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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Edition 18:Fuelling The Capital Difference

Living in the capital of India costs you less than living in the culture capital of Maharahstra, thanks to the heavy taxes levied by state government and PMC.

There could not have been a worse situation for the Puneite who loves to drive his vehicle, whether it be two wheeler or four wheeler. First, the union budget presented by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee hiked the rates of petrol and diesel all over the country. Then within a month, the fuel prices in city shoot up because of implementation of Euro IV grade standards among 13 cities all over India, including Pune.

While rest of the country sells fuels without less taxes, in Pune it is already reeling under the burden of taxes. This is the reason why you are paying for third costliest fuel in the country. Only Bangalore and Hyderabad offer costlier petrol than Pune. Consider this: after the second hike from April 1, petrol prices in New Delhi went up to Rs 47.93 (an increase of Rs 0.50) a litre and diesel to Rs 38 (increase of Rs 0.26) per litre. In comparison, petrol prices in Pune went up to Rs 52.08 (increase by Rs 0.55) per litre and diesel prices went up to Rs 39.80 (increase by Rs. 0.28) per litre. It means living in the capital of India costs you less than living in the culture capital of Maharahstra.

There are different opinions on the exact reason of such a difference of prices in Pune and that of other places. There are mainly two factors making petrol and diesel more expensive to Puneites. Pune Municipal Corporation not only charges octroi tax on petrol, it charges it on Value Added Tax also. Since 2005, PMC charged 4 percent octroi tax on the VAT-included price in addition to originally price. PMC on its part reduced the octroi from 4 percent to 2 percent two years ago. However, the double taxation still persists. As things stand today, only Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune municipal corporations charge octroi on petroleum products. On a daily basis, Pune uses 5 lakh litres of petrol and 3.60 lakh litres of diesel. The Pune municipal Corporation (PMC) is charging two per cent octroi on diesel and petrol and one per cent of education cess.

Besides octroi, it is the sales tax which contributes to the prices of petrol being increased. Prices of fuel at a particular place depend upon sales tax and octroi and fret. Maharashtra has the second highest sales tax in the country. State charges 26 % of sales tax on petrol and also levies Rs 1 for using state highways and flyovers. The overall taxes in Maharashtra on petrol come third in the country after Andhra Pradesh (33%) and Tamil Nadu (31%).

According to Baba Dhumal, Vice President, Federation of All India Petrol Dealer’s Association, the functionaries of the organization have met union petroleum ministers in connection with this matter at least four times. He was requested to keep price of petrol uniform all over the country. High amount of sales tax takes petrol prices to higher level. But there is no action. Two years ago, then chief minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh had admitted in the presence of Murali Deora, that sales tax on petrol is high. He had promised to lower it but nothing has happened.

The Side Effects
The second hike in the petroleum prices was introduced since April 1 on account of implementation of Euro IV norms in 13 cities. Pune is one of the cities to have these norms but not Pimpri Chinchwad. However, the petrol prices in neighbouring municipal limits were also shot up. The voices opposing this hike are also heard. One among them is that of Gajanan Babar, member of parliament from Chinchwad.

According to Babar, “Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad are two separate cities. The new norms for cleaner fuel as recommended by Kirti Parekh committee are meant to be implemented only in Pune. Therefore, the Rs 0.55 per litre hike should be only for PMC limits. However, the petrol dealers in PCMC also hiked their prices which is wrong.” Babar has registered his objection with the municipal commissioner Ashish Sharma. A morcha was taken out by the activists of Shiv Sena.

However, the oil companies have made it clear that Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad fall under a loop. The Euro IV norms are applicable collectively in PMC as well as PCMC. Hence, the prices went up in both cities.

