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‘Chandrayaan Mission a Complete Success October 5, 2009

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‘Techtree News Staff, Sep 29, 2009 1128 hrs IST

ISRO chairman says detection of water on the moon was one of the primary objectives

E-Mail Print   India’s Chandrayaan Mission, which was called off just last month owing to a communications failure, has been termed a complete success by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) chairman, G Madhavan Nair.

He was addressing media persons who were quizzing him regarding the “historic” discovery of water on the moon by NASAs (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a small instrument aboard the Chandrayaan. Apart from calling the discovery of water historic, he added that his earlier statement of the Chandrayaan completing 95 percent of its objectives can now be enhanced to 110 percent because the detection of water on the lunar surface was one of the primary objectives of the mission.

Madhavan said he was very proud of the fact that India was able to make such a significant contribution to science. “All over the world people are applauding the Chandrayaan’s achievement. The discovery of water on the moon has been acknowledged as a significant discovery. The main aim of the Chandrayaan1 mission has been achieved,” he added.  During Chandrayaan’s almost year-long rendezvous with the moon, it has been able to collect lots of data, which run into a few thousand Gigabytes, all of which are still in the process of being decoded. In fact, the data is so huge that scientists expect six months to three years before all of them are decoded.

To make things clearer for the layman, Madhavan said that the finding of water on the moon doesn’t imply that the moon is filled with lakes and ponds or there is water in the form of a drop. The detection of water is in fact in the form of embedded molecules on the surface and in the lunar rocks. While there are positive signs about the presence of water on the moon, scientists are still perplexed as to how it got there in the first place. A plausible explanation is the effect of asteroids and meteors that might have crashed onto the moon – all of which had some water content in them.

The project director of the Chandrayaan mission said in an interview that it would be possible that the discovery of water on the moon might not be the last of the achievements of the Chandrayaan mission. With thousands of gigabytes of data yet to be analyzed, who knows how many more surprises the mission will throw up!



Tendulkar’s ‘shell house’ designs a net hoax October 5, 2009

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Abhijit Dasgupta
Kolkata, September 16, 2009 

A Bengali topline daily in Kolkata flashed on its frontpage on Monday that global brand Mexican architect, Javier Senosian, was designing an organic weird shell house for Sachin Tendulkar bang in the middle of Mumbai and even carried photographs as “first images” of what was purportedly the master blaster’s TV room.

It was too good to be true and seemed outlandish though brilliant. The paper also said that the house, worth Rs 30 crores spread over 9000 sq feet, was being built on Carter Road in Mumbai and gave a host of reasons as to why Tendulkar was shifting.

The photographs kindled interest and a search on the net revealed hundreds of matches saying the same thing but what jarred was the look of the house, shaped like a snail with its snout out of the shell, which looked hopelessly out of place in Mumbai. It looked more weird and bizarre than imaginative. The Bengali newspaper also praised Tendulkar’s “great sense of imagination.” Incidentally, the report was written by a topline sports journalist who, it has always been thought, was close to Tendulkar and other international cricketers. Obviously, no one doubted the story.

This correspondent, however, rang up the Mexican designer in Mexico City after a look at his homepage showed photographs which had appeared on the net and thence in the Bengali newspaper but clearly said that the Nautilus House as it is called in Mexico City had no plans of replication anywhere else. The internet stories could be a fake.

It was early morning in Mexico and Senosian himself picked up the phone. First, he hardly knew English. Second, he was rudely jolted early in the morning by a name as unfamiliar as Tendulkar and this correspondent had to spell it out for him. “No, no…what is cricket? I have never been to India and this is nothing concerning me, “he spluttered.” 

Who is Senor Tendulkar?” he asked incredulously.

Later he sent India Today an email which reads simply: “Your query about the Shell House is accepted. That’s not true, this house is not in Mumbai, India, and Sachin Tendulkar is not the owner of this house. The house is in Mexico City and Javier Senosian, Mexican architect, has designed and built it here in Mexico. He has never been to India. I have a house like a shell but we call it Nautilus House, and I don’t have any work in India.”

Beer-drinking Muslim woman’s caning to go ahead October 5, 2009

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Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur, September 29, 2009

A Muslim woman sentenced to be caned for drinking beer wants to quickly get the punishment over with now that it has been confirmed by an Islamic appeals court judge, her father said on Tuesday.

