ADVERTISEMENT

National

Karunanidhi hospitalised for treatment of fever

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was admitted this morning to a hospital here for treatment of fever and an official statement said his condition was "normal".

"Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, on the advice of doctors, has been admitted in a private hospital for treatment for fever. His health condition is normal," the state government said in a brief statement.

The statement also requested visitors and workers of his party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), to avoid visiting the hospital in person so that the Chief Minister could take rest and recover soon.

The 85-year-old DMK leader had begun campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections two days ago and had addressed a rally at Tiruchirapalli on Friday.

The DMK said all his election-related programmes for the next two days had been cancelled. He was scheduled to address election meetings in Chennai today. He is due to address a joint rally with ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi here later this week.

Polling for the Lok Sabha elections will be held in Tamil Nadu on May 13 in the fifth and final phase of voting.

Mr Karunanidhi had undergone a surgery for back pain in Febrary this year.

Doctors at the Apollo Hospital, where he is admitted, confirmed he was being treated for fever but declined to give out any more details.

NNN

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital sets world record

Doctors at the well-known Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) here set a world record recently when they removed laparoscopically a 3.96 kg fibroid uterus from a patient.

The surgery was performed by Dr Vivek Marwah, Head, Unit of Gynaecology Endoscopic Surgery, and his team, including Dr Punita Bhardwaj, consultant, on a 45-year-old woman, Mrs Neelam Agarwal.

"This betters the previous Guinness World Record held by two American surgeons by a long shot. The American surgeons had removed a 3.2 Kg uterus in November, 2008," the hospital said in a press release.

"This adds one more feather to the SGRH cap and raises the bar as far as advanced treatment options available in the country are concerned," it said.

The patient, a resident of Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh, did not want to get her abdomen opened for the removal of the uterus, but most hospitals she approached told her the removal was not possible laparoscopically.

Dr Marwah decided to take up the challenge and Mrs Agarwal underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingoophorectomy (removal of the uterus alongwith the two ovaries) on the afternoon of April 16.

The surgery lasted for more than five hours because of the use of very fine instruments. However, the patient was up and about in 12 hours and was discharged on April 18.

Popularly known as 'Keyhole Surgery', laparoscopic removal of the uterus, as a surgical technique, has been around since 1989. However, the laparoscopic removal of a uterus almost equivalent in size to an "eight month pregnant uterus" is a first.

"What this procedure brings out is that size is no longer a limitation. I am happy to say that Sir Ganga Ram Hospital has both the expertise and the technology available to carry out such advanced procedures. I extend my congratulations to Dr. Marwah and his team for making us proud," Dr. B. K. Rao, Chairman, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said.

NNN

President visits Parliament Museum

President Pratibha Patil visited the Parliament Museum here on Friday and said later she was happy with the efforts made to present not only India's post-Independence democratic history but also the country's democratic heritage dating back to ancient times.

Mrs Patil, who visited the museum at the invitation of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, was accompanied by her husband Dr Devisingh Shekhawat and two grandchildren.
President Pratibha Patil visiting the Parliament Museum  in the Parliament Library Building, with her family on Friday. Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee can be seen.
President Pratibha Patil visiting the Parliament Museum in the Parliament Library Building, with her family on Friday. Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee can be seen.

Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary and Dr Saroj Ghose, eminent museologist and achitect of the high-tech museum, were also present.

Mrs Patil evinced keen interest in the various exhibits at the museum, starting with early heritage and the medieval period and moving on to the sections on the freedom movement, transfer of power, the Constitution and the functioning of the Legislature.

An official press release said she was particularly fascinated by the virtual reality presentation on the Dandi March. She also listened to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's "Tryst with Destiny" speech in the recreated Central Hall of Parliament in the museum.

" This museum brings to us, together, various facts of our parliamentary Democracy, which make all of us proud citizens of world’s largest democracy. I am happy that efforts have been made not only to present our post-Independence democratic history but also our democratic heritage which goes far back into ancient times.

"A visit here is an inspiration for every one, particularly the younger generation, to maintain and to further strengthen our democratic polity, which has been established through the untiring work and sacrifice of those men and women, well known as well as unsung, who fought and brought us freedom and democracy," she said.

The Parliament Museum was inaugurated on August 14, 2006 by then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and opened for the public on September 5 that year. It is a story telling museum which depicts the continuum of the democratic heritage of India. The story is told with the help of walk-through period settings with sound-light-video synchronization, large-screen interactive computer multi-media and immersive visualization with multi-screen panoramic projection, virtual reality and animatronics. So far, around seventy thousand visitors have visited the museum, half of them students from schools and colleges from all over India.

NNN

India takes up Sikh issue with Pakistan

India today said it had taken up with Pakistan the question of treatment of minorities in that country following media reports that the Taliban had driven out Sikhs from their homes and had demanded "jaziya" (taxes) from them in the Orakzai Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

"On seeing reports about Sikh families in Pakistan being driven out of their homes and being subject to Jaziya and other such impositions, the Government of India has taken up the question of treatment of minorities in Pakistan with the Government of Pakistan," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said when asked about the reports.

