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Darul Uloom gets rid of Vastanvi?

Sahafat daily headline, which has been in the forefront of vitriolic campaign against Moulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi since his election to the rector’s post, screams that “Darul Uloom gets rid of Vastanvi?” A story filed by the paper’s local correspondent from Deoband says “Vastanvi failed to defend himself in the Shoura and requested to the members for the honourable exit from the institution”. The paper says ‘Modi- nawaz Vastanvi koo Shoura ne dikhaya baa izzat baree hune kaa raasta’.

Another daily Hamara Samaj’s headline screams ‘Nomani was given the baton of Deoband’. It highlighted the absence of Moulana Badruddin Ajmal from the Shoura meeting who played key role in the election of Vastanvi. Its sub-heading yells that ‘Seh ruknee tahqiqati committee ki tashkeel , attarfroosh rukan nadarid’.

However, the major Urdu daily from the capital Rashtriya Sahara’ made the main headline as ‘Moulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi mohtemim ke Uohede (post) par barqarar’.  It tries to give balance report on the happenings in the Shoura meeting. Other dailies such as Jaded Khabar, Akhabare Mashrique   and Hindustan Express also reported on the same line avoiding giving any twist to the meeting. Akhabr-e- Mashrique published from Calcutta also said the Vastanvi got a breather for time being.

The Shoura meeting’s proceedings were carried by all the newspapers as a main story of the day and provided maximum space for it.

It is to be mentioned here that a section of Urdu media has open front against Vastanvi for his alleged statement on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi saying that minorities were getting their due share in development. Though, he later denied making any such remark praising Modi, but his opponents launch a no-hold-barred campaign to oust him from the rector’s post.   One hopes that after the decision of the Shoura, the controversy surrounding around Moulana Vastanvi would die down.         .

Govt forms JPC to probe 2G scam

Giving details about the committee Mr. Mukherjee said it will have 20 members from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. The Chairman of the committee will be decided by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

The Constitution of a Joint Committee of both Houses as announced by Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Kumar Mukherjee is broad-based to include allocation and pricing of telecom licenses and spectrum from 1998 to 2009. The United Progressive Alliance which was under attack from the main opposition- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on allegations of corruption appears to have scored a political point.

The salient feature of the motion says “To examine policy prescriptions and their interpretation thereafter by successive Governments, including decisions of the Union Cabinet and the consequences thereof, in the allocation and pricing of telecom licenses and spectrum from 1998 to 2009.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance under Atal Behari Vajpayee was in power from 1998 to 2004.’ JPC would examine irregularities and aberrations, if any and the consequences thereof in the implementation of Government decisins and policy prescriptions from 1998 t0 2009. And to make recommendations to ensure formulation of appropriate procedures for implemention of laid down policy in the allocation and pricing of telecom likenesses Mr Mukherjee also announced 20 nominees from the Lok Sabha which includes the present Chairman of the Public Sector Undertakings committee  Chandra Deo, P C Chacko and Manish Tiwari from the Congress, Mr Jaswant Singh, Yeshwant Sinha, Harin Pathak and Gopinath Munde from the (BJP), T R Balu (DMK), Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and Thambi Durai (Ai-admk) to mention a few names. The Speaker will nominate one of the members of the Committee to be its Chairman. The Committee shall start functioning from the day it is duly constituted.

The Committee shall be provided all assistance by the Government and other agencies. The Joint Committee shall make a report to this House by the end of the next session of Parliament.

In other respects, the Rules of Procedure of this House relating to the Parliamentary Committees shall apply with such variations and modifications as the Speaker may make. 

Speaking of the resolution, Mr Pranab Mukerjee expressed regret that the winter session was almost washed out and said that parliament cannot be mortgaged to concede to a particular demand. He said disruption of proceedings is an area of concern which needs to be addressed collectively. Later responding to a debate, he said that the government is prepared to walk an extra mile to accommodate the opposition.

The leader of the opposition, Mrs Sushma Swaraj alleged that due to delay by the executive and legislature, the judiciary has been forced to act. In her forceful speech, Mrs. Swaraj gave many examples holding the government responsible for such happening and also criticized it for delaying the setting up of JPC. Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI said that the JPC has been set up at a stage when a series of measures including the arrest of former Telecom Minister has already taken place.

