Saturday, February 27, 2010



Funny circular on
Digvijay Singh visit to 
Commonwealth Games office

By R Rajagopalan

Commonwealth Games secretariat asked its employees to be
seated in the vacant seats before the arrival of Digvijay Singh.

Why and what for Digvijay Singh gone there? Does he have
any direct responsibility in Commonwealth Games?

Insiders comment that Digvijay Singh thought that Commonwealth
games headquarters will also be another Azamgarh, and hence
he spent three hours in meeting senior officials of CWG.

For the benefit of the readers the verbatim letter is reproduced below.


Circular No. H72009/ESST

February 18, 2010


Shri Digvijay Singh former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh will be visiting
Organising Committee headquarters office at 10 am on February 19, 2010
He will have a round on the second and fourth floor of the building. I have been directed
to request the officers and staff to come early in the morning and sit on their respective
seats at 945 hours.

The employees sitting on third floor are requested to come down to second floor
and sit on the vacant seats before the arrival of the dignitary.

Director Estt




Governor E S L Narsimhan met Congress President Sonia Gandhi for 30 minutes at 10 Janpath to brief her on the prevailing situation in Andhra Pradesh. AICC sources confirmed to VAARTHA that Sonia was keen to get a first hand picture of administration, law and order and roundup of political situation in the state.

Governor ESL Narasimhan on Saturday discussed with Union Cabinet Secretary

KM Chandrasekhar on an irrigation project in andhra pradesh.

Key agenda for Governor visit to Delhi has been to expedite green signal
and funds for the project. Having met Pawan Bansal Minister for water resources
and then the Prime Minister, 

This was to balance the importance being given to Polavaram. 
Reason for Governor meeting Cabinet Secretary is that in Union Government
the Cabinet Secretary writ prevails. To include the irrigation project, in the union
cabinet agenda is with KM Chandrasekhar. 

Efforts to get the Andhra irrigation project cleared by the Union Cabinet 
means a major boost to economy of the andhra region.

Friday, February 26, 2010


vaartha special 
Ahmed Patel the political secretary of Sonia Gandhi also renders advices. In Central Hall he saw the Rajya Sabha MP Satyavrt Chaturvedi  who was taking tobacco, betal and clove from his pouch. Chaturvedi began to fold his nut cutter. Broke the betal into small pieces. All these were minutely watched by Ahmed Patel. Chaturvedi was enjoying mixing of all these components as power from his left palm. "Do remember the pain and sufferings
Sharad Pawar is now undergoing.." was the advice rendered. By next session of Parliament you stop this practice." Chaturvedi quietly put the mixutre powder in his mouth, could not speak but nodded to Ahmed bahi.
Sharp comment of Ambika Soni while receiving Green Minister Jairam Ramesh rattled everyone. This was at the enterance of her official bungalow in Delhi, She invited the entire CWC minus Sonia Gandhi.
She said that Jairam you wanted me to resign when the an affidavit on Lord Ram was filed in Supreme Court. Thanks for coming on my invitation to the Lunch. I had forgotten your public statement. Now that you
had come, let us be friends..."But never do it in future" was Ambikas's  suggestion to Jairam.
Obviously being instructed by the PMO, the chiefs of intelligence agencies have begun to brief the Leaders of Opposition on the internal  politics of Sri Lanka. It is now confirmed that BJP, CPM are being cautioned not to encourage the forces supporting Sarath Fonseka. Reason, China is backing former Chief of Sri Lankan army chief. Of course CPM has not taken
this briefing seriously. They quietly ignored it. When Shiv Shankar Menon National Security Advisor met the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi in Chennai, the same impression was also conveyed to ally of UPA.
MK Stalin the deputy chief minister of Tamil Nadu is now a frequent flier to New Delhi. which is considered as unusual . Does this also relfect the mindset of DMK leaders that Congress might ditch them at an opportune  moment. Stalin visits has upset the plans
of his elder brother MK Alagiri Union Minister. Brothers squabble
has now reached in the capital-New Delhi. Congress HIgh Command now feeling the heat from the charges and counter charges of the family of Karunanidhi. To bring peace between the two brothers the Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran has now become the translator from Tamil to
English whenever both brothers go to 10 Janpath or 7 Race Course Road. Centre stage coordination of Maran = has become much more irritant point for 14 DMK MPs of Lok Sabha

rahu kalam effect

Pranab da getting into crisis is a
say senior Congress leaders

By delhi correspondent

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee got into this major crisis.
Becasue of Rahu Kalam. many astrologers  believe it so

On  Fridays the timing of Rahu Kalam is 1030-1200 hours
Pranab da began his speech on the begining of the inauspicious time.
Hence he got into major crisis. Insiders in AICC also speak that
in 1991 many seniors told Rajiv Gandhi not to announce his candidature
on during the peak of Rahu Kalam on a sunday.

Rahu Kalam is considered to be too bad for any believers of planetic
postionings. Each day for 90 minutes, the Rahu enters  other planets
and brings  out curses.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

delhi gossips

Panjab University is being given a special grant of Rs 20 crores 
mostly likely in the 2010 Union Budget. This is the third time
that the University is getting extra attention by UPA Government.
Secret is that it is the Alma Mater of Hon. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh
Insiders jokingly say  the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee when present
the 2010 Budget is to make a special mention that Panjab University 
will continue to receive such grants, as it produced a Prime Minister.
In future Prime Ministers will also now use this route to be more generous
to their educational institutions.
Interviews are to be held for the post of Chairman of Steel Authority of India
(SAIL) on Tuesday Feb 23, by the Public Enterprises Selection Board.
Internal candidates from SAIL have been given priority. And IAS have
been given secondary treatment. Lobbying is so hectic. From different
quarters including that of PMO, President Secretariat and from influential
politicians. Insiders say that PESB interview is just an eyewash, as the
Government has decided to give  present Chairman SAIL  S K Roongta.
one year extention. 
Girish Chandra Chaturvedi presently Additional Secretary Financial
Services is being appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Commonwealth
Games. GC as affectionately addressed  Chaturvedi has completed seven
years of services with Government of India. He was to get back to his
Uttar Pradesh his cadre. But influential that he is despite renovating his
room with a massive expenditure, GC used his relative's influence to stay
back in New Delhi. GC will be treated as IAS rules 6.2.2. By that time th
Commonwealth Games are over in December, he would have been empanelled
as Secretary to Government of India.Thus he would not be getting back to
Lucknow. Continue to serve New Delhi. 
PMO is in search of a new Joint Secretary. In place of R Gopalakrishnan.
1989 IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre who is undergoing treatment in
Mumbai. Gopalakrishnan has completed five years of his tenure as JS in Delhi.
But special permission was given to him to continue for two more years in PMO.
Meanwhile he was indisposed. Now the workload has increased, that is why 
TKA Nair Principal Secretary to PM sought a panel of three names from 
establishment officer. Insiders say that there were massive lobbying from
senior AICC leaders to push their 'man' inside PMO.


bjp leaders speech on price rise

25 Feb 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: After two days of paralysed Parliament over the Opposition trying a parliamentary "referendum" through voting after debate, its truce with the government finally resulted in a day-long debate on price rise on Thursday in both the Houses, with the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman in an unprecedented move suspending the question hour.

Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha led the attack as leaders of Opposition showing how wrong actions of the Manmohan Singh government fuelled and continues to fuel food inflation despite no shortages.

The government had a tough time with the simultaneous debate in both the Houses as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee hopped from one House to another to get feel of the two debates while Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar chose to stay put in the Lok Sabha and the Prime Minister choosing to focus on both the debates from his Parliament House chamber.

Listing import-export scams of wheat, rice, pulses and sugar as the root cause of the prices shooting up, Sushma sought constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe them, Jaitley harped on the government's repeated failure to take up pre-emptive measures to bridge gap between demand and supply and regretted lack of coordination among ministries led to further inflation.

While both the BJP leaders ridiculed the government alibi of international prices and more money in the hands of villagers contributing to the domestic price rise, the ruling Congress fielded in Mumbai MP Sanjay Nirupam, a Shiv Sena convert, accusing them of shutting eyes to these truths. Samajwadi Party President Mulayam Yadav wanted a timetable from the government for systematically bringing down prices.

Braving continuous interruptions, Nirupam ridiculed Sushma claiming food prices kept under control during the NDA rule despite all odds, pointing out that the global crude oil prices never crossed US $40 a barrel in its time while they shot up to $140 and still hovered around $60-85 during the UPA regime and this pushed domestic prices of all commodities.

He also asserted that there is no denial that inflation is very high nor can it be denied the purchasing power of the rural masses shooting up attracted more consumption and led to rise in prices. Debt relief of Rs 70,000 crores to farmers, high support prices and Rs 39,000 crores distributed through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) were not scams fuelling inflation, Nirupam taunted Sushma.

