West Bengal Governor meets top govt., police officials on law & order

West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan today met top government and police officials on the law and order situation in the state, barely a week after seven people were gunned down in the troubled Lalgarh area of West Midnapore district.

Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh, Home Secretary G D Gautama and Director General of Police Naparajita Mukherjee were called by the Governor to Raj Bhavan to apprise him of the steps being taken to arrest the violence.

They were believed to have been asked by the Governor to be pro-active in restoring peace in the poll-bound state.

Earlier in the day, Mr Narayanan was asked by reporters at a function whether an all party meeting would be convened to tame the violent atmosphere now prevailing in West Bengal. "I have repeated several times that now it is time to act," he  said.

Taking a serious view of the Netai massacre on January 7, the Governor had asked the state government to "act decisively" to stop the chain of violence, which he said had "gone far too long".

In a statement, issued from Raj Bhavan on the day of the incident, the Govenor had said it was incumbent upon the authorities to begin to act decisively to preempt, prevent or quell attempts at violence, irrespective of the affiliations of the groups involved.

Regretting that political violence had been taking place in the state "with unfailing regularity", Mr Narayanan had said, '"No democracy can allow such violence."


CBI arrests Income Tax officer in Raipur on bribery charges

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had arrested an Income Tax officer of the Central Revenue Building, Civil Lines, Raipur for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 20,000 from an assessee.

A press release from the agency said a case was registered against the officer on a complaint from the assessee that he had demanded a bribe of Rs 30,000 from him for settling an assessment case in his favour. The bribe amount was reduced to Rs 20,000 subsequently.

The CBI said it had laid a trap and the accused officer was allegedly caught red-handed while demanding and accepting the bribe in his office at Raipur.

The release said searches at the office and residential premises of the accused officer at Raipur and Bhilai led to the recovery of Rs 31 lakhs in cash, fixed deposit receipts worth Rs 6.80 lakhs, sale deed relating to purchase of a plots of land at Bhopal, Berhampur and Raipur worth Rs 6.86 lakhs, national savings certificates worth Rs 1.7 lakhs, bank balances of about Rs 5 lakhs, silver worth Rs 2.11 lakhs and gold jewellery worth Rs 2.62 lakhs.

The release said the officer was produced before the Special Judge, CBI cases, Raipur, and he is currently in judicial custody.


1 more person held in connection with Netai massacre

One more person was today held in connection with the killing of seven people at Netai village in Lalgarh area of West Midnapore district in West Bengal, taking the number of arrests to three.

Police said Ajit Hembram was arrested from Belatikri village in the Lalgarh area. He was being interrogated.

Earlier, two people were arrested in connection with the incident. Altogether seven people, including two women, were killed and 17

injured when a group of armed people fired on them indiscriminately.

It was alleged that the assailants were CPI(M) men who had been

camping in a house in the village.

The CPI(M), however, denied it and said the incident was the

fallout of resistance by a section of villagers who had been

attacked by Maoists.


Tripura girl becomes one millionth resident of India to get "Aadhar" number

Sukrity, a 15-year-old resident of North Tripura, became the one millionth resident of India whose "Aadhar" number was generated by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) at noon today.

"It took us nearly six weeks to cross one lakh enrolments," Mr Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the UIDAI, said.

"However, it has taken us almost the same time to ramp up from one lakh to one million Aadhaar enrolments. This success is an auspicious milestone, en route to our goal of issuing 600 million Aadhaar numbers in the next four years," he said.

The speed of UIDAI’s registrars in deploying enrolment stations across the country, and in training large numbers of operators, has ensured this milestone in such a short period. The youngest person to receive an Aadhaar number was a 13 day old infant; the oldest person to receive an Aadhaar number was 103 years old, an official press release said.

According to it, the UIDAI’s systems have held up impressively to the large numbers of people enrolling across the country. In addition, the training and quality controls the Authority has put in place have been critical in minimizing problems in data collection, which will ensure that the Aadhaar number will be a secure, reliable form of identification.

"Enrolment for the Aadhaar number will accelerate further in the coming weeks, as more registrars begin enrolling residents," Mr R.S. Sharma, UIDAI’s Director General & Mission Director said. So far, over 60 registrars have signed MoUs with the UIDAI, and more than 15 of them have begun enrolments.

The Union Finance Ministry recently recognized the Aadhaar number as sufficient proof of identity and proof of address, for individuals to get a bank account. This move will be an impetus for registrars in the financial sector to begin enrolling people for the number. It will also be pivotal in bringing financial services to the millions of unbanked people in the country, who have been excluded so far because of their lack of identification, the release added.


Antony releases revised Defence Procurement Procedure 2011

Defence Minister A K Antony today formally released the Defence Procurement Procedure-2011 (DPP) which is aimed at expanding the country's defence industrial base, encourage defence production and reduce defence imports.

"The changes aim at simplification of procedures, speeding up of procurement and enhanced benefits to the Indian defence industry," he said.

"Keeping in view the strategic importance of the ship building sector, seminal policy changes have been incorporated in the ship building procedure. Our singular objective is to provide a level-playing field to the DPSUs (defence public sector undertakings), shipyards and private sector, as well as promote indigenization," he said.

Referring to the changes in the offsets provisions, Mr Antony said, "Our offsets policy is still in the process of evolution, based on our experiences in its implementation in various stages."

An official press release said the DPP was the defining document published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to enable decisions regarding defence capital acquisition for the Armed Forces to be made in a cost effective, timely and transparent manner.