Dismissing the opposition allegations, the Telecom Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal clarified his stand on zero loss to the exchequer qualifying it with the government’s policy of allotting start of spectrum which comes bundled with a license to an operator. Members of JDU, RJD, CPIM, AIADMK were among those who spoke in favour of the motion.


PM pledges to root out corruption

Replying to the debate in both Houses of Parliament on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address to the Joint Sitting of Parliament on Thursday, Dr. Manmohan Singh assured the members that everything will be done to cleanse public life. He said that the government will cooperate with all agencies including the JPC and the PAC in the investigations till the truth is brought out. He said that some unfortunate developments have taken place in Telecom and Commonwealth Games and these are being addressed. He said action has been taken where there was credible and actionable evidence and the CBI is on the trail of wrong doers. He however said that any investigation should not hamper the growth of Telecom sector in the country.

Referring to the Antrix Devas deal, the Prime Minister said that the government’s approval for the agreement was not given and the contract has been annulled. He said that a high level committee has been constituted to look into the commercial aspects and to fix the responsibilities. Responding to the concerns with regard to black money stashed in foreign banks, the Prime Minister said that steps are being taken like negotiating new legal treaties with other countries for smooth flow of information on black money.

The Prime Minister said that the entire world is hailing the economic model being pursued by India. Dr. Singh asserted that Indian economy clocked a growth of 8.5 per cent despite international financial meltdown, emerging the second fastest growing economy in the world. The country has 300 billion dollars Foreign Exchange besides adequate food stocks.

Strongly refuting opposition charge on government’s will to tackle inflation he said the challenge before the government is to maintain a balance between growth and prices.

Dr. Singh admitted that high rate of inflation has been a problem for the last 18 months and gave details of the measures taken to deal with it. Sharing the concern of the members on high food inflation, he called for strengthening the public distribution system and improving agriculture productivity. He also referred to international developments including the rising prices of crude oil and commodities which resulted in high inflation. Dr. Singh said that the rate of inflation will come to around 7 per cent by the end of this fiscal. The Prime Minister also referred to the MGNREGA – an employment guarantee scheme which has provided jobs to five crore people including women and weaker sections. Dr. Singh assured the House that the National Food Security Bill will be brought in Parliament. He however added it is important to have higher growth trajectory to create employment opportunities. The growth rate is expected to touch 9 per cent.

On internal security situation, the Prime Minister said that the security apparatus has been strengthened after Mumbai terror attacks but the situation continues to remain highly uncertain and there is a need to keep a strict vigil. Referring to the North East, he said that the ULFA leadership has come to the negotiating table which is a welcome step. On Jammu and Kashmir he said, that there is no place secessionist elements. He hoped that the situation will further improve in the state. The Prime Minister said that the menace of terrorism has to be fought unitedly. He urged all the political parties to join hands to strengthen communal peace and amity in the country.

On foreign policy, he said that New Delhi is ready to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan provided Islamabad stops using it soil for terror activities against India. Dr. Singh referred to growing importance of India at the international scene and said leaders of all the five Permanent Members of UNSC visited India this year. Talking about the future, he said that eradicating poverty, access to health and education and addressing the challenge of climate change are the priorities of the government and sought cooperation of members in achieving these objectives. Strongly refuting the opposition remarks on governance, Dr. Singh made it clear that the government is focused and has not lost sight of long term goals. The two Houses later adopted the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address after negating the amendments moved by some members.

Telangana rocks Lok Sabha

The Congress has said that it will take up the issue of a separate Tengana state after presentation of the Union Budget. Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Party spokesman, Dr Shakeel Ahmed said this assurance was given by the Leader of the Lok Sabha, Mr Pranab Mukherjee to a group of party MPs from Telangana, who met him this afternoon.


BJP has urged the government to announce formation for separate Telangana state without delay. Party spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain suggested the government to bring a bill in the current Session of Parliament.

