Animal activists hit streets

People hit Sonari streets to protest killing of elephant
Dibrugarh, Feb 28 : Animal lovers and activists today took to the streets of Sonari in Sivasagar and burnt effigies of forest minister Rockybul Hussain to protest the brutal killing of a pregnant elephant near Abhayapur reserve forest on Wednesday night.
Villagers living on the edge of Abhayapur reserve forest found the carcass of the elephant yesterday, with its tail, tip of the trunk and an ear chopped off.
Led by the Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), nearly a hundred people shouted slogans against the Tarun Gogoi-led government for failing to protect animals.
They accused the government of failing to control, “poaching and timber smuggling” in the reserve forest which shares a 20-km boundary with Nagaland.
“We have been highlighting these issues for quite some time now through various memorandums and applications, but the authorities so far have preferred to keep mum,” said Rabijit Baruah, the president of the Sonari regional unit of the AJYCP.
The forest department, however, was still not sure who killed the elephant.
“If it had been a case of poaching, the poachers would have targeted a tusker in the herd. However, that was not the case. This is why we think that the elephant was not killed by poachers but by some local groups. The investigations have just begun and we will be able to come to a conclusion once the probe is over,” Utpal Bora, the divisional forest officer of Sivasagar, said over telephone.
Bora, who visited the area yesterday, said samples of the animal’s kidney, liver have been sent for forensic tests at the Guwahati-based Forensic Science Laboratory and the report is expected within a week’s time.
“First and foremost, we will have to establish the cause of death. If we find that it was because of poisoning, we have certain people on our list of suspects. We will begin questioning them,” Bora said.
Green groups have also come down heavily on the state government for its failure to protect the state’s greenery and wildlife.
“It is a matter of shame for the state government and the forest department that poaching and timber smuggling continue despite a series of agitation by various organisations. The forest department has hopelessly failed to protect the state’s wildlife,” Soumyadeep Datta, the director of Nature’s Beckon, said.
Datta also demanded an impartial inquiry to probe the elephant killing.

Probe into tea auction scam

Mismatch in samples quality detected
Guwahati, Feb 28 : The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) has set up a special investigation committee to probe allegations of foul play in connection with auctioning of tea.
Sources in the industry said the probe was ordered after it came to light that there were mismatches between the quality of samples put up at the auctions and the actual tea sold thereafter, which was inferior. Besides, there were reports of a seller procuring bank loans against non-existent tea in connivance with brokers and warehouses. 
The irregularities came to the fore when a few buyers, armed with delivery orders, demanded that the tea they had purchased at sale number 7 on February 17 be handed over to them, but it was subsequently found that no tea was available in the warehouses.
Sources in the GTAC said the Arrival Weighment Report (AWR) of tea for sale numbers 7 and 8 had been given by two warehouses and the sampling and valuation of the tea had also been done, while there was actually no tea available in the warehouses.
According to rules, a seller has to procure an AWR from a warehouse and clearance from brokers on the arrival of tea to the warehouse, on the basis of which he (the seller) can procure bank finance.
However, the particular seller, in connivance with the warehouse owners and brokers, allegedly procured false AWRs and on the basis of these, bank loans.
“He procured loans from the bank although there was no tea at the warehouses,” a source said.
The sources said on procuring bank finance, the seller purchased cheaper tea from the market and delivered these to the buyers, sometimes even weeks later after the delivery order was placed to the warehouses by the latter.
“This particular seller put superior quality tea samples for sale at the auction and delivered inferior quality tea when the sale was completed. As soon as he gets an order, he purchases tea from the market with money from bank finance and supplies the same to the buyers,” the source said.
However, things came to light when there was shortage of tea in the market this off-season.
“Although he got the order, he had no tea to supply. This came to light when the buyers came calling with the delivery orders at the warehouse,” the source added.
This is the first time that such irregularities have come to light at the GTAC. This could further tarnish the image of Assam tea among buyers besides keeping them away from the auctions at the GTAC, which already suffers from a paucity of buyers.
GTAC secretary Jayanta Kakoti admitted that there had been irregularities and confirmed that an inquiry had been ordered.
A former chairman of the Assam Tea Planters Association, Raj Baruah, said this kind of “foul play” would only keep buyers away from the Guwahati auction centre.
“Who would take such risk and that, too, when teas are available at the Calcutta auction centre?” he asked.
He said the Assam Tea Planters Association was awaiting the committee’s report into the misconduct at the GTAC. “We will take up the matter strongly if irregularities are proved,” he added.

Lockout jitters for south Assam gardens

Silchar, Feb 28 : The declaration of a lockout at Urrunabund tea estate yesterday, the second lockout in a plantation in the Cachar tea region in a month, has unnerved the planters in south Assam at a time when the output is surging and the average price of the CTC yield per kg is on an upswing.
The estate, owned by the Calcutta-based Jatinga Tea Ltd, is on the highway that links Silchar town with the airport.
A showdown between tea workers and the management at Aylabari tea estate under Karimganj district early February led to a lockout, which was, however, lifted after a week. 
The assistant labour commissioner’s office in this town has convened a meeting between the management of Urrunabund tea estate and the two labour unions early next week to sort out the tangle leading to the lockout in the garden. 
Urrunabund is one of the oldest and biggest tea plantations in tea-growing Cachar with about 500 labourers on the payroll and producing about 4.5 lakh kg of CTC tea. Its gross area is over a thousand hectares of land. 
Trouble began this week when a few labourers had a spat with the management. 
One of the labourers, Pintoo Baidya, even assaulted the general manager of the garden, R.N. Pandey, forcing him and his managerial colleagues to leave the garden and take shelter in Silchar. 
A section of the workers, owing allegiance to the BJP-controlled Barak Valley Cha Mazdoor Sangha, were irked after Jatinga Tea Ltd ordered a survey of the lands to find out how many of the workers and the outsiders were illegal occupants and how much land could be farmed out to these people. 
The labourers had also been venting their ire as the management appeared to be firm on evicting illegal settlers in the 30 acres of land of Urrunabund which Jatinga Tea donated to a religious trust in south India to build a 400-bed modern hospital there.
The Cachar Cha Sramik Union, affiliated to Intuc, has taken an initiative to defuse tension in the garden. Its assistant general secretary, D.N. Baroi, today said the management should refrain from taking any anti-worker stand.

Nagaland & Assam enter final

Guwahati/Shillong, Feb 28 : Assam will take on Nagaland in the final of the 1st North East Twenty20 cricket tournament at the Polo Ground in Shillong tomorrow.
In the semi-final matches at the same venue today, Assam drubbed Sikkim by six wickets and Nagaland scrapped past hosts Meghalaya by eight runs to book their final berths.
Gokul Sharma, who had taken four wickets against Mizoram yesterday, gave another sterling performance along with Swarupam Purkaystha, picking up three wickets each to help Assam to restrict Sikkim to 101 for eight after the latter elected to bat after winning the toss. 
Devender Kumar was the only notable contributor with the bat for Sikkim, playing a steady hand of 30 off 51 balls.
Assam had no problem in achieving the Sikkim score with Amit Sinha leading the way with 42 off 33 balls. Pritam Debnath made 19 off 10 balls. Kulbeer Rawat and Paijor Tamang took two wickets each for Sikkim.
The only change in the Assam playing eleven came in the form of Dhiraj Goswami, who replaced Ranjit Mali, said Assam coach Subhrajit Saikia.

“Dhiraj Goswami also captained the side,” Saikia said, hoping that the pitches would assist spinners more than the medium pacers who were finding it difficult to control the ball.
Purkayastha had captained the side in the first match. Assam will be fielding an unchanged side in the final. “We will retain the winning combination,” Saikia added.
If the Assam-Sikkim encounter in the morning was a one-sided affair, the second match between Nagaland and Meghalaya was anything but. 
Batting first after winning the toss, Nagaland posted a competitive 133 for eight in 20 overs with Deepak Sinha scoring 30 off 39 balls and Imliwati 24 off 17 balls.
Babloo Passah took two wickets for Meghalaya. 
In reply, hosts Meghalaya fell short of the winning total by eight runs with the seasoned Mark Ingty scoring 29 off 30 balls and Jason Lamare contributing 22 off 21 balls.
Pinku Deb took two wickets for Nagaland.

Big win for Assam

NEYVELI: Assam blanked Rajasthan 6-0 in a league encounter of the senior National women’s football championship here on Friday.

Rumila Koll led the scoring spree with three goals. Suchitra, Moni Munda and Romita Gogot were the other scorers.

