leader Kughalu Mulatanu said while talking to some media. His assertion came amidst Centre’s bid to resume peace talks with the jailed leaders of ULFA.Mulatanu said peace talks without the participation of ULFA military chief Paresh Barua would be a “non-issue”. “It would have been good for India if it had initiated talks with the B Company of ULFA’s 28th battalion,” Mulatanu said. The B Company of the 28th battalion has been the most potent force of the ULFA over the years.“With resources to generate from like tea estates, industries, oil etc, the ULFA can’t be a weak force,” he said.Meanwhile, Kughalu Mulatonu said the NSCN-K would not compromise on anything short of sovereignty.Kughalu Mulatonu is the ‘emissary’ to the ‘collective leadership’ of the NSCN-K.“India has a 4500 years history of civilization to solve the problem. If India fails, people won’t appreciate its democracy and civilization,” Mulatonu said. He asserted that the NSCN (K) would sit for peace parleys with the Centre only after the “Muivah problem is solved”.On Chinese linkages, Mulatonu said “Chinese people” often come and visit NSCN (K) camps in Myanmar to hold meetings with their leaders.“They (Chinese people) openly come to India via Delhi carrying passport and meet Mr. Khaplang,” Mulatanu said.“In fact, the Government of India gets to know of such meetings well before the Chinese arrive in India,” he said. The last of such meetings took place in 2009, Mulatanu said but refused to divulge further details.Security agencies say China is mainly responsible for the proliferation of small arms in the Northeast. But when asked they expressed their ignorance of such meetings.

Gangtok to have a ‘Fashion Street’

A half a kilometer stretch will be developed into a state-of-the-art ‘Fashion Street’ in Sikkim on the NH-31A here at a cost of nearly 17 crore. The Urban Development and Housing Department (UDHD) will transform the stretch between Sisha-Golai, Pani House and the tri-junction towards Nam-Nang into a combination of branded showrooms, extravagant restaurants, beauty parlours, saloons and high-end shops, Additional Chief Engineer, UDHD, C Zangpo informed. “We plan to develop the area as a congregation point for all to meet, shop, relax and enjoy,” he said. The department has started consultancy for developing the stretch of NH-31A as a trendy shopping destination for visitors to Gangtok, which would also decongest the MG Mall, he said.

Manipur Naga Hills demand for alternative arrangement

Responding to the Naga People’s Declaration held at Senapati on July 1, 2010 to sever ties with the Government of Manipur and sought for alternate arrangement to fill the vacuum/gap created in the recent times. The Naga people living in the hill districts of Manipur are suffering for so long under the majority ruled Government of Manipur where their voices are least represented and their rights least bothered by the government. As world pursue sustainability in all forms, alternative is a way out to find the amicable solution.Alternative arrangement that allows the stakeholders to have the sovereign right over their resources and land, the course of actions and processes that will shape and decide their future become mandatory to meet various needs and aspirations of the struggling people. Naga people having experienced the worst situations of the past and recent from the Government of Manipur, felt the need for alternative arrangement/governance system/government for Naga Hills districts of Manipur (Chandel, Tamenglong, Senapati and Ukhrul) with immediate effect to protect their rights viz. traditional, customary, historical and political as a people until the Indo-Naga peace process come to its logical and honorable settlement. Having fully supporting the ongoing Indo-Naga peace process between the Government of India and NSCN (IM), the Naga demand alternative arrangement for Naga Hill districts with immediate effect is paramount.The recent Mao-Gate tragedy speaks volume how the peaceful environment of the peace loving Nagas are met with the brute force killing two students by the State Security Forces of Manipur injuring more than hundreds amounting to human rights violation threatening the Naga civilians. The oppressive and suppressive nature of majority ruled Manipur Government poses a great threat to the Naga people; therefore, alternative arrangement for governance and administration of the Naga Hills District is of paramount.Having taken to consideration, the government of Manipur where the dominant valley based Meiteis community has got 40(forty) solid seats out of 60 Seats in Assembly Floor will never allow the people living in Naga Hills district their due rights in every front as any bills, amendments, legislation, policy passed in the floor needs vote of majority. Therefore, it is time now for the people of Naga Hills districts to manage and govern their own affairs as best suited to them. When the final political settlement of Indo-Naga peace process has arrived, the Naga Hills districts will come under the settled arrangement.The executive, legislative, judiciary and financial matters should be managed by the alternative government as the corruption culture and step motherly treatment meted out by the Manipur Government speak volume of how much the Naga Hills people have suffered from the Manipur Government for past many years. Alternative arrangement for governance of the Hills Districts can be formulated through democratic processes. Henceforth all the development funds, administration, legislation, executive and judiciary shall be handled b. The modalities of the alternative Government should be worked out in consultation with the Naga people and the subject matter experts. This is to avoid the further conflict and confrontation between the Meiteis and Naga people and to protect, preserve the rights of the Nagas. It should be an arrangement before the final negotiated solution is arrived between the Government of India and NSCN (IM).This alternative arrangement should create conducive environment for the peace-process to a higher and better level of negotiation. The alternate arrangement is possible. At times when another ethnic war-like situation was avoided, all peace loving people, government, and civil society should seize the moment to make the alternative possibilities possible. By this, the writer means to say that the parallel outworking is a must to bring the longest conflict in South Asia to a logical conclusion. Searching alternatives to be part of the solution is a must. This doesn’t mean the piecemeal solution of any sort, but this means that creating of situations, which will enhance and optimize peace processes to bring an honorable and acceptable settlement to both the parties at the earliest. Thinking out of box now, if, the Naga people were allowed to manage their own affairs, to self govern, to form a separate government; the grass root village republic governance system based on historical practices will be a beauty of its kind for the world to re-learn again. The world now is pursuing passionately for the empowerment of communities with the minimum intervention of structural institutions. Each Naga village can be turned to a small industry/factory of one kind or the other once they are allowed to self govern. Each individual family has got paddy field and land, each village has got forest land other natural resources, one village can be a centre of pottery items, one can be of cane and bamboo industry, one can be traditional shawls, one can be horticultural products like mangoes, oranges, lemon, passion fruits etc. etc.The Naga people by now have understand the term or word development, it is not a controversial contract works given to any person and the government always find excuses for percentage cut or whatsoever, the development as the younger generation understand is as pointed out by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation(1975), which they called five principles of “Another Development’. Firstly need oriented- being geared to meeting human needs, both material and non-material; secondly endogenous-stemming from the heart of each society, which defines in sovereignty its values and the vision of the future; thirdly self-reliant: implying that each society relies primarily on its own strength and resources in terms of its members’ energies and its natural and cultural environment; fourthly ecologically sound-utilising rationally the resources of the biosphere in full awareness of the potential of local ecosystems as well as the global and local outer limits impose on present and future generations; fifthly based on structural transformation- so as to realize the conditions required for self-management and participation in decision making by all those affected by it, from the rural or urban community to the world as a whole, without which the goals above could not be achieved.Meanwhile, the parallel outworking of the Reconciliation for Common Hope should gain more ground as it did in the recent Chiangmai Meet. Now, is the time for all the factions to form a united government to forge into a coherent and unified force with one voice to bring home the common hope that each Naga people is longing for ages.All Naga should not retreat from their knees, all Churches should be sincere, forgiving, and the leaders all the more should be more humbled not in words alone but in their inner sense. As the saying goes, ‘humility makes the great greater’. So much so the humble leaders will make a Nation greater. Let this journey of common hope and reconciliation be a journey of each soul to truly know who they are and bring to a sense that without body, mind and soul integrated together as one an individual is an incomplete being. So much so, without each Individual, each Naga family, each Naga tribe, each Naga political party(ies), a Naga Nation is incomplete. Can we now, hope that with these cohesive forces coming together is bringing a Naga Nation nearer?Creative common approach basing on the historical and political rights of both with best workable relational ties between the two entities will benefit both in long term. Perhaps, this will enhance and capacitate the internal and external security of both the entities. Acknowledging, the nick of the time, both should better understand each other by now, whereby, mutually acceptable and honorable solution need be worked out. Therefore, the Indo-Naga peace talks by now should find a final political solution. This will only pave way for peace, prosperity and progress for both.

