Sunday, January 31, 2010

10 pc GDP for ten years will eradicate poverty : Kalam

Kochi : Former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam today said if the country could achieve a GDP growth rate of 10 per cent and maintain it for ten years, poverty could be eradicated.

Interacting with teachers on the occasion of the launch of the 'IGNOU-Pragati Finishing School for Teachers' here, Dr Kalam said '''education alone cannot eradicate poverty in the country but it could be wiped off by realizing the vision 2020 statement.'' He said the 'Vision 2020' statement envisages the development of agriculture, agro-based industries, education, healthcare and IT.

Reiterating the importance of teaching, Dr Kalam said the nation needs teachers who love the profession and help in generating quality youth, beneficial for the country.

He also called for a paradigm shift in the evaluation process of students, whereby the pupils were moulded as full-fledged citizens and equipped to face the challenges of life.

To a question thatwhy more people were not opting for the teaching profession, Dr Kalam said the teachers should be taken care of socially and economically, for more to come into the profession.

He said teachers should be particular about developing a creative mind for students. This would augur well for them in the future.

During his interaction with about 1,500 teachers, Dr Kalam also administered a 11-point oath to them. They encourage teachers to love their profession and mould an ignited youth, beneficial for the nation.

When asked about his dream, Dr Kalam said '' my dream is to see one billion smiles in our country.'' He also remembered his teacher Shivasubramanian Iyer who instilled an interest in him to learn more about 'flight' after his lessons on how a bird flew with its wings.

Dr Kalam also stressed the importance of teachers creating five minds --disiplinary, synthezising creative, respectful and ethical mind,in students.

Munnar's illegal constructions to be demolished

All encroachments at the popular Munnar hill station, including by the Tatas, are illegal and will be demolished, a Kerala minister said Saturday.

A seven-member cabinet sub-committee of Kerala inspected the two check dams constructed by the Tatas here Saturday and termed the constructions as illegal.

'From what we have seen, it is clear that they have spent may be Rs.two or Rs.three crore for the construction of these check dams and it has to be inquired why they did that. We have asked the district administration to see that these are demolished,' State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters after rounding of the visit to several places where encroachments have taken place.

The seven-member team reached Munnar for an on the spot inspection after an emergency meeting of Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) liaison committee here Friday asked the V.S.Achuthanandan government to take strong steps against all encroachments at Munnar, including by the Tatas.

Balakrishnan said that a detailed report on their visit would be submitted to the state cabinet that meets Tuesday. Besides, a report would also be filed in the High Court.

'Wehave found out that some of the resorts here came up almost eight years back when the state was ruled by the Congress-led United Democratic Front. Maximum encroachments took place here when the UDF ruled the state. We will also look into the role of government officials,' Balakrishnan said.

Located 2,500 feet above sea level, Munnar in Idukki district is often called the 'tea town' of Kerala as it has more than 50,000 acres of tea estates, first owned by James Finlay and Company. Changing hands a few times since then, it is now with the Tata Tea since 1983.

In one of his last judgments ahead of retirement last week, Kerala High Court Chief Justice S.R. Bannurmath lashed out at the Achuthanandan government, saying 'green' Munnar has now become 'brown' Munnar because of the widespread encroachments by the rich and mighty.

Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy visited Munnar Thursday and said the Achuthanandan government has failed miserably in containing encroachments.

In reply to a question on whether encroachers would be evicted, Balakrishnan said that irrespective of big or small encroachments, legal steps would be taken against all those who have violated the law.

Kerala politicians serve storm in Munnar tea cup

29 Jan 2010, ET Bureau

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the misty heights of Munnar's tea plantation-rich hill slopes, the serenity has just been broken with political posturing.

Nearly three years after the CPM-led Kerala government demolished resort buildings allegedly constructed on encroached land, Munnar's tourism industry is left to shudder again as the government and the opposition are pointing fingers at each other regarding the reasons for repeated encroachments in the region.

Following reports of more encroachments in Munnar, chief minister VS Achuthanandan has vowed "not to spare a single person" involved in encroachments and opposition leader Oommen Chandy made a dash to the hill station, challenging the government to act, rather than list out its plans.

Next in line to make a first-hand assessment of the goings-on in Munnar is a BJP team, scheduled to visit the destination on Saturday.

