Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pepper MK with telegrams, ask him to quit, says Jaya

Pepper MK with telegrams, ask him to quit, says Jaya

Express News Service

CHENNAI: AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday called upon the people of Tamil Nadu to send in telegrams to Chief Minister M Karunanidhi asking him to quit for staging a farcical drama.

In a statement, Jayalalithaa, who mentioned a news item about Gangai Murugan, who got drunk, climbed the scaffolding of a billboard in Nellai and threatened to jump off and commit suicide, said, ``Some people enact various types of dramas to catch attention. Only when they are taught a bitter lesson, they will stop doing it.’’

She said Karunanidhi was “apparently unaware that India could not interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.’’ “His misconception was cleared by no less an authority than the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who had come down to Chennai on Sunday to tell him that it would not be possible for India to bring about a ceasefire in Sri Lanka as that would amount to interfering in the internal affairs of that island nation.’’

“Convinced that nothing more could be done for the Tamils in Sri Lanka, he decided not to hand over the resignation letters of all his party MPs, thereby avoiding a crisis for the Centre,’’ she said.

She claimed that in return, the Congress would ensure that its MLAs in Tamil Nadu, who sustained Karunanidhi’s minority government in power today, would behave accordingly.

Jayalalithaa, calling the whole affair as a drama and a farce, pointed out that ``On day one, when it was reported that Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi had handed over her resignation to her father and not to the Rajya Sabha Chairman, I had predicted this was how things would shape out. Even Karunanidhi, with all his ingenuity and theatre experience, could not come up with a better script!’’

She said “ Karunanidhi will continue to stage many more such farcical dramas and fool the people who trust him. He should know what the people think and this has to be done, if Tamil Nadu has to survive.’’ “He has to go. And we cannot expect the Centre to do anything about it. For, the persons in power at the Centre are also supporting actors in Karunanidhi’s play,’’ she said.

Saying that Karunanidhi had taken nation for a ride, she said he conveniently forgot all about the thousands of Tamils who had been homeless or been displaced by the ongoing war in Sri Lanka.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ration card not needed for LPG connection, refil supply in TN

Ration card not required for LPG connection, refill supply


Any one of other specified documents necessary

Stipulation on cards has been in force for one year

CHENNAI: Those who want LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections or refill supplies are not required to produce ration cards hereafter.

Announcing the decision, a release issued on Friday by the State government’s Commissioner for Civil Supplies stated that at present, oil companies/gas agencies insisted on the production of ration cards. The government had examined the issue in depth and decided to relax the rule. “Ration cards should not be insisted upon by LPG distributors in future,” the release said.

However, the release said the government had ordered that the connections or refill supplies should be given on consumer producing any one of the documents specified by national oil companies.

According to the Indian Oil Corporation’s website (, such documents are electricity bill, telephone bill, passport, employer’s certificate, flat allotment/possession letter, house registration papers, LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) policy, voter’s identity card, rent receipt, PAN (permanent account number) card issued by the Income Tax department and driving licence.

An official in the Civil Supplies Commissionerate says the government stipulation on production of ration cards for LPG connections or refill supplies has been in force for the last one year or so in view of the problem of shortage of gas cylinders.

As this rule had caused hardship to people, it was being withdrawn.

Asked whether the latest decision would cover those who received State government subsidy of Rs. 30, the official said this issue would be handled separately.

[In June, the State government announced a subsidy of Rs.30 for households having single cylinder LPG connection].

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Also read the Tamil Nadu Government Press Releases:

Press Release in English

Press Release in Tamil

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Website

Bharat Petroleum Corporation

Also read the related stories

Ration card not needed for LPG connection, refil supply in TN

13 Sep, 2008, 1400 hrs IST, PTI

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu government has relaxed a norm mandating persons seeking LPG connection or refill supplies to produce ration cards.

According to a state government release here last night, the government has asked the oil companies and gas agencies to not to insist the customers to produce ration cards for getting a new connection or refill.

The government has examined the issues in depth and decided to relax it, the release said adding "the government has further ordered that LPG connection or refill should be given on the basis of any other documents as specified by oil companies. Ration cards should not be insisted upon by LPG distributors in future."


Also read the related stories

The family card-LPG connection

N. Ravi Kumar

MULTI-PURPOSE: Family card, serving as one’s proof of residence, has multiple uses

CHENNAI: Family cards are more than just documents helping the households draw supplies of essential commodities under the Public Distribution System. They serve as a proof of residence and identification, and are insisted upon by various utility providers, particularly liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distributors of national oil marketing companies such as Indian Oil Corporation.

Going by the experience of several thousand households that depend on the heavily subsidised 14.2-kg LPG cylinders, family cards are a must for around five years now for ensuring refill supplies.

It was in 2003 on he directions of Civil Supplies Department that the cooking gas agencies began the process of endorsing family cards of their customers. The objective was to identify households using multiple connections and withdraw all but one double bottle connection (two cylinders). Not more than one endorsement was to be made on a family card.

The move was necessitated as kerosene quota fixed by the centre for the state government was linked to the number of domestic LPG connections. An increase in LPG connections meant less kerosene quota. The authorities also felt that households should not get to use both the heavily subsidised domestic fuels.

Sources among Indane distributors said their customers should comply with one of the three requirements - produce their family card without an endorsement; apply for a new card and submit a copy of the receipt; get a no-ration card certificate. The last two are to be obtained from the Civil Supplies office.