The scope of the DPP has been enlarged gradually through amendments in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009. The categorization of defence procurement proposals also been expanded over the last decade from " Buy" to "Buy and Make", "Buy and Make Indian" and "Make" procedures. The basic thrust of the enlargement has been to promote development of indigenenous defence industry. The procedures have also been made more transparent and effective.

DPP-2011 incorporates further refinements based on the experience of the procurement agencies and feedback from the defence industry both India and foreign, the release said.

According to the release, the highlights of the DPP-2011 that will encourage Indian industry are:

(i) In an effort to ensure that Indian industry is placed at par with the DPSUs, the Exchange Rate Variation clause has now been made applicable to all Indian vendors when they compete with their foreign counterparts under the "Buy Global" category.

(ii) Bank Guarantees under the Integrity Pact have now been linked to the validity of the Commerical Offer submitted by vendors and are, therefore, no longer open-ended.

(iii) The requirement of furnishing two separate financial bonds for performance of contract and warranty of equipment has now been amalgamated into a single Performance-cum-Warranty Bond. This will ease the administrative and financial burden on Indian defence manufacturers.

(iv) The stringent clause for blacklisting vendors for delay in delivery of equipment, in fast-track procurement cases has been removed. However, the liquidated damages have been marginally enhanced to ensure greater accountability by vendors.

Shipbuilding Procedure

The existing Chapter-III on "Ship Building" in DPP has been comprehensively revised to include guidelines for shipbuilding on competitive basis. This revision has been based on inputs provided by all stakeholders, including the shipbuilding industry. These changes will provide a level playing field to the DPSU Shipyards and private sector and promote indigenization for induction of the ships, submarines and yard craft for the Indian Navy and Coast Guard.

The revised DPP lays down the procedure for shipbuilding on competitive basis as well as on nomination basis. Besides clearly articulating the step-by-step acquisition process, various clauses for strengthening of the contracting mechanisms, linking payments to stages of construction for ships/yard craft, including modular construction, have been included.

The new guidelines will encourage healthy competition between the private and public sector shipyards and improve delivery indices. The initiative will enable the Government, to harness national shipbuilding capacities, leading to development of a strong defence industrial base and self-reliance in warship building.

Offset Policy Guidelines

The scope of Offset Policy Guidelines is being expanded to include "civil aerospace", "internal security" and "training" within the ambit of eligible products and services for discharge of offset obligations.

The list of eligible offsets will now cover most aspects of civil aerospace, including aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary, air frames, air engines, aircraft components, avionics, aircraft design and engineering services, aircraft material, technical publications, flying training institutions and technical training institutions.

A wide range of weapons and services for counter terrorism have been included in the list of products under "internal security". These changes will provide a wider range of offset opportunities to vendors participating in defence procurements and encourage building up of indigenous manufacturing capability in crucial areas.

Following is the list of products eligible for discharge of offset obligations under DPP-2011:

1. Defence Products

· Small arms, mortars, cannons, guns, howitzers, anti tank weapons and their ammunition including fuze.

· Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, other explosive devices and charges, related equipment and accessories specially designed for military use, equipment specially designed for handling, control, operation, jamming and detection.

· Energetic materials, explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics.

· Tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles, vehicles with ballistic protection designed for military applications, armoured or protective equipment.

· Vessels of war, special naval system, equipment and accessories

· Aircraft, unmanned airborne vehicles, aero engines and air craft equipment, related equipment specially designed or modified for military use, parachutes and related equipment.

· Electronics and communication equipment specially designed for military use such as electronic counter measure and counter counter measure equipment surveillance and monitoring, data processing and signalling, guidance and navigation equipment, imaging equipment and night vision devices, sensors.

· Specialized equipment for military training or for simulating military scenarios, specially designed simulators for use of armaments and trainers.

· Forgings, castings and other unfinished products which are specially designed for products for military applications and troop comfort equipment.

· Miscellaneous equipment and materials designed for military applications, specially designed environmental test facilities and equipment for the certification, qualification, testing or production of the above products.

· Software specially designed or modified for the development, production or use of above items. This includes software specially designed for modelling, simulation or evaluation of military weapon systems, modelling or simulating military operation scenarios and Command, Communications, Control, Computer and Intelligence (C4I) applications.

· High velocity kinetic energy weapon systems and related equipment.

· Direct energy weapon systems, related or countermeasure equipment, super conductive equipment and specially designed for components and accessories.

2. Products for Internal Security

· Arms and their ammunition including all types of close quarter weapons.

· Protective Equipment for security personnel including body armour and helmets.

· Vehicles for internal security purposes including armoured vehicles, bullet proof vehicles and mine protected vehicles.

· Riot control equipment and protective as well as riot control vehicles.

· Specialized equipment for surveillance including hand held devices and unmanned aerial vehicles.

· Equipment and devices for night fighting capability including night vision devices.

· Navigational and communications equipment including for secure communications.

· Specialized counter terrorism equipment and gear, assault platforms, detection devices, breaching gear, etc.

· Training aids including simulators and simulation equipment.

3. Civil Aerospace Products

· All types of fixed wing as well as rotary aircraft including their air frames, aero engines, aircraft components and avionics.

· Aircraft design and engineering services.

· Technical publications

· Raw material and semi-finished goods.

· Flying training institutions and technical training institutions (excluding civil infrastructure).


Election Commission deputes team to West Bengal to assess law & order

The Election Commission today said it would make an independent assessment of the law and order situation in West Bengal, where legislative assembly elections are due later this year.