Other league results: Bihar 0 drew with Maharashtra 0; Haryana 2 (Meenu Sharma, Sudesh) bt Chhattisgarh 0; Goa 3 (Sharon Fernandez (2), Blanka Barretto) bt Karnataka 0. — Sports Reporter

Whessoe to project manage LNG plant in India

By Owen McAteer

KOCHI, INDIA, Feb 28 : A north-east energy sector firm has won a multi-million pound contract for an Indian government backed venture.

Whessoe, in Darlington, which employs 400 staff, will project manage the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal at Kochi, in Southern India.

The contract has been awarded by Petronet LNG Ltd, which was formed as a joint venture between the Indian government and leading oil and gas companies in the country, to import LNG and set up LNG terminals.

A spokesman for Whessoe, which specialises in cryogenics, said: "This is Whessoe's first major project management consultancy award and demonstrates the value and expertise that specialist cryogenic engineering contractors can bring to clients such as Petronet.

"India is one of Whessoe's major markets and this award strengthens its portfolio and presence in South Asia."

The Whessoe team working on the project will be based at the Darlington head office and on site in India.

The team will be led by Whessoe project director Gordon Franklin, whose previous projects have included the Dabhol LNG terminal in India.

The facility at Kochi is planned to be fully operational in 2012. The complete terminal will include two LNG storage tanks, a regasification plant and a marine terminal with 320m jetty as well as LNG unloading arms to receive ocean going LNG carriers.

Whessoe, originally founded in Darlington in 1790 by William Kitching and Sons, has grown from 65 employees and a turnover of [pounds]5m in 2001 to 400 employees and turnover of [pounds]160m today.

The company specialises in the design, procurement and construction of cryogenic storage and handling equipment.

Along with the UK head office in Darlington it has offices in China, India, Saudi Arabia and the US.

It received a Ruben D'Honneur medal at last year's European Business of the Year awards in Paris.

Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is natural gas that has been cooled to minus 162 Celsius, at which point it condenses into a liquid.

When in liquid form, natural gas takes up to 600 times less space, making it easier to transport over long distances.

In comparison with other fossil fuels, such as oil or coal, LNG has the lowest environmental impact when burned as a fuel or used to generate electricity.

Pregnant elephant killed, mutilated in Sivasagar

Dibrugarh, Feb 27 : Poachers killed a pregnant elephant near Janokipathar, a small hamlet on the edge of Abhayapur reserve forest in Assam’s Sivasagar district last night. They chopped off and took with them the animal’s tail, tip of the trunk and right ear.
The gory sight of the elephant lying in a pool of blood with the rest of its trunk almost severed moved to tears even the villagers who have been enraged by the rampages of a herd of elephants in the area for the past few days. The female elephant was from the same herd.
Villagers said they heard two gunshots around 9 last night, but did not venture out in the dark.
“Moreover, we thought there could be militants around. But when we came out of our houses this morning, we saw this ghastly sight,” Lakhi Bhumij, who was the first to see the elephant carcass, said.
Lakhi was on her way to the forest in the morning when she saw the elephant lying in a pool of blood that had spilled out from a deep gash around its trunk and neck.
“For some moments I was numb with shock. Then I screamed and ran towards our house and woke up my husband (Narayan) and other villagers. It was a horrifying scene,” she said.
A villager said a herd, comprising about 30 to 35 elephants, had been inva- ding Janokipathar for the past three days in search of food.
“There has been no rain for a long period and gene-rally there is an acute shortage of fodder inside the forest during winter,” another villager said.
Many villagers of Janokipathar, which has 23 families, all from the ex-tea community, paid their last respects to the elephant.
It is suspected that poachers killed the elephant. Again, miscreants from Nagaland — the reserve forest shares a 20km-long boundary with the state — could have also killed the elephant for its meat. The killers, however, could not carry away much, although they apparently tried to as is evident from the wounds and the hacking of the entire trunk.
Sources said shortage of forest department personnel had encouraged poachers and timber smugglers to operate in the reserve forest.
The Abhayapur reserve forest, spread over 6737.98 hectares, has three camps at present — Lesai, Singlo and Kherbari, the last being 3km from Janokipathar.
Lesai is located inside the reserve forest while Singlo and Kherbari are located on the periphery.
A section of armed personnel from the Assam Forest Protection Force is posted at Kherbari.
Lesai has three unarmed forest personnel and one platoon of the Assam Police Battalion.
Singlo has just four unarmed forest staff.
The forest department has abolished two camps, Godapani and Joymati, which used to be located inside the reserve forest, because of shortage of manpower.
Sonari ranger Subodh Talukdar said over phone that a team of forest and police personnel and a magistrate had gone to the spot for investigation.
The reserve forest comes under the Sonari range.
“No bullet marks have been found on the animal till now. We are trying to find out whether the elephant was shot dead or poisoned,” he added.

Foreign expert for Assam football

Guwahati, Feb 27 : In a bid to give boost to football in the state, Assam Football Association (AFA) has roped in foreign experts to train its team as Assam has been performing inconsistently over the past one decade.

AFA secretary Ankur Dutta, in a press conference here today, said that Assam had done well in the National Games by becoming the champion but they had not been consistent.

Hence, three foreign experts were roped in through US based F S Sports.

The experts will help the Assam team to prepare well for the upcoming Santosh Trophy.

The training camp will start from February 27 and will continue till March 11.

Assam To Turn In To Tourist Destination

After ages of being over shadowed by the militant activities, Assam is making serious attempts to convert its natural beauty and wildlife in to tourist attractions. New tourist places like Bogamati hill area are being developed in to places for the tourists to visit.

The Bogamati hill area is specially gifted with its natural scenery and is particularly a nature lovers paradise. The region is located at the Indo-Bhutan border area, Bogamati lies between two hill ranges and the foothills of the Bhutan border. Today, it is a hotspot for picnickers, thronging from remote places of Assam. Just five year ago, it was the general headquarters of the militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assom (ULFA).

The hill resort offers some delightful sights that includes 'Bor Nadi' river.

After the state tourism took action against the militant development, the area has become a major tourist attraction now. The hill resort offers some delightful sights that includes `Bor Nadi'' river, which originates from Bhutan Hills and flows through two ridges of the hills. Alon with the private companies, attempts are being made to develop the 'Bogamati' in to a hub for water sports.

"Earlier, there used to be militants here, but it is not so now. The situation was not good but now everything is fine. There were a few shops but now the numbers of shops has increased," said Sunmoni Basumatary, one local resident.

"After they have develop the place and its sports it has become very popular. The response of the people who come to this picnic spot is good. Roads are also developed slowly its becoming a good picnic spot and we have no fear to come here," said Mutesh Sharma, one tourist.

The growing interest among the tourists for the area has opened doors of opportunity for the locals who have set up local eat-outs and telephone booths for the visitors.

Gokul steers Assam to victory

Guwahati/Shillong, Feb 27 : Gokul Sarma’s all-round contribution this morning saw Assam open their campaign in the 1st North East Twenty20 cricket tournament at Polo Ground in Shillong with a 115-run victory over minnows Mizoram.
Though an Assam victory was expected, the win gave them some respite after their miserable performance in the East Zone leg of the Vijay Hazare Trophy that concluded recently in Calcutta. Assam had lost all their matches in that tournament much to the ire of ACA. 
Batting first after losing the toss, Assam made 175 for eight with Sarma scoring 41 off 34 balls followed by Swarupam Purkayastha 39. Gokul was involved in two crucial partnerships of 44 runs for the fourth wicket with Deepak Sharma and 38 runs for the fifth wicket with Purkayastha.
Lalfakzuala Renthlen was the most successful of the Mizoram bowlers claiming three wickets.
Mizoram, in their chase, were bundled out for 60 in 16.3 overs with H. Zothanchhunga being the only batsman who scored in double figures with 11 to his name. Sarma was the wrecker-in-chief claiming four wickets for four runs.
Swarupam captained the side in the absence of Dhiraj Goswami who was named captain by the ACA. Goswami is in Calcutta and is expected to play tomorrow. 
In the second match of the day, Nagaland defeated Manipur by 35 runs. Winning the toss, Nagaland elected to bat and scored 126 for seven in 20 overs with Deepak Singha scoring 26 runs off 30 balls. For Manipur, T. Naoba claimed two wickets.
In reply, Manipur could manage only 91 in 19 .2 overs with N. Rajesh scoring 22 off 20 balls.
Tomorrow, Assam will take on Sikkim.

Assam to set up committee to tackle recession

Guwahati, Feb 26 : Assam government would constitute an economic committee to suggest measures to help it tackle the current global economic meltdown, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Thursday.

