Saturday, March 27, 2010

Congress will profit from DMK’s sibling rivalry

Congress will profit from DMK's sibling rivalry

March 27th, 2010

Just as sibling rivalry can cause fissures in a corporate empire, political parties too can break up for similar reasons.

One recent example was the disintegration of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra because the two cousins, Raj and Uddhav Thackeray, could not get along with each other. Now, another state-based organisation, the DMK of Tamil Nadu, is facing an identical problem.

The main reason for the tiff between the two brothers, M.K. Azhagiri and M.K. Stalin, is the preference shown by their father, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, for the latter. In the Shiv Sena, too, the selection of Uddhav by his father Balasaheb Thackeray to lead the party led to Raj walking out and forming his own outfit, the Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti (MNS).

In Tamil Nadu, the tension between Azhagiri and Stalin hasn't yet reached a stage where one of them will leave the party. But the possibility is on the cards because the former has made it clear that he will not accept anyone other than his father as the leader.

Since Karunanidhi has already indicated that he wants Stalin to be the next chief minister, there is little doubt that Azhagiri will go his own way if and when such an event takes place.

Arguably, a major reason why regional parties are more prone to such ruptures is the fact that their leaders have no future outside their respective states. The Shiv Sena, for instance, is not only confined to Maharashtra, but the two cousins, Uddhav and Raj, have never shown any inclination to expand their political horizon and try to secure a foothold outside the state.

The result is that the limited space for the display of political ambitions leads to an intensification of their battle for supremacy within the party. To avoid this possibility, Karunanidhi tried to separate Azhagiri and Stalin by sending the former to join the union ministry while anointing the latter as his successor in Tamil Nadu.

Azhagiri, however, proved to be a fish out of water in Delhi. His lack of knowledge of any language other than his mother tongue of Tamil meant that he could not converse with most of the people in his ministry and could not understand what was going on in parliament.

Such is the gulf between the north and the south in India that most Delhiites could not even pronounce his name. So, Azhagiri changed his name to Alagiri while he was in the national capital. It may have that particular episode which convinced him that he would forever be a misfit in the wider political field to which his father had transferred him.

He must have also suspected that it wasn't the wish to enable him to play a larger role which made Karuninidhi send him to Delhi but only to clear the field for his favourite younger son. Besides, the chief ministership of a large state like Tamil Nadu is obviously a bigger prize than a minor ministry at the centre. As is the custom, a regional party is almost always denied a major ministry like home or finance or external affairs because of its limited outlook.

The gainer from the DMK's possible split is likely to be the Congress, which has also benefited from the Shiv Sena's disintegration in Maharashtra. This is the advantage which an avowedly national party has over an essentially local party. When such a party is first formed, it usually manages to edge out the national party from the state by articulating the local aspirations with greater vigour.

The DMK's gains from 1967 in Tamil Nadu at the Congress' expense were the result of its greater identification with local sentiments. But, then, the inevitable ego clashes take over. In the DMK's case, the party first split when the charismatic film star, M.G. Ramachandran, decided to go his own way in 1972 by forming the AIADMK, which is now led by another former film star, Jayalalitha.

Since the political fortunes tended to swing between the DMK and the AIADMK, the Congress did not have much chance to recover its earlier prominent position in the state. But a time is now coming when it may be able to do so.

For a start, the AIADMK has recently been losing ground to the DMK to suggest that Jayalalitha's earlier popularity is fading. If the DMK begins to suffer because of the Azhagiri-Stalin rift, the people of the state may have no alternative but to return to a party with an all-India outlook and a more stable leadership.

The lesson from these events is that a regional party does not have much of a future if it does not break out of its restricted base. What is more, its leaders have to shed their feudal approach to the party hierarchy and allow other leaders to develop instead of focussing only on their own children.

In the DMK, Karunanidhi's obsession with his sons had forced a prominent young leader, V.Gopalsamy or Vaiko, to leave the party in 1993 because he saw no future for himself in the party. Now, the same reason may compel Azhagiri to chalk out his own path.

(27.03.2010 – Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at


Friday, March 26, 2010

Disney to air animated TV series based on Thirukkural

Disney to air animated TV series based on Thirukkural


Disney Channel on Thursday said it will show the first ever animated TV series based on ancient Tamil literary masterpiece Thirukkural from April 5, 2010.

The series, developed as animal fables by Accel Animation Studios, Chennai, is titled 'Ek Tha Jungle' and showcases couplets from Thirukkural - one of the most important and celebrated works in Tamil literature written by noted Tamil poet Sri Thiruvalluvar, a statement issued by the channel said.

Each episode has a universal theme and lessons of life presented in modern day 3D animated format.

