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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

SC told ‘reservation not needed for Muslims in AP’

New Delhi: Muslims in Andhra Pradesh are proportionately represented in employment and they did not require any special law like four per cent reservations in professional and educational institutions in the state, the Supreme Court was told on Tuesday by the petitioners opposing it.

Quoting the data from the first report on religion: census of India, 2001, the petitioners in response to the affidavit filed by the centre said "the percentage of Muslims in employment (in the State) is 9.26 per cent as against the percentage of population of 9.2 per cent".

"Thus, the employment is more than the proportionate to their population and the Muslim community in Andhra Pradesh is proportionately represented in employment. Therefore, Muslim community does not require any special provision," T Murlidhar Rao, the petitioner opposing the law said in his counter affidavit.

The affidavit filed through senior advocate Ramakrishna Reddy said any alleged comparison of the Muslim community with other states will serve no purpose as the backwardness was a relative criterion and has to be compared with rest of the society within the state.

It said before providing the reservation, the backward class commission has not conducted the survey of entire population as ordered by the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney (Mandal) case.

Further, the commission has not identified the criteria for identifying the BCS and it just adopted the report of advisor P S Krishnan, the affidavit said adding that it was the third attempt to provide reservation to Muslims.

The petitioners said there are several other communities who did not have any opportunity for reservation for the last 20 years.

They contended that Muslims were not deprived of admissions in educational institutions in the state and there were number of minority professional colleges providing admissions exclusively to them.

Andhra Pradesh government has maintained that the law was not on religious lines but based on careful identification of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) among the community.

The apex court, while stopping any further admissions under the controversial law on September 28, had sought response from the Andhra Pradesh government on sub categorisation of SEBC Muslims for extending the benefit of reservation.

Defending the legislation, the state government said "neither the act nor the report of the commission based on which an ordinance was promulgated and subsequently the act was passed can be termed as religion based".

The Andhra Pradesh government has accepted the report of the P S Krishnan Report (Krishnan) Commission which contended that bulk of Muslim SEBCS were lost sight of over several decades, whereas other groups had the benefit of reservations for over 30 years, including scheduled castes converted to Christianity.

The petition filed by T Murlidhar Rao and K Sriteja has contended that providing reservations exclusively to the Muslim community on religious lines was violative of articles 15(1) and 16(2) of the constitution.

Bureau Report

Rice scheme: Not now darling!

Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy has at last taken the cat out of the bag. He admitted that the Rs 2 a kg rice scheme will be implemented not now, but only after a few months.

"Yes, we will implement the rice scheme without any changes. We will supply rice to the poor people at Rs 2 a kg as per the norms. But not now. I cannot specify the date but in principle, we have decided to implement the scheme. It may be done in three months or six months. The scheme will be implemented after a thorough study," he said.

Party sources say YSR has reserved the scheme for the next Assembly elections, but not certainly for the mid-term elections to Lok Sabha. "He has announced the scheme. That is enough for the time being, as the Lok Sabha elections will be fought on a different plank. But, by the time, the Assembly elections are announced, the scheme will be in full swing and it will definitely fetch him an advantage," sources say.

KCR dumps his nephew to promote son

These days, Telangana Rashtra Samithi president and Karimnagar MP K.Chandrasekhar Rao is sending his nephew and MLA T Harish Rao to Nizamabad district very frequently and entrusting him with the task of consolidating the party there.

If anybody thinks KCR is paying more attention on Nizamabad district, it is mistaken. TRS sources say KCR wants to promote his son Kalwakuntla Taraka Rama Rao from Siddipet (the constituency of Harish Rao) and ultimately make him an MLA in the next elections. For that, he has to get rid of Harish Rao first.

So, KCR made Harish Rao incharge for Nizamabad district and asked him to spend more time there. He told Harish that the TRS was once very strong in Nizamabad, capturing the Zilla Parishad, majority mandal parishads and gram panchayath's when it was established in 2001. It was a Lakhmi district for his party. In 2004 Assembly election, TRS candidates won the constituencies of Dichpally, Armoor and Yellareddy in the district.