If the punishment is carried out, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, would become the first Muslim woman to be caned in Malaysia, where about 60 per cent of the 28 million people are Muslims.

The case has ignited a debate in this moderate Muslim-majority country whether conservative Islamists, who advocate harsh punishments, are gaining influence over the justice system and whether Islamic laws should intrude into people’s private lives. According to local media reports Monday, chief Judge Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahman of Pahang state’s Shariah courts decided to uphold the sentence passed by the state high court on Kartika after a one-month review of the case.

No date was immediately set for the caning. Kartika’s father, Shukarno Abdul Muttlib, 60, told The Associated Press that while the family had yet to be informed of the judge’s latest decision, his daughter “accepts the punishment” and would like it to be carried out sooner rather than later. “We obey the law,” he said, adding that “it’s a challenge … (but) it’s the way of my life.”

Pahang court and religious department officials declined to talk about the case Tuesday. Others could not immediately be reached.

Kartika, a former model and nurse, was sentenced in July to six strokes of the cane and a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,400) for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort in violation of Islamic laws.

Islam prohibits Muslims from drinking alcohol. Kartika, who pleaded guilty, refused to appeal her sentence and was on the verge of being caned on August 24. But the punishment was halted at the last minute following an uproar in the media and among rights activists.

Instead, the government asked the Shariah High Court Appeals Panel in Kuantan, the capital of Pahang, to review the verdict. Judge Abdul Hamid, who headed the panel, ruled that the sentence was correct and should stay.

The caning would be done with a thin stick on the back and would be largely symbolic rather than aimed at causing pain, unlike the caning of rapists and drug smugglers with a thick rattan stick on bare buttocks that causes the skin to break and leave scars. Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system. Shariah laws apply to Muslims in all personal matters. Non-Muslims, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs and other minorities are covered by civil laws, and are free to drink.

Only three states in Malaysia — Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan — impose caning for drinking alcohol. In the other 10 states it is punishable by a fine.


Kerala Dalit group under scanner: police October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Hindu Rights Register, Kerala.
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Indo-Asian News Service
Kochi, September 29, 2009

The Kerala police are looking into the activities of a Dalit organisation after two of its key leaders were arrested in a murder case, an official said in Kochi on Monday.

Speaking about the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM), Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose told reporters in Kochi, “We know of this organization but we have to probe whether they have any terror links.” Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy criticised the police for not doing enough to curb the activities of DHRM.

He was speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram after visiting the house of Sivaprasad, a resident of Varkala who was brutally murdered allegedly by a DHRM activist last Wednesday.

DHRM has a strong base in Varkala, especially among the numerous colonies where Dalits live.

“It is unfortunate that the Kerala home department failed to find out the activities of the DHRM. Even though there have been increased reports of DHRM taking to violence, the police failed to act. At the same time, one should not brand all Dalits in this manner,” said Chandy.

Two activists of the DHRM arrested on Sunday were remanded in judicial custody on Monday. Those arrested include Ashokan, an advocate, and Das – both key leaders of DHRM.

Meanwhile, Sasi, a resident of one of the colonies where DHRM has a strong presence, told reporters that while his close relatives had joined the DHRM, he had not.

“Since I refused to join them, I was badly beaten up by my own brother, though we never had any enmity before,” said Sasi, who ekes out a living doing odd jobs. Another person from the same place said the activities of DHRM are quite strange.

“The members of this group, even if they belong to the same family, address each other in a different manner. Their ideology too sounded strange and was not acceptable to me and I stayed away,” said the person.

Kumari was in tears as she recounted to reporters how her son was brutally beaten up by members of DHRM after he refused to join them.


19 September – Rajiv Goswami Balidan Divas October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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If we remember the term Anti-Reservation, we also remember Rajiv Goswami. I think his saga is best explained in these words of an author:

The students did everything to attract the attention of the conscious sections of society to the perceived wrong done to them by a callous political establishment glued only to its votal interests. But no one was looking at them; they shouted and cried but no one was listening. For the entire adult world of intelligentsia and intellectuals, the countrywide youth protest was a non-evening, not more than a minor fracas in a football match. The total apathy and all round silence was turning the students’ rage into consuming flames.

It happened literally on September 19, 1990 when Rajiv Goswami, a student of Delhi University, doused himself with petrol and set his body afire in front of his college. This single event set the hyper-sensitive youth on the fringe of alienation, aflame all over the country. Protest suicides by the young, including school children, through self-immolation or otherwise spread like a raging virus in wide areas throughout the country, taking a toll of around a hundred tender lives between September and November 1990.

