Wednesday, September 29, 2010


29 Sept 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: In yet another setback to Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), his former trusted aide and former union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav on Wednesday announced to field 100 candidates in the Bihar Assembly elections under the banner of Janata Dal(Secular).

The announcement came after he merged the Socialist Janata Dal (Democratic) that he had floated last month quitting the RJD into the Janata Dal(S) in Patna on Tuesday and its president H D Deve Gowda, a former prime minister, appointed him as a national vice-president of the party.

Lalu's worry is that Devendra, a 5-time MP, was closely associated with the RJD poll strategies and as such he would be able to divide his party's vote by aligning with Deve Gowda. Devendra has described the merger of his party into JD(S) as "homecoming," hailing JD(S) as his "parent party."

The RJD sources said the JD(S) that had no base in Bihar will not cut much ice by s


CIC AN Tiwari to stay for 3 months

for three months

By R Rajagopalan

Just for three months tenure , the Information Commissioner Anugraha  Narayan Tiwari 
is the next  Chief Information Commissioner 
He is succeeding Wajahat Habibullah, ending the uncertainty 
over the new chief of the transparency panel.

Official sources said the name of Tiwari, a 1969 batch IAS officer and former Secretary, 
Department of Personnel and Training, has been cleared and forwarded to the 
President for appointment as successor to Habibullah who demits office on Wednesday.

Born in Navapara district in Orissa, but studied in Allahabad, got into IAS and
allotted Andhra Pradesh cadre of 1969 seniority-but served as Secretary
to Vice President of India  Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Tiwari said he was informed about the decision last night.
One of the senior-most Information Commissioners, Tiwari joined the 
transparency panel on December 26, 2005. In one of the path-breaking 
decisions, Tiwari brought the Income Tax returns of political parties under public scrutiny.
As per the provisions of the RTI Act when an Information Commissioner 
is appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner the aggregate of
 tenure should not exceed five years.
The Chief Information Commissioner is chosen  by a committee comprising the Prime Minister,  he Leader of Opposition and a minister of the Union Cabinet.

bjp takes on diatribe by digvijay singh

29 Sept 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Bhartiya Janata Party on Wednesday took offence to Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh trying to show it in bad light as not inspiring confidence because of its past record despite its president, chief ministers and other leaders joining the government in appealing to accept whatsoever Ayodhya verdict comes on Thursday with patience and cordiality. 

"He has played so many no balls in politics. Better if he now plays a fair game and does not create tension in the country with his irresponsible statements," BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain affirmed at a Press conference here. He said the Congress general secretary is in the habit of creating controversies by speaking in support of Naxalites and even terrorists after the Batala House encounter in Delhi despite getting rap on the knuckles from his own party.

Digvijay Singh has been a chief minister and hence he should know how to remain in limits, though "we know his frustration with the BJP that ousted him from power," Hussain said. Nothing should be done that spoils the cordial atmosphere among the communities, he said.

Refusing to give a straight answer on the upcoming Ayodhya judgement, he said the party has always respected the judiciary's pronouncements. The party will, however, first examine the judgement and then give its response, he added.

Meanwhile, the BJP's central parliamentary board on Tuesday cleared names of 87 candidates for the Bihar Assembly elections, dropping four sitting MLAs, and authorised president Nitin Gadkari to decide rest of the names in consultation with others. The candidates were selected or dropped on the sole criteria of winnability, Hussain said.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

paid news edtiors guild meets election commission

28 Sept 2010


By R Rajagopalan
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission will be monitoring for the first time "paid news" in the print and electronic media report during the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections.

It has rushed to the Bihar chief electoral officer the revised formats of daily reports to be filed by candidates and the media expenditure monitoring team of the commission.

Earlier, the monitoring team comprising observers posted by the commission in each district used to keep a tab only on advertisements in newspapers, television including cable TV and radio, but a new column has been added in the format to provide "details of paid news" and cost of such paid news.

The Election Commission has already examined the menace of the "paid news" that was rampant during the last Lok Sabha elections and decided to include the cost of such news in the expenditure of the candidates to check if they are exceeding the ceilings on expenditure by resorting to "paid news" instead of issuing advertisements.

The Press Council of India (PCI) had also expressed grave concern over the ordinary reader being taken for a ride as he believes the "paid news" in print and electronic media as genuine assessment of the media. The PCI, however, left it up to the Election Commission to take the remedial measures.