Munnar's tourism industry players who are still trying to put behind the bad memories of 2007 when large-scale demolition of resort buildings scared tourists away, followed by the global economic slowdown, the latest developments have created fresh apprehension.

"There is indeed anxiety among tourists and travel agents. We are getting calls from travel agents in Mumbai and Delhi, asking if everything is alright in Munnar", says Rajan Kumar an official of T&U, a 30-room property in Munnar. He says the situation has also prompted some travel agents to try and get a discount, in the backdrop of news about likely disruptions in the tourism sector in Munnar.

Another resort official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says it is not only the tourism sector in Munnar, but all of Idukki district that is being affected by the doubts cast over land deals in the district. "It is now virtually impossible to pledge your land for a bank loan", says he.

KC Chandrahasan, managing director of Kerala Travels, a leading travel sector player, feels the latest Munnar imbroglio is little more than a storm in a tea cup. "It is the latest complication in the mess that Munnar has turned out to be. The destination is mature enough to tide over the situation", says he.

But resort operators in Munnar are worried about the bad publicity being generated about the destination. And they are equally worried about the large-scale destruction of the immaculate hill slopes of Munnar. For the moment, though, ideology rather than ecology is ruling the Munnar mountains.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sankaranarayanan sworn in Maharashtra Governor

Mumbai: Kateekal Sankaranarayanan was today sworn in as the Governor of Maharashtra here.

The swearing-in of Sankaranarayanan, earlier Governor of Jharkhand, took place at 10 am at the Raj Bhavan where
Acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court J N Patel administered the oath of office to him.

Outgoing Governor S C Jamir, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, members of the
state cabinet were among those present on the occasion.

79-year-old Sankaranarayanan brings with him a vast and varied experience in public life and had dominated the
political firmamentof Kerala for nearly five decades.

Born on October 15, 1932 in Kerala, Sankaranarayanan's initiation into politics started early when he became a member
of Students Organization in 1946.

He rose to the position of Kerala Congress president in 1977 after serving as General Secretary and President of
the Palghat district unit of the party and also served as the Working Committee Member of the AICC.

Sankaranarayanan was elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly several times and represented Thrithala,
Sreekrishnapuram, Ottappalam and Palghat constituencies. He was also a member of the ministries of K Karunakaran and A K Antony. PTI

Union Minsters from Kerala hve o work in Delhi - V. S.

Thrissur:Kerala Chief Minister V S Achutanandan derided that union ministers from Kerala have no work in Delhi and they are content with issuing statements against the state government. These junior ministers whose condition is so pathetic that they have to get passes to visit their own cabinet ministers might even start strikes to enjoy this privilege, he added. He was inaugurating the closing ceremony of the three day state meeting of C.I.T.U at Thekkinkadu ground in Thrissur.
'one minister of state had alleged that the state govt. is doing nothing to curb the price rice and is selling the central quotaof rice to the black market ', the C.M. said. Was reducing the central quota from 1,17000 tons to 17000 tons the generosity of the centre, he asked.
The central govt. which is bending backwards to help the monopolies recover from global recession had forgotten the problems of the common man, he charged. Global capitalism which is built upon speculative trading and speculative capital is bursting like a bubble, he said.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Navya Nair enters wedlock

January 21, 2010: Navya Nair, the Malayalam film actor entered wedlock at the specially prepared auditorium of Harippad Cheppad CKHSS School.

Santhosh Menon, the vice president of Sreechakra Udhyog Limited Mumbai, is her groom.

CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, G. Sudhakaran, R. Balakrishna Pillai, Ganesh Kumar, G. Karthiyakan and renowned cine actors were participated in the function.

Navya’s neighbours and her admirers are also welcomed in the function

Shiv Sankar Menon is India's new National Security Advisor

New Delhi: Former Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has been appointed as India's next NationalSecurity Advisor (NSA). Menon succeeds M K Narayanan who was appointed the Governor of West Bengal.

The post of NSA will be of the rank equivalent to a Minister of State.

Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran was also in the race.

Handover Paul murder case to CBI: HC

January 21, 2010

Kochi: The Kerala High court directed the state government to handover the investigations into Paul Mutthhot murder case to CBI.

A Division bench, comprising Chief Justice S R Bannurmath and Justice Thothathil B Radhakrishnan, after hearing the petition filed by Muthoot business group chairman M G George said the CBI should submit the report to the court within six months.