This is where problem began for many customers, an Indane distributor said, pointing out that the most affected are families coming on transfer to the city and groups of bachelors/students from different places living together in the city.

Since many of them are not keen on drawing supplies under the PDS, they apply for the no ration card certificate. Much to the dismay of those coming on transfer from other parts of the country, the Civil Supplies authorities insist on their getting a no objection certificate from the previous place of residence. “It is a Herculean task for someone who has come here from north India to go back and get the NOC,” said a distributor.

The Civil Supplies authorities in some cities such as Mumbai, where many of the households get piped cooking gas supplies, are not familiar with such requirements and turn down the request for such NOC.

Some of the customers also cough up hundreds of rupees to middlemen to get the no ration card certificates. Customers drawing supplies but not in possession of family cards, especially senior citizens, find the requirement of the Civil Supplies department tiresome as the office concerned is located far away. Conceding that the requirements of the Civil Supplies Department might have posed problems for some customers, officials of national oil companies said it has led to streamlining and regularising the connections. Several multiple connections, including those in third party names and in use for years, were eliminated. The move would benefit more genuine customers, they added.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


New Tirupur district formed in Tamil Nadu

New Tirupur district formed

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The State government has issued the notification regarding the formation of the new Tirupur district.

As per the notification, Coimbatore and Erode districts would be divided into three districts – Coimbatore district with headquarters at Coimbatore; Erode district headquartered at Erode and Tirupur district with headquarters at Tirupur.

The six taluks of Coimbatore North, Coimbatore South, Mettupalayam, Sulur, Pollachi and Valparai would constitute Coimbatore district. Erode, Perundurai, Gobichettipalayam, Sathyamangalam and Bhavani taluks would form Erode district. Tirupur, Avanashi, Palladam, Dharapuram, Kangeyam and Udumalpet would constitute Tirupur district.

As per the order, the Special Officer would take charge of the administration of the new district immediately.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Also read the Tamil Nadu Government Notifications in the Official Gazette:

G.O.Ms.No. 617, dated 24.10.2008

G.O.Ms.No. 618, dated 24.10.2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mass resignation move an eyewash: Jaya

Mass resignation move an eyewash: Jaya

Express News Service

16 Oct 2008 10:05:21 AM IST

CHENNAI: AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa has criticised Tuesday’s all-party meeting resolution on en masse resignation of MPs on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, while the MDMK and the PMK have extended support to it.

In a statement here on Wednesday, the AIADMK leader described the resolution as an eyewash and the threat of resignation as a drama staged by the DMK. “It will not serve any purpose,” she said. “If Karunanidhi is really concerned about the safety of Tamils, he should have asked his DMK Ministers to put pressure on the Central government on the Lankan issue.”

Jayalalithaa said the Centre, which followed a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, could now send National Security Advisor M K Narayanan to Sri Lanka to speak on behalf of the Tamils and the Chief Minister might claim this as his victory. She wanted to know why the Chief Minister did not ask his MLAs to quit the Assembly en masse before completing their full term.

The MDMK, an alliance partner of the AIADMK, and the PMK offered to ask their party MPs to resign in protest on the issue. In a statement here, MDMK founder-leader Vaiko said his party was ready to ask its MPs to resign. The Tamil Nadu government should withdraw support to the UPA government at the Centre on the Tamils issue.

In a statement here, he said the Union Ministers from the state should quit if the Centre failed to act on protection of Lankan Tamils. He claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter, which was sent to him some time ago, mentioned India’s military support “to protect the integrity of Sri Lanka.” The PMK, an a resolution at its executive meeting held at Thailapuram, near Dindivanam, welcomed the resolution. PMK chief Dr Ramadoss said his party MPs were ready to resign in protest.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jaya attacks MK on SL issue

Dinamalar ePaper

Also read the related stories

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Airtel makes television debut in South India

Airtel makes television debut in South India

Airtel makes television debut in South India, launches digital TV in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Pondicherry

Chennai, October 14, 2008: Bharti Airtel today announced the launch of Airtel digital TV, its Direct To Home (DTH) TV service, in Tamil Nadu and other key markets of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Pondicherry in the southern region of India. The launch is part of the 62 city first phase rollout of the service. In addition to the 8 cities, Airtel plans to introduce the service in 20 cities across the region over the next six months. In the Southern market, Airtel digital TV will be available across 6000 retail outlets, including Airtel Relationship Centres, to begin with.

According to Mr. Atul Bindal, President - Telemedia Services, Bharti Airtel, "DTH is the future of television in India and with Airtel digital TV we bring the best combination of latest technology and exciting content to customers. The southern region has been a key market for Airtel and over the years we have delighted millions of customers with our telecom services. Now with Airtel digital TV, we plan to deliver a magical in-home entertainment experience to customers in the region."

Customers in the region can look forward to world-class home entertainment experience with Airtel digital TV that offers over 175 channels including interactive applications, movies on demand, and World space radio to name a few. A variety of attractive limited-period Welcome Offers are available for the customers to choose from, beginning with the South Silver Offer which includes a one time installation charge and 1 year's subscription free at only Rs. 2000. Special channels packs are available starting with the South Value Pack that at only Rs. 99 per month offers a total of 79 channels which includes not only leading regional TV channels but also World Space radio and various interactive channels.

N Arjun, Executive Director – DTH Services, Bharti Airtel, added, "Given our deep understanding of the Indian customer, we believe we have put together an excellent product that offers great bouquet of popular TV channels, on-demand and interactive content. In line with the Airtel tradition, we have introduced simple to understand tariff plans that will provide great value and choice to the customer. With Airtel's strong distribution network and focus on customer care, we hope to emerge as a leading player in this segment."