For this purpose, a team of five senior officers, headed by the Chief Electoral Oficer, Bihar and including five senior police officers, is being sent to the state to make a first-hand assessment of the situation there, an official press release said here.

It said the team would visit different districts of West Bengal immediately and make an on-the-spot assessment after which it will submit a report to the Commission.

Apart from West Bengal, the terms of the existing legislative assemblies of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry are also expiring in May-June this year.

The Commission is required to hold General Elections to constitute the new legislative assemblies in these states.

The release said the Commission was taking all necessary measures, including keeping a watch on the law and order situation in these States.

It said several political parties had met the Commission in Delhi and during the visit of the Commission to Kolkata on January 8, 2011 and had submitted representations to the Commission about the prevailing law and order situation in West Bengal.

"The Commission has also seen several media reports on this issue. Maintenance of law and order is crucial to the conduct of free and fair and peaceful election. The Commission has, therefore, decided to make an independent assessment of the law and order situation in West Bengal," the release added.


President, VP, PM greet people on Makara Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri festivals

President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted the people on the occasion of the festivals of Makara Sankranti, Pongal and Lohri.

"On the joyous occasion of Makara Sankranti and Pongal, I convey my warm greetings and good wishes to all my citizens and wish them all prosperity and happiness.

"May these festivals bind the communities and regions of India in a bond of love and affection and inspire us to work for the unity and progress of our country," Ms Patil said in her message.

Mr Ansari said these festivals marked the beginning of the auspicious period of "Uttarayana" and the harvest season.

"Celebrated in diverse ways with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm in various parts of the country, these festivals reflect our glorious cultural traditions and promote the values of sharing, generosity and goodwill among people. May these festivals usher in amity, prosperity and happiness in our lives," he said.

Dr Singh said the harvest festivals signified renewal and provided an occasion to acknowledge the immense contribution of farmers to the well-being of the people.

"May these festivals usher in happiness and prosperity for all," the Prime Minister added.


Leh coldest in J&K at -20 deg, weather improves in Kashmir

Leh, with minus 20.4 degrees Celsius, was the coldest in the Ladakh region while there was considerable improvement in the weather in the Kashmir valley, where the meteorological department has issued a forecast for rain and snowfall till January 15 from today.

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Dr Asgar Samoon has geared up machinery to meet any eventuality due to snowfall during the next two days.

The Director of the Meteorological Department, Mr A R Zargar, said a fresh Western Disturbance was likely to hit Jammu and Kashmir from today till January 15.

He said that, under its influence, moderate rain or snowfall was expected in the region with heavy falls at isolated places.

Cold wave conditions further intensified in the Ladakh region where the minimum has dropped again.

Leh was coldest as the minimum dipped to minus 20.4 degrees, three degrees below the level yesterday, when it was minus 17.1 degrees.

The minimum at Kargil, a border town, recorded minus 15.4 degrees against yesterday's minus 15 degrees.

However, the minimum temperature remained between minus 15 degrees and minus 35 degrees in the upper reaches, particularly in the areas near the Line of Control (LoC).

Barring the ski resort of Gulmarg, there was considerable improvement in the weather conditions in the Kashmir valley.

The minimum temperature was 1.6 degrees in Srinagar, highest in 2011. It was minus 0.5 degrees yesterday. Gulmarg, about 55 km from here, remained cold with minus 8.4 degrees this morning. Pahalgam, a health resort in south Kashmir, was second coldest with minus 3.2 degrees.

The weather has also improved at Qazigund, a south Kashmir town on Srinagar-Jammu national highway which recorded minus 2.6 degrees against yesterday's minus 4.4 degrees.


Rajasthan High Court stays implementation of Muncipal Law Ordinance

The Rajasthan High Court has stayed the implementation of the State Government's recently promulgated ordinance for amending Municipalities Act to do away the provision of no-confidence motion against Mayors and/or Presidents/Chairpersons of civic bodies.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Prakash Tatia granted the stay yesterday on a petition filed by Rupa Ram Mali, Vice-Chairman of Bhinmal Municipality, and ordered issuance of show cause notices to the Government through Secretary, Local Self Government Department, and Chairman of Bhinmal Municipality.

As per the provisions of amended Rajasthan Municipal Act 2009, instead of in-house polling, the election to the post of Mayor/ President/ Chairperson, for the first time, were held in 2009 and 2010 through direct ballot by voters.

Keeping in view the change in mode of the election the state government in November 2010 promulgated the ordinance to drop the provision of no-confidence motion against persons holding above posts.


CBI officials raid Indian Maritime University premises in Chennai

Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted raids at the premises of Indian Maritime University at Uthandi here today.

Police said the raids were being conducted following complaints of alleged misappropriation of University funds. The searches, which began in the morning, were continuing.

The CBI officials also raided the Kottivakkam residence of University Vice-Chancellor Dr P Vijayan, police added.


Govt. announces slew of measures to moderate spiralling food prices

The Government on Thursday announced a series of measures it would take, including some involving a somewhat larger horizon, to bring the spiralling prices of food products in the country under control.

The Union Government today announced a series of measures it would take, including some involving a somewhat larger horizon, to bring the spiralling prices of food products in the country under control.

As part of these measures, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) and the National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India Limited (NCCF) shall undertake sale of onions at Rs 35/kg from their retail outlets in various locations, with suitable budgetary support to be provided for this purpose.

A statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said the arrival of onions from Pakistan would also help cool prices. The import of 1000 tonnes of onion had already been contracted and the export of onions stood banned, it said.