Media reports said the Taliban had forcibly captured three houses and ten shops belonging to Sikhs in the area after they failed to meet demands for huge amounts of protection money.

NNN

Screening for Influenza A at more airports soon: govt

The government today said health screening of passengers coming from countries affected by Influenza A (H1N1), earlier referred to as swine influenza, had already been started at 12 international airports in the country.

The airports are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa, Amritsar, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Trichy and Srinagar.

The remaining international airports would also start this activity shortly, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said in a press release.

According to it, a total of 17,949 passengers had been screened till now. As many as 96 doctors had been deployed to man 32 counters at the 12 airports.

The ministry said its decision to decentralise the medical supplies needed (Oseltamivir) and personal protective equipments (PPE) had been effected. About 2.5 lakh capsules of Oseltamivir, 18,000 PPE and more than one lakh of triple layer surgical marks had been despatched to the regional offices of Health and Family Welfare. This would cut short the lead time in case a suspected cluster is to be contained, it said.

"As of now, no case has been reported in India. The situation is being monitored," the release said.

According to information received from the World Health Organisation, as of yesterday, eleven countries had officially reported 257 laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza A/H1N1, caused by a re-assorted Swine Fly virus, with eight deaths.

The United States has reported 109 laboratory confirmed human cases with one death and Mexico reported 97 cases including seven deaths. The other countries which have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths are: Austria (1), Canada (19), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (13) United Kingdom (8), Netherlands (1) and Switzerland (1) .

Meanwhile, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has issued an advisor to all the state governments to maintain a precautionary vigil on the swine population for any flu-like symptoms.

The department has also set up a control room in New Delhi to provide information on swine influenza in livestock.

NNN

Arvind Jadhav is new Air India CMD

The government today appointed Mr Arvind Jadhav, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Karnataka cadre (1978 batch) as the new Chairman and Managing Director of the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL), which runs national carrier Air India.

NACIL was established in 2007 to facilitate the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, both state-owned national carriers.

An official press release said Mr Jadhav's appointment would be from the date of his taking charge and for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

Mr Jadhav will assume charge from Mr Bharat Bhushan, joint secretary and financial adviser in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, who had been brought in just a few days ago after the airline's chairman and managing director, Mr Raghu Menon, was removed suddenly.

Following Mr Menon's removal, the Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar had held a meeting with Civil Aviation Secretary M M Nambiar and other officials where names were shortlisted for the top job at Air India.

The government gave no reasons for the removal of Mr Menon, also an IAS officer, but media reports suggested that it was unhappy with him over the slow pace of the process of merger and integration between Air India and Indian Airlines.

NNN

Cell to handle complaints of objectionable SMSs during elections

The Delhi Police has nominated one of its senior officers to handle complaints about objectionable messages on short message services (SMSs) during the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

The seven constituencies in Delhi will go to the polls on May 7 in the fourth phase of polling in the elections to choose a new Lok Sabha.

An announcement by the Delhi Police in local newspapers today said it had nominated Mr Alok Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, as the Nodal Officer for receiving complaints "of objectionable messages on Short Message Services (SMSs) transmitted by persons with vested interest in elections violating the provisions of Election Law or Model Code of Conduct or (Election) Commission's directions/instructions issued in this behalf."

It said those receive such SMSs could forward them to mobile telephone number 97 119 35633.

Complaints can also be sent on e-mail to acp-ndr-splcell-del@nic.in or on fax number 246 49171, the announcement added.

NNN

Sukhoi-30 MK-I crashes in Rajasthan, pilot killed

A Sukhoi-30 MK-I aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed 70 kms south-east of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan today, killing one of the pilots, the IAF said.

An IAF statement said the aircraft was on a routine training mission when the accident occurred around 1030 hours.

According to it, both the pilots ejected out of the aircraft. While Wing Commander S V Munje survived the crash, Wing Commander P S Nara succumbed to his injuries.

The statement said there was no damage reported to any civil property or life on ground.

A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the reasons for the accident, the statement added.

NNN

Polling begins on moderate note in 3rd phase of LS elections

Polling began on a moderate note Thursday morning in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections which will determine the electoral fate of ruling UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and opposition BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani, among others.

Polling began on a moderate note this morning in the third round of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections which will determine the electoral fate of ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani, among others.

The voters standing in a queue to cast their vote at Samudayak Bhawan, Nathpur, Bhagalpur, Bihar, during the third phase of General Elections 2009 today.
The voters standing in a queue to cast their vote at Samudayak Bhawan, Nathpur, Bhagalpur, Bihar, during the third phase of General Elections 2009 today.

As many as 107 constituencies spread across nine states and two Union Territories (UTs), with a total electorate of about 144 million, figure in this round of voting.

Elections are also being held simultaneously today to the 32-member Sikkim Legislative Assembly.

Polling began at 0700 hours and will end at 1700 hours. Small groups of voters were seen at the polling stations in the early hours but the queues got slightly longer as the summer day progressed.

Tight security arrangements were in place in all the constituencies to prevent any untoward incident.

Mrs Gandhi is seeking re-election from the Nehru-Gandhi family bastion of Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, while Mr Advani is trying to retain Gandhinagar in Gujarat, which he has won regularly, except once when he did not contest, since 1991.