Peace appeal by Mizoram CM

On the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the signing of the historic Mizo Accord, Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, has appealed to the people to preserve and maintain the hard-earned peace. In a message, he said the government has been doing its best to give security to the people and it is the duty of everyone to deliver justice and goodwill in order to preserve tranquility.He said that the State Government’s flagship programme, New Land Use Policy (NLUP), being implemented would uplift the poor and give them a fair deal in the society. He also said other infrastructure development projects including construction of hydro-electric projects were being taken up.Meanwhile, former chief minister and president of the Mizo National Front (MNF) Zoramthanga said his party, which launched armed insurrection against Indian Union for 20 years, has abandoned violent movement after the accord was signed with Centre two decades back.“We are now fighting for economic independence from New Delhi and that also by peaceful means,” Zoramthanga, the former underground leader said, adding Mizoram can become the most prosperous State in the country. (PTI)

Militant groups in north-east get together

Guwahati, July 26 (ANI): Militant groups in northeast India are making attempts to coordinate their efforts, according to reports.Intelligence reports have revealed that major militant groups of Manipur have come to the rescue of the decimated militant organizations of the region in general and Assam, in particular.The recent IED blast in Guwahati by NDFB has revealed its links with People's Liberation Army of Manipur.On July 16, a railway bridge was damaged in a powerful blast in Udalguri and an IED was planted at Fancy Bazar area in Guwahati exploded while being defused.On July 7, an explosion on a railway track, derailed several coaches of the Kolkata-bound Garibrath Express in Kokrajhar .Following these incidents, a joint team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police arrested three cadres of the Manipur's Peoples Liberation Army. They revealed that they had triggered blasts at the behest of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) anti-talk faction."The extremist groups want to establish some bases here because this is the gateway to the Northeast. They want to set up their bases here but they are not successful," said P.C Saloi, Senior Superintendent of Police, is feeling of fear among residents despite security arrangements."Security has been provided but fear continues to exist among the people. This place (Fancy Bazar) was always crowded, but after the incident the people are afraid of coming here," said Bharat Mishra, local shopkeeper .The anti-talk faction of NDFB is also responsible for several crimes, including the serial blasts in Assam on Oct 30, 2008.The outfit maintains close links with banned outfits in the region including United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) and People's Liberation Army (PLA). ormed in Oct. 3, 1986, the NDFB is fighting for 'sovereign Bodoland' in the western areas of Assam.In May 2005, the NDFB declared a ceasefire agreement with the government, but the anti-talk faction headed by Ranjan Daimery refused to read the writing on the wall."Ranjan Daimary has been captured and the whole organisation is in disarray. So, they have to now prove by some actions that they are still there. That's all that I read into it. It's a group, which is on the wane, and I am quite sure, if handled properly, they would come to the negotiating table and will surrender," said General V. K. Singh, Chief of the Army Staff.The intelligence agencies and security forces are on high alert and making efforts to ensure that peace and normalcy returns to the region at the earliest. (ANI)

Delhi constable assaulted in high-security area

New Delhi: Snatching and robbery cases are on a rise in the national capital these days. But on Sunday, it was the turn of the cops to taste the bitter pill.Constable Shree Om, attached to the Tughlak Road police station in New Delhi, was on patrol when he saw a white Santro car parked by the side of the road near Max Mueller Marg in suspicious conditions. He went up to the car to ask why the driver had parked the vehicle there. But, the four occupants of the car threatened him and one of them took out an Italian pistol. They even tried to pull the constable inside the car.Constable Shree Om resisted their attempts and raised an alarm. The assailants fled the scene. The cop chased them on his motorcycle. They had to stop at a nearby traffic picket where they were nabbed."Sabir, Akbar Khan and Aftab were arrested and an Italian pistol with six live cartridges was recovered from their possession. The car in which they were travelling bore a false number plate and was stolen from the Capital. The accused have criminal antecedents. Akbar Khan was earlier arrested by Special Cell of the Delhi Police whereas Sabir was arrested by Connaught Place police in connection with robbery cases," a police officer said.

Not a single food grain should be wasted: Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has observed that not a single food grain should be wasted. In a strongly-worded ruling, the apex court has told the government that foodgrains are rotting and if you can't do anything about it then distribute it among the poor.The court has also sought government's response on this.Meanwhile, as the government faces flak over letting close to 30 lakh tonnes of foodgrain rot across the country, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food has reportedly decided to sell an additional 30 lakh tonnes of rice and wheat to 11.5 crore Above-Poverty-Line (APL) families through ration shops.The decision will also help clear stocks from overflowing granaries.PTI adds: The EGoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, cleared the proposal.APL families get 10-35 kg of wheat and rice per month at Rs 6.10 and Rs 8.30 per kg, respectively.At present, the government godowns are overflowing with food grains amounting to 60 million tonnes.To augment the storage space for foodgrains, EGoM is believed to have decided to extend the guarantee period to private parties for hiring godowns to 10 years from present seven years, sources said.The Food Corporation of India is planning to add 130 lakh tonnes of storage capacity by offering a guarantee to private parties that it would hire godowns for seven years.The EGoM did not take any decision on increasing the issue price of sugar through ration shops, sources added.

Assam rebel ambush kills 4 SSB jawans

Four jawans of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) were killed and two injured in an ambush by a suspected tribal militant group on Monday afternoon. The incident at Amlaiguri village in northern Assam's Chirang district is the first major strike on security forces in the past couple of years. Chirang police said the militants – suspected to belong to the anti-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDBF) – remote-controlled an improvised explosive device on a vehicle carrying the SSB personnel before opening fire. The SSB men were on routine patrolling in the Bodo-tribal dominated area. The deceased SSB men were identified as Pratap Singh, Amit Tiwari, Helsu Serfa and Kishore Kunal. Two other jawans were injured critically in the attack while another went missing after the ambush. Police said security was intensified soon after the incident was reported. A joint team of police, CRPF and Army later cordoned off two villages in the greater Amlaiguri area. District police officials had reasons to believe the banned anti-talks faction of NDFB – it has some 500 rebels – was behind the incident. The outfit's chairman Ranjan Daimary is behind bars, but his followers vowed to continue the fight for a sovereign nation for the Bodo tribal people. The SSB, a border guarding force under Ministry of Home Affairs, was deployed to guard the Indo-Bhutan border from January 2004. Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Chirang and Baksa districts – they fall in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) – share border with Bhutan. The decision to deploy SSB along 267 km Indo-Bhutan border in Assam was taken after the Royal Bhutan Army's crackdown on the ULFA, NDFB and Kamtapur Liberation Organization in December 2003. These outfits had at least 30 camps in southern Bhutan before the ejection. SSB's main job was to check the movement of militants to and from Bhutan. Earlier this month, the anti-talks faction of NDFB had blown up a railway track at Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district. A six-year-old boy was killed and 12 others in that incident. There are intelligence inputs that the anti-talks faction of NDFB would carry out attack on security forces, trigger blasts at public place and railway tracks besides targeting top officials. A thick belt along the Indo-Bhutan in Assam is regarded as stronghold of this faction. The outfit has also been on a massive extortion drive in the four BTC districts as well as Sonitpur district in north-central Assam.