The committee to be set up within a month would be headed by the Chief Minister, it would suggest measures on withstanding the impact of the economic meltdown, on ways to improve revenue collection and plugging loopholes. It would also find ways to increase investment and employment avenues, Gogoi told reporters here.

While suggesting that the global scenario does not seem to improve next year, he said, "We have calculated the state will lose Rs 1100 crore from reduced oil royalty due to fall in oil prices, Rs 600 crore from devolution of state's share of Central taxes and Rs 400 crore from Assam's own tax collection."

He also asked for an economic stimulus from the Centre, while warning that there might be job losses.

"I will also take up with the Centre for extra funds for rural infrastructure development, investment in rural and urban housing, relaxation of cap on loan for certain areas, join hands with the private sector for taking loans in various sectors, relaxation of norms of government to create jobs," Gogoi added.

To a querry on the present economic condition of the state, Gogoi said, "We have a comfortable financial year ahead. We have had no overdraft since the last four years".

"Assam is far better off than other states. We are ranked third in a recent report on the state's capacity to make the Sixth Pay Commission salaries," he asserted.

On the infrastructure and social sector development projects, he said that the plan size and investments would increase next year.

Concessions to lure investors, new industrial and tourism policies, demanding a special package for agriculture to give investors more profit, improving riverine, rail and surface transport system, would be the other measures to minimise the affect of global recession, Gogoi said.

He said that it is important for "the government also to become a businessman," to increase its revenue and consolidate its finacial position.

"Instead of the private parties, the government will buy up the land along the bypasses and sell the land later."

He also declared that his government was in favour of creation of a second legislative council if the Centre bears 50 percent of the expenditure.

The government would also create advisory separate councils for rural, women, youth and linguistic minority development.

IASST Guwahati to be an autonomous Institute

New Delhi, Feb 26 : The Union Cabinet today approved the request of the Assam Government for conversion of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati into an autonomous grants-in-aid institute of the Government of India, under the Department of Science and Technology.

This would meet the hopes and aspirations of people of Assam and North Eastern Region.

IASST would endeavor to spot local scientific talent and inspire them to attain national and global level of competence.

This would lead to enrichment of the culture of scientific research and would have significant impact on the development of resources of the Assam and the Region as a whole.

Police officer killed in N C hills

A police officer was killed another gangman was injured when suspected DHD(J) rebels attacked a group of workers engaged on a railway tract at Langting in North Cachar hills district on Thursday.

According to information, the incident took place at around 10-30 in the morning at the railway tracts at Langting at a distance of 100 kilometer from the Haflong police station.

The deceased, who died on the spot has yet to be identified as police officer identified as some Baglary who was at work died on the spot while a gangman Anil Dey sustained injury. He has been rushed to the Lumding Hospital.

The Tribes of N.C.Hills

The Dimasa Kacharis :   The Kacharis are the most widely spread tribe in northeast India. They are said to be the earliest inhabitants of the Brahmaputra Valley. The Kacharis belong to the Indo-Mongoloid (Kirata) group which include the Bodos and their allied tribes. They have prominent Mongoloid features with high cheek bones, slit eyes and a slight growth of hair in the body and scant beard. They call themselves Bodo or Bodo-fisa in the Brahmaputra valley and Dimasa or Dima-fisa or ‘sons of the great river’ in the North Cachar Hills & Karbi- Anglong district.
The Dimasa Kacharis greatly inhabit the northern half of the North Cachar Hills and ravines of the Jatinga valley and the adjoining tract.  
The Dimasas believe in the existence of a supreme being Madai – Under whom there are several Madais including family deities and evil spirits. The religious practices of the Dimasas are reflected in their Daikho system. A Daikho has a presiding deity with a definite territorial jurisdiction and a distinct group of followers known as Khel. Every Dimasa Kachari family worships its ancestral deity once a year before sowing the next paddy.   It is known as Madai Khelimba. This is done for the general welfare of the family. And Misengba is for the good of the whole community. They cremate their dead. The dead body is washed and dressed in new clothes, the corpse is placed inside the house on a mat. A fowl is thrashed to death and placed at the foot of the deceased so that it might show the deceased the right path to heaven. The widow does not tie their hair till cremation. The dead body is cremated by the side of a river or  stream.  
The Dimasa have a tendency to build their houses on hill slopes with a river or streamlet flowing nearby. The dwelling houses are built on plinth of earth – in two rows facing each other with a sufficiently wide gap in between.
An important institution of the village is Hangsao. It is an association of unmarried boys and girls of the village. It is organized for the purpose of working together in cultivation and lasts only for one year. Throughout the year, the members of the Hangsao work together in the Jhums cutivating by rotation an area of land at every member’s field.
 Music and dance play an important role in the day-to-day life of the Dimasa Kacharis. They sing and dance expressing their joy at the youth common houses ‘Nadrang’ or at the courtyard of the ‘Gajaibaou’s house in popular common festival like Bushu or Hangsao – manauba. The female owner of the house, where the Bushu festival is held, is called ‘Gajaibaou’.
 By using their traditional musical instruments like Muri, Muri-wathisa, Supin Khram, Khramdubung, they present their traditional dances named – Baidima, Jaubani, Jaupinbani, Rennginbani, Baichargi, Kunlubani, Daislelaibani, Kamauthaikim Kaubani, Nanabairibani, Baururnjla, Kailaibani, Homaudaobani, Rongjaobani, Dausipamaikabani, Daudngjang, Nowaijang, Dailaibani, Narimbani, Rogidaw bihimaiyadaw, Maijaobani, Maisubanai, Richibbani, Michai bonthai jibnai, Homojing ladaibani, Berma charao paibani, Mangusha bondaibani, Madaikalimbani etc.
 The males put on the traditional dresses like richa, rikaosa, paguri rimchau and rimchaoramai to perform the folk dances. The females put on Rigu, rijamfini, rijamfinaberen, rikaucha, rikhra, jingsudu etc. and wear ornaments like Kaudima, Khadu, Kamautai, Longbar, Panlaubar. Chandraral, Rongbarcha, Enggrasa, Jongsama, Ligjao, Jingbri, Yausidam etc.
 The dance forms of the Dimasa Kacharis are complex in character. They are strictly dependent on instrumental music. No songs are used. Khram (drum) follows the rhythm of the Muri (fife) and so also the dancers. Though one may find the music trilling from Muri to be monotonous, but there are variations with noticeable microtones for different dance forms. That is why young men practice dancing at Nadrang during leisure hours and the village kids follow the rhythm and stepping at a distance from an early age.

Assamese almanac foretells UPA will form government at centre

Guwahati, Feb 25 : The Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is likely to form the government at the centre for the second straight term, while violence could rock the northeastern state of Assam by the year end, according to a forecast by a highly regarded Assamese almanac.
The stars favour the Congress party and so we believe the UPA would once again come to power, Pulin Chandra Dev, editor of Kalpurush Panjika, a calendar based on the movement of planets and stars.
The Kalpurush Panjika, a mass circulation astrological calendar in Assam that entered its 26th year of publication, was released Tuesday.
In Assam also, the Congress is expected to do well in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections mainly due to the clean image of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Dev told IANS, quoting from the calendar.
The Kalpurush Panjika gave something to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to cheer about in Assam although its alliance with the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) could be fraught with danger.
The influence in Assam would increase although its alliance with the AGP might not get the desired results as the tie up could probably split. But surely the alliance would gain marginally during the elections, the Kalpurush Panjika said.
Mention was also made of possible violence of high magnitude in Assam sometime later this year or early next year.
Some big violence or explosions could take place either by December this year or sometime around January 2010, Dev said.

Unique ID Authority to ensure identity scheme implementation

The government has earmarked Rs100 crore in the interim budget to kickstart the UID project

New Delhi, feb 25
: The Unique Identification Authority of India will formulate plans and policies to implement ambitious UID project in the country aimed at assigning a unique identification number to each citizen, the government said today.

“Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) shall have the responsibility to lay down plans and policies to implement Unique Identification (UID) scheme, shall own and operate UID database...,” Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy said in a reply in the Lok Sabha.

The Authority has been notified on 28 January as an attached office under the aegis of Planning Commission with an initial core team of 115 officials and staff, he said adding that a governance structure to manage the UID system is in the process of establishment and that the state governments would be active partners in its activity.

The government has earmarked Rs100 crore in the interim budget to kickstart the UID project. “A provision of Rs100 crore has been made in the annual plan 2009-10 for this,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said.