Unfortunately, TRS lost its confidence among the party cadre in the later stages, after Armoor MLA and former zilla parishad chairman S.Santhosh Reddy turned a rebel. Active leaders and activists from across the district jumped into the ruling Congress and Telugu Desam (TD) party. So, KCR asked Harish Rao to bring back the past glory to the TRS in Nizamabad. In the event of a mid-term poll to Lok Sabha, Harish might even be fielded in the elections from Nizamabad, party sources say.

Fact Sheet: TD backtracks on YSR's challenge

Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy has finally come out with a challenge to his bete noire and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu. After patiently hearing all the talk of corruption from Chandrababu Naidu and his team of leaders in the Telugu Desam, Rajasekhar Reddy decided enough is enough. On Tuesday he challenged the TD leadership to participate in an open debate with the Congress on the various charges, the TD had been making against him and his family members.

But the TD leadership did not accept the open challenge of YSR. Senior TD leader Nagam Janardhan Reddy was elusive when reporters asked him whether the TD was accepting the challenge. All he could say was that since the Congress government had already ordered 23 inquiries there was no need for an open debate. He said let there be one more inquiry instead of an open debate.

Since TD leaders do not open their mouths without obtaining prior permission from their supremo, it can be construed that Chandrababu Naidu is not interested in facing the chief minister in an open debate. He is rather interested in throwing allegations and mudslinging rather than settling the issue before the public. At least the people will know who is speaking the truth and who is lying.

Babu revises YSR 'corruption' figure

Former chief minister and Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu only the other day made some calculations to announce that Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy earns Rs 1 crore every hour. Within 48 hours of this statement, the TD leadership realised how foolish a statement it had made. And to cover up its charge, Chandrababu Naidu instructed his party senior leader Nagam Janardhan Reddy to hold a press conference. On Tuesday Janardhan Reddy came out with a fresh statement revising the "corruption figure". The TD now says Rajasekhar Reddy has been earning more than Rs 1 crore and not just Rs 1 crore.

Since people will not believe what Chandrababu Naidu had said, Janardhan Reddy came out with wild allegations that since Rajasekhar had earned more than Rs 30,000 crore during the last three years, he had invested Rs 20,000 crore in a steel plant and the balance in a cement factory. He also came out with some "revelations" to ensure that Chandrababu Naidu's statement does not become a laughing stock among the voters.

What Janardhan Reddy did not realise is that people are now taking charges of corruption with a pinch of salt. No one is taking such charges seriously, because after all politicians are known for such tactics.

Fact Sheet: Naidu gets into election mode

Even as the possibility of mid-term elections to Lok Sabha still a speculation, Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu has already got into the election mode and started addressing election meetings in the name of "project baata," creating a scene as if there is going to be mid-term elections to the Assembly.

Naidu, who visited Gundlavagu irrigation project in Warangal district on Tuesday to expose the lack of quality in the project works, addressed several road show meetings and he announced left, right and centre, several sops like Rs 2 kg rice, Rs 500 pension to the aged, and Rs 1,000 unemployment dole, 9-hour free power, and free houses for all, of course with a rider: "if TD is elected to power."

The Opposition leader, who seemed desperate to regain his lost power by making all kinds of promises, has simply forgot that if at all there are any mid-term polls immediately, they would be only for Lok Sabha and not for the Assembly. So, there is no question of TD coming to power now and there is no question of implementing these sops.