Comparison of Prices In Various Cities

City Unleaded Petrol (Rs/litre) Diesel (Rs/litre)
Pune 52.08 39.80
Bangalore 54.21 41.67
Chennai 52.00 38.08
Hyderabad 53.63 39.17
New Delhi 47.93 38.10
Mumbai 51.68 39.60
Kolkata 51.65 37.99

Edition 18; Spiraling Prices Burden Citizens

This seems the season of price hike. It was not long ago that the citizens braced themselves for paying more for most of the essential commodities, there is more in store. For a common citizen, managing own household in the new fiscal year, which started from Apri 1, is going to be a tedious affair.
On the one hand, the traders are protesting the hike in Value Added Tax all over the state. On the other hand, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has approved the new octroi rates, read hiked rates, between half to one per cent. The products affected by the hike include computers, liquor, medical equipment, construction material and motorcycles. As of now, there will be no changes in octroi rates on gold and silver.
The Maharashtra government has increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) by one per cent on a wide range of goods. The increase in VAT is applied on 105 goods, ranging from garments to utensils, from the existing level of four per cent to five per cent.
Mohan Oswal, chairman of the action committee formulated by the Poona Merchants' Chamber, said, "The chamber had observed a token strike last week but the government has not taken cognisance of the situation. The increased VAT will finally be passed on to consumers, who will be paying extra for these essential commodities."
Deepak Bora, chairman of the chamber, said: "We will meet the chief minister next week. We will also discuss the stringent Packed Commodity Act. Though the merchant community is not involved in packing or processing, they are going to be affected by the Act." Even though the traders are opposing it, a roll overs seems unlikely. The ultimate effect will be on the consumers who will end up paying more for these goods.
In the annual budget presented by state finance minister Sunil Tatkare, the state government has hiked VAT by one per cent on the sale of material used in construction of flats. One per cent VAT will be payable on the contract price of flats mentioned in the agreement of sale. This will result in further increase in property rates. Already country’s two leading private lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have raised lending rates for home and auto loans.
There is little respite though. The central government decision to increase the tax slabs and RBI’s guideline to banks asking them to calculate interest on savings deposits on a daily basis beginning April 1 will help the hapless consumers to save some money. In a recent ordinance, the government has hiked the VAT on essential commodities like groundnuts, tea powder and coffee from 4 per cent to 5 per cent, fuelling price rise in the retail market.
If staying in the home becomes dearer, travelling to other places is not too different. Travel along tolled national highways across the country is now more expensive. From Thursday, the National Highway Authority of India’s revised toll rates came into force. For cars, the toll went up from the existing 71 paise to 76 paise per km. For other vehicles, the increase ranges from 6 paise to 11 paise per km. This increase is linked to the wholesale price index.
The exact toll amount to be paid by motorists will be a rounded-off figure close to Rs 5 denomination. By October, the tolls for other tolled-roads, too, would be revised upwardly.The new toll rate was fixed based on the increase in the wholesale price index (WPI) which is around 9.59 in February. The revised rates are immediately applicable to 24 national highways.
Surprisingly, the government claims otherwise. According to a statement by government of India, “A declining trend has started in the prices of food commodities over the past few weeks. Over the last three months prices of atta, gram dal, tur dal, urad dal, moong dal, masoor dal, potato and onion have shown a declining trend while rice, wheat and salt have remained constant. Apart from these, over the last one month prices of wheat, sugar, mustard oil and tea have also started showing a declining trend.”
The statement was released in the first week of March. Unfortunately, this resolve has not seen translated into reality.The price of almost every consumer product, too, is set to move northwards due to the combined effect of the two budgets. These include cars, cement, steel, refrigerators, air conditioners and television.
With the economy going upward and India successfuly weathering worst economic crisis in decades, this price rise is sure to hit the common citizens.
Your Say
Need For Green Census Census 2010 has been started with a bang. Huge tons of paper is used for forms etc. The government can opt for an online collection of data. Everyone agrees on the need to go green; this should be an occasion to demonstrate the will. I request the authorities concerned to go for the green option in the case of the census. Sudhakar Deshpande, Pune Educating All Government of India deserved to be congratulated because it has announced its resolve to provide free and compulsory education to every childran within age 6-14 years in the country. It is another question whether the states will be able to do justice with the spirit of this act. It is understandable to know that it will be difficult to construct buildings, provide furniture, establish libraries, laboratories, workshops, play grounds and at the same time to provide teaching staff in all these schools. Most of the states are not in a position to run schools which are already in existence and it is highlighted timke and again that posts for teachers are lying vacant because of paucity of funds. A large number of children who are within this prescribed age limits are already at work and they are earning and helping parents. The state will face difficulty in putting all these children in schools and to compensate parents who had been collecting money from these children at work. I hope the state will be able to cope up with all these difficulties and will come out with flying colours. We have already lost much time in following the directive principle as enshrined in the Constitution of India. However, better late than never. Congratulations to government again for this noble act. Ramesh Modak, Ghopadi

