Tuesday, July 29, 2008

News In Pictures: Jul. 29

VP Puts up Drama in S1


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 29: Following the regular practice test held at 4:00 PM today, the students of S1 were in for a rude shock from the VP. Throughout the day, the VP seemed extremely happy over the IIT UT marks (with Mohit securing the highest at 138) and was quite friendly with the students.

But after the students became chatting unendingly after the test, she lost her temper. She scolded the students, using familiar phrases like 'for your own good...,' 'college doesn't need you, just your money' etc. But what shocked everyone after that was when she tore the OMR sheets that the students had just used and dumped them on the floor in a fit of anger. She ordered students to 'get lost' after that.

Although some students tried to meet her to calm her down. the group of most powerful students of S1 decided not to do so, apparently to avoid putting their hand in fire.

Practicals began for S3 today as the class, split into two groups, was taken to the AIEEE Campus and its labs.

Mrs. Jhansi has confirmed that shuffling of sections would take place around Aug. 1, as OTFS has reported yesterday from sources-based information. The criteria for shuffling is still ambiguous, although about six students of S1 are guaranteed a seat in the new ISB. (OTFS)

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Series: India Votes 2009

The last four years of the rule of the United Progressive Alliance have seen some far-reaching changes in India. From opening up secret government documents, creation of the trillion dollar economy, powering up the rural sector to undermining merit and of course, inking the nuclear agreement.

But as the country prepares for the 15th Lok Sabha Elections, what are the things to keep in mind? What has the Government done for you? What should you take into consideration before voting? Should you vote at all? And what about regional parties: can they meet the nation's needs?

Opinions 24x7 launches a new series - India Votes 2009 - to discuss the above issues and more. By the time we finish, we hope to have summarised in an unbiased manner, the achievements and failures of the UPA, and assess the needs of a nation in transition. Under the IN09 label, join us, as the world's largest democracy prepares to reaffirm its title.

India Votes 2009: All This Year and Next on OTFS

Format Updated At Last


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 28: The shortened IIT Unit Test conducted today finally showed signs of similarity with the real IITJEE. For the first time this academic year, OMR Sheets equipped with Matrix-Matching type questions were provided to all students.

However, the new format, which was introduced unexpectedly (although strong requests for it have been puring in for months), also saw a sharp decline in marks. According to projections, the highest mark in S1 may be in the range of 150 /243, a mark that the VP decribed as 'very low.' However, students say that Physics is the main culprit. According to them, the Physics paper was so abnormally dificult that each question tool at least ten minutes to solve, if at all!

As usual, OTFS has exclsuive access to the results of Saturday's AIEEE Part Test. As we reported, Maths was exceptionally easy. Indeed, the highest mark in Maths was secured by Mounik (120/120 or 100%), which Mr. Vara Prasad decribed as amazimg. He is followed by Sushobhan (116). However, some of the marks in Physics are extremelylow, while Chemistry is average.

For the overall tally, Sushobhan stands first at 273/360, followed by Namrata. The pfficial results will be announed tomorrow.

Shuffling on Aug. 1?
Sources have told OTFS that shuffling based on the last four IIT UTs could take place as early as Aug. 1. However, there is a shadow of doubt over the ration in which the students of S1 may be divided in ISB and Sr. ICON 1. Whil one suggestion is a simple 30:30 division, some officials are calling for a 10:50 division, although the managament is oppossed to it. (OTFS)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Maths Proves Crucial


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 26: In spite of the outrageous timings, today's AIEEE Part Test went well, particularly in maths. Some students have reported that as per their intial tallies, their marks in Maths could cross 100 of 120!

Maths proved crucial in the test and was described as being very easy by all students. Organic chemistry also seemed somehwhat easy, but Physics was challenging.

A shortened, 3-hour IIT UT will be conducted on Monday. (OTFS)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Inflation down Marginally

Inflation for the week ended Jul. 12 eased slightly to 11.89% from 11.91%, marking the first week on week fall in inflation in over three months. However, this is the sixth consecutive week when inflation remained in double digits, and after the lackluster monsoon in some parts of India, it is expected to stay there till the end of the year.

Among inflation components, fuel, power and lighting remained unchanged, while food prices rose by 0.6% and manufactured goods by 0.05%. Inflation is still way above what it was this time last year.


Pak: Don't like N-Deal

Terming the IAEA Safeguards agreement and the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement as discriminatory, representatives of the Government of Pakistan have sent identical letters to the IAEA and the NSG, asking them to amend the drafts.

According to the letter, the Pakistani establishment fears that the agreement treats India at par with nuclear weapons states inside the NPT, giving it an 'incentive to test more nuclear devices' and setting off another nuclear arms race in South Asia.

