Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dieters Eat Healthy Foodstuffs Always

According to a new research, it was found that people who does dieting to stay slim often tends to eat healthy food. They are more likely to have healthy food rather than a non-dieter.

It has been observed that non-dieters give stress on the name of the food which causes disadvantages for them. On the other hand a dieter reads the nutritional values of the food before consuming it.

"Keeping your weight-loss goal in mind as you scan the lunch menu at a cafe, you are careful to avoid pasta selections and instead order from the list of salad options," said authors Caglar Irmak (University of South Carolina), Beth Vallen (Loyola University), and Stefanie Rosen Robinson (University of South Carolina).

Authors claimed that people should always go for the nutrition value mentioned on the packaging to get adequate information regarding the food.

People especially those on dieting should focus more on the nutritional value of the product before consuming it. Non-dieters should never reject any foodstuff based on its name, before checking the nutrition table indicated on the packaging.

People should read about food instead of going for the name. Many foods have unhealthy names but give better nutrition value.

Publisher reviews claims in memoir 'Three Cups of Tea'

The publisher of US author Greg Mortenson's memoir, "Three Cups of Tea," said on Monday it was reviewing the bestseller following claims that parts of the inspirational book were fabricated.

Television news program "60 Minutes" said in a Sunday broadcast that parts of Mortenson's account of a failed attempt in 1993 to climb the world's second-highest peak, K2, and being kidnapped in Pakistan in 1996, were untrue, citing several people interviewed.

"60 Minutes" also reported that Mortenson was using his charitable institute, Central Asia Institute, to promote his books.

"Greg Mortenson's work as a humanitarian in Afghanistan and Pakistan has provided tens of thousands of children with an education. '60 Minutes' is a serious news organization and in the wake of their report, Viking plans to carefully review the materials with the author," Viking spokeswoman Carolyn Coleburn said in a statement.

"Three Cups of Tea," was first published in 2006 and has since been a popular paperback.

It may be the latest embarrassment for the publishing industry over partly-fabricated memoirs in recent years, notably James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces."

The "60 Minutes" report claimed that Mortenson did not get lost and stumble into a remote mountain village on his way down from K2, and that he did not visit the village until a year later, according to expedition porters.

Mortenson told "60 Minutes" in a statement that he first visited the village in 1993, and went back each of the following three years. He suggested the discrepancy could be because the "Balti people have a completely different notion about time."

"The concept of past and future is rarely of concern," he said. "Often tenses are left out of discussion, although everyone knows what is implied."

"60 Minutes" also disputed Mortenson's account in "Three Cups of Tea," of being kidnapped in the Waziristan region of Pakistan in 1996. His second book, "Stones into Schools," publishes a photograph of his alleged captors.

The program located four of the men who were there when the photo of Mortenson was taken and two of whom were actually in the picture. All denied that they had kidnapped Mortenson.

Mortenson's stood by his story, saying he was detained in Waziristan for eight days in 1996. "It was against my will, and my passports and money were taken from me," he said.

Mortenson's charity, the Central Asia Institute, founded in 1996, has built schools, mostly for girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But "60 Minutes" said about roughly half of 30 schools listed on the charity's tax forms were empty, built by someone else or not receiving any support.

TB screening misses 70% of latent cases

The UK should radically change its tuberculosis screening policy and include arrivals from the Indian subcontinent, which could prevent most cases of the disease, according to scientists in a paper published today.

TB is a growing problem in the UK, where cases almost doubled between 1998 and 2009, and drug-resistant forms of the disease are spreading around the globe.

Arrivals from sub-Saharan Africa, which carries the heaviest TB burden in the world, are X-rayed – but the test only picks up active TB cases, of which there are very few. UK screening has been missing 70% of latent TB – where the person is a carrier of the disease and may become ill and infect others several years later.

Scientists writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal say TB screening could be more effective by using a blood test to pick up latent disease.

Professor Ajit Lalvani from Imperial College London and his colleagues studied results from a highly specific blood test for latent TB at three immigrant screening centres in the UK between 2008 and 2009, and collected data on the countries people had travelled from.

They discovered that 20% of recent immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and almost 30% from sub-Saharan Africa are carriers of latent tuberculosis. They conclude that the current screening policy, which excludes immigrants from the Indian subcontinent – even though half of all active tuberculosis cases in the UK are in those populations – has been missing 70% of imported latent tuberculosis.