Other prominent candidates in the fray for this round include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav, former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh of the BJP, former Karnataka chief minister S Bangarappa and Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Shankarsinh Vaghela and Sriprakash Jaiswal.

In Mumbai, the Congress party's young stars Milind Deora and Priya Dutt are among the contestants.

Voters in 265 constituencies have already exercised their franchise in the first two phases of polling on April 16 and 23.

In all, 1567 candidates are in the fray for the 107 seats in today's round, making for an average of more than 14 contestants per constituency.

The candidates also include 101 women in seven states. There are no women contestants in this phase in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and the UTs of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.

All the 26 constituencies in Gujarat went to the polls today, along with 16 constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, 14 in West Bengal, 11 each in Bihar and Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra and one each in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) contested 102 of the 107 seats, followed by the BJP with 95 candidates and the Congress with 93.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) put up 19 candidates in this phase, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) 15, the Communist Party of India (CPI) 9, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal 8.

At the end of the third phase, polling would be completed in 372 constituencies. Polling will take place on May 7 for 85 seats and on May 13 for 86 seats, thus completing the polling process for 543 Lok Sabha seats.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and all the results are expected by that evening.

As many as 34 constituencies in today's round had more than 32 candidates each. Lucknow had the highest number of candidates in this round at 41. It also had the most number of women candidates at five.

In all, there were 1,65,112 polling stations set up for this round and 2,27,294 electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used. About 6.6 lakh polling staff were deployed to manage the polling stations.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are the two states where polling is being held in five phases.

Bihar will have four phases of polling, while it will be in three phases in Maharashtra and West Bengal and in two phases in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa and Punjab.

The remaining 15 states and the 7 UTs will have single-phase polling.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha, the 14th, will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

The total electorate in the country, after the latest round of revision of electoral rolls, is about 714 million, an increase of 43 million over the figure for the last Lok Sabha elections in April-May, 2004.

This is the first time that the entire country, except Assam, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir, is using Photo Electoral Rolls (covering 522 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and 82 per cent of the voters).

There will be 828,804 polling stations in the country as compared to 687,402 in the 2004 elections.

Of these, as many as 12,901 new polling stations have been set up for villages with less than 300 voters to address concerns of threat and intimidation to voters.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used in all the polling stations across the country, as was done during the last elections. There are 13,68,430 EVMs available in the country.

The Election Commission yesterday issued an appeal urging every voter, young and old, in rural and urban areas, to exercise his or her franchise.

The appeal said all arrangements had been made for ensuring free, fair and transparent elections.

"Police forces, including central police forces, wherever necessary, have been deployed in adequate numbers to ensure your safety and security and also for maintaining proper law and order so that you are able to come to your polling stations without any intimidation or obstruction en route and go back safely to your homes after voting. Please rest assured that your vote is, and will remain, secret and no one will be able to know for whom you have voted," the appeal said.

The Commission also pointed out that, with the introduction of EVMs, voting had become very simple.

"Necessary arrangements have also been made at the polling stations for provision of shelter and drinking water in order that you do not suffer because of heat, rain or other vagaries of weather. For physically challenged voters, ramps have been provided at the polling stations and for visually impaired electors voting machines have been made user friendly for Braille literate voters," it said.

"The Commission, therefore, urges upon and appeals to every voter – young and old, in rural and urban areas – to exercise his or her most valuable democratic right to vote at elections tomorrow. While coming to the polling station, please bring your Electoral Photo Identity Card, if issued to you, or otherwise one of the alternative documents specified by the Commission for your identification so that you can exercise your vote without any problem," the appeal added.

NNN

Passengers from areas affected by Swine Influenza to be screened

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has directed all International Airports across India to facilitate the enhanced surveillance and screening of passengers arriving from nations affected by Swine Influenza A, an official statement said today.

It said the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had been directed by the Ministry to issue instructions to all the 17 International Airports of the country, including the five with private operators, to set up facilities for screening of international passengers/crew arriving from affected countries.

These screening stations will be manned by medical and para-medical personnel provided by the Ministry of Health.

Instructions have also been sent to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to make urgent arrangements for all pilots to provide a General Declaration on health to the Airport Health Organisations wherein any illness other than airsickness or the effects of accidents in the aircraft is declared.

Crew members are also to be sensitized to be vigilant regarding passengers coming from Swine Flu affected countries and to report to the immigrations authorities and Airport Health Officials of any suspected case.

Passengers and crew arriving from affected countries have to declare about the presence of fever and respiratory symptoms, history of visit to any swine flu affected area or history of contact with swine flu cases, through a specially designed proforma, the statement added.

NNN

Polling for 3rd phase of LS elections on Thursday

As many as 107 constituencies in nine states and two Union Territories (UTs), with a total electorate of about 144 million, will go to the polls on Thursday in the third round of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections.

As many as 107 constituencies in nine states and two Union Territories (UTs), with a total electorate of about 144 million, will go to the polls tomorrow in the third round of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections.