Naga rebel leader admits China links

Although Beijing’s support for rebels in India’s northeast has often been suspected, a top Naga rebel leader has finally come out to confirm the Chinese connection. Kughalu Mulatonu, a leader of the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, said the Chinese found their way to rebel camps in Eastern Nagaland via New Delhi.The Nagas refer to Sagaing division of Myanmar as Eastern Nagaland.The revelation comes barely two months after the arrest of a Chinese spy, Guang Liang, near Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh. The man claimed he was from Henan province of central China.This division adjoining Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland is dominated by at least six Naga tribes and is easier to access from India.Mulatonu said from a rebel camp near Dimapur in Nagaland: “Yes, they (the Chinese) openly and legally come to India via Delhi and meet us.”The Khaplang faction, led by S.S. Khaplang, a Myanmar-based Hemi Naga, lords over most of the 30 north-east rebel camps in Sagaing division.“The government of India gets to know of such meetings well before they are held. The last of such meetings was in 2009,” Mulatonu said. He, however, declined to divulge what usually gets discussed at these meetings.Security agencies, however, are certain why the Chinese often get in touch with NSCN-K leaders, its rival Isaak-Muivah faction and other northeast rebel groups camped in Sagaing Division.“In all probability, the Chinese people visit the rebel camps to strike deals for small arms,” a Nagaland-based intelligence officer said on condition of anonymity.

Three quakes hit Meghalaya, Assam

Three earthquakes shook parts of Meghalaya and Assam within eight hours on Tuesday, triggering panic among residents. No casualties were reported. The first tremor measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale with its epicentre at Barpeta region in Assam was felt at 12.43 am in Meghalaya and Assam, an official at the Central Seismological Centre in Shillong told IANS.Another light intensity tremor measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale hit Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya, at 7.52 am, while the third tremor with 2.4 magnitude on the Richter scale hit Shillong again at 8.16 am, the official said.The epicentres of both the earthquakes were located 22 km away from the Central Seismological Centre at Upper Shillong.Seven northeastern states are considered by seismologists to be the sixth most earthquake-prone belt in the world.

North-East shaken by moderate earthquakes

Three mild earthquakes shook various places in the North eastern region within eight hours since midnight, officials said in Shillong on Tuesday. A moderate intensity earthquake, measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale, was felt in Assam, Meghalaya and neighbouring states at 12.43 am. Its epicentre was located at Barpeta in Assam by Central Seismological Observatory.A light intensity earthquake measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale shook Meghalaya and parts of Assam at 7.52 am followed by another quake, measuring 2.4 in the scale, at 8:16 am.Epicentre of both the quakes were located in Shillong.There was no report of damage or casualty. People rushed out of their homes when they felt the second quake this morning that lasted for over 15 seconds.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Protest against bomb threat staged at Sagolband

Imphal July 25: With no heed to the people hue and cry against bomb threats for extortion, a hand grenade was deposited today at Modern Auto and Steel Industries at Sagolband Tera Akham Leikai under Lamphel police station in Imphal west district.Denouncing the bomb threat, residents of the area, mostly womenfolk carried out by sit-in protest at the locality.The hand grenade was deposited at the Modern Auto and Steel Industries at Sagolband Tera Akham Leikai in the early morning today. A team of Imphal West Police Commandos later defused the China make hand grenade with no explosive material in it and taken into their custody.Decrying the act of threatening to the people with bomb, around 100 residents of the locality, mostly womenfolk, staged a sit-in protest starting from 10 am till 4 pm. They demanded not to cause panic to the people with bomb.Protestors related the deposition of the bomb to the industry unit with a woman who came and asked the price iron almirahs produced there on July 23 last.The woman later taken away a contact number saying that any of the products display there is of her choice and she wanted to come again when new designs are ready and before leaving she handed over a demand letter of the KCP (MC) – Lanheiba group to the men at the industry.They group is demanding Rs 30 lakh from the proprietor of the industry, Laiphrakpam Babuchand of Sagolband Tera Akham Leikai. The letter while demanding to pay the amount by 10 am of July 24 also threatened to close the industry in case the proprietor failed to meet the same. After then, the bomb was deposited at the industry, they added.

‘Dry’ Mizoram to produce wine after 13 years

AIZAWL – After 13 years of prohibition, grape cultivators in Mizoram are expected to produce quality wine by September this year.To pave the way for the manufacture of wine, the stringent dry law in force since February 20, 1997 was relaxed by an amendment made in the Prohibition Act, April 2007, allowing upto 16 per cent of alcohol in it.Managing Director of the Grape Growers Society Vanlalruata Chenkual said that wine-making would be monitored by experts from wine major Shaw Wallace.The wine to be manufactured in the two wineries at Hnahlan and Champhai, he said, would contain 14 per cent of alcohol volume by volume.The wine to be made from Lubrusca variety of grape also known as Bangalore Blue would have a brand name of ‘Zawlaidi’ meaning love potion in the Mizo language.He said that the fermentation of the grapes in the two wineries would begin on July 16 and Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) imported from Uttar Pradesh would be used to neutralise the sour taste of the grapes.“We expect that we will be able to produce at least one lakh 750 ml bottles of premium grape wine this year, he said, adding that they would only be sold in Mizoram.In Hnahlan village 80 per cent of the total population of 670 families were engaged in producing grapes and 325 in Champhai area.“To make the wine competitive and conform to international standards, experts from Shaw Wallace would train and guide the local wine makers,” Samuel Rosanglura, the State Horticulture director said.The price of a bottle of ‘Zawlaidi’ was yet to be determined as it was still not yet decided how much the State Excise and Narcotics department would levy excise duty, he said.“We are appealing to the State Government to give exemption on excise duty as the wine is to be made from horticulture produce,” he said.He said that it would be a good incentive for the grape growers if the government arranged a tax holiday for a few years at least. – PTI

Manipur for special court on economic blockades

Manipur legislators have unanimously resolved to form a House Committee to set up a special court that deals exclusively with bandhs and economic blockades. The House Committee includes Th Debendra, minister of law and legislative affairs, Radhabinod Koijam, Opposition leader and state NCP president, O Joy of Manipur Peoples' Party, RK Anand, L Nandakumar, Kh Loken and Kh Ratankumar.Alarmed by the trend of numerous civil organisations resorting to economic blockades and bandhs as weapons in Manipur, the State Assembly on Saturday found it necessary to formulate legislation in consultation with legal experts. A report in this regard will be submitted within two months.Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh had on July 8 disclosed in the Assembly that Manipur state experienced at least 524 bandhs and 104 economic blockades in the last 15 years (1995-2010). Ibobi also revealed that Manipur loses Rs 5-6 crore per day due to bandhs and Rs 2-3 crore per day due to national highways blockade.Manipur is yet to shrug off the hangover induced by the 69-day blockade of national highways 39 and 53 that the All Naga Students' Association Manipur had imposed from April 11.Most of the filling stations or fuel depots are yet to function normally. Whenever some of them open, one has to queue up for several hours to get rationed petrol and diesel.On the brighter side, the rate of fuel in the black market has dropped by 60-70 per cent from a high of Rs 200 per litre of petrol and Rs 150 per litre of diesel.

Frequent flight cancellations trouble Mizoram

Frequent cancellation of flights is leaving many air travelers in Mizoram grounded. More than the inclement weather, the absence of instrument landing system (ILS) in the state's lone airport is the problem. The ILS was installed a couple of years ago, but the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has not yet approved its commissioning. Reason: Lengpui, Mizoram's lone airport, is yet to meet some civil aviation technical rules. At least 25 flights in and out of Lengpui – this table-top airport is 40 km from State capital Aizawl – were cancelled in May and June this year. Besides, many flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati were delayed for a total of 150 hours. Air travel is the only 'fast' option for Mizos to visit other parts of the country. The alternative is an uncertain, circuitous road trip on National Highway 54. The highway connects Guwahati – it is Northeast India's communication hub – through southern Assam and Meghalaya. This highway is prone to landslides during the monsoon months. According to Lengpui Airport officials, the problem for air travelers has been compounded by the DGCA's inaction. The airport handles four flights every day besides a need-based small aircraft operated by a regional service provider. "The ILS will ensure landing even when the visibility is 1,500 metres. Consequently, no flight will be cancelled," said an official on condition of anonymity. "The visibility at Lengpui never goes down below 2,500 metres, however bad the weather," he added. As of now, an Airbus can land with visibility of 5,000 metres while the smaller ATR-42 needs 3,500 metres. Lengpui Airport is included among the 11 critical airports in India due to the geographical location. To ensure flights take off and land here even in bad weather, the airport authorities spent Rs 1.68 crore to install the ILS. To meet the technical rules as specified by DGCA, the top of the hills around the airport may have to be shaved off. This, airport officials say, is next to impossible. The airport's runway was renovated a few weeks ago for Rs. 14.9 crore. Plans are also afoot to upgrade the runway for which Rs 55 crores has been sought from the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region.