The court observed that the police investigation into the case is incomplete. The court also asked the police to handover all documents including the case diary to the CBI.

The court also flayed IG Vinson M Paul for conducting a press conference within 24 hours of murder detailing progress made in the investigation. Noting that several statements made by the IG in the press conference can be found in the chargesheet the court said that Vinson Paul’s revelation that an S-shaped knife was used to commit murder came before the murder weapon was found. It was not right on part of the IG to reveal the details of the case through a press conference.

The state government had earlier informed the court that it was not ’afraid’ of a CBI investigation in the case and that a fair probe has been conducted by the state police. George M George, brother of deceased Paul, had alleged that police had not recorded the family’s statements properly and "omitted relevant parts from their statements".

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rajini said he loved Malayalam films and would definitely do a film if the script was interesting!

Last week, Rajinikanth flew to Thiruvananthapuram on a one-day business trip for motion capturing for the climax of the Shankar-directed Endhiran.

Rajini went straight to a famous IT park for motion capturing (a technique where six or seven cameras are used to capture Rajini’s facial structure and body movement and later, mixed with the animation work).

When the word spread that Rajinikanth was in town, nearly 5,000 people turned up outside the huge gates of the IT park. He waved at the huge gathering, and also gave ‘politically correct’ sound bytes to the media. Rajini said he loved Malayalam films and would definitely do a film if the script was interesting!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Colourful Kerala Rajdhani makes its maiden journey

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Delhi: Kerala-bound Rajdhani Express painted in the beautiful colours of its beaches, backwaters and enchanting art forms went on its inaugural journey on Sunday, hoping to catch the eyeballs of potential domestic tourists as the train snakes its way to Thiruvananthapuram and back.

"Eventually, we hope to convert these eyeballs into footfalls," Kerala Tourism Secretary V Venu said here, at the inaugural-run of the Thiruvananthapuram-bound Rajdhani from the Hazrat Nizamuddin station in the presence of Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja.

Wrapping the country's fastest train in the new livery is part of Kerala Tourism's efforts to woo domestic tourists, starting with those from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, states that fall on the Rajdhani's route.

The train, having a new tag line, 'Chalo Kerala' in Hindi and 'Go Kerala' in English, will journey through the heart of India for a period of six months and is to continue until June 2010. The train is expected to reach around 85,000 commuters who throng the railway platforms everyday along the route.

According to the data available with Kerala Tourism, domestic tourist arrivals to Kerala last year touched 75 lakh (against 7.5 lakh international tourists).

"Growing this segment is an important priority for us," Kerala Tourism Director Shivshankar said.

"Last year, due to the global recession there were apprehensions about decline in international tourist arrivals. So in 2009-10 we are following a structured plan to have more of domestic tourists and for this a lot of activities are being undertaken," Shivshankar said. The Rajdhani Express campaign is one of them.

Kerala, described by travel guide Lonely Planet as the state "where India slips into second gear, stops to smell the roses and always talks to strangers," is already reaching out to tour operators in smaller cities like Pune and Nagpur to promote its stunning cliffs, pristine beaches and houseboat cruises on the backwaters.

Besides the train livery, the state tourism department has launched a Dream Season offer where travellers get attractive hotel packages between March and October.

Shivshankar said he expects foreign tourist arrivals to also rise and overall visitor numbers to increase five to 10 per cent.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation, a public- private partnership between the Commerce Ministry and industry body CII, foreign exchange earnings in US dollar terms during the month of November 2009 were USD 1.2 billion compared to USD 1 billion in November 2008.

Asked about travel advisories issued by some developed countries warning their citizens about security risks in India, Shivshankar said: "There are not of serious concern. We have gone through worse."

The IBEF quoted the Euromonitor International's Travel and Tourism in India report as saying that "the Tourism Ministry... has undertaken various measures, such as stepping up vigilance in key cities and at historically important tourist sites. It also deployed increased manpower and resources for improving security checks at key airports and railway stations."

As regards investments in the hospitality sector and their demand for industry status, Shivshankar said most of the investments in Kerala are by and large by local entrepreneurs.

"We do not have very big Marriotts or Four Seasons and investments have not been a constraint."