The stories are laced around strong ethics and family values with a moral that is applicable to the present and future generations, the statement further said.

Each story of 'Ek Tha Jungle' establishes a 'Kural' (couplet) from Thirukkural told through animal characters in a visually appealing, entertaining way, it added. PTI SNR APR AMK 03251629


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2009

Dinamani ePaper

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Greens lambast Nuclear Bill

Imran Khan

First Published: 15 Mar 2010 06:05:00 AM IST

BANGALORE: Environmentalists and antinuclear activists say the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill (2009) which exempts foreign companies from legal liabilities in case of a nuclear accident and proposes a low cap of Rs 500 crores is unconstitutional and undermines public safety.

“The Bill to be tabled in the parliament not only allows US companies to go scot free in case of a nuclear mishap but also uses Indian taxpayers money to pay for the damages,” said Karuna, Anti Nuclear Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

Leo Saldhana of Environment Support Group points to an MOU signed between the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) on 16 January 2002, and renewed in 2007.

In August 2009, the EPA issued a Request for Proposal to any international non-profit organisation to bid for a grant amounting to $500,000. The organisation receiving the grant would work with MoEF to make “specific recommended changes to the Indian Constitution or environmental statues (sic)/regulations” with the clear intent of establishing “civil judicial authorities,” he said.

This amounts to interference with the sovereignty of India as changes in Indian legal system are being initiated at the instance of a foreign entity and are being sponsored with foreign funds, Saldanha said.

“A clear and present danger by such financing is that it proposes to clear the way for substitution of criminal liability for environmental damage, with civil liability. If this is read along with the proposed Bill, it appears that the MOU may have formed a basis for the proposed whittling down of India’s strong liability regime, the beneficiaries of which can only be transnational corporations and their host governments,“ Saldanha said.

The Bill seeks to alter the existing legal principles of polluterpays, precautionary principles and also the principle of absolute liability as laid down in various Supreme Court judgments, he added.

The limiting of liability to Rs 500 crores as proposed in the Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage Bill seeks to do away with the extraordinary protection that the Supreme Court has provided to people of India and the environment in cases of nuclear disasters and other accidents, such as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, he said.

“The clause to cap the liability of the operator to 2,087 crore ($458 million), when in the US the liability is $10 billion is glaring and should be struck down,” said Karuna.

“The Bill is ridiculous considering that in case of nuclear disaster, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will be liable for the damages but not any foreign companies,” said Uday Kumar, India Coordinator of National Alliance of Anti- Nuclear Movement NAAM.

He said the Bill is a complete sellout, and anti-Indian. “The questionable point is the authoritarian way it has been brought. We have written to PM with 30,000 signatures demanding a detailed discussion on this Bill, ” said Kumar.


Also read the related stories

Left calls for united stand against nuclear liability Bill

K.V. Prasad

— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat (centre) with CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan, Forward Bloc's Debabrata Biswas, CPI all-India secretary Sudhakar Reddy and RSP's Abani Roy, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI: Seeking to broaden opposition to the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill, the Left parties on Tuesday urged members of Parliament to take a stand against the measure, the introduction of which was deferred on Monday.

The Bill, the parties said, seeks a financial cap at 300 million SDRs (Rs. 2,142.85 crore), beyond which the affected people would not be compensated in the event of an accident, and limits the liability of the Indian operator of nuclear plants to Rs. 500 crore, with the government sharing the difference of Rs. 1,642 crore.

Charging the government with showing scant regard for people and compromising their safety and security, Left leaders, in a joint appeal at a press conference, urged the MPs to stand against the Bill.

“The government was in a hurry to ramrod the Bill through Parliament under U.S. pressure, and there is need to bring this serious issue into public domain,” said CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, flanked by A.B. Bardhan and S. Sudhakar Reddy (both CPI), Debabrata Biswas (AIFB) and Abani Roy (RSP).

Mr. Karat said the Bill was an outcome of the Manmohan Singh government's commitment to the United States to purchase 10,000-MWe reactors. The U.S. was seeking the legislation prior to the commercial sale of nuclear reactors, while similar agreements with Russia and France did not entail such conditions, he said, adding Washington had declared it was looking with great interest at the introduction of the Bill. “The government is aware of the difficult and protracted process to get $ 470-million compensation from Union Carbide [in the Bhopal gas tragedy case].” This was one-fifth of the amount required to look after the health of those affected and to eliminate the environmental damage, Mr. Karat said.

The Bill also went against the Supreme Court judgment that law did not accept any limit to liability and the party concerned should not only pay full compensation to the affected but also bear the cost of environmental damage that any accident might cause.

Emphasising that a nuclear accident would have unimaginable consequences, Mr. Karat suggested that the government send a delegation of MPs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, where even six decades after the nuclear attack people suffered genetic defects.