The letter also encouraged that IAEA Board of Governors (of which both India and Pakistan are members) not to allow the agreement to be 'steamrolled' through the IAEA on account of either Indian or American influence. They sought more time to study the text.

On the question of nuclear weapons, Pakistan was critical of the agreement stating that India is a country with 'advanced nuclear technology' and that India was free to demarcate civilian and military reactors. ''Thus, the IAEA-BoG is being asked to recognize and accept India's nuclear weapon status,'' the letter said.

However, the effect of the letter is still unknown. Indian officials have confirmed that the IAEA BoG would meet on Aug. 1 to discuss the agreement, and the powerful G8 countries have already decalred their support for it. There are indications that the safeguards agreement enjoys great support in the IAEA BoG. However, with this letter, it seems apparent that Pakistan would vote against the agreement. The agreement needs a simple majority in the BoG to be approved.

After the IAEA, India will have to convince the NSG (of which neither India nor Pakistan are members) to amend their rules to provide a unique waiver to India. The US says it will take this matter up in ernest to ensure operationalisation of the deal.

[With inputs from NDTV]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


In an amazing setback to the anti-Deal lobbyists, the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won the crucial vote of confidence in Parliament today, amidst high drama and a new political scandal.

Earlier in the day, after Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav delivered an amusing speech, a BJP MP stormed into the house and presented before the nation a bag, which he claimed was given to him by SP Leader Amar Singh and Ahmad Patel. The bag contained huges wads of money amounting to Rs. 1 crore! The Congress called this a stageshow by a desperate oppostion, but the NDA and the BSP demanded the PM's resignation on moral grounds. If the BJP MP's allegation of bribes for votes is true, then the government would be tainted forever and would lose all legitimacy.

After the schocking indicent that has been reported to the Delhi Police, the house was temporarily adjounred. Once it reconvened, allegations continued to fly and slogans were raised denouncning the government. Then, NC Leader Omar Abdullah made a speech that evoked patriotism and secularism and denounced communsim and opportunism, easily the best speech of the day. However, the PM was unable to read out his reply due to the Opposition's slogan-chanting. Finally, he handed over the reply to the Speaker (the speech can now be accessed on the PM's website). In the speech, the PM ridiculed BJP leader LK Advani and claimed that the Left wanted to have a veto in all negotiations and tried to make the PM their bonded slave.

But finally, when the votes came in, the Congress was leading. Although the electronic votes took 20 seconds or so to count, the manual votes (around 60 MPs decided to vote on slips) took a little longer. But when the final verdict came in, the BJP was disappointed. The UPA had won the motion and all leaders descended upon Manmohan Singh to congratulate him. Outside, there was complete euphoria outside the Congress HQ, while the BJP HQ bore a desolate look. Amar Singh, in his typical style, ridiculed the Left, Mayawati and the BJP. He called it one of the happiest moments in his life.

However, the legitimacy of the government stands questioned as the supposed bribe for votes/abstentions could rock Parliament and Indian Democracy in the next few days. However, the White House congratulated the PM for 'soldiering on' with the Nuclear Deal, while the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) also congratulated him. It seems that the N-Deal will now get through the IAEA and the NSG, although it might not be able to make it in time for the US Congress.

The stock markets are expected to react extremely positively tomorrow. The SENSEX was up over 200 points today.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Tale of Three Opportunists

How very true... hypocrisy and opportunism are deciding the fate of a deal that is essentially about electricity and nothing else.

I Salute the Speaker

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's decision to oppose his party - the CPM - and chair the special session of Parliament called on July 21, is an exceptional case of strength and duty. The Speaker was under extreme pressure from his party leaders (such as Sitaram Yechury) to resign as Speaker. But Mr. Chatterjee rightly said that the post of Speaker was above petty politics and had to remain neutral. He said that he was not a Speaker of the CPM but of Parliament as one, and he could not allow his office to be politicised.

Kudos to Mr. Chatterjee for his excellent gesture. He will surely be remembered as one of the best speakers Independent India has even had.

Day 1: LK Adavani throws the Kitchen Sink


The debate before the vote of confidence took off in Parliament today with Leader of Opposition LK Advani baking his case.

According to Mr. Advani, the UPA Government had failed on all fronts. Inflation was at a 13-year high (ironically, 13 years ago, a Congress-led government was in power too.) He alleged that the UPA's take on secularism is a strange 'allergy' towards Hindus. The BJP has long blamed the UPA of minority appeasement. Mr. Advani criticised the N-Deal because, he said, it compromised India's sovereignity. He said that the NDA was not opposed to a deal with the US, it liked the idea rather, but it wanted to renegotitate this particular agreement. 'Renegotiate,' he highlighted, 'not scrap.'

