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New Delhi, Feb.23 (ANI): Kashmiris are watching with great interest the ‘Tunisami’ that began in Tunisia and is spreading through the virtual and real world. Last year’s unrest in the valley was fuelled by the use of social media by separatists who urged young Kashmiris to launch an ‘online Intifada’. 
While it didn’t quite meet with the success that the separatists wanted, it probably sparked off an idea that was used by protestors during the Arab Revolution. Some claim that it was the Iranians who used the social media first to revolt against a repressive regime.
The ‘Facebook revolution of 2010’ in Kashmir didn’t have the desired effect. While it certainly made the over 10 million Indian online community aware that the disgruntled in Kashmir were not merely the aged Hurriyat gentlemen on TV screens, it failed to project the political aspirations of the Kashmiris.

ert 2011  3  1


 London, Apr.2, 2010 (ANI): On day two, the three thousand journalists who have come from around the world to cover the G-20 summit are all but acutely aware of the difference in styles of the current US President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush.

There is no backslapping, chummy chummy shoulder massage, or man-hugs with Obama. He is reserved, but warm. A style that is similar to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is never effusive, however warm his ties with world leaders. Bush and Singh had a warm chemistry, but all the demonstrativeness of warmth came from Bush, not Singh Obama's interactions bordered on the awkward. They both began with their customary reserved ness but then, their attempt to be humorous at the press conference fell flat. The geekiness that typifies Obama's style left no room for chumminess with Brown though they were on a first name basis from the word goes.


London, April 2, 2010 (ANI): It is huge, dull and drab. The venue for the G20 summit looks more like an aircraft hanger than a venue for a prestigious event like the G20 summit meet. There are so many historical and beautiful buildings in the city and yet this venue was chosen which is located in the isolated Docklands site. The conference centre is at one of Britain's poorest areas where educational levels are lowest and shanties exist beside tall gleaming skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf area which house the now rogue banks, bankrupt media houses and financial institutions which risk closure.

New Delhi, April 7, 2010 (ANI):

Jean Antheleme Brillat-Savarin, in his 1825 work, The Physiology of Taste, wrote, "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are." Our current leaders do not talk much about what their dietary preferences are, though everybody knows that the Father of the Nation survived on the bare minimum and the satvik bhojan that he partook of was a major reason for the disciplined life that he led.

 Washington, April 12, 2010 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and US President Barack Obama had a 50-minute meeting at Blair House here on Sunday afternoon, during which the American President assured the Indian side that it would get access to David Headley, one of suspects involved in scouting potential targets for Pakistan-based terrorists prior to the26/11 attack in Mumbai.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said: “They (the US) were working through the legal system on the issue of provision of access to Headley.”
Describing the summit meeting as “extremely positive and constructive”, Ms. Rao said that President Obama was sensitive to India’s concerns.


Washington, April 12, 2010 (ANI): Interacting with media at a roundtable meeting here, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Monday he needed more evidence from India about the Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group being behind the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.
Emphatically stating that Pakistani soil would not be used for extremist activity, and particularly for attacks on neighbouring India, Gilani said: “We don’t want our soil used against any country and neither would we allow somebody else’s soil to be used against Pakistan.” Confirming that President Barack Obama had raised the issue of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its alleged role in 26/11 with him during their meeting on Sunday, Gilani said Pakistan has already banned several extremist groups and even frozen their bank accounts.

Washington, April 12, 2010 (ANI): Interacting with media at a roundtable meeting here, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Monday he needed more evidence from India about the Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group being behind the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.

Emphatically stating that Pakistani soil would not be used for extremist activity, and particularly for attacks on neighbouring India, Gilani said: “We don’t want our soil used against any country and neither would we allow somebody else’s soil to be used against Pakistan.” Confirming that President Barack Obama had raised the issue of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its alleged role in 26/11 with him during their meeting on Sunday, Gilani said Pakistan has already banned several extremist groups and even frozen their bank accounts.

Washington, April 12, 2010 (ANI): The two-day global nuclear security summit hosted by the United States opened in Washington D.C. on Monday morning. Forty-seven countries are participating in this meet, which has the issue of nuclear terrorism at its center.
The United State’s aim is to enlist as many nations as possible to help secure all unsecured nuclear materials, which could fall into the hands of terrorists, within four years. President Barack Obama said: “The single biggest threat to U.S. security, in the short-term, medium-term and long-term, would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Washington, Apr.13 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a busy day Monday at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.

He had long meetings with the heads of government of Morroco, Kazhakstan and Canada. But, at the end of the day, what grabbed attention of the Indian and Pakistani media delegations was his under a minute handshake with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yusuf Raza Gilani.


Washington, April 13, 2010 (ANI): Article after article from across the globe and think tanks around the world are expressing the opinion that if this nuclear security summit in Washington DC is about securing nuclear weapons so as to ensure that they do not find their way into the hands of non-state actors, then why isn’t Pakistan being hauled up.

A report by Harvard University's Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, titled Securing the Bomb, said Pakistan's stockpile "faces a greater threat from Islamic extremists seeking nuclear weapons than any other nuclear stockpile on earth".

Washington, April 13, 2010 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, sent his good wishes to the country on the occasion of Baisakhi.
He was speaking to the media in Washington DC at the conclusion of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit.
He said “This is a new year in several parts of the country and I convey my greetings to people back home and Non-Resident Indians.