Airtel digital TV uses the latest MPEG4 standard with DVB S2 technology, which translates into exceptional picture clarity and consistent high quality audio for the customer. This latest technology also enables delivery of more complex interactive content and is High Definition ready. Also, Airtel digital TV uses a larger dish antenna that offers better performance during rain.

Besides the latest technology, Airtel digital TV brings many firsts to the DTH segment in India:

  • Universal remote for both Set Top Box and TV that offers enhanced viewer convenience;
  • Highest Set Top Box memory enabling more interactive applications;
  • Exclusive content such as World space Radio;
  • Interactive applications such as iMatinee (Book cinema tickets), iTravel (Browse and book travel packages), iShop (Shop on TV for your favorite brands), iCity (Get your city's information) and Widgets (Update yourself on latest stock news). 8 screen iNews, 2 / 4 screen iSports.
  • Amazing games with high quality graphics, refreshed every 6 weeks
  • Audio gain control for uniform audio levels across all channels
  • Simple and intuitive search
  • On screen account meter
  • Last viewed channel in case of power disruption/switch off
  • Low battery indicator on the screen

These great viewing experience and unique features are backed by 24x7 customer care available in 8 different languages including Tamil and Telegu and a team of 800 professionally trained service engineers.


Monday, October 13, 2008

An Article about Kazhugumalai in TN: Frontline

Stories in stone


Kazhugumalai is a virtual treasure trove of Jaina art and culture dating back to the 8th century.

Photos: K. GANESAN

This bas-relief at Kazhugumalai has three rows of Jaina Tirthankaras seated on lotus pedestals

WE were completely unprepared for what awaited us as A. Gangadurai, the caretaker, opened the locks of the single gate near a barbed wire fence and led us down a flight of narrow steps hewn out of a hill at Kazhugumalai.

On the rock surface, frozen in time, was a superbly sculpted Jaina Tirthankara seated in the ardhapariyankasana pose on a lion pedestal, with a triple umbrella above his head. Around the enlightened one were celestial maidens, dancing inside coils of creepers or playing the flute or a percussion instrument. Their merry abandon signified the occasion of his attaining kevalagnana, or enlightenment. On either side was a chowrie (flywhisk)-bearer. Below them, two devotees stood with flowers in their hands.

The sculpted panel also had two fish-headed makaras, with a warrior coming forth from the mouth of each. Other warriors, on horseback, were there to see the great soul attain enlightenment. On top were the carvings of Surya and Chandra, and Indra on his elephant Airavatham. Below this bas-relief was an inscription in Tamil vatteluttu (a rounded script).

Every image in this sculpture is rich in details. “Every figure is richly carved while the Tirthankara himself looks so plain. This is a sculpture of unsurpassed beauty,” said V. Vedachalam, retired Senior Epigraphist, Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, whose forte is the study of Jaina sites in the State. With the ease of an expert, he read the vatteluttu inscriptions below the bas-reliefs.

Kazhugumalai in Tamil means a hill inhabited by eagles. A small town in Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu, it is about 100 kilometres from Madurai and 25 km from Kovilpatti.

The name Kazhugumalai is of relatively recent origin – about 200 years old. The original name was Ilanelchuram, meaning area full of fertile paddy fields. It was also called Araimalai or Tirumalai.

In this bas-relief, Tirthankara Parsvanatha is shown with snake hoods over his head. The yaksha Dharnendra is seen protecting him, and Kamdan, who tried to kill him by throwing a huge piece of rock at him, is seen as surrendering. Yakshi Padmavathi is also depicted in the sculpture

The hilltop offers a breathtaking view of paddy fields interspersed with palmyra trees. There are ponds on either side of the hill. A church spire jabs the sky on one side and around the church is the small town.

Vedachalam explained: “Kazhugumalai was an active centre of Jaina learning for 300 years from the 8th century A.D. It was a place of worship, a monastery and a college. Jains from Tirucharanam and Kottaru [both in present-day Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu] came to Kazhugumalai to teach and learn. There were women teachers also here.”

The male teacher was called “kuravar” and the female teacher “kurathi”. The inscriptions here give the names of a number of kurathis.

“Monks were also called Battarar,” said T. Arun Raj, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (Chennai Circle). “Nuns called kurathis came to Kazhugumalai from different Jaina centres such as Tirunarungkondai, Tirucharanam, Tirukottaru and Tirumalai [near Vellore] in the Tamil country.”

Treasure trove

Kazhugumalai is a treasure trove of indescribably beautiful Jaina sculptures. An amazing sight confronted us as we clambered up the hill. On a long rock surface were three rows of bas-reliefs of Tirthankaras, all seated in pedestals made of two rows of lotus flowers. Blossomed lotuses formed the upper row while inverted lotuses formed the lower row.

At an Ayyanar temple, hidden inside the sanctum sanctorum, are these sculptures of Tirthankaras seated in ardhapariyankasana. The temple, which came up about 100 years ago, obscures some of the bas-reliefs

R. Champakalakshmi, former Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, in her essay titled “From natural caverns to rock-cut and structural temples: the changing context of Jain religious tradition in Tamil Nadu”, calls the three rows of Tirthankaras “a unique group of the 24 of three kalas, or ages, i.e., Trikala Caturvimsati Tirthankaras….” The essay has been published in Airavati, a felicitation volume brought out by in honour of the epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan in August 2008.