UID aims at eliminating the need for multiple identification mechanism prevalent across various government departments.

The project will be helpful in better monitoring and targeting of social benefits and employment programmes and identifying synergies among various ID initiatives prevalent in the country, Narayanasamy added.

Sanjay Dutt : Where is Sanjay Dutt, fume residents of Lucknow locality

They had waited with flowers and garlands since early morning to welcome him, but when Bollywood star and Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow Sanjay Dutt failed to show up in their neighbourhood by noon Wednesday, the residents fumed.

Sanjay was to visit the congested Ganne Wali lane in the Aminabad locality where his father Sunil Dutt had lived with a family for four years till 1951. But security reasons kept him away.

Aslam, a resident, said: “The actor has just disappointed us a lot. He is just not bothered about meeting his ardent fans who were waiting for him for the last several hours.”

The locals who had started thronging the lanes since 6.30 a.m. Wednesday threw the flowers and garlands that were meant for the Bollywood actor. They raised slogans against Sanjay and even damaged the ‘pagdi’ (headgear) meant for welcoming him.

“If Sanju cannot come to meet us, how can we expect he will take care of us after winning the elections,” said a fuming Munna, a resident of the Ganne Wali lane.

The Samajwadi Party did not rule out the actor’s visiting the place later in the day.

Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said: “Hundreds of people lined up the lane which is merely 2-3 feet wide. Owing to a heavy rush and security reasons, Sanjay is expected to visit the lane sometime later.”

Sanjay’s father Sunil Dutt had lived there with one Captain Rizvi’s family while working in Lucknow with the All India Radio.

Accompanied by wife Manyata and Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, Sanjay however did meet the family that now stays in the Jopling Road locality.

Sanjay and Manyata were showered with red rose petals while they met the captain’s family at Jopling Road. Calling Manyata its daughter-in-law, the family also gave ‘muh dikhayee’, a post-marriage ritual in Hindu families where money is gifted to the bride after seeing her face.

“I am quite happy to visit the family with whom my father cherished some memorable moments,” Sanjay told reporters.

“My father always told me that you have another family in Lucknow too. But due to my busy schedule I could not visit. It’s now quite emotional as I am meeting my family after such a long time.”

He also went through some black and white photographs of his father with the family members.

Though convicted for arms possession in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Sanjay has been picked by the Samajwadi Party as its candidate from Lucknow.

Assam exempts entertainment tax for 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Guwahati, Feb 24  Elated over the Oscar winning feat of 'Slumdog Millionaire', Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today announced exemption of entertainment tax on the movie in the state.

"The entire nation is proud of the winning feat of the team and the government has responded to it by exempting tax to enable more and more people to watch the movie," Gogoi said here.

Congratulating the movie's team members, the chief minister hailed the feat of sound recordist from the state Amrit Pritam who worked as a deputy to Resul Pookutty, the winner of the Oscar best sound mixing award for 'Slumdog Millionaire'.

"The young sound recordist (who earned fame for special sound effects in Amir Khan's film 'Ghajini') has a great future," he said.

Festival gains foreign following

Devotees from across the globe reach Guwahati for cultural event
(From left) Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Sajan Mishra and Rajan Mishra. File pictures
Guwahati, Feb 24 : It has taken just two years for the Kameswari Dance and Music Festival to win an international following.
No wonder, when the annual even begins at the Kamakhya temple this Saturday, among the audience will be a sizeable number of foreigners, some of whom will fly in from the US.
The performers this year include flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, vocalists Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra and dancers Raja Radha Reddy and Kumkum Mohanty.
For Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra, this will be the second time at the Guwahati event.
Assam’s very own flautist Prabhat Sarma and his troupe are also on the performers’ list.
Though the festival turns only three this year, the traditions it has been inspired by are from the ancient Ahom era.
Ahom kings usually sat in the courtyard of Kamakhya, listening to devotional songs while dancers made the portico their stage.
The tradition came to a halt for unknown reasons.
“It was in 2007 that danseuse Sonal Mansingh visited Kamakhya temple as a devotee. She met the members of the Debutter Board and requested them to organise a show at the temple where she could perform. We were overwhelmed by her gesture and the idea of reviving the Kameswari festival came to our mind. The festival was an instant hit in the first year and we decided to make it an annual affair,” Bhabani Charan Sarma, the adviser of Kamakhya Debutter Board, said.
Between 2007 and 2009, the festival has gained such popularity that more than 10,000 people are expected to be part of it this year.
A number of devotees from foreign countries have already reached Guwahati, unwilling to miss even the excitement before the festival, Sarma said.

Thousands attend Sankardev Sangha conference

SONARI, Feb 13 : Thousands of devotees thronged today from all over the State the second day’s programme of 78th annual conference of Srimanta Sankardev Sangha, at Darikapar Gopal Aata Kshetra near Simaluguri.

At least five lakh devotees are expected to attend the four-day-long conference which will conclude on February 14 next. Today’s programme started with ‘Pratah Prasanga’ at 6 am.

The joint session of newly elected district presidents and secretaries of ‘Child and Mother Welfare Committees’, districts and central heads of ‘Seva Bahinee’ was inaugurated by NM Hussain, Deputy Commissioner, Sivasagar.

The session was presided over by Karuna Kanta Kalita, Padadhikar, Srimanta Sankardev Sangha. The souvenir, Bhaktir Jyotsna, was released by Dr Punyadhar Gogoi, principal, Gargaon College.

In the afternoon, the open session of literary section was held which was chaired by Dr Rabindra Narayan Choudhury, president literary section, Srimanta Sankardev Sangha. Utpal Bora, district forest officer, Sivasagar inaugurated the session. Kailash Das, research person, Sankari Sahitya, Srimanta Sankardev Sangha addressed the session as the distinguished speaker.

The open session of cultural branch was also held in the evening hours which was chaired by Dr Navakrishna Rajkhowa, president, cultural branch, Srimanta Sankardev Sangha. The session was inaugurated by Phani Hazarika, secretary, Sankari Sangeet Examination Council of the Sangha. The delegates camp was inaugurated by Dr Hemo Prabha Saikia, working president, reception committee.

Meanwhile, the Gopal Aata Kshetra has turned into a pilgrimage centre with Vaisnavite devotees from different areas flocking the Kshetra. The exhibition and book-fair was inaugurated by Ashok Verma, Executive Director, ONGCL, Assam Asset yesterday.

Tomorrow’s programmes include ‘Bhagavat Bhraman’ and cultural procession at 9.30 am. The open session will start at 11 am which will be presided over by the newly elected Padadhikar of Srimanta Sankardev Sangha.

Vaisnavite scholar and chief adviser Srimanta Sankardev Sangha, Sunaram Chutia will inaugurate the open session. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will be the chief guest.

Bijoy Krishna Handique, Central Minister of State for Fertilizer, Dr Arun Sarma and Sarbananda Sonowal, MPs, Paban Singh Ghatowar, president, Asom Chah Mazdoor Sangha, Dr Sammujal Bhattacharya, adviser, AASU will be present among others. Gopal Mahanta and Jugeswar Bordoloi will be conferred the title ‘Sankari Sahitya-Ratna’ by the Sangha.

Attacks on women signal rising conservatism

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI - An assault on women in a pub, a kidnapping of a Hindu girl for sitting next to a Muslim boy, harassing of canoodling couples by the police and the public.

These are just some recent examples of rising conservatism in a country which has long struggled to balance its deep-rooted traditions with rapid modernisation.

India's growing numbers of young and independent urban women are an easy target for some religious activists and politicians, self-appointed moral guardians trying to force traditional mores on its increasingly liberal, western outlook.

"We're seeing a rise in the number of incidents of violence against women and we're also seeing greater reporting of it by the media, at least in the cities," said Urvashi Butalia, a well-known feminist and publisher.
"More women are working in the cities and claiming their share of the pie in terms of access to public spaces and other perks, and that has made Indian men uncomfortable," she said.

A little-known Hindu group, Sri Ram Sena, recently shot into the spotlight after it assaulted women in a pub in Mangalore, saying they were indulging in immoral activities that were against Indian culture.

Branded "India's Taliban", the group has also cautioned shops, pubs and restaurants in Karnataka against marking Valentine's Day, which the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party has always opposed, often violently, in Mumbai.

Several politicians have joined the chorus against "pub culture" and "mall culture", decrying the decline of values particularly in cities.

Renuka Chowdhury, minister of women and child development, called the actions of Sri Ram Sena a dangerous trend signalling a much deeper rot over freedom for women.