The Left said that the Congress has betrayed them by going ahead with the next stage of the IAEA Safegaurds agreement. Left MPs except, of course, the Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, criticised the deal heavily.

In reply, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Sri Pranab Mukherjee said that the Nuclear Deal would pull India out of 30 years (he stressed the time period) of isolation and would give us access to International-standard fuel and technology. It would provide us with the energy required to fuel our economy which, he reminded, had grown at 9% for the part four years of the UPA's rule. He highlighted some of the government's achievements.

The Prime Minister, a Rajya Sabha MP who will not be able to vote tomorrow, began his speech by invoking a couplet from a Sikh guru. He hit out at the Opposotion and thanked his Alliance partners who had helped form the alliance. He thanked Sonia Gandhi, Jyoti Basu, Harkishan Singh and Karunanidhi (incidentally, he made no mention of Prakash Karat, who has been leading the anti-Deal movement).

The debate will continue tomorrow and a final vote of confidence will be held at around 6:00 PM.

How will the government win?
The Congress appears to be banking on abstentions. As OTFS explained in a previous post, if the governement can get a few Opposition MPs not to vote, then the required number of votes would come dow, saving the government. Sources close to NDTV and CNN-IBN indicate that as many as 10 NDA MPs will not vote, six of them being from the BJP and others from the Siva Sena and the BJD. Also, some JD(U) MPs seem to be abstaining as well. However, these are only runours as of now. Only the Trinamool Congress' Mamata Banerjee says that she will abstain.

In the meantime, the division of MPs continues with the JD(S) and the RLD surprisingly backing the new-Mayawati-led UNPA and the MIM (1 MP) and JMM backing the UPA.

[With media inputs]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

'Present, Madam!'

With the crucial vote of confidence approaching fast, Congress Leader Sonia Gandhi appears to be checking her accounts, scrutinising them, rather. According to media reports, she has begun talking to Congress MPs in batches of 10 at her residence, ensuring that they vote in favour of their party.

Of course, the UPA does not have the numbers to win. Or at least it doesn't seem to have them, because we all know that the Congress likes to keep the opposition guessing! So what are the stakes?

The Congress has two strategies. One involves garnering more support for the deal by wooing smaller regional parties. Of these, the Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS/2 MPs) has already joined the BSP-Left combine and will vote against the UPA. Sibbu Soren's Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM/5 MPs) and Former PM HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) are keeping their cards close, refusing to reveal their vote, although some MPs from the JMM have publicly stated that they cannot vote with the BJP-led NDA. Then there are the other little kingmakers: the Trinamool Congress (TC/1 MP) and the National Conference (NC/ 2 MPs), who will play a key role on D-Day. Let's not forget the NDA camp: the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), after much deliberation, has decided to vote against the government while the Siva Seva is yet to take a call (there are indications that it will side with the NDA).

If this seems complicated, the other startegy should simplify things. Simple math will tell you that although with a full Parliamentary strength, the UPA needs 272 votes to win, this number can be brought down if some MPs abstain from voting (the anti-UPA MPs, of course). Thus, the Congress is out to woo the dissidents among the NDA and the SP is trying to pluck BSP MPs. However, this is one strategy that the opposition is using as well: just today, an SP MP broke away from his party and joined rival BSP. The MP says that he being a Muslim, 'cannot support the USA, a country which has Muslim blood on its hands.' Broad-minded thoughts indeed!

The BJP, for its part, has played an excellent oppostion, although it is giulty of hypocrisy. As Kapil Sibal revealed to Karan Thapar on The Devil's Advocate (CNN-IBN), the BJP fully supported the deal but refised to say so in public because of sheer political compulsions. However, the NDA's former National Security Advisor Brijesh Mishra has been quite categorical that India should sign the deal 'immediately.' Perhaps one of the only members of the BJP who believes that honesty is a virtue!

So while the Left alleges the UPA of horse-trading (buying votes, in other words) and the Congress blames the Left of supporting communal forces (the BJP, in other words), the final stage of an era of Indian politics will play out on June 22. The era began when Sonia Gandhi took over the reigns of the Congress from PVN Rao, and a new era will begin on June 22. True, elections are just around the corner. But this is not about elections.

For the first time in a long time, every parliamentarian in the country - from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat, from Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala - is worth his or her wight in gold. The nation has been brought together, the nation has been divided. And it will all end on July 22, when history may just be re-written.


Obama in Afghanistan

Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama has arrived in Afghanistan as part of a campaign to beef up hos foreign policy credentials, a spokesman has said. This is the first time that Obama has ever visited the war-torn nation.