A few hundred metres from the rock surface is Vettuvan Kovil, a monolithic temple hewn out of a hill. The late C. Sivaramamurti, who was the Director of the National Museum in New Delhi, in his book Kalugumalai and Early Pandyan Rock-cut Shrines, describes it as “by far the most beautiful rock-cut temple of the Pandya period… a half-finished free-standing monolith which recalls the famous temple of Siva at Ellora”. The Jaina sites at Kazhugumalai and Vettuvan Kovil are under the State Department of Archaeology.

Apart from Vedachalam’s articles in the Kalvettu magazine published by the State Department of Archaeology, Kazhugumalai finds considerable mention in the work of scholars such as Champakalakshmi, A. Ekambaranathan (Professor, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Madras, and author of a book in Tamil on Kazhugumalai) and S.M. Ganapathi (retired Curator, Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology and author of a book in Tamil titled Kazhugumalai, Vettuvan Kovil).

Jaina settlements

Jaina settlements came into being in the Tamil country around Madurai in the 3rd century B.C. with the arrival of monks from the north. Pandya kings and merchant guilds patronised these monks.

In the 7th century A.D., with the rise of the Bhakti Movement led by Saivite saints such as Tirunavukkarasar and Tirugnanasambandar, Jainism suffered a setback in the region. It also lost royal patronage with the Pandya king Kun Pandyan and the Pallava ruler Mahendravarman embracing Saivism.

In this bas-relief, celestial beings visit a Tirthankara attaining enlightenment

However, there was a revival of Jainism in the Tamil country after the 8th century A.D. From a non-theistic religion, where monks lived in natural caverns, it became a theistic religion, absorbing rituals on the way. Several structural Jaina temples came up during this time.

There were more than 100 Jaina sites in the Pandya country (comprising the present-day districts of Madurai, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari in southern Tamil Nadu).

The most notable among these were the sites at Madurai, Kazhugumalai, Kurandi (near Aruppukottai) and Nagercoil (Kottaru).

“It is not true that Jainism was rooted out of Tamil Nadu after the 7th century A.D. A good example of the revival of Jainism in the Tamil country after the 8th century is Kazhugumalai,” said Vedachalam.

Arun Raj said important Jaina sites in the southern districts were Tiruparankunram, Anai Malai, Azhagar Malai, Mankulam, Arittapatti, Kizhavalavu, Vikramangalam, Mettupatti, Muthupatti, Kongarpuliyankulam and Karuvalangudi. Jainism also flourished at Sitthannavasal in Pudukottai district. In northern Tamil Nadu, there were Jaina sites at Tirunarungkondai, Tirunatharkunru, Mel Kudalur, Mel Sithamur, Jambai, Tirumalai, Thondur, Paraiyan Pattu and Thalavanur.

Structural Jaina temples came up at Agazhur near Ginjee, Veedur near Villupuram, Peramallur and Mel Sithamur (both near Tindivanam), Tirunarungkondai near Ulundurpet, Melmalayanur, and Tiruparutikunram, 3 kilometres from Kancheepuram.

Of all these sites, the largest number of Jaina bas-reliefs is found at Kazhugumalai. “There are more Jaina sculptures here than even at Tirumalai. The sculptures here have richness and variety. They are not monotonous,” said Vedachalam.

On top of the Kazhugumalai hills is an Ayyanar temple, which is about a hundred years old. The temple obscures some of the bas–reliefs behind it. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple is inside a natural cavern. As the priest lit a lamp to show us the roof of the dark cavern, three bas-reliefs of Tirthankaras came into view near the Ayyanar image.

Two of them sat side by side and the third was a few feet away. They were seated in ardhapariyankasana, under a triple umbrella. It is difficult to say whether these Jaina carvings have been documented.

Remarkable Beauty

A bas-relief of remarkable beauty in Kazhugumalai depicts the legend of the yakshi Ambika. The sculpture shows a tall and elegant Ambika, with her two children and her husband, a simha (a lion) and a “kalpavriksha”. The husband seems to be in a state of sheer awe, for one of his hands is raised in a state of shock.

Legend has it that Ambika violated a religious canon by giving away food she had cooked for her pitrus (ancestors) on a day of remembrance. When her relatives who had come to take part in the ceremony had gone out, a Jaina monk came to her house seeking food.

In this long frieze on the vimana of Vettuvan Kovil ganas can be seen dancing and playing musical instruments

When the relatives returned home and found that she had given away the food to the monk, they were enraged with her and drove her out. She sought out the monk and asked him to help.

The Yakshi Ambika with her children, the simha (lion) and kalpavriksha. Her husband is shown with a hand raised and his face has no detailing so as to depict his awe and the glare from her "golden appearance" falling on him

He pleaded helplessness and suggested that she go back to her husband. Scared of her husband’s wrath, Ambika, committed suicide. She reached heaven and became an attendant, that is, a yakshi, of Tirthankara Neminatha.

But Ambika was unable to forget her past and Indra granted her a boon that she could return to earth and live with her husband while at the same time being a yakshi. Back home, her husband demanded that she show him her “golden appearance” to prove she was a yakshi.

When Ambika revealed her true self, the husband was taken aback by the dazzling halo. That is why his hand, in the sculpture, is raised and the face, with the glare, perhaps, is not deliberately sculpted.