CPM leader Jyoti Basu passes away

Kolkata: Jyoti Basu, veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader who was West Bengal chief minister for 23 years and straddled Indian politics for over six decades, died here Sunday after a prolonged illness. He was 95.
'Jyoti Basu is no more,' said party state secretary Biman Bose.

Early Sunday morning, two doctors on the medical board at the AMRI Hospital, where the 95-year-old leader is admitted, Dr Susrut Banerjee and Dr Ajit Kumar Maity, said, 'his heartbeat dropped below 50 when the normal is 60 and a temporary pacemaker was installed'.
Asked about his condition after the installation of the pacemaker, they said, 'it's pretty bad'.

Before the rate of his heartbeat dropped, his blood pressure also declined when he was on Slow Low Efficiency Daily Dialysis (SLEDD), Dr Banerjee said. 'The toxic elements in his system were leading to acidosis. His metabolic rate increased as the dialysis failed to dispose of the toxins in his system,' Banerjee, a critical care specialist, said.

The SLEDD, which was to be underway for eight hours, was stoppedafter seven-and-a-half hours because of the drop in blood pressure.
Dr Maity, Basu's personal physician, said, 'Since he has suffered multi-organ failure, the effect of the dialysis is not being sustained.'
Asked if the SLEDD would continue tomorrow as announced, he said that it all depended on the former West Bengal chief minister's blood pressure.

Dr Maity who had left the hospital earlier returned at around midnight, so did Dr Trisith Roy, a neuro medicine specialist.
Senior CPI (M) leaders Rabin Deb and Amitabha Nandi also rushed to the hospital. The evening bulletin of the hospital said: 'He is in a state of multi-organ failure. His condition is extremely critical.' Hospital Executive Director D N Agarwal earlier said that Basu was on full ventilatory support and there was also a further drop in his urine output.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, senior CPI (M) leaders Prakash Karat and Brinda Karat, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and former chief minister Siddharta Sankar Ray visited the hospital. Basu was admitted to AMRI Hospital with pneumonia on January one and put on a ventilator on January six.

Basu was a role model for Indian politics: BJP

New Delhi, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the staunchest anti-Communist force in the country, Sunday mourned the death of Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, describing him as a 'role model for Indian politics'.
In a moving tribute, senior BJP leader Arun Jatiley told reporters here that Basu, who was West Bengal's chief minister for 23 long years, was one of the 'tallest leaders' in Indian politics with 'high credibility'.

'Jyoti Basu was unquestionably one of the tallest contemporary leaders in India... He was devoted to his ideology andplayed the longest innings in Indian politics,' Jaitley said.

The BJP leader said Basu was 'a politician of high credibility. Our party deeply mourns his death. We pay great tribute to him. He is one of the leaders from whom we all have learned something.

'The strength of Indian democracy is that it gives you space for differences. Despite differences there are always leaders who are opposed to you, (yet) who have admirable qualities,' Jaitley added.

'He was a role model for Indian politics. His death is a loss for Indian polity.'

Mamata seeks three-day state mourning

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Sunday described Marxist icon Jyoti Basu as a 'great political figure' and called for a 72-hour state mourning.
'I think we all should observe a three-day state mourning across the country to pay homage to such a great political figure of Indian politics,' the Trinamool Congress leader told reporters here.

'He was the first and lastchapter of the Communist movement in India,' she said after emerging out of the AMRI hospital here. 'He (Basu) will be remembered for his political achievements because of his pioneering role in the country's Left movement.

'I had very good relations with him, especially in last few years of his life. He discussed many political issues with me and I always tried to attend all the meetings whenever he called me,' said Banerjee.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Retirement age of medical college teachers raised to 60

Thiruvananthapuram: The LDF Government today raised the retirement age of medical college teachers from 55 to 60.

Announcing the cabinet decision, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan told reporters that the new pension age of the teachers would come into effect from this year.

The total strength of teachers in five government medical colleges in the state was about 1,900. Nearly 50 teachers are due to retire
on March 31 next.

The government decision comes in the wake of Indian Medical Council circular asking all the states to bring the retirement age to 65 years. Besides, the state government had also agreed to raise the retirement age as part of a package announced when it banned private practice by the government doctors late last year.

The LDF had last week recommended to the government to peg the retirement age of medical college teachers at 60. PTI

BJP asks Chandy to explain meeting with Madhani's aide

Thiruvananthapuram: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday asked Congress leader and former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy to reveal why he had met Poonthura Siraj, the close aide of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman Abdul Nazir Madhani.