Some time back, his rival John McCain had said that Obama should not talk about Afghanistan and Iraq unless he has actually visited them.

Obama has acknowledged that he does not know too much about Foreign Policy, but he has always siad that he is ready to learn. According to pundits, America's relations with Russia and China on one side and Brazil and India on the other will be crucial. Furthermore, America's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be commanded by the President, and every decision counts.

Big Drama to Save S1


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 19: The bandh called by the Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) today was successful, though only partially. While every class was allowed o leave no later than noon, the top sections of each campus (SLA, SLM and ISB) were kept till 4:00 PM or even beyond.

That the Principal was unahhpy with the way students left by 9:00 AM yesterday was obvious, for he made an unscheduled visit to S1 and ordered the students to study even before classes had started! Later on, S1 was marched to Room 13 from Room 12, and finally kept in Room 21. This seemed comical, although the lack of electricity due to load-shedding was a major source of anger.

The TRS activists did discover S1's presence at around 12:30 PM, but presumably, the Principal managed to keep them quiet. And fiannly, with a strength of just 30 students out of a maximum strength of 60, S1 was allowed to go home at 4:00 PM.

ISB Soon
The ICON Star Batch, consistinmg of 30 students from the current S1, will be formed in a few days, perhaps even 10 days, sources have told OTFS. The laggards of S1 would be moved to a lower class. However, whether S3 would be retained or not is a question to which OTFS could find no answer. (OTFS)

Friday, July 18, 2008

The 'Big Day' is Approaching

A Tale of Trust, Hope and War


Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman and others
Director: Christopher Nolan
Producer: Warner Bros. and distributed by IMAX
Release Date: Jul. 18, 2008 (India)
OTFS Rating: ******* of 5 (7/5) - It's really that good!

Official website

From chasing an embezzler to Hong Kong, flying across the skies to blowing up several skyscrapers: The Dark Knight has done it all! This edition of the adventures of Gotham's protector is better than its predecessor by a mile. The technology is very hi-tech, the scenes are well conceived and the acting is simply superb.

Bruce Wayne (Christiane Bale) is a successful businessman who, years ago, decided to rid his beloved city of crime. Thus, he donned the role of Batman. With his fancy gadgets, seemingly endless supply of money and trustworthy butler, Bruce faces his greatest challenge yet: trust.

Batman is an outlawed vigilante. But every citizen of Gotham knows, somewhere deep down, that he is a hero. It is this implicit faith that keeps him going. But this time around, the citizens have a new ray of hope: Harvey Dent, the District Attorney and the new "White Warrior" of Gotham.

Harvey knows how to fight, and the people of the city love that! Thus, as Harvey's popularity grows, Bruce sees it as his chance to leave behind the Batman mask. But alas, as all happy things, the villain, the Joker, makes his rather grand entry.

The movie is riddled with spectacular scenes of majestic skyscrapers and the Batman jumping off them. Such scenes always get your heart pumping! Of course, the corporate side of the story was enthralling and the acting complemented the story. The Bat-mobile and the Bat-bike are two things that have defined the Batman legacy: and this movie keeps that going. Sadly, the Bat-mobile is destroyed but that doesn't deter the Dark Warrior! The sound effects were particularly enticing and you could feel the theater shaking when the bombs blew!

The props and special effects were just what Batman demands, although the SONAR-scene can leave you a little dizzy. But the most spectacular part of the movie is when the Joker's truck rolls over: that scene can be viewed over and over again and it would still be fun! The movie, thankfully, leaves you with a feeling that this is not over, that the Dark Knight's story has not ended.

If you like action-packed scenes, can bare the length and enjoy twists and turns in a plot, then The Dark Knight is a must-watch. (OTFS)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rahul Gandhi Bolsters Support for Deal

Rahul Gandhi, leader of the National Students' Union of India (NSUI, the Congress Youth Wing) and scion of the Gandhi family, expressed his support for the Indo-US Nuclear deal today.

He said that the deal enjoyed huge support that was being hidden behind politics. According to him, not a "single youngster" in the Congress or even the Opposition is against the deal. He also agreed that the Left and the Congress has some sharp deviations in their ideologies.

He praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who fill face a vote of confidence on Jul. 22, for acting in national interest. Nuclear energy, even if it was being used to produce electricity, would become inevitableas India tries to become a major global power. He called for a Nuclear Revolution to power the nation, on the lines of the historic IT Revolution, launched by his assassianted father Late Rajiv Gandhi, that changed the country forever.

Interestingly, he also spoke of what would happen should the Congress lose the floor test. Mr. Gandhi, 38, said that if the government had to fall in the interest of the nation, then 'so be it.'