Rejecting the argument that the Bill would facilitate India's entry into an international nuclear liability regime, the CPI(M) leader said the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, adopted in 1997, was signed by only 13 countries, of which only the U.S., Argentina, Morocco and Romania had ratified it so far.

“The Convention has not yet entered into force since it requires the ratification of at least five states with a minimum of 4,00,000 MWe of installed nuclear capacity,” the joint appeal said. Unlike the existing Paris or Vienna Convention, the CSC provided for complete protection to suppliers of nuclear equipment. “The Vienna Convention puts a minimum floor and does not cap nuclear liability. Germany, Japan, and Finland have unlimited liability, same as the existing law in India.”

“It appears that in order to promote private nuclear power plants and favour U.S. equipment suppliers, the UPA government is willing to sacrifice the interests of the Indian people.”


Beware of fuel theft

Ways to avoid getting duped at a petrol station

Vinay Dora

Tue, Mar 16 08:39 PM

Fuel prices are getting dearer by the day but are we getting every drop of fuel paid for? Well, if the outpouring of woes online is any indicator, then no, we have a long way to go to prevent being cheated at fuel stations.

These are some who have realized the bluff, though may not have taken the outlet to task - but there are many others who aren't aware of such nefarious deeds. Hence the possibility of them getting duped is even more likely, and often repeatedly.

So as customers, how can we ensure we aren't at the receiving end of this trickery? What are the precautions that need to be taken and how do we get our grievances addressed? Here's more-


  • Keep a keen eye on YOUR fuel pump - especially in the beginning and just before the end of the fill. Avoid all distractions - it's indeed a blessing that cell phones aren't allowed in fuel stations. Other distractions like your car stereo or balancing your 2-wheeher can be avoided too.
  • Make sure the fuel attendant has heard the amount right. To be doubly sure, ask the attendant to repeat, just as you in restaurants, though this should be a lot easier for him.
  • Pay the amount ONLY AFTER the filling is complete. In most cases, either due to our overzealousness or simply being told by the attendant, we often end-up fiddling our pockets or wallets, in the process neglecting the fill.
  • Keep track of your fuel indicator during every refill, for this reading can be good source of verification. If your 2-wheeler fuel indicator takes that little longer to reflect, do wait by the side until it shows up. You really wouldn't want to find out being duped in the middle of traffic.
  • Also, it's a misplaced notion that meters in fuel pumps are tamper-proof. While meter tampering is a grave issue, it can only be checked by specialists. However, this can be checked by informing the concerned fuel company.

In spite of these precautions, if you still get duped, it's best to file a complaint. Take my word, the process isn't as cumbersome as one may imagine, in fact it is a lot more effective than creating a ruckus at the petrol station.

You can share your complaint at the 'Indian Consumer Complaints Forum' or even better - register it directly with the respective fuel company. Their websites have contact details of various regional offices that you can directly walk-in to as well as an online complaint form and even a toll-free number.

And if you're wondering if they do ever respond, well, in our case the field-officer from one of the regional offices promptly called to enquire, and ensured that the grievance was addressed. Nevertheless, we could have avoided all this, had we practiced what we just preached :)

Courtesy: Yahoo News

Monday, March 8, 2010

Women’s Reservation Bill: RJD issues whip

Dinamani ePaper

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RJD issues whip, SP to follow suit

Express News Service

Posted: Monday, Mar 08, 2010 at 0230 hrs IST
New Delhi/Lucknow/ Patna: With the RJD having issued a whip to its members and the SP likely to follow suit, Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday stepped up their opposition to the Women's Reservation Bill, a day ahead of its introduction in the Rajya Sabha.

While the RJD chief dubbed the Bill a "political blunder" and said they would oppose it "tooth and nail and are even prepared to be marshalled out", the SP supremo termed the Bill "dangerous", saying it aimed to stop emergence of leadership among the backwards, minorities and Dalits.

Lalu alleged that it was a conspiracy hatched by both the BJP and Congress to suppress representation of women belonging to the OBC, ST/SC and Muslim communities.

"I am for 50 per cent reservation for women belonging to all communities... But you cannot ignore the interests of women from deprived sections of society. Did women like Sushma Swaraj require reservation to reach the top? ... It only proves that the Bill is meant for the elite classes," he told reporters in Patna before leaving for New Delhi to garner support against the Bill in its present form.

He criticised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his alleged "dual standards" on the Bill since as a member of joint parliamentary committee, he had given a note of dissent to the Bill in 1997.

Mulayam reiterated that he was not opposed to reservation for women, but wanted a change in the present format of the Bill and a quota within quota for the Dalits, OBC and minorities.