V.Muraleedharan, who took over as the BJP's state unit chief last week, raised this issue in his first interaction with mediapersons here Tueday.

'This meeting took place in Chandy's home town Kottayam day before yesterday (Sunday). Since Madhani and his wife are under a cloud, it is imperative that Chandy come out with what transpired between them because the National Investigation Agency is now investigating into a few cases in Kerala,' Muraleedharan said.

Madhani's wife Sufiya was arrested last month after she was indicted as an accused in the 2005 Kalamassery bus burning case.
This is one of the cases now being investigated by the NIA.

The prime accused in the case is T.Nazeer, the self-styled south India chief of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who is also an accused in the 2005 Bangalore bomb blast. He is now in the custody of the Bangalore police after he was picked up last year by the police near the Meghalaya border.

Muraleedharan said they wanted to know what had transpired at te meeting betwen Chandy and Siraj.

'We wish to know what the deal was, was it that the PDP pledged support to the Congress in the local bodies poll to be held in six months time and the assembly polls to be held next year? If that is the case, what was the assurance that Chandy gave to Siraj?' he asked.

Asked his response, Chandy told IANS that he will reveal all once he comes to know for himself what exactly the BJP leader had said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CPI-M not against believers, asserts Pinarayi

Thiruvananthapuram: Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) Kerala state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan Monday countered a former MP's contention that believers had no place in the party, and said the CPI-M would even field Christian priests in polls if they are 'presentable'.

'We are a party where we do not mind even putting up Christian priests as our candidate and we only look into if they are presentable to be a candidate,' Vijayan said, addressing a rally of the party's youth wing. He was reacting to the statement of former party MP K.S.Manoj, who had quit claiming there is no place for believers in the CPI-M.

Manoj, who represented Alappuzha in the previous Lok Sabha, last week said he was forced to take the decision to leave the party because he felt his religious belief stood above his party ideology. He said he was pained to see the recent rectification document which called on party leaders not to take part in religious functions.

Vijayan, however, refuted Manoj's claim, and said the number of members in the party who are believers has increased.

'We, of course, have had issues with the church but that wasn't public. Manoj has been with us for some time. He was a believer when he first became a candidate and won. In the recent polls, he lost. And after his loss he was always in Delhi, and did the call of god come to him after this, leading to his decision to cut ties with us?' Vijayan asked.

He said Manoj's charge was an old one, often used against the CPI-M, that the party was against religion and religious beliefs.

'We are not against any religion or against religious beliefs, instead we will lay down our lives to protect those who find any problem in going ahead with their beliefs from any quarter,' Vijayan said.

Manoj, a doctor by profession, trounced Congress veteran V.M. Sudheeran in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

In the May 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he was defeated by Congress' K.C. Venugopal and since then has been working as doctor in Delhi.

750 Astro Tourists to view longest annular solar eclipse

Kochi: India's 'first Eclipse Cruise' will leave Kochi port tomorrow with about 750 Astro tourists to view the longest annular Solar Eclipse of the third millennium from Male in Maldives on January 15.

Space Technology and Education Private Ltd (SPACE), a pioneer organisation working for the development of science and astronomy in India, is organising the cruise along with Louis cruises on board M V Aquamarine.

The charges for the 'four day-3 night trip' would work to between Rs 17,000 to rs 50,000.

SPACE has launched Astro Tourism-the perfect mix of travel and astronomy in India for the first time and aims to bring together the exciting sphere of astronomy, space services and unravelling the wonders of the sky, Amit Verma, Chief Executive Officer SPACE, said.

The last time such an annular solar eclipse was viewed in India was on Nov 22, 1965 and the phenomena is not expected to be repeated before June 21, 2020. This will be the longest annular eclipse of the millennium with its duration being 11 minutes and 08 seconds over the Indian ocean.

The ship would leave Kochi for Maldives tomorrow at around 3 pm and reach Male the next day by around 5 pm. On Jan 15, on the day of the eclipse, the annularity (also known as ring of fire) would be visible for 10 min 46 sec. The eclipse will start at 10:15:20 peaking at 12:25:43 and ending at 13:23:14 (all Maldives local time), the organisers said.