Meanwhile, normal life remained affected in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh on the second day of the 48-hour bandh demanding introduction of a bill for statehood for the region.

Maoists releases Malkangiri DM

Maoists released Krishna before media persons near cut off Duliamba forest area in Malkangiri district on Thursday evening. Orissa Home Secretary, UN Behera, said that Krishna is being brought to Malkangiri.

Behera, who spoke to Krishna over telephone, also said the health condition of the Malkangiri collector is fine. After being released, Krishna, while talking to newsmen over phone, thanked for the efforts made by everyone to release him. Krishna said he would not forget the help all his life as everyone stood solidly during his hour of crisis.

The Malkangiri collector was kidnapped by the Maoists from the hilly terrains of Chitrakonda in Malkangiri district on February 16 last along with junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi. Majhi was released yesterday by the Maoists at Malkangiri.
The Orissa government resolved all the 14 demands put forward by the Maoists in its discussion with Maoist appointed mediators, Prof G Haragopal, Prof R Someswar Rao and Dandapani Mohanty at Bhubaneswar in the last four days of negotiations.

Meanwhile, thousands of people have gathered in front of the official residence of Malkangiri collector to receive Krishna. People in Malkangiri are seen cracking fire works after listening news of Krishna’s release.

India’s republic robust yet lacking

Debates in India’s Constituent Assembly, held after the creation of Pakistan, heard demands that India declare itself a theocratic state with Hinduism as the state religion.

However, in their infinite wisdom, the founding fathers of the constitution opted for a democratic system based on adult suffrage.

The constitution has stood the test of time except for a brief interlude when one prime minister, disenfranchised by the Supreme Court, imposed emergency rule and curtailed people’s democratic rights.

Democracy is definitely on firmer ground now. Elections in India and orderly changes of government are a model for the rest of the world.

Indians have also changed.

Women enjoy equal rights and occupy at least one-third of the positions in all government bodies such as village councils and municipalities. However, their representation in state and national legislatures is minimal.

They have established their presence in all walks of life, sometimes overtaking men in certain fields.

Similarly, other traditionally downtrodden sections of society such as dalit and tribal people, or the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, now enjoy the benefits of affirmative action.

On the economic front, India has achieved phenomenal success, particularly after it liberalized the economy in the early 1990s.

Today’s near-double digit annual growth rate is a far cry from the miserly 3-4 percent -– derisively called the “Hindu growth rate” — recorded in the first few decades of the republic.

A significant failure of the federal government is that the economic growth has not percolated down to the majority.

They are so poor that they believe the centrally-funded job guarantee scheme, which assures a job for 100 days a year to anybody willing to undertake manual labor at less than US$3 per day, a bonanza.

Few realize that India never used to be a poor country. In fact, it was its riches that attracted fortune-hunters from far and wide.

However, wealth was concentrated in a few hands, a phenomenon which is now being repeated if the growth in the number of Indian billionaires is anything to go by.

Even “philanthrocapitalism,” expounded by the likes of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investment wizard Warren Buffet is yet to take root in India.

Today children enjoy the right to an education, although the kind of education provided in schools is below par as a recent “State of Education” report has revealed.

Most students in grade 5 can’t even read textbooks used in grade 2. Nor can they do simple arithmetic.

This is because the state has virtually withdrawn from education and healthcare, while the profit-driven private sector is not interested in running schools in rural areas, where most Indians still live.

Quality education and healthcare are, therefore, increasingly inaccessible to the poor.

What’s worse, minority Christians who are heavily involved in education and healthcare, feel dispirited because hostile forces keep trying to place obstacles in their way.

They also find that when they face attacks, such as in Kandhamal in Orissa two years ago and in the Dangs district in Gujarat, they do not get adequate support from the state.

The attackers get away with their crimes by claiming they were protesting against proselytization attempts by Christian “missionaries,” although demographic statistics belie their claims.

What’s most disappointing is that the constitutional guarantee that gives Christians the right to preach and propagate their religion is being curtailed by one pretext or another.

The controversial freedom of religion law in force in some states, which were upheld by the Supreme Court during emergency rule, continues to remain on statute books, mainly to harass Christians in those states.