According to it, the Government will review import and export of all essential commodities on a regular basis and impose controls on exports and ease restrictions on imports, including tariff reduction where necessary, to improve domestic supplies.

Public Sector Undertakings shall intensify purchases of essential commodities, particularly edible oils and pulses, for distribution through their retail network and also through the Public Distribution System (PDS) operated by the State Governments. The existing schemes for subsidized distribution of edible oils and pulses will be continued. Exports of edible oils and pulses, as well as non-basmati rice, will remain banned.

The statement said the Government would take stringent action against hoarders and black marketers manipulating market prices, under the relevant legal provisions, so as to ensure that products reach the markets in a timely manner to moderate the prices.

Cartelisation by large traders will be strictly dealt with. The States will be requested to ensure that such action is effectively taken under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and the Competition Act, 2002, it said.

The Government will intensify awareness campaigns bringing out the availability of alternatives at cheaper rates such as yellow peas with a view to influence consumption pattern in favour of such alternatives.

Special initiatives will be taken to involve Residents’ Welfare Associations and Self-Help Groups in distribution of essential commodities to address local shortages and ensure that the supplies reach the households with least intermediation cost, it said.

Among the measures involving a somewhat larger horizon, a scheme to support the state governments in the setting up of farmers’ "mandis" and mobile bazaars and to improve the functioning of civil supplies corporations and cooperatives would be finalised urgently.

The existing PDS would be suitably strengthened through computerization and other steps, including opening more procurement windows across the country, it said.

State Governments would be urged to review the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts and, in particular, consider exempting horticultural products from its purview thereby mitigating marketing and distribution bottlenecks in this crucial sector.

State Governments will also be urged to consider waiving mandi tax, octroi and other local levies which impede smooth movement of essential commodities, as well as to reduce commission agent charges, it said.

The statement said investment would be encouraged in supply chains, including provisions for cold storages, which will be dovetailed with organized retail chains for quicker and more efficient distribution of farm products and minimizing wastage.

The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, the Department of Food & Public Distribution and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Planning Commission will jointly work out schemes for this purpose.

Suitable support will be extended to facilitate stocking of the bumper Kharif 2010 crop, including by augmenting storage capacities and modernizing/ upgrading the godowns and other infrastructure, it said.

The statement said an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) has been set up under the Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance to review the overall inflation situation, with particular reference to primary food articles.

The IMG will, inter alia, review production/ rainfall trends and build an institutional machinery to read warning signals, assess international trends, recommend action on fiscal, monetary, production, marketing, distribution and infrastructure fronts to prevent price spikes, and suggest measures to strengthen collection and analysis of data and forecasting.

The Committee of Secretaries under the Cabinet Secretary will review the prices situation with individual States, and advise the Departments concerned of the Central Government to maintain close coordination with State agencies to get direct feedback with a view to taking suitable remedial measures on a fast-track.

"The Government is watching the situation closely and is committed to containing the adverse impact of any inflationary pressures on the common man," the statement said.

Today's announcement came two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting with his senior Cabinet colleagues and top advisers on January 11 to look at ways of reining in the galloping prices even as the Opposition stepped up its campaign against the Government on the twin issues of corruption and inflation.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Sharad Pawar, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia were amongst those who attended the meeting.

Mr T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu were amongst the others who were present at the discussions.

Dr Singh has been concerned about the rising prices and is keen to arrest the spiral and put in some long-term measures in this regard.

India's food inflation rate had spiked to 18.32 per cent for the week ended December 25 on the back of sharp increases in recent times in the prices of vegetables and onions. In the latest figures released today, the food inflation rate had eased slightly to 16.91 per cent for the week ended January 1.

Onions were sold for between Rs 60 and Rs 90 a kg in many parts of the country in recent weeks and are currently selling at Rs 55-60 in some places.

The Government is trying to import onions from Pakistan in an effort to increase supplies. Last week, the Income Tax department conducted raids on scores of traders across the country as part of a drive against hoarding of onions.

The statement issued by the PMO today said the Government had been closely monitoring the inflation situation with a view to protecting the common citizen against abnormal price rise.

"Our experience in the recent past has been that while prices of most manufactured goods and services have been reasonably stable, food prices have frequently risen at unacceptable rates," it said.

"A year ago, the primary concern was with foodgrain prices which were pushed up because of the drought of 2009-10. We were able to bring foodgrain prices under control thanks to additional release through the PDS and a strong effort to increase production. The current bout of inflation is driven by a rise in prices of vegetables and fruits which is more difficult to manage because these commodities are not held in public stocks. The rise in prices is partly due to late rains, which affected the onion crop. There is also an underlying increase in prices of milk, eggs, meat and fish, which is the result of fast growth of the economy, leading to rising income levels, combined with the effect of several inclusiveness programme which put greater income in the hands of the relatively poor whose food consumption increases," it said.

The statement stressed that the only lasting solution to food price inflation lay in increasing agricultural productivity.

"Government has taken up important new schemes, and provided large budgetary support to these, with a view to boosting agricultural production not merely in cereals but also in pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and fruits, milk and milk products, and poultry etc. As incomes rise, demand shifts towards horticultural crops, dairy products. These are perishable and need sustained development of market facilities, cold storage etc, quite different from what is needed for foodgrain," the statement added.


Antony unveils Defence Production Policy with preference to domestic entities

Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday unveiled the country's Defence Production Policy that is aimed at achieving substantive self-reliance in design, development and production of defence equipment, weapon systems and platforms.

