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NEWS DIARY | JANUARY:

Wife Beats Up Hubby for Attempting to Remarry | Bangladesh’s Majestic River Dolphins at Risk | Kidney Scam | Learn from India: Imran | Bangla Luxury Car Market Tanks | Bomb Blast in Nepal | Bollywood in Pak? | Hyundai Plans Mini Cars

Wife Beats Up Hubby for Attempting to Remarry

A 32-year-old placement agency owner was beaten up by his wife at a place where he was preparing to marry another woman. The incident took place in Central Delhi’s Prasad Nagar recently.

The police said the accused, Mukesh Khanna, had been married to Reena from Jharkhand for four years. The couple has a two-year-old child. Mukesh began avoiding Reena and got engaged to another woman, a resident of Prasad Nagar, in May last year.

“Mukesh kept his first wife in the dark and was about to marry another woman. His first wife turned up at the wedding venue and thrashed him with slippers and abused him. Reena was also carrying her wedding photographs when she came to the venue,” said a senior police officer.

Police said that Reena went up to the stage where the rituals were taking place and beat up her husband. As the situation became evident to the family members of the bride, they too joined Reena and began beating him.

“Had the police not intervened in time the accused and his father would have been lynched. The bride’s parents got extremely violent. It took us hours to control the situation,” added the officer.

Police took Mukesh and his father Manjeet Khanna in custody soon after the incident. “They have been arrested for cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy,” said the officer.

Police said that Mukesh was living with Reena in Shakurpur and had even opened a placement agency in her name. Mukesh’s family was against the marriage as Reena belonged to a scheduled tribe. Reena, who said she was pregnant, added that she came to know about the fraud when she stumbled upon the wedding card of her husband.
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Bangladesh’s Majestic River Dolphins at Risk


Dolphins are a powerful tourist attraction in Bangladesh

The river dolphins of Bangladesh rise arc-like and majestic out of the water only inches from boats that ply the rivers of the country’s south. But this lovely sight may soon be a thing of the past, according to a BBC report.

In a country where the wildlife population has been denuded because of over-crowding and pollution, dolphins provide visitors with a beautiful and memorable surprise.

But conservationists say they are increasingly concerned over the future of the country’s river dolphin population, some of which they warn may even be at risk of extinction.

They say that it is rapidly declining because of over-fishing, a shortage of prey, pollution and declining freshwater supplies.

Experts are particularly concerned over the fate of two species — the Ganges river dolphin and the Irrawaddy dolphin whose numbers they say have significantly reduced over the last decade.

“This is probably because of intense human activities — such as farming and fishing — that takes place in their river and near shore water habit,” said dolphin expert Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur.

Over-fishing is being blamed for the dolphins’ decline

“But they are also at risk because of the clumped nature of their overall distribution, which results in a patchwork of relatively small groups demographically isolated from each other.”

While Bangladesh currently supports relatively large populations of Ganges river dolphins and Irrawaddy dolphins, conservationists argue that it’s crucial to address the threats they face now, while the potential for long-term survival of both species is still relatively high in comparison to other areas in Asia.
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Kidney Scam

Mohammed Salim, 33, whose kidney was removed, recovers at a Gurgaon hospital.

The last things Mohammed Salim remembered were the knees pinning him to the ground, the guns pointed at his head, and, finally, the injection that sent him into oblivion.

When he awoke, he was in agonizing pain, uncertain where he was or why he was wearing a hospital gown.

“We have taken your kidney,” a masked man calmly explained. “If you tell anyone, we’ll shoot you.”

Salim was one of the last victims in an organ transplant racket that police believe sold up to 500 kidneys to clients who traveled to India from around the world over the past nine years.

Police say that when they raided the operation’s main clinic in this upscale New Delhi suburb last week, they broke up a ring spanning five Indian states and involving at least four doctors, several hospitals, two dozen nurses and paramedics and a car outfitted as a laboratory.

Subsequent raids uncovered a kidney transplant waiting list with 48 names and, in one clinic, five foreigners — three Greeks and two Americans of Indian descent — who authorities believe were waiting for transplants.