"Have you noticed how every time male politicians jump up and down about threats to our culture, the issue nearly always involves the freedom and choices of women?" columnist Vir Sanghvi wrote in the Hindustan Times paper at the weekend.

Activists and social commentators have long lamented the portrayal of Indian women as meek, helpless and dependent on their fathers and husbands in films, TV soaps and advertisements.

And they have bristled at instances of "eve teasing", a euphemism for harassment ranging from lewd comments to assaults.

Yet, India boasts of the world's second woman prime minister, and now has a woman president and several women ministers. Women also head up banks and other big businesses in an otherwise traditional country.

The dichotomy is evident everywhere: young women will often leave home in a traditional salwar-kameez and change into jeans and T-shirt on entering the gates of the college.

They will also lie about dating or going to a bar to keep the peace at home in a country where a vast majority marry partners chosen by their parents, and where drinking is still frowned on.

"Children are taught that women must fit certain roles and any deviation is questioned," said Kishi Arora, a 27-year-old in Delhi, who goes out a couple of times in the week.

"I even know friends who are cool with other women smoking and drinking, but when it comes to their own sisters, they would become uncool," said Arora

But a group of women is retaliating: a "consortium of pub-going, loose and forward women", founded by four Indian women on social networking site Facebook has, in a matter of days, grown to more than 30,000 members with more than 2,000 posts.

Their mission: go pub hopping on Valentine's Day, and send hundreds of old-fashioned pink knickers to Sri Ram Sena.

(Additional reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee in NEW DELHI)

Assam plans new measures to streamline BLFs, STGs

Supratim Dey / Kolkata/ Guwahati February 13 :

Concerned over the deterioration of the quality of tea produced in the state, the Assam government has decided to adopt at least 10 new measures from next year, primarily aiming at streamlining the bought leaf factories (BLFs) and small tea growers (STGs).

"In Assam, though the STGs are playing an important role, due to some policy deficiency our quality of tea is going down. The government, small tea growers and bought leaf factories, need to collectively take a few measures to maintain quality," said Pradyut Bordoloi, industry minister of Assam while addressing a press conference.

An eight member delegation, headed by Bordoloi and consisting of representatives from bought leaf factories and All Assam Small Tea Growers Association (AASTGA), recently visited Kenya to study the Kenyan model of tea production where the small tea growers account for 60 per cent of the total production.

Merits mention, tea production in Kenya started since 1924 after clones and seeds of Assam tea were sourced from the Tocklai Tea Research Centre, located in Jorhat in Upper Assam, and sowed in Kenya.

Bordoloi said that the state government was planning to identify catchment areas of approximately 250 hectares of plantation for each BLF and would make it compulsory for the BLFs to source green leafs from the catchment area.

The government also plans to check the "irrational" and "unauthorised" growth of BLFs in Assam. Currently, there are around 200 registered BLFs in the state.

Moreover, the government plans to make it mandatory upon Tocklai Tea Research Association to extend services to STGs, who till now could not afford it due to financial constrains, at a nominal rate from next year.

"Indiscriminate" use of any planting material would also be restricted, as also buying of green leaves by organised sectors from outside.

The government might also make it mandatory for all STGs to supply green leaves to BLFs three times a day during the peak season and twice a day during the lean season so that fresh leaves immediately reach the factory and is processed.

Bordoloi further said that from next year onwards the government would start a grading system for the entire tea industry of Assam and all tea factories would be certified "A", "B" and "C" grades by an "independent" grading agency based on the quality of tea they produced.

Furthermore, the state government has decided to give land 'pattas' to all STGs who presently cultivate in government lands, except reserve forests.

Assam produces almost 55 per cent of the total tea grown in India. Not less than 15 years back, the contribution of STGs in tea production of Assam was almost negligible, but it now stands to around 29 per cent

As a comparison, Assam produced around 400 million kgs of tea in 2007 and exported 170 million kgs, whereas, Kenya produced 369 million kgs and exported 345 million kgs in the corresponding year. Moreover, there has been a decline in the volume of export of Assam tea. From 250 million kgs, it came down to 170 million kgs in the last ten years.

Cheniram Khanikar, president of AASTGA, who was a member of delegation that visited Kenya, said that they were "overwhelmed" by seeing the Kenyan model, where STGs and self-help groups (SHGs) play a major role. Bordoloi said that if required the state government would go for appropriate legislations for implementing the measures.

Expert lauds museum’s coin collection

GUWAHATI, Feb 13 – The Assam State Museum is preparing a catalogue of the mediaeval coins in its collection. Danish Moin, Senior Research Officer, Indian Institute of Research in Numismatic Studies, Nasik is leading the entire exercise, which started about one year back. The work is in its final stage. Moin is delivering a talk on the Indian and Assam coins at the Museum tomorrow.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Moin said that the representation of coins found in Assam could be well understood with the help of the coins kept in the Assam State Museum. And as per as the mediaeval coins are concerned, almost all the major dynasties of mediaeval India and all the major rulers are represented in the State Museum collection, he said. The earliest coins of India, that is, the punch marked ones, are also found in Assam. Most of the ancient Indian coins are also found in Assam.

In the mediaeval period, the coins of Bengal became the common coins of Assam too. The capture of Kamata Kamakhya by the Sultans of Bengal is also represented in those coins. During this period, one also comes across the Ahom dynasty, one of the important dynasties of the country, in Assam. They also struck coins. Coins of the Ahoim period are different than those of the Bengal Sultans.

For, these were inscribed in Assamese scripts, not in Arabic and the Ahom rulers had introduced a unique octagonal shape in the coins. The Ahom rulers issued their coins mainly in silver. The coins were very distinct in their style, but, like the Sultans of Delhi, the Ahom rulers also attached importance to the inscriptions on the coins, Moin said.

The coins of the Mughal period, particularly those of Akbars, Jahangir, Sahjahan and Aurangazeb are reported from Assam. The coins of the British period from the Madras Presidency and Bengal Presidency are also found in good number in Assam.

The beginning of the Indian coinage can be traced back to 6th Century BC and the earliest coins of the country are described as punch marked ones. The earliest coins had no inscriptions on them. They simply had some symbols on them and mostly on one side. Punch marked coins were generally made of silver.

Kushana ruler Wima Kadphisis introduced gold coins in India in the 1st Century AD. But during the Gupta period, gold coins became common. Apart from gold and silver, copper, lead and potin coins were also used in ancient India.

In ancient and mediaeval period, the country used to have coinage based on intrinsic value (value of the metal). During those days, foreign trade of India was conducted through gold and silver coins. Purity and weight of these metals were the foremost condition then for acceptability of the coins.

Most of the dynasties ruling India had their own coins since the 6 th Century BC. Ancient Indian coins were primarily issued with the depiction of some symbols or portraits with very limited inscriptions written in Greek, Brahmi and Kharoshti scripts. But of them, Brahmi was the most common script.

Mediaeval Indian coins were primarily issued with inscriptions in Arabic script bearing the names of the rulers, date, mints etc. Iltutmis of the Delhi Sultanate is believed to be the person responsible for the definite shape of the mediaeval Indian coins. Among those who got coins struck during their periods, only some, like Alauddin Mohammad Khalji (who adopted the title of Sikander Sani), Mohammad Bin Tughlaq deserve mention. Tughlaq introduced the token currency.

While the Mughal emperor Akbar had issued coins with the depiction of Rama and Sita , the biggest gold coin of the world was issued by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. The coin weighed around 12 kg. But,unfortunately, the coin is not in India now.

The independent and princely states that emerged after the decline of the Mughal empire, also struck their coins in the name of the Mughal emperors in line with the Mughal coins till 1857. The East India Company had also issued its coins in the name of the Mughal emperors. After 1857, Indian coins were primarily issued in the names of the British monarchs till 1947, said Moin.

Assam Women teachers to help check exodus

Assam women teachers to save and strengthen the public-funded higher education sector.