Changes to TB screening could pick up 92% of infected immigrants, they say, just by targeting younger people. They recommend that anyone aged 35 or under from a country with TB prevalence of 150 cases per 100,000 people should be given the blood test for latent infection.

That would include people from the Indian sub-continent. The change of policy, they say, would be cost-effective, because it would cost little more than what is spent at the moment, allowing for cases of active tuberculosis prevented.

"UK national guidance for which groups to screen has hitherto missed most immigrants with latent infection," said Lalvani. "By changing the threshold for screening, and including immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, we could pick up 92% of imported latent tuberculosis. By treating people at that early stage, we can prevent them from developing a serious illness and becoming infectious.

"Crucially, this wider screening could substantially reduce tuberculosis incidence while remaining cost-effective. Our findings provide the missing evidence-base for the new national strategy to expand immigrant screening."

The shadow health minister, Diane Abbott, called for immediate action on the findings. "It is alarming that we do not have comprehensive screening at ports of entry. I will be calling on the UK national screening committee to look at proposals for a cost-effective screening programme capable of identifying the vast majority of immigrants with latent tuberculosis," she said.

"Rates of tuberculosis continue to increase in many parts of the country. Much of this rise affects disadvantaged communities, including certain ethnic minority groups and those with social risk factors such as homelessness and drug and alcohol misuse.

"Healthcare in local areas must do more to ensure that people coming to live in the UK from high-risk countries are screened when they arrived at an airport or port, or when they registered with a GP. Students coming to Britain should also be tested."

No set formula for a Bollywood hit: Abhishek

Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan who lately suffered a string of flops, is pinning high hopes on his forthcoming release 'Dum Maro Dum' and says that there is no formula for making a successful film in Bollywood.

"If there was such a formula in Bollywood, then all films would become hits," Abhishek, who was here to promote the movie, told reporters last evening.

He said the success or failure of his films did not depend on him alone. "Otherwise also, if 2-3 of my films flop it does not mean that all my previous films also did not do well."

The 35-year-old actor's last three films 'Raavan', 'Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se' and 'Game' did not do well and the box office.

He also said DMD had nothing to do with veteran Dev Anand's 1971 film 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna'. "The only relation my film has with 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' is that its title has been taken from the first lines of a hit song in Dev's film," he said.

Junior B said there was no intention to demean Goa in his new film, as alleged and added that he personally liked the song filmed on Deepika Padukone.

He said in a country as vast as India, it was not necessary that everyone see their films. "Some people do not like your work. I respect all reactions to my films," he said.

To a query, Abhishek said that he did not have any plans to buy an IPL team and added that he was content watching IPL matches.

To many Brits, it's 'just another wedding'

"It's just another wedding," says Londoner Frank Sabine, who's training to be a taxi driver and will spend April 29 studying for his exam. "It's not really grabbing my attention. I'll leave it to the so-called royalists."

Evidence that many Britons share Sabine's blasé attitude: In a ComRes survey this month, only 48% of respondents said they would tune in to a live TV broadcast of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. (Viewership worldwide is expected to be up to 2 billion.)

Recent surveys of Americans about the royal wedding produced conflicted results: A 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll in March found that 65% are not interested in the wedding.

Another poll in Parade magazine last week found that 82% of Americans say they plan to watch the wedding on TV. And Zoosk, an online social-dating network, released a survey this month that found 39% of American singles would rather have a root canal than watch the wedding.

Many Brits will enjoy two four-day weekends in a row, thanks to a combination of pre-existing official holidays and the government's decision to make April 29 a national holiday.

The U.K. Travel Association estimates that 3.5 million Brits will travel overseas during the 12-day period ending just after the wedding. Bookings on low-cost airline Ryanair for the Easter period are up more than 10% year over year.

Traditional street parties will be scarce.

Glasgow, the biggest city in Scotland with 581,000 people, is hosting no street parties, at least none big enough to require a street closure. The 263,000 residents of Bolton, England, will hold all of 13 street parties. The city celebrated the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 with more than 100 street parties, according to The Bolton News.

The customary rain and chill of late April is partly to blame, says Richard Bradley of the non-profit Oxford Streets for People. The 149,000 inhabitants of the city of Oxford will throw only seven street parties.

"There isn't the same sort of enthusiasm about royal weddings that there used to be," he says.