Only one doctor has been arrested so far and police are searching for the alleged ringleader, Amit Kumar, who has several aliases and has been accused in past organ transplant schemes elsewhere in India. Authorities believe he’s fled the country.

“Due to its scale, we believe more members of the Delhi medical fraternity must have been aware of what was going on,” Gurgaon police commissioner Mohinder Lal told reporters this week.

There long have been reports of poor Indians illegally selling kidneys, but the transplant racket in Gurgaon is one of the most extensive to come to light — and the first with an element of so-called medical tourism.
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Learn from India: Imran

Imran Khan with demonstrators outside Downing Street in London.

Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan said his country ought to take a lesson in democracy from rival neighbor India as he dismissed the chances of next month’s elections being transparent.

The Tehrik-e-Insaaf party chief predicted turmoil following the delayed February 18 parliamentary elections, insisting only the establishment of an independent judiciary could ensure a credible result.

The 1992 World Cup-winning Pakistan cricket captain briefly joined forces with his British socialite ex-wife Jemima in London to protest against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s visit.

A coalition of parties, including Khan’s TeI, is boycotting the election in protest at ex-general Musharraf sacking top judges.

“I have great optimism — in the long run — because I think for the first time, we see light at the end of the tunnel,” Khan said.

“We see an independent justice system coming. That’s the only difference between India and Pakistan, that’s how India got democracy. They have an independent election commission and judiciary; we don’t.

“Once we have an independent justice system, that is the beginning of change in Pakistan.”

However, in the short term, Khan predicted chaos. “I see turmoil after the elections, because the whole situation is ridiculous,” he said.
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Bangla Luxury Car Market Tanks


A luxury BMW sedan.

Not a single new BMW car was sold in Bangladesh in 2007 as the country’s luxury car market collapsed in the face of the government’s anti-corruption drive, officials at the sole distributor of the prestigious German brand said.

Executive Motors Ltd, BMW’s local distributor, started to sell the vehicles in Bangladesh in 2003. The distributor sold 300 cars till December 2006. But with buyers frightened to show their wealth or be asked about income sources, the pool of potential customers has been reduced to zero.

“We delivered 300 different BMW cars till December 2006 to the local customers. But in 2007, we had no business,” said a high official of the Executive Motors adding that “no BMW was sold last year”.

Executive Motors imported BMWs from various model ranges where the prices vary from 5.5 million taka ($80,403) to 35 million taka ($511,658).

He said Executive Motors did not even open any L/C (letter of credit) after January 2007 to import BMW cars, as it did not receive any order from customers.

In fact, the company is still trying to shift the three BMWs it has had in stock for more than a year with just one of vehicles is on display and gathering dust in the BMW showroom on the Tejgaon-Gulshan Link Road.

Mohd Ariful Azim, general manager, said: “The customers of cars like BMW are not willing to buy fearing that they will face questions from the law enforcers.”

Soon after assuming power the army-backed caretaker government launched drives against corruption and as many as 60 luxury vehicles, including Pajeros, Harriers, Porsches, BMWs, Toyota Prados, Lincoln, Lexus, Toyota Land Cruisers, Cadillacs and Infiniti were seized. Some of them were found abandoned by roadside in different places across the country.
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Bomb Blast in Nepal

Nepalese policemen evacuate a victim of a bomb attack at a political rally, in Birgunj, 62 km south of Kathmandu.

A bomb exploded near a government-sponsored political rally in southern Nepal on Jan. 31 wounding at least 35 people, police said.

The blast in the town of Birgunj in the southern plains of the Himalayan nation, where thousands had gathered for the rally, followed two earlier explosions in the area including one the previous night.

“We have 55 people wounded in all,” a police official told Reuters from Birgunj, 62 km from the capital Kathmandu. The toll included those from the overnight blast as well as from Wednesday (Jan. 31).

A doctor at the local hospital said at least three people were in critical condition following the blast at the rally.

“I think it was a plastic bomb,” police official Yogeswor Romkhani said.