''I am proud of the prime minister as he has shown his tenacity, vision and leadership,'' Gandhi said.

[With inputs from NDTV]

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Record Marks Obtained


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 15: After much confusion due to an error in the key, the results of the IIT UT-3 have finally been announced. Namrata broke her own record with a smashing 395/483, followed by Aditya (336), Abhiroop (332), Divya (331), Sushobhan (331) and Mohit (321).

The VP was extremely happy over the marks. Earlier, she had ordered a recount of the marks since the key for Physics was fed in erroneously: it was fed in for 63 marks instead of 81!

Holidays Coming Up
The lecturers have told the students, with great joy, that Friday and Saturday are holidays due to major bandhs called by the BJP and the Left to protest against the Nuclear Deal, price rise etc. Furthermore, an added Sunday makes it three days of holidays, a godsend for the students!

The fate of Sunday is unknown, although there are indicatiosn that tyhe college would not try to use it for classes. (OTFS)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Good Performance in IIT UT-3


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 14: The third IIT Unit Test went well today, as many students from S1 report that they have scored extremely high marks.

Amazingly, it was Mr. Vijay Bhaskar's track that saw the highest marks coming in, some as high as 75/81. This is ironic as Mr. Bhaskar has been at the receiving end from S1 for his so-called 'lack of fundamental understanding of concepts'. Mr. Bhaskar nd mr. Akbar Kamal, both from SR Nagar, prepared this fortnight's paper.

OTFS has learned that S1's Paper-1 has already been scanned. Some of the Chemistry marks were average, although the highest wat a good 61/81. Many students scored in the 50-60 range, but a few scored below even 30, one scored 15, Mr. Sanjay Singh told S1.

The Instant Poll gave the test a string AAA, as most students agreed that it was a relatively simple paper. Physics, in particular, was easy, as was Organic Chemistry. But the Poll found that Maths-1 (Integral Calculus) was very difficult.

OTFS predicts the Top 5 marks to be in the range of 310-360. (OTFS)

Shameful Caricature

Clearly, some people will stoop to any level to fulfill their political motives.

[IBN Live]

Messiah of an Open Society

First of all, no, I have not come closer to the Communists. I oppose all things communism stands for: backwardness, closed societies, ideologues and fundamentalism... the list goes on. I oppose the Indian Left and will never vote for them.

But Somnath Chatterjee is not your typical communist. As the Speaker of the Lok Sabha for the last 4 1/2 years, he has set the highest standards of transparency the Parliament has known since the time of Nehru. He started Lok Sabha TV, a portal for the world to watch Indian Democracy at work and for people to express their views, backed the historic Right to Information Act and favoured access to the "secrets" of Parliamentary panels.

He has never associated himself with the Left or any party for that matter. In the last four years, he hashandled himself with grace, keeping his head cool in the most impossible of situations, mizing his work with humour that became typical of his cordial nature. Somnath Chatterjee has been a model Parliamentarian, always with the mission of reminding the MPs that the 'Nation is watching.'

Now, as the Left prepares to pull him down from the Speaker's seat , India will lose one of its best Speakers. Partisan politics always comes with a price, but the loss of such an esteemed Speaker will be great.

The Left should surely consider allowing Mr. Chatterjee to stay on. Such an experienced and distinguished individual should be placed above politics.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Infy Declares Results

IT bellwether Infosys Technologies Ltd (INFY) announced its results for Q1 today, beating market expectations.

The Bangalore-headquartered IT company announced a rise of 21% in new profit (in rupee terms) to Rs. 13.02 bn vs. Rs. 10.79 bn (YoY). A Reuters poll expected Profits to be around Rs. 12.69 bn.

The sharp depreciation in the Indian Rupee against the US dollar helped the company, though the cost of wages and visas was a matter of concern. Infosys says it will be adding another 10,000 jobs this quarter, to take its global headcount to more than 100,000.

The company's forecast revenues for the Financial Year 2009 has been upgraded to 27.5-29.5%. The shares of the company fell sharply in Nasdaq trading.


The Numbers Game!

The cartoon from the Jul. 11 issues of The Hindu amusingly summarises the political situation in New Delhi. Everyone knows that Sonia Gandhi is the one who runs the show. Finally, she's been forced to assume center stage.

By the way, in case you're wondering, 272 is the number of MPs the UPA requires to stay in power.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

And Finally: The IAEA Agreement!

