Tuesday, 4 November, 2008

Jumbo: The silent assassin

B D Narayankar

RENOWNED FOR his ten wicket haul in a Test innings against Pakistan in New Delhi in 1999, becoming only the second bowler to achieve the feat after Englishman Jim Laker; his best one-day performance was six for twelve against West Indies at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata during the Hero Cup tournament in 1993. He is the leading wicket-taker for India and the third highest in the world with 619 wickets from 132 tests and 337 from 271 one dayers.

Yes, we are talking about Anil Kumble, Jumbo as he was known in the cricket world, who hung his boots up on the final day’s play of the third Test of Border - Gavaskar trophy played at Feroz Shah Kotla.

Kumble had been a true ambassador of cricket. He certainly did not spin the ball as prodigiously as the great Aussie leggie Shane Warne did but he was a bowler of his own kind. He was famous for his nagging line and length and the lift he used to get on any pitch. He was more in Bhagwat Chandrashekhar’s mould.

Warne could be a great competitor and most aggressive spinners of all times, but Kumble too was not far behind. What is striking about Kumble is that he is a great ambassador of cricket. It was reflected in his 18-years-long international career when he only once pushed his way into the match referee’s room in the infamous Sydney Test. The one-liner statement which he made after the Test in a press conference defines what Jumbo is all about - he had said only one team was playing in the spirit of the game.

There had been a number of occasions when Warne had overstepped the code of conduct, but Kumble did not slide himself into that orbit. He never even passed banter, leave alone resorting to sledging. This quality of Jumbo certainly makes him bigger in the cricket world than Warne. Patience and perseverance are two of the most important elements for a spinner’s success and present abundantly in Kumble’s character.

His ability to raise the morale of the team especially when the chips are down played a pivotal role in some of the team’s notable performances. Who can forget the 2002 Test against West Indies at Antigua where Kumble came out to bowl with a broken jaw and heavily bandaged around the face or more recently the first Test of the Border - Gavaskar Trophy at Bangalore where after suffering a shoulder injury he came back to bowl just hours later, leaving everyone awe-struck. Further still, he took a catch running back of Mitchell Johnson, caring little for the 11 stitches on his left hand in the third Test at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

His workaholism was well drafted when he tirelessly bowled 72 overs in a Test innings against Sri Lanka at Premadasa stadium in Colombo, in 1997. In this inning Sri Lanka scored 952 runs in 271 overs in reply to India’s 537 in 167.3 overs and the match ended in a draw.

Kumble has broken numerous records in his nearly two decades long uncelebrated career. In 2001, he became the first Indian spinner to capture 300 wickets in Tests and went on to achieve the landmark in one-day cricket just a year later. Earlier this year, Kumble became the first Indian bowler and only the third in the world behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne to take 600 wickets in Test matches. The icing on the cake came at The Oval as he put together a well crafted century, a feat which he later described as one of the most cherished moments of his life.

After Sunil Gavaskar, there came Sachin Tendulkar. After Kumble, there certainly is somebody waiting in the wings of his calibre to fill up the void. But sheer calibre and skills will not make him slide into Kumble’s shoes. The successor can only be so called when he plays cricket the way Jumbo played - a thorough gentleman. Let’s salute for the last time this ’silent assassin’ from Bangalore for laying down his gun.

Source: Meri News

Sunday, 2 November, 2008

Kumble's retirement overshadows drawn test

B D Narayankar

As the match headed towards an end, all focus shifted to a giant who carried all the adulations and criticism on his shoulders with right spirits. He always had been a true ambassodor of cricket. We are talking about a player who has been a great competitor and yet never overstepped the line of conduct. Anil Kumble, added a poignont note to the boring drawn match by announcing his retirement from international cricket.

Kumble's sudden announcement overshadowed Australia's brilliant fightback in the test after India thrashed them by 320 runs in the previous game to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Continuing with his form, VVS Laxman made yet another half-century (59 not out), after making an unbeaten double century in first innings of the third test of Border-Gavaskar series played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Saurav Ganguly, alongside Laxman, remained unbeaten on 32 before Kumble declared India's second innings, leaving Australia to chase an improbable 245-runs target.

Early in the morning Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambir provided resistence to the Australian attack which looked on the top after removing Rahul Dravid for 11.

Australian openers Mathew Hayden (16 no) and Simon Katich (14 no) played out eight overs to reach 31 for no loss before the match was called off. Fittingly enough, Kumble opened the bowling for the last time in his 19-years career at his favourite Kotla ground.

Kotla had been an happy hunting ground for Jumbo who picked up 58 wickets in seven Tests played here, and the most memorable performance being a 10-wicket haul against Pakistan.

In his illustrious career, he snapped 619 wickets in 132 tests playing for India. The last ball of his career was a full toss to Hayden who dispatched the ball straight to the fence.

The close of play brought emotional moments to the fore as members of the Indian cricket team - Zaheer Khan, Rahul Dravid and his successor Mahendra Singh Dhoni - carried Jumbo, taking a lap of farewell round Ferz Shah Kotla.

Australian bowlers bowled sharp spells to back skipper Ricky Ponting's field placements against a defensive-minded Indian batsmen as any mild hopes of a result ebbed away after lunch.

Brett Lee (2-48), Stuart Clark (1-22) and Mitchell Johnson (1-23) earlier put in dangerous spells, bending their backs in a last despairing effort to wrench a result from a pitch that did not deteriorate as both captains expected it would. However, Lee showed sparks of his old fire to return two for 48.

Allrounder Cameron White (1-23) was not employed by captain Ricky Ponting until the match had been virtually decided, but he bowled tidily when given the chance and dismissed Tendulkar for the second time in the series with a rare ball that turned.

The teams now travel to Nagpur for Thursday's final Test, with India holding a 1-0 lead.

Saturday, 1 November, 2008

Dropped catches melt India's winning chances

B D Narayankar

Until last evening, it was an Indian win all the way when they put a mammoth total of 613 for 7 in their first innings. They were expected to rip apart the Aussies with frontline spin bowlers on a pitch which was turning and bouncing. But, sloppy fielding of the Indians poured water on the chances of pulling off a series win against the visitors.

The butter-fingered hosts dropped Michael Clarke three times. He was first spilled on 31 by Ishant Sharma who failed to bucket a simple catch at mid-on off leggie Amit Mishra. Late in the post-lunch session, Clarke was dropped twice in his 90s with VVS Laxman failing to latch on to a sitter off Virendra Sehwag and Mishra flooring another in the bowler's next over.

Clarke, capitalizing on the floored opportunities, scored an all-important 112, steering Australia out of the hole on the fourth day of the third Border-Gavaskar test series against India being played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on November 1.

Clarke, who scored 151 on his Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004, also shared a 73-run stand with all-rounder Shane Watson (36) to frustrate a tiring Indian bowling attack.

Clarke, 27, stroked six fours and a six for his eighth Test hundred and also shared a 106-run stand with Cameron White (44), leaving the tourists just 36 runs behind India's first innings total.

Sehwag, India's only triple-centurion, had something to cheer. He finished with career-best figures of 5-104 after sending down 40 overs on a wicket which started taking prodigious turn from day three, while Anil Kumble, who was criticized for his wicketless showing in Bangalore, had 3-112 against his name.

White hit five fours and a six off leg-spinner Anil Kumble in his cameo 95-ball effort.

India, who were sitting pretty until last evening to clinch the series at the Kotla, now have a huge task cut out to shore the game. They cannot sit on their first-innings laurels. The overnight batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, have to see off the morning session with caution.

The Aussies had something more to cheer about when they removed dangerous Sehwag (bold Brett Lee) and night-watchman Ishant Sharma (caught Ricky Ponting bold Stuart Clark) in India's second knock.