Defence Minister A. K. Antony unveils the first ever Defence Production Policy, in New Delhi on January 13, 2011. Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju and Secretary Defence Production, Raj Kumar Singh are also seen.
Defence Minister A. K. Antony unveils the first ever Defence Production Policy, in New Delhi on January 13, 2011. Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju and Secretary Defence Production, Raj Kumar Singh are also seen.

Defence Minister A K Antony today unveiled the country's first ever Defence Production Policy (DPrP) that is aimed at achieving substantive self-reliance in design, development and production of defence equipment, weapon systems and platforms.

The policy is also designed to create conditions conducive for the private sector to play an active role in achieving this objective.

The new DPrP is meant to act as a catalyst to enhance the potential of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for indigenisation as well as broadening the defence research and development base of the country.

Mr Antony said the policy aimed to achieve maximum synergy among the Armed Forces, defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Indian industry and research and development institutions.

The event was attended by, among others, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Defence Production Secretary Raj Kumar Singh and Director General Acquisition Vivek Rae.

An official press release said the policy had been drawn up after extensive consultations with various stakeholders such as the three Services, Coast Guard, Integrated Defence Staff, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and industry associations such as CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and others.

The release said that, under the new DrPP, which came into force with immediate effect, preference would be given to indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment.

Therefore, wherever the required arms, ammunition and equipment are possible to be made by the Indian industry within the time lines required by the Services, the procurement will be made from the indigenous sources.

Whenever the Indian industry is not in a position to make and deliver the equipments as per the Service Qualitative Requirements (SQRs) in the requisite time frame, procurement from foreign sources would be resorted to, as per Defence Procurement Procedure.

While examining procurement cases, the time taken in the procurement and delivery from foreign sources vis-a-vis the time required for making it in the country, along with the urgency and criticality of the requirement, will be examined as per the Defence Procurement Procedure before deciding to proceed with procurement from foreign sources.

Based on the approved Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), equipment, weapon system and platforms required ten years and further down the line will by and large be developed within the country. Sub-systems that are not economically viable or practical to be made within the country may be imported, ensuring their availability at all times. However, as far as possible, the design and integration of the platforms and systems will be undertaken within the country.

The government will endeavour to build a robust indigenous defence industrial base by pro-actively encouraging larger involvement of the Indian private sector in design, development and manufacture of defence equipment. Towards this end, efforts would be made to progressively identifying and address any issue which impacts or which has potential of impacting the competitiveness of the Indian Defence Industry in comparison to foreign companies.

To synergise and enhance the national competence in producing state of the art defence product within the price lines and time lines that are globally competitive, all viable approaches such as formation of consortia, joint venture and public private partnerships within the government approved framework will be undertaken. The academia, research and development institutions as well as technical and scientific organisations of repute will be involved for achieving this objective.

The government will further simplify the procedure under the "MAKE" category of DPP in such a manner that it enables indigenous design and development of the required defence products by both public and private industries in a faster time frame.

Service Headquarters while laying down the qualitative requirements for defence products will exercise due diligence at all times to keep in view feasibility and practicability of the QRs. However, it will be ensured that the defence products developed in the country provide a competitive edge to our services vis-a-vis potential adversaries.

The Defence Production Policy recognises that development of complex systems is a stage process with incremental changes progressing from Mk-1 and Mk-2 and so on. The stage process will be followed. However, at every review of such developmental projects by the Defence Production Board or Defence R&D Board, as the case may be, it will be ensured that the equipment, weapons systems and platforms are such that they provide an edge to the forces over potential adversaries.

In case of delays in the realization of the projects, the corresponding proposal will be processed as per the Defence Procurement Procedure and the option of "BUY" shall be followed for the necessary numbers till indigenous production capability is established whereafter indigenous systems shall be procured.

Policies will also be put in place to encourage the DPSUs, OFB and the private sector to strengthen their research and development wings so that constant upgradation and improvement in systems under manufacture is possible. The government will set up a separate fund to provide necessary resources to public and private sector including SMEs as well as academic and scientific institutions to support research and development of defence products.

The Defence Minister will hold an annual review of the progress in self reliance that has been achieved during the year, the release said.


Four NLFT activists surrender to police in Tripura

Four activists of the banned outfit National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) surrendered before police last evening at Kamalpur in Dhalai district.

Police said preliminary investigations revealed that the activists fled their hideout in Bangladesh following severe resource crunch, adding the outfit was not getting cooperation from its unit in the neighbouring country.

Those who surrendered were identified as Mantu Kr Tripura (25), Malendra Reang (25), Daliram Reang (21) and Duluram Reang (26), all from Dhalai district, police added.

They were allegedly involved in several criminal activities like extortion and murder over the past few years, according to police.

Meanwhile, Border Security Force (BSF) officials said a chopper would be pressed into service to guard the bordering areas that were yet to be fenced, adding rubber bullets would be used to repel the intruders.


Army jawan injured in firing from across LoC in Poonch district

An army jawan was injured in yet another case of ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said here today.

"Pakistani troops fired with small arms and also a few mortar shells on Indian post in Shahpur-Kerni sector of Poonch district," the sources told UNI.

They said the firing started at 2200 hrs yesterday and lasted till the wee hours today with breaks.

"One army jawan suffered injuries in the exchange of bullets between the troops," they added.


Explosive device detected on Jammu-Poonch road in J&K

Traffic on busy Jammu-Poonch road came to a standstill when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by militants was detected by a patrolling party this morning in Mankote sector of the border district of Poonch, official sources here said.