The Bare Necessities India is heading swiftly towards growth. The economists and media pundits expressed their belief that the country will be an economic superpower in the world in near future. But how is this possible when 80% of the Indian population earns only 20 rupees per day and on the other hand when the prices of the essential commodities are soaring tremendously everyday? Only 20% of the Indians are earning lakhs and crores of rupees nearly everyday. Who can buy daily necessities with the daily wage of Rs 20? Buying the daily necessities has become extremely impossible. Does economic growth mean computers, internet, cell phones, latest bikes and cars? Nandkumar Waghmare, Aundh
The Double Standards While condemning Narendra Modi and BJP for riots of Gujarat in 2002, other political parties adopt double standards. While going hammer and tongs on actor Amitabh Bachchan for having become the ambassador of Gujarat, the Congress spokesperson has forgotten his own party's history of associating with him in the past. The Congress is as much responsible for the Delhi riots as is the BJP for the Gujarat carnage. Why indulge in mudslinging? It is time our politicians concentrated on more ground issues such as price rise, health, food and education, instead of wasting time to score brownie points. Political parties are never tired of exploiting the people’s sentiments to gain political mileage. The Congress blames the BJP for the Gujarat riots but conveniently forgets the massacre of 1984. Same is the case with the BJP or any other party. It is high time these parties to take responsibility for their actions.
Nikita S., Aundh

Edition 18: Sureshchandra Raut

After joining the police force, Sureshkumar Raut, now Assistant Police Inspector at Ko0thrud Police Traffic Branch, spent most of the career in tackling criminals. He was chiefly posted in the crime branch and had a vast experience of dealing with hardcore criminals. That is why when he was promoted to take over his present posting, it was kind of a new challenge for him.

“As one who worked in the crime branch, I was accustomed to being rough and tough with the ruthless criminals. It makes no sense to be a serene person when you are faced with the men who have spent their lives in committing crimes. But taking care of traffic, you come across with the ‘offenders’ who are not criminals. They argue with you and you have be considerate with them. You have to be on your guard so as not to loose the temper, which might turn the situation to worse,” he said to City Blog. Having said that, Raut is confident that looking at his two year stint in the traffic department, “I have managed to do that balancig act,” according to him.

Sureshkumar Raut joined the police force in 1995 after passing Maharashtra Public Service Commission. He was inducted as Police Sub-Inspector and was posted at Mumbai during 1996 to 2001. He served there in the Crime Detection Branch. Then he was transferred to Pune where he served in Special Protection Branch for four years. He was in Deccan Police Station. Then came a posting in Local Crime Branch of Pune Rural Police. He had a memorable stint here under the leadership of Vishwad Nangre Patil, then superintendent of police (Pune Rural).

“I was one of the five-six persons who first reached to spot where the infamous rave party was going on in March 2007. The case was a milestone for us,” he said. A rave party of hundreds of youngsters, including 29 girls and 12 foreign nationals, was cut short by undercover policemen in a neat predawn swoop. 251 people were put behind bars in the action. Following year, he was promoted to Assistant Police Inspector and given the present posting.

Besides strictly following rules, the department is also trying to raise awareness about safe traffic. One of such attempt was to distribute free New Year greeting cards to vehicle owners with drawings by noted cartoonist Mangesh Tendulkar. These cards were distributed with an appeal to follow rules on the road.