New Delhi, May 20, 2010 (ANI) Dr. Manmohan Singh will address the first formal press conference of his second term as Prime Minister on May 24 here. The Prime Minister's Media Advisor, Harish Khare, will conduct the press conference where over a thousand reporters and photographers are expected to be present.
Though, the Prime Minister has addressed the media on several occasions when traveling abroad, he is reticent when it comes to interacting with the press at home. This is inexplicable, because Dr. Singh's press conferences are a no-stress affair for the media and have never generated controversies.
He speaks at great length, does not snap at uncomfortable questions and explains his point of view gently and self-effacingly to even the junior-most of reporters.


Maoist Ops- Just Do It 2010  6  3

 2 June 2010

Solve it, and if it means calling in the Army, then so be it. The Prime Minister on Tuesday said the government would fight terrorism "root and branch" and that the 'writ of the state" would be firmly enforced.
The fact that it was necessary to say this is proof enough that there are pockets in this country where the writ of the state is not being enforced.

And, it is certainly jungle law when 76 personnel of a paramilitary force are blown up in broad daylight. India didn't lose so many soldiers in any one single operation against enemy forces in the 1999 Kargil War.


New Delhi, June 3, 2010 (ANI): The first every Hay Festival of Literature and Arts is going to be held in Kerala this November and not in the capital, New Delhi. A three-day event, this festival is expected to "showcase Indian writing to an international audience" according to Sanjoy K. Roy of Teamwork Productions who is bringing the festival to Kerala.

Kerala met all the requirements according to the organizers. The state is Communist but not Maoist so it has no law and order issues. Kerala is also blessed, say the organizers, with backwaters, great cuisine and err... Ayurveda massage. Fine, but Delhi has so much more. Have you even tried Butter Chicken with Butter Naan and Butter Dal at Pandara Market? Meen Moiley with its subtle fragrances is nothing compared to the overwhelming swamping of the taste buds that takes places when you rip out a chunky piece of the orange tandoori chicken at Changezi in Punjabi Bagh. And what is your aapam compared to Delhi's paneer dosa? that perfect bastardization of the south-Indian delicacy.


New Delhi, June 10, 2010 (ANI): With little over a month left for the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan, New Delhi appears keen on taking its relationship with Islamabad forward, and is realistic about its expectations but not overly ambitious about the talks process.
In the post-26/11 period, New Delhi found that its decision to stop all interaction with Pakistan was not delivering the expected response or results. In the Indian Government's view, Pakistan's reluctance to move on the 26/11 investigations, Hafeez Saeed and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) did not inspire confidence, but not talking, also was not improving matters.
Now, however, in view of the positive and conciliatory statements emanating from Islamabad, there is optimism, hope and confidence about forward movement on resuming dialogue.


New Delhi, Jul 6 (ANI): When Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visits Pakistan on July 15 he would be taking the next step on the road to reducing the trust deficit between India and its terror-vexed neighbour.
The terms of engagement were more or less set when the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries met in Islamabad on June 26. India has consistently said that Pakistan needs to crackdown on anti-Indian terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, including those who masterminded and attacked Mumbai on 26/11. 
And now ten days before Krishna's visit, Pakistan has supposedly ordered a crackdown on 17 terrorist outfits including the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which are mostly affiliated to hard-line Deobandi groups. 

The Indian Home Secretary's comment on the eve of Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna's visit to Islamabad yesterday on the ISI's (Pakistan's intelligence agency) pro-active role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks came as a surprise to the Pakistani Foreign Office establishment.

They seemed to be more offended about the timing and the manner of the leak of this information, rather than the content itself.

Mr. Pillai had said that the evidence against the ISI emerged from the interrogation by Indian officials of a Chicago man, David Headley, who pleaded guilty to working with the Lashkar-e-Taiba to plan the attacks.


Islamabad, July 14 (ANI): Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna arrived here on a three-day visit, with what he said was a message of peace and friendship for the people and the Government of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and the Chief of Protocol of the Government of Pakistan received him and the Indian delegation.


Islamabad, Jul 14 (ANI): On the eve of the Indo- Pak Foreign Ministers' level talks, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna today said that India wants prompt action from Pakistan on confessions by Lashkar-e-Toiba operative David Coleman Headley over the Mumbai terror attacks, and added that he was here to see what action Pakistan has taken so far.


Krishna, who arrived at the Chaklala Air Base along with a 15-member official delegation on Wednesday, was speaking to reporters at Hotel Serena in Islamabad.


Islamabad, Jul 14 (ANI): Visiting Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna today said that frequent anti-India statements by the Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed, will not help in smoothening of relationship with Pakistan.


On the eve of the Indo- Pak Foreign Ministers' level talks, India wants Pakistan not to turn a blind eye to the anti-India campaign by terrorists from its soil in the name of freedom of speech.


Islamabad, Jul 14 (ANI): Ahead of Indo-Pak Foreign Ministers level talks, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in lighter vein that he would like to play tennis match with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.


Islamabad, Jul 14 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that in order for India and Pakistan to stride towards bridging the trust deficit between the two countries, Pakistan must "dismantle for good the terror instrumentality within the country."

He said that while time and again statements were made by Jehadi groups and their leaders like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, India was quite firm in its demand that it's not just the speeches and rallies that are anti-India in nature, but the entire gamut of terror training, plotting and funding that should stop.


Islamabad, July 15 (ANI): The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on Thursday may have sought to project before a global audience and their respective media that their much awaited talks here were positive, constructive and meaningful - it was anything but that.


Going by the body language of both S.M. Krishna and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and the pointed, at times, aggressive questions asked by the media, it was plain and simple -- disastrous and awful.


Here is why?


For starters, the press conference was to begin at about 12.30 p.m. Pakistan time, but commenced nearly eight hours later, leaving media persons of either side tired, and experiencing feelings of anxiousness, exasperation, and indulging in rumor and banter about possible pluses and minuses - more focused on the latter.