In an hour-long attack on the government, Sushma Swaraj said all four reasons cited by the government in the President's address to Parliament for price rise were baseless. Domestic foodgrain production has not slumped as Pratibha Patil affirmed but actually shot up  to an all-time high at 234 million tonnes in 2008-09 and she quoted Pawar in support and cited another government report on foodgrain output in 2009-10 totalling 216.85 tonnes.

She also cited the American future trade rates to point out that prices of the food commodities were dropping and not rising as claimed by the government. Nor can government show higher support prices to farmers resulting in high prices, nor can it take shelter behind NREGA riddled with corruption. Even if one gets full wage of Rs 100 a day for 100 days under NREGA, it will work out to Rs 850 a month that can not be an increased purchasing power pushing prices in market, she affirmed.

Prices shot up basically because of one after another four import-export scams of wheat, rice, pulses and sugar, Sushma said, showing how wheat continued to be exported out despite a ban slapped in 2007-08, rice siphoned off as Basmati to circumvent export ban and the government agencies keeping imported pulses locked up in ports to let traders take advantage of artificial shortage.

As regards sugar, she faulted the government for allowing export of surplus production two years ago instead of creating a buffer stock and then allowing duty-free imports. She cited a ridiculous situation when sugar was being loaded in a ship for exports at Rs 12.50 a kilo and another ship offloading sugar imported at Rs 36 a kilo.

Sushma also poohpoohed the President committing the government to bring a food security law in her address, pointing out that nothing happened to a government promise on the same subject in her June address to guarantee 25 kilo of wheat and rice at Rs 3 a kilo to every BPL family in villages. She said the government not building four pillars on which food security can stand. They are: Correct figures of poor, higher production, enough godowns and effective public distribution system (PDS).

Instead of pushing up foodgrain production, the government has shamelessly admitted 8 per cent decrease in foodgrain cultivation area, she said and as regards increased productivity, she recommended the Gujarat model of Narendra Modi that raised farm production by 9.6 per cent since 2000 through cultivation in Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat that had vast stretches of dry land.

She pointed out inadequate godown capacity of the Food Corporation of India and how foodgrains were rotting while lying in open after procurement. She also recommended that FCI should shift to mechanised handling of the stocks instead of manual handling that involved piling up new bags on top of old stocks and thus most of the old stocks that are not used first rotting away.


Monday, February 22, 2010

justice srikrishna to visit Hyd on March 5,2010


Union Government approves the
Terms and Conditions


By R Rajagopalan

Full bench of Justice Srikrishna Committee on Telangana is expected
to visit Hyderabad on Friday March 5, 2010. to discuss with the state government
and meet the Governor ESL Narasimhan and Chief Minister K Rosaiah, Leader of
Opposition Nara Chandrababu Naidu K Chandrasekhar Rao President of Telangana
Rashtriya Samiti and other political parties.

To coordinate with Government and fix appointments also to make arrangements for the
March 5, meeting, Vinod Duggal the Member Secretary is arriving in Hyderabad.
on Tuesday.


Union Home Ministry on Monday approved the terms and conditions of the
Justice Srikrishna Committee on Telangana

The chairman shall have the status and perks of a sitting Judge of Supreme Court

The chairman shall be entitled to a consolidated fee of Rs One lakh permonth.
He will preside over minimum five meetings.

Chairman shall also be entiteld to the reimbursement of his transport fuel bills
and phone bills which he is using presently.

Chairman will be his won controlling officer for the purpose of travelling allowance.

Member secretary shall beentitled to the same status and perks of Minister of State
free accommodation, transport, phone and airtravel.

Dr Abushaieh Shariff would be full time member with effect from April 1,2010 he is superannuating
on March 31, 2010 as a full time member he shall be entitled to a consolidated fee per month
equivalent to last pay drawn.

Chairman also mentioned that in veiw of the sensitivity of the assignment all members need
to be provided with security.


Friday, February 19, 2010


19 Feb 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister's Economic Council (PMEAC), headed by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor C Rangarajan, on Friday came out with the bitter truth that the government's monetary policies are actually soaring the painful inflation, advising it to better cut the high budget deficit from the next financial year (from April 1) to bring down prices.

“The government cannot continue with the kind of large revenue and fiscal deficits recorded in the last two years and will have to initiate fiscal consolidation in the coming fiscal year itself to ensure fiscal sustainability and enable greater flexibility in monetary policy calibration for damping inflation,” the council said in a report out a week ahead of the Union Budget to be unveiled in Parliament by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on February 26.

It issued a stern warning that the runaway prices of the food commodities are likely to drive up the headline inflation next fiscal, putting the government and the Reserve bank of India (RBI) under pressure to take policy actions.

"The danger of this spreading to other commodities certainly exists, especially in the backdrop of the strong recovery that the Indian economy has been making since the summer of 2009," the council said, stressing that "policy must remain alive to the danger that a significant transfer of food price inflation to the general price level might occur in 2010-11."

GROWTH UP AND UP: Releasing the council's ‘Review of the Economy-2009-10,’ Dr Rangarajan told a Press conference here that the Indian economy is bouncing back but inflation is a matter of concern. The review predicted India's growth for this fiscal at 7.2 per cent, and later accelerating to 8.2 per cent and 9 per cent respectively over the next two years. 

"Growth may be even higher than 7.2 per cent, driven by strong revival in manufacturing and construction," he said while pointing out that the "critical component” of the inflationary process in the current fiscal derives from primary food and sugar.

He dropped hints of the government reducing money supply to curb inflation, taking advantage of high farm production as he said "the council expects a bounce back in agricultural gross domestic product in the next year and maintenance of the desired trend growth of 4 per cent in 2011-12,"

The high-profile council's recipe tallies with that of RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao, who too said last month that monetary policy alone won’t be effective in containing inflation unless Mukherjee withdraws fiscal stimulus measures and narrows the difference between spending and revenue.

The council expects the industrial and service sectors to continue to expand strongly in the next two years and hopes the government's priorities and initiatives on infrastructure would proceed along desired lines. "On this basis, we are making an initial estimate that the economy would grow by 8.2 per cent in 2010-11 and by 9 per cent in 2011-12," said Rangarajan.

He attributed the rising growth rate to strong rebound in the second half of 2009-10, with all signs of strong rebound also in the third and fourth quarters, especially in industry. He said outcome in the farm sector will be also much better than feared earlier, in part due to proactive government measures.

GLOBAL SCENE: Comparing happy recovery in India with that of the developed countries, he said they have come out of recession but it is a weak recovery with downside risks to growth, more so because the financial markets are nervous about fiscal sustainability, worsening budgetary position in advanced economies and speculative pressure on commodity prices, especially the sharp rise in crude oil prices.

The council noted that a sharp fall in investment rate in 2008/09 reversed in 2009/10 with estimated investment rate of 36.2 per cent as against last year's 34.9 per cent and estimated savings rate of 34 per cent as against last year's 32.5 per cent. It predicted both picking up with improvement in domestic conditions and fiscal consolidation by government.

On agriculture front, the council review said: "Damage to Kharif output restricted, Rabi output to be higher than last year." It said wheat output will be almost equal and pulses slightly higher than last year. Though Kharif rice was lower by 12 million tonnes, Rabi rice will be higher than last year. Output of oilseeds, coarse cereals and sugarcane will be lower.

The Government wheat and rice stocks will be comfortable, the council added.



Thursday, February 18, 2010


Paramilitary deployment at Osmania campus disturbing: Supreme Court

By R Rajagopalan

The Supreme Court on Thursday has questioned the presence of paramilitary forces
inside the Osmania University campus in Hyderabad. 

Apex  court  directed the Andhra Pradesh government to explain
by Friday under whose instructions the forces were stationed inside the
university campus. It was hearing an appeal from the state government
challenging a High Court order that the forces vacate the campus.

The Chief Justice of India said: "Deploying paramilitary force inside
the campus is disturbing"

The Andhra Pradesh government told the court that there was daily
violence inside the campus and the local police could not be deployed as
the sensitive Telangana issue was involved.

It also told the court that law-and-order was a state problem and if the
High Court wanted the forces to be out, then it (the high court) should
run the administration. 

The state government will now inform the court tomorrow on whose
directions these forces are stationed inside the campus.

Osmania University has been at the centre of the demand for a separate
Telangana state to be carved out from Andhra Pradesh. Since late
November last year, there have been frequent protests and flashpoints
near and at the University.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

two governors


By R Rajagopalan

MK Narayanan West Bengal Governor and ESL Narasimhan
Governor of Andhra Pradesh shall address a public function
to felicitate former  Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
N Janardhan Reddy on 75th Birthday at Hyderabad on Saturday
February 20, 2010

This is the first meeting MK Narayanan will appear in Andhra Pradesh.
Other diganatories to greet NJ Reddy are  Chief Minister
K Rosaiah, many Union Ministers. TDP leadre N Chandrababu Naidu, Chiranjeevi will also speak at this function.