“There are sculptures of the yakshi Ambika at Sitharal [near Nagercoil], Anai Malai and Samana Malai [both near Madurai] and Tirumalai. But this one at Kazhugumalai is the masterpiece,” said Vedachalam.

Another masterpiece is the sculpture of Bahubali (Gomatesvara) standing in meditation in a forest, with creepers entwining his legs, and his sisters Brahmi and Sundari telling him to shed his ego. Bahubali was one of the two sons of the first Tirthankara, Adinatha. (Bahubali himself is not a Tirthankara.)

THE VIMANA OF Vettuvan Kovil shows Dakshinamurti playing the mridangam. He is generally shown playing the veena

Adinatha split his kingdom between his two sons, Bahubali and Bharatha, before renouncing the world. A conflict between the two brought their armies against each other. But not wanting lives to be lost, Bahubali and Bharatha decided to settle it between themselves.

Bahubali won two of the three combats but when he was about to kill his brother in the third, he had a change of heart. He renounced everything. He went to the forest to meditate, but was not able to shed his ego. So Adinatha sent his two daughters, who told him to “get rid of the elephant in his head”.

A third carving depicts the story of the Tirthankara Parsvanatha – with snakehoods over his head, Kamdan throwing a huge piece of rock to kill him, the yaksha Dharnendra protecting him, and finally Kamdan surrendering to him. Yakshi Padmavathi is also seen.

Sivaramamurti has written that “the panel of standing Parsvanatha with the snakehoods over his head is a gem of early Pandya art”.

Vatteluttu Inscriptions

Kazhugumalai is also famous for its surfeit of vatteluttu inscriptions. There are inscriptions below many bas-reliefs – they are called label inscriptions.

Bahubali, or Gomatesvara, stands in meditation in a forest, with creepers entwined around his legs. His sisters Brahmi and Sundari are seen as telling him to “shed his ego”

There are 102 inscriptions at Kazhugumalai said Arun Raj. Of them, 100 relate to Jainism and the remaining, Saivism. The Jaina inscriptions mainly talk about the Tirthankaras and the donors who paid for sculpting their bas-reliefs. The donors included local merchants, carpenters, teachers, students, and so on.

The bas-reliefs were made in memory of dead relatives, too. The vatteluttu inscriptions mention the name of the Pandya king Maran Sadayan, who donated 17 bas-reliefs. The inscriptions also talk about the Pandya kings Parantaka Nedunchezhiyan (A.D. 765 -A.D. 815), and Parantaka Veera Narayanan of the 9th century.

The inscriptions, according to Vedachalam, provide another interesting piece of information: to protect the hill and its sculptures, there were two groups of warriors called “Tirumalai Veerar” and “Parantaka Veerar”.

An illegal wall that has come up at Kazhugumalai obscures intricate bas-reliefs

Kazhugumalai had a chief Jaina monk called Gunasagara Battarar. The philosophy of Jainism was taught here. An inscription mentions this in Tamil: “Samana sidhandham uraikkum vairakkiar…”.


Why a war against Iran is not inevitable

Why a war against Iran is not inevitable

Atul Aneja

While a decision on war has apparently been kept on hold, it is entirely possible that it could be waged at a later date. Only a fundamental shift in position, by either Tehran or Washington, can defuse the crisis.

Iran’s refusal to halt its uranium enrichment drive, despite the sanctions that have been imposed on it, has encouraged hawks in the Bush administration and Israel to press for military strikes against Tehran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks at the United Nations General Assembly that the state of Israel is in terminal decline, and that the eclipse of the American empire is on the horizon, have further infuriated pro-war lobbies in both countri es.

In Israel, the former military chief, Moshe Yaalon, remarked that an Israeli armed confrontation with Iran had become inevitable. He said: “Today, we in the West are facing the same situation, the lack of decisiveness toward a threat no less severe than that which Hitler posed in 1939.”

Observations made by Israeli military intelligence sources have added to a sense of urgency in Israeli ruling circles with respect to dealing with Iran.

In a recent Cabinet briefing, a senior Israeli military intelligence official observed: “The sanctions have very little influence, and are far from bringing to bear a critical mass of pressure on Iran.” He added: “Iran is developing a command of uranium-enrichment technology and is galloping toward a nuclear bomb.”

The statement made on September 22 by Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that the IAEA had not made “substantive progress” in clarifying the “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme,” has encouraged those who see air strikes as the only way to curb Tehran’s presumed drive towards atomic weapons.

Notwithstanding an aggressive campaign to shape public opinion in favour of an attack, there has been a major shift in the political circumstances that the advocates of war now encounter. Russia’s military assertion in Georgia and a show of strength in parts of West Asia, combined with domestic political and economic preoccupations in Washington, appear to have forestalled the chances of an immediate strike against Iran.

Following Russia’s movement into South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged that Moscow was aware that serious plans to attack Iran had been laid out. “We know that certain players are planning an attack against Iran. But we oppose any unilateral step and [a] military solution to the nuclear crisis,” he said at the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual forum of opinion-makers in Moscow.

Russia’s confrontation with Georgia appeared to be partly responsible for Moscow’s perception that an attack on Iran was in the works. It is now acknowledged that Russia seized control of two airfields in Georgia from where air strikes against Iran were being planned. The Russian forces also apparently recovered weapons and Israeli spy drones that would have been useful for the surveillance of possible Iranian targets. A strike on Iran from Georgian soil would have been easier: planes could fly into Iran after crossing the Caspian Sea. Otherwise, Israeli aircraft would have to take off from home soil. In that case, sorties would involve a much greater distance.