With two wickets already down, the Australians would be fancying an outside chance with a flurry of wickets early tomorrow. However, their task too is difficult as the wicket has not deteriorated as much. With only a 36-run lead to cheer about, repeating Mohali fireworks does not look like a possibility. As of now, the test is heading towards an anti-climax end.

India II Innings

India 43-2 (13) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
G Gambhir not out 21 44 2 0 47.73
V Sehwag b Lee 16 17 2 0 94.12
Ishant Sharma c Ponting b Clark 1 2 0 0 50.00
R Dravid not out 5 15 1 0 33.33
VVS Laxman
S Ganguly
MS Dhoni
*Anil Kumble
Zaheer Khan
S Tendulkar
A Mishra
Extras: 0 ( b:0 lb:0 nb:0 w:0)
Total: 43-2 (13) | Curr. RR: 3.31

FOW: V Sehwag (29-1, 8.2), Ishant Sharma (34-2, 9.1)

Australia O M R W Nb Wd RPO
B Lee 6 1 19 1 0 0 3.17
S Clark 5 2 16 1 0 0 3.20
M Clarke 1 0 3 0 0 0 3.00
S Katich 1 0 5 0 0 0 5.00

Australia I Innings

Australia 577-10 (179.3) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
M Hayden lbw b Sehwag 83 154 13 1 53.90
S Katich b Mishra 64 116 9 0 55.17
*R Ponting b Sehwag 87 165 13 0 52.73
M Hussey b Sehwag 53 146 7 0 36.30
M Clarke c Khan b Mishra 112 253 6 1 44.27
S Watson b Sehwag 36 62 7 0 58.06
B Haddin st Dhoni b Kumble 17 35 1 1 48.57
C White b Sehwag 44 95 6 1 46.32
B Lee lbw b Kumble 8 47 0 0 17.02
M Johnson c and b Kumble 15 12 2 0 125.00
S Clark not out 1 2 0 0 50.00
Extras: 57 ( b:28 lb:17 nb:10 w:2)
Total: 577-10 (179.3) | Curr. RR: 3.21

FOW: S Katich (123-1, 34.1), M Hayden (202-2, 57.2), *R Ponting (284-3, 85.4), M Hussey (326-4, 102), S Watson (399-5, 122.1), B Haddin (426-6, 131.5), C White (532-7, 162.5), B Lee (555-8, 175.4), M Clarke (567-9, 178.1), M Johnson (577-10, 179.3)

India O M R W Nb Wd RPO
Zaheer Khan 23 5 86 0 2 0 3.74
Ishant Sharma 25 6 84 0 1 2 3.36
*Anil Kumble 43.3 10 112 3 1 1 2.57
A Mishra 47 12 144 2 3 1 3.06
V Sehwag 40 9 104 5 0 0 2.60
S Tendulkar 1 0 2 0 0 0 2.00

Friday, 31 October, 2008

Sehwag foils Aussie fight back

B D Narayankar

It was a gripping day of cricket. The Indians bowled their hearts out and there were edges flying all over the places. Skipper Anil Kumble failed to place an attacking field, which otherwise would have fetched some more wickets on the third day of the the third test match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on October 31.

The Australians on the other hand, never really dominated the proceedings, but did not give away too many wickets, which led them to script a sort of a fightback from the blades of opener Mathew Hayden and skipper Ricky Ponting.

The good thing for India, however, is that when they come out tommorow to play, their bowlers would find the ball still new and hard. Quickies Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan could think using the morning condition to India's advantage. As far as the spinners are concerned, they can make a huge difference. Leggies Amit Mishra and Kumble and offie Virendra Sehwag are getting a lot of rip. Particulary Sehwag who picked up three vital wickets.

If Kumble gets it right tommorow by placing an attacking field and gets early breakthroughs, it will open the floodgates for India to sniff out the Aussies out of the match.

The tourists were happy with way things went for them in the first session of the fourth day. They scored hundred runs having lost one wicket. Hayden and Simon Katich batted in a gritty manner and looked comfortable.

Zaheer, who started the proceedings, bowled two bouncers at Hayden, but failed to get the much-needed breakthrough for India.

Katich looked in good knick and played some fluent shots, hitting 10 fours and notching up his 10th Test fifty in the process. He smashed Sharma thrice over the ropes and looked relaxed against Jumbo.

After lunch, Katich was undone by Mishra who lured him into playing a flick from outside the off stump and then watched as the ball sneaked through the gap and knocked off the middle stump. He made 64 runs with ten hit to the fence.

Before tea, India tasted another Aussie blood when Sehwag pushed one quicker through the air to trap dangerous-looking Hayden leg before for 83. The innings was studded with 13 boundaries and a huge six. It was Hayden's highest score in the series so far. He also shared 123 runs for the
opening wicket with Katich and another 79 with Ponting to lay the platform for Australia's reply to India's mammoth 613-7 declared.

Ponting hit 14 fours in his fine 163-ball 87-runs knock and shared a vital 82-run stand with the in-form Mike Hussey.

The Australian skipper looked set for his 37th ton following his 123 in the drawn Bangalore opener but was bowled by Sehwag, who gave away just 66 runs picking up three vital wickets off his impressive 22 overs.

Hussey was picked up by Sehwag, giving him his third wicket of the match. The local lad tossed the ball up on the middle and leg of the southpaw who failed to cover his off stop. Hussey made a useful 53 of 146 balls belting seven boundaries.

Michael Clarke was batting on 21 with Shane Watson on four at close after surviving some close chances against the spinners, who managed to extract good turn from the track.

Thursday, 30 October, 2008

VVS, Gauti put Aussies out of winning race with their double tons

B D Narayankar

The second day's play of the third Border-Gavaskar Test played at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla belonged to two double century makers - opener Gautam Gambhir and stylish VVS Laxman. They placed India in a formidable position after stringing a record 278-runs partnership for the fourth wicket.

India declared on 613 for 7 on the second day as soon as Laxman lofted Micheal Clarke to the long on boundary to complete his double ton. They decided to have a crack at Australia for an hour today but that didn't quite go as per plans as the bowlers failed to pick up a single wicket. The ball is turning and that is the biggest concern for Australia. At stumps the visitors were 50 for no loss with openers Mathew Hayden and Simon Katich at the crease.

Today's first session went into India's kitty as the hosts went wicketless into lunch. Gambhir and Laxman started off from where they had left yesterday. They added 97 runs with ease as none of the Aussie bowlers troubled them.

Gambhir, 149 overnight, continued to mix caution with aggression and set his eyes on making his first double hundred. He, however, offered a chance when on 176, but his edge off leg-spinner Cameron White evaded Mathew Hayden in the slips.

Gambhir, who scored 206, tore apart Australian attack to script his second century of the Border-Gavaskar series. He, however, fell apart trying to fend off his betenoire Shane Watson's delivery. He nicked the ball back on to his stumps.

Gambhir had become the first left-handed opener from any country to hit a double-hundred against Australia, and his score equaled the previous record by an Indian opener against the Aussies. Ravi Shastri had made 206 in Sydney against Allan Border's team in 1991-92.

Laxman has a special liking for the Australian attack. It was evident from the fact that he scored his six centuries out of 13 against the No. 1 team in the world. Laxman notched up a double hundred remaining unbeaten on 200 before skipper Anil Kumble declared the innings.

Only Brett Lee gave some initial hiccups to Laxman early on. The bowler was unlucky after the Hyderabadi fended off a rising delivery clumsily. That was the only blemish from the blade of Laxman. He later slipped into his groove and brought his skillful wrists into play - driving and pulling on both sides of the wicket. He was in a sublime form.

The stylish Laxman was stuck for 11 balls on 99 but reached the coveted mark with a cover-driven four off leg-spinner White.

Retiring veteran Sourav Ganguly soon walked back after adding just five runs to his team's score. His outing was cut short by part-time bowler Simon Katich as he holed one to Ponting at short cover.