From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The 73-year old Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari coming from the diplomatic cadre had no parliamentary experience but he has solved, in less than 30 months as the Rajya Sabha Chairman, the malady of the parliamentary questions going unanswered despite listed on agenda for oral replies that remained unsolved all these decades.

Even if a MP whose question is listed for oral answer during the question hour abstains, the minister will have to answer and three MPs will be allowed to ask the supplementaries, says amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business notified for coming into effect from February 22 when Parliament's budget session begins.

Ansari says the new rule will make both the minister and members of Parliament "accountable." They can't make the usual deal of the MP abstaining from the House and thus saving the minister from the inconvenient queries that other MPs may fire at him during the Question Hour.

The question used to be skipped under the present rule as is the practice also in the Lok Sabha and all state legislatures and thus other MPs coming prepared to corner the minister cannot ask supplementaries.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman pursued this racket and got the rules amended by the House on December 15 to put an end to it. The new rules were notified on Wednesday through a circular to all MPs

The new rules will also put an end to the racket of "cash for query" as the MPs taking money to abstain for the pass-over of their question will make no difference as the question has to be answered once it comes on the list. 

The rules also ensure that a MP cannot have more than one question listed as a starred question for answer in the House to equal opportunity to other MPs. Besides the concerned MP allowed to ask two supplementary questions, only three other members will be allowed to put the supplementaries. This will remedy the usual ill of the members dragging on one question so long that there is hardly any time left for answers to other questions on the agenda.

Also, each question included in the list for oral answer will be in the name of only one MP that will be decided through a ballot. If there are more than one questions by a MP fall in the list, he will have to make the choice on which question is included for oral answer while other questions will be shifted to the list of questions for only written answers.

The notification details amendments in the rules 43 and 54 in Chapter VII on question hour. The specific rule on the absent MPs says: "If on a question being called it is not put or the Member in whose name it stands is absent, the Chairman shall direct that the answer to it be given."



18 Feb 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: Controversial exiled Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasreen on Wednesday applied afresh for a "permanent residence" in India even as the government gave her the residence permit for another six months, saying it will not be renewed any further.

For the 46-year old author, India is her "adopted and cultural home" since she was hounded out from homeland by Muslim extremists in 1994 with death threats, though she got the residence permit only in 2004 after a decade of stay in Europe and United States.

The government is, however, not allowing her to go to Kolkata, her second home from where she was thrown out early 2008 after the Muslim hardliners protested at her writings and triggered riots. For most of last two years, she has remained in the United States despite getting her residence permit for stay in India renewed every six months as the government gives it only after she buys air ticket to fly out.

She said this time too she got the residence "visa" for only six months and not for a full year as reported in the Media and that she has been told that it was the "last time" her permit has been extended.

Her situation is alike that of the Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie, who had gone into hiding in Delhi but was eventually forced to leave India.

"I don't know where I will go if India does not give me shelter," said Taslima, who is staying at the residence of a former diplomat in the prominently Bengali colony of Chittaranjan Park in South Delhi. Intelligence sleuths and police guarding her 24 hours does not permit her to meet journalists even when she is out in the market, though she remains in telephonic touch with some.

She had the Swedish citizenship but she has burnt the passport she got from the Swedish government and continues to fight with the Bangladesh government that has refused to renew her Bangladeshi passport to return to homeland.



fraud by MPs on passports and visas

18 Feb 2010



From a Delhi correspondent

NEW DELHI: Members of Parliament are allegedly
misusing their diplomatic passports for work and business, hence
Foreign office has issued a circular.The External Affairs Ministry has
sought to put an end to such malpractice.

Diplomatic passports are issued to MPs going abroad on diplomatic
assignment as also to their spouses accompanying them. In a letter to
Parliament, the Ministry has made it clear that these can be used for
personal visits as well but not conducting any business or professional
work as a lawyer, doctor or a businessperson.

"While diplomatic passports can be used for private visit like tourism
or visiting friends and relatives, they are not meant to be used when
traveling abroad for work and business," the letter said.

It also makes it clear that any MP having the diplomatic passport does
not get a right to visit any country, no matter even if the ministry
sends a visa note for their visit.

"While issuing visa notes addressed to foreign Missions, the purpose of
visit is specified, viz. official or private. However, it remains the
prerogative of the foreign missions to grant or decline visa to an
applicant, regardless of the visa note from this Ministry," the letter


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

pm unhappy with states playing with sugarcane prices


PM unhappy with States not 
giving more to Sugarcane growers

TO RS 2500

By R Rajagopalan

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh assured 
15 AIADMK MPs on Wednesday that he would examine
the request to increase the sugarcane prices to Rs 2500

PM told the delegation of AIADMK MPs  when they called on him to present a
memorandum at 7 Race Course Road in Delhi. Centre has been conveying
to states to enhance the sugarcane prices. "Let me examine your representation"
said PM to the delegation.

MPs of AIADMK on tuesday met the Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and 
raised the same issue of Sugarcane.

AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa in a letter to Prime Minister 
demanded that the Tamil Nadu government announce a minimum of 
Rs2,500 per tonne as the procurement price for sugarcane.

In her letter she stated that "State government should immediately 
fix Rs2,500 per tonne of sugarcane as procurement price 
against the announced rate of Rs1,437,"

Claiming that the procurement price for sugarcane in other 
states was much higher than Tamil Nadu, she said, "In 
2005-06 sugar production in the state was 21.38 lakh tons
 while in 2008-09 production came down to 16.16 lakh tons. 
This figure shows the situation of sugarcane farmers in the state."

Recalling her party's objection to the Centre directing state 
governments not to fix the advisory price, she said it was the 
state government's duty to fix the advisory price to ensure 
continuous cultivation of sugarcane in Tamil Nadu.

"Otherwise, there will not be any cultivation of sugar in the region 
and the state will be in a situation to import huge amount of sugar,
 which will also result in increase in sugar price," she said.

Stating that during her tenure, the procurement price was fixed at 
Rs1,014 per tonne when the sugar price was Rs1,250 per quintal. 
"Currently when it touched Rs4,000 per quintal, the procurement
 price is only Rs1,437."


budget preparations scene hotting up

17 Feb 2010


By  R Rajagopalan

NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is the busiest man in the government, spending hours on the Union Budget he is to present to Parliament on February 26 and also driving down to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to brief her on the address with which she will open the 78-day long budget session on Monday.

He had a long session with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get his nod on the salient features he wants to introduce in the budget.

Home Minister P Chidambaram and Law Minister Veerappa Moily had separate sessions with Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha chairman Mohammad Ansari to brief them on the Bills that the government intend to bring in the session that will have a recess in between from March 16 to April 12. The session will then go on till May 7. Over 30 Bills are already pending while the government intends to bring a dozen more, wanting to sqeeze them in despite most of the time taken up by the budgets.

In his meeting with the Rajya Sabha chairman, who is also the vice-president of India, Chidambaram discussed the political situation as also the Pune bakery bomb blast. He told him the government plan to bring a Bill on setting up a national anti-terrorism centre.

Law Minister Veerappa Moily is reported to have broached with the Speaker and the Chairman importance of the Judges Inquiry Bill. He is also told them that the government is toying with the idea of raising the retirement age of the Chief Justice of India.


Monday, February 15, 2010


Ajay Singh
Former Union Minister and

16th February 2010

Dear Friends,

      I am forwarding an Urgent Appeal / Statement issued jointly by some longtime friends and well wishers of Shri George Fernandes. The contents of the accompanying Appeal/ Statement are self explanatory.

      Due to shortage of time and the urgency of the attending circumstances, the Appeal/ Statement could not be physically signed by the issuers. However, I have obtained the consent of all the individuals enlisted as the issuers of the same, by e-mail, on the telephone and in private conversation. I take full responsibility of the fact that the accompanying Appeal/ Statement has been issued with the full consent, agreement and endorsement of all the persons enlisted as the issuers of the same.

      May I, keeping in mind the urgency and the importance of the matter, request you to publish it prominently in your publication?