Besides, this would entail seeking permission from Jordan and Iraq for an air corridor — an objective that would be harder to achieve.

In mid-September, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, said Russia had received intelligence that indicated that Washington also had plans to use Georgian military infrastructure for a war on Iran.

Russia’s involvement in Georgia has therefore greatly strengthened Iran’s hand. Even prior to the conflict in the Caucuses, Russia had promised Iran 29 Tor M-1 anti-aircraft missiles. These weapons, since deployed, were meant to protect Iran’s nuclear installations. But more important, the possible delivery to Iran of the highly capable S-300 missiles is now a favourite topic of discussions in Ministries and Chanceries in the region and beyond. The S-300, which can be used to down both aircraft and ballistic missiles, has been described by some experts as a “game changer” in the region. It can track 100 targets simultaneously at a distance of around 120 km. Not surprisingly, the Israelis have held a massive air exercise in Greece, which has purchased S-300 missiles from Russia. One of the objectives of the exercise was apparently for Israel to familiarise themselves with this weapon and try out effective countermeasures to neutralise it.

The Russians have hinted that they do not have any immediate plans to deliver these missiles, but the possibility of transferring them to Iran at some later point has been left open-ended. Mr. Mededev’s adviser, Oleg Tsatsurin, in remarks quoted by the Israeli daily Haaretz, said: “Russia would not take any action that would change the balance of power in the Middle East or harm the excellent relations between Russia and Israel.”

Notwithstanding these verbal assurances, the possibility of S-300 exports to Iran provide Moscow with a powerful means of leverage to enforce its will. What Russia wants is international acceptance of its actions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as an acknowledgement of its re-emergence as a major player in West Asia.

Russia’s military tie-up with Syria, at Israel’s doorstep, is also unlikely to go down well in Israeli military circles. The visit to Moscow of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in August apparently resulted in an agreement that allows Russia to establish a naval base at Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus.

Ten Russian warships are reportedly positioned at Tartus. Rear Admiral Andrei Baranov, the chief of Russian’s Black Sea Fleet, has said that Russian engineers were expanding the capacity of the harbour in Tartus to accommodate more ships. Besides, Russian teams were increasing capacity at Syria’s Latakia port.

The Russian military presence in Syria, a key ally of Iran, is likely to discourage a military strike against Damascus and Tehran. Russia is therefore in the process of providing sufficient deterrence in an arc covering West Asia’s Mediterranean coastline to an area north of the Persian Gulf.

Diplomatically, Moscow has exerted itself by undermining American efforts to impose fresh sanctions against Iran. The six Foreign Ministers of countries that are represented in the Security Council and Germany who met in New York on September 27 failed to agree on the imposition of fresh sanctions against Iran. The Russians and the Chinese were the key players who successfully opposed any new curbs on Tehran.

Two other developments have reduced the chances of an imminent attack against Iran. First, the Americans are looking inwards because presidential elections are round the corner. The only window to mount an attack, or permit Israel to do so, is between November 5 and January 20, when the elections are out of the way and a new administration is yet to assume office.

This is, however, unlikely because caretaker administrations are hardly expected to take major foreign policy decisions that would seriously impact on the new administration, even if the President-elect happened to be a Republican.

Second, the Americans are preoccupied with a mega-financial crisis at home. Billions of dollars are required to fix Wall Street, and bringing down Iranian nuclear facilities may appear to be a lesser priority.

Iranian retaliation, which will inevitably follow an attack, will trigger an unprecedented surge in oil prices — a scenario that would be unwelcome, especially as the U.S. economy is already in the doldrums.

While a decision on launching a war has apparently been kept on hold, it is entirely possible that it could be waged at a later date. Only a fundamental shift in position, by either Tehran or Washington, can defuse the crisis. Consequently, a military build-up around Iran, which is necessary to prosecute a war, is unlikely to be scaled down in a significant manner anytime soon.

While heavy force deployments around Iran have been reinforced by the Bush administration, a new development that needs further evaluation has surfaced. Apart from amassing military hardware, the Americans have begun to take tentative steps towards positioning diplomatic assets in Iran. The U.S. Treasury Department in late- September permitted the American-Iranian Council, a private organisation, to open an office in Tehran. The Council hopes to encourage academic exchanges between Iranian and American scholars, and later promote exchanges between law-makers. An idea of opening a U.S. Interests Section — a scaled-down embassy — in Tehran has been floated, though a final decision has been deferred until the next administration is in place.

The Americans have also shown enthusiasm for a face-to-face nuclear dialogue with Iran. This was apparent in the presence of top U.S. diplomat William Burns in the last round of talks with Iran that were led by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

A diplomatic presence in Tehran will provide Washington with the flexibility of pursuing both options — of going ahead with war during the tenure of the next President, if the situation deteriorates, or rapidly moving on the reconciliation track through negotiations. The second option is the more likely one that will be exercised if Barack Obama is elected President of the United States.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Friday, October 10, 2008

Jaya ticks off MK for telegram flood

Express News Service

Chennai, October 9: AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Thursday ridiculed her political rival and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for his appeal to ‘flood’ the Prime Minister’s Office with telegrams to save the lives of innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka.

In a statement here on Thursday, she said instead of sending telegrams, Karunanidhi, as an important leader of a constituent in the Congress-led UPA Government, should exert pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call up the Lankan President and ask him to stop the genocide of Tamils.