'We would be carrying telescopes, binoculars to show deep sky objects, different galaxies, nebulae and star clusters' Verma said. PTI

Karunakaran tries again to get son back in Congress

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Kerala chief minister K. Karunakaran has again written to state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala to call a meeting of the party's executive to discuss the possibility of re-admitting his son K. Muraleedharan.
But Chennithala, who was out of town when the 91-year-old veteran Congress leader wrote to him, is noncommittal.

'At the moment, I am unable to set a date when the next executive of the party would be called because I on my own cannot take a decision,' Chennithala told IANS.

Karunakaran had written to Chennithala in November on the same issue.

Since then, Muraleedharan, who had stayed back with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) when his father returned to the Congress fold, has made two visits to New Delhi to meet the national leadership
of the Congress.

Karunakaran returned to the Congress in December 2007 without Muraleedharan, who preferred to remain the Kerala president of the NCP.

The father-son duo had walked out of the Congress in 2005 and formed the Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran. One year later, they found the going tough and merged the party with the NCP for their political survival.

When this gamble too failed to pay off, Karunakaran, much against the wishes of his son, admitted he was wrong in leaving the Congress and got the nod from party president Sonia Gandhi to return.

With his political fortunes dipping, Muraleedharan quit the NCP last year and since then has been angling for a return to the Congress. However, the party at its executive meeting in August unanimously decided that they don't need Muraleedharan.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chandy flays attack against Zachariah

Alapuzha: Opposition leader Oomen Chandy today flayed the attack against litterateur Paul Zacharia saying that the CPM is trying to bring into force the Chinese model. He said this at a function in Alapuzha onSunday. The CPM should answer the allegations thrown against its former CPI-M Lok Sabha member from Alappuzha K.S Manoj who had tendered his resignation from the CPM, he said. Manoj had quit following a clash of political ideology and religious belief.

Resignation of Manoj, setback to 'godless' CPM

09 Jan 2010

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The resignation of former MP Dr K S Manoj from CPI-M, raising the issue of "faith" has come as a jolt to the party as it plans to broad base its support by attracting minorities.

Manoj, who wrested Alppuzha Lok Sabha seat from Congress in 2004, but was defeated in 2009, resigned from the party last night, saying it was difficult for him to follow the recent party directive, insisting that its members refrain from participating in religious rites and ceremonies.

This norm was adopted by the party's central leadership as part of its "rectification" process in the wake of the eloctoral debacle to stem 'wrong tendencies and shortcomings' in its ranks to strengthen their orientation to Marxist values.

A medical doctor who took up social work as a member of the Catholic Youth Movement, Manoj said it was difficult for him to do justice to the directive as he was a believer and a participant in religious rites.

He, however, said he had no quarrel with the party and the decision to give up membership was purely personal.

The resignation of Manoj comes months after the expulsion of former MP from Kannur A P Abdullakutty, who had also embarrassed the party through his open acknowledgement of his faith.

He had since then joined Congress and got elected to the assembly through a by-election.

Manoj and Abdullakutty were often projected as the"minority faces" of the CPI-M.

Over the last couple of decades, the CPI-M in Kerala has been working hard to strengthen its support among minorities, since Muslims and Christians form about 40 per cent of the state's total population.

The CPI-M leadership had often in the past taken great pains to explain that the party is not opposed to belivers in relgion and God.

At the same time, there is a section in the party who believe that allowing its cadre to openly practice religion would do long-term harm to the party, whose ideological basis is "dialectical materialism."

Interestingly, the party did not come in the way of Manoj's faith when he was made the candidate or when he took oath in the name of God.

According to Manoj, the new directive on faith did not go well with the Indian Constitution and the national ethos.

Reacting to Manoj's resignation, his former colleague Abdullakutty said "whatever he said about the faith and CPI-M has once again been proved right."

Though the CPI-M is yet to come out with its reaction to his resignation, party sources said his action would not have any impact.

Dr K.S. Manoj quits CPI-M

New Delhi: Former CPI-M Lok Sabha member from Alappuzha K.S. Manoj has quit the party following a clash of political ideology and religious belief.

Speaking to reporters, 45-year-old Manoj, a Christian, said that he was forced to take the decision to leave the party because he felt that his religious belief stood above his party ideology.