100-day countdown to Sharmila 'fasting decade' begins

Exactly 100 days from completing 10 years of fasting, Irom Sharmila Chanu has renewed her demand for the repeal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958. Sharmila, 40, is the face of anti-AFSPA protest in the Northeast. She began her hunger strike on 2 November 2000 after Assam Rifles personnel gunned down 10 civilians in an "encounter" at Malom on the outskirts of Manipur capital Imphal. "I will fast for another 10 years if this draconian Act is not lifted from Manipur," said Sharmila after the Imphal-based Just Peace Foundation kicked off its "100-day countdown" campaign on Sunday. Sharmila is set to complete her 10 years of fast-unto-death agitation on November 1. Ever since she began her fast, Sharmila has been in and out of a security ward in Imphal's Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital. Arrested occasionally on charges of attempting to commit suicide, she is being nose-fed with liquid diet. Among those who launched the countdown were Babloo Loitangbam of Human Rights Alert and noted Manipuri filmmaker Aribam Syham Sharma.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Naga CM presents deficit budget

KOHIMA: Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio did not propose any new tax for 2010-2011 even as he presented a Rs 603.64-crore deficit budget for the financial year on Thursday.In his budget speech in the assembly, the chief minister, who also heads the finance portfolio, said the current year's transaction was estimated to result in a negative balance of Rs 5.94 crore.He said the estimated gross receipt stood at Rs 6416.39 crore and the gross expenditure at Rs 6434.83 crore in the proposal for the next year's budget. "The 2010-2011 budget closed at a negative balance because of the estimated negative opening balance of Rs 597.70 crore," the CM said.He added that no new taxes were proposed for the current year, but better realization of revenue would be stressed at an existing rates. "For our internal revenue collections, I have set the target at Rs 369 crore as against the estimated figure of 2009-2010 budget. This represents a growth of 15 %," he told the assembly.Rio added that it's a matter of concern that in the fifth decade of statehood, the state's resources could barely meet the salary expenditure for two months.This despite the fact that over the last 10 years, the state's revenue has risen from Rs 88.70 crore during 2000-2001 to Rs 321 crore in 2009-10.The minister said he had held a series of meetings with officials from the revenue collecting department to examine the loopholes in the existing system and take corrective measures while exploring all possible options for mobilisation of additional revenue.

Air India plane called back before take-off

Mangalore: Passengers and crew on board the Dubai-bound flight of Air India's low budget carrier had some anxious moments on Saturday night after the airplane was called back as it was taxiing for take-off at the Bajpe airport.Air India Express's Boeing 737-800(AI IX 811) was called back by the Air Traffic Control(ATC) after a traffic controller got a telephone call from an unidentified person to say a fire was noticed on the tail-side of the plane, an Air India official said.It was not immediately known how many passengers were on the plane but some reports said there were 134 passengers.Following the call, the plane was called back as it was taxiing for take-off at about 9.30 PM and a thorough check was undertaken, the official said. Fire tenders were also positioned around the plane.The plane was cleared for take-off at 10.55 PM delaying the departure of the flight by about 90 minutes.The official said the pilot of the plane had also not reported any fire alarm in the cockpit. The possibility of the call being a hoax was not ruled out. The call was also being investigated.With memories of an Air India Express plane from Dubai overshooting the table-top runway at the Mangalore airport and plunging over a cliff into a wooded valley killing 158 persons on May 22 still fresh, tonight's incident led to some scare among the passengers.

Germany: 15 killed in stampede at Love Parade

Duisburg, Germany: A stampede inside a tunnel crowded with techno music fans has crushed 15 people to death and injured dozens at the Love Parade festival in western Germany.Thousands of other revelers initially kept partying at the Saturday event in Duisburg, near Duesseldorf, unaware of the deadly stampede that started when police tried to prevent thousands more people from entering the already-jammed parade grounds.Police commissioner Juergen Kieskemper says that just before the stampede, police had closed off the area where the parade was being held because it was already overcrowded. They told revelers over loudspeakers to turn around and walk back in the other direction before the panic broke out, he said.

Heavy rains, floods affect life in parts of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal

Faizabad (U.P.) / Siliguri (West Bengal), July 24 (ANI): Incessant rainfall and flood water have badly affected general life in different parts of the country.Heavy rains in Uttar Pradesh'sFaizabad District have damaged thousands of houses, leaving a large number of villagers at different places in difficult situation.Many of the affected persons lamented administrative incoperation and poor help."A big polythene sheet has been provided by administration and nothing else. Various families are residing under the roof covered by that polythene sheet. How all the victims will survive in such difficult situation? Our land has drowned in the flood water," said Rampata, a flood victim.Swollen rivers breached their banks, forcing the villagers to abandon their homes and hearth for safer locations.Many villagers complained that the poor scenario has not changed for the past few years and many times government officials visited the flood-affected area. But there has been no improvement in their approach to help."All of us were having our houses at the opposite side from here which drowned years ago. Since past five years we all are residing here. Many people visit our area and witness our situation but never bother our plight. We have lost all our lands and property but no one is ready to listen to our request," said Mazhi Nishad, another flood victim.Authorities, however, claimed that they have provided boats to the victims and would be taking more steps."Authorities have provided boats to the villagers for their rescue and it is available for them for the time being," said Viresh Yadav, treasury officer.Meanwhile in Dinajpur located in West Bengal's Siliguri district, floodwaters from rivers and streams have submerged dozens of villages in low-lying areas.A large number of cattle died and the people are in great distress. (ANI)

Pranab assures full compensation to states for GST

New Delhi, July 24 (ANI): Union FinanceMinister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday assured the States that the Centre will fully compensate them on possible losses arising from implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) regime.Speaking during a meeting of the National Development Council here, Mukherjee said: "No state would be allowed to suffer any loss and would be fully compensated by the Central government."The meet was attended by most of the state chief ministers.Mukherjee, earlier this week, had proposed a three-tier structure for the new indirect tax regime - 20 per cent for goods, 16 per cent for services and 12 per cent for essential items. As per the formula, the Centre and the states will equally share the revenue.The Centre has already discussed the draft constitutional amendment bill with the state finance ministers.Mukherjee, in his address, said: "The Centre alone can't get it implemented as it requires constitutional amendment for which a large political consensus is required among major political parties."The 13th Finance Commission in its recommendations had asked the Centre to set aside Rs 50,000 crore to compensate the states for the possible revenue loss from GST rollout.As part of the tax reform, the government proposes to introduce GST, which will subsume levies like excise, service tax, VAT and local levies like octroi etc from April 1, 2011.Mukherjee solicited support from all political parties for evolving a consensus on the various issues concerning the GST proposals.GST was earlier scheduled to be implemented from April 2010, but could not do so because the Centre and the states failed to arrive at a consensus primarily on the tax rate and the quantum of compensation to the states for any possible revenue loss on account of this new indirect tax regime.Meanwhile, the chief ministers of National Democratic Alliance-ruled states opted to raise concerns about autonomy, saying the new tax regime should not curtail their power to levy taxes. (ANI)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kaushik steps down as coach

Coach Kaushik is a liar: Helen Mary

Poor telecom network in NE a concern: ASSOCHAM

The Northeastern states are plagued by low tele-density and inadequate telecom services, hindering economic growth and development, a study said. "In addition to the low tele-density, the quality of services in the region is also a matter of concern. The telecom network is inadequate to handle the traffic resulting in repeated congestion, a statement by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (ASSOCHAM) quoting the study said on Thursday."Closely linked with the expansion and growth of IT is stable and quality infrastructure like telecommunication. The hilly region having a difficult terrain has limitation in terms of physical connectivity and has sparse habitations," it said.Stating that the Nort East has only reached a nascent stage of e-governance, it said concerted efforts were needed for capacity building and technology upgradation to bring it on par with the rest of the country.Billing disputes were frequent due to non-availability of online payment while the processing centre was outside the region, the study entitled 'Serving the Common Man through e-governance' said.