The former Chief Minister said “Karunanidhi now came up with a brilliant idea that the people of Tamil Nadu should flood the Prime Minister’s Office with telegrams to exert pressure on the Prime Minister in response to her suggestion.” She recalled that while addressing a public meeting in the city on October 6 , the Chief Minister was driven to assert that his party was even prepared to withdraw from the UPA coalition, if it was necessary, to exert pressure on the Prime Minister.

The DMK leader, who in May 2004 went to New Delhi, directed the seven DMK representatives not to assume charges of their ministerial berths at the Centre unless the Shipping Portfolio was allotted to T R Baalu. “When it is an issue relating to the Tamil people, he merely pontificates from public platforms and asks people to send telegrams. So much for his so-called concern for the Tamil people,” she said. She also questioned Karunanidhi’s lack of commitment to the cause of Indian fishermen, who are being periodically killed by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Karunanidhi was trying to “characteristically wriggle out by accusing me of being whimsical and inconsistent in my policy on Sri Lankan Tamils.’’ “We recognize the rights of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka for equality with their Sinhala brethren. We recognize their demand for equality before law, equality in educational institutions and equality in employment.We recognize their struggle for self-determination and an autonomous Tamil homeland within the federal set-up of Sri Lanka.’’


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Holding Public Meetings in small junction of roads

Dinamalar ePaper

In this regard, already Hon’ble Kerala High Court Justice Mr.A.S.Venkatachalamoorthy, was pleased passed a judgment in New Road Brothers Vs. Commissioner of Police, Ernakulam & others which is reported in AIR 1999 Ker 262 therein it was held as follows:

Constitution of India, Art.19(1)(a) – Right to freedom of speech – Extent of – Authorities allowing meeting to be held in small junction of roads particularly in evening – Loudspeakers put up – Same causing great inconvenience to public – People can resist – Authorities are bound not to permit holdings of meetings at place in question especially when there were two grounds nearby.

Also go through the following link so as to read the FULL JUDGMENT of the above case:

Any judgment pronounced by the Hon’ble High Courts shall bind over all the State Governments unless it has been overruled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. By applying this principle the Govt. of Puducherry has to ban this type of Public Meetings even from the year 1999 onwards by obliging Hon’ble Kerala HC Judgment but they have been failed to do so.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

India bans smoking in public, tobacco firms fume

India bans smoking in public, tobacco firms fume

India banned smoking in public places on Thursday in an attempt to fight tobacco use blamed, directly or indirectly, for a fifth of all deaths in the world's third-largest consumer.

The ban, which includes all offices and restaurants, will hit its estimated 240 million tobacco users, who are likely to find their homes and cars among the last few places to light up.

The government cites the economic costs and the need to stem the loss of human lives but tobacco firms say the ban infringes on individual rights.

Everyone agrees, though, that implementing the ban could be a problem and much will depend on compliance rather than enforcement.

The ban includes schools and colleges, pubs and discotheques, hospitals and bus stops. Offenders will be fined 200 rupees ($4).

"Don't wait for enforcing authorities to catch you," said Anbumani Ramadoss, India's health minister who has long championed a ban on tobacco, urging Bollywood actors not to encourage smoking by lighting up on screen.

Past attempts to ban spitting and urinating in public in India drew little success, and the impoverished and lawless northern state of Bihar has already expressed reservations about the practicalities of implementing the ban.

While rules limiting advertising, marketing and sales existed before, implementation was not very effective.

Not everyone is happy with the ban. Many say a lack of smoking rooms mean they would be deprived of a stress-busting puff in offices and other public places.

"The intention may be good, but are we a nanny state?" asked Sanjay Yadav, a furtive puffer on a New Delhi road. He said the ban could be an incentive for those smokers wanting to quit.

Rajesh Kumar, a tobacco products seller, says he did not expect sales to drop. "Smokers will smoke," he said, adding he hoped to continue selling about 50 packets a day he sold now.


Official figures say that with its 240 million tobacco users India has annual cigarette sales of about 102 billion sticks.

But that is still a small market compared to China's, where, says WHO, one of every three cigarettes in the world is smoked.

With cigarette sales growing at an average annual rate of about 5-6 percent, ICICI Securities estimates, India is one of the few world markets to show growth in cigarette consumption.

So, much is at stake for India's top cigarette maker, ITC Ltd, which has challenged the ban in court.

The case is scheduled to come up in Supreme Court on November 18, an ITC spokesman said.

ITC, which also has interests in apparel, software and paperboard, has been pushing into packaged foods and personal care products as it seeks to cut its reliance on cigarettes.

Still, cigarettes make up a lion's share of its profits, with the new initiatives expected to contribute only gradually.

With the ban, India follows countries such as Britain, France, South Africa and Thailand.

Worldwide, more than five million people die of tobacco related illnesses now.

This, the WHO says, will rise to more than eight million in the next 20 years, most of them coming from low and middle income countries such as India.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cash transaction tax: an avoidable levy

Cash transaction tax: an avoidable levy

By demonetising higher denomination notes such as Rs.500 and Rs.1,000, a lot of unaccounted money will be effectively destroyed.

BETTER CANCEL the tax, seems to be the chorus of many finance experts about the bank cash transaction tax (BCTT), proposed in the budget presented by the Union Finance Minister recently. The Minister has been responsive to suggestions for modifications or even alternative proposals, but has virtually ruled withdrawal of the proposal.