Experts on the British monarchy say times have changed since the nation bought into the Cinderella fantasy of Charles and Diana's wedding, which kicked off a marriage notable for infidelity, media leaks and, eventually, divorce.

The mystique of the monarchy has ebbed, says historian Max Jones of the University of Manchester, and so has the deference once accorded the royals. Figures who were once above the fray are now exposed to what he calls the "knocking and mocking" of the celebrity media.

"There is no longer a sense that this is an event that has significance for the life of the nation," Jones says. "It's another blockbuster wedding."

Prince William and his fiancée aren't nearly as colorful as some past royals, says Neil Blain of the University of Stirling.

It takes a lot more than it used to, he says, for Britons to feel engaged by royal happenings.

Instead, they fret about their lost productivity at the office.

"It'll just mean that for a couple of weeks, you won't be able to reach your clients," says Londoner Kate Waters, director of a recruitment firm. "I'd say you lot are more excited about it than we are."

Hot skirt of Deepika Padukone to be put up for auction

Goa: The musical track in Rohan Sippy produced Dum Maro Dum portrayed the scintillating Deepika vibrating to the beats of a remix. Barefooted Deepika dressed in white attracted much attention. Stretchable blouse exposing her back was made to accompany a shimmering skirt of chiffon make. The skirt which looked breathtaking with the attached metallic sheeting was held on by a leather strap.

Well, the news is the entire unit involved with the film has chosen to contribute the awesome dress to a humanitarian cause. The intended auction will be launched through its website. The skirt will be put on an online auction so that the revenue obtained may be donated for a charitable purpose. The earned money is supposed to benefit a nongovernmental charitable organization. The institution by the name of ‘Being Human’ has the B town actor Salman Khan at its helm.

“Being Human” which is geared to the cause of charity seems to have been the unit’s undisputed choice on the grounds of its dedication and accountability. The popularity of Deepika’s costume in comparison to that of the musical track in question has been a motivating factor behind the choice of the concerned garment.

Such acts of benevolence on parts of B town actor or that of its creative unit should be highlighted in all its glory.

Icons move as firms get lean & mean

The Indian IT industry has been making news since the days when the world feared a digital Armageddon of sorts by Y2K. After that moment the IT firms thrived, wrote codes for giants worldwide, changed Bangalore city and, more importantly, the way Indians look at themselves and the way the world look at Indians.

A decade down, now it is payback time. The news began with Wipro firing its twin CEOs and putting in place one man. T K Kurien is someone known as a hard taskmaster. Then came the news of the man who built Wipro Infotech, Ashok Soota, quitting the company he co-founded with his Wipro colleagues, MindTree to launch a new one called Beautiful Minds. Now comes news about the best known face among Infosys executives here, Mohandas Pai quitting, somewhat frustrated with the glass ceiling at the top.

Even without the sound bytes, speculation and gossip around them, the three events are different. Wipro is a family-owned firm and the chairman Azim Premji was getting tired of it lagging behind competition. Premji wanted a leaner and meaner leadership and some action. MindTree has been missing targets since 2007-2008 and there were deep differences among the leadership team. One version is that Soota's energy and ambition could not be matched by the rest of the leadership.

Another version is that the conceptual thinking of the founders sometimes clashed with the nuts and bolts of the market economy. And Infosys is undergoing a leadership change. Only two of its founders, S Gopalakrishnan and S D Shibulal, will be left on its board after N R Narayana Murthy retires in August. Pai, who is not a founder, after announcing his resignation left enough sound bytes to let the world know about his discontent. Infosys share prices fell sharply the day Pai quit.

TCS has recently taken over as IT bellwether influencing trends at the Bombay Stock Exchange. Why are IT companies suddenly facing these problems? Corporate captains and bodies like Nasscom have always said that the Indian IT industry has to move from services to consultancy-led work up the value chain. It has been moving, but slowly. Indian techies began with writing codes, doing offshore work at competitive prices. Then they started building platforms that help companies run their business smoothly. Now there are new entrants across the world who handle this kind of work. The Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011 of the World Economic Forum has shown that India's ranking has come down several notches while competitors in Asia have moved ahead.

China is making giant strides. "The IT industry is at a critical juncture of change," notes Vivek Kulkarni, CEO of Brickwork Ratings in Bangalore. He stresses that thrust on technology and value addition are needed for future growth. "Founders have set the vision. Now professionals have to take the work forward," Kulkarni notes. That is what is happening in all these places. Wipro has removed redundancies in its mid-tier management and Infosys is set to make better profits under new leadership. Shibulal, who is expected to be the new CEO is a hard task master too.