Ref: Page: 88, India: Twilight at Midday (Untold Story of a Sick Society), By: Shashi B. Sahai, Gyan Publication House, New Delhi. ISBN: 81-212-0532-8

After self-immolation, Rajiv Goswani remained sick and ultimately died many years afterwards without any name and fame.

We will always remember his sacrifice. Rajiv Goswami still represents the burning passion in Indian Youth which tries to make changes in our nation – fighting the corrupt and divisive caste based politics.

Govt looks to ensure Muslims, Christians don’t get into SC list October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations, Hindu Rights Register.
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Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN 9 October 2008, 04:43am IST

NEW DELHI: The proposal to give Scheduled Caste status to a child with either parents as Dalit has taken a curious turn, with the Centre making changes to ensure that it does not give a backdoor entry to Christians and Muslims into the SC list which is restricted to Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.

Social justice ministry has revived the proposal by which it plans to make a child eligible for SC status if either the mother or father are SC. It seeks to undo a Supreme Court ruling that caste in Indian context flows from the father, clarifying that child of a non-Dalit father cannot be a Dalit.

After hanging fire for over two years, during which it attracted opposition from different quarters including National Commission for SCs, the ministry has modified the proposal with a small twist of real consequence.

The earlier draft merely said “the child born of inter-caste marriage shall be taken as belonging to SC if either of the parents belong to that community”. It has now been modified to include that “if either of the parent belong to such a caste (SC) and the other parent belongs to neither SC nor ST but professes one of the religions which a person belonging to SC may profess”.

The fresh move means that SC status to children from mixed parentage would require the non-Dalit parent to be either Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh. Only the followers of these three faiths are eligible for SC status.

The change, sources said, is to accommodate concerns over the proposal. It was feared that if SC status was made available to a child from mixed parentage, it could undo the religion barrier put on being a Dalit. While Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam have been demanding that SC category be extended to them, the Centre has found it too sensitive to handle. It was feared that Hindutva outfits would oppose the move as they have been arguing that making Dalit status religion-neutral would encourage conversions.

If a child with either parent as Dalit was given SC status without a bar of religion, it would be tantamount to encouraging the same, it was argued. The sensitivity of Dalit status for converts can be gauged from the fact that UPA government has it on the backburner after having set up Rangnath Mishra commission to examine it and having got a favourable recommendation.


Legality of raising creamy layer bar questioned in SC October 5, 2009

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Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 15 October 2008, 04:02am IST

NEW DELHI: Educationist P V Indiresan on Tuesday threw an open challenge in the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the UPA government’s 
recent decision to raise the creamy layer income limit from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh for OBCs.

But, the government told the apex court that it had done a reasonable job by fixing the creamy layer exclusion income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh at a time when many elected representatives had demanded raising it to Rs 25 lakh.

Appearing for Indiresan, who had challenged the 27% OBC quota in Central educational institutions, senior
advocate K K Venugopal told a 5-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan that it was an election-eve vote bank politics to appease the rich among the OBCs, who could now gobble up the seats meant for the poorest among the backward.

“You file a separate petition if you want to challenge the Centre’s decision,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

While agreeing to file a separate petition, Venugopal pointed out that on February 23, 2007, the apex court had quashed a Kerala government decision to raise the creamy layer income limit to Rs 3 lakh terming it too high. The court had felt that those having Rs 3 lakh income could not be termed poor or backward, he said.

“Has the inflation rate touched more than 80% for the Central government now to decide the income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh when just a year back the apex court had turned down Rs 3 lakh limit as unreasonable?” Venugopal asked.

This is intended to widen the OBC net and allow the rich and influential among the backward classes to grab the seats meant for the poorest among them, he said. Disgreeing with him, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said the government had fixed the income limit for exclusion of creamy layer at Rs 4.5 lakh after a lot of deliberations.

Venugopal said during the arguments on the legality of 27% OBC quota, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam had submitted figures indicating that 97.5% of the OBC population had a daily income of less than Rs 80.


Mandal’s angry young face was fading, now gone October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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Posted: Feb 25, 2004 at 0000 hrs

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 24 That one act at self-immolation made him the urban face of the anti-Mandal agitation. But Rajeev Goswami, who slipped into oblivion once Mandal became mainstream and was appropriated by even parties which opposed its implementation by the V P Singh government, had very few mourning for him when he died today at age 33.