The following is a summary of the Draft India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement as published on the Website of the Ministry of External Affairs:

  1. India will place its civilian nuclear reactors under IAEA Safeguards to facilitate full nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes with member countries.
  2. India will not however, place nine of its reactors under the safeguards. They would be used to maintain India's minimum, credible nuclear deterrent.
  3. The agreement envisages the creation of a strategic fuel reserve to ensure continuous supply of fuel. In case India conducts a nuclear test and some countries withdraw supplies to India, India can seek the aid of other countries in obtaining fuel.
  4. Items procured for the reactors under safeguards shall not be used for creation of nuclear weapons. In turn, the IAEA would not interfere in India's development in the field of nuclear technology.
  5. The decision as to which reactors are civilian reactors and which are not lies solely with the Government of India and shall be made public through a declaration.
  6. The agreement recognises India as a nation with 'advanced' nuclear technology.
  7. In case of disruption of fuel supplies, India is free to take 'corrective measures.' (the details of this point are unknown)
  8. The Agreement is similar to the IAEA's policies for non-NPT Signatory States but is India-specific.
The above summary is based on facts collected from NDTV, CNN-IBN, Thomson Reuters and the BBC. The full text can be accessed from the Ministry's Website, or from here.

Research by OTFS.

The Booker's Very Best

Iconic Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie's book, Midnight's Children, has been awarded a special award - the Booker of the Booker - for being the very best book to have won the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

Another feather in India's cap. Mr. Rushdie, keep up the good work!


New Bulding Confirmed


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 10: In major discussions held with S1, the VP has informed OTFS that the IIT Academy could be moving from SR Nagar to Balkampet, perhaps even as early as Monday. The new campus, which Mr. Akbar Kamal described as being 'large(r) and devoid of traffic and pollution,' is located near the Community Hall in Balkampet, about 10 minutes to walk from the current campus.

The new campus is also equipped with a few small kiosks and rooms where students or a group of students can study with some privacy. The need for a new campus appears to have been precipitated by the huge number of students in S1 (around 60) and J1.

However, uncertainty looms over S3, as reports have reached OTFS that the entire class would be shifted to the AIEEE Campus, where they have no chance whatsoever in qualifying through any exam except EAMCET.

'Talk to the Principal'
After today's meeting with some of the most powerful students of S1, the VP has expressed her inability in allowing the students to go home earlier. Although the students, Sushobhan and Abhiroop, made a strong and convincing case, the VP concluded by saying that only a serious debate between parents and the Principal could bare some fruit.

The students, left optionless, have said that a mix of low attendance and poor marks alone could drive some sense into the 'management.' However, the lecturers have promised to support the students in case of any stand-off.

Meanwhile, the tow students reiterated their stand that Mr. Vijay Bhaskar, the incumbent Physics lecturer, be removed. They say that this is non-negotiable, as the entire class was against him. They have also received support from the other sections. Clearly, a showdown is on the horizon. (OTFS)

PM Meets Presient, to seek Trust Vote

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met President Pratibha Today at Raj Bhavan today, a day after the Left parties formally withdrew their support to his government. After a 30-minute discussion, the PM has decided to hold a Trust Vote and a special session of Parliament would be convened for the same, the date for which would be announced by tomorrow evening.

In a trust vote, each member present in Parliament is asked to vote either in favour of the Goverment or against it. A member may abstain if he or she chooses to do so. If a simple majority (50%) is members vote for the Government, then it stays, Otherwise, the Goverment becomes a minority government that cannot sign any International deal or treaty.

The PM seemed confident that he had the numbers to win the vote. According to his Media spokesperson, the PM is not worries about the vote and wishes to devote his time to other matters or concern, such as the Kabul attack on an Indian Embassy.

Meanwhile, in a major surprise, the Ministry of External Affairs has put up the Draft India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement on its website. This is a document that, till today, was 'classified' acording to the government. The BJP and the Left, speaking in the same tone, criticised the government for ridiculing the people of India thus.

The IAEA Board of Governors will now have to take a call on the Agreement. It is not a rubber stamp organisation. Meanwhile, in a desperate bid to keep the government safe, all UPA Memebers are busy hobnobbing with tiny parties that control one or two seats in Parliament. Right from Sonia Gandhi to Sharad Pawar, every memeber is busy in negotaition with these parties to save the Government and the Deal.

Sources say the Trust Vote could take place as early as July 21.

[With inputs from NDTV]

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

India-Specific Draft Circulated

In news just in, the text of the India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA has been circulated among its Board of Governors. According to the IAEA website, this was done specifically under instructions from the Indian Government.

The IAEA Safeguards agreement is the first step in operationalising the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement signed in 2005.

The move has come on a day when the Left formerly withdrew support to the UPA Government. Stangely, Congress Minister Pranab Mukherjee said yesterday that the Government would not sign the Safeguards agreement unless it won the vote of confidence, which will take place whenever President Pratibha Patil makes a request.