Women college teachers in Assam will now don the role of friend, philosopher and guide to help students know more about their immediate environment, develop leadership skills, tide over personal problems and create awareness about the threat posed to the higher education sector.
The move comes in the wake of economic meltdown and the threat posed by exodus of students. According to the association, nearly 50,000 students go out annually.
The second state-level convention of women teachers, organised by the ACTA in Nagaon yesterday, has firmed up a roadmap for women teachers, association president A.K. Das said.
“The counselling will be initially held twice a year and will be confined to girls students because they will find it easier to share their problems with our women colleagues who will try to advice them accordingly. They will try to instil leadership quality in the students. The teachers will also interact with the neighbourhood and change perceptions about the education sector and other social problems. The nature of counselling will be different in urban and rural areas,” he added.
Dispur has attributed the exodus to non-introduction of courses in demand and non-update of existing courses. No new post has been created since 1992 and there are about 1,100 vacant posts in colleges. 
“The government has only given permission to colleges to introduce self-financing courses which is not feasible because not many can afford it. Those who can, prefer to go out. During this economic crisis, one cannot rely on private institutions, which the government is backing now. Even a leading institution like Cotton College is facing problems filling up degree seats,” ACTA general secretary Pradip Dutta said, urging Dispur to prepare a database of those leaving for higher studies to get to the exact nature of loss.
Tapati Mukhopadhyay, a senior office-bearer of the All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation, said: “It is unique step. To save the higher education sector and prevent exodus of students from the state and the Northeast, women teachers can play a more effective role.”

IRB men out of clash zone

Bandh today to protest Bokoliahat firing
Nagaon, Feb 12  The India Reserve Battalion personnel deployed at Bokoliahat in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district were today shifted out of the area to quell public anger over the killing of a teenaged girl in IRB firing on Monday.
Two major political parties in the district — the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) and the CPM(L) — have separately called a 12-hour Karbi Anglong bandh from 5am tomorrow in protest against the killing of 17-year-old Parboti Terangpi. 
District superintendent of police K.K. Sarma said the IRB personnel would be replaced by the CRPF. He said the shifting had become necessary given the anger of the people towards the security force. “The seven-member IRB team will be sent to some other place far away from Bokoliahat,” he added.
Yesterday, a large number of people demonstrated and pelted stones at Bokoliahat police station in protest against the “unprovoked firing”. Two policemen were injured in the mob rage.
IRB havildar Nuruddin Ahmed had opened fire on a group of villagers from Phanglokpet on Monday evening when they went to the temporary IRB camp in the village to lodge a complaint against some IRB personnel who beat up some local youths during a religious function. Parboti was killed in the firing and five others, including four girls, were injured. 
The havildar’s arrest on Monday failed to calm down the villagers, forcing the district administration to remove the camp from the area. 
The village, however, continued to churn in anger as Parboti was cremated at the village public cremation ground. Hundreds, including teachers and students of Phanglokpet High English School where she was a student Class X, were present. 
The ASDC and CPM(L) today threatened to launch a “mass agitation” if the victims’ families did not get justice as promised by the local administration and if the harassment of innocent civilians by the security forces was not stopped immediately. 
IRB commander Prasanta Sagar Changmai, who rushed to the district yesterday, completed his field investigation and left today. He will submit his report to additional DGP (training and armed police) Sibabrata Kakoti. 
A high-level team of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, led by its chief executive member Jayram Engleng, visited Phanglokpet this evening. 
Karbi Human Rights Watch today said it would soon publish a paper listing the incidents in which innocent villagers of the district were victimised by security forces.
“These types of incidents will not be tolerated any more. Soon, we will go into a huddle to devise our strategy to prevent such harassment,” the convener of the watch group, Pankaj Teron, said.

Bimal Gurung likely to visit Lalgarh

Desperate to woo the restive tribals in the Dooars to the Gorkhaland cause, the GJMM president Mr Bimal Gurung is expected to visit Lalgarh in West Midnapore tentatively on 18 February. According to GJMM sources, the final announcement on the itinerary of the proposed visit would be made in a day or two.

The GJMM general secretary, Mr Roshan Giri today acknowledged there was a likelihood of the president visiting the tension-stricken Lalgarh later this month. “Mr Gurung is eager to get a first hand view of the tribal unrest sweeping across the region for some time. He might meet the tribal leaders who have been spearheading the anti-state government agitation apart from having informal talks with a cross section of the tribal populace over there,” Mr Giri said.

The GJMM leader further said that it was imperative for the GJMM to sense the depth of mounting exasperation amongst the tribals in south Bengal. “Both the tribals, residing in south and north Bengal and the north Bengal-based Indian Gorkhas, having arrived at the end of their tether, should close ranks to bolster the people’s movement going on against the draconian policies of the state government,” Mr Giri added.

Speaking on the matter, the GJMM media and publicity secretary Mr Binay Tamang said that the nitty gritty of the proposed visit would be chalked out soon. “ There is a possibility, though, that Mr Gurung would address a public meeting at Lalgarh,” he added.

Asked whether Mr Gurung would visit alone or a party delegation would accompany him, Mr Tamang refused to give details, saying that they would announce the details of the programme later.

Police bust fake bond racket

Guwahati, Feb 11 : City police have busted a racket involved in preparing fake Kisan Vikas Patras and using these to avail bank loans.
The police have arrested two persons so far, one of them a woman, and more arrests are likely.
Additional superintendent of police (City) Debajit Deori said during a search conducted today at the residence of prime accused Popy Das Gogoi on RG Baruah Road, besides fake KVPs, 24 fake rubber stamps and seals were recovered, including that of Chief Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Ranjan Gogoi of Gauhati High Court, the superintendent of Sivasagar district jail, Life Insurance Corporation and state agriculture department among others.
“It is a fraud of a very serious nature because these fake stamps and seals can be used not only to forge government documents but to produce fake court orders too,” Deori said.
The fraud was exposed when Bablu Majumdar applied for a loan of Rs 60,000 from the Adabari branch of Union Bank of India and deposited 12 KVPs, each worth Rs 5,000, yesterday as security.
“During scrutiny of the KVPs, the bank authorities had some doubt and then verified it with the postal department, which confirmed that the KVPs submitted were fake,” another police official investigating the case said.
The bank authorities informed Jalukbari police station and after preliminary probe Majumdar was arrested last evening. During interrogation he confessed that he had procured these fake KVPs from Gogoi.
The police source said they have ascertained that Gogoi had already taken bank loan thrice against fake KVPs and are hopeful that further interrogation of the accused will lead to more clues.

The State Of Sports In India

By Bhuvan Narang

The State of Sports in India
India is a huge country with a massive population. Our population is a resource for the nation. A country with the second largest population has won less Olympic gold medals than the United States swimmer, Michael Phelps, has won alone in a single edition of Olympics.
Today, every child either wants to be a doctor or engineer or do M.B.A. But why? Why not children go for sports as a career? One of the major reasons may be that there is no guarantee that they would be selected to play in the national squad. In India, only one sport i.e. cricket gets all the attention. All other sports have been totally neglected.

The “richer” sport is getting richer and other sports are almost dead. The condition of state level and university level sports are even worse. In countries like the U.S.A, many students choose sports as a career, they have a very solid infrastructure for sports and a remarkable proportion of its population earns huge money by playing sports only. Their sports start at the grass root level. Schools provide scholarships to students who excel in sports. Schools have proper coaching and playing facilities for students and sports is given the same importance as academics.

Their university level and state level organisation is also solid, with great funding. Players can earn a lot even at that level. In India, other than cricket, no sport has a good infrastructure. In other sports, even at national level, players don’t earn much. If a person has the ability to prove himself at international level, even then there is no backing and financial support from the sports authority. The athlete has to do it on his own.

Beijing Olympic gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra had his personal shooting range for practice. He clearly stated that the facilities provided by the authority were below par. The media showed where Olympic bronze medal winner wrestler Sushil Kumar had his training. There were not even basic facilities. How do we expect our sportsperson and athletes to win medals and tournaments when they are not even provided with basic facilities?

Hockey, which is the national sport of India, does not live up to its moniker. The national team has not won any significant tournament in the recent past. There is not even a permanent controlling body for the sport. Children in India don’t even know if there are sports other than cricket! Cricket is a sport which children can play anywhere without spending much money on equipment. Many regions in India don’t have even a park for children to play.

It has to start at the grass root level if sports are to become a source for income for the Indian population. In developed countries like the U.S.A, there are grounds and sports complex for every sport everywhere. Children grow up playing with proper equipments and in the same environment. They don’t have to adapt to any changes when they make transition to competitive level.
Here in India, even if children are interested in a sport, then first of all coaching is not available easily, secondly no proper grounds are available for practice and most importantly, children don’t get proper exposure to competition. In India, a sport gets recognition only when a sportsperson wins a major tournament of his sport. But why wait for an athlete to win a tournament to give that sport some importance? Something has to be done so that athletes don’t waste their talent sitting in front of a computer doing accounting.