"The road opening party (ROP) detected a powerful IED planted by militants on Jammu-Poonch National Highway in Mankote Sector," official sources told UNI.

They said the traffic was immediately stopped and the bomb disposal squad was pressed into service.

"The squad is on job while the area has been cordoned off to avoid any untoward incident," they added.


Diamond shop looted in Allahabad, owner shot dead

Armed criminals shot dead the owner of a diamond jewellery showroom and looted diamonds worth over Rs 1 crore in the busy Civil Lines area here last night.

According to police sources here today, the criminals barged into the shop at around 2000 hours when the shop, situated in Central Plaza building, was about to close. They first locked up the sales girl and other employees of the shop and then shot dead the owner Dhruv Agarwal. Later, they decamped with the booty after breaking all the CCTV cameras installed in the shop. They also snatched the firearms from the guard.

Sources said the criminals came in a sports utility vehicle (SUV) and fled away after the incident. A manhunt has been launched to nab the culprits, police added.


4 pilgrims from AP killed in road accident in Tamil Nadu

Four Ayyappa devotees hailing from Andhra Pradesh were killed and seven others critically injured when a car in which they were travelling rammed into the rear of a stationary container truck at N Subbaiapuram village on the Sattur-Kovilpatti Highway near here early today.

Police said a group of 11 Ayyappa devotees, hailing from Pesapattu village in Rengareddy district of Andhra Pradesh, were returning to their native place after a pilgrimage to Sabarimala in Kerala when the mishap occurred. The mishap occurred at 0300 hrs due to poor visibility owing to dense fog.

The deceased were identified as S Mahesh (26), S Palraj (25), K Sai (16) and P Srinu (22). All the injured were admitted to the Government Hospital at Sattur. They were later shifted to the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) at Madurai. The condition of one of the injured pilgrims was stated to be critical.

Sattur Taluk police have registered a case and were investigating the mishap, the police added.


Indian fisherman killed in firing by Sri Lankan Navy near Katchatheevu Island

An Indian fisherman was allegedly shot dead and another injured by Sri Lankan Navy peronnel near the controversial Katchatheevu Island in mid- sea late last night.

A senior police officer of Tamil Nadu Q branch police wing told UNI that the deceased, R Pandiyan (25), hailing from Jegadhapattinam coastal village in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu succumbed to bullet injuries on the spot.

Another fisherman Manikandan (24) was injured in the firing, he said.

They were among four fishermen from Jegadhapattinam who had set sail into the sea for fishing yesterday morning. The other two managed to escape unhurt in the firing.

The two, Manivel (23) and Bhaskaran (52), said a Sri Lankan naval boat surrounded a group of Indian fishing boats while they were fishing and began indiscriminate firing in which Pandiyan was killed on the spot.

The body of Pandiyan was moved to the Government Hospital at Aranthangi for post-mortem examination. Tension gripped the coastal hamlets, particularly Jegadhapattinam, after the incident.

The relatives and fishing folk resorted to blocking of roads to protst the action of the Sri Lankan Navy personnel. Various fishermen's associations also condemned the incident and described the firing as a gross violation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between India and Sri Lanka in January 2009 over the issue of fishermen crossing over to each other’s territorial waters.

Senior revenue, fisheries and police officials were camping in Jegadhapattinam village to bring back normalcy. A large number of policemen were deployed in Jegadhapattinam and its surrounding areas to prevent any untoward incidents.


Delhi has pleasant day on Thursday, with slight increase in temperatures

Delhi and its surrounding areas experienced mild fog in the early hours of today even as there was a slight increase in the temperature, providing some respite from the severe cold conditions of the past many days.

The maximum temperature in the past 24 hours rose to 21.3 degrees Celsius, normal for this time of the year, up from yesterday's 19.2 degrees.

The minimum temperature was also higher at 5.3 degrees Celsius, two degrees below normal but higher than the 3.9 degrees of yesterday.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast that the maximum temperature today would be around 22 degrees Celsius.

It said the maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 21 and 7 degrees tomorrow, with a partly cloudy sky and possibility of rain or thunderstorm.


Bye-election in Kharsawan assembly constituency in Jharkhand on February 10

The Election Commission has announced that bye-elections would be held on February 10 to fill up the casual vacancy in the Kharsawan assembly constituency in Jharkhand, providing an opportunity for Chief Minister Arjun Munda to get elected to the House within the constitutionally stipulated period of six months since he assumed office in September 11, 2010.

Mr Munda is currently not a member of the state legislative assembly.

The Commission has also announced that bye-elections would be held on February 14 to fill up the casual vacancies in the legislative assemblies in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Manipur and Madhya Pradesh.

These constituencies are Sanjari Balod in Chhattisgarh, Khadia in Gujarat, Konthoujam in Manipur, and Kukshi and Sonkatch in Madhya Pradesh.

The notification in respect of these constituencies will be issued on January 21 and the last date for making nominations is January 28, an official press release said.

In the ae of Kharsawan in Jharkhand, the notification will be issued on January 17 and the last date for making nominations is January 24.

Counting of votes in all the constituencies will be taken up on February 17, the release added.


Last jailed ULFA leader released in Assam; hopes for talks rise

ULFA Finance Secretary Chitrabon Hazarika speaks to mediapersons in Guwahati on January 12, 2011, after his release from the Central Jail on bail.UNI PHOTO
ULFA Finance Secretary Chitrabon Hazarika speaks to mediapersons in Guwahati on January 12, 2011, after his release from the Central Jail on bail.UNI PHOTO

The last top jailed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leader was today released on bail from Guwahati central jail, raising expectations for the early start of formal talks between the proscribed outfit and the state government.

