TIME: Anjali & Mamata are amongst 100 most influential on Earth

They are the people who inspire us, entertain us, challenge us and change our world. Meet the breakouts, pioneers, moguls, leaders and icons who make up this year’s TIME 100

Anjali Gopalan

I met Anjali Gopalan in 1995, when I was researching a new disease whose name was spoken only in whispers in India. At the time, doctors and nurses in some Delhi hospitals would not touch people infected with HIV. Gopalan not only touched them; she took them into her home and danced with them. She escorted me to the hidden places where gays and lesbians met: in Nehru Park on Sunday evenings and at a party where men arrived garbed as Bollywood heroines from the 1950s and ’60s. It was a threatened world, and Gopalan had returned home from Brooklyn to protect it.

Through her work at the Naz Foundation, Gopalan, 54, has done more than anyone else to advance the rights of gays and the transgendered in India, successfully petitioning the courts to get rid of a British-era law against sodomy. But her work isn’t just in courtrooms. She also runs a home for HIV-positive orphans.

Gopalan has brought about a revolution in the status of sexual minorities in India — and has done so joyously, dancing.

Mamata Banerjee

Though much of Indian society remains hidebound in patriarchy and tradition, strong women still prevail in the nation’s political life. Mamata Banerjee rose to the fore last year when she and a movement she built from the grassroots wrested control of her home state of West Bengal, ending 3 ½ decades of sclerotic communist rule. Banerjee, 57, spent years struggling on the margins, her Trinamool Congress Party a feisty rabble compared with the leviathan of West Bengal’s communists. Referred to by her supporters as Didi, or “elder sister,” she was labeled by critics as a mercurial oddball and a shrieking street fighter. But ultimately she proved to be the consummate politician. Through successive elections, Banerjee steadily expanded her power base while chipping away at those of her opponents. Her lower-middle-class background was no obstacle in a country notorious for its dynasties. In New Delhi’s back rooms, where political horse trading is the name of the game, she excelled. On the streets, she out-Marxed the Marxists. And as chief minister of her home state, she has emerged as a populist woman of action — strident and divisive but poised to play an even greater role in the world’s largest democracy.

(courtesy: Suketu Mehta, Ishaan Tharoor & TIME)

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2112141,00.html #ixzz1sPMvUW00

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THE MEADOW says ‘India, A State Sponsoring Terrorism’

Catherine Scott-Clark declare India- A State Sponsoring Terrorism.

Review of Book “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began”

A Srinagar based human rights group has requested the region’s State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and subsequent killing of four western tourists by a militant group in 1995 in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark in their book put on sale from 1st May 2012 “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began”  claim that the four Westerners were murdered by a group of Kashmiri militants who worked for the Indian Army. They came to the conclusion after their investigations based on the interviews with police officials then investigating the case. The book was released on March 29 in England.

The book contains blow-by-blow descriptions of the negotiations for the hostages’ release between an inspector and the kidnappers, which seemed to be nearly completed several times, only to be blown apart when the agreed terms of the negotiations were leaked to newspapers, including the Hindustan Times, infuriating the kidnappers. At times when the Indian government claimed the kidnappers and their hostages were untraceable, the book said, they were being watched and photographed by an Indian Army helicopter.

Rather than working for the hostages’ release, the Indian government, Indian intelligence agencies and Indian military prolonged their capture and sabotaged negotiations with the kidnappers, a new non-fiction book called “The Meadow” alleges. Indian officials’ actions were part of a larger plan to present Pakistan, and the Pakistan-backed insurgency in Kashmir, in as harsh a light as possible to the world at large, the book says. Ultimately, the men were killed by a second group, funded and controlled by the Indian government, the book alleges.

“All the time New Delhi said it was trying to crack Al Faran, a group within intelligence and the STF (Special Task Force, an Indian Police division) was letting them dangle, happy to let the militants portray themselves as savage criminals,” one police detective who worked on the case tells the authors.