However, in MindTree, Soota's exit will be felt, Kulkarni notes. At the same time observers also point at the need for broader changes. "The leadership focus should not be at the top alone. The current context demands organisations to develop leaders at all levels for sustained performance" said Prof P Vijayakumar of the Center for Social and Organizational Leadership, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Wipro's new structure is expected to have mini-CEOs heading different divisions. Instead of old icons of IT industry, in the coming years we will see a pantheon in all likelihood.

Unitech says denial of bail to MD will not affect business

A CBI court earlier on Wednesday rejected bail applications of five business executives, including that of Unitech's managing director Sanjay Chandra, charged in a multi-billion dollar telecoms licensing scandal.

The executives will be held in jail pending the trial over the sale of telecoms licences at below-market prices.

Unitech said in a statement the "development" would not adversely affect its real estate business as it was "with respect" to telecoms business Unitech Wireless.

"Unitech is managed by a competent set of senior experienced professionals and promoters and will continue to pursue its growth plans," Unitech said in a statement.

Chandra is also the chairman of Unitech Wireless.

Earlier on Wednesday, Telenor, which holds a majority stake in Unitech Wireless, said it had requested Chandra to step down as the chairman of the mobile venture, following police charges against him in the telecoms case.

Will banks hike lending rates? RBI policy a key trigger

Will your bank hike lending rates?

“Depends on RBI’s monetary policy stance on May 3”. That was the stock answer of most bankers to’s query on whether they would follow State Bank of India.

SBI, the country’s largest lender on Tuesday hiked lending rates by 25 basis points. But other banks said they would wait for the Reserve Bank’s decision on policy rates, before hiking their rates. Bankers widely expect RBI to hike key policy rates (repo and reverse repo) by 25 basis points.

Repo is at the rate at which the RBI lends to banks, and reverse repo is the rate at which it borrows money from banks.

“We expect a 25 basis point hike in benchmark rates,” said M Narendra, CMD, Indian Overseas Bank. “If that happens, we will review our lending rates after considering factors like demand for funds and the impact on short and long term borrowing rates. SBI’s hike in lending rates is more of a correction as its rates were mostly lower than other banks,” he said.

After the latest hike, SBI’s current base rate is at 8.50% while benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) is at 13.25%. Base rate is the minimum rate below which banks are not permitted to lend. RBI had introduced it to replace BPLR system in mid 2010 to increase credit flow to small borrowers at a reasonable rate.

Lenders like Bank of Baroda, IndusInd bank and Kotak Mahindra bank too are considering a hike in lending rates. Their respective asset liability committees (ALCO) are expected to decide shortly.

J Moses Harding, head – gloal markets group, IndusInd Bank, said lending rates could be revised before the RBI policy.

“We revise our lending rates based on demand and supply situations and to stay competitive in the market. Banks have already entered into slack season wherein demand for loans may fall,” Harding told

 Says K V S Manian, group head – consumer banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank, “We will take call on hiking lending rates only after RBI policy review meeting. We expect at least 25 bps hike in interest rates.”

Base rate
Punjab National Bank
Bank of Baroda
State Bank of India

Kotak Mahindra Bank
Indian Overseas Bank
IndusInd Bank

200 Killed In Nigeria's Post Election Violence

Abuja  : At least 200 people have been killed and thousands displaced in post-election violence in Nigeria, a civil rights group said today, as the loosing Muslim candidate General Muhammadu Buhari alleged rigging.  Buhari also vowed in a statement seen by PTI to recover “a stolen mandate” a declaration interpreted by analysts to mean that the former military dictator may be going to court to challenge the outcome of the election.  The violence erupted close on the heels of incumbent Goodluck Jonathan emerging victorious in Presidential polls.

Civil Rights Congress (CRC) in an emailed statement here signed by its president, Shehu Sani said his members and staff were able to arrive at the figure rigorously despite restriction of movement in northern Nigeria.  The CRC put the death toll in post-election violence at 200. It said the number of arrests by the military in Kaduna town alone was 1,000 just as a curfew of 24 hours which has been relaxed a little bit was put in place.  Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in northern Bauchi state said 32 of its members and 82 churches were burnt in the state alone.