The Election Commission has also discussed the issue in a meeting with all political parties and the study being undertaken in Bihar now through collection of precise data of the "paid news" may lead to remedial formulations in the coming elections, the commission sources said.


Monday, September 27, 2010




By R Rajagopalan

I V Subba Rao has been appointed as Establishment Officer
of Union Ministry of Personnel and Training, He is a
1979 batch IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh 

Subba Rao succeeds P K Mishra who has since been
promotted as Steel Secretary.

Subba Rao as Establishment Officer
is the Member Secretary of the Appointments Committee
of the Cabinet. He shall directly be reporting to the
Cabinet Secretary in all administrative posting issues.

Subba Rao Establishment Officer shall be responsibile 
for appointments of officers above Joint Secretary
and equvilvalent officers to Government of India
inlcuding PSU chiefs, PSU banks Chiefs, Officers
of 2500 IPS officers. Most important task is to
keeping up of annual confidentail reports of almost 5750 IAS
officers in the country.

There are twelve sections under Establishment Officer
a key functionary as for as the personnel policy is concerned.
Subba Rao since born on August 12, 1955 he
shall superannuate from Government services in September 2015





From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: L Radhakrishnan, 56, a Kerala cadre IAS officer of 1984 batch, was on Monday appointed the new chairman of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mumbai.

He will be taking over from N N Kumar, deputy chairman officiating as the acting chairman. His tenure will be up to February 2014 as the order says he is appointed for five years or up to the date of retirement of superannuation, whichever is earlier.

Radhakrishnan is presently the Principal Power Secretary in the Kerala Government.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


26 Sept 2010



From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The government is trying to snoop on the savings bank and other accounts you open with banks in the name of anti-terror measures, but Pranab Mukherjee has opposed the move in his capacity as the Finance Ministry.

Intrusion into privacy of the bank depositors is just not acceptable as it will discredit the banking system and the people will start using other modes for securing their funds and carry on transactions, Mukherjee has warned in a handwritten note.

He conveyed his reservations to National Intelligence Grid (NatGrid) CEO Raghu Raman who wanted instructions to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow his organisation an access to the individuals' savings accounts through the district magistrates to facilitate the terror money trail.

Raghu Raman has now taken the matter to Home Minister P Chidambaram whose baby the NatGrid is, conceived to work under the National Counter Terrorism Centre to create a multi-level database on individuals that can be available real time to the intelligence, security and enforcement agencies.

Sources said Mukherjee was not impressed from Raman's submission that the database will not be leaked to maintain secrecy and privacy of the bank account holders, allowing only 11 specified agencies to have the access for the sole purpose of tracking the money flow into terrorism and other very serious crimes impinging upon the national security.

The database that NatGrid intends to collect and collate will cover not only bank account withdrawals and deposits but also other records like land records, income tax returns and insurance cover. 

Raman, a defence expert from private sector who took over at NatGrid as its CEO about a year ago, is busy sorting out nittygritty of the operations the new organisation is supposed to start from next May as the task assigned is gigantic, requiring networking of 21 types of databases to ensure quick, seamless and secure access of desired information by the intelligence and enforcement agencies. Chidambaram has already set the deadline of 24 months for all databases ready and networked, preferring if that can be achieved faster in 18 months.

Though Raman has not been able to convince Pranab Mukherjee to drop his concern about the privacy of the bank account holders, he has succeeded in persuading the RBI to convene a meeting of chiefs of the commercial banks in Mumbai on Friday (October 1) to discuss how they can share information on at least heavy deposits and withdrawals of money from their banks with the designated senior government officials. 

Raman will try to convince the bank executives that the information so gathered will not be locally dessiminated and hence there is no possibility of leakage that may amount to the breach of privacy clause by which banks are bound with their customers. 

Though his proposal is to collect information through the district magistrates, he may finetune it to suggest direct link between NatGrid and the banks as all banks are computerised and as such high value transactions by individuals can be automatically identified in the computer system and forwarded to NatGrid as that will eliminate physical collection of data, susceptible to get leaked.

A letter sent out by the RBI at the instance of Raman to the bank chiefs says the meeting is called to discuss NatGrid — for putting in place an automated system for sending queries by law enforcement agencies to banks and providing information by banks to such agencies. The Friday meeting will discuss the mechanism the banks will use to share data on individuals with NatGrid.