Elections will also be held simultaneously tomorrow for the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Polling officers stand in queue to collect EVMs at Tasi Nangial Academy School, Gangtok for the 3rd phase of the General Elections 2009 and simultaneous Assembly Elections in Sikkim.
Polling officers stand in queue to collect EVMs at Tasi Nangial Academy School, Gangtok for the 3rd phase of the General Elections 2009 and simultaneous Assembly Elections in Sikkim.

Campaigning for the third round of polling, which will determine the electoral fate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani and ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, among others, had ended on Tuesday evening.

Electioneering remained heated till the very end, and it was not just the summer. The BJP and the Left parties accused the Congress of misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has dropped the name of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors kickbacks case, from its list of wanted people.

The Congress, on its part, attacked the BJP after the Supreme Court ordered a probe into Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's role in the 2002 post-Godhra communal violence in the state.

Apart from Mr Advani and Mrs Gandhi, other prominent candidates in the fray in the third phase of polling include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Janata Dal-United chief and former Union Minister Sharad Yadav, former Karnataka chief minister S Bangarappa and Union Ministers Sriprakash Jaiswal and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Voters in 265 constituencies have already exercised their franchise in the first two phases of polling on April 16 and 23.

In all, 1567 candidates are in the fray for the 107 seats, making for an average of more than 14 contestants per constituency.

The candidates also include 101 women in seven states. There are no women contestants in this phase in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and the UTs of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.

All the 26 constituencies in Gujarat will go to the polls in this round, along with 16 constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, 14 in West Bengal, 11 each in Bihar and Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra and one each in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting 102 of the 107 seats, followed by the BJP with 95 candidates and the Congress with 93.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has put up 19 candidates in this phase, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) 15, the Communist Party of India (CPI) 9, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal 8.

At the end of the third phase, polling would be completed in 372 constituencies. Polling will take place on May 7 for 85 seats and on May 13 for 86 seats, thus completing the polling process for 543 Lok Sabha seats.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and all the results are expected by that evening.

As many as 34 constituencies have more than 32 candidates each. Lucknow has the highest number of candidates in this round at 41. It also has the most number of women candidates at five.

In all, there will be 1,65,112 polling stations set up for this round and 2,27,294 electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used. About 6.6 lakh polling staff will be deployed to manage the polling stations, an official press release said.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are the two states where polling is being held in five phases.

Bihar will have four phases of polling, while it will be in three phases in Maharashtra and West Bengal and in two phases in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa and Punjab.

The remaining 15 states and the 7 UTs will have single-phase polling.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha, the 14th, will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

The total electorate in the country, after the latest round of revision of electoral rolls, is about 714 million, an increase of 43 million over the figure for the last Lok Sabha elections in April-May, 2004.

This is the first time that the entire country, except Assam, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir, is using Photo Electoral Rolls (covering 522 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and 82 per cent of the voters).

There will be 828,804 polling stations in the country as compared to 687,402 in the 2004 elections.

Of these, as many as 12,901 new polling stations have been set up for villages with less than 300 voters to address concerns of threat and intimidation to voters.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used in all the polling stations across the country, as was done during the last elections. There are 13,68,430 EVMs available in the country.

The Election Commission today issued an appeal urging every voter, young and old, in rural and urban areas, to exercise his or her franchise.

The appeal said all arrangements had been made for ensuring free, fair and transparent elections.

"Police forces, including central police forces, wherever necessary, have been deployed in adequate numbers to ensure your safety and security and also for maintaining proper law and order so that you are able to come to your polling stations without any intimidation or obstruction en route and go back safely to your homes after voting. Please rest assured that your vote is, and will remain, secret and no one will be able to know for whom you have voted," the appeal said.

The Commission also pointed out that, with the introduction of EVMs, voting had become very simple.

"Necessary arrangements have also been made at the polling stations for provision of shelter and drinking water in order that you do not suffer because of heat, rain or other vagaries of weather. For physically challenged voters, ramps have been provided at the polling stations and for visually impaired electors voting machines have been made user friendly for Braille literate voters," it said.

"The Commission, therefore, urges upon and appeals to every voter – young and old, in rural and urban areas – to exercise his or her most valuable democratic right to vote at elections tomorrow. While coming to the polling station, please bring your Electoral Photo Identity Card, if issued to you, or otherwise one of the alternative documents specified by the Commission for your identification so that you can exercise your vote without any problem," the appeal added.

NNN

4 killed in train mishap in Chennai

Four persons were killed and 11 others suffered injuries in a collision between an empty suburban rake and a goods train at Vysarpadi station here this morning, the Southern Railway said in a press release.

The accident occurred at about 0500 hours, the sources said, adding that the empty rake was started from the Moore Market Complex by "unauthorised miscreants", the statement said.

One of the persons killed had been identified as M Mohan Raj of Avadi area, it said.

Of the eleven injured, five had suffered grievous injuries, the release said, adding that the injured were being treated at the Railway Hospital in Perambur and the Government Hospital.

According to the release, five of the injured persons were in the train while the rest were standing near the edge of the platform.

The Southern Railway has ordered an inquiry to establish further details of the accident, the release said.