Quoting the Kashmir police’s crime branch squad, the two authors write that the investigators had been convinced that the Government-controlled renegades had the control of four Westerners after Al Faran dropped them.

“The squad reported some of its thoughts to its seniors, using these kinds of words, ‘Sikander’s men handed over Paul, Dirk, Keith and Don to Alpha’s renegades in the third of fourth week of November, around the time when the final sightings dried up. Sikander has given up. Al Faran is finished. Embarrassingly, India controls the renegades.’”

Adrian Levy told in a interview to NYT that “We also determined the exact route taken by the kidnappers, and followed that route, through Anantnag, and over in Kishtwar and the Warwan Valley, interviewing hundreds of villagers over the years, staying in Sukhnoi where we learned from villagers, and then the IB and the J&K police, the hostages had been deliberately penned in for 11 weeks approximately, while they were observed in detail and near daily, by an Indian helicopter.”

Inspector General Rajinder Tikoo (who led the negotiations with the kidnappers) confirmed it to Adrian that the sabotaging of the talks and that intelligence did not want there to be a resolution. He resigned as a result from the inquiry. He then had no part to play and does not express a view of the ending.

A member of the Crime Branch team who worked on the case describes the “dawning realization that their desire to solve the crime was at odds with the goals of some senior figures in the military and the intelligence services, who could have saved the hostages but chose not to.” Authors claim that “The kidnapping was a boon that enabled the Indian intelligence fraternity to clearly demonstrate Pakistan backed terror and demonize Kashmiri aspirations.”

“Right from the beginning the strings were being pulled from New Delhi,” said Altaf Ahmed, a police security official who worked with the security adviser to the government of Kashmir.“Those of us dealing with the hostage-taking on the ground in Srinigar were not in control.”

On Christmas Eve, 1995, the four remaining hostages were walked into heavy, deep snow behind the lower village of Mati Gawran, shot and buried, an eyewitness to the killings said, the book reports.

“There was only one end for them, and we all knew it,” he said. “No one could risk the hostages being released and complaining of collusion, having seen uniforms and STF jeeps,” he said. (STF is the Special Task Force of police in Kashmir).

The book’s claims echo some of the darkest fears brewing in the international intelligence community after the hostages, or their bodies, failed to surface month after month.

Almost a year after they were taken, the fate of the hostages was still uncertain, despite diplomatic appeals and secret military operations from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, The New York Times reported.

The journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark an award-winning investigative journalist in their book comprising 500 pages put on sale from 1st May 2012 “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began”  claim the Westerners were murdered by a group of Kashmiri militants who worked for the Indian Army. The book was released on March 29 in England .

The  adventurers and nature lovers across the globe, envy to see Kashmir a paradise on earth. But for one group of travellers in 1995, a trip to the Meadow became a nightmare that none of them could possibly have imagined. These men – two Americans, two Britons, a German and a Norwegian – journeyed to Kashmir in search of nature and humanity – but became entangled in a hostage drama that lasted for six months before they vanished from the face of the earth leaving their loved ones and family in agony for rest of their life. The conclusions in the book are drawn through investigations based on the interviews with police officials then investigating the case and the wives and girlfriends of the missing men. It  reveals how the Kashmir hostage crisis was an opening shot in the war on terror; what these terrorists did to a group of western adventurers and set them on a cold-hearted path to terrorise the West.

A review of the book “In the Meadow, A chilling alternate view of the 1995 Kashmiri kidnappings” published in NY Times discussed the kidnappings of six foreign tourists in a meadow in Kashmir by a group calling itself Al Faran. The Indian government, Indian Intelligence agencies and Indian Military prolonged their capture and sabotaged negotiations with the kidnappers which resulted in the killing of the hostages. This was later discovered that it was an Indian conspiracy to put the blame on Pakistan and its intelligence agencies afterwards for the killing and kidnapping of the tourists. However, upon investigation it was learned that the men were killed by another group, funded and controlled by the Indian government(See salients from the book below). However, India has always tried to deceive its own people, region/neighbors and the world as a whole .The  TRUTH can only be blurred but never hidden. Few examples from recent history are as under:-