Ten Kuki militants killed in gunbattle

Ten militants were killed and four injured in a fierce gunbattle between two Kuki groups at a remote area in Manipur, police said on Thursday. The gunfight between the Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) and Kuki National Front-Presidium (KNF-P) took place in interior Seijang hill area on the border between Imphal East and Senapati districts on Thursday and lasted for five hours, they said.The gunbattle could be the result of a fight for territorial control of areas inhabited by the Kuki tribes, police said.The injured were brought to a private hospital in Imphal and the condition of some was stated to be critical.Security personnel have rushed to Seijang hill area.Official sources said both KNF-P and KLA were signatories of the Suspension of Operation (SOO) agreement with the state government and security agencies for initiating the peace process.Under the agreement, which was signed about a year ago, police and security personnel have suspended operations against the militant outfits.Under the agreement, the militants were not allowed to carry arms.Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh had on Thursday warned another signatory of the SOO agreement, the Kuki National Army (KNA), for allegedly violating ground rules and threatened to take action against them.While the KNA wants a 'Kukiland' to be formed by integrating Kuki-settled areas of Manipur and Myanmar, KNF-P and KLA wants a 'Kukiland' by carving out Kuki-inhabited areas of Manipur.

Newspapers fail to hit the stands in Manipur

Newspapers in Manipur failed to hit the stands on Friday as publishing houses and journalists decided against bringing out the issues in protest against threat to a scribe by hill-based militants. The All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) had launched a sit-in protest against the threat and decided to cease work on Thursday.Threats to media persons and media houses by militants has resulted in frequent non-publication of newspapers in the recent past, a spokesperson of the journalists' body said while appealing to the militants not to disturb freedom of the press in the state.Militants of Hmar People's Convention-Democratic (HPC-D) had threatened a senior correspondent of popular 'Sangai Express' on Wednesday for publishing a news item related to the outfit.Publication of dailies would resume on Friday.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

India state-run banks 'turn away Muslims'

State-owned banks in India have been accused of discriminating against the country's Muslim minority.India's minorities watchdog has received a record number of complaints from Muslims who say they have been prevented from opening bank accounts.India's Muslim community is among the poorest in the country.Some bankers say it is not so much their religious background, but their economic status that makes it hard for Muslims to get banking facilities.The National Commission of Minorities says that there has been a 100% increase in the number of complaints it has received over the past year from Muslims who say they are being prevented from opening accounts in state-run banks.Reports say the worst case took place in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where some 90,000 Muslim students were unable to open accounts to deposit scholarship cheques given to them by the government.Official reports frequently put Muslims at the bottom of India's social and economic ladder - even beneath than low-caste Hindus.Their economic status means they are often excluded by private banks, which prefer more well-to-do clients.Already a number of reports have suggested that India's Muslims fare poorly when it comes to getting access to quality education or employment opportunities.This latest finding will add more pressure on a government which is seen as doing very little for the country's largest minority group.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Queen's Baton Relay arrives in Guwahati

Braving inclement weather, people of Guwahati turned out in large number to receive the Queen's Baton, on the country wide relay of the 2010 Commonwealth Games at Delhi. The Baton, arrived here this afternoon, and was received ceremonially by Assam Olympic Association General Secretary and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain at a brief function held at the Nehru Stadium.The Baton was then handed over to the state Chief Secretary N K Das and Director General of Police Shankar Barua who in turn handed it over to several veteran and present international and national players from the state before it was carried in a convoy to the state secretariat at Dispur.Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi received the Baton at the state secretariat and after a brief felicitation of players from the state, the baton was handed over to Arjuna awardee table tennis player Monalisa Barua Mehta.Mehta resumed the last leg of the rally here to the Srimanata Sankardeva Kalakshetra, the premier cultural hub of region, and was joined by Assam Director of Sports and Youth Welfare Sanjiv Gohain Boruah and Sports Authority of India's North East Director Subhas Basumatary enroute.A colourful cultural function and fireworks display was held at Kalakshetra before the Baton was handed over by Assam Sports Minister Bharat Narah to the Chef de Mission of the Indian Commonwealth team and Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita and Baton Relay Director Colonel Kuldip Singh for its onward journey to the Meghalaya capital Shillong.

Protesters block India-Bhutan road

The movement of vehicles between India and Bhutan was halted for over five hours on Monday by several students and social organisations near Rangiya in Assam in support of their demands. The protesters blocked the international road at Kumarikata near Rangiya in Kamrup (Rural) district, stopping road communication between the two countries, official sources said.They were peacefully demanding the repair of the road and protection against the ongoing erosion by Barnadi river in the area, the sources said.The demonstrators included among others, All Assam Students Union (AASU), All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), Gorkha Students Union, Bengali Students Federation and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad.

Nagaland farmers participate in Potato Expo

A team of potato farmers from Nagaland participated in India International Potato Expo 2010 held recently at Pusa in New Delhi. According to an official release, the expo mainly focused on the topics such as the role of research and development for sustainable use of new technology, selection of quality seeds for better yield in potato and global scenario of food security and role of potato production and business development.The state team also visited exhibition stalls made by various state governments and reputed companies in the country.The exposure tour was sponsored by State ATMA and Agriculture department.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Indian beef is buffalo meat, says Malaysian minister

Alor Setar (Malaysia) Jul 19 (Bernama) Beef imported from India is actually buffalo meat, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar has clarified.He said the 'Indian beef', referred to as "daging kotak" in Malaysia was cheaper than local beef and was preferred by the people.People should not be confused over the use of the term 'Indian beef' as India has laws banning the slaughter of cows, he told reporters after the ministry's monthly assembly at the headquarters of the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) here.Noh said Malaysia imported about 80,000 tonnes of meat from India annually.

Mizos hail their CM’s bold remarks

Even though Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has clarified that his racism statement had been misinterpreted, many in Mizoram believe there was nothing wrong in his remarks.Students, in particular, feel Thanhawla has boldly spoken the truth and highlighted the ‘ground reality.’ A Northeast Students’ Organization release here today said, "By making this statement, Thanhawla has echoed the true feelings of the northeastern people. The NESO is delighted to have such a Chief Minister who has boldly revealed the ground reality in our country." "He has revealed before the world the pangs of racial discrimination silently suffered by the northeast people," NESO vice-chairman Lalmuanpuia Punte said in the statement.Speaking in an international conference on water in Singapore recently, Lal Thanhawla reportedly said he was a victim of racism in India."In India, people ask me if I am an Indian. When I go south, people ask me such questions. They ask me if I am from Nepal or elsewhere. They forget that Northeast is also a part of India. I told them that I am an Indian like you," he had said.C Lalhmachhuana, president of Mizorams apex students body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), said: "The mainland Indians treat us as if we are foreigners. It is my feeling that even the politicians at the Centre have been giving us a stepdaughter treatment. Our Chief Minister has spoken the truth and he has spoken on behalf of the entire northeast people." Social activists too stand by Thanhawla. "Thanhawla has been bold enough to highlight the true feelings buried deep in the hearts of the northeast people," said Ruatfela Nu, a social activist in Aizawl. Lalremruata Varte, a young professional in Aizawl, who had studied in Pune and Ahmednagar, said, "Ask anyone who had tasted a campus life in Delhi or other big cities, their answers would be in support of the Chief Ministers statement. How could those people call Australians racist while they are discriminating their own fellow countrymen?" A number of Mizo women say that they feel more at home in South East Asian countries than in their own country."For me, Bangkok is like home compared to our national capital Delhi. In Delhi, Mumbai or any other big cities in India, I can never feel secured. I feel secure when I go to South East Asian countries," businesswoman Mate said.