State-run Radio Nepal said three armed groups fighting for regional autonomy had claimed responsibility for the blast, the latest in a series that have rocked the restive southern Terai plains in recent weeks.

Police could not immediately confirm Radio Nepal’s report.

Scores of people have died in ethnic violence and clashes with rebel groups in the region, also known as the Madhesh, in the past year.

“I was standing near the site when I heard a sudden blast,” said Jaya Narayan Yadav.

“Then I saw people running away in panic. Some were bleeding from their legs, hands and the back.”

Police said the blast took place 200 meters from the political rally which was being addressed by senior leaders of the ruling seven-party alliance.
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Bollywood in Pak?

Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan.

Pakistani cinema goers may soon get to watch their favorite Bollywood films if the government clears a proposal by its MPs to remove a ban on them.

Officially Indian films are banned in Pakistan, a prohibition dating back to the 1965 war between the two countries.

Authorities have made exceptions - three films were allowed in 2006.

Cinema owners in Pakistan are keen to screen Bollywood films, but local filmmakers fear an influx would harm the Pakistani film industry.

Now a parliamentary committee on culture has recommended to the government that the ban on Indian films should be removed.

“We have devised a mechanism for allowing the import of Indian films for a period of one year, after which the arrangements can be reviewed,” senator Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, who headed the committee told the Press Trust of India news agency.

He said the government would have to clear the proposal to allow the import and release of Indian films.

Though details are unclear, reports suggest that the import of a dozen Indian films will be allowed against the export of an equal number of Pakistani films to India.

It is not clear also whether the Indian government would agree to such a proposal.
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Hyundai Plans Mini Cars

A Hyundai mini car.

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. is planning to produce a low-cost mini car in India by 2011 to compete with locally produced vehicles such as Tata’s new Nano, a company executive said Jan. 31

The low-cost, fuel-efficient mini car models will be priced between 3.5 million Korean won ($3,700) and 5 million won, Cho Won-suk, executive vice president of Hyundai Motor’s Advanced Technology Center, told Dow Jones Newswires at an industry event.

Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd. recently unveiled the Nano — billed as the world’s cheapest car — and said it will go on sale for $2,500 by October.

Cho said no production of the mini-car is planned for South Korea.

Hyundai is the second-largest automaker in India, where small cars dominate the market. Maruti Suzuki Ltd., in which Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. owns a majority stake, is the market leader with about 50 percent share. Homegrown Tata Motors is third-biggest.

Hyundai is pushing to diversify its product portfolio with fuel-efficient cars, and plans to introduce a version of its Avante sedan powered by liquefied petroleum gas by 2009, said Cho.
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CURRENT ISSUE IN PDF
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COVER STORY
Teaching Indian Kids: Pratham’s Annual Survey
Pratham tested over 700,000 Indian kids in 16,000 villages all over India and presented its findings in its 2007 Annual Survey of Education Report, writes Arvind Amin.


LITERATURE
Maverick Malayali: Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
Critics and the common man alike were won by the disarmingly down-to-earth literary style of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, Siliconeer offers a tribute on his birth centenary.


SUBCONTINENT
The Battle for Democracy:
A Trip to Pakistan

The U.S. can continue its history of backing autocrats or demand the restoration of the judiciary and an independent press in Pakistan, writes Radhika Sainath after a recent trip to Pakistan.


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Educating India’s Children
NEWS DIARY: January
COMMUNITY: Bangla Benefit
SUBCONTINENT: Tata Nano’s Critics
CINEMA: Filmmaker Jamil Dehlavi
SUBCONTINENT: Reliance Oil Boom
SUBCONTINENT: Republic Day in India
TRAVEL: Nerja, Spain
COMMUNITY: BayVP Kite Fest
AUTO: 2008 Cadillac CTS
BOLLYWOOD: Film: Sunday
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
COMMUNITY: News
INFOTECH INDIA: Round-up
TAMIL CINEMA: Vazhthukal
RECIPE: Gobhi Manchurian
HOROSCOPE: February


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