The Mentality Change
At this juncture, he had to adjust a bit. “While working with criminals, your mentality undergoes a change. The mind starts to think like the criminals. However, while controlling the traffic, you come across people of all sorts. Skills have to be developed to convince them,” he said. However, Raut has seen a change in traffic pattern in Pune to better. “There is an increased sense of law and responsibility. This is thanks to strict implementation by traffic police of various rules like fastening seat belts, stopping at zebra strips etc.

“The credit of this change goes to our deputy police commissioner, Manoj Patil. He has given us full support. That is why each policeman manning the traffic duty knows that if he is right, then he is nothing to fear. Earlier, people took traffic police granted but now, they are aware that we can go by the law book”

Problem With Educated
Area under Raut’s jurisdiction stretches from Nal Stop to Vandevi, Dahanukar Colony, Chandani Chwk, Mhatre Bridge and Rajaram Bridge. Most of the educated people come from this area. It is also one of the toughest areas since it is Asia’s fastest developed area.

“The people who want to show off their educated background create a lot of nuisance. When somebody is caught violating a rule, the person immediately starts arguing about the lack of boards, signs etc. Some people point to fading zebra strips on the road and ask why they are not prominent. They should understand that first they have to follow the rules and then only they should point fingers towards inadequate boards, signs etc.,” said Raut.

Edition 18: Success of NCL

National Chemical Laboratory, the premier research institute of India just concluded its celebration for the golden jubilee year. None other than Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was present on the occasion. The ceremony, incidentally took place hours after the prime minister addressed the nation announcing the right of education for all children in India.

PM Dr. Singh said expressed concern over the dwindling numbers of youngsters joining the science and technology field. He said that efforts are necessary to attract the young talent towards science and research field. He said that the country’s premier scientific institutions like the National Chemical Laboratory should help find solutions to problems that confront our society.

“Enough number of bright young men and women are not taking up science after the 10+2 stage in the country. We need to do more to bring them to the field of exciting research environment in colleges and universities. We must focus on faculty development, improve quality of teaching, increase expenditure on science and technology from current 1 percent of GDP and strengthen academic-industry interface. Our competitive advantage in R & D may be lost unless we ensure adequate number of motivated young men to lead our national science laboratories and knowledge based industries,” he said.
Dr Singh said our government has declared 2010-2020 as the “Decade of Innovations” so that young minds are instilled with a spirit of innovation to find solutions in different areas to achieve inclusive growth. K. Shankarnarayanan, Governor of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, Union Minister of state for Science & Technology, D. Purandeswari, Minsiter of state for Human Resource Development, Prof. S. Brahmachari, Director General of CSIR were present at the function. Foundation of IISER The PM laid the foundation stone of Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER). He urged the scientific community to make IISER a unique brand of academic excellence in the world and realize the dream of making the country the knowledge hub of the world.
Once this institution is completed, 1000 Ph. D.s will be offered in the radius of two kilometer through the NCL, IISER and University of Pune.

Prithviraj Chavan in his speech said NCL scientists had won several laurels and Dr Raghunath Mashelkar’s work is a case in point. Chavan said NCL’s public-private model had worked well and their record in technology transfer to industry in unmatched. He said that the new facility of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (ISER), Pune will be ready by 2012-13 together with NCL, there would be over 400 faculties and 1,000 PhD students working in the powerful innovation cluster emerging around NCL. The PM inaugurated the new research building devoted to Polymer and Advanced Material and unveiled the foundation stone of upcoming campus of ISER, Pune.
Dearth of Teachers
On the other hand, lack of good, highly motivated science teachers at schools triggered by low social status of teachers is the main reason for poor quality science education at secondary and higher secondary level, according to Raghunath Mashelkar, eminent scientist and former Director General (DG) of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), said on Thursday.
Mashelkar was reacting to the remark made by PM. Mashelkar said, “I feel sad that best of the minds don’t turn to science. The solution to 21st century challenges can be found only by science. When I was heading the Indian National Science Academy, I had commissioned a report on status of science education in schools. The survey found that there was considerable interest for science amongst primary level students from class VI to VIII. But the interest wanes by class X.”