Buhari in his statement had told his supporters: “May I use this opportunity to inform you that we have commenced consultations at the highest levels to recover your stolen mandate. I would therefore urge you to continue to be patient.”

He alleged that the rigging of the election was done through computer manipulations. He told his followers it is wrong to allow miscreants infiltrate their ranks and destroy worship places.“Needless to say this act is worse than the rigging of the elections.” he said.People protesting the victory of Jonathan burnt homes, churches and police stations. Anti-riot policemen and the military were deployed in the streets following rioting.

Riots broke out in the north after Jonathan, a Christian from the south was declared winner on Monday of a landmark vote that exposed regional tensions and led to the deadly rioting.
Jonathan secured 59 per cent of the vote and easily beat his northern rival, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who had only 32 per cent. More than 50 people have been killed with many wounded in rioting in states of Kaduna, Bauchi, Yobe, Niger, Borno, Jigawa, and Nasarawa, eyewitnesses and hospital sources told PTI.

An estimated 25,000 have been displaced and some 375 wounded, according to the Red Cross.24-hours curfew was imposed in Kaduna and Kano while limited restrictions of movement were enforced in the remaining states as Buhari’s supporters took to the street violently protesting the results of the elections. PTI

Massive Cleanup After Deadly Storms In US South

North Carolina  :  Shards of glass from old bottles and furniture smashed by a tornado that tore through town littered the concrete floor of Rhonda Carter’s antique store, shattering her plans to open an auction house in nearby Salemburg. A storage area in the back was flattened.

“I just had a feeling something bad was going to happen, and it did,” Carter said of Saturday, when storms raged through Bonnetsville and other parts of North Carolina, killing at least 23 and damaging or destroying more than 800 homes. “Now I’m starting over.”

From remote rural communities to the state’s second-largest city, thousands of residents hit by the worst tornado outbreak in nearly 30 years were clearing away rubble and debris, repairing power lines and facing a recovery that will cost tens of millions of dollars.

President Barack Obama declared a major disaster Tuesday for 18 counties in North Carolina after Gov. Beverly Perdue asked the president and to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for help, seeking low-interest loans for farmers and loans and grants to help others repair their homes and businesses.

The storms that chugged across the South last week killed at least 46 people in six states, but the worst devastation came over about four hours Saturday in North Carolina. Officials were still tallying the toll, with police in Raleigh announcing that a 6-month-old child who had been in the hospital ended up dying from her injuries.

“In the blink of an eye, so many people have been plunged into grief and crisis,” said Preston Parrish, executive vice president of ministry at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which dispatched its disaster-response teams to four areas of the state.

One was Bertie County in the state’s northeast corner, where the ministry also deployed volunteers just seven months ago, after floods devastated the county seat of Windsor and surrounding communities.

At least two tornadoes hit the county in rapid succession, one doing enough damage to kill 11 people. The twisters descended suddenly, with only about 15 minutes of warning.

“I saw it coming, we got in there, and as soon as we hit the door, boom, it hit,” said Roy Lee, whose house was destroyed. “About three minutes max it was over.”

When it was over, Lee’s neighbor, 60-year-old Peggy Leary, was dead.

Gov. Perdue and other officials toured the damage Monday, pledging prompt support to rebuild. Charities, religious groups and emergency shelters sprang into action, offering their services to residents well-versed in disasters like hurricanes, who suddenly found themselves in the path of a very different type of storm.

Bertie County so far is the only county with a monetary damage estimate available. Property damage was at least $2.5 million, but that figure doesn’t include infrastructure damage or the loss of crops. Bertie County produces tobacco, peanuts and soybeans, among other staples. Statewide, costs will likely be at least in the tens of millions because the weather raged through densely populated cities, trashing homes, businesses and public buildings.

Employees in Wake County, where Raleigh is located, estimated Monday that local costs will be around $65 million, county commission Chairman Paul Coble said, an estimate he expects to rise.

More than a quarter-million people lost power during the storm, but by late Monday that had dropped to a few thousand. The storm not only brought down power lines, but crews responding to outages found the storm had been so strong that some wires had simply vanished. AP

Fire In Philippine Capital Leaves 8,000 Homeless

Manila  : Philippine authorities are blaming a defective electrical outlet for a massive fire that razed a squatters’ colony in Manila’s financial district and left about 8,000 people homeless.