India has such a huge population, with a lot of untapped talent, which, if given a chance, can do wonders at international level. The cricket extravaganza known as IPL has helped find a lot of great talent, which otherwise would have lost in the crowd. The franchisees pay these young men handsomely to play for them. The involvement of popular Bollywood faces didn’t hurt it. This is what every sport needs. Proper budget, advertisement, endorsement from popular faces and most importantly television deals.

Lack of government interest is also hurting the state of sports in India, sports is given the least priority. The government needs to understand that sports are a solution for unemployment and poverty issues. It can raise the standard of living of Indian societies. The rate at which our sports are developing is really slow, we should learn from China, who in a short period of time has reached the top of sports world.
Middle class families don’t even think about putting their children in sports, it’s only the financially strong families who back their children to pursue sports as a career. Every news channel has cricket specialists discussing and analysing cricket matches and other cricket related news everyday, while all other sports are wrapped up in 10-15 minutes. The media has to play an important role in recognising and popularising sports other than cricket. The youth is the future of any country and sports is the future of the whole world and it’s the responsibility of the youth to create awareness about different sports and take positive steps in that direction.

108 emergency services survive Satyam debacle

Ahmedabad: Emergency Management and Research Institute's (EMRI) 108 services are here to stay despite, the ruffle in Satyam Computer which is it's parent organisation.

On the running of systems, head of corporate strategy, EMRI in Ahmedabad, Gobind Lulla said, "Our performance oriented approach and professionalism has helped us to manage current situation effectively and the same is reflected in terms of improved performance during the month of January."

The 108 emergency response services was started in Ahmedabad on August 29, 2007 in partnership with government of Gujarat. At present there are 400 EMRI ambulances running in the state, employing around 2,300 personnel in the state handling on an average 2,050 cases per day.

"EMRI services have remained unaffected in all the nine states where it delivers it's services. Recently on February 2, EMRI rolled out services in Meghalaya as well," adds Lulla.

EMRI services are offered under Public Private Partnership framework and 100% f the capital cost and 95% f the operations cost are provided by state government.

On new partners for EMRI, a senior EMRI official says, "We are looking for new partners in India and companies based abroad too. Large corporates in IT sector have also shown interest in the project but it will take another few months to zero in on new partners."

Dooars row may hit ‘first flush’ tea

SILIGURI: The ongoing political upheaval in Dooars may soon hit the high-quality and highly valued ‘first flush’ tea trade there. Dooars contributes over 15% to the all India tea production.

“Undoubtedly, the charged environment has created uneasiness among planters here. If the trouble continues for long, the next ‘first flush’ business will be severely affected,” said Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) principal advisor NK Basu.

According to experts, tea bushes remain at the best metabolic state and yield the best quality tea between 18 and 32 degree Celsius in post-winter and pre-peak summer season. After the two- month long no-plucking winter season, the new batch of leaves, normally plucked in March, comes in heavy quantities. Known as ‘first flush’ produce, it brings in the highest price. Out of around 920 million kg all-India tea production, Dooars produces 145 million kg. But its higher price makes the industry highly sensitive to the ‘first flush’ output in Dooars like all other tea producing areas.

“The political crisis in Dooars is yet to touch our management activities. But, the growing rift between Gorkhas and the tribals, two major communities in our workforce, will badly impact the overall operation, including production in all Dooars gardens,” said a senior tea garden manager.

While the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha is demanding the tea-producing Dooars and Terai be included in their proposed Gorkhaland state, tribals, under Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad banner, are strongly against this. The ongoing tussle has already claimed two lives.

Biggest literary convention of Assam

Guwahati | February 11 : Dhemaji, the remote district in Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border is going to organize this year's biggest ever literary convention—the 70th convention of the Assam's apex literary body—the Asom Sahitya Sabha.

The district, which is known for its remoteness and perennial floods problem will be holding four day long convention of the apex literary body of the state, starting from February 14 to February 18. "This would also be the biggest ever function of the Asom Sahitya Sabha in recent past in terms of land area—the main pandal of the convention covers an area of approximately 70,000 square feet," said one of the organizer of the Sabha while adding that no convention of the Sabha in the past covered such a huge area as pandal.

"Apart from this there would be 300 stalls for organizing a book fair, followed by another 300 stalls for an exhibition, and another 280 stalls for other commercial purposes," said the organizer. The celebration committee has constructed seven roads from the session site to Bakalgaon Sumoni Road, Bokalia PWD Road, Kapahuwa Borpathoria Road, Boruachok Road, Bhadrapara Road, Civil Road, Circuit House Road for communication.

The celebration committee has made preparations to exhibit bhaona from February 15 to 18 in Adarsha Gaon Bhaona Namghar of the conference. Moreover, the celebration committee has decided to celebrate the Ali-Aye-Ligang on the session on February 18 with other programmes in the presence of chief secretary of Asom Sahitya Sabha to honour the Mising community in the festival. The public has demanded the concerned authorities of district to take necessary action for road development of the area to celebrate the conference.

DOOARS TERAI: Camps to deter tribal youths from joining GJM

SILIGURI, Feb. 9: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) has decided to hold village level camps across the Dooars to ‘free’ a section of the adivasi youths who have succumbed to the GJM clutch.
According to the ABAVP sources, there are about 550 adivasi youths who recently joined the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) ~ a voluntary force being raised by the GJM to strive for a separate Gorkhaland state. “GJM activists were luring youths from different parts of the Dooars with false assurances. By holding camps at every village/tea garden, we would try and let them know the sinister design of the GJM and the negative consequences of supporting it,” the ABAVP Dooars-Terai secretary, Mr Rajesh Lakra said.
The issue figured prominently at the tribal body’s Dooars-Terai conference held at Pradhannagar in Siliguri yesterday. The daylong conference was attended by over 300 delegates from across the region. Mr Lakra said that backwardness and unemployment were to be blamed for the adivasi youths joining the GJM way.

“With tea estates being locked out and the failure of the state government in creating some alternative livelihood opportunities, the adivasi youths of Dooars face a bleak future. Under these circumstances, it is only natural for them to be mislead by destructive forces like the GJM, especially when it promises employment,” the adivasi leader said. During it’s meeting with the chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in Kolkata on 29 January, the ABAVP cited these issues and demanded Sixth Schedule status for the Dooars for redress.

The chief minister, however, assured the adivasi body that the state government henceforth, would try its best to solve their issues and there was no need for Sixth Schedule status. “Let us see if the CM lives up to his promise. In case he fails, we would push for the Sixth Schedule autonomy in a vigorous way,” Mr Lakra added.

Assam: Rural areas are synonymous of kalapani

The State Government of Assam has turned up with a number of initiatives, together with an improved pay package and an obligatory one-year rural redeployment for postgraduate entrants- Satish Kumar Singh Today nobody wants to go to rural areas for any purpose. Even people don't want to visit their native place or village. Undoubtedly, we always say if you want to see real India you should go to villages. In spite of that people avoid villages. It reveals that we want to live in Utopia. We are not enough brave to see real India.

Interestingly, even media persons who are known as harbingers of society, never cover real story of remote area of villages. Government and other officials too keep away from spending day or night in rural areas.

Currently, rural assignments are nuisance for officials. Officials always try their best to stay away from such assignments.

Due to our careless attitude towards villages; villages are still neglected or under developed. We often hear about spread of deadly disease and death of a large number of people in rural areas. Now, such causalities are a regular feature.

In an offer to make sure doctors' attendance in pastoral and inaccessible areas, the State Government of Assam has turned up with a number of initiatives, together with an improved pay package and an obligatory one-year rural redeployment for postgraduate entrants.

Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced this at a press conference on 3rd febuarary2009. He also said that these days over and done, doctors serving in six 'difficult' areas notified by the Government - Dhakuakhona, Jonai, Majuli, Sadiya, Mankachar (all subdivisions), and NC Hills and Karbi Anglong districts - would be permitted to a considerable hike in their pay package.

At the same time as a sub divisional medical officer (SDMO) would get an additional Rupees 7,000, a senior medical and health officer (SMHO), medical and health officer (MHO) and medical officer (Ayurvedic) stand to gain extra amounts of Rupees 5,000, Rupees 4,000 and Rupees 3,000 correspondingly.
Surrounded by the most important gainers would be high-quality doctors who would entertain an extra Rupees 6,000 over and above the incentives mentioned above.

Thus, while a specialist serving as SDMO would get a total hike of Rupees 13,000, an SMHO and an MHO (specialists) would enjoy an increase of Rupees 11,000 and Rupees 10,000 in that order.

Doctors helping underneath the national Rural Health Mission (NRHM) position to get a supplementary benefit of Rupees 8,000.