First Philadelphia Bathukamma Festival

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First Philadelphia Bathukamma Festival Celebrated in King Of Prussia on October 6th at Valley Creek Park

Philadelphia Telangana NRIs under the banner of Telangana Cultural Association (TCA) celebrated the Bathukamma festival with great jubilation and joy at Valley Creek Park in Malvern. The scenic view of the Valley Creek park and the quietly flowing creek was a perfect setting and it reminded the Telangana villages. It also turned out to be a perfect day - sunny and warm. About 50 people from all over Philadelphia & suburbs participated in the celebrations. Women wore traditional and colorful clothes and brought beautifully decorated bathukammas.

As families started arriving, we started the celebrations with telangana cultural music. The program started with the introductions of all the participants. Lunch was served with different Saddulu, five different rice dishes and various authentic Telangana cuisine brought by the participants.

There were about 10 beautifully decorated Bathukammas and the traditional ceremony started with the Gowri pooja. Later all the ladies formed a big a circle and went around the Bathukkmmas clapping and singing "Bathukkamma Bathukamma Uyyalo Bangaru Bathukamma Uyyalo" . It was a visual treat to see ladies and girls clad in colorful sarees, stepping around rhythmically. Many felt nostalgic about the whole thing; it brought back their childhood memories. Later Bathukammas were immersed in the creek.

There were games for the kids and adults including the best Bathukamma competition. Adults and kids played musical chairs. Men's "musical chairs" was the highlight of the event. Meghana & Venu Bathini family, Neeraja & Sudheer Raju, Manjula & Nagender, Madhavi & Jayander, Soundarya & Ravi and Jamuna & Ravinder Puskur, won the best Bathukamma prizes.

Swamy Savithananda was a special guest for the event. He addressed the gathering and explained about importance meditation and yoga. Some other notable people attended the ceremony included Dr. Jayander, Dr Raghava Reddy, Dr Vijaya Bhaskar.

Special thanks to Jamuna & Ravi Puskur, who came all the way from New jersey to attend the event.

This event was organized with the help of many volunteers who actively participated and made this event a big success. TCA thanks the organizers of the event Sudheer Raju, Subhash Karra, Venu Bathini and Ravi Mayreddy.

Analysis: What's Babu's new economic policy?

Former chief minister and Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu has been talking about the alternative economic policy ever since he lost the State Assembly polls in May 2004. He spoke of the need for such a policy, both at the national and the State fora. He even went to the extent of saying that he would incorporate the alternative economic policy as the election agenda of the so-called third front.

And what is this alternative economic policy? Has it something new to offer? People and political observers as also ruling Congress leaders have been waiting for Chandrababu Naidu to announce the policy. On Monday the policy finally came out of the bag of Chandrababu Naidu. But it were the hands of senior TD leader T Devendar Goud which released the alternative economic policy.

Just think it of yourself and find out whether it is really "alternative".

The highlights of the policy:

1. Supply of Rs 2 a kg rice to the poor. The only alternative here is the promise to supply good quality rice.

2. Supply of LPG or natural gas to homes through pipeline. This proposal has been pending for ages. What is the new alternative here, the TD has to offer: instead of "through pipeline" the TD has used the termed "piped gas supply".

3. Supply of mid-day meal scheme to students. The scheme is already in vogue. The alternative here is, extension of the scheme up to class X. Another alternative here is supply of a glass of milk along with the plate meal.

4. Formation of pay revision commission for government employees. It is the statutory duty of the government to increase the wages of its employees at regular intervals. It is not a favour. It is also not something alternative to the existing economic policy. What has the increase in salaries of government employees, who hardly number three lakhs, to do with the economic policy of the government? The TD has no answer.

5. Separate department for welfare and increase in budgetary allocation to Rs 1000 crore for minorities and other disadvantaged communities.

It's changing India that greets NRIs coming home

When Surya 'Sue' Patel landed at Mumbai airport, she stepped out like many confident NRIs. Wearing the latest Nike sneakers, a designer pair of jeans and her Rolex watch, she thought she would make her presence felt among her relatives in Mumbai before going on to Gujarat to celebrate Navratri and, later, Diwali.