Fire chief Ricardo Perdigon in Makati city says a tenant plugged in a cellphone charger and ran outside after sparks triggered a fire that spread quickly to other homes Tuesday in the congested community near the city’s main highway.

Perdigon said Wednesday that nine people suffered light burns and bruises in the inferno, which gutted the impoverished neighborhood and left 1,600 families, or about 8,000 people, homeless.

The Makati social welfare office says those left homeless have been sheltered in a nearby seminary and a community hall. AP

Interlocutors Meet Ansari, Hurriyat Suspends Him

Srinagar : After months of efforts to break the ice with separatists, Centre’s interlocutors on Kashmir today met former Hurriyat Chairman Maulana Abbas Ansari, a move which irked the moderate faction which suspended him from the amalgam.

“This morning we met Ansari at his residence to discuss ways and means to carry forward the dialogue process that would lead to a peaceful settlement in Jammu and Kashmir,” chief of the three-member interlocutors’ team Dileep Padgaonkar told reporters here.

He said the discussion, lasting a little over an hour, was conducted in a cordial and constructive spirit.

“Maulana Ansari informed us that he favoured talks with the government to arrive at such a settlement. The dialogue had to be held at an appropriate level with representatives of separatist groups and in the presence of the interlocutors appointed by the Centre,” Padgaonkar said.

However, within minutes after the news came out about the meeting, Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq announced suspension of its constituent Itehad-ul-Muslimeen (IuM) party.

“We have suspended IuM for violating the Hurriyat decision on meeting the interlocutors appointed by Government of India,” Mirwaiz told PTI.

Briefing about their meeting with Ansari, Padgaonkar said Ansari emphasized that perceptible changes on the ground was required to inculcate a spirit of trust in the people of the state.

“Towards this end, he urged that the talks with the government should initially focus on the four point agenda of the moderate Hurriyat. The talks would cover the steps already taken by the government in this regard and the further steps that required to be taken to create a conducive atmosphere for subsequent discussions,” he added.

The IuM is among the founder constituents of Hurriyat conference and one of the seven parties which have representatives in the highest decision making body, the Executive Committee.

The Mirwaiz said the suspension will remain in force till the next meeting of the executive body of the amalgam which is likely to take place sometime next week.

“Although IuM is represented by Ansari’s son, Maulana Masroor Abbas Ansari, in the Hurriyat meetings, the party is a member of the amalgam and should have abided by the Hurriyat decision,” he said.

Padgaonkar said Ansari hoped that the centre would allow the Hurriyat leaders to visit Pakistan to persuade the authorities there as well as leaders in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to take them on board to work for a settlement that would satisfy all stakeholders.

Ansari has agreed to meet the interlocutors again to ensure that the dialogue process would be a sustained one, he said adding this alone would ensure that incremental progress is made for reaching a political settlement in Jammu and Kashmir within a specified time frame.

Responding to questions, he said the interlocutors did not knock on the door of the separatist leader but the meeting was arranged by “mutual friends”.

He also admitted that slain Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadees Chief Moulvi Showkat Ahmad Shah had met the interlocutors but the meeting was largely focussed on his educational ventures which included setting up of a university.

Padgaonkar said the interlocutors were willing to meet the separatist leadership in Kashmir at any place and any time but they will not go to meet them uninvited.

“We have expressed our willingness to meet them anywhere and at any time. It is now for them to decide,” he said.

Ansari was the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference when hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani engineered a vertical split in the amalgam for the failure of the leadership to run an effective boycott campaign in the 2002 Assembly elections.

On the need for including Pakistan in the efforts to find a solution to Kashmir problem, Padgaonkar said there is a renewed engagement between India and Pakistan and it has been welcomed by people in Jammu and Kashmir. PTI

Amar Singh Contradicts Shanti Bhushan's Claim

New Delhi : In the continuing war of words with the Bhushans, Amar Singh today dismissed the claim of eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan that the two have never met and that he had used his chartered aircraft to go to Lucknow for appearing in a case.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that he had participated in a lawyer-client conference in the Samajwadi Party case when some BSP MLAs had joined it in 2006, in which he had a role.

The party also paid the lawyer Rs 50 lakh to fight the anti-defection case.

Singh, who has been accused by Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant of being involved in fabricating a CD against them, the senior Bhushan, co-chair of the Joint Drafting Committee to draft the Lokpal Bill, had used his charted aircraft to reach Lucknow to contest the case in the Bench of the Allahabad High Court on February 28, 2006.