ULFA's "finance secretary" Chitrabon Hazarika was set free from the central jail here this morning.

Emerging out of the jail, Hazarika said he favoured political resolution of the "Assam-India" conflict.

"We are hopeful of fruitful negotiations," he said, thanking the State and Central governments as well as his lawyers and Jatiya Abhibartan for securing his bail.

Hazarika was driven in a convoy to his home in Nagaon district, attending feliciations and meetings on the way.

His wife Pranati Deka, the outfit's "cultural secretary", was released on bail from the same jail last month.

Hazarika was arrested in Bangladesh in 2009 and handed over to India along with the outfit's "foreign secretary" Sashadhar Choudhury, who was released on bail yesterday.

Other top jailed leaders - "chairman" Arabinda Rajkhowa, "vice-president" Pradip Gogoi, "deputy c-in-c" Raju Baruah, ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain and "publicity secretary" Mithinga Daimary -

had also been released on bail.

The jailed ULFA leaders, while expressing willingness for talks, had been maintaining that negotiations could not be held from behind the bars.

The ULFA is expected to convene its executive meeting soon and thereafter general council meet to adopt a formal proposal on peace talks.


Normalcy returning after Rabha-Garo clashes on Assam-Meghalaya border

After ten days of tension following ethnic clashes between Rabhas and Garos, normalcy is returning to Assam’s Goalpara district and the East Garo Hills district across the border in Meghalaya.

"The situation has been normal since January 10. This is the third day when everything has been reported to be normal till now," Goalpara Deputy Commissioner P K Goswami said over telephone.

He added that night curfew from 1800 hours to 0600 hours was imposed in four police station areas - Dudhnoi, Krishnai, Rangajuli and Dhupdhara.

Mr Goswami said 39 relief camps for about 35,000 displaced people of both Rabha and Garo community were still functioning.

"One relief camp for about 1600 Garo community people has been closed today as the people wanted to return to their villages," the deputy commissioner said.

Over 170 arsonists have been apprehended in Goalpara so far, he said.

At least five people were killed in Assam and four in Meghalaya in clashes between Rabha and Garos since the beginning of the New Year.

Earlier, additional Central security forces were deployed and even shoot-at-sight orders were given in Goalpara to bring the situation under control.

The area has been witnessing tension and clashes since the beginning of the New Year between Garos and Rabhas after Garo community allegedly attacked Rabha villages in Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district in retaliation for an alleged attack on Garos in Goalpara district (Assam).


Tenure of Patil Committee on 2G spectrum extended to January 31

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) today extended upto January 31 the tenure of the one-man committee comprising Justice Shivraj V Patil, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, appointed by the Government to examine the appropriateness of procedures followed by the DoT in the issuance of licences and allocation of 2G spectrum during 2001-09.

The DoT had on December 13, 2010 the terms of reference of the committee, which was asked to submit its findings within four weeks.

The terms of reference of the committee are:

1. To study the circumstances and developments in the Telecom sector that led to the formulation of the New Telecom Policy 1999 and subsequently, introduction of 4th Cellular Telecom Mobile Service (CMTS) licence in 2001

2. To examine the internal (intra-departmental) procedures adopted by DoT during the period 2001-2009 for

a. Issue of telecom access service licences and
b. Allocation of spectrum to all telecom access services licencees during the above period

3. To examine whether these procedures were in accordance with extant policies and directions of DoT/Government

4. To examine whether these procedures were followed consistently and if not, identify specific instances of

a. Deviation from laid down procedures
b. Inappropriate application of laid down procedures
c. Violation of underlying principles of laid down procedures

5. To examine whether the procedures adopted were fair and transparent and were in keeping with the principles of natural justice and if not, identify the specific instances of lack of fairness and transparency

6. To identify the deficiencies, if any, in the procedures as formulated and identify the public officials responsible for such deficiencies

7. To identify the shortcomings and lapses, if any, in the implementation of the laid down procedures and identify the public officials responsible for such lapses

8. To suggest remedial measures to avoid in future

a. Deficiencies in formulation of procedures and
b. Lapses in implementation of laid-down procedures

The decision to set up the one-main committee to probe the allocation of 2G spectrum was announced by the Union Communications and Information Technology Minister K P Sibal, who was given charge of the portfolio in mid-November after Mr A Raja resigned from the Cabinet on November 14 over allegations of wrongdoing on his part in the allocation of the scarce telecom resource in January 2008.

Mr Raja has consistently maintained that he had done nothing wrong and had only followed the National Telecom Policy and the procedures laid down by his predecessors, including those in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Mr Raja's departure was hastened by the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) who, in his report tabled in Parliament on November 16, came down heavily on the DoT for the manner in which it issued 120 licenses for unified access services on a single day in January 2008.

The report said the entire process did not withstand the test of scrutiny and that the widely held belief that the process had benefitted a few operators and had not been able to maximise generation of revenue from allocation of such a scarce resource had been confirmed in its audit.

Among other things, the CAG said the process followed by the DoT had resulted in a presumptive loss of upto Rs 1,76,000 crores to the national exchequer.


Mamata inaugurates modern luggage trolley service at Howrah station

Minister of Railways Mamata Banerjee today inaugurated a modern luggage trolley service at Howrah station to assist senior citizens and women passengers in boarding and alighting from coaches along with their luggage comfortably.

