Heat and Dust....

Random snippets and musings as the country gets set for Phase III and people have voted in the first two phases.

The Battle for Mumbai

The battle heats up in Maximum City.

Akshaya Tritiya snippets

Akshaya Tritiya falls on the third thithi (day) of the bright half of the lunar month Vaisakha. This year it falls on April 27. On the day of Akshaya Tritiya, Sage Veda Vyasa, also known as Krishna Dwaipayana, dictated Mahabharatha to Ganesha. On this day, the birthday of Parashurama, the sixth facet of Lord Vishnu, is also traditionally observed. Kuchela, also known as Sudhama, a poor Brahmin and schoolmate of Sri Krishna, visits Krishna to ask for some financial favour. He carries with him a handful of beaten rice. Kuchela is ashamed to give this to Krishna, but the lord snatches the small bag from his schoolmate and eats a handful of the beaten rice. Kuchela is taken aback by the Lord’s gesture and returns home. He is amazed to see a palace in the place of his old hut with his wife and children wearing new clothes. This day, when the frugal fare accepted by the lord was returned manifold to Kuchela, is observed as Akshaya Tritiya. Akshaya means that which never diminishes. The Pandavas are said to have received the Akshaya Pathra (the never emptying bowl of food) from Lord Krishna on this day. It provided unlimited food for the Pandavas during their exile. Any charity done on this day is said to come back manifold. Southeast, Northwest and East come into primary importance on this day. Astrologically too, the Sun and the Moon are most radiant and placed in exaltation on the Askhaya Tritiya day. On the home front, donation of food grains to old age homes or dependent senior citizens is suggested. Since the directional significance for marriage is strong, marriage negotiations can begin on this day. House warming ceremonies on this day are recommended. Domestic and business discussions begun on this day tend to conclude agreeably. Sudarshana Homa and Lakshmi Puja may be performed; food donated to old age homes, orphanages, schools for the blind, physically and otherwise handicapped on this day can indeed bestow health, harmony and happiness to families and businesses.  

The No Choice button

Hope this will force the parties to select better candidates...

Deccan Odyssey to change tracks

Come November, Deccan Odyssey, the super-luxury tourist train that till recently travelled within Maharashtra, will change track, cross state boundaries and chug along till Delhi via Rajasthan. The train’s extended journey will be under a new operator, Thomas Cook, with the Taj group taking care of on-board catering and some other related services. Interestingly, this tour of over eight days and seven nights in royal luxury coaches could cost one up to Rs 4.3 lakh. Till recently, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) ran the luxury train from Mumbai but covered tourist destinations only within the state. Thomas Cook, the new operator, has taken over to run the train for five years and its total investment in the project will be Rs 55 crore for the entire period of the lease, Sunit Suri, head-inbound travels, Thomas Cook, said. Under the new operators, over a journey spanning seven nights, Deccan Odyssey will travel from Mumbai to Delhi, via Aurangabad (for Ajanta and Ellora caves), Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur (for Ranthambore Tiger Reserve), Jaipur and Agra. The return journey too will be over seven nights, but with a new group of passengers boarding the train in Delhi.  For Thomas Cook, the Deccan Odyssey project is part of its larger plan to market India abroad, Suri said. To this end, the company has already chalked out plans to tap tourists from a particular region or country. 

Sign of the times

The flying shoe or chappal seems to symbolize these elections....