Posted: 25 Sep 2010 07:38 PM PDT
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a great Vedic scholar who has expertise in Yoga and Ayurveda, and who is presently Head of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This Vedacharya was born David Frawley, but because of his passion for Hinduism and India he has come to be known as Vamdev Shastri.

I was invited to a function to felicitate the American scholar on his sixtieth birthday, his Shashtipoorthi.

A select group of his admirers assembled at the function organized at Shri Venkaiah Naidu’s residence in New Delhi. All the speakers, who included Shri Chandan Mitra, M.P. and Shri Dattatreya Hosbale, Asst. Gen. Sec of RSS lauded him for the invaluable work that he was doing by explaining to the world that the values and concepts which Hinduism propounded had a validity not just for Hindu Society  but were meant for the entire universe.

Dr. Frawley has written many books. His latest work is “UNIVERSAL HINDUISM: Towards a New Vision of Sanatana Dharma”. Dr. Frawley works with Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon and has been a faculty member of the Chopra Wellness Center.

Last week’s interaction of mine with Dr. David Frawley brings to mind the names of several Western celebrities who once they came in touch with any Hindu savant became so passionate devotees of Hinduism as well as of India that he or she promptly decided to change the course of their respective lives.

It happened with Margaret Elizabeth Noble, an Anglo-Irish social worker who met Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London, and with him traveled to India in 1898. Swami Vivekananda initiated her into Ramakrishna Mission and gave her the name Nivedita (dedicated to God).

Then there has been the case of Madeleine Slade daughter of British Rear Admiral Sir Edmund Slade. She left her home in England to live and work with Mahatma Gandhi.

Actually she was passionately devoted to Beethoven’s Music. When she heard about a biography of the great musician written by Romain Rolland, she went and met him. Romain Rolland felt the intensity of her adoration of Beethoven was a spiritual trait, for which a more appropriate object of veneration would be a spiritual leader like Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji advised her to utilise her basic training as a school teacher to devote time to teach girls in India.

Annie Wood, also of Britain, after her marriage to Frank Besant became Annie Besant. Annie Besant was a women’s right activist and Theosophist. In 1898 she traveled to India and became involved in politics and the activities of the Indian National Congress. In 1917 she was elected President of Indian National Congress.

At the Shashtipoorthi function of Dr. David Frawley, I recalled these instances and said that as a journalist myself I was greatly impressed by Mark Tully (BBC Correspondent in India who after retirement has chosen to adopt India as his home) whose understanding about Hinduism has been so deep as to make him write about his book, India’s Unending Journey :

“This book describes what India’s tolerance, and pluralism, its argumentative and discursive tradition, its acceptance of the uncertainty of certainty, have meant for me and the message I thought India could give to the world of today”.

Mark Tully’s book itself says: “My experiences in India forced me to think again about the faith I had been taught because I felt I couldn’t ignore what was right before my eyes: the existence of many ways to God.  ….When I came to understand that, for thousands of years, in changing historical circumstances, in different countries, and cultures and climates, people had experienced what appears to be the same reality, although describing that reality differently, I saw that a universal God made far more sense rationally than one who limited his activities to Christians.”    

Like many of us who waged a grim battle against the Congress regime’s Emergency. Mark Tully also put up stout resistance against it, unlike many of our own newspersons to whom I had to say that when Government wanted you only to bend, some of you were willing to crawl! Tully certainly had to suffer for his stand. He was summarily externed from India, and could return only when there was a change of government and the emergency was lifted.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