The railway has set up helplines with the numbers +91 44 25357386, +91 44 25357389,

+91 44 25346031 and +91 44 25347277 to enable passengers to get additional information.

Rail traffic betwen Chennai Central and Arakkonam, an important junction, was disrupted as a result of the accident.

Several trains will have a delayed departure from Chennai Central and all suburban services on the Moore Market-Avadi section were cancelled till noon.

Many incoming trains were terminated at Villivakkam, Ambattur, Avadi, Thiruninravur, Thiruvallur and Arakkonam, the release added.

NNN

Vice President presents JRD Tata Young Entrepreneurs Awards

Vice-President M Hamid Ansari today said it was important to comprehend the dimensions of the problem of unemployment among the youth and plan for them.
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari presenting the 1st prize to Bhausaheb Janjire at the JRD Tata Young Entrepreneurs Awards Presentation ceremony, organized by Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust.
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari presenting the 1st prize to Bhausaheb Janjire at the JRD Tata Young Entrepreneurs Awards Presentation ceremony, organized by Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust.

Presenting the "JRD Tata Young Entrepreneurs Awards" at a conference on "Entrepreneurship – A Solution to Youth Unemployment" organised by Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST) here today, he said that the Planning Commission’s Working Group on Labour Force and Employment Projections for the XIth Plan, in its Report in September 2008, had estimated that in the ten years from 2007 to 2017 there would be 93 million new entrants to the labour force.

The Vice President said that the challenge would be to plan for the millions of youth who would need to find gainful employment. This challenge can be better met by diversifying the sources of employment in innovative ways, he said. One of these was to encourage the young people to become entrepreneurs and start more micro-enterprises in rural and non-rural areas and run them successfully, he said.

Mr Ansari said entrepreneurship could be nurtured only through broad-based and multiple sources of sustenance, with civil society organisations and industry bodies playing a major role.

According to him, a major obstacle lay in the lack of access to "Social Capital". This refers to connections within and between social networks as well as connections among individuals. Social capital, it is said, is not what you know, but who you know, he remarked.
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari addressing the audience at the JRD Tata Young Entrepreneurs Awards Presentation Ceremony.
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari addressing the audience at the JRD Tata Young Entrepreneurs Awards Presentation Ceremony.

He expressed his concern that while education had facilitated a relatively wider access to opportunities for entrepreneurship, those from under-privileged, minority and marginalised communities continued to confront what could be called the "glass ceiling of entrepreneurship".

This needed to be overcome through impersonal affiliations of the type that prevailed in many developed countries and had, in fact, taken shape in relation to India's premier technical and management institutes, he said.

Mr Ansari said it was appropriate that the awards presented today were named after one of India's most iconic business personalities who nurtured initiative, innovation and entrepreneurship in his personal, professional, social and national interaction.

He also expressed happiness over the fact that the award winners did not allow their modest beginnings to circumscribe their vision.

"They have been ably guided and moulded by their mentors and have joined the select group of job creators rather than the vastly larger category of job seekers. I do hope their success stories will motivate others to emulate them and undertake business ventures in under-represented regions and sectors," he added.

NNN

Campaigning ends for 3rd phase of polling

Campaigning ended Tuesday evening in 107 constituencies in nine states and two Union Territories (UTs) that will go to the polls on April 30 in the third round of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections.

Campaigning ended this evening in 107 constituencies in nine states and two Union Territories (UTs) that will go to the polls on April 30 in the third round of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections.

This round will determine the electoral fate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani and ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, among others.

Electioneering remained heated till the very end, and it was not just the summer. The BJP and the Left parties accused the Congress of misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has dropped the name of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors kickbacks case, from its list of wanted people.
Muslim women voters displaying their voter's identity cards at a polling booth at Mylavaram, in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, during the 2nd phase of General Elections 2009.
Muslim women voters displaying their voter's identity cards at a polling booth at Mylavaram, in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, during the 2nd phase of General Elections 2009.

The Congress, on its part, attacked the BJP after the Supreme Court ordered a probe into Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's role in the 2002 post-Godhra communal violence in the state.

Apart from Mr Advani and Mrs Gandhi, other prominent candidates in the fray in the third phase of polling include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Janata Dal-United chief and former Union Minister Sharad Yadav, former Karnataka chief minister S Bangarappa and Union Ministers Sriprakash Jaiswal and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Voters in 265 constituencies have already exercised their franchise in the first two phases of polling on April 16 and 23.

In all, 1567 candidates are in the fray for the 107 seats, making for an average of more than 14 contestants per constituency.

The candidates also include 101 women in seven states. There are no women contestants in this phase in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and the UTs of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.

All the 26 constituencies in Gujarat will go to the polls in this round, along with 16 constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, 14 in West Bengal, 11 each in Bihar and Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra and one each in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting 102 of the 107 seats, followed by the BJP with 95 candidates and the Congress with 93.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has put up 19 candidates in this phase, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) 15, the Communist Party of India (CPI) 9, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal 8.

At the end of the third phase, polling would be completed in 372 constituencies. Polling will take place on May 7 for 85 seats and on May 13 for 86 seats, thus completing the polling process for 543 Lok Sabha seats.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and all the results are expected by that evening.