An official press release said the service had been launched as a pilot project for a period of one year and will be handled by uniformed attendants called "Rail Yatri Sevaks".

The service will be run in collaboration with State Bank of India and passengers will be charged Rs 35 for this facility. The trolley can be booked in advance over a telephone number to be specified by the Railways.

This service marks the fulfillment of the one of the Budget announcements made by the Railway Minister in her Railway Budget 2010-11, the release said.

Ms Banerjee also flagged off a special exhibition train "Vivekananda Express" showcasing the life and philosophy of the great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda from Howrah station today. This train is a tribute from Railways on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary.

This exhibition train will cover important stations of the country, taking the message of religious harmony and unity to the masses.

The train "Vivekananda Express" consists of two air-conditioned coaches in which photographs, write-ups and other articles are exhibited to project the life, work and message of Swami Vivekananda.

The train will also include one air-conditioned 3-tier coach, one power car and one second class-cum- luggage van. The coaches have been refurbished at Liluah Workshop of Eastern Railway.

The Minister of Railways also laid the foundation stone for the Archery & Table Tennis Academy that will provide training facilities for sportspersons.

Ms Banerjee also flagged off three new express trains, namely Sealdah - Rampurhat Intercity Express, Howrah – Suri Express and Shalimar – Baripada Intercity Express on the occasion.


PM inaugurates 4-year-long celebrations to mark Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today inaugurated the four-year long celebrations to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, describing him as a great, noble son of India who, by his words and his work, inspired millions of people in India and abroad.

Dr Singh recalled that, on a September day in 1893, Swami Vivekananda, dressed in the traditional saffron robes of a Hindu monk, addressed the Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

"It was the first time he had gone abroad and it was the first time he was speaking in public. Yet his first few words beginning with his greetings to the ‘sisters and brothers of America’ electrified the audience and brought forth an applause that lasted for over two minutes," he said.

The Prime Minister said Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago address was a proud moment in India’s history and heralded the arrival of one of India’s greatest spiritual leaders on the world stage.

He said Swami Vivekananda dedicated his life to the service of his motherland and to the spiritual awakening of Indian people.

"He worked to instill pride in his countrymen in their cultural heritage. He tried to build a national consciousness that was modern, rational and universal," he said.

"Swami Vivekananda’s dress was that of a sanyasi; his calling was that of a religious leader and profound spiritual thinker. But he was not an ordinary man and his intellect and vitality would not allow him to be confined to a life of renunciation. Swami Vivekananda was always engaged with the people and he worked for their well-being and for their betterment. He travelled the length and breadth of the country and sought to enrich Indian religious thought by emphasizing the importance of work and commitment to the people in his teachings," he said.

The Prime Minister said Swami Vivekananda tried to spread his ideas by speaking directly to the people, especially to the youth.

"He believed that the absence of self-respect was at the root of India’s weakness. He exhorted the people to inculcate self-respect. He wanted every Indian to be proud of being an Indian and being capable of saying that every Indian is my brother or sister. His message broke through the shackles of caste and creed and spoke of a language of universal brotherhood," he said.

Dr Singh said Swami Vivekananda personified the eternal energy of the youth and their restless quest for truth.

He said that it, therefore, entirely fitting that the Government had declared January 12, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, as National Youth Day.

"We must work to rekindle the eternal message of this great patriot and son of India," he said.

Dr Singh said that it was a tribue to Swami Vivekananda's vision that the Ramakrishna Mission he founded continues to earn enormous goodwill among the people a hundred years after its establishment.

The monastic order has 172 branches across the globe, of which 128 are in India. The Ramakrishna Mission is widely recognized for its commendable work in the areas of value based education, culture, health, women’s empowerment, youth and tribal welfare and relief and rehabilitation, he said.

The Prime Minister hoped that Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary would be an occasion to expand the activities and good work being done by the Ramakrishna Mission. He assured the Mission of the government’s full support and co-operation in the fulfillment of its noble mission.

The Government of India has set up a National Committee, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, to guide the conduct of the commemorations of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda in a befitting manner.

Dr Singh said that, at its first meeting last year, a number of constructive suggestions were made for events and activities to popularize the teachings of Swami Vivekananda during this anniversary year. These suggestions include the publication of his complete works, international conferences and seminars on his teachings, establishing chairs in universities, annual lectures, encouraging research in inter-faith dialogue and involving states and local organizations in commemorating Swami Vivekananda’s travels in India. He said that these ideas would soon be translated in to concrete plans of action which could be ready for implementation by the year 2013.

The Government of India has already approved a film on Swami Vivekananda by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust.

He said special efforts should be made to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s Address in Chicago.

"I understand that there is a plaque placed at the spot in the Art Institute of Chicago where the historic address was delivered and that the City of Chicago has also named the stretch of the Avenue on which the Art Institute of Chicago is located as the Swami Vivekananda way. We are working on a suitable commemorative event in Chicago," he said.

Dr Singh noted that Swami Vivekananda had very definite and enlightened views on education, describing it the primary means of rebuilding Indian society.

He said the Government had approved in principle a grant of Rs. 100 crores for a "Value Education Project" of the Ramakrishna Mission. He hoped that the project would help to inculcate in children a moral compass and a value system that provided a bulwark against the tide of commercialism and consumerism that is sweeping the society.

"Swami Vivekananda believed in the people of India. We need to rededicate ourselves to that belief and to his mission of building a self-confident India where each citizen has the right to his or her own self-respect, dignity and well being," Dr Singh added.


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