'As part of the recent rectification document of the party which is now being circulated to all the lower committees of the party it says that party leaders should not take part in religious functions. This I found difficult because I have a strong beliefin my religion,' said Manoj, who trounced Congress veteran V.M. Sudheeran in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

In the May 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he was defeated by sitting Alappuzha Congress legislator K.C. Venugopal.

He added that even the Indian Constitution provides the right to an individual to pursue his religious beliefs.

'In my resignation letter to the party, I have asked that this part should be reconsidered,' said Manoj.

When contacted at his Alappuzha residence, his relative said that Manoj is in Delhi and confirmed the news that Manoj has resigned from the party.

Manoj, a doctor by profession, has faxed his resignation letter to the Thumboli local committee and the Alappuzha district committee.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Court stays work on proposed Islamic bank in Kerala

January 5th, 2010

A division bench of the Kerala High Court Tuesday stayed all further move by the state-owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corp (KSIDC) to set up an Islamic bank.

The division bench gave its orders after a petition was filed by former central minister Subramanian Swamy, who maintained that the proposed bank was against India’s secular credentials and its banking norms.

The court accepted the petition and asked notices to be issued to the central government and KSIDC.

Last year, in response to questions raised in the assembly, state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had said the share capital of the proposed bank had been fixed at Rs.1,000 crore.

The government gave the green signal to the project after a feasibility study found that an Islamic bank was a viable proposition in Kerala, following which a company was registered to take the process forward.

Soon after the court ruling Tuesday, a company director told IANS on conditions of anonymity that the ruling would be challenged.

“Now that the company has been formed, we will also see that we fight the case,” he said.

As per the proposal, the bank will not pay any interest to customers, while a Sharia board would decide what sort of investments it would make.

The proposed bank would have Sharia-compliant banking products and profits made out of the investments would be distributed to the shareholders.

Muslims comprise the second largest community in Kerala, accounting for close to 24 percent of the state’s 3.2-crore population.

Of the total remittances of Rs.24,525 crore received by the state till 2007, that by Muslims stood at Rs.12,158 crore.

Nobel laureate trashes 2012 Doomsday prediction

Nobel laureate and American cosmologist John Cromwell Mather Monday trashed the doomsday prediction for December 2012.

'There is no scientific basis for such a prediction. The fear that the world will end in December 2012 is uncalled for,' Mather told reporters at the 97th Indian Science Congress (ISC 2012).

Mather, 63, won the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Allaying fears of the doomsday at an interactive session here, Mather said he was going ahead with the USD 6-billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project for its scheduled launch during 2014.

The infrared-optimsed JWST observatory, a successor to the aging Hubble space telescope,
will probe the first galaxies that were formed in the early universe to verify the Big Bang theory at the time of creation.

In a lighter vein, Mather's wife Jane, who was present on the occasion, said they were confident that the world would be around beyond 2012.

'My husband is currently working on the James Webb telescope, which will go up in space during 2014,' Jane added.

The apocalyptic belief -- that a cataclysmic event will occur Dec 21-23, 2012, destroying the world -- figured in the age-old Mayan calendar of the then Latin American communities in Guatemala. They feared end after a 5,125-year-long cycle.

The prediction that has gripped the world has also led to plethora of books, TV documentaries, videos and a Hollywood film titled '2012 Doomsday'.

CBI Special Court dismissed petition filed by Pinarayi Vijayan

Kochi: The CBI Special Court here today dismissed a petition filed by CPI(M) Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, an accused in the Rs 100-crore graft case, seeking a direction to CBI to examine Union Defence Minister A K Antony in the case.

Dismissing the petition, CBI special court judge K P Jothindranath said the court cannot interfere in the case. CBI had opposed the petition saying since the chargesheet had been laid in the case, it cannot be reopened.

Vijayan's counsel M K Damodaran, who is a former Advocate General, had argued that all relevant documents should be looked into by the investigating
officer for a 'transparent' investigation.

The investigating officer should look at all material documents till 2005 relating to the case, he said.

The case relates to the alleged corruption in the award of contract to S N C Lavalin, the Canadian company, for
renovation of three hydel project in 1998 when Vijayan was the power minister.

According to Vijayan, who is the seventh accused in the case, Antony was the Chief Minister till May 1996 and G
Karthikeyan was power minister then. The contract, including the supply of materials and consultancy was concluded on February 24, 1996 during the tenure of Karthikeyan. PTI