PC likely to visit Islamabad for SAARC meeting

In the midst of current chill in Indo-Pak relations, a SAARC Home Ministers’ conference is scheduled next month in Islamabad to which P Chidambaram plans to go subject to Foreign Office’s approval.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will discuss the issue and if the External Affairs Ministry allows, the Home Minister will travel to Pakistan to attend the SAARC meeting, a highly placed source said.

The SAARC Interior/Home Ministers’ conference is scheduled to be held from February 20 for three days in Islamabad.

In case Chidambaram travels to Islamabad, it would be the first Ministerial visit to Pakistan since May, 2008 when the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had gone for talks as part of composite dialogue. Things worsened after the Mumbai terror attack on November 26, 2008.

With time, things will be alright: Gilani on IPL issue

Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani today downplayed his country’s reaction to the non-inclusion of its cricketers in the IPL and said with time, things will be alright.

He also noted that cricket has been a “greater diplomacy” even in past.

“I think that is the mood of Parliament and the public and we have to follow their point of view as well. But I think with time things would be alright,” Gilani told CNN-IBN in an interview.

He was asked if Pakistan overreacted on the issue by cancelling official trips to the country.

No Pakistani player was bought by the eight IPL teams during a recent auction for its third edition despite Pakistan being the reigning world champions in the Twenty20 format of cricket, triggering a strong reaction from Pakistan government which saw it as a snub and called off official visits to India.

Inimical forces trying to stunt country’s growth: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday warned that inimical forces ”both inside and outside India” were trying to stunt the country’s growth and called for defeating the ”twin threats” of terrorism and communalism.

“Inimical forces, both inside and outside India, are trying to stunt growth and well-being of the country. The twin threats of terrorism and communalism must be defeated,” Singh told NCC cadets at their Prime Minister’s Rally here.

“In such circumstances the responsibility of youth organisations like NCC that inspires its cadets to serve the country increase manifold,” he said after reviewing the NCC cadets’ parade.

The Prime Minister said though the 13-lakh cadet strong NCC was a large organisation, it comprised of just about four per cent of the eligible youth in the country.

“I wish and urge you to increase this number so that many more eligible youth can benefit from the NCC’s activities,” he said.

Applauding the “disciplined and smart” turn out of the NCC cadets at the parade, Singh congratulated them on their achievements in activities like mountaineering and sports at the global level.

Recalling that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had in 1952 directed inclusion of community development as a curriculum in NCC, the Prime Minister said he was happy to note that the cadets were actively involved in disaster relief and social service, apart from global warming, environment, cancer and AIDS relief.

He also called for expanding the scope of the youth exchange programme of the NCC to increase the number of cadets from foreign countries attending the camp.

Defence Minister A K Antony, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik and Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma were present on the occasion.

Singh also gave away awards to the winners of various trophies and medals at the camp held in connection with the 61st Republic Day Parade on January 26.

The Champion Directorate trophy for 2010 went to Maharashtra, while Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Chandigarh Directorate was adjudged the runners up.

The Best Directorate for Girls Wing went to Tamil Nadu, the Best Directorate (Army) Trophy went to Kerala and the Navy and Air Wings trophies were won by Maharashtra.
There were nearly 100 cadets from countries like Sri Lanka, Russia and Kazakhstan who attended the parade and marched alongside the Indian NCC cadets.

The NCC also displayed the war-fighting training provided to them at the camp, including slithering operations and flying of micro-light aircraft and mass band.

Telangana Committee next week: Chidambaram

The much-talked about Committee to examine the demand for separate Telangana will be announced next week, Home Minister P Chidamabaram said today.

“We are almost at the end of concluding that exercise. If all goes well, we should have a committee by the end of this week. We will announce the committee by next week,” he told reporters declining to give out the names.

The Home Minister said the government would have more or less finalised the names and will do by the the end of this week. “Perhaps by the next week, the committee will be announced,” he said.

Chidambaram in the meeting with political parties from Andhra Pradesh on January 5 had said that its agenda was to “deliberate on the mechanism and lay down a road map for consultations” on the Telangana issue.

Telangana deadline ends; MLAs set to resign

The all-party Joint Action Committee’s (JAC) deadline for the central government to make an announcement on the formation of Telangana state ended Thursday. The legislators belonging to all the parties barring the ruling Congress are determined to quit on Friday.

All eyes are on New Delhi as leaders of the Congress from Telangana are still hopeful that the government would announce in the next 24 hours a time-bound programme for carving out the separate state.

The JAC has decided to carry out its threat of en masse resignations if the central government failed to make any announcement by Thursday evening, even as some Congress leaders from Telangana are still camping in the national capital.

The JAC, which held an emergency meeting late Wednesday night, decided that all legislators would go to the assembly speaker’s office in a procession and press for the acceptance of their resignations submitted last month.