From The PM’s Speech
Sixty years is a significant milestone in the lifespan of any institution. The National Chemical Laboratory has had a lineage of distinguished leaders who have guided its destiny with great distinction. With this tradition of excellence in scientific research, this laboratory has nurtured some of the best minds in India. Several scientists of this institution have been elected to distinguished academies of sciences, both in India and overseas. The Laboratory made a seminal contribution to the emergence of Indian pesticides industry which was critical to the success of the Green Revolution in our country. Post-1970, the research conducted at the National Chemical Laboratory gave birth to the Indian generic drug industry, a forerunner to the vibrant Indian pharmaceutical industry of today. More recently, this Laboratory has contributed to the growth of the petrochemicals, polymers and fine chemicals industry. With its world class facilities, it is my hope that the National Chemical Laboratory will sustain this culture of excellence and continue to explore the boundaries of frontier science.
Photo Caption
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh watching the model of IISER-Pune, at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the National Chemical Laboratory of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, in Pune on April 01, 2010. Wife of Prime Minister Gursharan Kaur, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Prithviraj Chavan, Chairman, Indian Olympic Association, Suresh Kalmadi are also seen.

Edition 18: Puneri Chaat

Down Memory Lane

The Bund Garden is one of the most well-known park among the gardens of Pune. The bridge on the river Mula where this garden is situated is famous with the same name. The garden got its name from a bund built on the river and bridge got famous because of garden. Although, the bridge is official named Fitzgerlad bridge.

Before building of Khadakwasla dam near Pune, a bund was built on the river in 1850 to check the water flow as also providing water to Cantonment area. The Bund Garden was built in 1868-69 following the instructions of Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy. Situated on the right hand bank of the Mula-Mutha rivers, the garden now is also known as Mahatma Gandhi Udyan.

Because of the backwater near this bund, many water sports activities were started. It gave birth to the creation of Royal Connaught Boat Club. The club lent its name to the road leading to it which is today known as Boat Club road.

About the same time, a bridge was built near the bund in 1867-68. It connected Yerwada to Pune and also allowed the traffic towards Ahmednagar. Because of statues of two lions place near this bridge, it was referred by local people as Sinhacha Pul.

The Poona District Gazetteer, 1885 mentions about the place:
About a mile and a quarter north-east of the Railway Station, at the Bund Gardens, about 200 yards above the FitzGerald bridge, the Mutha-Mula is crossed by a stone weir or Bund built in 1850 by Sir Jamsetji Jijibhai at a cost of £25,749 18s. (Rs. 2,57,499). Above the weir, through the cold and hot months of all ordinary seasons, the river is navigable for pleasure boats as far as the old masonry bridge known as Holkar's Bridge, a distance of about three and three quarter miles.
From the FitzGerald bridge looking west is one of the prettiest views in Poona. On the left are the trees and flowers of the Bund garden, the higher tree-tops half hiding the distant broken line of the Sinhgad-Bhuleshvar hills. In front, from the edge of the dam, between low tree-fringed banks, the river, about 200 yards wide, stretches west about half a mile to where it is divided by a long low woody island. Beyond the island, as it turns south-west to the meeting of the rivers, the water passes out of sight in the green Kirkee plain.
About 1700 feet above the FitzGerald bridge, hid in trees on the south or right bank of the river, is the Boat House of the Poona Boat Club. Above the island the river gradually widens, till, a little below the meeting or sangam of the Mutha from the south-west and the Mula from the north-west, it is 430 yards across. In the yearly Regatta the racing-course is from Rosherville down to a point opposite to Garden Reach, a distance of one mile.
Very little of this picturesque description is seen today. The bund has long been relegated to history and a new bridge is being built there. The FitzGerald bridge outlived lives capacity long ago, still it is being used for the traffic even today. A few years ago, the Pune Municipal Corporation was notified by the company which built this bridge that its responsibility period is over now. This was the strength of the building as well as character!
Fifty-50 For Pune Metro
Adding more debating voices to the metro project, the municipal corporations of Pune and Pimpri CHinchwad decided to implement it independently. The PMC Standing Committee on Tuesday approved the implementation of Metro rail route from Vanaz in Kothrud to Ramwadi that falls in the jurisdiction of the civic body.
The standing committee decided not to establish a firm for the project and instead resolved to entrust implementation of the project to the civic body itself. For this, PMC will have to raise funds for the project.