Islamabad, July 15 (ANI): "Katl karne vaale bhi vo hain aur investigation karne vaale bhi vahin hain" says Akhtar Mengal, leader of the Balochistan National Party blaming the government for the assassination of former BNP senator Habib Jalib.


Speaking on Geo TV last night, an agitated Mengal said that the situation in Balochistan is worse today than it was during the rule of General Musharraf.


He said that during General Musharraf's military rule, Balochis were picked up from the streets and taken to torture cells, but now, under the so-called democratic regime, "people are being killed openly on the roads of Balochistan."



Islamabad, July 15 (ANI): Mr. G.K. Pillai isn't here, but he might as well be.
The Indian Home Secretary's comment on the eve of Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna's visit to Islamabad yesterday on the ISI's (Pakistan's intelligence agency) pro-active role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks came as a surprise to the Pakistani Foreign Office establishment.
They seemed to be more offended about the timing and the manner of the leak of this information, rather than the content itself.

Mr. Pillai had said that the evidence against the ISI emerged from the interrogation by Indian officials of a Chicago man, David Headley, who pleaded guilty to working with the Lashkar-e-Taiba to plan the attacks.

Islamabad, July 16, (ANI): We waited and waited! The Godots of journalists covering the India-Pakistan story – A joint press conference to be addressed by the Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and the Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that was to take place at 12.30 p m, was postponed… hour by hour for eight hours.
Like an absurd play by Samuel Beckett, over a hundred reporters packed into a stuffy room in the Foreign office which was over lit but under cooled waited for the protagonists of this play to descend and perform.
Two giant throne-like gilded chairs were placed on a raised platform with an overdone flower arrangement. For eight hours, over thirty video cameras positioned, still photographers crouched in front of this bizarre set, reporters walking in and out like caged tigers, waited.

Islamabad, July 16 (ANI): Indian External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna will offer a chaddar at the Data Gunj Baksh shrine in Lahore via Punjab Chief MInister Shahbaz Sharif, whom he will meet shortly.


Mr.Krishna will meet with Mr.Sharif at the Punjab House in Islamabad.


Since he is leaving for New Delhi shortly, Mr. Krishna would not be able to visit the Sufi shrine which was attacked by suicide bombers earlier this month.


The bombing resulted in the death of at least 40 people and injuries to over 170.


It took place on July 2, when multiple suicide bombers blew themselves at night.



New Delhi, July 26 (ANI): It is a term ordinary Pakistanis use to describe a theatrical production staged by the army to fool people into believing just about anything. You hear of it often in Pakistan, more so in Islamabad where rumours and gossip are a way of life.
 'Topi Drama' literally means a drama enacted by those who wear the beret. And, last week's events are being clubbed as just that, yet another attempt to make people believe that a democracy is in place and decisions are taken by a democratic government.
Close on the heels of the three-year extension granted to General Kayani as army chief came the announcement that the US Government had decided to retain its ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, for an unspecified period, even though, she had already spent four years in Islamabad.


Jerusalem, Aug.8 (ANI): It wasn’t a museum that I wanted to visit. I knew it would be gut wrenching, and it was.
The holocaust museum in downtown Jerusalem is a stark prism shaped building that documents the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people so that future generations may never forget.

Even before I stepped into the museum, the thought that plagued my mind was that why don’t we have a similar museum in India - one that chronicles the trauma of partition?


Jerusalem, Aug.11 (ANI): No seriously I do. At least, I was supposed to. On a study tour to Israel, a group of Indian journalists were taken to the Dead Sea, which has some of the most saline water on earth. It is over 1,300 feet below sea level, so there are no fish or other creepy crawlies in the water. You don't even need to swim in the Dead Sea, you can just float without trying, and such is the density of the water.

Sounds easy right? Not to me. I slipped, dunked, got my eyes red and ears sullied as I tried to float in the warm waters. I can swim like a fish in a pool, but here, it is a different issue. You can't swim; you can only float, and, that too, if you lie still. So, I try. All in the hope that this water would make my skin glow and hair shine. So I had been told.


New Delhi/ Tel Aviv, Aug.12 (ANI): By all accounts, the ‘meter jam’ drive in three cities in India has been a success. Commuters in Mumbai and Bangalore had begun the protest against malpractices adopted by taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers by boycotting them, and later in the day, many in national capital Delhi also joined the protest.
There were traffic jams at many places in Bangalore and Mumbai where the boycott was termed successful. People car-pooled or had to rely on public transport to get to work.


New Delhi, Aug.16 (ANI): The world is conspiring against coffee and blackberry addicts. Till now, it was just research scholars or lab-coat specialists who came up with theories that coffee and smart phone usage was the root cause of all evil, whether migraine, impotency, heart attacks, ADD, nervous disorder. Anything. Name it and it was laid on the doorstep of the coffee cup or the cell phone.

And now, the government has joined up with the disbelievers. Indian Communication Minister A. Raja said in Parliament last week that security agencies were unable to intercept and monitor in readable format Blackberry services like messenger, chat and email because of their encryptions.

New Delhi, Aug.25 (ANI): The recent spurt in violence in a few districts of the Kashmir Valley is being termed as an Intifada by many journalists. Perhaps because they perceive that the fight is popular and the street protestors are fighting a repressive regime.

Let us go back to see what exactly is an Intifada. In Arabic, the term means "shaking off". Webster defines the Intifada as an armed uprising of Palestinians against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The first Intifada (1987-1993) and the second Intifada (2000-2004) led to the popularisation of the word and soon any revolt, armed or unarmed, by the Muslim people came to be termed as an Intifada.