India vice-captain MS Dhoni's cameo of 27 runs was put to end by Watson. Dhoni edged a delivery that was going outside the offstump and wicketkeeper Haddin took a diving catch.

Kumble was eventually trapped lbw to become Johnson's third victim of the innings, and all that was left was for Laxman to reach 200 before the inevitable declaration came.

Australia 50-0 (15) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
M Hayden not out 16 35 3 0 45.71
S Katich not out 29 56 5 0 51.79
*R Ponting
M Hussey
M Clarke
S Watson
B Haddin
C White
B Lee
M Johnson
S Clark
Extras: 5 ( b:4 lb:0 nb:1 w:0)
Total: 50-0 (15) | Curr. RR: 3.33


India O M R W Nb Wd RPO
Zaheer Khan 4 2 9 0 0 0 2.25
Ishant Sharma 4 1 9 0 0 0 2.25
*Anil Kumble 4 1 17 0 1 0 4.25
A Mishra 3 0 11 0 0 0 3.67

India 613-7 decl (161) Runs Balls 4s 6s SR
G Gambhir b Watson 206 380 26 1 54.21
V Sehwag lbw b Lee 1 2 0 0 50.00
R Dravid c Hayden b Johnson 11 31 1 0 35.48
S Tendulkar c Haddin b Johnson 68 126 11 0 53.97
VVS Laxman not out 200 301 22 1 66.45
S Ganguly c Ponting b Katich 5 8 1 0 62.50
MS Dhoni c Haddin b Watson 27 29 4 1 93.10
*Anil Kumble lbw b Johnson 45 73 8 0 61.64
Zaheer Khan not out 28 21 3 1 133.33
Ishant Sharma
A Mishra
Extras: 22 ( b:6 lb:8 nb:6 w:2)
Total: 613-7 decl (161) | Curr. RR: 3.81

FOW: V Sehwag (5-1, 2.1), R Dravid (27-2, 10.4), S Tendulkar (157-3, 52), G Gambhir (435-4, 123.5), S Ganguly (444-5, 126.2), Dhoni (481-6133.4, *Anil Kumble (579-7, 155.4)

Australia O M R W Nb Wd RPO
B Lee 30 2 119 1 1 1 3.97
S Clark 33 9 69 0 0 0 2.09
M Johnson 32 4 144 3 0 2 4.50
S Watson 20 4 66 2 3 0 3.30
C White 15 1 73 0 0 0 4.87
M Clarke 14 0 59 0 0 0 4.21
S Katich 15 2 60 1 0 0 4.00
*R Ponting 2 0 11 0 0 0 5.50

Wednesday, 29 October, 2008

Huge partnerships sour Aussie hopes

B D Narayankar

After losing Nawab of Najafgarh Virendra Sehwag and formidable Rahul Dravid early in the day, Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and Delhi lad Gautam Gambhir poured water over the hopes of Aussies building on the early advantage on the first day of the third Border-Gavaskar Test match being played at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on October 29.

The defining moments of the day were the two wonderful partnerships between Gambhir and Tendulkar (130 runs) and then between Gambhir and VVS Laxman (an unbeaten 139-runs stand). Especially Gambhir's stand with Tendulkar mattered the most as India was precariously placed at 27 for 2 in the 11th over after the Aussies sent back two of India's top guns packing for cheap scores. First, Brett Lee trapped Sehwag plumb when the opener tried to defend from the crease. Next, Dravid edged Mitchell Johnson to Mathew Hayden in the slips, who took a good low catch. Dravid tried reaching a fuller-length ball angling away from him.

Right from the start of the series, the Aussies have had few causes for concern. After the retirement of Glen MacGrath and Shane Warne, their attack looks toothless. It will not be wrong to say here that Lee looks spineless without the support of MacGrath and Warne from the other end. Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark failed to learn a lesson from Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, who picked wickets with swing in Mohali and Bangalore tests.

The other concern of the Aussies includes the absence of an attacking spinner and the dogged concentration of Indian batsmen. It was a very familiar list of troubles.

It was a day of reckoning for Gambhir. This was his back-to-back test centuries against the No. 1 Test team in the world. Gambhir cracked a scintillating unbeaten 149 runs. Gambhir played a waiting game after losing Sehwag and Dravid. The southpaw, in association with Tendulkar, rebuilt the Indian innings by playing a waiting game.

When the platform was safely built, Gambhir changed gears and started striking the ball with exquisite timing and and placement. He began to clip balls through the leg side and cut and drove through the off side. No wonder he brought his classy century with an unexpected six of Shane Watson.

The runs did not stop there. Laxman was almost unnoticed, inasmuch as that can be said of his glorious flicks through leg, in building a valuable half-century that helped stop any momentum Australia might have collected when Tendulkar departed. Laxman and Gambhir's unbeaten 139-run partnership became a major frustration for Aussie captain Ricky Ponting, whose troops performed admirably at times but failed to maintain the pressure.

Post-lunch session

India started the second session at a menacing pace. Both Tendulkar and Gambhir hitting boundaries all over the park. Tendulkar reached his 51st Test half-century with a boundary off Stuart Clark and Gambhir followed suit. Just before tea, Tendulkar was done in by Johnson's persistent line when the maestro played away from his body and nicked an angling delivery into the hands of Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for a well-made 68. Tendulkar had gone into the shell as he was playing for tea.


At stumps, India is sitting pretty with 296 for 3 on the board. When Gambhir and Laxman will take guard tommorrow, the former would like to build on his unbeaten 149 runs and the latter look forward to end his drought. Will Ponting have a plan up his sleeves? We will find out tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 October, 2008

The unnecessary Christian blurt

B D Narayankar

It was unkindest cut of all - Archbishop Barnard Moras of Bangalore berating and shouting at Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa in full public glare. It was a strange and uncivilized behaviour which was unwarranted and unexpected from a Godman.

Compare his behaviour with that of other Hindu leaders, who have not misbehaved with government authorities, inspite of end number of provocations on Hindus in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir, where Hindus suffered huge losses and even made to flee.

Why did Barnard Moras behave in an ungainly manner? What was the necessity to blurt out in front of TV cameras? Was it a political stunt? Probably, he wanted to show the world that Christians were being attacked in BJP-ruled states. He hardly gave a thought that the outburst against Christians was the result of provocation coming from evangelists, who distributed blasphemous literature, deriding Hindu gods.

Christians, instead of leveling charges against BJP-ruled government, should be thankful to Yediyurappa for not allowing law and order situation going out of hand. Other than isolated incidents of localized vandalism in which both Christians and Hindus were involved, there was not a single instance of organized violence in Karnataka. The CM also has shown enough courage to initiate an investigation into conversion activities perpetrated by evangelists, instead of succumbing to the tirades launched by evangelist-owned news channels.

Historically, evangelical churches were the branches of foreign governments that incited colonial wars against Hindus for centuries. Virtually every major European country had justified wars of colonial conquest as a prelude to loot and genocide in the name of Christianity as any moderately well informed observer will acknowledge.

To unmake the ignominy faced by losing direct control over India in 1947, the evangelists are doing everything on this earth to regain control. In fact, they are running the Indian Union with the heinous support of airhead human rights organizations and television channels. The evangelists are on a mission to seek India's political transformation through conversions. Conversion is a means to blunt the possible revolt of Indians on matters such as Hinduism and Hindu culture.

The evangelists are working towards creating a docile native constituency through conversions that will oblige to the wishes of powerful Christian nations - America, UK and Rome among others. There is nothing saintly about it, it simply is demoniac pretensions to subvert Hinduism and subjugate Hindus. That some educated and well-connected Indians support their activities only means that traitors exist and should be treated as such.

India is known for its spiritualism and religiosity, and the evangelists are aiming to sabotage this very facade that has made this country unique and a nation to look up to at times of moral crisis. Unfortunately, the pseudo-secularist parties, instead of curbing these provocative activities, grab any chance coming their way to sympathize with minorities for votes.