At the moment, Government had made it compulsory for postgraduate entrants to go through one-year unavoidable posting in rural areas. This will come into effect instantaneously, and any MBBS pass-out will have to undertake the rural posting in order to be entitled for pursuing post graduation in the State. But for this, the doctors would get a good compensation pack up for the duration of the rural posting. 

Even, ASHA workers under the NRHM would get a fixed salary of Rupees 500 against a smallest amount presentation decisive factor. This will be in addition to the presented encouragement of Rupees 600 per institutional delivery.
Obviously, this decision of Assam state government is not beneficial for even those doctors who will be get benefited. In fact this is another form of bribe.
However, "Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja, Take ser bhaji, take ser khaja" is so pertinent in India. Anything may happen in this country.

Here government officials are so adamant. In Madhaya Pradesh, a few days ago Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had instructed all high profile government officials for staying at least one night at remote village of the state; despite this order, collector or other officials are spending their nights in air conditioned rooms.

Well, there is need of self motivation. Being a citizen of India, it is our duty to do our job honestly. Until or unless such type of spirit comes in our mind, any kind of inducement will not motivate us permanently.

Reduced fare rates spark opposition

Agartala, Feb 10 : The reduction of fares in trucks, buses and autorickshaws scheduled to take effect from tomorrow is likely to create more trouble than it will solve as the transporters and workers’ unions have refused to accept the government’s decision.
According to the reduction schedule announced by the transport department and transport minister Manik Dey, the fare of autorickshaws is scheduled to go down by Re 1, those of buses and minibuses will be reduced by Rs 4 while long distance buses will have five per cent fare reduction.
An official source here said an increase in petroleum prices had led to fare hikes, touching an 8.5 per cent rise last September. When the petroleum prices came down recently, it led to a demand for reduction in fares.
The transport minister convened a meeting of transport associations at his chamber last week to discuss a possible reduction in fares. Barring Citu, which was lukewarm, other associations, including the Intuc, opposed the proposed climb-down because of the uncertainty in petroleum prices and the losses they incurred earlier.
But the minister was adamant and virtually gave an ultimatum, announcing that the government would take a unilateral decision on the matter.
The conceded that the organised unions were unlikely to toe the government line.
“What we are scared of is that there will be regular tiffs and trouble involving transport workers and passengers and this chaos will be difficult to resolve,” sources in the transport department said.
S.K. Saha, the vice-president of Citu-affiliated Tripura Motor Sramik Union, however, said the government’s decision was “supposed to be complied with” and union members were being instructed to accept the reduced fare rate.

Sabha bid to globalise culture

The foundation stone of Assam Cultural University laid in Guwahati
Writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami lays the foundation stone of Assam Cultural University at Chachal on Monday. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, Feb 10 : The foundation stone of the proposed Assam Cultural University was laid here today as part of the Asam Sahitya Sabha’s initiative to take the rich and diverse Assamese culture to a global audience.
Litterateur Mamoni Raisom Goswami laid the foundation stone of the university on behalf of music legend Bhupen Hazarika, who could not attend the ceremony, as he was not well.
The university, set up under the Assam Private Universities Act, 2007, would come up on a 50-bigha plot at Chachal on the new VIP Road linking Narengi and Six Mile here.
Modelled on similar universities in China, the university would initially impart courses in arts, humanities and social sciences.
In his speech, which was read out by Sabha president Kanak Sen Deka, Hazarika said the university would fulfil a long-cherished dream of the Sabha of which he himself is a past president.
“I was associated with the Sabha since my primary school days. Whatever I am today is because of it. How could I forget the blessings of the doyen of Assamese literature, Lakshminath Bezboruah, during my association with the Sabha in my childhood? I am extremely happy and over-optimistic that the Assam Cultural University would make the entire world aware of the rich Assamese literature and culture,” Hazarika said.
“I have travelled to many parts of the globe. But I was pained to find the rich and diverse culture of Assam not being known to the world. A large number of ethnic tribes with their own cultures and literatures are living peacefully in Assam and that is really unique, which the rest of the world must know at a time when the human race is witnessing conflicts and intolerance,” writer Goswami said.
Sabha president Sen Deka said when the Sabha conceived the idea of a cultural university there was cynicism from different quarters about the success of the project. He, however, said the state government really helped the Sabha to go ahead with the project.
“The Sabha would like to thank the education minister and the principal secretary of revenue department, V.K. Pipersenia, for their individual efforts to set up the university,” Deka said.
Suresh Garodia, the convenor of the project, said the Assam government has asked the Sabha to go ahead with the project and the formal letter of permission would be received within this month.
He said the university would start functioning within six months from the date of receiving the formal letter.
“We are exploring various funding sources to set up the permanent campus of the university at Chachal. The entire campus will be ready within five years. Besides offering various courses the university would go for comprehensive research projects on Assamese culture and literature. It will collaborate with foreign universities and invite foreign scholars for research on the state’s culture,” Garodia added.
State education minister Gautam Bora said the laying of the foundation stone for the university was a historic occasion for the people of Assam.
“The university would go a long way in protecting and preserving the diverse Assamese culture and literature in the face of globalisation. It would be a role model for the younger generation, which is blindly following Western culture. 
“The government will fully back the university,” the minister added. 
Ramani Barman, the joint registrar of Gauhati University, while speaking on the occasion, said the Assam Cultural University should be world class and must convert itself into a hub of study of culture and literature of Asia. 
He said funds should not be a constraint in running the university, as there are several people who want to pursue culture and literature seriously.

Truckers’ strike hits coal exports to Bangladesh

SHILLONG, Feb 10 Coal exports from Meghalaya to Bangladesh was hit in the wake of the indefinite strike by truckers’ bodies protesting “extortion” along highways as the three Meghalaya districts faced possible shortage of essentials with all truckers joining the stir from today.

The strike, spearheaded by Goalpara District Truck Owners’ Association (GDTOA) of Assam and backed by Meghalaya Commercial Truck Owners’ and Operators’ Association and others began on February 7 in protest against alleged ‘illegal’ collection of money at weigh bridges, toll gates and pollution testing centres along the highways.

While the coal-laden trucks stopped plying from February 7, all trucks resorted to the blockade from today, reports said.

Coal exports to Bangladesh through the Ghasuapara land customs station in South Garo Hills came to a halt with the Ghasuapara coal transporters too stopping transportation on NH-62.

The President of North-east Federation on International Trade, RC Agrawal, said around 250 coal-laden trucks daily ply to Bangladesh on the route and the movement came to a halt since the strike began.

Around 15,000 metric tonne of coal is exported through the Ghasuapara land customs station daily.

About 550 trucks carrying coal and essential commodities, including LPG, enter the Garo Hills region from western Assam districts daily.

The truckers’ bodies threatened not to withdraw the strike unless the Meghalaya Government addresses the problem of ‘extortion’ along highways permanently.

Elephant fest gets under way at Kaziranga

 KAZIRANGA (DERGAON), Feb 10 : 7th Kaziranga Elephant Festival got under way with a four-day long programme at Kaziranga National Park (KNP) from today.

Kaliabor MP Deep Gogoi formaly inaugurated the SHG mela at Kahara this afternoon. More than 150 SHGs participated in the mela.

Bokakhat MLA Jiten Gogoi opened the traditional food mela.

In the maiden marathan race competition Abdul Barek (NF Railway, Guwahati) was declared first while Rudreswar Deka (Darrang) and Someshuddin Ahmed (Kamrup) were declared second and the third respectively.

A total of 29 persons participated in the marathan from Bokakhat to Kahara (22 km) where 22 completed the distance. The event is organised under the joint aegis of Forest, Environment and Tourism Department, Government of Assam in association with Golaghat District Administration and the public with a budget of Rs 15 lakhs.

The attractive elephant procession from Kahara Chariali to Mihimukh where 60 elephants along with several cultural troups will to take part will be flagged off by Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain at 8 am tomorrow.

After that the festival will be ceremonially opened by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi at 10 am at Mihimukh festival ground where he will cut a specially designed pera (a sweet) weighing 100 kg and100 pigeons will fly in the air.

The souvenir Airawat published on the occasion will also be released in the programme. After that several games and other programmes with elephants will be held on the occasion.

Elephant specialist, Parbati Barua will conduct several programmes with elephants mahoot every evening during the festival.

This time the SHG mela and others games and sports will also be held at Bagari and Agaratali range for first time.

A seminar on 'Man and Elephant Conflict and Problem of Poachers' will be held at Kahara convention centre where Parbati Baruah will take part on February 11. Several other discussions will also be held on Man-elephant conflict.