The recent protests in the Kashmir Valley were first termed as an 'Intifada ' by The Kashmir Action Committee of Pakistan (KACP). This is a Lahore-based organisation, run by Justice Sharifuddin Bokhari, a retired Chief Justice of the Punjab High Court. Consisting mainly of some retired bureaucrats and ex-army men, it gets support from expatriate Pakistanis, who remain convinced that the so-called liberation of Kashmir is an issue supreme in the minds of ordinary Pakistanis.

New Delhi, Aug.28 (ANI): On August 20th, Priyanka Gandhi appeared at Veer Bhoomi, the memorial in New Delhi dedicated to her father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, to pay her respects on his 66th birth anniversary, and photographers at the location went into a tizzy clicking her from every angle.  

The reason was that Priyanka had changed her hairdo. Gone was the severe crop cut which accentuated her near perfect features? In place was a ‘bed hair’ look. It’s a relatively new style where tousled curly hair sits naturally on the head and nape and doesn’t look purposefully styled. It is less severe than the crop cut that she used to sport.

Leh (Ladakh), Sep.1 (ANI): President Pratibha Patil visited flood-ravaged Leh in the Ladakh region on Wednesday and reviewed ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir Government officials and senior Indian Army and Indian Air Force officers.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had earlier received Patil at Leh Airport.

Smita Prakash, New Delhi

As India observes Teachers Day this weekend, it is time to spare a thought for the Kashmiri students who are not in school.

Children in Srinagar, the summer capital of the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir, have been sitting at home for the past two-and-a-half months, unable to attend classes due to a cycle of shutdown calls given by the separatists and curfew orders imposed by the administration.

The young children are witnessing rage on the streets and frustration at home.Some are joining the protests, egged on by peers and adults who urge them to be part of the struggle for 'azadi' (freedom), telling them that education can wait for now.

A few days left for Eid and Srinagar is like a ghost town. It is the holy month of Ramadan and in normal course, the bazaars should have been chock-a-block full with shoppers. Instead there are security forces patrolling the streets trying to save themselves from arsonists and ensuring that the curfew is not disrupted.

On other days, strike calls by the separatist Hurriyat leaders keep shops shut and people inside their homes. The daily fast or 'roza' is broken in silence inside tomb like homes with just a frugal iftar. The elaborate preparations are missing. Very few families can afford to buy dry-fruit and more pertinently, who will risk going out into the streets to buy them?

Washington, Oct. 6 (ANI): The first ever visit by President Barack Obama to India will be marked by its ordinariness instead of its extraordinariness, if one goes by what US officials say. There are no big ticket items on the agenda and certainly nothing comparable to the civilian nuclear deal signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in 2005.

New Delhi, Nov 4(ANI): Highly placed sources in Washington have revealed that United States President Barack Obama is likely to stop over for a few hours in Pakistan on his way to India.

While Obama had announced that he would be visiting Pakistan in 2011, sources said that the pressure on the President by Pakistan for a brief stop-over was very intense and possibilities of his stopping to have a meeting solely on anti-terrorism operations could not be ruled out.

New Delhi, Nov.6 (ANI): Most Indians are puzzled as to why foreign heads of state would choose to pay a visit to Humayun's tomb in New Delhi rather than the Red Fort, which is architecturally more ornate, and historically, has recorded more events within its walls.  

President Obama will be visiting the tomb of this Mughal emperor on November 7 and not the Taj Mahal in Agra, which is not too far from Delhi, and is one of the wonders of the world, but also the tomb of one of the later Mughals. 

New Delhi, Nov.7 (ANI): It was as close to the slum-dog moment as the Obamas could get in their India tour. The US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with 16 children of labourers at the Humayun's tomb in New Delhi today.
The children, aged between five and seven, do not go to a regular school because they are too poor. They receive informal education due to the voluntary efforts of  Mr K.K. Mohammad, the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India who has taken upon himself to get some basic literacy tools to these kids.

New Delhi, Nov.8 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Monday said the help of the United States would be of enormous significance for India to sustain an annual growth rate of between nine and ten percent over the next 30 years.
Addressing a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama at Hyderabad House here, Dr. Singh said: "The foremost concerns of the Indian polity is to grapple with the problem of mass poverty, ignorance and disease, which still afflicts millions of our citizens. For that, we need a strong, resurgent, robust rate of economic growth, and it is a growth rate, which is within our reach. Our objective is to sustain a growth rate of nine to ten percent per annum in the next three decades, and in that process, the help of the United States is of enormous significance.”

New Delhi, Nov.8 (ANI): Visiting US President Barack Obama on Monday described India as a key actor on the world stage, and a country that has already emerged as a world power.
Stating that this was a view shared by both Republicans and Democrats back home, President Obama told ANI at a joint press conference that he addressed at Hyderabad House with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh here, that as far as he was concerned, the relationship between the United States and India was “extraordinarily important for me.”
“First of all, this relationship is extraordinarily important to me, and don’t just take my word for that, I think, look at our actions,” Obama said.

New Delhi, Nov 9 (ANI): Dispelling the notion that American support to India’s role in a reformed United Nations Security Council is more symbolic than substantive, a senior government official said here today that America has given its unequivocal support to an Indian role in the UNSC.
The U.S. President, Barack Obama, in his address to the Joint Session of the Indian Parliament on Monday had said: "I can say today -- in years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."

He also said: "The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," as he gave a call for India to be part of a reformed UN Security Council (UNSC).