Look at the DMK and CPM, who never are tired castigating BJP for not protecting minorities, whereas, comparatively speaking, instances of Christian and their churches being attacked, are more in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In fact, the BJP record in maintaining inter-religious harmony is much better than any other so-called pro-minority parties. Sensible sections of the minorities acknowledge this.

So, in this context what should be the way out to tackle religious subversions? Should the defense of India imitate Joseph Stalin’s ruthless, unforgiving campaign against the Nazi attempt to wipe out Russia and its Slavic people? Stalin had executed dissenters and collaborators without pity and eventually crushed the Nazis in epic struggles without parallel in recorded history. This has to be debated.

Friday, 26 September, 2008

Log on to save Mother Earth!

B D Narayankar

Pune: You wake up in the morning and rush to your school. In this process, have you ever thought what damage you had done to the Mother Earth - because you use the school bus, it emits tons of carbon in the air; you use paper, which comes to you after pulling down millions of bamboo trees. These are the dangers that the classical mode of educational system (schools and colleges) dish out to mankind. So, what's the way out?

One of the most effective ways to reduce carbon footprints is online education. In fact, Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) and UK's Open University Design Innovation Group (DIG) have suggested online education as a remedy against environmental pollution.

Though little research has been done on the topic, SEI and DIG have released some relevant studies in 2005. Their work quantifies the environmental impact of the higher education sector and lauds the “potential of the Internet and other e-learning methods to radically reduce energy consumption and emissions.”

The key finding of the UK study was that distance learning courses consumed nearly 90% less energy and produced 85% fewer CO2 emissions than conventional campus university courses.

By logging on, instead of traveling to the age-old campuses, you are contributing towards making your surroundings or the world, greener and verdant. Virtual education, unlike the distance education, is more accessible to students, without disturbing the ecological balance - it doesn't bleed the Mother Earth.

Students are no longer limited to college campuses within a 50-mile radius. The online format offers access to countless specialty programs globally by building a global community.

One such platform making accessible best of the courses online and contributing towards the “Go Green” movement is WiZiQ which has made available a number of preparatory courses like CET, CAT, CA and IAS, for students to learn while conserving resources.

According to a spokesperson, WiZiQ.com is an online learning platform focused on empowering teachers and education service providers to reach out to students and make learning more effective over the Internet.

It boasts of a free Virtual Classroom that is equipped with live audio-video communication, chat, content sharing, and session recording capabilities. For more details contact: 9921347562

Sunday, 14 September, 2008

Modi alerted PM about Delhi blasts: Advani

Bangalore, Sep 13 (IANS) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had 10 days ago alerted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the serial bomb blasts that rocked New Delhi, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani said here late Saturday.

"About 10 days ago, Modi told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan in Delhi that interrogation of the accused involved in the July 26 Ahmedabad blasts had revealed similar serial blasts were planned to take place in the national capital," Advani revealed, raising eyebrows.

Addressing a mammoth crowd at the party's first Vijay Sankalp rally at the National College grounds here, Advani said the accused, linked with the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), did not tell where and when the bomb blasts would take place but had claimed it would be in Delhi.

"Modi's alert or warning to the prime minister was not an apprehension but (it was) on the basis of sustained investigation that was done by the Gujarat police and which made him realise it was going to happen even in the capital. Modi also told the PM that it was for the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government to pursue the matter," Advani recalled.

Modi was on the dais along with BJP president Rajnath Singh, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and other party leaders when Advani made the remarks after condemning the blasts and expressed condolence to the victims of the Delhi blasts.

It was mediapersons who first told Leader of Opposition Advani about the six blasts in the national capital when he was about to leave the state guesthouse for the public rally venue.

"They (mediapersons) wanted my reaction to the ghastly incident. I told them I cannot say anything now, as I did not I have details. All the same, I condemn them and express concern that serial blasts have occurred again, this time in Delhi," Advani said.

Sharing his anguish on the series of terror blasts that have taken place over the years in major cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, Advani said the UPA government, which had been "soft on terror elements", could not blame the Delhi blasts as "failure of intelligence".

"The refrain of the UPA government had been to blame the Intelligence Bureau (IB) all along for the various blasts. This time, the government can't even tell that the Delhi blasts took place due to the intelligence failure. If the IB failed, our Gujarat chief minister had already forewarned them," Advani asserted.

In this context, Advani also criticised the central home ministry for failing to provide evidence to a Delhi High Court tribunal on extending the ban on SIMI recently. The tribunal had last month asked the government to lift the ban, though the government approached the Supreme Court within days and the ban was restored.

"It was the NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance) government that first banned SIMI and submitted hard evidence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, for extending the ban three times.

"But when the UPA government was asked to present evidence before the tribunal for extending the ban, the home ministry failed to do so. As a result, the tribunal was compelled to revoke the ban in the absence of hard evidence from the ministry to justify the continuation of ban.

"It is a matter of relief that the Supreme Court intervened and reimposed the ban on SIMI," Advani noted.

Modi says he alerted PM, Gujarat police clueless

Bangalore/Ahmedabad, Sep 13 (IANS) As six blasts shook the national capital Saturday, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said he had alerted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the terror plot on the basis of the interrogation of suspects but the Gujarat police said they had "no inkling" of any threat to New Delhi.

"Suspects arrested after the Ahmedabad blasts had told our police clearly that very soon there will be blasts in Delhi. They had said that all preparations for the blasts have been completed and only orders to carry them out were awaited," Modi told reporters in Bangalore.

"Ten days ago, when I met the prime minister, the home minister (Shivraj Patil) and the National Security Adviser (M.K. Narayanan) in New Delhi, I had specifically alerted them that the terrorists being interrogated by the Gujarat police had indicated Delhi was going to be their next target," Modi told reporters.

"The terrorists had said they were going to target Delhi in the near future, though we did not have specific dates or places," he added.

While senior Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani repeated Modi's remarks at a Bangalore rally and said his alert was no heeded, the Gujarat police said there was no specific information on the Delhi blast plot.

"We had no inkling of any plot for the Delhi blasts in the near future from the interrogation of SIMI activists so far. We knew they were desperate and they would be doing it at some other place," said Ashish Bhatia, joint commissioner of police (Crime Branch) of Ahmedabad, told IANS.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) R.V. Ansari said: "No clues. Absolutely no clues came of the Delhi angle during interrogation of the SIMI activists by Ahmedabad crime branch.

"We suspected something was in the offing. These men are pathologically inclined to do what they want do as long as they are not caught," Ansari told IANS.

The Gujarat police have been interrogating 10 Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists along with their leader Saffar Nagori in connection with the July 26 serial bombings in Ahmedabad that claimed 56 lives.

The Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Ahmedabad as well as in New Delhi.

Gujarat Director General of Police P.P. Pande had last month said the Indian Mujahideen was nothing but a new front of the banned SIMI.

Modi, in Bangalore to attend the BJP national executive meeting which began Friday, said innocent people were being killed due to "the soft policy adopted by the central government".

He said the states should be allowed to frame anti-terror laws to combat extemism.

Modi said he had raised the issue of terrorism earlier Saturday during the national executive meet.

"If we want to fight terrorism, the country will have to unite against terrorists," he said.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Advani also told the party's Vijay Sankalp Yatra in Bangalore later Saturday that Modi had informed the prime minister and the home minister of the threat.

"Modi had alerted the prime minister and the home minister 10 days back that interrogation of SIMI activists in Ahmedabad had revealed that next blasts would be in Delhi," Advani said.

"Modi's alert has not been heeded," Advani said.

Advani dares UPA to hold Lok Sabha polls now

Bangalore, Sep 14 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate L. K. Advani late Saturday challenged the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to dissolve Parliament and hold Lok Sabha elections immediately.