''At the request of the Government of India, the IAEA Secretariat on Wednesday circulated to members of the IAEA board of governors for their consideration the draft of an 'Agreement with the Government of India for the Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities','' IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a press statement issued at the Agency headquarters in Vienna.

The Board will now have to fix a date on which it will consider the agreement. India needs to shore up support as it cannot risk considering the IAEA a rubber stamp.

Clearly, the Government has put the Deal on the fast track, eager to see it finalised and implemented during the Bush administration today itself.

In related news, the G8 Leaders in ther summit at Hokkaido Toyako, Japan, sent out a statement expressing their desire to work with India in the field of civilian nuclear energy. This is extremely significant as it means that the world, not just the US, is ready to pull India out of Nuclear Apartheid. Already, US Ambassador to India David Mulford held a lunch with Ambassadors of NSG Countries, signaling that the US was ready for its role in the Agreement. The Kevin Rudd government in Australia, which has said that it would not sell its Uranium to India unless it signs the NPT (Australia has the largest reserves of Uranium in the world), is under fire from the opposition over what it calls 'the government's hypocrisy.'

[With Inputs from NDTV]

Sensex Gains 600 Points

After a cruel week, the BSE Sensex regained some lost ground by rising over 600 points to close within striking distance of 14,000. This, in spite of the left withdrawing support to the UPA Government.

The spurt came following a decline in crude prices and strong cues from Asia and Europe. Major sectoral gainers on the BSE were FMCG, Realty and Banking, with each of these indices gaining a healthy 4.5%.

In the BSe-30 (the Sensex), Reliance Infrastructure gained 10% and Tata motors 7.5%. Investors have said that banking stocks look attractive at the current levels but realty was still a gamble.

Most Asia markets closed with gains, except the Kospi, which closed down 0.9%.

S1 Works Alone


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Jul. 9: The college successfully managed to keep the students of S1 and five students of S2 in class today. This in spite a major bandh called by the SFI (Students' Federation of India, affiliated to the Indian Communists) that forced all Jr. Colleges here to declare a holiday.

The only glitch came when the power went out for about ten minutes. S1 was seated Room No. 2, in which it is impossible to see anything without the lights!

The five students of S2, who say that their parents are getting tough on the issue of marks and studies, used their time to solve sums and clear whatever doubts they could. S3, J1, J2 and J3 had a holiday.

Mr. Sanjay Singh told S1 that it was not just them, but every Sr. ICON 1/ICON Star Batch class that was working. He even pointed out that in Kukatpally, which is infamous for bandhs and holidays, students of S1 were taked to an 'undisclosed location' and had classes all the way to 6:00 PM.

For SR Nagar however, students were allowed to leave from 2:50 PM onwards.

War on Mr. Vijay Bhaskar
S1 is gearing up to put even more pressure on the VP to dump Physics lecturer Mr. Vijay Bhaskar, who they allege is simply wasting everyone's time by dishing out mindless formulae rather than teaching the important concepts.

After today's class, which saw him giving out at least ten new formulae that nobody could possibly remember, more students joined leaders Sushobhan and Abhiroop in raising their voice against him.

Furthermore, some students have said that they were fed up with the extended timings and would launch a non-cooperation movement of sorts. (OTFS)

Left Out, SP In

The Left parties met President Pratibha Patil today and handed over their letter, withdrawing the support of their 60 MPs to the UPA. They also demanded and immediate trust vote in Parliament, prmising to fight the 'notorious' deal.

However, almost simultaneously, the SP handed over another letter to the President, expressing its support to the UPA. Furthermore, SP leader Amar Singh guaranteed that all 39 MPs that contested under the SP banner - including two dissidents who have presumably been tamed by the paty whip - would vote for the government.

Now, the Congress is out with the calculators, adding up the numbers and shoring all the support it can get. Jammu and Kashmir's PDP has said that it would vote for the UPA, hile the National Conference, which is also a UNPA component, has said that the deal is good for India. The Congress is also trying to garner the support of smaller, less-heard of parties including the TRS, which just got a beating in recent by-elections, and the Left's archrival in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress.

Furthermore, Amar Singh has said that he is in touch with seven BSP MPs (he refused to name them) who wanted to support the deal against the decision of their party chief Mayawati. To a question of whether the deal was 'anti-Muslim,' religious scholars from eminent Islamic centres of learning have come out in full support of the deal, quashing that argument.

With a trust vote coming up soon, Finance Minister P Chidambaram has reiterated the UPA's asserion that the government would survive its full term.

Update on the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met US President George W Bush here at the Summit of the Group of Eight (G8) most industrialised nations. India is one of the Outreach-5 (O5) countries. Both leaders spoke in a friendly manner. Issues discussed included the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, which Bush said he fully supports, defense and space cooperation and educational cooperation.