The total number of voters involved in the third round is a little over 144 million.

As many as 34 constituencies have more than 32 candidates each. Lucknow has the highest number of candidates in this round at 41. It also has the most number of women candidates at five.

In all, there will be 1,65,112 polling stations set up for this round and 2,27,294 electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used. About 6.6 lakh polling staff will be deployed to manage the polling stations, an official press release said.

The elections this time are mainly a contest between the Congress-led ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

While the Congress has made it clear that Dr Manmohan Singh would get another term as Prime Minister if the party is voted in again, the BJP has projected former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani as its Prime Ministerial candidate. In some ways, the campaigning has turned into a presidential battle between the two of them.

The Left parties, which had supported the UPA government for the first four and a half years of its five-year term, have formed a so-called Third Front with some of the regional outfits. There is also a fourth front, formed by three UPA allies---the Samajwadi Party of former Uttar Pradesh chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Lok Janshakti Party of Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

Ms Mayawati is also expected to have a major say in the formation of the new government at the Centre with her BSP likely to do well in her own state.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are the two states where polling will be held in five phases.

Bihar will have four phases of polling, while it will be in three phases in Maharashtra and West Bengal and in two phases in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa and Punjab.

The remaining 15 states and the 7 UTs will have single-phase polling.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha, the 14th, will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

The total electorate in the country, after the latest round of revision of electoral rolls, is about 714 million, an increase of 43 million over the figure for the last Lok Sabha elections in April-May, 2004.

This would be the first time that the entire country, except Assam, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir, would be using Photo Electoral Rolls (covering 522 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and 82 per cent of the voters).

There will be 828,804 polling stations in the country as compared to 687,402 in the 2004 elections.

Of these, as many as 12,901 new polling stations have been set up for villages with less than 300 voters to address concerns of threat and intimidation to voters.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used in all the polling stations across the country, as was done during the last elections. There are 13,68,430 EVMs available in the country.

NNN

Four new RS members take oath

Four newly-elected members of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, took oath as members today.

They were Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Janardhana Reddy (both of the Congress), Mr P Rajeeve of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Mr M P Achuthan of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

Mr Reddy was elected from Andhra Pradesh and Mr Ravi from Kerala in bye-elections. Mr Rajeeve and Mr Achuthan were elected from Kerala in biennial elections held recently.

The new members were administered the oath by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

NNN

India welcomes Lanka move to end combat operations against LTTE

India today said the Sri Lankan government's announcement that the combat operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had ended and that the Sri Lankan security forces would now confine their attempts to rescue the civilians who remain in the conflict zone was an important first step in addressing the concerns for the safety and security of Tamil civilians.

In a statement welcoming the move, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee also announced that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had approved a grant of Rs 100 crore for providing humanitarian relief assistance to innocent civilians who have been evacuated from the conflict zone. The details regarding the utilisation of this assistance were being worked out, he said.

"The Government of Sri Lanka has announced that combat operations have reached their conclusion and that the Sri Lankan security forces have been instructed to end the use of heavy caliber guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons, which could cause civilian casualties. Sri Lankan forces will now confine their attempts to rescue the civilians who remain and give foremost priority in saving them.

"This is an important first step in addressing concerns for the safety and security of Tamil civilians and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) trapped in the conflict zone," Mr Mukherjee said.

According to him, the need of the hour was for urgent steps to ameliorate the humanitarian situation of those who had come from the conflict zone as well as to bring the remaining civilians and IDPs in the No Fire Zone out to safety.

"The IDPs and innocent civilians are the main victims of the conflict and every measure must be taken to protect them and guarantee their welfare," the minister added.

Earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi suddenly went on a fast this morning demanding a ceasefire in Sri Lanka but ended it some six hours later after Colombo announced its decision about the conclusion of operations.

In between, Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi spoke to him over the telephone.

The Tamils issue has become a major topic in the ongoing Lok Sabha election campaign in Tamil Nadu.

India and several other countries have been repeatedly voicing their concern over the continued killings of innocent civilians in the conflict zone in Sri Lanka and had calling for a cessation of hostilities.

On Friday, the Prime Minister had sent National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon to Colombo as his special emissaries.

The two officials had met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and conveyed to him India's concerns on the evolving situation in Northern Sri Lanka, especially at the civilian casualties caused among Tamil civilians.

Later that evening, on their return to Delhi, Mr Narayanan had, in a statement, said that Mr Rajapaksa was "receptive" to India's concerns and expressed the hope that there would be a positive outcome soon.

"We also expressed the Government of India’s concerns about the humanitarian situation as a result of nearly hundred thousand Tamil civilians coming out of the conflict zone since early this week," Mr Narayanan had said.

"The President of Sri Lanka was receptive to our concerns. We are hopeful of a positive outcome," he had added.

Indian officials are interpreting the Sri Lankan announcement as a "cessation of hostilities" but the Sri Lankan government has made it clear that it did not amount to a ceasefire.

India has repeatedly expressed its unhappiness over the continued killings in Sri Lanka. "All killings must stop. There must be an immediate cessation of hostilities," Mr Mukherjee had said in a statement on Thursday.