"I throw challenge to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to hold general elections now so that people can give their verdict," Advani said at the party's first 'Vijay Sankalp (victory affirmation) rally here.

"Dissolve Lok Sabha. Announce elections. Why wait till May next year," the opposition leader in Lok Sabha said.

Asserting that the people of India wanted to get rid the "corrupt" and "incompetent" government, Advani told the crowd that now was the time to let people decide who should govern the country, which he said had been brought to the brink by the government's failure on all fronts.

"Let the electorate decide which party or alliance is better to rule the country. Let us test to find out who has the people's mandate to form the next government. Let the people have a chance to compare the performance of our NDA government with that of the UPA government," Advani said raising his voice during his 35-minute address in English and Hindi.

"In my six decades of political life, I have not come across a prime minister who could not take credit for any achievement as in the case of Manmohan Singh. The perception in the establishment is success belongs to Sonia Gandhi and failures to Manmohan Singh," he added.

Holding the UPA government responsible for inflation, price rise, agrarian crisis, terrorism and a flawed Indo-US nuclear deal, the BJP leader called the cash-for-votes incident "a mega scam".

"I am sorry to say that by this single act of misdemeanour, which can be dubbed mega scam, Manmohan Singh has forfeited any moral right to be a man of integrity and purity in public life," Advani said.

Advani also lauded the people of Karnataka for having voted his party to power for the first time in the state and south India.

Major attacks since 2003


New Delhi, September 13, 2008

At least five bombs exploded in crowded markets and streets in the heart of New Delhi on Saturday, killing at least 18 people and injuring scores more. The Indian Mujahideen militant group, which has claimed several major attacks in recent months, said it was responsible.

Following is a chronology of some of the major attacks in India in the past five years:

March 13, 2003 - A bomb attack on a commuter train in Mumbai kills 11 people.

August 25, 2003 - Two car bombs kill about 60 in Mumbai.

August 15, 2004 - A bomb explodes in the northeastern state of Assam, killing 16 people, mostly schoolchildren, and wounding dozens.

October 29, 2005 - Sixty-six people are killed when three blasts rip through markets in New Delhi.

March 7, 2006 - At least 15 people are killed and 60 wounded in three blasts in the northerly Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi.

July 11, 2006 - More than 180 people are killed in seven bomb explosions at railway stations and on trains in Mumbai that are blamed on Islamist militants.

September 8, 2006 - At least 32 people are killed in a series of explosions, including one near a mosque, in Malegaon town, 260 km (160 miles) northeast of Mumbai.

February 19, 2007 - Two bombs explode aboard a train heading from India to Pakistan; at least 66 passengers, most of them Pakistanis, burn to death.

May 18, 2007 - A bomb explodes during Friday prayers at a historic mosque in the southern city of Hyderabad, killing 11 worshippers. Police later shoot dead five people in clashes with hundreds of enraged Muslims who protest against the attack.

August 25, 2007 - Three coordinated explosions at an amusement park and a street stall in Hyderabad kill at least 40 people.

May 13, 2008 - Seven bombs rip through the crowded streets of the western city of Jaipur, killing at least 63 people in markets and outside Hindu temples.

July 25 - Eight small bombs hit the IT city of Bangalore, killing at least one woman and wounding at least 15.

July 26 - At least 16 small bombs explode in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, killing 45 people and wounding 161. A little-known group called the "Indian Mujahideen" claims responsibility for the attack and the May 13 attack in Jaipur.

September 13 - At least five bombs explode in crowded markets and streets in the heart of New Delhi, killing at least 18 people and injuring scores more. The Indian Mujahideen again claim responsibility.

Govt soft on terror: Advani

Swagata Sen

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Lal Krishna Advani, began his Vijay Sankalp Yatra at Bangalore’s National College Grounds with a strong message against terrorism, where he blamed the ruling government’s soft approach to terrorism which was responsible for the recent spate of serial blasts in the country, culminating with those in Delhi on Saturday evening.

Addressing the first rally of the nationwide journey that he has taken up to campaign in the light of the forthcoming general elections, Advani said that “intelligence failure” cannot be cited as a reason for the government’s not being able to prevent the blasts

Ten days ago, the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had met the national security advisor and informed the prime minister and the home minister that his state police’s investigations had shown that Delhi was the next target for blasts.

A tough approach to terrorism is one of the BJP’s most important issues in the forthcoming elections, as Advani, along with party president Rajnath Singh, reiterated their stand on implementing stringent anti-terrorist laws to check the web of terror that has gripped the country.

The first meeting of the Vijay Sankalp Yatra saw Advani being accompanied by leaders such as Venkaiah Naidu and Jaswant Singh and the chief ministers of six states barring Rajasthan’s Vasundhara Raje Scindia, who had to rush to Jaipur on the second day of the BJP National Executive Meeting that is to be concluded on Sunday.

Speaking to the thousands that had gathered, Advani challenged the government to hold elections right away, as the prime minister, he said, does not have a single achievement to boast of.

He touched upon the Amarnath controversy and inflation as examples of government failures, as upon the cash-for-vote scandal at the recent trust vote.

Earlier, Modi, in his resolution speech at the meet, came dowm heavily on terror as well, saying that “Those concerned about terror obviously support GOJCOC (Gujarat’s proposed anti-terror law), those concerned about terrorists understandably oppose it,” making a reference to the Home Ministry’s opposition to the proposed law.

Modi ‘had alerted PM’

BANGALORE: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi yesterday said he had alerted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 10 days ago that Delhi would be the next target of terrorists after Ahmedabad and Bangalore. “Suspects arrested after the Ahmedabad blasts had clearly told our police that very soon there will be blasts in Delhi. They had said that all preparations for the blasts had been completed and only orders to carry them out were awaited,” Modi told reporters here.
“Ten days ago, when I met the prime minister, the home minister (Shivraj Patil) and the national security adviser (M K Narayanan) in New Delhi, I had specifically informed them that the terrorists being interrogated by the Gujarat police had indicated Delhi was going to be their next target,” Modi said.- IANS

Delhi Blasts: A Secularist Questions


My family, my whole family, mom dad sis, had a narrow escape in today’s Delhi serial blasts. By ‘narrow’ I mean really really narrow. They were a few meters away from the blast site, and were AT the site from where live bombs were found minutes later.

Only I know what I felt during the time I heard about the blasts till the time my family got a three wheeler and reached home safely. At last I had a sigh of relief but today they escaped, what about tomorrow? And if not my family what about the families of those 20 that did lose their life and those 100s battling for in the hospital?

The first thought that my sister had after having a narrow escape from the blast was that “we have all been turned into insects, just waiting to be crushed anytime. There is no value of our lives, you never know when, where and how.”

A million thoughts came to mind. What exactly do these people want? I really wonder if there is anything that we could offer them so that they would stop this blood shed. Earlier we thought, okay the terror attacks on India by Islamic groups are because they want Kashmir. Some people even went to the extent of respectfully calling them freedom fighters for Kashmir and terrorists for federal India. But this Indian Mujahideen, they simply are just mindless blood thirsty psychos.

Looking at the things they said in their emails you wonder how can any group utter such non-sense.

What promise? What sins? What on earth are they trying to do? Are they really so naive to think they’d ever achieve anything in this manner. No matter how flawed our governance is or how weak our intelligence is do they really think they can successfully wage and win a war against an entire nation’s force? Are they that stupid?

In all the news channels this email was shown today. The opening line says, “in the name of Allah.” So do they mean their Allah told them to kill people? Kill which people? Hindu or Muslim or other religion people? Or did Allah specifically ask them to kill Indians of whatever religion? Are they going to kill Indians living in India only or NRIs too?

These Muslim religious leaders keep issuing Fatwas for all sort of reasons. Last they said, Salman Khan is not a Muslim any more and imposed a social boycott on him and his family because Salman did a Ganesh puja. They said idol worship is against Islam. Then they said Muslim women can’t use mobiles, can’t travel alone, can’t buy products from sales men etc.