Lepakshi gets GI status

‘Made in India’ is indeed a prestigious label to market handicraft products in the export markets. However, for artisans, it is their daily bread and butter, who get recognition for their skills only if they get remunerative prices. Hence a brand name becomes crucial in marketing their products. Fighting against the odds, the first brand of Andhra Pradesh Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd (APHDCL) to get a geographical indicator (GI) status is brand ‘Lepakshi’. Lepakshi is named after a temple town in Andhra Pradesh which is known for its sculpture heritage during Vizianagaram dynasty. Incidentally, Andhra Pradesh’s Pochampally textile design was the first product to get the GI status in the country from the Controller of Designs , Copyrights and Patents office. As per available statistics, brand Lepakshi ranks the top in the hierarchy of other handicraft brands like Cauvery or Kairal ior PoomPuhar, etc. According to APHDCL vice-chairman and managing director Venkatramaiah the brand’s status will help in assisting about two lakh artisans of the state to market their products overseas. This brand has in itself nine products with GI status under its umbrella and another 10 more are in the pipeline. APHDC was incorporated in 1982 with the state and Centre contributing Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 50 lakhs respectively for the Rs 2 crore share capital of the corporation. Equipped with this brand, the corporation is planning to open franchisees in the overseas markets. To this effect, the board has approved the terms and regulations to open franchisees in the US market. “Despite the lull period, the corporation is seeing a lot of demand for Lepaksh ibrand and is making efforts by conducting exhibitions in Chile and Hong Kong as demand for red sanders products are in great demand for its auspiciousness in these countries,’’ he said. Not to leave behind the domestic market, the corporation will soon set up stores in the premises of importan ttemples located in the country. Further, as part of its handholding exercise with the artisans, it is helping in providing unique and exquisite designs.The rich heritage of the state is being revived through its promotional and marketing activities with newer and modern designs being drawn from the Indian Institute of Crafts and Designs, Jaipur. To facilitate the artisans, who are facing the pinch of soaring raw material (wood) prices, the corporation has set up a`raw material bank’.The government of India has allocated about Rs 1 crore as a grant for setting up the bank which has the capacity to store about 50 tonnes of teakwood and red sanders wood. These are being procured by the state forest department, to be made available to the artisans, at concessional rates. The corporation has clocked revenues worth about Rs 55 crore across 18 showrooms in the country. This constitutes Rs 20 crore from exhibitions conducted in the country and is targeting about Rs 65 crore for this fiscal. Meanwhile, it is adding another feather to its cap. It is the first handicraft corporation to introduce the sale of pure gold coins in lieu ofAkshaya Tritiya, falling on Monday, considered to be the most auspicious day for purchase of gold or silver in any form. The corporation is now an authorised franchisee of MMTC for selling gold coins which is made available in its branded Lepakshi showrooms and sold at prescribed rates of the government of India.``This is part of the diversification agenda in the business.The cost of labour and raw materials has gone up steeply in wood and other products. We see business opportunities through this sale too,’’ he said adding that Lepakshi showrooms would soon house silver jewellery too. 

‘Long tenancy can’t keep landlord from property’

If you thought a long-term tenancy could help you resist eviction by the landlord, think again. Referring to relevant rent laws, a city court has sent out a message to all tenants that they cannot dictate terms to landlords needing their premises for their requirements in course of time. Moreover, these “requirements” can not be subjected to the satisfaction of the tenants, authorising them to decide whether the landlords’ needs are genuine or not. Allowing the petition of landlords who had been trying to get their house evicted for the last few years, Senior Civil Judge Ajay Goel said a court would neither interfere with a landlord’s right to beneficially enjoy his properties nor did a tenant have the legally enforceable right to determine his necessities. Moreover, a protracted tenancy cannot accord any sort of right to a tenant to contest an eviction petition basing his or her argument on the ground that they have been living in the premises for long, the court observed. “The respondent (tenant in this case) cannot dictate terms to the landlord and a landlord is the best judge of his requirements. It is not the concern of the court to dictate to the landlord how and in what manner he should live or to prescribe for him a residential standard. There is no law that deprives the landlord of beneficial enjoyment of his property,” the court held, citing various Supreme Court judgments on the issue. In the case under consideration, Prem Chander Saxena along with his two brothers had sought the eviction of Prakash, who was living in two rooms and a courtyard in his Karol Bagh house. As per their petition, they have 16 members in the family and required the tenanted area for their own residential purposes, and also for giving a separate room to a kin who was to be married soon. Prakash, however, refused to vacate the premises, claiming he had been a tenant for the last 55 years and that the landlords’ requirements were not bonafide. There were 22 others rooms in the same premises that were lying vacant and the eviction was sought only with a view to getting rent at an increased rate, he contended. After a legal notice failed to yield results, Saxena sought the intervention of the court in getting back his property. The judge, following a perusal of the rival contentions, noted that not only were Saxena’s requirements per se well justified, the tenant did not have any right whatsoever to decide this question. “Instant petition has been filed by the three brothers jointly, which shows it is a large undivided Hindu family and the mere contention of respondent that he is been a tenant for more than 50 years does not give him the right to remain in perpetuity,” the court held. 