Patna, Nov.18 (ANI): So long as this question is asked in India, there is no India shining, India emerging, or as President Obama said in New Delhi, a week ago – India emerged. I am in village Gaunpura, an hour’s drive from Patna. But to get to this village was an adventure in itself. The highway from Patna is perfectly laid; the traffic is orderly as compared to Punjab or Haryana. Then we turn into towns.
There is filth everywhere. Rotting mounds of garbage, which has probably never been cleared. It just keeps piling up, layer upon layer. The gutters are overflowing. Man and pig cohabit. The stench is unbearable. I walk gingerly placing one foot ahead of the other avoiding animal faeces. I look around, nobody other than I have a cloth covering his or her nose. It appears worse than many similar towns that I have been to, in the rest of India. This seems to be the same Bihar I have visited earlier. Same problem of a lack of civic facilities here too, just like before, and just like in UP, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh. Any state for that matter.


New Delhi, Nov.26 (ANI): Two years since the barbaric attack by 10 Pakistani trained terrorists that resulted in the death of 166 people in Mumbai, the country’s wounds are festering and there is no closure in sight.
No amount of venting of anger against politicians for the tardy pace of police reforms, for the delays in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attack, no candle light vigils, no silent grief, will bring catharsis to a nation, that mourns today.
Is it time to stop with the sympathy and tend to the wounds of those who lost their loved ones? Is it time to quell the hatred against those who planned, plotted and executed the attacks? Is it time to stop weeping and demand to know why action has been so slow in plugging all the loopholes that could result in another such attack, much in the same fashion and more so, with the same result?


New Delhi, Nov.30 (ANI): An upma, filter coffee tiffin break with Kannadigas visiting Delhi from Karnataka is something I
wouldn’t miss for anything in the world. With disarming alacrity, they gossip about politics. Kannadiga -1 and Kannadiga - 2
are not from the Bharatiya Janata Party but are BJP supporters from Karnataka. After asking me all about Delhi politics, we
get talking about Karnataka politics, in English, of sorts. 
K-1 -  See ma, (my name is not seema, it translates into - look dear)  this yis a narth-south divide wonly. These narth 

New Delhi, Dec.6 (ANI): French First Lady Carla Bruni on Monday said that she was quite surprised by her popularity in India, and added that she was looking forward to her four-day stay in the country.
Talking to ANI TV on the sidelines of a visit to the Safdarjung Hospital and the Naz Foundation here this morning, Bruni said: “I am quite surprised by my popularity in India. I did not expect it.”
Bruni also said that as far as she was concerned, the visit to India was a very short one, and that she would love to return and stay for a longer period.

New Delhi, Dec.6 (ANI): Her birthday falls on the 23rd of December, but little children today at the Naz Foundation serenaded the French First Lady.
Some twenty HIV positive children, aged between 3-14, sang “happy birthday to you” to Carla Bruni Sarkozy, who seemed to have a tough time keeping her eyes from welling up.
One young boy sang her a song after saying: “I know you are a wonderful singer, I am no good compared to you, but I will try to sing to you.”
She listened in rapt attention and applauded enthusiastically at the end of the song.

Brussels, Dec.9 (ANI): India and Russia are keen to expand areas of cooperation, and, the forthcoming visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to New Delhi on December 21 and 22, will further boost efforts in this regard, said a Indian Government official.
Relations between Russia and India have blossomed in recent years; with India becoming one of the biggest importers of Russian military hardware, said the Indian official.
Russia is a long standing and preferred partner of India, especially in the defence sector, and furthering ties in this sector, is to be expected during Medvedev''''s visit.
India and Russia host annual summit meets. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Russia last year and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was in India earlier this year.
The engagement continues at the highest level, said the Indian official.

Brussels, Dec.9 (ANI): Investigating authorities looking into the December 8 bomb explosion in Varanasi, have not yet arrived at the conclusion that the attack was the handiwork of Pakistan-based terror groups.
A government official, speaking on background, said that "Dots had to be connected and till that time it was mere conjecture" to link the blasts with Jehadi groups in Pakistan.
The e-mail sent out by the Indian Mujahideen barely half-an-hour after the attack was in keeping with its modus operandi in the past, said the official. 
"It was a ready to go e-mail, only the first line was different, and there too, the mail only used the words- the attack. There was no specification," the official said.

Brussels, Dec 9 (ANI): The stapled visa issue between India and China seems to have been settled. Though neither side is expected to make a formal statement, a government official speaking on background on board Air India One said that he did not expect Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to make a statement during his visit to India from December 16-18 on China no longer issuing stapled visas to Indians residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the fact is that China seems to be moving in that direction.
Recently, when Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh met with Wen Jiabao in Hanoi, Vietnam, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, both leaders had discussed the issue.

New Delhi, Dec 9 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Thursday said that India would seek to deepen its political and strategic cooperation with the European Union, including in the area of counter terrorism and other non-traditional threats to security during the 11th India-European Union Summit to be held on Brussels on Friday and Saturday.
 "India and European Union share common values of democracy, pluralism, tolerance, the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights, freedom of the press and independence of the judiciary," Dr. Singh said in his departure statement on Thursday.
"There is a high degree of convergence of our views on global issues. I will seek to deepen our political and strategic cooperation, including in the area of counter terrorism and other non-traditional threats to security, he added.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): It has been like waiting for Godot. And proverbially, Godot will not arrive in time for the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, either. India-EU trade ties will not be ironed out during the high level summit being held here either, but some steady steps would be taken towards a trade agreement, a government official said.
In June of this year, it had seemed as if the India-EU trade deal had run into serious problems and all hope had been abandoned, said the Indian Government official.
In the past two months however, rapid strides have been made between negotiators and decks have been cleared for initialing by the Prime Minister. This is however not the final sealing of the broad-based bilateral trade and investment agreement (BTIA) that was expected.