Now why can’t these Imams issue a Fatwa against these terrorist declaring them as non Muslim on the ground that killing innocent people is against Islam. Or at least condemn the killings. Since nothing of that sort ever happens, should we then assume that killing innocent people is NOT against Islam?

Am sure the Hindutva brigade would jump at this now and say, “that’s the whole point we been trying to make for so long”. But let’s not get into that now.

This Hindutva v. Jihad is pure politics, a game of power, which has got nothing to do with the people dying. Those who are dying, whether Hindu or Muslim are neither interested in Hindutva nor in Jihad, they are just regular law abiding peaceful citizen of this country going about their life rather unaware of the dangerous religious politics their leaders are playing all over the world in the name of their religion. They just want to live their life at peace.

The only way to fight terrorism is by not being terrorised. ‘Not be terrorized’ would mean to not jump the gun and brand the next Muslim you see on the street as terrorist. Neither should we assume that every Muslim subscribe to these killings or would eventually become a jihadi.

Irrespective of what their holy book say or what their leaders may insist, no human being of sane mind would to become a killer. People really just want to live their lives. It’s always those few rotten apples that spoil the whole bunch.

That said, I really wonder what impact do groups like ‘Indian Mujahideen’ have on the average Muslim youth in India and across the world. Why don’t we ever read or hear enough from them? Not just this issue, why don’t the average Muslim speak against arbitrary diktats their religious leaders often impose.

Though Salim Khan is a welcome exception in this context. He not only openly questioned the locus standi of the Imam to issue any kind of Fatwa but also went on to say his wife being a Hindu, celebrating Ganeshotsav is in his blood. Those are some brave words from a truly secular and brave Indian Muslim. Mr Khan said,

But besides that, why ain’t their enough voices against such high degree of gender discrimination I juts mentioned above? Don’t the educated Muslim men see the craziness behind such mindset? Can’t they be vocal about it? I would really need some answers to these questions without which it really gets difficult for a secularist to defend them when another counter-terrorism group attacks another bunch of innocent people as a natural reaction to terrorism.

Even keeping the religion completely aside, if we could look at these attacks purely as law and order problem; lack of intelligence; lack of ground level security measures issue, we would achieve a lot. I mean the funniest things that I notice in such times are 1) The High Alerts in each city 2) Politician’s condemnation pouring in from all sides 3) and the speculation over the intensity of the bombs. That’s all we do and all we achieve after those long hours of “breaking news” telecast. But what happens after that? Nothing.

Every time a Modi would say we need more stringent laws to tackle terrorism. But what can law do when our ground level policing is not effective. We don’t have enough smart and active police keeping a daily vigil at various nook and corner of the city. Instead we have pan chewing pot bellied yawning police men who are busy collecting bribes from petty criminals.

You have a terrorist group carrying on its illegal activity in a certain city for months together before the actual blast but not one local police constable would suspect a thing. They must be visiting the spots couple of times to design their attack, they must be buying raw materials from some place to make these bombs, they must be using cell phones to communicate. Can’t we have intelligence which could nab these culprits at such sources?

There is no answer why our security is so flawed that we never ever get a clue before the attacks take place. So many blasts in the last couple of years but how many arrests? How many cases solved? How many proven guilty beyond doubt?

Another fashionable thing to do after such blast is to blame media for their coverage style. Today, they frowned upon CNN IBN’s showing the life less body of a woman lying on the pavement over and over again. They said, “media only wants to show gory pictures exaggerating things. The city is calm, media is making it look like a war situation.”

Not showing the gory picture wouldn’t help anything you know. It’s not media’s problem that we feel uncomfortable to see the gory picture. Moreover even if one person is dead that is a serious matter, why blame the media? That’s a real body lying there, not a fake body that media has thrown in to create sensation.

Media also got blamed for giving extreme coverage to the email from Indian Mujahideen. Logic? That ‘coverage’ is exactly what the terrorist want so the media is in a serving their purpose. Yes, that may be true but that doesn’t mean Media would keep quiet about the emails. The people of this nation ought to know everything that is there to be known. Controlled information is not going to help.

Yet another rhetoric is “the people of blah blah city has shown that they cannot be cowed down by terror activities. Life gets back in track with full spirit.” My sister called me from the blast site. She said, “People ain’t panicking here. Those who were at bus stops are still waiting for their buses, not everybody can afford an auto even on a crisis day. Dad still tried to bargain with the auto guy.”

So the question is-this ‘not panicking’ is a sign of what? Is it ’strength’ or ’surrender’? or is it Apathy? Or are we getting immune to terror attacks?

Whatever it is, it is not a good sign that every time we fall, we get up, get going only to fall again. We must strike back and show these criminals their place. They have dared us enough. This is no less than an attack on our sovereignty. When will we ever say enough is enough?

Terror in the name of Islam: what purpose does it serve?

Perpetrators behind the recent terror attacks in major Indian cities - including Saturday’s Delhi bombings that left at least 20 dead and scores injured - are still shrouded in mystery. But the needles of suspicion are pointing towards groups with Muslim names. And if they are indeed to blame, we need to ask what purpose do such acts serve other than damaging the standing of the community in whose name it’s all being done.

Irrespective of whether or not Muslims have a link to these dastardly attacks, as a society we are again confronted with shame that a small bunch of radicalised people acting in the name of faith carry out crimes against innocents. Men and women hysterically screaming for their dear ones who died in these terrible blasts should be an indictment enough from a religious, moral and humanist point of view.

On Saturday, when Muslims observed Ramadan and Hindus were engrossed in Ganesh Chaturthi, five bombs ripped through three market places crowded with weekend shoppers in the national capital. The intent was evident. Target innocents and scare the others.

Why are you doing this? This is the question that requires answer from those who do it purportedly in the name of Islam. With whatever conviction they do it, all reasons fall flat in the face of the death of an innocent. If it’s really done to avenge the Gujarat 2002 mayhem and the demolition of Babri Masjid, why do they forget that Islam prohibits acts of vengeance and shedding of innocent blood.

In fact, the holy Quran teaches us to repel evil with good: ‘Those who patiently persevere, seeking the countenance of their Lord; establish regular prayers; spend out of (the gifts) We (Allah) have bestowed for their sustenance, secretly and openly; and turn off evil with good: for such there is the final attainment of the (Eternal) Home.’ (verse 13:22)

If it is true that the Indian Mujahideen - which claimed responsibility for Saturday’s mayhem - is indeed a Muslim outfit, they must understand that nothing more can harm Islam and Muslims than this act, which from all angles is anti-Islamic. The ultimate debasement of human values inflicting agony on innocent people cannot be justified on any count.

To believe that such shameful acts will help rebuild the demolished Babri Masjid, reverse what happened to innocent Muslims in Gujarat or make India pack up from Jammu and Kashmir is nothing but delusion harboured by corrupted and insane minds. Terror does no good to anybody and states rarely cave in to terror.

Such acts only shrink the space for Muslims in the entire world and of course in India, where anybody with a Muslim name already faces difficulties to find a house in cities. If the mindless violence continues, time is not far when our expulsion becomes inevitable, only because of a handful of extremist Muslims’ provocation.

And the outfits which benefit from such situations will try to cash in on it. Our country has no dearth of fanatics using such violence for vote bank politics. It is time to wake up before it gets too dark to see the light of truth.

(Sarwar Kashani is with IANS and can be contacted at s.kashani@ians.in. The views expressed are personal.)

Indian Mujahideen warns of terror attacks in Mumbai

NEW DELHI (IANS): The Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed the responsibility for the serial terror blasts in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Jaipur, killing at least 130 people in a span of four months, has now threatened to carry out attacks in India's financial capital - Mumbai.