There are however sound grounds for scrapping the proposal, the most important being that the levy is most unlikely to achieve the stated goals of the Minister. These goals are, reportedly, flushing out `black' money and improving the cheque habit among the people; the latter presumably will also achieve the former objective over time. The implications are examined here along with a suggestion to meet the black money menace.

The tax is a very small levy of 0.1 per cent on every cash transaction — both withdrawal and deposit — in excess of Rs. 10,000 in a bank. Taking up the second objective, namely, to deter people from cash transactions and move over to the cheque habit, the presumption is that many persons keep money in banks and use it periodically for various transactions. This premise itself is of doubtful validity. According to the annual report of the Reserve Bank of India for 2003-04, the total amount of money circulation as at the end of March 2004 amounted to Rs. 3,19,761 crores in notes and Rs. 7,201 crores in coins. The same report mentions at another place that the total currency with the public was Rs. 3,15,493 crores. Perhaps the balance represents the currency held in banks. (The cash in hand with all scheduled commercial banks ranged between Rs. 7,890 crores and Rs. 8,931 crores during January 2004 and 2005).

To put it in perspective, for every rupee held by a bank — other than currency chests, the money in which is owned by the Reserve Bank — nearly Rs. 40 is in circulation or more appropriately held by the public. Further, the total money in circulation exceeds the aggregate demand deposits — savings and current accounts — with banks which was Rs. 2,56,039 crores as on March 31, 2004. Thus, many financial transactions should be totally by-passing the banking network. With the proposed levy, one could hazard a guess that even people who use banks for depositing their full earnings and withdrawing money for genuine payments may think twice before going through banks.

Two affected groups

The two groups of people who will be affected by the levy are basically the salaried and professional class who withdraw sums in excess of Rs. 10,000 for their monthly expenses and factory owners who draw heavy sums every month for payment of wages. The former group can easily sidestep the levy by drawing, in a day, Rs. 9,900 or even Rs. 9,999 !!. Factory owners, on the other hand, are obliged by law to pay wages in cash and have to draw lump-sum amounts in cash every month. For them, this will be an unnecessary irritant and an added tax, unless they can claim exemption for this amount from the income tax paid by them.

Cheque habit can and should be encouraged. For that to happen, establishments should be prepared to accept cheques in payment for services and goods. But then, even Government owned enterprises like the Railways and Indian Airlines do not accept cheques for tickets issued by them. In fact, they should have little hesitation, as in the event of non-payment of cheque, the relative ticket can be cancelled, provided they stipulate that cheques can be given only for travel after, say, a week or so. One constraint in accepting cheques was removed a few years ago when it was enacted that bouncing of cheques issued for valid consideration will attract criminal liability.

Black money menace

Generation and circulation of black money in the so called parallel economy has assumed alarming proportions in India. The proposed levy is unlikely to stem this rot, for such money will not normally go through banking channels. This money is generated in both lawful and unlawful activities. If a lawyer or a physician takes money from you for services rendered and does not account for it in his/her income tax return, it becomes black money. Similar will be the case when a trader does not give a bill for goods sold and fails to account for the receipt in his tax income. These are lawful activities that result in `unlawful' money. When a politician or government servant takes bribe from the citizens, black money is generated through unlawful activities. Far worse is the case where cash changes hands for pursuit of downright criminal purposes such as drug dealing, extortion or murder.

Putting an end to unlawful activities can only be achieved by a strict enforcement of laws of the land.

The cancer of black money has to be treated by surgical intervention by the Government as a one time measure. Total notes in circulation increased from Rs.1,02,302 crores in March 1995 to Rs.3,19,761 crores in March 2004, an increase of over 200 per cent in nine years, as per annual reports of the RBI. This growth is despite the mushrooming expansion in usage of credit cards in India. A large part of the increase in notes with the public should be accounted for by high denomination notes. And, it is a safe guess that black money is hoarded in high denomination notes.

Demonetisation can help

By demonetising higher denomination notes such as Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000, a lot of unaccounted money will be effectively destroyed and the owners deprived of enjoying the wealth. While demonetising, it can be stipulated that no single person can exchange more than Rs. 2,000 or so in notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 and that the balance with him/her will be exchanged at a discount of 60 per cent, that is, for every Rs. 1,000, the bearer will get only Rs. 400. In this manner, the Government can collect about 60 per cent of black money as tax. The total sum could even be to the tune of Rs. 60,000 crores or so.

Demonetisation or withdrawal from circulation has been reportedly advocated by many eminent economists including Lord Meghnad Desai to effectively flush out black money. The example of the U.S, which seems to provide inspiration to many an economist in India, is really interesting.

Till 1969 in the U.S., notes of denomination higher than $100 were in circulation; these included 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and even 1 lakh dollar notes!!. All these notes were withdrawn from circulation by President Richard Nixon in 1969 to "make life harder for the mafia." In India too, by withdrawing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes, life will be made harder for corrupt `public servants'.

Additionally, newer generation of large amounts of black money will become extremely cumbersome to carry or store and there could be a dampening effect on such pernicious activities. As a bonus, people will be forced to use cheques for larger payments.

To conclude, the new levy on cash withdrawals over Rs. 10,000 in a day from a bank will not meet the twin objectives of curtailing, if not eliminating, black money and increasing the banking habit.

As an alternative, the Government should seriously examine a surgical intervention in the form of demonetisation of higher denomination notes as a one time exercise and follow it up with vigorous enforcement of existing laws that prohibit generation and use of unaccounted money.

R. Viswanathan

(The author is a former Managing Director, SBI)

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


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