Own people:

  • On night between February 17-18, 2007 at least 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, were killed in a series of explosions and a resultant fire on Pakistan-bound train in the northern Indian state of Haryana, near Panipat, about 80km north of Delhi. Initial investigations blamed the Pakistan-based LeT (Lashkar-e-Tayaba) and JeM (Jaish-e-Muhammad), so much so a Pakistan national, Azmat Ali, was also arrested in this connection…Later it was found by the police that right-wing Hindu activists and an Indian army officer Colonel Prohit had a significant role in not only the Samjhauta Express bombing but also in the Malegaon and other similar terrorist incidents. The confessions of Swami Aseemanand have now further confirmed the Hindutvaradicals’ role in terrorism.
  • In the Makkah Masjid blast on May 18, 2007, 14 people were killed and as a reaction around 80 Muslims were initially rounded up by the police. The bombs are believed to have contained a deadly mix of RDX and TNT, in proportions often used by the Indian army.” CBI director Ashwani Kumar told the media that an activist named Sunil Joshi“played a key role in orchestrating the Ajmer blast and a set of mobile SIM cards that had been used in activation of the bomb-triggers in the Makka Masjid blast was used again in the Ajmer blast. ..India’s National Investigating Agency (NIA) filed a case in a court accusing 11 Hindus and members of the ultra-right-wing Sanathan Sanstha, of masterminding and executing the October 2009 Margao blast.
  • In Ajmer Sharif  Blast on October 11, 2007 ,3 people died. In 2010, Rajasthan ATS arrests Devendra Gupta, Chandrashekhar and Vishnu Prasad. Initial arrests of Abdul Hafiz Shamim, Khushibur Rahman, Imran Ali linked  to  HuJI, LeT could not be proved.  Again in Malegaon 2nd Blasts in September  2008 in which 7 died   Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Srikant Purohit and Swami Amritanand Dev were found involved.

This shows a glimpse of investigation handling in India however more can be understood by a statement of Mumbai advocate Mihir who said: “It is believed that CBI is seeking directions from the home ministry to see the Ajmer, Makkah Masjid, Malegaon and other blasts in conjunction, after there has been no conclusive evidence of the involvement of Islamic groups”.

Source: This is how India shine, read here

Region/Neighbours:

  • India has always had hegemonic approach towards its neighbours and its goodwill gestures have mostly concluded with economic or militarily strangulating projects for the neighbours. May it be the construction of a barrage at Farakka, near the border with Bangladesh or Wullhar Barrage over River Jhelum to dry up the water resources for its neighbours.
  • Pakistan is locked in other territorial disputes with India such as the Siachen Glacier, Sir Creek and construction of dams including Baglihar Dam built over the River Chenab in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly China, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka all have host of problems leading to mistrust in neighbours relationship.
  • India has redrafted its military doctrine on building border infrastructure as a force multiplier in a real war situation. Indian Army Chief’s statement of taking on both Pakistan and China simultaneously through its cold start doctrine is an announced policy.

Source: Who is attacking Balochistan?Read here

The world as a whole:

  • One of the Worlds biggest Glacier reservoir are depleting fast.  Blaming only global warming for rapid defrosting is a false impression being created deliberately by India with a view to covering up the serious and catastrophic environmental crime its army is committing. It leaves not even an iota of doubt that the rapid shrinkage of the Siachen Glacier is due to chemical and explosive storage and cutting of glacial ice by the Indian army and not by global warming.
  • Indian troops are involved in dumping of chemicals, metals, organic and human waste, and daily leakages of 2,000 gallons of kerosene oil. This oil passes through 250 kilometre of a plastic pipeline, laid by the Indian army across the glacier.
  • The global environment and human rights experts and activists may realise one day that they have stains of this blood on their ignorance and not putting enough pressure on Pakistan and India to demilitarise the glacier.
  • The glimpse of misguided investigation handling by India quoted above is worth noting. Wendy Sherman  US Under Secretary of state announced in New Delhi on April 02,2012  that the US had put a bounty of US $10 million on Hafiz Muhammad Saeed a leader of Pakistan based social welfare organization Jama’at-ud-Da’wah(JuD) to please India.. Despite India’s investigation record and fact that Pakistani courts has acquitted Hafiz Saeed on many occasions and in many cases due to lack of evidences against him. On October 12, 2009, the Lahore High Court quashed all cases against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and set him free. The court also notified that Jama’at-ud-Da’wah is not a banned organization and can work freely in Pakistan. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of two judges hearing the case, observed “In the name of terrorism we cannot brutalise the law. But somehow india has succeeded in hiding reality.