He had said that the Sri Lankan government had a responsibility to protect its own citizens. "And the LTTE must stop its barbaric attempt to hold civilians hostage," he said.

India has also been saying that there was no military solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and all concerned should recognise this fact.

"The only lasting solution will come from political efforts to address the real concerns of the Tamil people, giving them lives of dignity within the Sri Lankan mainstream," Mr Mukherjee had said.

"India will work to achieve this goal, and will do all it can to also ameliorate the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict," he had said, adding that he would speak to many of his counterparts around the world to join India in this effort.

NNN

BJP expresses concern over Nepal situation

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today said it was deeply concerned at the rapidly deteriorating situation in Nepal and called upon all parties in the Himalayan nation to ensure that the peace process was not interrupted by any action of a controversial nature by the government there.

"The BJP further calls for the highest priority being accorded to continuing with the task of framing a truly democratic constitution for Nepal within the stipulated period," the party said in a statement issued here today.

The party said the controversy regarding the army appointments must be resolved by carrying out consultations with all political parties.

"The BJP further desires that in the present tension between the Government and the Army, any unilateral action by the government must be avoided and the status quo remain undisturbed in order to ensure that any possible threat to democracy is averted," the statement added.

NNN

Govt initiates preventive steps against Swine Flu

The Union Government has instituted a series of preventive steps to counter the threat of Swine Influenza after a series of deaths from the disease in Mexico has made it a public health emergency.

An official press release from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the cases, which were first noticed in Mexico, had spread to the United States and Canada. Suspected cases are also being reported from New Zealand, Spain, France and Canada.

In all, about 1200 suspected cases have been reported and and at least 86 deaths have been reported, it said. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially designated the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, it has not yet sounded the pandemic alert phase.

The steps initiated by the government include surveillance at sea-ports and airports, surveillance through Integrated Disease Surveillance units in the states and issuance of travel advisories for those travelling to the affected areas to defer all inessential travel.

The states have been advised to review their preparedness to investigate and contain any suspected cluster of influenza like illness. The Centre will support the states in terms of guidelines, experts, material logistics and laboratory support, it said.

The 24x7 call centre under Integrated Diseases Surveillance Project (Toll free No. 1075) will attend to calls from the public regarding reporting of influenza-like illness.

Updates will be on the website of the Health Ministry (www.mohfw.nic.in), the release added.

NNN

Defence Minister visits forward areas of J&K

Defence Minister A K Antony apprised himself of the security situation along the Line of Control during a visit to the forward areas in Jammu and Kashmir today.

During the visit to the areas under the White Knight Corps, he was accompanied by Chief of Army Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor, Defence Secretary Vijay Sigh, and GoC-in-C Northern Command Lt Gen P C Bhardwaj, an official press release said.

Addressing the troops at Rajouri, Mr Antony lauded the role of the Indian Army in curbing infiltration and reducing the levels of insurgency.

He said the Army's vigilance and pro-active stance had ensured incident-free elections in the state, which had been appreciated by all.

Mr Antony also praised the projects taken up by the armed forces under "Operation Sadbhavana" through which the socio-economic conditions of the local populace had been improved in the insurgency-affected remote areas of the region.

He urged the troops to continue being vigilant by maintaining a high degree of operational preparedness to meet any eventuality. He expressed his full satisfaction with the Armed Forces in discharging their duties and appreciated the exceptional role played by them in restoring normalcy in the region.

Later in the day, the Defence Minister had lunch with the troops, where he personally interacted with all ranks and once again lauded the yeoman services rendered by the forces in ensuring the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.

NNN

Rajapaksa receptive to India's concerns: Narayanan

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has said that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was "receptive" to India's concerns about the civilians caught in the no-fire zone in Northern Sri Lanka and expressed the hope that there would be a positive outcome.
National Security Adviser M K Narayan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon meeting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka during their visit yesterday. (Courtesy: Ministry of External Affairs)
National Security Adviser M K Narayan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon meeting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka during their visit yesterday. (Courtesy: Ministry of External Affairs)

Mr Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon had rushed to Colombo yesterday on the instructions of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the government reviewed the situation in the north of the island nation, where thousands of innocent civilians are trapped in the conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The two special emissaries were received by Mr Rajapakse and they conveyed to him India's concerns on the evolving situation in Northern Sri Lanka, especially at the civilian casualties caused among Tamil civilians as a result of the ongoing operations.

"We also expressed the Government of India’s concerns about the humanitarian situation as a result of nearly hundred thousand Tamil civilians coming out of the conflict zone since early this week," Mr Narayanan said in a statement on their return to New Delhi.

"The President of Sri Lanka was receptive to our concerns. We are hopeful of a positive outcome," he added.

India has repeatedly expressed its unhappiness over the continued killings in Sri Lanka. "All killings must stop. There must be an immediate cessation of hostilities," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said in a statement on Thursday.

He had said that the Sri Lankan government had a responsibility to protect its own citizens. "And the LTTE must stop its barbaric attempt to hold civilians hostage," he said.

India has also been saying that there was no military solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and all concerned should recognise this fact.