The original scheme designed by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had suggested starting two routes in the first phase of the Metro project in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. However, the PMC refused to take up the project. The administration asked the standing committee to approve the work on the 16-km-long Vanaz-Ramwadi route in the first phase.
On the other hand, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has asked the DMRC to prepare a separate project report on the metro route along the Pune-Mumbai highway which falls within its jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, the Pune Technical Coalition, association of technical groups, called for redesigning the route and make it underground instead of elevated.
“The proposal for the 15-km corridor from Vanaz to Ramwadi has been approved along with the decision of the project to be implemented by the PMC instead of appointing any agency,” said Arvind Shinde, chariman of PMC’s standing committee.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Edition 17- Mystery of missing drops

Not even civic authorities know where the half of water goes. While the water shortage is daily phenomenon, the authorities say they are clueless where 50% supply goes without reaching to people
Pune Municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade on Tuesday said that the city has been callously wasting water, and despite getting more then required quota of drinking water, the administration has been unable to quench the city needs.
Replying the debate over water crisis in the parts of the city, the municipal commissioner said, "The state irrigation has sanctioned 11 TMC (thousand million cubic metres) water. Last year, Pune received 14 TMC water. Even if we consider that city has a population of 35 lakh and 135-150 litre water is provided per head on daily basis, city's need comes to about 7.8 TMC. This means, the city is using double quota of water than required. This is a callous waste."
He added that there is something seriously wrong in the water supply system. "We are getting 14 TMC water when our need is about 7.8 TMC. Then, what happens to other 7 TMC water? Where does this water go? These questions should be answered to find a solution on water crisis. We look for temporary solutions for the serious disease of the water supply system."
When corporators asked about the Bhama Askhed project, the municipal commissioner said the civic administration has forwarded the proposal to the state government for the approval.
Corporators across party lines said the real problem is of unequal distribution, leakage and old pipelines. In his draft budget for 2010-2011, Zagade has proposed Rs 90 crore to lay a closed pipeline from the Khadakwasla dam and a water treatment plant at Warje with a capacity of 200 MLD (Million Litres Per Day).
The Environment Status Report of 2008-09 has highlighted negligence towards ensuring an efficient water supply system for the city.
"The old water supply lines are rusted and require repairs. The PMC lacks a system to control water supply. The city has faulty meters and absence of water supply data makes it difficult to calculate water usage," observed the report. The ESR also categorically mentioned that the PMC has no maps of the old water pipeline network which makes it difficult to carry out repair works.
"The estimated population of the city is 35 lakh and the daily water supply to the city is 1,005 MLD. The total wastage in supply system is 20 per cent, of which 12 per cent is because of problems in the water distribution system and 8 per cent water is wasted during treatment. About 20 MLD water is supplied daily to Urali Devachi, the fire brigade gets 6 MLD water while 2 MLD water is given to tankers. Finally, 776 MLD water is supplied to the city of which 25 per cent is provided to slums," states the ESR.