Yours truly

Ajay Singh

178, Sector-17A, Gurgaon-122001 (Haryana)
Telephone No. - +919910659123

16th February 2010
George Fernandes is one of the most influential of India’s political leaders of the last four decades. His entire life was dedicated to fight tyranny, oppression, corruption, and for the upliftment of deprived
sections of our society. His battles for equality, democracy, a free media, human rights, and against all forms of injustice are well known.
We, the long time friends of George Fernandes, are deeply distressed at the events of the last few weeks, which diminish this image of a great man who, due to a debilitating illness, is unable to defend himself or
express himself publicly.
We are also making this public statement to convey our deep concern for the well being, health and care of our friend George. We understand he is being moved from place to place and decisions on his well-being are
being suddenly and arbitrarily taken by people who are not familiar with the particular aspects, past progress and treatment of his ailments. This is bound to have a severe adverse impact on his state of mind and
body. A panel of suitable people comprising of his familiar doctors at AIIMS and his long time colleagues and care givers, including the immediate and extended family, should be constituted through a legal
process to ensure a stable atmosphere for him to feel comfortable and at ease.
All unseemly speculation and discussion being carried out in public view about his assets and relationships undermine the values that our friend
George stands for.
It is our duty as his friends and admirers to ensure him his dignity and to demand respect for what he has done and the choices he has made over
so many years.
Issued by
1. Justice MN Venkatachaliah  -  Former Chief  Justice Supreme Court of India, former Chairman  Human Rights Commission, Padma Vibhushan  Awardee.  
2. Farooq Abdullah - Union Minister of New and  Renewable Energy, former Chief Minister Jammu  and Kashmir
3. Jaswant Singh    - Member of Parliament, former  Finance Minister and Defence Minister
4. Viren J. Shah -  Former Governor West Bengal  and  arrested in the Baroda Dynamite Case with  George  Fernandes, former Member of  Parliament.
5. Kamal Morarka - Chairman Gannon Dunkerley  Group, former Member of Parliament (Rajya  Sabha) and former Minister of State
6. UR Ananthamurthy  - Renowned Kannada  writer,  Jnanpith awardee, socialist, Padma  Bhushan  awardee
7. RV Pandit    -  Philanthrophist, film producer,  publisher.
8. Rahul Bajaj   - Chairman Bajaj Group, Member  of  Parliament ( Rajya Sabha).
9. Uday Kotak - Vice-Chairman and Managing  Director of Kotak Mahindra Bank.
10. Ravi Ruia - Vice Chairman Essar Group
11. Chandan Mitra  - Editor and Publisher The  Pioneer,  former Member of Parliament (Rajya  Sabha)
12.  Capt CP Krishnan Nair - Chairman Leela Group  of  Hotels, Padma Vibhushan
13. Rajesh V. Shah  - Managing Director Mukund  Ltd,  Former President C.I.I.
14. Lord Meghnad Desai-    Writers, Economist.  Member of the House of Commons, UK
15. Kishwar Desai- Writer
16. Vandana Shiva  -  Writer, Social activist,  Scientist 
17. Leela Samson  - Eminent dancer, writer, Padma  Shri Awardee
18. Dr Beatrix D'Souza -  educationist , former  Member  of Parliament,
19. Dr. Sonal Mansingh- Eminent dancer, Padma  Vibhushan Awardee
20. Ajay Singh - former Deputy Minister for  Railways,  former Ambassador to Fiji, journalist

Thursday, February 11, 2010




Centre on Friday released the terms and conditions of
formation of a separate state Telangna headed by
Justice Srikrishna.

The Terms of Reference of the five member Shri Justice B.N. Srikrishna
Committee constituted on 3rd February, 2010 will be the following:-

(1) To examine the situation in the State of Andhra
Pradesh with reference to the demand for a separate State of Telangana
as well as the demand for maintaining the present status of a united
Andhra Pradesh.

(2) To review the developments in the State since its
formation and their impact on the progress and development of the
different regions of the State.

(3) To examine the impact of the recent developments in
the State on the different sections of the people such as women,
children, students, minorities, other backward classes, scheduled
castes and scheduled tribes.

(4) To identify the key issues that must be addressed
while considering the matters mentioned in items (1), (2) and (3)

(5) To consult all sections of the people, especially
the political parties, on the aforesaid matters and elicit their views;
to seek from the political parties and other organisations a range of
solutions that would resolve the present difficult situation and
promote the welfare of all sections of the people; to identify the
optimal solutions for this purpose; and to recommend a plan of action
and a road map.

(6) To consult other organisations of civil society
such as industry, trade, trade unions, farmers’ organisations, women’s
organisations and students’ organisations on the aforesaid matters and
elicit their views with specific reference to the all round development
of the different regions of the State.

(7) To make any other suggestion or recommendation that
the Committee may deem appropriate.

The Committee is requested to submit its report by December 31, 2010.


president estate had too many visitors?

Is there internal crisis brewing?


Is it connected with the landscam judgement?

By R Rajagopalan

 Why Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister
Pranb Mukherjee meet President Prathibha Patil today?
Is it related to the land scam issue? Is the Govt embarrassed?

Pranab Mukherjee called on the President this morning. The
two had a one-on-one breakfast meeting

After the meeting Pranab Mukherjee called on Prime Minister Dr
Manmohan Singh with sources saying that he briefed the Prime Minister
on his discussions with the President. later, in a day Prime
Minister called on the President this evening and had a long almost
one hour meeting with her.


political gossips

political gossips

BJP leaders  viewed the controversial film My name is Khan MNK
starred by Sharuk Khan. A special pre release show 
in New Delhi. Huge demand for seats..
Controversial Godman Chandraswami after getting
legal clearances, renewed his passport. Left for
Indonesia. And he has been invited to deliver
lecture on Hindusim in US. Godman has programmed
to have three months stay in various states in US.
Also he is expected to  meet his close friends 
two former US presidents
Corridors of power is not shaken nor shocked
even after a TOP SECRET inputs about 
massive corruption by two officials of the
the Commonwealth Games. Tape recorded
conversations, documents were produced to the
powers that be,but response is quiet and not even
Power Secretary Harishankar Brahma is the fore-runner 
for the one vacancy in Union Public Service Commission.
There are however three more, but not on top priority.
In May 2010 there shall be one more vacancy when
Prof E Balaguruswamy would retire. That is a 
reserved for an educationist. 
There is another Regulatory Authority where two vacancies 
come in next one month. That is Telecom Regulatory
Authority. Prabhakar is retiring and the other has been
vacant since September 2009. Government was busy
with the 2G CBI investigation hence it did not process.
SInce there is a massive pressure, Telecom Miinistry
wants to process both the slots filled in.

new delhi corridor gossips

new delhi political gossips

As a thanks giving to the presence of Jayalalitha at the 
Election Commission anniversary function in Delhi, the
Pennagaram assembly by0election to the Tamil Nadu
assembly has been cancelled and now would be held
on 14th May 2010. This is what AIADMK also wanted.
But DMK ruling party has called Navin Chawla as stooge of 
Congress and AIADMK. Utterances by Karunanidhi is not
at all new. Earlier DMK general council called names
of former CEC T S Krishnamurthy and wanted the removal.

Vijayaraman the Special Director General of Central 
Reserve Police Force hosted a get to gether to hearld the
arrival of his grand son. Name of the baby is Bundle of Joy.
To bless the baby, in a traditional Keralite style, he got
Pandits to sprinkle holy water. After Lunch when the guests
were leaving he handed over a cactus plant.A novel idea.
Other Police Officers wives wanted to replicate the same style
when they become grandparents.
Union Minister A Raja is upset. With TRAI. As its Chairman J Sridhar Sarma
spoke of the importance of 4G (fourth generation of Telecom innovations)
that TRAI is preparing a status paper. This has created not only confidence
crisis but also fiscal as auction bid for 3G would drastically come down.
The Telecom revolution of 3G would be put to waste basket.
Shiv Shankar Menon  is given a status  of a Union Minister of State.
as he holds the office of National Security Advisor in the Prime Minister Office.
But his batch mate in IAS is MN Prasad also in Prime Minister Office. But holding
a status of a Secretary to Government of India.Certainly complexities will play
a havoc. Much more irritating is that Prasad is a student of 
Dr Manmohan Singh in Delhi University in early 1970s. 
Governor was waiting for the appointment with the President 
Prathibha Patil in Rashtrapathi Bhavan. She briskly walked
into the room and Governor stood up. She smiled and asked
him when did you become the Chief Minister? The aged Governor 
who was General of Indian Army was shocked - but politely 
told her that he is Governor of the State. 
Prathibha Patil is also not at fault, Whe the appointments
were given she should be properly briefed, her secretariat should be
blamed for such a sorry state of affairs. As Governor came out
of Rashtrapathi Bhavan, was heard conveying this sad incident
to his wife

petro price hike still alive

11 Feb 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday steered clear of discussing increase in prices of petrol, diesel and petroleum products, but the issue is not completely shut.

As a sequel to the Congress leadership refusing to give a political nod for a straight-away increase, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora will meet here on Sunday to study the financial aspects of recommendations of the expert group headed by Dr Kirit Parikh on petro prices.

They will be basically considering full deregulation of petrol and diesel prices hanging fire for almost 10 years and recommended once again by the Parikh panel. It requires a policy decision since it will reverse the government-administered fuel prices always practised in the independent India.

Indications are that Mukherjee may incorporate the deregulation drill in the Union Budget on February 26.  To scuttle any opposition by the allies, the Cabinet approval necessary for the policy shift may be taken just two hours before he unveils the budget in Parliament.