Brussels, Dec. 10 (ANI): India and Europe should take the lead in avoiding protectionist trends, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said during a joint media interaction with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, here on Friday after the 11th India-EU Summit.
Dr. Singh said it would be beneficial for both India and European Union to keep their respective markets open and encourage the free flow and movement of people.
“I conveyed to the European leadership the vast opportunities that exist for European investment in India in the areas of infrastructure, high technology, research and development, clean energy and innovation. We are particularly keen to benefit from Europe’s experience in the area of skill development, vocational training and small and medium enterprises,” Singh said.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): India and the European Union are close to signing a broad-based trade and investment agreement, visiting Indian Prime Minister, Dr. manmohan Singh, said here on Friday during a joint media interaction with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.
"Our two sides have done commendable work in negotiations of an India-EU broad-based trade and investment agreement. We are at the last stages of this complex exercise. We have directed our officials to redouble their efforts to reach a conclusion by the spring of 2011. Finalisation of a balanced agreement will bring enormous benefits to both sides," Dr. Singh said.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s daylong visit here to take part in the 11th India-European Union Summit, was originally aimed at how best to enhance and broaden trade ties between the two sides, but surprisingly, there was a shift in the pre-determined narrative, and the focus moved onto international terrorism, and how India, which has faced the brunt of this menace, could provide the expertise to counter it.
When Dr. Singh departed for Brussels, it was a given in Indian media circles that New Delhi had put all drawing pins in place to seal a much awaited Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union, but going by the Joint Statement and the Joint Declaration on International Terrorism issued after the summit, the signing of an FTA with the EU continues to remain a distant goal, has fallen apart, and is unlikely to see the light of day before the middle of 2011.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): India and the European Union (EU) on Friday issued a Joint Declaration on International Terrorism, in which leaders of both sides agreed to take the political dialogue on this issue forward.
According to the declaration, the two sides will continue to discuss counter terrorism cooperation within their security dialogue parameters, and encourage all countries to deny safe haven to terrorists and to dismantle terror infrastructure on the territories under their control.
It was also agreed to boost law enforcement and police cooperation by identifying, including through seminars, areas of cooperation with respect to the designated agencies, according to their respective competencies.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): India and the European Union on Friday took steps to enhance cultural ties between the two regions through a joint declaration to reinforce cooperation and dialogue in the field of culture.
Jawhar Sircar, India’s Culture Secretary and Jan Truszczynski, the European Union’s Director-General for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, signed an agreement to this effect.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the European Commission and the Indian Government.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): Recognizing the important implications of the movement of people for India and EU, leaders of the two sides agreed here on Friday to explore initiatives that could lead to a regular, comprehensive and structured dialogue on migration issues, with a view to deepening cooperation in this field.
The agreement was reached during the 11th EU-India Summit.
Both sides also reiterated their joint commitment to the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), with an emphasis on health and education and a special focus on vocational training.  

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): Taking part in the 11th EU-India Summit here on Friday, leaders of EU and India expressed satisfaction with the recent progress in negotiations on a maritime transport agreement and called for the continuation of the negotiations aiming at the conclusion of a mutually beneficial agreement.
They also called for the early implementation of the civil aviation agreement.
In the field of space, leaders of the two sides acknowledged the active cooperation pursued by space agencies and industries of the two sides for developing, launching and operating earth observation and communication satellites through appropriate bilateral relations. 

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): India and the European Union issued a joint statement after the 11th EU-India Summit here on Friday in which they reiterated their commitment to bilding on the 2008 EU-India Joint Work Programme on energy, clean development and climate change.
Leaders of the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation in these fields, with a view to enhancing energy security, energy efficiency and promoting the development of renewable energy.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): India and the European Union issued a joint statement after the 11th EU-India Summit here on Friday in which they reiterated their commitment to share common values relating to democracy, rule of law, civil liberties and respect for human rights, and agreed to reinforce their strategic partnership.
India represented by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the European Union, represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, agreed to work for meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): Leaders of the European Union (EU) and India on Friday reiterated their common interest in creating a stable, peaceful and inclusive Afghanistan, free from terrorism, as well as their support to the Kabul Process, which seeks to build upon broad international partnership towards further Afghan responsibility and ownership in security, governance and development.
Underlining the need for more effective regional cooperation for the stabilisation of Afghanistan through a joint statement issued here after the daylong 11th EU-India Summit on Friday, India and EU leaders expressed their continued commitment to an ongoing dialogue to this end.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): Leaders of India and the European Union (EU) on Friday welcomed the agreement on reform in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached at Seoul, which they hoped would strengthen the legitimacy of the IMF and increase the involvement of emerging economies in global economic governance.
A joint statement issued on behalf of the two sides taking part in the 11th EU-India Summit here, also said that the leaders welcomed the commitments made at the G-20 Seoul Summit to promptly bring the Doha Development Round to an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced conclusion in 2011, consistent with the mandate of the Doha Development Round and built on the progress already achieved.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): The European Union and India on Friday voiced their firm resolve to continue working for an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced post 2012 agreement as soon as possible based on the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): The European Union (EU) and India on Friday reaffirmed their commitment to global and non-discriminatory disarmament and to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

Brussels, Dec. 10 (ANI): The president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, on Friday, expressed satisfaction with both the substance and the quality of discussions and decisions taken at the 11th EU-India Summit held here with an Indian delegation led by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Praising Dr. Singh’s leadership and vision, Rompuy said both sides had a very intense and productive plenary session during which they reviewed the whole spectrum of bilateral, regional and global issues.
He said the two sides had accepted that there was enormous potential for bilateral relations to grow, and the necessity of bring the strategic partnership launched in 2004 to a higher level.