pmo worried over negative publicity in foreign media

Manmohan Singh: The best man for an impossible job

One of the world's most revered leaders, he has transformed a nation of 1.2bn people. But can he save the Commonweath Games?
By Peter Popham
Saturday, 25 September 2010
Manmohan Singh: "We are building a new India ... in which the basic rights of every citizen would be protected."
Manmohan Singh: "We are building a new India ... in which the basic rights of every citizen would be protected."
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It's been a paradoxical week for the leader of the world's biggest democracy.
On Thursday, representatives of Dr Manmohan Singh were in New York to receive on his behalf an award for World Statesman of the Year – testimony to his continuing transformation of a nation of 1.2bn people. But as this was happening, chaos was gripping preparations for the Commonweath Games, due to start in Delhi at the end of next week, and Dr Singh's Olympian calm was being sorely tested.
For now, the crisis seems to have passed, thanks in large part to the prime minister's intervention at an emergency meeting with officials and ministers, but at the same it has to be asked why he did not realise that this showcase event was running into trouble long before a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the main stadium and the athletes' village was found to be in no fit state to host competitors.
Running India has never exactly been a piece of cake, still less so for a career economist aged 79 with a history of heart problems. But were the Commonwealth Games really so far down his agenda, so far beyond his purview, that it was only on Thursday, 10 days before they were due to start, that he noticed something was wrong?
Dr Manmohan Singh has been close to the centre of power in Delhi for nearly 40 years, since his appointment as economic adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Trade back in 1971. He knows how hard it is to get anything done in this country, how every petty boss is king in his own backyard, how the old ills of sluggishness and corruption come back like a bad vindaloo whenever they get the chance.
He has also spent long enough abroad – eight years, divided between Oxford and Cambridge – to know how much these Games matter to India's stature in the world, even if the Indian on the Delhi street doesn't give a damn about them. And they are not being staged in some remote corner of the country from which news is hard to obtain: the Nehru Stadium is only a 15-minute drive from his office. When work on the infrastructure had still not started four years after Delhi was awarded the Games, didn't it occur to the Prime Minister to bang heads together while there was still time?
Manmohan Singh is by some measures one of the most successful Indian prime ministers ever: he has won two successive elections, enjoys great personal esteem and popularity, and has succeeded in dismantling much of the so-called Licence Raj which shut India away from the world's markets, in the process giving India a shot of the economic dynamism that has coursed through the rest of Asia's veins since the rise of Japan in the 1950s. Some commentators lament that India has yet to get double-digit growth on the China model; the rest of us would say that 9.4 per cent – the IMF's prediction for 2010 – looks pretty good in the circumstances.
So how could this star performer fail to notice the shambles taking shape on his doorstep, guaranteeing India a rerun of the all the ugly old stereotypes – dirty, incompetent, complacent, arrogant, self-absorbed, above all corrupt – which he has worked hard to consign to the rubbish bin?
Part of the reason, which the rest of the world finds hard to fathom, is that if India is hopeless at doing things according to a tidy schedule, it is incredibly good at doing things in a hurry. This is a function of labour being both plentiful and risibly cheap – an aspect of the bad old India which is still a fact of life. Leave everything to the last minute, then chuck 1,500 cleaners at it: a classic Indian solution. The result will be almost OK, especially as it has to hold together for only a fortnight.
But the other reason has to do with the way in which Indian power and its symbols have changed. When India hosted the Asian Games in 1982, prime minister Indira Gandhi took control personally, ensuring by threats and tantrums that the event went smoothly. But that dictatorial model, which had earlier led her to declare an emergency, closing down the free press and locking up the opposition, and later to order an assault on the Sikhs' holiest temple, went out of style with her assassination.
Dr Singh failed to seize the Commonwealth Games by the scruff of the neck partly because that's not his style, but also because that is not how Indian prime ministers perform any more. It is not within their capacity.
Very different in particulars, there are haunting similarities between Dr Singh and his predecessor, Atal Behari Vajpayee. The premier of the first-ever government headed by the Hindu nationalist BJP, Vajpayee was sweet-natured, eloquent, poetical and vague. His gentleness and niceness were in proportion to the chauvinism and fanaticism of his party colleagues. Not without reason, he was known as the Mask.
The brilliant economist who became an "accidental politician"; the man who knew how to turn India's ignition while continuing to drive a Maruti 800, the humblest car in the market; "a man of uncommon decency and grace", as he was described at the World Statesman Award ceremony this week, Manmohan Singh has a similar function. But it is not the atavistic fury of the nationalists that he masks.
Dr Singh was appointed India's finance minister during an economic crisis in 1991, apparently at the insistence of the IMF. And although he has been in government for 11 years since, he never gives the impression of being fully in control. He was doing the bidding of big business, of the Gandhis, the markets, the Americans.
Like Vajpayee, Dr Singh offers a flattering mirror to Delhi's old ruling class, now on the verge of extinction, with his frugality, modesty, sensitivity and honesty – but the forces he has unleashed in his country are anything but modest and sensitive. The technician, the Gandhi family's discreet major-domo, he set about doing what needed to be done to usher India belatedly into the globalised world. But because India remains a grotesquely unequal and unjust society, the rapacity of the liberated capitalist class has brought misery to millions of the Indian poor who found themselves in its path.
Speaking from Red Fort on the anniversary of Independence Day last month, Singh said, "The hard work of our workers, our artisans, our farmers has brought our country to where it stands today ... We are building a new which all citizens would be able to live a life of honour and dignity."
The rhetoric was boilerplate, but as the shame of the Games sank in it became glaringly obvious that the "Shining India" that Dr Singh's reforms were supposed to deliver, while improving the lot of many in the middle class, has done nothing to transform the lives of the majority of the poor.
Dr Singh has never doubted that his days in power were numbered; back in July he said, "When Congress makes the judgment, I will be very happy to make [way] for anybody chosen by the party." But as he prepares to step aside, he must feel twinges of regret about the chasm that has opened up between his fine words and India's stubborn reality.
A life in brief
Born: 26 September 1932 in Gah, Pakistan.
Education: Hindu College, Amritsar; Punjab University, Chandigarh; St John's College, Cambridge; Nuffield College, Oxford (DPhil).
Family: Married Gursharan Kaur in 1958, three daughters.
Career: Taught at University of Delhi until spotted by finance minister Lalit Narayan Mishra and appointed adviser to Foreign Trade Ministry. Finance minister from 1991 to 1996. Became Prime Minister in 2004 when Sonia Gandhi declined the job. Member of Raj Sabha (upper house) for Assam. Congress coalition led by Singh re-elected with a majority in 2009.
He says: "We are building a new India ... in which the basic rights of every citizen would be protected."
They say: "Cast as Sonia Gandhi's tentative, mild-mannered underling, he has stacked his cabinet with people committed to the corporate takeover of everything." Novelist Arundhati Roy