Only his old mates from Deshbandhu — he set himself ablaze outside this South Delhi college — and relatives came calling at the two-bedroom flat in Kalkaji Extension to mourn for Rajeev. Leaders who had milked dry the anti-Mandal agitation were nowhere to be seen.

You could only hear the muffled sobs of the aged — his parents had flown down from the US a week ago — and the laughter of Rajeev’s two children — Simran (5) and Aditya, just a year-old — who had no idea that father was gone, succumbing to kidney complications at the Holy Family Hospital where he had checked in earlier this month.

Wife Aarti passed out when they broke the news to her.

On February 22, when they saw their son after three years, Madan Goswami (70) and Nandrani Goswami (62) thought it would all work out. Rajeev had phoned Michigan to tell them to fly home. ‘‘He complained of stomach problems but sounded very happy. He said his health was not a problem. We never expected this to happen. He told us that things would be fine if we came home to see him,’’ recalled Rajeev’s father. Mother Nandrani has no idea how Simran and Aditya will react when they realise their father’s gone: ‘‘He was too young to go. His children don’t even know about his death.’’ Madan Goswami still defends his son’s immolation act: ‘‘I stood by him during the Mandal crisis. Not for a moment did I think that he did anything wrong by immolating himself. The situation and the times demanded it. He did what was required.’’

Rajeev’s college mate Kuldip Mehta — he runs a shoe business in the neighbourhood — said: ‘‘Politics did not fascinate him. Which is why he never aspired for a political career. He believed in helping out people.’’

Vikas Mudgal, also from Rajeev’s batch at Deshbandhu, dittoed Kuldip: ‘‘The fact that nothing came out of the whole struggle against reservations bothered him a great deal. He wouldn’t speak much about it but it ate his insides, added to his misery. That’s why he died so early.’’ Of late, these friends from college hadn’t kept in regular touch. Rajeev too had immersed himself in his brother-in-law’s paint business and had little contact with old friends. But what’s also true is that he dropped off the radar a long time ago. Once the anti-Mandal agitation had lived its utility.


OBCs account for 38.5% of rural population: Survey October 5, 2009

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Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN 14 September 2009, 12:31am IST

NEW DELHI: Subject to politically charged and conflicting claims, the mist over the percentage of OBCs in the population might have lifted a bit 
with an official survey revealing that backward castes account for around 38.5% of the rural populace.

Tamil Nadu tops the OBC chart with 54.37% of rural households (HH) belonging to backward category. Uttar Pradesh has 51.78% rural HHs in OBC bracket. It is 37% in the Mandal powerhouse of Bihar while Chhattisgarh may be seen as a surprise with 50.37% of households surveyed belonging to the OBC category.

Importantly, while a national figure of 38.5% falls well short of Mandal Commission estimates of 52%, they tally with an NSSO survey which pegged OBC population at around 35%.

The findings are part of an exercise which scanned all rural households as part of BPL survey 2002 whose results have come in recently. The results are a dampener for torchbearers of backward politics who believe the OBC numbers are at least 50%.

Congress MP Hanumantha Rao, convener of the OBC parliamentary forum, said, “We want a census. The OBC population is much higher than what rural household survey has revealed.” He said while job and education quota was frozen at 50%, there was need to “expose how OBC population was high but handful of upper castes was ruling the power structures”. The call for a caste census has the backing of OBC leaders like Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

Fifteen key states where backwards are a crucial socio-political factor have shown demographics on expected lines. An extrapolation from rural estimates – which cover almost 72% of the country – for an entire state may dilute OBC share a bit as bulk of backwards are agrarian communities in the countryside.

The survey by rural development ministry gives a peep into OBC numbers after a protracted debate on what really is their proportion in population.

The 52% figure given by Mandal Commission has been doubted as it was based on an extrapolation from the last caste census of 1931 – by eliminating non-OBC communities from total population. The issue blew up in 14th Lok Sabha when a parliamentary committee questioned the rationale of allocation of funds for OBC welfare without knowing the group’s numbers. It called for a caste survey, kicking off a sharp duel among political players and government.

Of the total 67,12,006 rural HHs in Gujarat, 30,09,109 reported OBC status – 44.83%. The exercise in Andhra found 55,35,997 OBC HHs out of total 1,27,52,234 (43.41%); 43,13,699 OBC HHs out of total 92,16,953 (46.80%) in Rajasthan. Haryana (28.16%), Punjab (20.60%), Maharashtra (14.54%) are on the lower side.