Notwithstanding such problems, Christians cannot but continue their work in areas such as education and healthcare, for it is their solemn commitment to do so.

Their condition is no worse than that of other minorities like Muslims and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

This is all the more reason that they should join hands with them and strive for a better tomorrow without, of course, compromising their faith.

The writer is a New Delhi-based senior journalist


Suspense continues over DM fate as Maoists put fresh demands

The Maoists have put some additional conditions for the release of DM.

They want top Maoist leaders Sriramulu Srinivas, Padma, Rosy Mandangi, Iswari and Gokul Kuldipia currently in jail under serious charges to be released from jail immediately. One of the mediators, Prof G Haragopal, told AIR that the Maoists want to release the Malkangiri collector before public and in the presence of mediators and social activist Swami Agnivesh if their demands are met. He said, it will not be possible to include fresh conditions as an agreement has already been arrived at between the two sides.

Maoists supporter and revolutionary writer Bara Bara Rao also appealed to the Maoists to release Malkangiri Collector immediately.

Odisha Home Secretary UN Behera reiterated that Krishna would be released soon as promised by the Maoists chosen mediators. A letter in Telugu by the Maoists putting up fresh conditions is said to have sent through the junior engineer Pabitra Majhi.

After being released, the abducted junior engineer told media persons at Malkangiri that the collector is safe and healthy. Both of them were put up together and the Maoists have assured him that the collector would be released within 48 hours. He, however, was unable to say where the Maists kept both.

Majhi was taken by local villagers on a motor-cycle to Chitrakonda after being released by the Maoists in a remote forest in Malkangiri. Huge crowds gathered at the Chitrakonda Tehsil office and also at Malkangiri to have a glimpse of the freed engineer.

Earlier Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao claimed that abducted district collector and a junior engineer would return to home by Thursday.

“The process has already started and Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi will return by tomorrow,” interlocutor Prof G Hargopal said, refusing to elaborate further on Wednesday.

Hargopal, who had last evening stated that the duo would be back within 48 hours, said Krishna and Majhi were safe.

Varavara Rao, who had claimed that the hostages were handed over to four sarpanches on Tuesday night, expressed regret for having given the information as some modifications were made in the process of freeing the duo.

“I would like to tender my apologies for having stated yesterday that they had been released,” the Naxal ideologue said on Wednesday.

“However, the process for their return is underway and both will be back shortly,” he said.

There was no official confirmation on the release of the Malkangiri collector and junior engineer and senior officials were tight-lipped over the matter even as the demands made by the Maoists had been met.

30-year-old Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhi had been abducted by Maoists from Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district on 16th February.

Hopes of an early release of the kidnapped duo brightened on Tuesday evening following three days of intense negotiations between Maoist-appointed mediators and the Orissa government representatives following which the remaining six of the 14 demands were conceded.

In a related development, the Odisha High Court on Wednesday granted bail to top Maoist leader Ganti Prasadam. The government did not oppose the bail of Ganti Prasadam who was booked under charges like sedition and waging war against government. Prasadam, now lodged in Jharpada special jail at Bhubaneswar after being brought from Koraput, is believed to have played a key role in giving shape to the negotiation between the interlocutors and the state government.

Meanwhile, mediator Prof Haragopal, revolutionary poet Varavara Rao and top Maoist leader Ganti Prasadam have appealed the Maoists to release the Malkangiri collector by 6 tomorrow evening. They have said the Odisha Government understands its responsibilites and will abide by the 14 agreements agreed upon with the mediators during the 3-day talks. They also said, the additional conditions put by Maoists to free some top maoists leaders immediately will not be feasible.

NGOs to oppose CV Bill in present form

They are determined to continue the fight for a strong Bill that would curb the menace of communal violence if it is made into law. They want that the alternative draft should go through the wishes of civil society.

In a joint statement social activists Shabnam Hashmi, John Dayal, Vrinda Grover, Usha Ramanathan has asked secular, democratic, people’s groups and movements from across India to join their efforts in making a stronger bill that could control the violence effectively. 