Muivah in reconciliation mood

Naga separatist leader T. Muivah has stressed on reconciliation and claimed to be ready for any dialogue with other Naga underground groups on this issue.“According to the commitment we have made, any time we are prepared to meet and talk with Khaplang, Khole and those who are still remaining uncommitted,” Muivah remarked during a public reception at Jotsoma village recently.“If any body fails, that would be very unfortunate because time for the Nagas is very precious. We have to see that adversaries do not exploit our weaknesses,” the Naga leader stressed. According to him those who claim to love the nation must try and understand their people and draw them to serve the cause of the nation. He said it was this necessity that made them visit places in search of understanding among the Naga people.“Jotsoma is an important village, we have respect for them, they have proud history and we are proud of them,” Muivah said. Regarding the opposition to his visit to different parts of Nagaland, Muivah said such point showed they do not understand the necessity the Naga people were facing today. “It is time for every Nagas to seek understanding of our time today. That is the way towards peace and progress,” he remarked.“Whenever anybody tries to understand the necessity of the nation, they should welcome them; wait for the concern they have, that is what they should do. But if they don’t try to understand others, then that is their mistake. For us, we will be very glad to understand them, we can even go and have talks with them to understand the issue before the Nagas that is expected from any sensible Nagas,” Muivah added.Firmly supporting the reconciliation process, Muivah said that there was no hurdle in the process of reconciliation but asserted there were negative attitudes towards reconciliation sometimes. “In the history of National struggle, there will be stages, armed stage, political stage and there may be also a stage both the adversaries and ourselves can understand each other,” he said. Muivah said it was high time that Nagas should understand each other.“We are ready to share our experiences and commitment and we are here today,” he affirmed.

Ray of peace

The much-awaited meeting between the Prime Minister and Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan finally took place in Delhi recently. The meeting was aimed at creating conducive atmosphere for an amicable and negotiated settlement of the ULFA issue. After meeting with the Prime Minister Dr. Hiren Gohain, convenor of the committee expressed happiness and revealed that Dr. Manmohan Singh appeared to be keen to have a dialogue with ULFA and he (Prime Minister) means business. The 6-member delegation of the committee, which met the Prime Minister, raised several issues during their 45-minute discussion. Among the issues the Committee raised were early release of ULFA leaders from jail. The committee members argued that it was necessary so that the general council of ULFA could meet. Other members of the delegation are former Vice-Chancellor, Gauhati University, Dr Nirmal Kumar Chaudhuri, Dr Rohini Barua, Hiranya Bhattacharya, Indibar Deuri and Prof. Khorshed Alam. In an exclusive chat with Access North East Dr. Hiren Gohain further reveals “Our meeting with the Prime Minister was very fruitful. The Prime Minister appeared to be keen to understand the problem and solve it. His seriousness can be judged from the fact that he gave us 45 minutes and listened to our views with rapt attention.” “At first we informed him about the formation of Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan, its aim and purpose. We categorically told him that we do not support ULFA. Rather we criticized the organization for their wrong doings. But at the same time, we realized that some of their grievances are genuine and needed to be addressed at the earliest. We think that once these issues are solved, Assam will return to peace and normalcy. For example, lack of development is a concern for the populace of Assam. We are not saying that Centre has done nothing to develop Assam. It provided funds from time to time for development. But the Centre has failed to keep a watch on how the funds were being used. We told the Prime Minister that unless an effective management system is created to monitor the use of developmental funds, fruits of development would not reach to the people of Assam. Assam will continue suffer. In this context we mentioned about Kashmir too. We pointed out that with all the money for development, that State is still in turmoil. Assam will soon joining the list.” “At this juncture one of my colleagues interjected by saying that ULFA is the mother of all insurgency in Assam. Several ethnic groups have taken up arms following ULFA line. So once the ULFA problem is solved, other problems will be solved automatically. Another colleague pointed out about lack of employment avenues.” “We appealed to the Prime Minister to ensure early release of the jailed ULFA leaders. So that they can discuss between them on the issue of holding talks with The Centre. We argued that decision on such an issue cannot be taken inside the jail. ULFA leaders should get a chance to talk freely among themselves.” “The Prime Minister, who listened our arguments carefully, spoke after we made our submission. He assured us that the center would do everything possible for the return of peace in Assam. He reminded us that in 2006, at the behest of Indira Goswami similar kind of efforts were made. He himself took part in that initiative. He would be happy if our efforts could bear fruits.” Meanwhile in another related development PC Haldar is set to be ULFA talks interlocutor. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi formally suggesting his name to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The Chief Minister briefed Chidambaram on the ULFA peace process being initiated by the State Government. The Union Home Minister has given the “go ahead” and assured of all possible assistance to the State Government to start the peace process, said Mr. Gogoi. “He has given us the go ahead,” he said. Gogoi said, he has suggested Haldar’s name, as he is already involved in the peace process with other militant outfits like DHD (J), UPDS and NDFB among others.

Looking for permanent solution

In a meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai, the Centre has categorically asked Manipur and Nagaland to find a permanent solution to repeated blockades on NH-39 and NH-53.The meeting took note of the fact that the Naga Students’ Federation had blocked the road for nearly two months. It also took note of the Gauhati High Court’s order to the Central Government and the State Governments of Nagaland and Manipur that NH-39 and NH-53 be kept free from all obstructions.All sides reiterated the importance of keeping the National Highways open for movement of goods and people. The Government of India is committed to keeping the NH-39 and NH-53 open.The permanent arrangement of National Highway Protection Force for protecting and keeping open NH-39 would also be put in place, sources said.It has also been decided to deploy at least five companies of Central para-military forces on the NH-39 to thwart any attempt to block it in future.The move comes in the face of the threats by the agitating Nagas that they were temporarily suspending the agitation and may revive it later, if their demands were not met.But even after the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) ‘temporarily’ relaxed the blockade, Manipur bound truckers still felt unsafe to ply on the Dimapur-Imphal NH 39 and continued to travel by the Imphal-Jiribam section of the NH-53.No trucks left for the Imphal from Dimapur along the NH-39 as the economic blockade imposed by the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) was still in force.“We are not convinced for the undisturbed flow of freight trucks as the economic blockade imposed is still on and there were no assurance from the Nagaland government for safe passage of state vehicles,” a truck driver said.Truckers said miscreants used to prey upon trucks on the Dimapur-Imphal road at any place, threatening and demanding money by taking advantage of the blockade.A driver who did not want to be named said that whenever there was blockade or bandh, miscreants always took advantage in collecting money by accusing drivers of violating the bandh.Truck owners agreed with the view and expressed willingness to stand by the resolution taken by the Transporters and Drivers Council not to ply trucks and inter-state buses along the NH 39 until both Nagaland and Manipur government assured security for safe passage of vehicles on this route.Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council, an apex body of transporters, truck and inter-state bus owners and drivers had on June 11 resolved not to ply on Dimapur-Imphal section of the NH-39 until both the government dealt effectively with the diktats of some NGOs enforcing to stop service whenever they wished.Chairman of the Council, H Ranjit said they felt unsafe since organizations appear to have total control over the NH 39 and therefore, the resolve to stand by the decision not to ply this route.He said though the NH 53 was not roadworthy yet the truckers felt safer and have therefore asked the Manipur government to improve the road condition.Meanwhile, Manipur government has also requested Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways to issue a notification regarding the handing over of the NH-53 to the Manipur Public Works Department.Cabinet of the Ibobi led Secular Progressive Front (SPF) in a seating has approved the take-over of NH-53 from 3.22 km (Takyel, Imphal) to 222 km (Jiribam) from the Border Road Organization currently maintaining the road and handover to the state Public Works Department.The state cabinet also approved to provide immediate funds from the state budget to assist the PWD in restoring the NH-53 route.They have also requested the Central government to reimburse the expenses incurred by the state government in strengthening the highway, secretary to chief minister, PK Singh said.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