The shift will ease the government's mounting oil subsidy bill and improve financial health of the public sector oil companies who have to bear the burden partially, though the consumer will lose stability of fuel prices as they will fluctuate alike prices of other commodities in the market.

Mukherjee and Deora will be also discussing increases in the domestic LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) or cooking gas and kerosene recommended by Dr Parikh, but indications are that these will be rejected to avoid any burden on the common man.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who briefed media on the Cabinet decisions, said the Parikh panel report did not figure in the meeting, nor did Deora bring any cabinet note for discussion as widely speculated.

The Cabinet, however, accepted the 13th Finance Commission's report on the Centre-state fiscal relations for five years from 2010-2015 defining the states' share in the central taxes. Chidambaram said it also decided to lay the commission's recommendations and the government's action taken report in Parliament in the ensuing budget session.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


10 Feb 2010


By R Rajagopalan

NEW DELHI: Two brothers heading two central police organisations need not create a controversy, but an embarrassing lie that remained buried all past 37 years since they joined the IPS cadre in 1973 has caught up them now. One of them may even lose the job and pension for furnishing wrong date of birth.

The Home Ministry officials are embarrassed that nobody bothered to double-check before releasing the bio-data of Vikram Srivastava, a UP cadre IPS officer, on his appointment as the Director General (DG) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He was earlier DG of ITBO, another central police organisation.

The unsavoury truth came to light on another officer challenging the new posting of Vikram, though on an altogether different ground that it is not proper to let the two central forces be headed by brothers and that it smacks of favouritism as only six months ago on August 1 Vikram's elder brother Raman, a Kerala cadre IPS officer, was made the DG of the Border Security Force (BSF). Raman was earlier the special secretary (security) in the Home Ministry.

Everyone knew Vikram and Raman are real brothers. The Home Ministry officials were, however, in for a shock on checking their dates of birth. Official records show Raman Srivastava born on October 24, 1951 while the date of birth of Vikram Srivastava is March 18, 1952.

Two brothers born with a gap of less than five months is impossible but this factor never came to notice all these years, emerging only when Raman and Vikram are on the last leg of their career.

The ministry officials checked if wrong dates had been entered in the records, but those acquainted with the government's service rules say even that will not let off the brother whose date of birth is wrong as he should have got it corrected instead of letting it remain unchanged for all these years.

The officials have quietly sought advice of Home Minister P Chidambaram as the service rules provide for the extreme punishment up to dismissal from service and denial of pension for taking up government employment with false information.

Chidambaram has to decide whether the explanation be sought from both brothers and asked to establish their dates of birth and what punishment be imposed on one who provided the false date of birth at the time of employment. Until he takes the decision, officials plead not to play up the controversy as they point out that it will have an adverse demoralising impact on the two police organisations that the two brothers head are engaged in the sensitive fight against terrorists and Maoists.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Andhra Governor to PM

Andhra Governor's  letter to Prime Minister

Centre undecided on headquarters
for Justice Sri Krishna Committee

By R Rajagopalan

Centre is undecided on the Headquarters for 
Justice Srikrishna committee to lay roadmap for 
formation of Telangana.Whether to have New Delhi,
Mumbai or Hyderabad.

One section in the Union Home Miinistry wanted
Hyderabad while the Chairman Srikrishna wants
Mumbai. Meanwhile strong view is that Hyderabad
should be avoided.

Highly placed sources in Prime Minister office
confirmed to VAARTHA that a confidential
letter from ESL Narasimhan Governor of Andhra 
Pradesh suggesting New Delhi should be considered
as Headquarters for Srikrishna Committee. 

Governor Narasimhan reasoned that Maoists 
might disrupt functioning of the Committee
and a strong suspicion that they may also
physically prevent those who want to depose before
Sri Krishna Committee. Influence of Joint Action
Committe (JAC) would strengthened if Hyderabad
was chosen as Srikrishna Committee's headquarters.


taslima nazreen in delhi

9 Feb 2010



From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: Controversial exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin (48) is back in Delhi to get her residential permit renewed to stay in India despite being repeatedly thrown out in the last two years, sending a clear message that she is no more welcome to have refuge in India.

She flew into the capital two days ago from the United States where she has been putting up since after she was thrown out by India in August. Her residential permit was extended on the condition that she leaves immediately after the permit was renewed and that she must not use the permit to reside in India.

Those whom she has been in touch here say she had the compulsion to come this time as otherwise her residential permit expires later this month. The permit is renewed every time for only six months.

Because of "fatwas" on her head from the Islamic fundamentalists of both India and Pakistan, the security agencies in Delhi have taken Taslima into their protective custody but officials handling her do not know how to handle her repeated demand that she wants to go to Kolkata where she had a home once as the West Bengal government does not want hER anywhere in its territory.

Taslima, who is a qualified physician and a human right activist, has been blacklisted in both Bangladesh and West Bengal and no Bengali or English newspaper is ready to publish her writings for fear of attacks by the fundamentalists.

Her friends say she had come to India last August to find out if she could live in Delhi, if not Kolkata, but the government of India refused to allow her to live any where in India.

According to her personal website < >, she had come to India in February last year also before her residence permit expires, "but the world's largest democracy laid down that she could get an extension of her residence permit for India only if she gives an undertaking that

-- She would leave India (and she must show her flight ticket to prove she is leaving) before 17th of February ( the day her residence permit would expire),

-- She must not go to Kolkata,

-- She must not interact with media, and

-- She must not enter India before 31st May next ( since by this time the general election in India would be over).

The website says Taslima had no other alternative but to leave India silently and has been living since then in the United States.

Back in 2007, she was attacked by the Muslim fundamentalists in Hyderabad and they later issued a fatwa against her, setting an unlimited reward on her in a public meeting in Kolkata. She was forced to live under virtual house arrest  in Kolkata and was constantly asked by the West Bengal Government to leave the state.

Following violent protests by the Muslim fundamentalists demanding  her deportation from India, she was ultimately thrown out of Kolkata by the state government. She was dispatched to Jaipur, but she was bundled out from there as well.

She was ultimately brought to Delhi and kept in an undisclosed location where she was forced to live under house arrest for seven and a half months as the security agencies guarding her did not allow her to move any where. She was ultimately asked to leave India in March 2008.

At that time, Taslima applied for the renewal of her Bangladesh passport again. And again  it  was denied to her. She even requested Bangladesh Government to issue a ''no visa required' stamp or at least a tourist visa for Bangladesh on  her European passport. But this was also not granted. 

She returned to India in August, 2008. She was made to stay in Delhi and was not allowed to go to  Kolkata, not even for two days to  pack her bags and leave. She was forced to quit her establishment in Kolkata. Also her residence permit was extended on the condition that she leave India within a few days after her permit was renewed.

Her website says Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni has been frequently telling the media that his government has no problem in allowing Taslima to enter her country

Dipu Moni, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, has been frequently telling the media that the Bangladesh Government has no problem in allowing Taslima to enter her country, but in reality she is not allowed to enter own country.

After Dipu Moni's public statements, Taslima applied to renew her Bangladesh passport so that she could enter Bangladesh, but the Bangladesh Government did not respond. She also tried to get a Bangladesh visa on her European passport. Even that has been denied to her.



bt brinjal jai ram ramesh

Ministry of Environment and Forests
Decision on Commercialisation of Bt-Brinjal
  1. The Genetic Engineering Approvals Committee (GEAC) was set up in May 1990 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. While it is a statutory body under Rules 1989 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and as such it is authorised to grant approval for large-scale trials and environmental release of genetically modified organisms, on the issue of Bt-brinjal the GEAC in its 97th meeting held on October 14th, 2009  observed  that
      “ this decision of the GEAC has very important policy implication at the national level,  the GEAC decided its recommendation for environmental release may be put up to the Government for taking final view on the matter”.
  1. The GEAC, being located in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, sent its recommendations to me. After receiving the recommendations of the GEAC on Bt-brinjal, I communicated the following to the GEAC on October 16th, 2009.
      I have just received the recommendations of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on Bt-brinjal. I have studied the recommendations and have decided on the following course of action:
      The report of the Expert Committee (EC-II) submitted to the GEAC on October 8th, 2009 that formed the basis of the GEAC’as decision of October 14th, 2009 is being made public with immediate effect. It is being uploaded straightaway on the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forests ( All previous reports and studies on Bt-brinjal are already in the public domain. Comments on this report are being sought by December 31, 2009 and I encourage their submission.
      During January and February 2010, I propose to have a series of consultations in different places with scientists, agriculture experts, farmers' organisations, consumer groups and serious-minded NGOs who want to engage in a responsible manner. All points of view will be represented in these consultations.
      Strong views have been expressed on the Bt-brinjal issue, both for and against. My objective is to arrive at a careful, considered decision in the public and national interest. This decision will be made only after the consultations process is complete and all stakeholders are satisfied that they have been heard to their satisfaction.
  1. Between January 13th, 2010 and February 6th, 2010 public meetings on Bt-brinjal were organised by the Center for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad (a Centre of Excellence supported by the MoE&F) in Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar were selected because West Bengal and Orissa account for 30% and 20% of India’s brinjal production respectively. Ahmedabad and Nagpur were selected because Bt-cotton has been under extensive cultivation in Gujarat and Maharashtra over the past six years. Chandigarh was selected in order to allow farmers from the two agriculturally-advanced states of Punjab and Haryana to express their views. Hyderabad and Bangalore were selected because these are centres for biotechnology R&D. Almost 8000 people from different sections of society participated enthusiastically in these seven public meetings. Those who attended were farmers and farmer organisations, scientists, state agriculture department officials, NGOs, consumer groups, allopathic and ayurvedic doctors, students and housewives. A summary report prepared by the CEE based on these seven meetings is at Annex-I to the electronic version of this note available at and video-recordings of each of these interactions will also be available very soon on the same website.1