Brussels, Dec.10 (ANI): Recognizing that substantive progress has been made in several areas of bilateral cooperation, India and the European Union  (EU) on Friday agreed to expedite the process of concluding Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations by the spring of 2011.
Briefing media here after the end of the daylong 11th EU-India Summit here, India’s Commerce Secretary, Rahul Khullar, said that both sides have agreed to intensify work on all pending areas and to meet at the chief negotiators level on at least a monthly basis.
Khullar revealed that he would have a meeting with the EU’s Director-General of Trade in early 2011, and added that a ministerial meeting would take place in March 2011.

Brussels, Dec 11 (ANI): India's Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar on Friday said that end game negotiations relating to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union and New Delhi could be expected to be the most difficult.
When asked whether the negotiations were 50 percent complete, or still in the 25 percent range, Khullar said: "Remember a deal is not done until it is all done. So, on that criterion, nothing is done. I think more than half of it is actually being completed. What are you doing is you are entering into what are called last mile or end game negotiations. What happens in end game negotiations is typically all the very very difficult stuff is left right to the end."

Berlin, Dec 11 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said today he would break his silence on the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) issue "at a suitable time".
Speaking onboard the special aircraft, he said that the existing institutional mechanisms can take care of what the JPC can do and expressed the hope that opposition will see reason.
Dr. Singh said that he was very sad that the Parliament was  not allowed to function.
Asked what if this impasse continued into the budget session, he said: " I am worried about the future of the parliamentary system...I hope reason will prevail."

Berlin, Dec.11 (ANI): German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday, in no uncertain terms, castigated Pakistan for using terror to propagate its political ends.

At a joint press interaction organized here with visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Merkel said: "Pakistan must realize that terror is not a means to an end, and, it should not use terror to solve its political problems."
She further said that Germany would extend its fullest cooperation to India in battling terrorism.

Berlin, Dec.11 (ANI): Describing Germany as the economic powerhouse of Europe, and as India's largest trading partner in Europe, visiting Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said that it is playing a key role in ensuring financial stability and economic recovery in the Eurozone.
Conveying India's full support to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in this endeavour through an opening statement made at a joint press interaction here, Dr. Singh said that the economic resurgence of Europe is critical for a balanced recovery of the global economy. 
"We have agreed to continue our close consultations within the G-20 framework to work towards such an outcome," he said.

Berlin, Dec.11 (ANI): Visiting Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Saturday, praised Germany for supporting the opening of international commerce for India in the field of civil nuclear energy, adding that both sides have discussed the possibilities of entering into bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy. 
"We deeply value Germany's consistent support, including in the Nuclear Suppliers Group," said Singh in an opening statement issued during a joint press interaction here.
He also said that German excellence in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors is well known, and welcomed the steady growth of German investments in India. 

Berlin, Dec.11 (ANI): Germany will organize a Year of Germany in India beginning September 2011 to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, said visiting Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Saturday.
India will organize the Days of India in Germany during 2012-13.  I have invited Chancellor Merkel to visit India next year, and I look forward to hosting her in Delhi, Dr. Singh added while delivering his opening statement at a joint press interaction here.
He further said: "Relations between our two countries are based on the strong foundations of shared values of freedom, democracy and respect for fundamental rights. Our strategic partnership has evolved tremendously in recent years. I look forward to working with Chancellor Merkel to further strengthen and deepen this partnership."

Berlin, Dec 11 (ANI): German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said there was no trust deficit between Germany and India on the issue of high technology transfer.
Responding to a question from this reporter during a joint press interaction with visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, on why Germany puts restrictions on the transfer of high technology to India, Merkel said both sides were working on modalities to ease such restrictions.
Merkel said: "On the transfer of high technology for peaceful purposes, the Indian Prime Minister mentioned the potential for high technology trade between India and Germany. We are cooperating closely on this, and will work towards a smoother cooperation."

Berlin, Dec 11 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, will leave for New Delhi from here on Saturday after concluding his two-nation European tour of Belgium and Germany.
During his visit to the German capital, Dr Singh held talks with German leaders on counter-terrorism ties and UN reforms.
The Prime Minister also addressed a joint press conference along with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, and praised Germany for supporting the opening of international commerce for India in the field of civil nuclear energy, adding that both sides have discussed the possibilities of entering into bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy.

Onboard Special Aircraft, Dec.12 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's visit to Germany and Belgium was successful since several high level exchanges took place with leaders of both countries, said Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Vivek Katju.
Interacting with mediapersons onboard Air India One while returning to New Delhi, Katju said: "Prime Minister met the Prime Minister of Belgium (Yves Leterme) yesterday evening. His meeting was in the context of high-level exchanges that have been taking place between the two countries over the past few years."

New Delhi, Dec.12 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, returned to New Delhi on Sunday after completing a three-day visit to Brussels and Berlin.
During his visit to the German capital Berlin, Dr. Singh held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues such as counter-terrorism ties and UN reforms and how to take the next steps in improving the bilateral ties and strategic partnership between the two countries.
The highlight of the visit to Berlin was Chancellor Merkel issuing a stern message to Pakistan that terrorism is not a means to solve political problems and was "unacceptable" to Germany and the rest of the international community. 

New Delhi, Dec.13 (ANI): What if Arundhati Roy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for err "championing the cause of oppressed minorities in India, particularly Kashmiris and Maoists”?
This pithy article by Rupa Subramanya in The Wall Street Journal  http://on.wsj.com/hT4Geb should really set us thinking. Does it?
Rupa writes in the hypothetical, but not implausible event, that if Ms. Roy gets “that” phone call from Oslo, what will be the reaction in India? How would you react? Would you take it as a symbol of the triumph of our democracy or a black mark on Indian national identity? Would you feel proud or outraged?  Really, how would the Government of India react?