See detailed study  here

Conclusion:

It is very much evident from the facts revealed in the book and above mentioned facts that in order to get psychological benefits, India has always remained indulged in dirty games. Either this benefited India or not but it gave a massive blow to humanity. India contributes in making future of this world bleak. Therefore it is the responsibility of analysts, social workers and environmentalists to take notice of these psychological wars that India has waged against not just its neighbors but against the whole world .


‘Singhvi Sexcapade’: Media as a Protective Condom

 writes in India Wires

Yesterday, Twitter the micro-blogging site was riot with tweets on senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s ‘sexcapades’. Twitter was replete with sex based limericks featuring Abhishek Manu Singhvi and his partner, a lady lawyer. Yes, the same Abhishek Manu Singhvi who uttered the immortal words, with reference to Karnataka Legislative Assembly Porngate issue, “This is the real chaal, charitra & chehra of BJP”.

The circumstances that led to a ‘Twitter ball’ in Singhvi’s name, was the leak of an alleged porn tape, with spotlights on the sexually consenting duo. However media treated the matter rather insipidly, with brief mentions tucked away in some remote section. The inevitable ingredient when it came to covering any such instance was conspicuously missing: sensationalism. Yes, the very same sensationalism that took Nityananda to an eternal ‘Hall of Notoriety’.

Reviving the episode of Nityananda, a self styled godman, whose bedroom flings with a well known South Indian actress were caught on camera. The issue ruled the media roost for aeons together. News readers and panelists screeched the matter day and night, with varying shades of judgement being passed. Media pronounced that Nityananda was a culprit, way before the Indian judiciary did so. He was nailed mercilessly in unimaginable ways.

Isn’t the issue regarding Singhvi just the same? To be blunt, Singhvi, just like NItyananda was involved in an alleged act of ‘secret’ sex, which was caught on camera. But in the case of Singhvi, the media protected him and covered up the matter brilliantly by giving him just a passing reference. There was no onslaught and the issue was hastily swept under the carpet.

Wither lay the difference?
Apparently nowhere! But obviously somewhere !! And evidently everywhere !!!

Abhishek Manu Singhvi gives live interviews to TV channels from his residence in Delhi almost daily. He seems to have literally dropped his pants. On TV only his top half his shown so viewers don't get the whole picture.

All that we heard about the ‘Singhvi sexcapade’ was the involvement of a hapless driver, who was supposed to have served his master for years together, who left service without any notice for reasons of personal grudge and whose apparent idea of revenge was gluing his master in nothing less than a ‘sexcapade’! The story appears to be anything but credulous. Not even the most uncreative director from Bollywood will have a similar plot for a thriller movie: Manish Kumar Lal, the irate driver of Abhishek Manu Singhvi divorced himself from his master of many years without any notice. The reason: the masters’ dogs sank their teeth into the driver’s pregnant wife and with the baby born handicapped, the driver nursed vengeance against Singhvi. Added to this happens to be an allegation that his monthly payment was not upto the mark. A perfect plot for revenge to brew up in the driver’s mind. And with Nemeses working so well, the man resorted to porn as ultimate form of retribution.

In a desperate bid to cover up reality and truth, the scripted drama was given publicity. Adding to this was the prop of a hastily procured Delhi HC directive forbidding the circulation/ telecast/ broadcast of the sex CD.

And so, media gave its final verdict: “All is well”.