CCEA approves Rs 2,873 crore socio-economic plan for Mizoram

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Thursday approved a comprehensive and integrated socio-economic development project for Mizoram, involving a cost of over Rs 2,873 crore over a period of five years. The programme that will benefit 1.20 lakh families, will be implemented under the new land use policy of the state government, an official statement said.It envisages switching people involved in Jhum cultivation to permanent livelihood activities with ownership of land, access to link roads, irrigation and water harvesting and all this at a remunerative price for produces.Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation is a prevalent practice in North-eastern states and it involves clearance of forest on sloppy land, drying and burning debris and cropping.After harvest, land is left fallow and cultivators repeat the process in a new plot designated for the year for Jhum cultivation. People involved in Jhum cultivation are called Jhumia.The integrated socio-economic development project for Mizoram under new land use policy seeks to increase income by 7-10 times through agri-horticultural activities, animal husbandry, fisheries, agro forestry etc, the statement said.The overall growth of the economy in the state will increase to 16 per cent from 6 per cent at present in the next 10 years, it added.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Trade unions call for shutdown against price rise on September 7

New Delhi, July 15 (ANI): Trade unions of the country including Congress party-backed INTUC (Indian National Trade Union Congress) will go on a day-long strike against price rise and other policies of the Central Government on September 7.Addressing a national convention of trade unions here on Thursday, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said this will be the biggest ever strike of the workers."All the central and trade unions together, including the INTUC, are going for a one-day strike primarily against price rise, against retrenchment, against underpayment, against poverty, against many of economic policies of the government, and it is going to be the biggest ever held worker's strike in the country," said Dasgupta.Members and leaders of INTUC, AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabah (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) and Labour Progressive Front (LPF) participated in the convention.Earlier on June 25, a ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had lifted the pricing controls on petroleum following which the price of petrol went up by Rs 3.50 a litre.The Government hiked the prices of diesel by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene by Rs.3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder. (ANI)

Next round of Naga peace talks to resume toda

New Delhi, July 16 (ANI): The next round of peace talks between Centre''s representatives and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) leaders will be held here from today.NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and other senior functionaries of the group will attend the meeting.Before leaving for Delhi, Muivah told reporters at Dimapur airport that no dates had been fixed so far but hoped the dialogue would commence soon between the NSCN-IM leaders and the Centre''s representatives.Muivah, who wrapped up his nearly one-and-a-half-month-long peace mission with the last public meeting at Jalukie under Peren district, described his journey as successful.He also said that the resentment amongst the Naga tribal people over him being banned from visiting his hometown in Manipur was not such a big issue to withhold peace talks."I think that should not be a very big issue because, it is something natural and nobody can go against it," Muivah told reporters in Dimapur."I am exceedingly happy because I have the commitment and the support of the people particularly for the national decision, for the national rights. What is more than that? ...They have openly given the students that they would stand from the true to the end, just for the cause of the Naga people," he added.Earlier, he said the central government has the authority to resolve the issue."Everyone knows that central government is not subject to Manipur state. Manipur state is subject to the Central government, so they can solve. They have the authority to do it, but they don''t want to do it, why, because probably they have the personality and that problem would have to be solved by them first," he added.The Nagas have been demanding a free Nagalim state carved out of the northeastern region, including parts of Manipur.Manipuris oppose this and see Muivah''s attempt to visit his village as undermining their territorial integrity. (ANI)

Cabinet approves new symbol for rupee

The rupee will soon have a unique symbol joining elite currencies like the US dollar, Euro, British pound and Japanese yen in having a distinct identity. The new symbol was approved by the cabinet on Thursday. The Indian rupee will have its own symbol, a mix of the Devanagri 'Ra' and Roman 'R', to become the fifth currency in the world to have a distinct identity. The new symbol, designed by IIT post-graduate D Udaya Kumar was approved by the Union Cabinet on Thursday. Significantly, Kumar is all set to join as a faculty member in the IIT, Guwahati’s design department. The rupee will join the elite club of US dollar, British pound-sterling, Euro and Japanese yen to have its own symbol. The symbol will be printed or embossed on currency notes or coins. Kumar's entry was chosen from among 3,000 designs competing for the currency symbol. He will get an award of Rs 2.5 lakhs. Announcing the cabinet’s decision, Soni said the government will try that the symbol is adopted within six months in the country and globally within 18 to 24 months. The symbol will feature on computer key boards and software’s so that it can be printed and displayed in electronic and print. However, this isn't going to happen overnight. It may take up to a year for the new Rupee symbol to be used throughout India and about two years for international acceptance. For widespread usage, the new symbol has to be accepted by the Unicode Consortium's Unicode Technical Committee that is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Unicode Standard, including the Unicode Character Database. India is a member of the Unicode Consortium and getting an approval for the new symbol shouldn't be too difficult. In fact the new symbol had been designed keeping in mind the ease with which it can be incorporated into the existing software systems. The Unicode Technical Committee meets on a quarterly basis and the next meeting is scheduled for October. While the Government of India can mandate hardware manufacturers to include the symbol in keyboards, it can also be accessed through assigned keyboard combinations or via the operating system's Character Map, post approval from the Unicode Consortium. Software manufacturers can include the symbol in their new updates. However, people do not necessarily need to wait for the official standards approval to use the new Rupee symbol. Soon typographers will release fonts that include the symbol. But these fonts might not be universally supported.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

FarmVille players get real organic food brand to play with

New York: Operating a successful farm is a notion that is thriving in the virtual world. Some 20 million people check into FarmVille daily to plow virtual fields or buy, plant and harvest crops on online farms.Now Zynga Game Network, the social network games creator, is linking FarmVille's vast pool of players to retailers as diverse as 7-Eleven stores and the organic food company Cascadian Farm.Users who play for fun, camaraderie and friendly competition -- reach FarmVille through a Facebook account. They can play free, but they can also spend real money to buy virtual goods, like a faster-growing crop or gifts to entice online friends to become neighbors, who are needed to expand their farms.July 19th onwards, FarmVille will, for the first time, offer its pretend farmers a specific food brand. Players will be able to plant an organic blueberry crop from Cascadian Farm, a subsidiary of General Mills.The objective is for FarmVille users to learn about organic farming and green living, and at the same time, earn additional points to grow fruits and vegetables or raise animals on their virtual farms.Cascadian Farm executives say they hope that the company can expand its food niche and make itself better known by increasing awareness among the FarmVille audiences."We're at a crossroads for the brand," said Tim Goldsmid, marketing manager for Cascadian Farm, which started selling organic crops grown in the Upper Skagit Valley in Washington State nearly 40 years ago. "We're looking to get our message out in a bigger way, and we wanted a creative way to do that.""This is FarmVille's first branded, in-game crop integration, and we chose Cascadian Farm to offer our users something that would benefit them online and offline," said Vish Makhijani, senior vice president for business operations at Zynga, the company that also created Mafia Wars and FrontierVille, two other popular Facebook games.Cascadian Farm, which sells 75 products including cereal, granola bars, vegetables and juice concentrates, is the second General Mills brand to form a partnership with Zynga.In May, its Green Giant Fresh subsidiary placed a coded sticker on broccoli, celery and other fresh products sold at 4,000 Target stores across the country. Each sticker was redeemable at for five free "farm cash" units, the currency players use to maintain and expand their FarmVille projects."In five weeks, $100,000 worth of the units were redeemed online by customers, who cashed in an average of two coupons each", said Mishalin Modena, marketing manager of Green Giant Fresh in Salinas, Calif."The company is planning to expand the promotion in Wal-Mart and other stores", Ms. Modena said. The campaign was done with Loyalty Lab, a firm based in San Francisco that works with companies to increase customer loyalty.Cascadian Farm, whose products are grown on 15,000 acres, is taking a different approach to FarmVille's users, about 60 percent of whom are women. Most players are 20 to 40 years old, and play the game for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, said Manny Anekal, Zynga's director of brand advertising.The food company is embedding its brand in the game by offering all players, including beginners, a crop that can be harvested faster and bring a bigger cash return than other crops. The promotion will run from July 19th to July 26."We don't want to overextend our stay," Mr. Goldsmid said."The promotion's short duration fits FarmVille", said Mr. Makhijani, because, "It is a little like episodic television. We add new content every other day, whether it's new features, new crops, new buildings or different ways of doing things. Many users play two to four times a week, and some more often. About 60 million people play in a month."Making money from that popularity, he said, is the challenge for Zynga, which says it has 215 million yearly users."This is early days for us in advertising," said Mr. Makhijani, who said Zynga also had a partnership with 7-Eleven in June to allow Facebook game players shopping at 7,000 stores to redeem codes found on Slurpees, Big Gulp drinks and other products for virtual goods. The six-week arrangement allowed coupons to be redeemed for virtual items on FarmVille and two other Zynga game sites."Cascadian Farms has Facebook and Twitter pages, and posts YouTube videos", said Mr. Goldsmid, adding, "FarmVille has a scale that we lack." Before this campaign, the company relied mainly on print ads placed in lifestyle magazines like Real Simple and on free samples at community events like 5K Races, he said."We are moving beyond that and trying to tap into social media," he said.Despite the premium prices for organic food, sales grew more than 5 percent last year, to $26.6 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association, the business group for organic producers and suppliers. Cascadian Farm's sales rose 14 percent over the last four years, it said, but it declined to give specific sales figures."Cascadian Farm plans to decide its marketing direction after tabulating the FarmVille results, which will be measured not only by Web activity but also by call-ins to the company's 800 number and hits on its blog (", Mr. Goldsmid said."Also available on the FarmVille site will be a $1 coupon for Cascadian Farm products, which can be redeemed in a brick-and-mortar store", said Melissa Eccles, digital creative director for the project at Sterling-Rice Group in Boulder, Colo. Sterling-Rice created Cascadian Farm's social games promotion."Allying with FarmVille, will familiarize more people with organic foods and why they are different", Mr. Goldsmid said. "This is a great venue to have a discussion," he said. "We hope that most FarmVille users will plant our crop. We are going for all 20 million."