Mangalore, January 1, 2009 (ANI)

Where are the famous Mangaloreans who brandish their origins at the drop of a hat? Why are they not speaking up for the protection of the secular and liberal culture of this beautiful port city?
Aishwarya Rai (films), Vijay Mallya (industrialist), Suneil Shetty (films), Margaret Alva (politician), George Fernandes (politician), Veerappa Moily (politician), Oscar Fernandes (politician), Veerendra Hegde (Dharmadhikari of the Dharmasthala temple), Shilpa Shetty (actress), Maxwell Pereira (super cop) and Arvind Adiga (Booker prize) speak up for your city.

This is not the Mangalore that I grew up in…. the city where I spent my summers at the homes of aunts and grandparents, visited restaurants and temples, wearing whatever I pleased. Nobody stopped me. Not even the Shankaracharya of the Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri.


London, April 1, 2009 (ANI)
On the sidelines of the G-20 summit meeting are the innovative protests and demonstrations that will attract just about as much attention as the photo opportunity of world leaders shaking hands. Protestors have every intention of being innovative and clever and fool the over 20,000 cops who will be on duty on April 1st and 2nd during the summit.

All leave has been cancelled in the Metropolitan police and extra officers are being drafted in from forces across the country to help the capital's force during the entire week. But anarchists, anti-globalisation, anti-war and environmental protest groups are forming alliances to storm buildings, seal off roads, set up impromptu climate camps and launch inflatable dinghies in an attempt to breach the summit security at the Excel centre in Docklands via the river Thames.


London, April 1, 2009 (ANI)
What’s cooking is the buzz.... What is going to be served at the banquet hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the world's 20 most powerful leaders? The menu is a secret but some leaks are out. One is that it is going to be comparably frugal and two that pork is off the menu. That is certain. The Saudi Arabian, Turkish and Indonesian delegations wouldn't want that.
It is a six course meal but without truffles and caviar. The menu has to reflect the difficult economic times of today or else the host would look very much like Marie Antoinette, medieval French Queen who is supposed to have said "let them eat cake" when she was told her subjects had no bread to eat. It just will make very bad public relations to see Gordon Brown sipping champagne and nibbling on duck when his people are scrimping on groceries at Tesco and Sainsbury.


London, April 1, 2009 (ANI)
It is a glorified house arrest. No less. For those who need to commute to work to downtown London on 1st or 2nd it is going to be a harrowing exercise. Everybody has been advised to carry as many forms of identification as they possess. Roads are blocked, thousands of policemen are patrolling the streets, presidential cavalcades are speeding down roads, potential protest demonstration sites are being sanitized of public movement, banks and government institutions are being guarded with particular emphasis

At the Excel centre where the meetings will take place, the security is so difficult that residents living in the area might as well not step out. The Dockland Railway Stations will be closed near the centre. The security exercise is the most complex and vast one ever undertaken by the Scotland Yard. And the most expensive one too. The guesstimates are about 7.5 million pounds for the two-day summit.


London, Apr 3, 2009 (ANI)
Journalists from across the globe, who have gathered in London to cover the G-20 Summit, gave mixed reactions about their experience on Thursday.
The huge entourage of journalists who have gathered said the schedule was too hectic.
“It is hectic because the information comes out in a very unpredictable way. Especially for the timings of the press conferences; you don’t know when they are going to happen. I generally think that facilities are very good, but perhaps true to the nature of the summit, the precise things like press conference and briefings, should have been made a little clearer,” said Tom Wilson, a journalist working for a Japanese radio.


New Delhi, April 26, 2009 (ANI)
It is as certain to happen as Bilawal Bhutto will one day become Prime Minister, as certain as some Indian politician will accuse ‘Pakistani agent’ of tampering with EVM machines, as certain as match fixing, as certain as Prakash Karat finally supporting the Congress Party.
A Pakistani terrorist addressing the media on Friday, in Srinagar, like some Lok Sabha hopeful, waxing eloquently about how one hundred of thirty one of them have entered India through the LOC. Is there a kumbh mela on or something? Is India issuing visas to terrorists in Islamabad? Like a Bollywood hero, ‘Syed Moinullah’ with a two-day stubble, flick in place, haunting green eyes ‘informs’ reporters how he was trained and sent to Kashmir to ‘liberate’ hapless Kashmiri Muslims. And surprise! Surprise! He found none. Aw! Really? Did he go meet Hurriyat leaders? They are a real sad lot.

Washington, July 7, 2009 (ANI)

Basamati rice is the preferred choice of Indians everywhere in the world. In the US, Indian grocery stores prominently display at least 10 to 15 varieties of basmati rice, all imported from India and Pakistan. Most Indians buy basmati rice in bulk, 15 to 20 kilos in sacks made of jute or plastic.
But the trend is changing. Indian Americans are switching to non-basmati brands to cut cost, buying just two kilo basmati rice packs for special occasions like pujas or parties.In times of recession, drastic cuts in grocery bills is called for says Kaval Shah of Fredrick Maryland.
He works as a real estate agent. Once he held only one job but has had to take a huge pay cut ever since the mortgage crisis hit the U.S.

New Delhi, July 13, 2009 (ANI)

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, left for the French capital, Paris, today to be the Chief Guest of Honour at France’s National Day celebrations on July 14th.
He is the first Indian leader to be bestowed this honour, as France does not have a tradition of inviting foreign heads of state to be chief guests at their Bastille Day or National Day celebrations.
This day commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789, which was then seen as a symbol of a rising modern nation.

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