The said that civil society groups have repeatedly rejected, the Communal Violence Bill, 2005, prepared by the Home Ministry  as it does not address the core issues of challenging impunity, ensuring accountability of the sponsors and perpetrators of the violence and securing the rights of victims and survivors.

Non-negotiable and key elements of this law were prepared through national consultations organised by anti-communal groups, and these were given to the government for being introduced into the law. The National Advisory Council too adopted these as its framework when it began its work on the Bill in July 2010.

“Having engaged with the NAC process for 7 months in different capacities, we find that the draft in progress is severely insufficient to address the lacunae and gaps of the government Bill of 2005” they said in statement adding that at this juncture, with the government trying to reintroduce the ‘discredited’ Communal Violence Bill of 2005 in the current session of Parliament and our reservation with the draft in progress, “we have taken the step to withdraw from the NAC process”.

Thousands protest against price rise

The workers, belonging to INTUC, AITUC, CITU, HMS, UTUC, AICCTU and AIUTUC, marched down from five points in the city and converged at Parliament Street for a rally in the heart of the Capital.

The workers demanded change in what they called the “indifferent attitude” of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government towards the poor and middle class people of the country.

The march was called to heap pressure on the government to help the inflation-hit poor in next week’s budget. All India Trade Union Congress general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said this was a protest against the unprecedented price rise and large-scale violation of labour laws. Mr Dasgupta called upon the government to check the tendencies. Interestingly workers of the Congress affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) also participated in the protest.

The president of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Congress MP G Sanjeeva Reddy said that the Prime Minister was responsible for price rise and should ensure that it is brought under control.

Addressing the workers, he said rising inflation has hit the common man hard “but the government has done little to contain it”.

Reddy also attacked the economic policies of the Congress-led UPA Government, saying it has only given rise to contractual labour force who are being discriminated against.

“You know I am a Congressman but when it comes to the cause of the workers, we don’t think about party lines. So this is the first time we have joined other central trade unions in our protest rally,” he said.

The union leaders presented a five-point charter to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar demanding immediate measures to stem price rise, universalisation of PDS and curbs on speculation in the commodity markets.

They also demanded enforcement of all labour laws, creation of national fund for the unorganized sector and stopping of disinvestment of central public sector enterprises shares to meet budgetary deficit.

Criticising the anti-labour policies of the Government, trade union leader Gurudas Dasgupta said, “the massive demonstration comes in the wake of the world wide uprising of people against the decline in their quality of life”.


Shura backs Vastanvi as Dar-ul-Uloom Rector

Shora, however appointed Maulana Mufti Abdul Qasim Numani as an acting rector of the Dar-ul-Uloom.  Numani is currently head of Jamia Islamia Rewri Talab Varanasi. 
Maulana Vastanvi has created storm in the Muslim community when he praised Narendra Modi saying Muslims did not face discrimination in Gujarat. Vastanvi received flak from all quarter of the community including Urdu media. Following criticism he put his paper before Shura and it was expected that his resignation would be accepted immediately seeing the Muslims’ concern.

However Vastanvi seemed to have managed to convince majority of Shura members about his innocence in Modi episode. Shura however appointed a three-member committee to look into all the issues relating to Vastanvi, but has given no time frame given to submit its report. So that Vastanvi could continue for more time as rector of Dar-ul-Uloom.

“I’m still the Vice chancellor of Dar-ul-Uloom,” said a smiling Vastanvi told media persons. The 18-member governing council was attended by only 14 members in today meeting.

Maulana Abdul Alim Faruqee another member of the council said that the Shura rejected Vastanvi’s offer to resign from the top job. “The Shura kept the decision on Vastanvi’s offer on hold till the submission of the report,” he said. “As of now, Mufti Abul Qasim Naomani Benarasi has been appointed as the caretaker Vice Chancellor of the Darul Uloom and in case if Shura accepts Vastani’s offer of resignation, then Noamani will take over as the rector of the institution,” Faruqee said, adding during today’s meeting the Shura members discussed all issues concerning the current situation prevailing in the seminary.

It has to be seen how Urdu media react to the Majlis-e-Shura decision to allow Vastanvi to continue the head of the institution.