As many as 77 out of 119 Members of the Legislative Assembly from Telangana had submitted their resignations last month to protest the central government’s attempt to put the formation of separate state in cold storage. They included 22 out of 50 legislators of the Congress party.

All 39 legislators of the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) from Telangana have decided to press for the acceptance of their resignations. All 10 legislators of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), and two each of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) have also decided to go ahead with their resignation plans.

While legislators from TDP and other parties want to create a constitutional crisis to force the central government to make a statement, the Congress leaders are reluctant to put their own government in trouble.

However, TRS president K. Chandrasekhara Rao told reporters that Congress legislators would join them Friday if the central government failed to make an announcement.

The JAC, which is demanding the central government announce a time-bound programme to initiate the process for formation of the Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh, is set to hold a crucial meeting Thursday evening to finalise its course of action.

Congress leaders, who stayed away from Wednesday night’s meeting, are likely to attend this meeting.

With Telangana students’ JAC threatening to lay siege to the houses of the legislators who have not resigned, the Congress legislators are trying to impress upon the central leadership that in the absence of any clear announcement it would be difficult for them to move around in public.

Sania Mirza’s calls off engagement

Indian tennis sensation- Sania Mirza’s engagement, with a childhood friend, Mohammed Sohrab Mirza, has been called off.

The 23-year-old’s father, Imran, who also coaches Sania and manages her career, confirmed annulling of the relationship.

Sania too refused to give the exact reasons, just confirming the news.

“We were friends for half a decade, but found ourselves incompatible during our engagement period. I wish Sohrab the best in life,” she said.

Mohammed Sohrab, studying business in the United Kingdom, and Sania were formally engaged last July.

Sania flies out to Kuala Lumpur late on Friday, where she leads India’s challenge in the Fed Cup Asia Oceania Group II competition, starting February 2.

Sania Mirza’s Life

Sania Mirza hasn’t had the best of starts to the 2010 season, on and off court. A broken service game is one thing, but a broken engagement or a broken heart, is quite another. The tennis star categorically refused to get into the why and what of the matter, but confirmed her engagement was off.

Even before the two got engaged, questions were doing the rounds about whether Mohammed could cope with the demands of being life-partner to a widely-travelled, hugely-popular athlete.

Sania Mirza had revealed that she will hang up her racquet after getting married.Before getting engaged to the Indian tennis diva, Sohrab wanted Sania to have complete freedom in making her career but now he denies.

We wish the Indian Tennis sensation Sania Mirza a very happy birthday as she turns 23. Hot and talented tennis star was born in Mumbai on November 15, 1986 and brought up in Hyderabad in a religious Muslim family. She started her tennis career in 2003.

Sania was unanimously chosen as the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in 2006 in the presence of world’s greatest WTA and ATP tennis players .

Famous for being the youngest teenage tennis sensation, Sania Mirza started playing tennis at the age of six. She plays right handed and played her first ITF junior event abroad Lahore, Pakistan. If we talk about her playing style she has powerful ground strokes, mainly forehand.

BJP’s Internet enthusiasm fizzles out

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had vowed to use cyberspace to reach out to the youth, with even octogenarian leader L.K. Advani taking to blogging last year. But after its poll debacle, internet enthusiasm in “the party with a difference” seems to have withered out.

Advani – who was the party’s prime ministerial candidate – has been virtually absent from blogosphere since the BJP’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections last year. The 82-year-old’s new post on Jan 25 came after several months.

In his first post, Advani had said: “I am excited by the idea of using the internet as a platform for political communication and, especially, for election campaign.”

When blog.lkadvani.in was launched as part of the portal lkadvani.in, Advani was expected to blog two-three times a week.

Advani’s colleague Murli Manohar Joshi, who joined the blogger’s bandwagon after him, has also been inactive on his blog “Reflections….” since Oct 1, 2009.

“The party’s focus during the 2009 elections was internet users who were young and lived in urban areas. The party wanted to reach out to first-time voters, who were at least 40 percent of the electorate,” said a functionary of the party’s Information Technology Cell.

The BJP Maharashtra unit’s Information Technology Cell convener Vinit Goenka had started using Twitter, an internet-based social networking application, some time in August last year. But his last post was on Oct 11, 2009.

“We have stopped right now because I have been travelling a lot. During elections you vie for visibility; after elections you do constructive work,” Goenka told IANS.

“It is very much in my mind. After the national executive meet in mid-February, we will again start. It is not that its priority has gone down.”

The BJP’s new chief, Nitin Gadkari, who is former chief of the party’s Maharashtra unit, has been stressing the importance of IT.

India has nearly 50 million internet users, according to a study by digital advertising and marketing firm Komli Media.