Edition 17 Amitabh CM controversy

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan stood tall again on Sunday night as he showered praise on Maharashtra and Marathi. He said said he was indebted to the state which shaped his destiny and gave him name and fame.
This highlighted the absence of cheif minister Ashok Chavan in the ceremony which marked culmination of biggest event of Maharashtra’s literary calendar. The chief minister skipped the event in a bid not to displease his political bosses in New Delhi.
This has created a ferocious debate in the cultural circle in the Maharashtra. Already, the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan or Marathi Literary Meet has always been encircled with the controversies over whether to invite politicians to the event or not. Some hardcore writers have always argued for non-inclusion of the politicians in the meet. The issue cropped up in the inauguration ceremony itself also when MP Suresh Kalmadi and district guardian minister Ajit Pawar got more prominence than the writers themselves.
In 1974, P. L. Deshpande, the most famous and most loved writer-performer of the state, made it clear that he would preside over the Ichalkaranji literary meet only if ministers and politicians were not allowed to sit on the dais during the proceedings.
The late Yashwantrao Chavan who was a minister in the union cabinet and was known for his love for literature, said he would attend the meet but only as a member in the audience. The following year, emergency was imposed in the country. Yashwantrao Chavan was chairman of the reception committee as the Sahitya Sammelan was being held in his hometown, Karad in Satara district.
The meet was presided by writer and scholar Durga Bhagwat, who urged the gathering to pray for two minutes for Jayprakash Narayan who was leading the crusade against the Emergency and was in poor health. Chavan immediately made a speech criticising Narayan and profusely praising Indira Gandhi.
CM Ashok Chavan was invited to the concluding session of Marathi meet on Sunday. Both Chavan and Bachchan had confirmed their participation in Sunday’s session.He also accepted the invitation. But meanwhile, the CM got into trouble for sharing the stage with Bachchan at the Bandra-Worli sealink inauguration on Wednesday. He was directed by the party leadership that there should not be a repeat of that.
Congress leaders professed objection to Bachchan’s presence was that he is endorsing Gujrat CM Narendra Modi as brand abassador of that state. However, the fact is that Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and the actor’s family developed differences two decades ago and because Bachchan is linked to Samajwadi Party also.
This was the reason why instead of coming to Marathi meet on Sunday, Chavan attended the event in Pune on Saturday to avoid sharing the dais with Amitabh Bachchan. As references to his unscheduled visit drew reactions from the audience, Chavan said he felt, for a while, that he was in the assembly.
Even Chavan’s gesture of participating in the seminar0 on freedom of expression went against him as speakers targeted him for not taking a firm stand over the Big B controversy, leaving him squirming.
When he entered the venue on a short notice call, organisers had no option but to accommodate him in an ongoing seminar. They combined two symposiums for the CM’s convenience and one of them had a topic of ‘freedom of expression and social pressures.’
With the controversy over Chavan avoiding sharing dais with Big B still hot, the issue was naturally raised in the debate. The speakers in the seminar targeted Chavan for developing inhibitions.
Shripal Sabnis, a veteran writer said, “Chavan may lose his post if he attends a programme in the presence of Bachchan. It will be political suicide. Aware of his compulsion we should not corner him.”
The entire episode drew the attention from the meet itself and focussed on politics. The three day meet was in the news mainly for wrong reasons. This also raised the question, as to why Amitabh Bachchan was called for the event when he had nothing to do with it. It is really sad that the controversy shadowed the success of meet.