  1. Letters were sent to the chief ministers of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka since these are the major brinjal cultivating states accounting for 30%, 20%, 11%,6%, 6% and 4% respectively of India’s brinjal production. Copies of these letters to the CMs and the responses I received from them are at Annex-II to the electronic version of this note available at that also contains letters received from the state governments of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. A letter received from the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture of the Lok Sabha and other political leaders, including a former Prime Minister of India is also included in this Annex.
  2. Opinions were also sought from a number of scientists both from India and abroad. These opinions are at Annex-III to the electronic version of this note at
  3. In addition, a very large number of emails from research institutes, NGOs and concerned individuals were received. A representative sample is at Annex-IV to the electronic version of this note available at
  1. I should like to make clear at the very outset that my concern is with Bt-brinjal alone2 and not with the larger issue of genetic engineering and biotechnology in agriculture. The issue before me is limited to what to do with the GEAC recommendation on the commercialisation of Bt-brinjal.
  2. All states which have written to me have expressed apprehension on Bt-brinjal and have called for extreme caution.Because this is extremely important in our federal framework and agriculture is a state subject, I summarise below the views of the state governments that have been submitted in writing to me by the Chief Ministers/Agriculture Ministers:

      • Andhra Pradesh: “It is clear that the data generated, the tests conducted and the information disseminated by GEAC are not sufficient for suggesting the commercial release of Bt-brinjal....Until safety parameters in terms of environment, human and animal health are clearly established, release of Bt-brinjal for commercial cultivation is to be deferred”
      • Kerala: “ Considering all this, Government of Kerala has taken a decision to prohibit all environmental release of GMOs and keep the state totally GM free. We would request the Honourable Prime Minister to reconsider the policy of GM in a national scale and declare a moratorium at least for the next fifty years”.
      • Chattisgarh:“ Before giving permission for commercial cultivation of Bt-brinjal, all tests to establish full impacts, including negative impacts, on human and animal health and on the environment should be carried out”.
      • Karnataka: “The commercial release of Bt-brinjal should be deferred till the issue is thoroughly examined from all the angles by taking into account the views of all stakeholders and conducting a long-term research for its bio-safety and its consequent contributions to food security and farmers well-being”. 
      • Bihar: “The Rajya Kisan Ayog is not in favour of the introduction of Bt-brinjal in the state at this point of time. The recommendation of the Rajya Kisan Ayog has been considered by the state government and the state government fully endorses the view of the Ayog”.
      • West Bengal:” I have got the report of the Expert Committee of the GEAC downloaded. I feel that the matter needs thorough examination by the experts in the field. I am requesting some members of the erstwhile State Agriculture Commission to examine the report and forward their views to the government to enable us to take a holistic view on the subject”.