She trundled her Samsonite bags to be welcomed and hugged by her cousin, Meera. Her cousin fished out a mobile and asked the driver to pick them up. Soon the car arrived - a big, gleaming Mercedes Benz. Sue also noted the Gucci bag she was carrying and her Cartier watch. Sue swallowed hard. Ten years ago, Meera and her husband had a Maruti Esteem and now they have certainly moved up in life, she mused.

As they were negotiating the chaotic traffic towards Bandra and Sion, she saw the same ill-kept, dilapidated buildings and hordes of people all over. Later, they went through the Dharavi, the mother of all slums where the huts had encroached footpaths. She noticed how the lamp posts had been engulfed by hutments with signboards of almost every business from groceries to construction materials. Parked on the road was a long line of handcarts pulled by sweating labourers to transport the merchandise. She thought, "Ugh! Mumbai will never change!"

After an endless half an hour of this depressing travel through the squalor of this slum, they came to a toll bridge. Paying the toll, they entered a new world - open, green and wide. "This is Navi Mumbai," said Meera. "We moved here four years ago from our flat in Dadar." Climbing a flyover, they saw new, high-rise buildings, banks, smart restaurants and spanking shopping malls ahead.

Gliding over a four-lane Palm Beach Road, lined with date palms in the centre and verdant plants around them, they came to a high-rise complex called NRI Colony. A gated estate, it had a small smart shopping complex. The watchman waved them in and they went up to the penthouse where Meera's husband, Rasik, and her children, Ela and Vipul, greeted her. The luxuriously decorated penthouse boasted of original paintings and Swaroski crystal. As she took it all in and swallowed hard.

She thought, "Umm, making money was India's first challenge, now it's how to spend it. Seems they are getting plenty of help in this direction as the super luxury goods manufacturers are moving in quickly to get a slice of the market."

Wearing trendy Swatches, the children were soon playing with the latest Sony PlayStation on a huge Samsung plasma screen. Rasik was getting out his Callaway golf set for the weekend round of golf. It seems Meera was spoilt for choice of designer wear, both Western and Indian - Armani, Escada, Moschino, Hermes, Prada, Fendi et all was here. It was the same story for Western designer men's wear and jewellery.

After luxury brands rented outlets in the shopping arcades of five star hotels, they spawned a demand for luxury shopping malls that are due to be opened soon in Delhi and Mumbai. Super luxury cars like Bentley, Rolls Royce and Ferrari are available in India.

On observing the general affluence, Sue said she was happy Rasik was doing well and wondered what the secret of his success was. "Simple," he answered, "I invested in stocks, mutual funds and real estate and all these have gone up many times in the last seven-eight years. The stock market has shot up from 6,000 to almost 18,000 points now; and the real estate is also up by over four times. So after I cashed in on some profits and sold my Dadar flat, I moved here for a better quality of life." But how come they moved into this NRI Colony? Not a problem as they paid the going rates and many Indians had moved in, replied Rasik.

The hi-tech industries and the back office operations of major companies and big banks are located here, an airport is being planned at New Panvel and a bridge linking Navi Mumbai to the city centre is being built. New export processing zones are due to come up and going to the city centre takes 60-90 minutes depending on the traffic and Pune is just three hours away by the super highway.

Sue cringed inside thinking about the 'presents' she had brought for Meera and her family: a perfume bottle she got as a freebie from the store for buying something else, a cut price pair of jeans for Rasik and digital watches from Hong Kong and Chinese toys from Wal-Mart for the children. After this reality check, she decided to let her presents remain in her suitcases.

Fact Sheet: YSR pushes Sonia to corner!

After making tall promises to people like Rs 2 a kg rice scheme, pavala vaddi to farmers on crop loans and construction of houses, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy is looking up to Sonia Gandhi to provide required financial assistance to fund these schemes.