“I was part of the conference where we discussed the case...he appeared twice for the party against BSP,” Singh said adding that the former Law Minister had demanded Rs 50 lakh for the case.

He said initially he was paid Rs 30 lakh in cash and the second instalment of Rs 20 lakh after Bhushan claimed that he needed Rs 25 lakh per appearance.

Singh claimed Bhushan was part of the 80 advocates hired by the SP to defend its case in the High Court.

He said Bhushan would have filed Income Tax returns on the amount received by him and his claims can also be cross-checked from the Directorate General Civil Aviation.

Reacting to media reports that the Mayawati government had early this year allotted two plots of 10,000 sq metres each for  farmhouse to Shanti Bhushan and his another son Jayant,  Singh said the allotments were a result of Jayant appearing against Mayawati in the Noida statue park case.

When the son “poked” the state government, Noida Authority officials came rushing with the allotment letters.  For the huge farmhouse worth crores of rupees they had to pay a mere Rs 35 lakh,” Singh said.

He said he was ready to buy Shanti Bhushan’s farmhouse for Rs 10 crore in “white money”.

The former SP leader also criticised Bhushan for his reported remarks that though the allotment process of farmhouses lacked transparency, they would not go to the court as they were not an affected party.

“If your farmhouse allotment is okay, then why did you question allocation of a property to the son of (former Chief Justice of India) Y K Sabarwal. The allotment was done following proper procedures (by the then Mulayam Singh government),” he said.

He alleged that Bhushan had appeared in a case in the Allahabad High Court in May, 2006 without the petitioner seeking his services. He claimed the petitioner had told the court that he had not hired Bhushan as he could not afford his charges.

“Then too, he had flown in a charted aircraft from New Delhi,” Singh said refusing to elaborate.

On the issue of the controversial CD containing the purported conversation between Yadav, Bhushan and himself, he said he would file a contempt case against Bhushan and his son Prashant for playing the CD in public despite a Supreme Court stay.

He said he has sent copies for the CD to two laboratories in India and Sweden, the US and France for forensic tests.

The expelled SP leader also questioned the authenticity of the forensic test claimed to have been on the CD by a US-based expert at the instance of Prashant Bhushan.

“The US labs are closed on weekends. He held a press conference on Sunday last which means that he would have sent the CD there on Wednesday. Else, the report is forged which can be done by paying anything like USD 5,000,” he alleged. PTI

I Don't Support Politics Of Smear Campaign: Sonia Tells Hazare

New Delhi : Responding to Anna Hazare’s complaint against her “colleagues”, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today assured him that she does not support “politics of smear campaign” and she was strongly committed to the institution of Lokpal.

Writing to Hazare, the Chairperson of National Advisory Council (NAC) said she believes there is “urgent necessity” to combat graft and corruption and he should not “doubt my commitment in the fight for probity in public life”.

She pointed out that the Lokpal bill is very much part of the agenda of the NAC and a Working Group has been formed to evolve broad principles for discussion and approval in the next meeting of the Council on April 28.

“As for the statements appearing in the media, let me assure you that I do not support nor encourage the politics of smear campaigns,” Gandhi said in her letter to Hazare.

She was replying to Hazare’s letter sent on Monday in which the social activist said a “smear” campaign had been launched against civil society members of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill and asked her to advise her “colleagues” not to try to derail the process of drafting of law.

He particularly complained against an unnamed minister, who is part of the 10-member joint drafting committee and a party General Secretary, believed to be Digvijay Singh who has been attacking his campaign.

“Let me reiterate what I wrote to you earlier, that I believe there is an urgent necessity to combat graft and corruption,” Gandhi told Hazare.
“You should have no doubt of my commitment in the fight for probity in public life. I strongly support the institution of a Lokpal that is consistent with the practices and conventions of our Parliamentary democracy,” she wrote.

Noting that Lokpal Bill was part of NAC’s agenda, Gandhi said the Council’s Working Group on Transparency, Accountability and Governance under the convenorship of Aruna Roy had held consultations on this subject on April 4 with several representatives of civil society including Shanti Bhushan, Santosh Hegde and Prashant Bhushan are in the joint committee.

Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal were also involved, she said.

“This is the very course that the NAC was following until the process was, as you know, overtaken by the subsequent events,” the NAC Chairperson said, apparently referring to the agitation by Hazare and the following developments. PTI

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