Accusing Mumbai Police's Anti-Terrorism Squad of harassing Muslims, the Indian Mujahideen, believed to be a front strike unit of the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), said in its email that it was closely watching the ATS.

"You should know that your acts are not at all left unnoticed; rather we are closely keeping an eye on you and just waiting for the proper time to execute your bloodshed. We are aware of your recent night raids at Ansarnagar, Mograpada in Andheri and the harassment and trouble you created there for the Muslims," the group said in the email.

"You threatened to murder them and your mischief went to such an extent that you even dared to abuse and insult Maulana Mahmood-ul-Hasan Qasmi and even misbehaved with the Muslim women and children there.

"If this is the degree to which your arrogance has reached, and if you think that by these stunts you can scare us, then let the Indian Mujahideen warn all the people of Mumbai that whatever deadly attacks you will face in future, the only responsible elements for it will be the Mumbai ATS and their guardians: Vilasrao Deshmukh and R.R. Patil.

"You are already on our hit-list and this time very very seriously."

The terror outfit also threatened to target a senior Rajasthan police official. "Let us notify you, as we did to the Gujarat police that all the Mujahideen who shook Jaipur are absolutely safe and secure, and are heavily preparing for our next targets, one of which is A.K. Jain - the DIG (deputy inspector general) of Rajasthan.

Jain has been instrumental in arresting several SIMI members in Rajasthan in connection with the May 13 serial blasts in Jaipur. The mail bears two signatures at the end, GuruAlhindi and Al-Arbi.

CPI-M wants parliament session on terror attacks

New Delhi (PTI): Charging the UPA government with failing to protect the right to life of the citizens, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Sunday demanded convening of an emergency session of Parliament to discuss terrorism.

In a statement issued here, the Janata Dal (Secular) president said though "this was not the time to engage in political blame game, the impunity with which the terrorists are carrying out their mission across the country at regular intervals is a reflection on the competence and ability of the ruling coalition to combat the menace".

He said the government should convene an emergency session of Parliament to discuss "this aggression on the nation and evolve a political consensus to put up a unified resistance against the forces of communalism and terrorism."

While expressing shock at the serial blasts which rocked the national capital yesterday, Gowda said the government "which is willing to put even the nation's sovereignty and its own survival at stake for the sake of so-called energy security is unable to safeguard even the constitutional right of life of its citizens."

Gowda demands emergency Parliament session on terrorism

New Delhi (PTI): Charging the UPA government with failing to protect the right to life of the citizens, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Sunday demanded convening of an emergency session of Parliament to discuss terrorism.

In a statement issued here, the Janata Dal (Secular) president said though "this was not the time to engage in political blame game, the impunity with which the terrorists are carrying out their mission across the country at regular intervals is a reflection on the competence and ability of the ruling coalition to combat the menace".

He said the government should convene an emergency session of Parliament to discuss "this aggression on the nation and evolve a political consensus to put up a unified resistance against the forces of communalism and terrorism."

While expressing shock at the serial blasts which rocked the national capital yesterday, Gowda said the government "which is willing to put even the nation's sovereignty and its own survival at stake for the sake of so-called energy security is unable to safeguard even the constitutional right of life of its citizens."

UPA government a curse for common man, says Advani

Bangalore, Sep 14 (IANS) The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has become a curse for the country and the common man in whose name it claims to have come to power, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani said here Sunday.Addressing the valedictory function of the BJP’s three-day national executive meeting, Advani told about 200 party delegates that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was solely responsible for the “mega failure” in the fight against price rise and terrorism, “the mega scandal resulting in cash-for-votes during the trust vote in the Lok Sabha July 22″ and “the mega fraud” through the India-US civilian nuclear deal.

“Manmohan Singh’s spineless government has lost all legitimacy to continue in office even for a day longer. It must quit immediately, paving the way for fresh parliamentary elections so that the people can elect a new government that has the determination and ability to address the grave challenges facing the nation,” Advani asserted.

Kalam for stringent laws, citizen I-cards

NEW DELHI (PTI): Former President APJ Abdul Kalam said on Sunday that the country needs to enact a law which would provide stringent punishment to the culprits and also favoured introduction of citizen's identity card.

"I have said we need to enact a law which would provide stringent punishments and ensure justice," Kalam said while expressing his views on serial blasts in the national capital.He also said national citizen identity cards should be issued since "it is very important."

Kalam said that there is a need to create awareness among the general public so that such incidents could be prevented in the future. "Create a sense of awareness among people to work together in identifying these incidents..." he said.

SIMI: from a student organisation to potent terror group

New Delhi (PTI): Started three decades back as a student movement for studying Islam, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) has now aquired the status of being one of the most potent terror organisation in the country giving sleepless nights to security agencies.

Though banned in 2001 by NDA government under POTA, the recent serial bomb blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and now Delhi show that the group is still pursuing its nefarious designs.

SIMI was founded in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, way back in 1977 by Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi to propogate Islamic fundamentals among the student community.

But now its founder, who is now a professor of Journalism and Public Relations in the US, claims to have broken all ties with the organisation as its agenda had been hijacked by the radical elements.

Security experts say that SIMI had a strict age limit of 30 years and anyone above the prescribed age had to leave the group, just like Siddiqi did when he reached the age.

But experts point out that the rule does not exist any longer and even middle-aged people are activly involved in the matters of the organisation.

The ban imposed by Vajpayee Government came following requests from the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which said the organisation has been inciting communal violence in the states.

Police investigations also revealed that group members were allegedly involved in the communal riots in Pune and Kanpur and for the bomb blast on the Sabarmati Express on the Independence Day in 2000.

The name of this group figured in the conspiracy to bomb the Nagpur offices of RSS and VHP in May, 2001. Nine activists of the banned group were nabbed by Maharashtra police in this connection.

As Delhi bled, Pak fires on Indian troops across LoC

NEW DELHI (TOI): As New Delhi bled on Saturday evening, Pakistani army rangers allegedly violated the ceasefire agreement with the specific purpose of pushing in militants across the Line of Control (LoC).

Times Now has learnt that while New Delhi was reeling from the aftershocks of the deadly serial blasts, Pakistani troops were pushing in militants into India.

The violations took place between eight in the evening and ten-thirty in the night when the attention of the countries entire leadership was on containing the fallout of the Delhi serial blasts. According to highly placed military sources, Pakistani troops provided 'cover firing’ to infiltrate militants in Mendhar and Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch.

Pakistan firing was also reported from Druchian posts and Rashid post. This is the 31st incident of firing from the Pakistan side in last 4 months.

Firing on Indian troops from across LoC
Indian troops were on Sunday fired at from across the line of control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, leaving a jawan injured, defence sources said.

"There was firing from cross the LoC in Balnoi area of Poonch district. One jawan was hit by a bullet," they said adding the soldier was hospitalised.

One to two rounds of rocket projectile grenades were also fired in the area, they said, adding the militants may have fired the rounds.

Colonel S Jaswal, PRO of 16 Corps, said it was not a ceasefire violation and that no militants had infiltrated during the firing.

"There is no ceasefire violation and matter is being blown out of proportion," he said referring to a media report about infiltration of militants.

Delhi blasts new phase of terror war on India: Advani

Bangalore, Sep 14 (IANS): The serial bomb blasts in New Delhi Saturday signal a new phase in the terrorist war on India with disturbing features, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani said here Sunday.In his address at the concluding session of the party’s three-day national executive meeting, Advani told about 200 delegates that the nature of blasts and their spots revealed that the global terrorism network’s local roots have spread wider and it was receiving open support in certain sections of the political class, which was never the case earlier.

“We have a government that is refusing to implement the Supreme Court verdict on death sentence for someone (Afzal Guru) who is convicted in the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament (Dec 13, 2001). Two cabinet ministers in the UPA government have publicly defended the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (IMI) without being reprimanded by the prime minister,” Advani said.