two new Governors
New team of AICC likely after CWG

T K A Nair, principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), is likely to be  appointed governor of Madhya Pradesh and former Chief Election Commissioner  Naveen Chawla may become governor of Rajasthan. The official announcements  are likely to be made soo according to Adhiti Phadnis, a senior journalist-who has been  reporting Finance, Home ministries. Politically also when the CWG is to end in mid October, 
AICC shuffle and Changes in the Union Government also expected. Sonia Gandhi is serious  in finalising the team,said a senior aide of hers.

Coming to the main story of Governors,.Madhya Pradesh Governor Rameshwar Thakur’s term ended in November last year, he has been on an extension since then, frequently not keeping good health. The post of Rajasthan governor fell vacant following the death of Prabha Rau in April this year. Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil is currently holding additional charge of Rajasthan.

Although no decision has yet been taken on Nair’s successor, it could be any one of the three senior bureaucrats: A frontrunner is former cabinet secretary and member, Planning Commission, B K Chaturvedi, but the existing Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekhar (whose term ends in June next year) and 1974 batch IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh cadre, Pulok Chatterjee, are also in the running. Chatterjee has been secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi while she was Leader of the Opposition and has served in the PMO prior to his World Bank assignment.
Chaturvedi has considerable experience in running a government and, in government circles, has the reputation of a doer. K M Chandrashekhar has the advantage of a smooth move without losing time in transition. Chatterji is due to return from the World Bank where he is executive director till February 2012. So, if he returns to PMO, it will be more than a year ahead of completing his three-year term. ends


26 Sept 2010

New heads for IB, RAW and CBI


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has to fill up five top and sensitive posts in the next four months. An immediate urgency is to find successors to Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Habibullah Wajahat and Prasad Rao, head of National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) handling cyber terrorism, as they retire this month end.

Three other sensitive posts to be filled up by January are those of the chiefs of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and two intelligence agencies -- Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The Prime Minister has to also look for successor to Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar (62)who was given fourth extension until next June in view of the Commonwealth Games he is overseeing and explore possibility of taking a younger face in place of his principal secretary TKA Nair, a Punjab cadre IAS officer who was pulled out of his retirement to serve him since 2004.

Dr Manmohan Singh is moving cautiously in making the new appointments to avoid the kind of criticism he faced in selection of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) early this month as Lok Sabha Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj, a member of the selection committee, made an issue over appointing Telecom Secretary P J Thomas to the post despite her opposition.

Insiders say Dr Manmohan Singh has quietly consulted three governors who were at the helm of affairs in the government until recently as he wanted their inputs on who can be the best candidates for the top posts falling vacant in the sensitive organisations.

CIC SELECTION TRICKY: Wajahat, the founder CIC under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, had resigned in August last year to be the first CIC of his homestate Jammu and Kashmir, but his resignation was kept in abeyance. He, however, cannot be given any extension as the RTI Act fixed the upper age limit of 65 that he reaches on September 30 and hence the government is under compulsion to find the successor.