YSR knows that it is important not just for him, but also for Sonia Gandhi to see that the Congress comes back to power and this time, it should be without the support of the Left parties. So, the onus of ensuring the victory is on Sonia and Manmohan Singh and therefore, they should take up the responsibility of funding the new schemes in order to win back the confidence of the people.

YSR is learnt to have argued with his Cabinet colleagues that it was he who had to take on the entire responsibility of bringing the Congress to power in the last Assembly elections, besides contributing a major share in the Congress strength in Lok Sabha. Though he had been implementing free farm power supply scheme, the UPA government did not help him in any way and he had to manage the resources on his own. This time, the Congress desperately needs a repeat performance and if that has to happen, the UPA government should grant funds for the new schemes like Rs 2 a kg rice scheme and pavala vaddi, he pointed out.

In a way, it is an embarrassing position for Sonia Gandhi. She has to concede YSR's demand or face a difficult situation in the elections!!

YSR to answer all Babu's questions

Yes chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy is bracing himself up to answer all the issues raised by his bete noire and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Rajasekhar Reddy will address a press conference on Tuesday to clarify his position and to take Chandrababu Naidu to political task.

The other day Chandrababu Naidu turned a mathematician and announced that Rajasekhar Reddy had amassed wealth as much as Rs 29,784 crore during the last three and a half years. He said YSR has been getting bribes at the rate of Rs 1 crore every hour, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Chandrababu Naidu has also given a call to party activists to stop the State government for auctioning government lands. He warned that industrialists would be buying such lands at their own risk.

Rajasekhar Reddy who has been silently observing Chandrababu Naidu's remarks and his political tantrums has decided to put all allegations to nought. So he has decided to address a press conference wherein he will clarify his position and the Congress leadership backed by officials are preparing a strong defence to put Chandrababu Naidu in the dock.

Let's wait and watch the political drama unfolding on Tuesday.

22 Bangladeshis arrested in Hyderabad

Hyderabad, Oct 8 (IANS) The Hyderabad police Monday arrested 22 Bangladeshi nationals, including two women, for staying here for several years after illegally infiltrating into India.

The police commissioner's task force (West Zone) conducted raids in Jhirra, Murad Nagar and Zeba Bagh areas in Asif Nagar division and Mir Alam Mandi area in South Zone and arrested 22 Bangladeshi nationals amid a terror alert in the city, the police said.

"During the investigations it was revealed that these illegal immigrants entered into India by crossing the border near Raj Sahi, a Bangladeshi border town, and Boghkalan, Musheerabad, an Indian border town by paying money to the brokers," said a statement from the police commissioner's office.

Some of the illegal immigrants had come to India recently. Some even obtained passports, ration cards, voter's identity cards and PAN cards by furnishing fake documents. They also opened accounts in various banks and were running the business of making bags and suitcases.

Three of those arrested had married local women and have children, while two had crossed over with their Bangladeshi wives, said the statement.

The arrests came amid the high alert sounded last Friday following a tip-off about four suicide bombers, suspected to be Bangladeshi nationals.

Also, the city police probing the bombings at the historic Mecca Masjid on May 18 and twin blasts of Aug 25 claim that the Bangladesh-based terror group Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HUJI) was behind the terror strikes.

The blast at the mosque killed nine. while the twin blasts at a park and a popular food joint claimed 44 lives.

The police had last month arrested a Bangladeshi youth and his sister, staying illegally, in connection with the Aug 25 blasts.

The police believe that Abdul Shahid alias Bilal, a native of Hyderabad and an alleged operative of HUJI, masterminded the blasts and carried them out with the assistance of some Bangladeshis and local youths.

On the basis of a confessional statement by Shahid's brother Abdul Majeed, the police last week claimed that HUJI carried out the blasts under instruction from Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Shahid is believed to be in Bangladesh.

He is also suspected to have masterminded the suicide attack at the police commissioner's task force office here in 2005. One policeman was killed in the blast carried out by a suspected Bangladeshi suicide bomber.

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