More from the Congress' Campaign

Not seen very many BJP adverts in the papers.....I guess they are all over TV and the internet.

The Congress - NCP campaign for Maharashtra

Kingfisher to launch Kolkata-Dhaka flight

Kingfisher Airlines has plans to launch its Kolkata-Dhaka flight from May 15."We will be launching our first flight to Dhaka from Kolkata on May 15,” Kingfisher Airlines’s spokesperson said.Dhaka would be the third overseas destination after London and Colombo for the Vijay Mallya-owned air-carrier, which already has the Government’s permission to fly across 13 international routes.The airline has deployed an ATR 72-500 (60-seater) for the Kolkata-Dhaka flight which would run daily. The flight IT-73 would leave Kolkata at 2.45 pm (local time) and arrive at Dhaka at 4.15 pm (local time), he said. The return flight would take-off from Dhaka at 5.00 pm and land at Kolkata airport at 5.30 pm.

Kingfisher had launched its international operations in September last year with a Bangalore-London flight followed by the Mumbai-London, Bangalore-Colombo and Chennai-Colombo flights in January this year.

Modi's campaign for Gujarat

Narendra Modi on the offensive against the Congress.

Vote Please !

With three phases to go....please vote.

Samajwadi Party's Campaign for UP

Somewhere in Hyderabad....

Children play as rain provided some respite from a searing summer in Hyderabad.

Tamil Eelam only solution: Jayalalithaa

In a dramatic shift in her stand on the Sri Lanka issue, AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Saturday said that her party would strive for the establishment of an independent ‘Tamil Eelam’ as that was the only lasting solution to the decades-old ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka. “It is now clear that the Sri Lankan government’s sole agenda is to wipe out the Tamil race from the island. They have no intention of giving them equal rights,” she said at an election rally in Erode in western Tamil Nadu. She said she had come to this conclusion after watching the video footage shown to her by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar.

Modi-for-PM ....?

Till a few weeks ago, most admirers of Narendra Modi in Gujarat believed that it will be only in 2014 that Missile Modi will hit New Delhi. The general feeling was Modi is happy being the CM of Gujarat, a state which will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee in 2010, and watch from the sidelines the coalition circus which unfolds shortly. But there is a change in thinking in Gujarat, as well as within the BJP, on the timing of the move. It has to be earlier, feel those admirers of Modi, who are anxious that he takes centre-stage as soon as possible. “Five years is too long a time in politics, I think he (Modi) is in a hurry to come to Delhi,” a senior bureaucrat said. The possibilities are immense and even BJP allies are feeling that Modi’s next big push towards Delhil is imminent. The media has also anticipated the trajectory of his flight. A journalist in Delhi said almost everyone wants to know when Missile Modi will strike Delhi. Almost everybody in the media also wants to interview Modi. Sources in the chief minister’s office (CMO) say there are 40-plus requests pending for interviews and following his campaign trail, which is entirely aerial. But most important are the signals coming from the Sangh Parivar. Within months of calling Modi Mahmud of Ghazni, for demolishing over 200 illegal temples in Gandhinagar, VHP chief Ashok Singhal was forced to come to Ahmedabad on Friday and clarify that his comment was meant to be a joke. While that may sound funny, it is clear that Modi has the blessings of new RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. He cemented his 35-year-old ties with Bhagwats by identifying his father and one of the pillars of RSS, late Madhukar Rao Bhagwat, as one of the luminaries who influenced him in his early life as a pracharak. Bhagwat Jr. came to Ahmedabad to release Modi’s book ‘Jyotipunj’ in 2007. On the same day a tamed Singhal was praising Modi, Arun Shourie was also in Ahmedabad touting Modi was a future PM, qualifying the comment by adding that this was his “personal feeling”. One couldn’t expect him to say in public this was the ‘Parivar feeling” too. First it was Arun Shourie,now it’s Arun Jaitley—both of them want Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate after L K Advani.Coming bang in the middle of an election in which Advani is the BJP’s candidate for the top job, the search for Advani’s successor has set tongues wagging—has the BJP, or a section of the party, already thrown in the towel and is it looking ahead? Like Shourie, Jaitley made it plain that there is no shift from Advani’s projection as the prime ministerial candidate for 2009, but his support for Modi in Vadodara is bound to fuel a debate and controversy, inviting caustic inquiries from the Congress about whether the BJP was hunting for an insurance policy.