The Prime Minister's worry is that Sushma Swaraj is also a member of the 3-member selection committee that includes himself and the Law Minister and as such there will be fireworks if consensus eludes on choosing the new CIC. An informal consultation has already begun but those pushing the files are under strict warning of no name dropping.

Since the RTI Act gives immense powers to the CIC to put the government into extreme difficulty, sources said the Prime Minister had a meeting with Sonia Gandhi to explain to her that she should not go by her NGO advisers to press for someone from the civil society and not a former bureaucrat to occupy the position.

RETD HAND FOR NTRO: Both serving and retired Intelligence Bureau (IB) are in the race to head NTRO. Former IB Chief P C Haldar, who is now the government's interlocutor in talks with Assam's extremist outfit ULFA since after retirement in 2008, and N C Padhi, an operational spy man of IB who retired three years ago, are looking forward to be rehabilitated in this technology intelligence organisation.

Padhi could have become the IB chief but for then National Security Adviser M K Narayanan's antipathy. Narayanan has moved out to the Kolkata Raj Bhawan and hence Padhi hopes to get a chance, though insider say Narayanan is among the governors the PM still consults while making appointments to the sensitive positions.

If the Government prefers to put NTRO under a service police personnel with enough intelligence experience, there are three serious contenders. Topping the list is Sardar Nischal Sandhu, who is IB's Special Director I, and competing with him is his immediate next colleague Ajit Lal.

Sandhu, a 1973 batch IPS officer of Bihar cadre, has vast experience of serving in IB and RAW and is known as a man of operations with grip on the ground realities in Jammu and Kashmir. He would have been the first head of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) but that was scuttled because it would have brought him in clash with IB Chief Rajiv Mathur as both have equal standing in the IPS cadre. R V Raju got the NIA post as he is two years junior to Mathur and thus does not destabilises the hierarchy balance.

Ajit Lal is junior to Sandhu so far as the cadre goes as he belongs to the 1974 batch of Himachal cadre. He is due for retirement in September next year while Sandhu retires only in January 2012.

NEW IB CHIEF: There is, however, speculation that the PM would prefer a retired hand to handle NTRO and in that eventuality Sandhu, who is No 2 in the IB, is all certain to be its new Director in the new year as present incumbent Rajiv Mathur, a 1972 batch Bihar cadre IPS, retires in December.

In that eventuality, Ajit Lal would have retired at least four months before Sandhu's due retirement age, while Sandhu may continue in the agency with two years of extension alike those in other key posts in the government. Even Mathur is reported to be trying for extension.

CADRE MAN FOR RAW?: The Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat is always headed by the IPS officers but there is excitement among the RAS (RAW Allied Service) officers that successor to their secretary K C Verma may come from their cadre for the first time. Verma is due for retirement in January.

Though the vacancy occurs only three months from now, the lobbying has already begun to grab the post. Ranjit Mathur and his junior Sanjiv Tripathi, both belonging to RAS cadre, are vying for the top post. Sanjiv is son-in-law of Gauri Shankar Bajpai, who was RAW secretary in 1991-92.

The Prime Minister has been advised by the three governors, two of them former IB chiefs, to tread carefully in deciding the RAW boss as they point out how seven RAS cadre seniors had gone on a protest leave in  when IPS officer Avadhesh Mathur (1975) was shifted from IB to RAW as its special director general. The protest was over an "outsider" and that too a junior being thrust upon them while at least three of them, P M Hablikar, Sharad Kumar and Chakru Sinha, were seniors as they belonged to 1973 batch of RAS.

CBI WHO?: The post of the CBI chief will also be falling vacant around the same time as Ashwani Kumar hits the retirement age January end. There are at least three contenders to occupy his chair from within the agency. They include Balwinder Singh, an Andhra cadre IPS who may lose the chance because of the charges of bias levelled on him recently by Gujarat IPS officer Geeta Johari embroiled in the Sohrabuddin killing probe. A P Singh, who is also with the CBI and belongs to Bihar cadre, is tipped to get the coveted post.



Sept 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Bhartiya Janata Party Saturday night held a candle light march in the walled city to register protest over the "national shame" brought to India by the Commonwealth Games organisers with rampant corruption and shoddy arrangements for the teams arriving for the mega event that begins here on October 3.