If elected to power in the next parliamentary polls, due by May next, the BJP has decided to bring back the Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) Act, which was repealed by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, recommend presidential assent for state-specific anti-terror laws and take other tough measures to combat the menace of terrorism in the first 100 days in governance.

“The BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government will have firm anti-terror action as part of its 100-day agenda if voted to power,” Advani noted.

Paying homage to the blast victims, Advani alleged that under the UPA dispensation, terrorists have no fear because the Congress and the government were gripped with fear - the fear of losing “vote-banks” - when it comes to taking uncompromising legal and administrative measures against terrorism.

“The ruling establishment’s unwillingness and incapacity to fight terrorism and separatism have created an unprecedented threat to India’s unity and security,” Advani said.

Expressing concern over the “transition” of Jammu and Kashmir “from special status to separatism” over the years, the party’s prime ministerial candidate said the mishandling of the situation in the sensitive border state by the UPA government smacked of politics of minorityism.

“The government’s flip-flop on the allotment of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board has made one thing clear: the present day Congress leadership has mentally accepted that Kashmir is separate from the rest of India and should be treated as such. This dangerous slide from special status to separatism must be halted. Only the BJP and its allies can do it,” Advani asserted.

“The Amarnath issue is neither Hindu versus Muslim nor Jammu versus Kashmir. It is nationalists versus separatists,” he said.

Injured state of emergency

Shaili Chopra
Senior News Editor- Corporate, NDTV Profit
Sunday, September,14 2008 (New Delhi)
It's an angry state of affairs. It's the second test for the capital city in recent times, and it has failed. There's confusion and there are corpses; there are cops but where are the caretakers? Red lights and sirens are making our television screens bleed but our eyes search for ambulances. And there are no ambulances. It's an injured state of emergency services in India.

The blasts in Delhi on Saturday evening took place in busy, rich and upper middle class neighbourhoods. Isn't it ironic that even in these areas (that normally claim to be organised and well equipped), our emergency services don't stay up on alert? We saw the police in their gypsies who came to control and cordon off but where were the ambulances? Not many of us realise that these police cars, some of which carried people to hospitals, don't even have any first aid or emergency care facility. Does Delhi have its own state emergency ambulances prepared to take charge, like modern cities of the developed world? Roads in cities like Singapore, Dubai are all equipped with an emergency lane, any breach of which is heavily fined. We in India just often appear to wait for the ambulances to speed in from the nearest hospital, not to ignore the traffic they face. Injured were dragged, helplessly by common people and taken to hospitals, some might have survived if they were attended to enroute by the right kind of care.

Amidst all this, ironically, there's an admission through email or an announcement by who really was behind the blasts. At one time it was the Mujahideen and Al-Qaida, now we have a most potent local player called the Indian Mujahideen. It's as if it were a part of all us, now that its Indian and not foreign terrorists. What makes things worse, is that the 'claiming of the event' appears to add a sense of finality to the attack or blasts, once we all get to know who really was behind it.

In the last 5 years in India, in Ahmedabad and Surat, hospitals were targeted. In Varanasi temples were attacked. In Delhi busy markets and in Mumbai the aam janta trains. Have we not learnt our lessons?

All India wakes up to after a day of big attacks and blasts is a consolation statement by a slew of politicians, some of who would think less about investing in emergency care but spending more time and money jet setting in helicopters, getting their pictures clicked on the sites, as proof of their concern.

Year after year Indians have seen and experienced blasts, attacks in crowded areas ahead of the festive season. It's a bit like a trend and it doesn't take serious intelligence to make a guess. Even the Indian public today has seen this over the years so why hasn't the government?

But why are we surprised? Emergency services would only be prepared if there was a sense of urgency at the government's level. 2005 till now, little has changed for Sarojini Nagar. The CCTV cameras meant for monitoring the market area hadn't arrived till 2007, and when they did, who knows who monitors them? And why should be public be assured of safety in Sarojini Nagar. This is only a case in example, because every day there's a threat, there's a lurking fear in the streets of Hyderabad to the bylanes of Mumbai, and there's reality that there goverment hasn't done the homework. The home minister hasn't done the homework. After the last three attacks on the nation, his statements have been the same, like sound bites from the archive, just played incident after incident.

Correspondents on the ground report again and again - they say there's 'confusion'. And what else could they say? What a sorry picture for the world's largest democracy that at the scene of blasts and death only bring pictures of chaos and no sense of method when hell is breaking loose, by either the administration or emergency services. In India no one takes charge when blasts happen, groups only take responsibility.

How long will India live by the spirit of its cities? The spirit of Mumbaikars on the trains, the spirit of the Dilliwala frying samosas in bylanes of Gaffar market, the spirit that's alive among the traders of Surat. The tests of public patience need to stop. Will the home minister step out of his home.

Tuesday, 24 June, 2008

It's not for the rich alone!

B D Narayankar

Pune: With the sizeable increase of neo-rich population and young professionals in metropolitan cities, spa is evolving into an ideal destination of relaxation. Though, a few years ago, spas were the choice of the rich and the famous, they are no longer restricted to them.

"Apart from companies like Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) and VLCC, entrepreneurial ventures like The Four Fountains Spa set up by IIT, IIM and S.P. Jain graduates are opening spas at strategic locations in cities to cash in on the new trend. The Four Fountains Spa has come up with a new idea of a day spa where a person can visit a spa and let up the strain in few hours at surprisingly affordable prices."

Sunil Rao, Director of The Four Fountains Spa, says: "With the hectic city life people are finding it difficult to take a two-day leave to relax. In this scenario, a day spa is the best option, where you can reduce fatigue, enhance your mood and detoxify your body within a day at surprisingly affordable prices."

Suhrid Barua, Times of India principal sports correspondent, says: “Spa, for me, is a place for rediscovering self. A place where I can relax and forget everything about the world.” The trend of upper middle class visiting day spas is attributed to the changing life style and increase in the stress level among young professionals. “Through affordable prices, convenient locations and simplification of the spa experience, The Four Fountains Spa fancies making spas accessible to common people. There is a stark change in the upper middle class people’s thinking. They are visiting day spas frequently, even during weekdays.”

Day spa culture in US and Europe is still in its nascent stage, but is a rage in India. “Spa industry in India is a Rs 100-crore business and will grow into a Rs 4,000-crore business a few years from now. The Four Fountains Spa wants to avail this opportunity to make a mark in the day spa market,” Sunil Rao said.

Monday, 16 June, 2008

Come, visit the surprisingly affordable The Four Fountains Spa

B D Narayankar

Pune: Almost everybody would despise tiredness. But feeling tired is an option now. Come, slip into the world of harmony. There, you will be enveloped by refreshing air and ethereal music, that will bring vitality to life at surprisingly affordable price. Yes we are referring to The Four Fountains Spa which is conveniently located in your neighborhoods of Koregaon Park and Aundh.

Those seeking to maximize solace would prefer to visit a spa where the emphasis on health and well being are evident in the therapies offered. Most spas in Pune offer only Ayurvedic therapies.

Those that offer other therapies charge much higher prices. Some guests attest that they would prefer the more affordable properties over the big names, even if they had all the money in the world.

The Four Fountains Spa exudes warmth inside from the moment you walk through the door. It has 16 fully air-conditioned therapy rooms at Koregaon Park (7) and Aundh (9), each focused on tranquility.

The spa menu treats guests to different styles of Indian and world massage therapies, body treatments such as body polishes, body wraps and facials. The Four Fountains Spa also offers a selection of the choicest therapies from across the world.

The Four Fountains Spa respects the guests’ privacy and offers ‘same gender therapists’ – women therapists for women and men therapists for men. Individual shower enclosures in each room and provision of disposable underclothes ensure highest degree of hygiene and privacy.

The therapists are well qualified and specially trained to give guests a refreshing experience. There also is in-house training and retraining for therapists imparted by trainers