The Battle for Mumbai

Mumbai goes to the polls on the 30th. Hopefully should be there to cast my vote.


NCP's Campaign in Maharashtra

The NCP's campaign...

First bid made to redevelop a cluster

More than a month after the Maharashtra state government issued the final notification on the cluster redevelopment policy for buildings constructed prior to 1960 in the island city, the state housing department has received its first proposal under the new policy. On Tuesday, the state housing department received a proposal for redeveloping a 30-acre plot in the Kalbadevi-Chira Bazaar area, a plot that is three-quarters the size of Nariman Point. The proposal was submitted by the Remaking of Mumbai Housing Infrastructure and Finance Limited (RMHIF), a company headed by developer Lalit Gandhi. It details plans to demolish 360 three-storey and fourstorey buildings and replace them with 30 high-rise buildings. While the existing 8,000-odd tenants will be rehabilitated in 30-storey buildings, the developer proposes to construct 50-storey buildings for his saleable component.State housing secretary Sitaram Kunte said, “We received it only on Tuesday. We will have to examine it for details before taking any decision on forwarding it to the high-powered committee,” he said. Last month, the state government had finalised its cluster policy, under which any developer taking up the redevelopment of old buildings in an area over 1 acre in the island city will be granted a floor space index (FSI) of 4 or even higher depending on the density of population in the locality. The final policy gave developers an increased sale component in the project, equal to 55 per cent to 80 per cent of the area used for rehabilitating existing tenants. “We will be investing about Rs 700 crore in this project and we are expecting a turnover of Rs 7,000 crore. Our intention is to save the lives of thousands of people who live in old buildings in the island city,” said Lalit Gandhi. He said about 20 lakh sq ft will be his sale component in the project while another 25 lakh will be used for rehabilitating the tenants and creating low income group houses. “It will be 50 per cent residential and 50 per cent commercial,” he said. In November 2007, when the state government had invited expressions of interest for a pilot redevelopment project, the Remaking of Mumbai Federation was one of the nine developers who had applied for the scheme. Back then, they had proposed to take up a total area of 232 acres in the heart of the island city, much to the chagrin of heritage activists. Activists like AGNI convenor Gerson Da Cunha, historian Sharada Dwivedi, environmentalist Debi Goenka along with a few others had taken their protest to the government. The proposal has now been submitted with the written consent of about 74 per cent of the tenants. Urban Development principal secretary TC Benjamin, however, clarified that as per rules no proposal will get approval from the high-powered committee unless it has the consent of at least 70 per cent of the landlords. “The proposal doesn’t have any such consent from landlords,” he said.


Random snippets of the campaign, voting day......cartoonist's view points as the Elections' 2009 juggernaut rambles along.