Large number of residents poured out to join the march as they felt credence in the BJP leaders pointing out how the governments spent thousands of crores for the games while neglecting the historic Chandni Chowk and Jama Masjid of the heritage Walled City.

Former Union Minister Vijay Goel, who led the march with BJP MP and spokesman Prakash Javadekar, told those gathered that when over Rs 85,000 crores have been spent on the Games by conservative estimates, "it pains that the Central and State Governments have not bothered to spend any money in this historic area that has the potential to attract a large number of tourists."

Thousands of crores of rupees have been spent in the name of sprucing up Connaught Place and other parts of Lutyens’ Delhi and other areas, but the Walled City has been given step-motherly treatment, he affirmed while pointing out that even the promised money for development of the old Delhi was not released.

Noted heritage lover Firoz Bakht and Vastu architect Ratish Nanda joined the march, pointing out that there are 90 havelis, 492 temples, 387 mosques and many historical libraries in the area that could have been spruced up as part of the Games preparations.

Javadekar said the very intervention of the Prime Minister to maintain deadlines of the preparatory works is shameful as it proves beyond doubt that everything has gone topsy-turvy. "It is a matter of great concern that the Prime Minister has woken up so late to put the things right for CWG and that too only after international agencies and foreign delegates cried foul," he affirmed.


Friday, September 24, 2010

govt told to slash urea subsidy

25 Sept 2010


By Delhi Correspondent

NEW DELHI: A new fertiliser policy is on the anvil, based on a report of a committee on "Optimisation of Fertiliser Usage" that has recommended reduction in subsidy on urea, bringing it under the free pricing regime sooner than later and allowing a higher price to discourage its unproductive use.

Instead, farmers can be assisted by providing higher level of subsidies on other critical nutrients (fertilisers) like Sulphur, Zinc and Boron to make them affordable, says the 80-page committee report submitted by its chairman T Nanda Kumar, a retired agriculture secretary, to the Cabinet Secretary here on Friday.

The committee, which also included secretaries, agriculture, fertiliser, finance and expenditure, has also recommended that the government move towards free pricing of fertilisers and finally to "direct cash transfer to farmers." It also laid stress on quality controls and soil testing instead of relying on outdated data.

PORT MECHANISATION: It laid special emphasis on the fertiliser stocks reaching well in advance instead of the current practice of a "ship-to-farm" operation at the beginning of the season. It pointed out how every activity through the supply chain, starting with handling and bagging facilities at the ports, creates inefficient logistics that help the black-market since farmers do not wait for stocks to arrive just in time. It said handling and bagging operations in all ports should be mechanised on a priority basis.

To optimise the use and efficiency of fertiliser use and to increase productivity of crops in India, the committee has suggested a shift to Site Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM), including integrated and balanced fertiliser management.

"It is difficult to effect the change all over the country in a short time," the committee said while recommending that it may, therefore, be taken up first in 100 districts which consume 50 per cent NPK fertiliser, followed by the districts that have major soil nutrient problems because of soil degradation. It says the proposed SSNM should include NPK, secondary and micro nutrients and soil ameliorants. Addition of farm yard manure and biofertiliers should also be an integral part of it.

It suggests that the district agricultural plans should include an SSNM plan drawn up with technical support and fertiliser demand should be assessed on the basis of districtwise demand, taking into account soil fertility, irrigation and crop/seed characterstics.

HANDICAP: The committee also noted that reservation of manufacture of micro nutrients for SSI (small scale industries) is a major constraint in expanding their use. It suggested subsidy for plants set up to convert urban and rural waste into manure.

Other recommendations of the committee which will be used by the government to formulate a new fertiliser policy are:

--- Set up more soil testing laboratories in the PPP (public-private partnership);

-- Place in public domain 4.5 to 5 lakh soil samples tested by the fertiliser companies and integrate them with the ICAR (Indian Council of Agriculture Research) data;

-- Promote use of fortified fertilisers that will reduce farmers' costs and add to productivity;

-- Reduce dependence on import of substantial quantity of fertilisers by developing own resources;

-- Produce SSP 'Lite" with 14% P2O5, making use of indigenous rock phosphate;

-- Use industrial byproducts of certain industries as soil ameliorants alike paper mill sludge used effectively in Orissa;

-- Monitor quality of fertilisers through independent quality control laboratories;

-- Encourage change in current farming practices to encourage in-situ conservation of moisture and nutrients; and

-- Adequate stocking of fertilisers by the state agencies as private traders avoid incurring the cost of inventory.