"The only lasting solution will come from political efforts to address the real concerns of the Tamil people, giving them lives of dignity within the Sri Lankan mainstream," Mr Mukherjee had said.

"India will work to achieve this goal, and will do all it can to also ameliorate the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict," he had said, adding that he would speak to many of his counterparts around the world to join India in this effort.

NNN

India says Pakistani allegations about backing BLA baseless

India today dismissed as "baseless" Pakistan's allegations that it was supporting the separatist Baloch Liberation Army in that country.

Responding to a question about the allegation, made by Pakistan Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik, the spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said, “These are entirely baseless allegations and we see no reason to dignify them with a response.”

Speaking in the Pakistani Senate yesterday, Mr Malik had said that the BLA was raised with funding from the Soviet Union during the Soviet-Afghan war and was now being supported by India.

NNN

Narayanan, Menon to rush to Colombo tomorrow

Seriously concerned about the evolving situation and the continued killings in Sri Lanka, the government today decided to rush National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon to Colombo tomorrow to push for an immediate end to all hostilities there.

The decision to send the two special emissaries came after a meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the second in two days, to review the situation in the north of the island nation, where thousands of innocent civilians are caught in the conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Today's meeting was attended by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Mr Narayanan and Mr Menon, sources said.

Mr Narayanan and Mr Menon are expected to meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and convey to him India's concerns, the sources said.

Conveying the government's decision to the media, Mr Mukherjee said the government had been monitoring with deep concern and anxiety the evolving situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the conditions of the Tamil civilians in the conflict zones.

"We understand that over 100,000 civilians have emerged from the No Fire Zone into areas under Government control in the past three days but the lives of several thousands of innocent civilians remain threatened," he said in a statement.

"We are very unhappy at the continued killings in Sri Lanka. All killings must stop. There must be an immediate cessation of all hostilities.

"In order to convey these concerns to the Government of Sri Lanka the Government of India has decided to send two special emissaries to Sri Lanka," Mr Mukherjee added.

Earlier, after yesterday's meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr Mukherjee had said that the Sri Lankan government had a responsibility to protect its own citizens. "And the LTTE must stop its barbaric attempt to hold civilians hostage," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said there was no military solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and all concerned should recognise this fact.

"The only lasting solution will come from political efforts to address the real concerns of the Tamil people, giving them lives of dignity within the Sri Lankan mainstream.

"India will work to achieve this goal, and will do all it can to also ameliorate the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said he would speak to many of his counterparts around the world to join India in this effort.

NNN

India to send two emissaries to Sri Lanka

India today decided to send two special emissaries to Sri Lanka to convey its concerns over the evolving situation in the island nation.

The decision came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed the situation in Sri Lanka with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

"Government of India has been monitoring with deep concern and anxiety the evolving situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the conditions of the Tamil civilians in the conflict zones. We understand that over 100,000 civilians have emerged from the No Fire Zone into areas under Government control in the past three days but the lives of several thousands of innocent civilians remain threatened," Mr Mukherjee said in a statement.

"We are very unhappy at the continued killing in Sri Lanka. All killing must stop. There must be an immediate cessation of all hostilities.

"In order to convey these concerns to the Government of Sri Lanka the Government of India has decided to send two special emissaries to Sri Lanka," Mr Mukherjee added.

Earlier in the day, Mr Mukherjee had said that the Sri Lankan government had a responsibility to protect its own citizens. "And the LTTE must stop its barbaric attempt to hold civilians hostage," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said there was no military solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and all concerned should recognise this fact.

"The only lasting solution will come from political efforts to address the real concerns of the Tamil people, giving them lives of dignity within the Sri Lankan mainstream.

"India will work to achieve this goal, and will do all it can to also ameliorate the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said he would speak to many of his counterparts around the world to join India in this effort.

Details such as who the two emissaries are and the dates of their visit were not immediately available.

NNN

India says Sri Lanka killings must stop

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reviewed the evolving situation in Sri Lanka with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

"We are very unhappy at the continued killing of innocent Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka," Mr Mukherjee said in a statement after the meeting, held last night.

"These killings must stop. The Sri Lankan Government has a responsibility to protect its own citizens. And the LTTE must stop its barbaric attempt to hold civilians hostage," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said there was no military solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and all concerned should recognise this fact.

"The only lasting solution will come from political efforts to address the real concerns of the Tamil people, giving them lives of dignity within the Sri Lankan mainstream.

"India will work to achieve this goal, and will do all it can to also ameliorate the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict," he said.

Mr Mukherjee said he would speak to many of his counterparts around the world to join India in this effort.

NNN

Bye-elections to 4 State Assemblies on May 28

The Election Commission today announced that bye-elections would be held on May 28 to fill up four casual vacancies in the state legislative assemblies of four states.

The constituencies are Kapkot of Uttarakhand, Fatuha of Bihar, Nur Mahal of Punjab and Town Barowali of Tripura.

Notifications for the bye-elections will be issued on May 4, the last date for filing of nominations will be May 11 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures will be May 14.

Counting of votes will be taken up for all four seats on June 1, the announcement added.

NNN

Syndicate content
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.