Dr. Singh hailed the growing friendship between the world's largest and world's oldest democracies, and expressed joy that the relationship had acquired the look and feel of a strategic one. Bush for his part said that he liked India as a country and supported it.

[With inputs from PTI, IANS and NDTV]

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pakistan's Bad Economic Times

The first 100 days of the PPP-led Coalition Government in Pakistan seem to have indicated bad times ahead for the Pakistani economy. Pakistan, strategically positioned in between the oil-rich Middle East and the new economic giants India and China, has practically fallen off a cliff in terms of economy.

In the first 100 days since the new government took charge, inflation in Pakistan has ballooned from 14.1% to 19.2%, and it's getting higher. This has seen a steep rise in prices of everything from food to fuel and beyond.

The Pakistani Rupee (currently around 73 to a US$) has fallen by 11.4%, causing the cost of imported goods to shoot up. Public debt has grown to an outrageous Rs. 250 billion, or nearly Rs. 3 billion rupees per day of the new government.

The Karachi Stock Exchange KSE-100 index has fallen from an all-time high of 15,126 to a little over 11,800, a 21% fall that officially means the market is in bear mode. However, this is better than other regional playes, such as China and India, whose benchmark indices are down 55% and 35% respectively since the beginning of the year.

The new economic data, some of the worst ever, sets out the burning issues for the new government. Clearly, if they don't do something now, the economy will come back to haunt them.

[Data: IANS]

Feedback: otfs@rediff.com

Left Withdraws Support

The Left parties - the CPI, the CPM, the RSP and the Forward Bloc - have withdrawn support to the United Progressive Alliance following PM Manmohan Singh's comments that he would sign the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA 'soon.'

Surprisingly, the Left has taken this decision while Singh is in Japan, attending the G8 Summit as the leader of one of the five Outreach (O5) nations.

However, the Government seems unperturbed by the moving. Already, the SP has assured the Congress that it would vote for the government in Parliament. Some smaller parties, and perhaps former PM HD Deve Gowda, would also vote for the government. However, bereft of the 60 Left MPs, the UPA is in a very tight situation, with the numbers game just too close to call.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that the government would hold a test on the floor of Parliament on or nefore Aug. 11, during the Monsoon Session. The main opposition BJP has demanded an earlier vote, seeming quite confident that the end of the UPA is here.

The Left is expected to meet President Pratibha Patil tomorrow.

Monday, July 7, 2008

UNPA: The End Before the Beginning

fission unpa

India to Approach IAEA

On Board Air India One

On his way to Hokkaido, Japan for the G8 Summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that India would soon approach the IAEA Board of Governors so that it can approve the first-of-its-kind India-specific civilian safeguards agreement. Once the agreement is sealed, India would place its civilian reactors under IAEA Safeguards, a key step in operationalising the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.

The PM asserted that there was no political pressure on him and that his goverment was 'equipped' to handle any crisis. This, after the Left said that it would withdraw support on July 10.

The PM also expressed confidence that China would back the deal. On the question of time running out for the deal, he said that once the Safeguards agreement was clinched, the process of operationalising the deal would speed up considerably.

Finally, he said that there would be no early elections in India.

JUST IN: The IAEA Board of Governors will meet on July 28 to discuss the India-specific safeguards agreement.

[With inputs from P

Saturday, July 5, 2008

IITs Protest the Murder of Merit

In yet another move to appease minorities and backward classes, the Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh, who can safely be labeled one of India's most unpopular persons, has sent a diktat to all Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), ordering them to reserve seats for faculty members ranging from attendants to registrars to Heads of Departments!

The order, sent without any consultation or debate, was rejected by the Board of Governors of the IITs. They said that the faculty was the pillar of the IIT system and if professors and lecturers are recruited on the basis of anything but merit, it would instantly lead to the end of the sheen and quality of the IITs.

Students of IIT Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore held a candlelight vigil to peacefully protest against the order. The IIT Directors have suggested that they would take up the matter with the Ministry and even the PMO, of necessary. Many students, both current and former, have expressed their anger over the move.

It is worth mentioning that becoming a member of the IIT Faculty is no small task. A PhD is a basic prerequisite and a few years of experience also helps. Anyone who can acheive such a high qualification cannot possibly be 'backward!' Thus, the reservation would simply be a political gimmick and would degrade the quality at the IITs, helping no community in the process.

[With inputs from the Times of India]
(More discussions on the reservation system and the UPA Government's synonymity with caste and minority appeasement will be take up in the soon-to-be-launched label, IN09, where India Votes.)