The 15 states form the bulk of OBC as their share in Uttarakhand and the north-east is negligible. Accurate OBC numbers are only of academic value in the reservation debate as the 50% quota ceiling makes it unlikely for OBC share to be brought in sync with the proportion of population.

But politically, these figures could be explosive, because while they may not reduce the clout that backward politics has come to acquire, it does limit its projection. The surge in OBC politics after Mandal report only added to their rising authority, with a new crop of backward leaders breaching what were till then upper caste forts like UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and MP.

Tamil Nadu, the land of early OBC assertion, has had strong Mandalite polity for a long time while Karnataka too made the shift in the 70’s.

The survey may add to succession debate in Andhra where the turf war is dominated by Kammas and Reddys, but backwards have a strong numerical muscle.

My comments:

1. If OBCs are only 38.5% of the rural populace, they would be LESSER as a whole, because their fraction would be lower in the Urban India.

2. We get to see how Mandal’s fictitious assertions on OBC population and other statistics were political gimmics and were whole attempt to build another political gate-way to succcess. Caste politics has changed the shape of Indian politics.

3. I believe there is no need for a caste censes as it would only ‘divide’ us more and it would pave way towards more caste based politics. But no government policies should be framed basing on fictitious or erroneous sttistics – as is clear from this case.

The solution is to help the poor and downtroden irrespective of their castes. If people from certain castes are poorer than certain others, and it is really so, then also in this economics based system

Sri Lankan journalist given 20 years in prison October 5, 2009

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By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI, Associated Press Writer Bharatha Mallawarachi, Associated Press Writer Mon Aug 31, 1:53 pm ET

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – A Sri Lankan reporter singled out by President Barack Obama as an example of persecuted journalists around the globe was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison on charges of violating the country’s strict anti-terror law.

J.S. Tissainayagam’s articles in the now-defunct Northeastern Monthly magazine in 2006 and 2007 criticized the conduct of the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels and accused authorities of withholding food and other essential items from Tamil-majority areas as a tool of war.

Tissainayagam’s conviction, 17 months after the ethnic Tamil reporter was arrested, was the first time a journalist was found guilty of violating the country’s Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Rights groups have accused the government of waging a broad crackdown on media freedom that has continued since it routed the rebels and ended the nation’s quarter-century civil war in May.

Tissainayagam, who has been labeled a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, was arrested in March 2008 and indicted five months later under the anti-terror law.

During his World Press Freedom Day address in May, Obama highlighted Tissainayagam’s case as an example of journalists being jailed or harassed for doing their jobs.

On Monday, High Court Judge Deepali Wijesundara said Tissainayagam’s articles violated the law because they were aimed at creating communal disharmony. She also found him guilty of raising money for a publication whose articles violated the anti-terror law and sentenced him to 20 years.

“The constitution guarantees media freedom, but no one has a right to deliberately publish false reports that would lead to communal violence,” prosecutor Sudarshana de Silva said in his court filing.

Defense lawyer Anil Silva said Tissainayagam had always fought for human rights.

“He was never a racist and he at no time tried to arouse hatred,” he said in his defense filing. “Now he has been punished for what he wrote as a journalist. This will be a lesson to other journalists too.”

Silva said his client would appeal.

“We are shocked at this judgment,” said Chulawansa Sirilal, convener of the Free Media Movement, a local media rights group.

He said this has posed a serious threat to the country’s media freedom and journalists.

“There is no press freedom in this country today, even after the war is over,” said Sirithunga Jayasuriya, another local media rights activist. Tissainayagam’s conviction would set a bad precedent for media across the country, he said.

“The imposition of this extremely severe sentence on Tissainayagam suggests that some Sri Lanka judges confuse justice with revenge,” said Reporters Without Borders, adding that it is “appalled” by the sentence.

International media rights groups say the government has used emergency laws to silence public criticism of its conduct and has failed to investigate violent attacks — and killings — of journalists.

The government has denied the allegations.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 11 Sri Lankan reporters were forced to flee the country in the past year, and Amnesty International said at least 14 Sri Lankan journalists and media workers had been killed since the beginning of 2006.

In June, the government said it would re-establish a powerful press council with the authority to jail journalists it finds guilty of defamation or inaccurate reporting.