"The SP is not against reservation to women, but we are against the present format of the Bill, which is a big conspiracy by the Congress and the BJP to prevent Muslims, backwards and Dalits to get elected to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas," he told reporters in Lucknow.

Citing the examples of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, AIADMK leader Jayalalitha, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and BSP leader Mayawati, he said there were strong women leaders who were running their parties. He also recalled that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had emerged a leader without reservation for women.

He contended that when not a single Muslim MP was elected to Parliament from several states including Gujarat, MP, Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana, how a Muslim woman could be elected without reservation. "This Bill is dangerous.... If it is enacted, Muslims and OBCs will be at the receiving end," he said.

While senior RJD leader and former Union minister Prem Chand Gupta said in New Delhi "the RJD has issued a whip asking its members to protest the Bill in its present form", SP Chief Whip Shailendra Kumar said they will have a meeting of "our MPs tomorrow morning just before Parliament commences to discuss our strategy over the Bill. Although all our MPs are following the party line of opposing the Bill, we will also issue a whip so that nobody goes against the party stand". with pti inputs

JD(U) not to issue whip

NEW DELHI: Opposition JD(U), divided over extending support to the Women's Reservation Bill, on Sunday decided not to issue a whip to its MPs. The decision by the key BJP ally is also being seen as an attempt to provide flexibility to JD(U)chief Sharad Yadav who is opposing the Bill in its present form after senior party colleague and Bihar Chief Minister openly voiced support for the legislation. "We will not issue a whip on the Women's Bill," said party Chief Whip in Rajya Sabha Ali Anwar.

JD(S) seeks OBC quota

BANGALORE: JD(S) president and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda on Sunday said his party would support the Women's Reservation Bill if it incorporated a separate quota for the OBC category. Ignoring a separate quota for OBC category in the Bill was a big lacuna, he told reporters here. PTI


Friday, March 5, 2010

BJP plans to support Left cut motion on price rise issue

BJP plans to support Left cut motion

4 Mar 2010, 0307 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: With the Manmohan Singh government refusing to budge on fuel prices, an angry Opposition is planning a joint strategy to corner the ruling coalition in the Lok Sabha on `anti-people' budgetary provisions.

In keeping with this gameplan, BJP would vote for cut-motions moved by the other Opposition parties, rather than wait for the notices moved by its members to take precedence, in an effort to ensure the government comes under pressure of numbers.

This tacit understanding could pressure the government to reconsider its fuel hike proposals, as several outside supporters like the Samajwadi Party, BSP, RJD and JD(S) are expected to be on the other side of the political divide, should the voting on the cut motions take place.

Though Opposition parties have been singing the same tune on price rise, fertiliser subsidy cut, fuel price hike and taxation proposals, they have refrained from going public with the details of their floor co-ordination strategy so far.

In the 543-member House, UPA has the assured support of 262 members, while NDA bloc has the strength of 159 members. The remaining opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party (22), BSP (21), CPM (16), BJD (14), AIADMK (9), TDP (6), CPI and RJD (4 each), JD-S (3), TRS, Forward Bloc, and RSP (2 each), together go on to constitute a block of 105 MPs. That would leave the government critically dependent on independents (9), and single member outfits such as AUDF, BVA, BPF, MDMK, NPF, SDF, SWP and VCK.

The entire Opposition, including ideological foes BJP and the Left, have been accusing the government of being `anti-poor' and `pro-rich' and had even gone to the extent of staging a walkout in Parliament during the budget presentation last week.

The Opposition stalled Parliament proceedings again on Wednesday, demanding a roll back of fuel prices.

The Opposition's plans to bring in cut motions on increase in fuel prices are also expected to create uneasiness for Congress allies Trinamool Congress and DMK, which after initial resistance have gone along with the government.

The Left has already begun an exercise of bringing together all non-BJP, non-Congress parties to joint action against the government. A meeting of these parties is expected to be held next week.

CPI general secretary A B Bardhan has spoken several political leaders including Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and BJD's Pyaremohan Mahapatra. The Left is also planning to rope in AIADMK to join the proposed anti-government agitation.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, CPM polit bureau said the prime minister's 'callous justification' of the hike in indirect taxes on fuel in terms of taking a long-term view reflected a 'flawed' economic thinking and 'insensitivity' to the sufferings of the people due to price rise.

"How come the prime minister is defending the indirect tax hike in the name of fiscal consolidation while turning a blind eye towards the direct tax cuts," CPM asked.

It also refuted the prime minister's assertion that the impact of fuel price hike will lead to only 0.4% rise in the wholesale price index saying it was a gross miscalculation as it did not take into account the impact of high fuel prices on food prices.


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