P C says ‘good news’ soon for people of Northeast
New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, on New Year’s Eve, said there would be “good news” for the people of the region in the days to come. The minister expressed confidence that something good would emerge from the talks with the Northeastern militant groups.
Chidambaram said the government has made significant gains with regard to the ULFA militants and talks were at an “advanced stage” with two or three other groups in the region.
“All but two or three leaders are in custody and we have offered talks to them if they give up the demand of sovereignty and surrender. As far as the two or three ULFA leaders, who are still not within our reach, I am confident that there will be good news in the days to come,” he added.
Chidambaram said the Centre’s interlocutor, PC Haldar, was in talks with militant groups in the Northeast and the discussions were “progressing well”.
“Haldar is in talks with the militant groups that are in the North Cachar Hills, the Karbi Anglong area, and the Bodoland council area. With some luck, we can have some settlement with these groups. I think these are good signs,” the home minister said.
Naga music icon wins Northeast excellence award
Kohima: Guru Rewben Mashangva, often referred to as the “father of Naga folk blues” has been conferred the Northeast Excellence Award in Music for 2009 for his contribution to Naga folk music. The award was given away at the inaugural session of the 5th Northeast Business Summit on 8 January at Hyatt Regency in Kolkata. The gathering included Minister for DoNER Bijoy Khrishna Handique, chief ministers of the northeastern states and foreign delegates from Southeast Asian countries. The event was organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Now, mandatory voting in local Gujarat polls
Gandhinagar: In a first in the electoral history of this country, the Gujarat Assembly, on December 19, passed the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009, which seeks to make voting compulsory in elections to local self-government bodies such as municipal corporations and panchayats.
Moving the Bill in the House, Gujarat Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel said the main objective of making voting compulsory was to involve the voter in strengthening the democratic process, and bring him to the polling booth. It empowers an election officer to be designated by the State Election Commission to declare the voter, who fails to vote in the elections, as “defaulter voter”.
The government will prescribe by rule the disadvantages and consequences to be suffered by the “defaulter voter”, Patel said, adding, “It’s not the sole objective of the government to punish the voter who may fail to vote, but to encourage him to spare some time to exercise his right to vote in a local body election that comes once in five years.”
Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh is also planning to adopt the Gujarat model of the law soon.
Refugee kids bring to Delhi traditional art from Swat valley
New Delhi: It has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, but now, the world is finally taking notice of the good things that Pakistan’s Swat valley has to offer. A Lahore-based NGO, Idara Taleem o Aagahi (ITA), set up a stall at the Dilli Haat that had on sale items of daily use adorned with the traditional ‘truck art’ of Swat valley. But what most people did not know was the fact that these items had been prepared by child refugees of the region, 170 of whom ITA had provided shelter and education to.
Truck art is inspired by the colourful designs on trucks in Pakistan. The items were in such high demand that the NGO sold most of the items that it had brought for sale in the eight-day exhibition of crafts from SAARC countries that began on December 29 and ended on January 5.
National education scheme in Nagaland gets Rs 85-crore boost
Kohima: The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abiyaan (RMSA), to universalise secondary education during the 11th and 12th Five-Year Plan is to be implemented in Nagaland. A sum of Rs 85 crore has been earmarked for this. The approval came in the second project approval board meeting held on January 7 and 9. According to the Nagaland education mission society, it is an “unprecedented experience” for the School Education Department of the state to have a very comprehensive and innovative Perspective Plan up to 2011-12 amounting to Rs 577.4 crore, and another Rs 40 crore for model schools and girls’ hostels.
Nagaland Chief Secretary Lalthara informed the board meeting that despite the state being a “late starter”, the government will take all possible steps to successfully implement the RMSA, model school scheme, girls’ hostel scheme and even the Mahila Samakhya. A detailed project report for the said schemes is being submitted, Lalthara added.