Edition 17- Sampatrao Patil: Lack of Manpower

Sitting in his office at morning, senior inspector Sampatrao Patil takes stock of the situation in areas which fall under the jurisdiction of Shivajinagar police station. There are some people who are sitting on a fast in front of Pune Municipal Corporation building while a morcha of the workers from Osmanabad has come to Sakhar Sankul building. He makes sure that his men have reached to both the spots so that any untoward incident is avoided.
Working in the police department since 25 years, Patil has resolved that this hustle bustle is part and parcel of his job. Speaking to City Blog, he told about his experience in the police force. “I joined the Maharashtra police after passing examination which was conducted by Maharashtra Public Service Commission. That was in year 1986. I worked in the various stations in Mumbai till 2001 when I was transferred to Solapur.”
While serving in Solapur, Patil had a chance to work with Ashok Kamte, who shed his life while fighting the terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. “He was my senior and I worked under him,” he said proudly.
After working at Solapur for two years, Patil came to Pune. He was first posted at Deccan Police station and then he took charge of Shivajinagar Police Station about a year ago, on April 4, 2009.
Speaking about his area of jurisdiction, he said, “We come across various types of complaints and crimes. For a policeman, the nature of the work remains same anywhere. There is hardly any difference.” At present, area stretching from PMC building to court and Jangli Maharaj road fall under the jurisdiction of Shivajinagar station.
About his experience in the department, he said, “The duty given to a policeman is full of tension and pressure. We have to face so many incidents and men. It is sometimes unbearable. The one thing that is plaguing the department is shortage of manpower. We have a dearth of people and whatever duties, work there are, are carried out by handful of people. This sometimes puts tremendous pressure on us.”
This was evident from that fact that within 10 minutes of discussion, Patil twice received calls saying that his men were not visible on two above mentioned places. Some immediate enquiries followed and it was revealed that the marshals were already left for the scene.
This fact is corborated by the government at centre. Last week, minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken told the Rajya Sabha that there is a widespread shortage of personnels in police department. Maharashtra has the highest number of vacancies 49,252 in the country. The situation has become so critical that the country has merely 129 cops per one lakh of population as against the United Nations norm of 220 police personnel per one lakh of population.

Edition 17: Buzz about Googe Buzz

Most of us have already been addicted to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter. Now we have one more distraction called as google buzz. Is its just another of many such applications or is it really adding value to users. Do we really need one more such application Why did Google release it even before it was ready in market?
It is known that Google still wants to buy Twitter, and putting Buzz into Gmail might be enough of a threat to bring Twitter back on negotiations. Buzz did not launch in some Google Labs backwater. It is placed front and center in Gmail. Buzz is Google’s strongest effort yet to enter the stream. If Buzz can gain traction it would certainly help Google’s negotiating position with Twitter.
Independent of any pressure it may place on Twitter, Google needs to have its own realtime micro-messaging communications system. This system according to many is just a more efficient way to communicate than email for many types of messages so it makes sense to add it as a layer to Gmail: broadcast your public messages via Buzz, and keep private ones on email or chat, all from the same place.
The other reason Google needed to establish its own social stream pronto is that links passed through social sharing are beginning to rival search as a primary driver of traffic for many sites. Part of Google’s prowess stems from the fact that it is the largest referrer of traffic to many other Websites. It doesn’t want to lose that status to social sharing streams such as Facebook or Twitter. Already, Buzz is helping to boost sharing through Google Reader. While Google doesn’t benefit directly from that traffic (yet), simply knowing what links people are sharing and clicking on is valuable data which can help it improve its search results.
It’s now been just a few weeks now since Google launched its Google Buzz social-sharing service and started rolling it out to Gmail users. Much of the coverage so far has been not very streamlined . It had a major privacy issue: the initial list of people you auto follow on Buzz is based on who you talk with most often in Gmail, and that list is public unless you choose to make it private.
To its credit, Google has responded swiftly to complaints: It’s made changes in Buzz to make it more obvious what information the service is making public, and to help you crank up the privacy settings. Users thought their contacts were being made public without their knowledge (in particular the lists of people they follow, and the people following them). They have resolved this issue
Google’s explanation of the post-release changes points out that millions of people are now using Buzz...and maybe that’s part of the issue. Rather than let a sizable pool of testers outside of Google try the service out before opening up the floodgates, it’s gone straight to a full-blown launch. Sounds like the company didn’t expect some of the confusion that’s happening.
Highpoint of Buzz is that it has one of the nicest photo-album viewers . Buzz lets users include thumbnails when sharing web links, making them more graphic and attractive (according to Google). One way in which Google differentiates its service from Twitter is that Google Buzz also lets users attach various degrees of access to posts, from completely public, to limited to hand-picked friends. Quite fun is the Buzz map, which lets you see who is Buzzing in your neighbourhood - (albeit with security risks entailed). This is a good way of finding fellow Buzzers in your area.
People may not leave Twitter and Facebook anytime soon, but Buzz is full of potential and it can become the third major service of this sort. Given Google’s history with social stuff, that’s impressive in itself.