      • Orissa: “The Government of Orissa does not support the introduction of Bt-brinjal at this stage and until sufficient trials are made and interests of small and marginal farmers of the state are safeguarded”.
    In addition, the CM of Uttarakhand has spoken to me and conveyed the decision to ban Bt-brinjal in that state. The Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu has informed me that the state of Tamil Nadu is not in favour of commercialisation of Bt-brinjal now. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has told me that Bt-brinjal should be introduced “only after all doubts and fears have been properly dispelled”. The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister has told me that the HP government will take a view after all trials have been completed and after the Government of India has decided.
  1. Clearly, Bt-technology is not the only route for reducing pesticide use. That pesticide use can have deleterious public health impacts is already visible in places like Bhatinda which, as the Chief Minister of Punjab himself told me a couple of days back, has emerged as a major cancer-afflicted region. How to reduce pesticide use without compromising on food security at the macro-level and returns to farmers at the micro-level is an urgent public policy in our agriculture. In this connection, it is worth recalling that there are now close to 6 lakh farmers in Andhra Pradesh fully practicing NPM (non-pesticide management) agriculture over an area of about 20 lakh acres. I have myself been seeing this initiative over the past four years. The advantage of NPM is that it eliminates chemical pesticide use completely whereas Bt-technology only reduces the pesticide spray, albeit substantially. Incidentally, one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change is the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture of which NPM is an integral part. On January 19th 2009 much before I became Minister for Environment and Forests, I had written to the Union Agriculture Minister on the need to evaluate the Andhra NPM experiment from the point of view of replicability on a larger scale.
  2. The issue of safety tests has been raised repeatedly by critics of Bt-brinjal. The plant family Solanaceae to which brinjal belongs appears to be more problematic than others because it contains several natural toxins that can resurface when metabolism is disturbed. The kind of testing done, it is being said, is not specific or stringent enough to detect toxins. This is an important issue since brinjal is an item of almost daily consumption for most of us. While there may be a debate on the nature and number of tests that need to be carried out for establishing human safety, it is incontrovertible that the tests have been carried out by the Bt-brinjal developers themselves and not in any independent laboratory. This does raise legitimate doubts on the reliability of the tests, doubts that I cannot ignore. The fact that brinjal is very largely a cross-pollinated crop3 according to the generally accepted scientific consensus makes the threat of contamination with the use of Bt-brinjal on other varieties a particularly worrisome issue.
  3. Very serious fears have been raised in many quarters on the possibility of Monsanto controlling our food chain if Bt-brinjal is approved4. Indeed it would not be an exaggeration to say that public concerns about Bt-brinjal have been influenced very heavily by perceptions of Monsanto itself. I have no bias whatsoever. Monsanto has made substantial investments in India, including in R&D. Many Indian-origin scientists work in Monsanto. As a country, we must learn to derive full benefit of Monsanto’s expertise and capabilities, without jeopardising national sovereignty and also develop countervailing power to it. Unfortunately, we do not seem to have a large-scale publicly-funded biotechnology effort in agriculture. Had there been one, there would have been competition to Monsanto. It is true that Mahyco an Indian company is involved in the development of hybrid Bt-brinjal. But 26% of Mahyco is owned by Monsanto itself. It is also true that two government-owned agricultural universities—Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad—have developed Bt-brinjal varieties. 5. But doubts have been raised on how Bt-related research in these two institutions has been funded. Further, the Material Transfer Agreement between TNAU and Monsanto in March 2005 has raised worrisome questions on ownership (both of products and germplasm) and what TNAU can do and cannot do.6
  4. Apart from being the world’s largest producer of brinjal, India is undoubtedly the country of origin as far as brinjal is concerned as testified by Vavilov in 1928. Data that has been made available to me by the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources of the ICAR reveals that there are 3951 collections in the Bureau and the number of diversity-rich districts is 134. The Bureau also points out that diversity-rich regions are likely to be affected by the introduction of Bt-brinjal due to gene flow. The loss of diversity argument cannot be glossed over especially when seen in light of the experience we have had in cotton where Bt-cotton seed has overtaken non-Bt seeds. 
  5. Bt-cotton is not comparable to Bt-brinjal no doubt but it is nevertheless necessary to review our experience with it. Undoubtedly, Bt-cotton has catapulted India into second position in the world as far as cotton production is concerned, up from number three after the new technology took root. Over 90% of cotton farmers in India cultivate Bt-cotton. It is also true that many farmers in the public consultations vociferously expressed their support to Bt-cotton on economic grounds. But a number of farmers also expressed doubts7. More than that, the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur has done a comprehensive review of Bt-cotton in India8 and this review has thrown up a number of questions. The Director of the Institute (that has produced a Bt-cotton variety—Bikaneri Nerma—whose seeds can be kept by farmers for planting during the next season unlike hybrids where farmers have to be buy seeds every year) while expressing his clear support for Bt-brinjal technology, has said the following based on the Bt-cotton experience:
    • Resistance development is a very serious concern for monophagous pests. There is a need to develop baseline susceptibility data of Cry toxins on the fruit and shoot borer populations from all the Brinjal growing states in a Government Institute Laboratory known for its expertise in resistance management. The data available thus far is only from Mahyco. There is also a need to set up a main resistance monitoring laboratory to monitor the changes in baseline susceptibility changes of the fruit borer to Cry proteins after releasing the technology.
    • Resistance Management Strategies are essentially developed based on output profiles of stochastic models which integrate toxicological, ecological, genetic and biological parameters. Stochastic models for resistance should be developed to calculate resistance risk and devise pro-active Insect Resistance Management (IRM) strategies. The structured refuge strategy of 5% conventional Brinjal within the ecosystems of Bt-Brinjal proposed by Mahyco is based on basic simplistic assumptions and not through defined algorithms and modeling.
    • There is a need for a consolidated report on ecology, biology, genetics and population dynamics of insect pests of Brinjal that are available thus far. Based on the ecology, biology and population dynamics, simulation models should be developed so that appropriate strategies can be formulated to prevent the emergence of new pests and delay development of resistance in key pests.
    This only points to the need for more tests that are well-designed, widely-accepted and independently conducted. TheBikaneri Nerma also demonstrates the importance of strengthening public good research.
  1. A number of doubts have been raised on the integrity of the GEAC process itself, particularly by Dr. P.M. Bhargava, one of India’s most eminent biotechnologists who arguably was amongst the earliest to coin the very term “genetic engineering” and who is a nominee of the Supreme Court on the GEAC. He has provided a detailed point-by-point critique of the Expert Committee-II (EC-II) report that has formed the basis of GEAC’s recommendation to commercialise Bt-brinjal. Dr. Bhargava has claimed that the Chairman of EC-II had agreed with his assessment that eight essential tests had not been conducted by Mahyco. Another fact brought to my attention is that an expert committee set up by the GEAC in 2006 (EC-I) had asked for several tests to be conducted but one-third of the EC-II members who were also members of EC-I chose to discard the need for these studies while evaluating Bt-brinjal as EC-II. I do not propose to do a post-mortem on the way the GEAC has functioned9. Many have called for an independent genetic engineering regulator. A National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority has been on the anvil for almost six years now but it has yet to come into being. Such an Authority has to be professional and science-based, independent of the government that should have facilities for conducting all essential tests with integrity and impartiality. In the absence of such a body, arguments that have been made on the limitations of the GEAC cannot be ignored10.
  2. Many countries, particularly in Europe, have banned GM foods. I have spoken with my counterpart in China and he has informed me that China’s policy is to encourage research in GM technology but to be extremely cautious when it comes to introduction in food crops. In any case, China’s Bt-cotton is entirely indigenously developed, in marked contrast to the case in India. China has a very strong publicly-funded programme in GM technology unlike  India. True, Bt-corn and Bt-soya is widely available in the USA but that is no great compulsion for us to follow suit.
  3. Some scientists and civil society organisations have pointed out that the GEAC process has violated the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to which India is a signatory, particularly the provisions pertaining to public consultations prior to the release of GM food crops and also the broad principles governing risk assessment. It is pertinent to also recall Article 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992) which echoes the precautionary principle when it states “ where there are threats of irreversible damage, the lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation”. Further, Section 45 of Codex Alimentarius “Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants” says “The location of trial sites should be representative of the range of environmental conditions under which the plant varieties would be expected to be grown. The number of trial sites should be sufficient to allow accurate assessment of compositional characteristics over this range. Similarly, trials should be conducted over a sufficient number of generations to allow adequate exposure to the variety of conditions met in nature. To minimise environmental effects, and to reduce any effect from naturally-occurring genotypic variation within a crop variety, each trial site should be replicated. An adequate number of plants should be sampled and the methods of analysis should be sufficiently sensitive and specific to detect variations in key components.” It does appear that the current standards by which the GEAC has formulated the decision to approve Bt-brinjal do not match these global regulatory norms to which India is a party.
  4. I have received a number of emails from scientists in the USA, France, Australia, UK and New Zealand raising very serious doubts on Bt-brinjal and also on the way tests have been conducted in India11. Amongst them, I should mention communications received from (i) Professor G.E. Seralini from France who in a detailed report has pointed out several flaws in the EC-II report and concludes that “the risk on human and mammalian health is too high for authorities to take the decision to commercialise this GM brinjal”; (ii) Dr. Doug Gurain-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington DC which says that “the record compiled over a 13-year period shows that the 4% yield enhancement contributed by Bt-corn varieties constitutes only 14% of overall corn yield increase. Further, Dr. Gurain-Sherman highlights serious flaws in the EC-II report on evaluation of gene flow risks from Bt-brinjal(iii) Professor Allison Snow and Professor Norman Ellstrand of the Ohio State University that identifies several shortcomings in the EC-II report concerning gene flow from Bt-brinjal to wild and weedy relatives; (iv) Dr. Nicholas Storer of Dow AgroSciences (a private US company much like Monsanto)who does say that Bt-brinjal does not pose unreasonable adverse risks to the environment or to human and animal health but who calls for careful implementation of resistance management strategies and points out that Bt-technology should not be seen as a silver bullet to managing lepidopteran pests in brinjal; (v) Dr. Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand who questions the consistent yield increases claimed for Bt-cotton and says that the Bt-brinjal tests conducted in India would not meet careful international standards; (vi) Dr. David Andow of the University of Minnesota, USA who says that his reading of the EC-II report is sufficient to lead him to question the adequacy of environmental risk assessment but it is not sufficient for him to conclude that the environmental risk assessment is erroneous; and (vii)Dr. David Schubert of the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, USA who says that Bt-brinjal should definitely not be introduced in India since it poses serious environmental and health risks, will increase social and political dependence on private companies and will entail higher costs at all levels of the food chain; and (viii) Dr. Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, South Australia who has analysed Mahyco’s biosafety dossier of 2008 in great detail and who says that her doubts and questions have not been answered at all in the EC-II report.
  5. Some suggestions have been made that we could consider limited release of Bt-brinjal hybrids in limited areas and ensuring that its sale would be monitored through mandatory labelling. The President of the Indian National Science Academy, Dr. M.Vijayan of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and a noted microbiologist himself has made the suggestion of limited release. My view is that while this offers a possible compromise route, it would be extremely difficult to ensure such a “quarantine”. Mandatory labelling is indeed required in countries like the USA but this is somewhat impractical here because our retail market is fundamentally different than that of the USA and also because it is extremely difficult to monitor limited usage in practice12. Another scientist Dr. N.S. Talekar, who has worked on the brinjal shoot and fruit borer at the World Vegatable Centre, Taiwan and is now with the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, while justifying the use of Bt-technology, has strongly warned against the use of Bt-brinjal in its present form saying that the manner in which the proponents of the product are recommending to farmers to use this technology is faulty and unscientific and would lead to disaster. 
  6. Some eminent Indian scientists have written expressing their support for the commercialisation of Bt-brinjal. Prominent among them is Dr. G. Padmanabhan of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore who debunks several domestic and international criticisms of Bt-brinjal, makes a strong plea for commercialisation but also makes the point that we need a statutory body with regulatory authority and R&D capabilities to govern all aspects of GM crop cultivation in the country once they are released for commercialisation. Specifically, Dr. Padmanabhan argues that such an autonomous institution should address issues such as: (i) choice of GM crops and traits relevant for commercialisation in the country; (ii) registration of GM crops for a finite period and reassessment of their performance and the ground situation, before extending the registration for another finite period; (iii) inputs for determining the price of GM seeds sold to farmers; (iv) technical help and advice to farmers on a continual basis; (v) positioning of Bt crops with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies and also handling of secondary infections; and (vi) education of the public on the pros and cons of the use of GM technology in  agriculture. The agenda sketched out by Dr. Padmanabhan is both ambitious and necessary but will take time to implement in an effective manner. Another eminent scientist who has supported GEAC’s decision to release Bt-brinjal for general cultivation is Dr. Deepak Pental, Vice Chancellor of Delhi University but he has also said that two realities must be understood—one, that as India is centre of origin of cultivated brinjal, transgenes can move to the wild germplasm though this should not unduly alarm us and two, that we will not be able to differentiate between Bt-brinjal and non-Bt-brinjal, making labelling impossible. Dr. Raj Bhatnagar of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi has sent a highly technical communication which, in simple language, implies that there is no health risk whatsoever by eating Bt-brinjal.
  7. I have had a discussion with both the Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research as well as with the Drug Controller to the Government of India. Both have recommended that chronic toxicity and other associated tests should be carried out independently. The parallel has been drawn with drugs where during the crucial clinical trials phase, independent testing is carried out on human beings instead of relying on just the data generated by the developer companies themselves. The DG-ICMR told me that in the face of contradictory evidence of the health effects he would advocate more caution and further tests. Doctors for Food and Safety, a network of around 100 doctors across the country have sent a representation on the health hazards related to GM foods in general and Bt-brinjal in particular. They have drawn attention to the recommendations made by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine that GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption and that there are substantial risks associated with the use of GM foods. I have also been informed that the Indian Systems of Medicine including ayurveda, siddha, homeopathy and unani use brinjal as a medicinal ingredient, both in raw and cooked form, for treatment of respiratory diseases and that the entire brinjal plant is used in such preparations. There is fear that Bt-brinjal will destroy these medicinal properties due to loss of synergy, differences in the alkaloids and changes in other active principles. In the opinion of this network of doctors, these factors have not been considered by EC-II.
  8. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Department of Biotechnology have also given their unqualified support to Bt-brinjal. Some farmers’ organisations like the Bharat Krishak Samaj and Shetkari Sanghatana and farmers’ spokespersons like Bhupinder Singh Mann and Sharad Joshi have come out fully in support of Bt-technology13 in general and Bt-brinjal in particular on the grounds that we should not be denying modern technology to farmers and that this will improve incomes of farmers. As I have mentioned earlier, many farmers at the public consultations argued that Bt-cotton has been very profitable for them.
  9. I have stressed the importance of public investment in biotechnology for agriculture. But Indian private investment in this area is already a reality. Mahyco is one example. Between 2007 and 2009, the GM crops approved for field trials by the GEAC include insect-resistant cotton and rice developed by Metahelix Life Sciences, Bangalore and hybrid-rice developed by Avesthagen, Pune, both companies run by a new generation of Indian scientists. Clearly, such science-based companies launched by Indian entrepreneurs need to be encouraged and the regulatory process should not stymie such innovation14. Apart from this, even publicly-funded institutions like the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Bangalore too need encouragement since I have been informed that trials using  a Bt-brinjal variety using theCry2A Bt gene are at an advanced stage. Scientists at another publicly-funded institution—the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi---have developed Bt-brinjal using Cry1Aaa3 gene in their own cultivar IVBL-9. These public sector products need to be introduced first, if at all, going by the Bt-cotton experience.
  10. I have had the benefit of extended conversations with Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, MP who is, without doubt, India’s most distinguished and senior-most agricultural scientist who was one of the scientific architects of the Green Revolution. Dr. Swaminathan, whose own research foundation is working on GM technology, has said that we need to be concerned with three issues here: (i) chronic toxicity since brinjal is an element of such frequent consumption in India; (ii) independent tests that command credibility and not depend only on data provided by the developers themselves; and (iii) the need to have an independent regulatory system that will be in a position to study all aspects of GM technology in agriculture and arrive at a measured conclusion. Dr. Swaminathan has also agreed with the view since brinjal itself contains natural toxins, we have to be extra-careful on Bt-technology. In view of his great stature both in India and abroad, I would like to place below his most recent communication to me on this subject in full:
      Dear Jairam:
      I am glad you had wide ranging consultations, and something useful should emerge from such unprecedented churning of minds and experience.  Both benefits and risks are now well known.  There are unquestionable benefits in the short term, but also potential risks to human health and our brinjal heritage in the long term.  What is the way forward? 
        1.  Conserve India’s genetic heritage in brinjal:
        My post-graduate thesis at IARI in 1949 was on Brinjal and non-tuber bearing Solanum species.  I have studied our rich genetic wealth in this wonderful crop.  What will be the long term impact of numerous local strains being replaced with one or two varieties with Cry1Ac gene from Monsanto?  I suggest that during 2010, ICAR (the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources) along with Dr Anil Gupta of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (he maintains a national data base on indigenous knowledge and farmers’ innovations) should both collect, catalogue and conserve the existing genetic variability in brinjal.  Such a collection must be carefully preserved, before we permit the extinction of the gifts of thousands of years of natural evolution and human selection.
        2.  Assess the chronic effects of consumption of Bt Brinjal:
        The second step which needs to be taken is to ask the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, and the Central Food Technology Research Institute, Mysore to undertake a careful study of the chronic effects of Bt brinjal on human health.  This is analogous to the studies carried out on the impact of tobacco smoking on the incidence of lung cancer in human beings.
      It will be in national interest to complete these two steps before a decision on the release of Bt brinjal for commercial cultivation and human consumption is taken.
  1. It also bears mention that the Supreme Court has been hearing a PIL filed in early 2005 seeking to put in place a comprehensive, stringent, scientifically rigorous and transparent biosafety test protocol in the public domain for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), for every GMO before it is sought to be released into the environment. The Supreme Court has given six Orders so far in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of the GEAC. The PIL has yet to be finally disposed and the latest Order of January 19th, 2010 asks the Union of India to respond in four weeks to the question of what steps have they taken to protect our traditional crops. Clearly, the decision on Bt-brinjal has to take note of this PIL that has already been filed. In addition, the Supreme Court has invoked the precautionary principle as a  guiding instrument in environmental decisions (A.P. Pollution Control Board vs. M.V. Nayudu<1999(2)SCC718> by relying on the following:

    “There is nothing to prevent decision-makers from assessing the record and concluding there is inadequate information on which to reach determination. If it is not possible to make a decision with ‘some’ confidence, then it makes sense to err on the side of caution and prevent activities that may cause serious or irreparable harm. An informed decision can be made at a later stage when additional data is available or resources permit further research”. 
  1. I am also persuaded that the studies being demanded by responsible civil society groups before release of Bt-brinjal should be conducted as a measure of our sensitivity to public opinion. A couple of scientists and civil society groups have also pointed out (i) things that are problematic with the protocols of the studies already conducted; (ii) things that are problematic with the analysis of the data submitted; (iii) things that are problematic with the interpretation of the results; (iv) things that are problematic with the reporting by Mahyco; (v) things that are problematic with the procedures adopted. It is incumbent upon us as an accountable and transparent administration to respond to these concerns (presented in Annex-IV to the electronic version of this note available at in a serious manner.

  1. Based on all the information presented in the preceding paragraphs and when there is no clear consensus within the scientific community itself, when there is so much opposition from the state governments, when responsible civil society organisations and eminent scientists have raised many serious questions that have not been answered satisfactorily, when the public sentiment is negative and when Bt-brinjal will be the very first genetically-modified vegetable to be introduced anywhere in the world and when there is no over-riding urgency to introduce it here,

      it is my duty to adopt a cautious, precautionary principle-based approach and impose a moratorium on the release of Bt-brinjal, till such time independent scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and professionals, the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term impact on human health and environment, including the rich genetic wealth existing in brinjal in our country.  
    A moratorium implies rejection of this particular case of release for the time being; it does not, in any way, mean conditional acceptance. This should be clearly understood. 
  1. This decision should not, however, be construed as discouraging on-going R&D in using tools of modern biotechnology for crop improvement and for strengthening national food and nutrition security, since issues of this kind have to be examined and decided necessarily on a case-by-case basis. I hope the moratorium period will be used to build a broader consensus so that as a country we are able to harness the full potential of GM technology in agriculture in a safe and sustainable manner.

  1. The moratorium period should also be used to operationalise the independent regulatory body in its entirety as being recommended by many scientists as well as civil society organizations. I also hope in the moratorium period we give serious thought to the strategic importance of the seed industry15 and how we retain public and farmer control over it even as we encourage private investment in agricultural biotechnology. I would also recommend that the moratorium period be used to have a detailed debate in Parliament and also a comprehensive discussion in the National Development Council (NDC) on this subject.

  1. I believe the approach outlined above is both responsible to science and responsive to society. In arriving at this decision, I have also kept in mind what the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh himself had said on this subject in his speech at the Indian Science Congress on January 3rd, 2010 at Thiruvananthapuram:
      Developments in biotechnology present us the prospect of greatly improving yields in our major crops by increasing resistance to pests and also to moisture stress. BT Cotton has been well accepted in the country and has made a great difference to the production of cotton. The technology of genetic modification is also being extended to food crops though this raises legitimate questions of safety. These must be given full weightage, with appropriate regulatory control based on strictly scientific criteria. Subject to these caveats, we should pursue all possible leads that biotechnology provides that might increase our food security as we go through climate related stress.
  1. I expect the GEAC to take follow-up action on the matter of further studies and tests with appropriate protocols and in appropriate laboratories. I also expect the GEAC to carefully study all the material I have received and am turning over to it. I would like the GEAC to engage and interact with all those scientists, institutions and civil society groups who have submitted written representations to me. The GEAC should consult with scientists like Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Dr. P.M. Bhargava, Dr. G. Padmanabhan, Dr M. Vijayan, Dr. Keshav Kranthi, Dr. Madhav Gadgil and others to draw up a fresh protocol for the specific tests that will have to be conducted in order to generate public confidence. Under no circumstances should there be any hurry or rush. The moratorium will continue for as long as it is needed to establish public trust and confidence. Meanwhile, I also intend to change the name of the GEAC from Genetic EngineeringApprovals Committee to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee. 

  1. Meanwhile, in order to ensure complete transparency and public accountability, I am making my decision on the GEAC recommendation regarding commercialisation of Bt-brinjal public right away.

Jairam Ramesh
MOS(I/C)E&F; February 9th , 2010