Meghalaya treasuries go online

After Assam, Meghalaya becomes the second northeast state to take its treasury online. For the first time the model one of the cyber treasury systems in Meghalaya has been introduced followed by its integration with the SBI. Building connection around the world, Meghalaya government has introduced the first e-payment or the electronic payment of tax systems in Shillong. Although Meghalaya is the second state in the Northeast after Assam to go for cyber treasury system, however the state has adopted much more advance system to provide better Government to citizen service. This system has been introduced for the payment of commercial taxes. Now the tax payers can stay at home and can deposit their tax at any time. The system will be operated for 24X7 bases. With the introduction of e-payment system, all the treasuries will now be fully automated and interlinked through the Internet and will form part of the Integrated Financial Management System. Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma however, said that advancement of technology has changed the mindset and the way of living for the people. As technology has made life simpler and the Government cannot shy away from such services. Technology does not only make work efficient but also eco-friendly. Mukul stresses that the government wants to serve the people at their door steps with quality transaction and functioning. The introduction and implementation of the new system would help most of the dealers in the state in depositing advance tax and to ascertain whether their money is directly going to the government. The foundation of this was laid in the last budget session when the state government had announced to carry out key financial reforms. As part of it, Government had announce its plans for operating the ‘On-line system of Tax Receipt’ via the cyber treasury in a time bound manner as a part of its e-Governance Plan. The government also stated that the web portal will facilitate online monitoring, meaningful review and effective planning & financial management. The Meghalaya Finance minister has outlaid Rs. 65 lakh for the completion of the project. An “On- Line System of Tax-Receipt” via a cyber-treasury was said to be operationalised within the next financial year as a part of the plan of e-governance.

Japanese Encephalitis outbreak confirmed in Manipur

Four districts in Manipur have been hit by Japanese encephalitis. 24 out of 27 samples sent to RMRC Dibrugarh have been confirmed to be that of the disease. Within hours of confirmation, the Manipur health department has started dealing with the situation at war footing measure. The spread of Japanese Encephalitis has been confirmed in four valley districts Thoubal, Bishenpur and in the Imphal East and Imphal West districts. The Regional Medical Research Center, Dibrugarh on Tuesday in a faxed message confirmed 24 samples out of 27 sent for test. Briefing media persons, the director of health services Manipur, Y. Yaima while announcing the confirmation said that there were 61 cases and not 66 as stated earlier…being treated at RIMS, JN Hospital and Shija Hospitals. 19 samples had been sent to NICD, Delhi and the results are expected in another two days or so. Meanwhile the health department is chalking out measures to control and contain the disease. Within the last fortnight in which Japanese Encephalitis spread in the state, already nine persons have died, three of them from the Encephalitis as confirmed. The director also allayed fears of inadequate stock of anti-viral drugs and urged the distributors and stockiest to bring in more supplies. The health directorate is issuing notifications, spreading awareness among people to take precautionary measures.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Delhi's new terminal T3 becomes operational today

New Delhi: Air India Flight 102 from the John F Kennedy Airport in New York will become the first flight to land at the new world class terminal T3 in New Delhi. The aircraft is expected to land at 3:45 pm in the afternoon The Air India flight will be quickly followed by a Jet Airways flight from Kathmandu at 5:15 pm. The first flight to depart from the terminal will be a Jet Airways for Dubai at 7:30 pm on Wednesday. The Emirates will fly in its Airbus A-380 to the new terminal as one of the "proving" flights on July 15.In all, nine flights will arrive or depart between July 14 and 15 as part of the terminal activation and operational process. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the terminal on July 3. It's the 5th largest terminal in the world. The Rs 9000 crore swanky new world-class facility will integrate domestic and international operations and is expected to handle 34 million passengers annually.The Delhi International Airport Private Limited (DIAL) developed the terminal and has been given the mandate to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the Delhi airport for the next 30 years. DIAL is a joint venture company comprising the Bangalore-based GMR Group, Airports Authority of India, Fraport and Malaysian Airport.Read more at:

Create a unified command for anti-Naxal operations, Chidambaram urges CM''s

New Delhi, July 14 (ANI): Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday requested the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal to create a unified command for anti-Naxal operations.Addressing the meeting of chief ministers of Naxal-infested states called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, Chidambaram said: "Government will sanction additional SPOs (Special Police Officers) to the states and requests the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal to create a unified command for anti-Naxal operations."We request the four state governments to appoint an Inspector General of Police as IG (Anti-Naxal operations) for that state. The Government will also appoint an Inspector General, Central Reserve Police Force as IG (Operations) for that state to work in close coordination with the IG (anti-Naxal operations) of that state," he added.He further said that the Centre would provide more helicopters for logistic support to Naxal-infested states to help in troop movement, supplies and evacuation.Admitting the Naxals have gained an upper hand against security forces in the recent times Chidambaram said that the most serious setbacks were in Silda (West Bengal), Tarmetla, Chingawaram and Dhaudhai (all in Chhattisgarh).The anti-Naxal plan also proposes to provide more helicopters for logistics support, troop movement and supplies.He also said the Central Government acknowledges the primary role and responsibility of the State Governments in enforcing law and order and in confronting the challenge of Left Wing Extremism. "We also acknowledge the role and responsibility of the Central Government to assist the State Governments in every way - deploying central para-military forces, sharing intelligence, funding the modernization of police forces and providing logistics and other support," he added. Chidambaram also announced that the Centre was planning to roll out a development plan for the Naxal-hit areas, which are mostly mineral-rich but with poor infrastructure."Government will set up an empowered group chaired by Member-Secretary, Planning Commission to modify existing norms/guidelines in the implementation of various development schemes having regard to the local needs and conditions in the affected districts," he added.He also advised the state governments to implement PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act strictly and vigorously and to ensure that rights over minor forest produce are assigned to the gram sabhas. (ANI)