However, the real story seems to lie elsewhere, with reports elaborated by Daily Bhaskar.  A probe was done by them into whether the Congress spokesperson had a consensual sex with the lady lawyer or did he have sex in return of any ‘favour’. The probe led to assertions made by a Delhi-based lawyer Swaty Singh Malik, who revealed quantum about the episode through her tweets. Her tweets hinted that “the Congress leader had consensual sex with a lady lawyer who is in her mid 40s”. Reproducing hitherto from Daily Bhaskar:

A Delhi-based lawyer claimed on Twitter to have known the details about the alleged CD. Her tweets hinted that the Congress leader had consensual sex with a lady lawyer who is in her mid 40s.

“@shilpitewari i know the female. She was not exploited.She s vinfluential even otherwise. Happened in his office. She is about 45-50yrs old,” tweeted Delhi-based lawyer Swaty Singh Malik.

Her comments followed the tweets: “@shilpitewari it has to be consensual or else he can much better/younger girls if he wants to exploit.”

The lawyer also mentioned that the lady in the CD too is very rich and influential and that so did not have sex with Singhvi in return of some favour.

Notably, Singhvi had alleged that the CD was “forged, concocted, morphed and fabricated”.

Here are a few tweets on Swati Singh Malik’s wall on the ‘objectional CD’ of Singhvi.

Swaty Singh Malik ‏ @SwatySMalik: “@prachivsharma doctored tou pata nahi. But feel bad for the lady lawyer as well. So much crap without evidence.”

Swaty Singh Malik ‏ @SwatySMalik: “@DKMahant heard about it in the morning and was disgusted ! Feel bas for the lady lawyer being dragged in!

Swaty Singh Malik ‏ @SwatySMalik: “@shilpitewari i know the female. She was not exploited.She s vinfluential even otherwise. Happened in his office. She is about 45-50yrs old.”

Swaty Singh Malik ‏ @SwatySMalik: “@shilpitewari I assume you know her too. I do not agree that they had sex just for judgeship. U think it’s that simple to become a judge?NO!”

Swaty Singh Malik ‏ @SwatySMalik: “@shilpitewari it has to be consensual or else he can much better/younger girls if he wants to exploit.”

Swaty Singh Malik ‏ @SwatySMalik: “@Simblee what’ve know is that thy didn’t record it .. A staff member did and then blackmailed him.”

Swaty Singh Malik ‏ @SwatySMalik: “@SwarupKS see she too is v rich and v influential also has a great legal practice. So sex only for favour is unlikely.”

Unfortunately, strangely and as expected, many of the tweets made by Swaty Singh Malik have ‘disappeared’ from Twitter timeline. However, here are some of the crucial ones that remain as evidence, as they were retweeted by others. The very fact that the tweets stand missing sing the song “Something- is- fishy-la- la- la”……..

Now from the side of the audience, the citizens who witnessed the scripted drama a few questions stand uncleared. Usually the hounding  media sleuths takes care of these issues. But since they suffered from a rare version of amnesia and forgot to swoop down on the issue and grant any kind of coverage to the same, the audience stands lost.

Dear media, the very questions that you ask and the very answers you furnish to those, yourself are listed below. Care to give us answer?

  • Was the driver so tech savvy that he was skilled in morphing, leading to creation of porn? Why then was he working as a driver, without trying his hand in the IT scenario?
  • It appears that the driver is person of speculations. In that case, why did he not file a case and seek a claim when the dog bite episode took place?
  • Isn’t he a psychopath, to think of revenge in such extreme terms, considering the fact that extortion, kidnap, poisoning are other plausible ways?
  • And if so, Singhvi, a reputed lawyer and an evident smart alec as  seen by his stock of repartee widely publicized on news channels did not ever discern that his driver happens to be a psycopath?
  • Reproducing Rajdeep Sardesai’s Tweets:

Breaking now on CNN IBN: Abhishek Manu Singhvi ‘opts out’ of cong party briefings. Claims he is ‘unwell’.

Now, looking at tweets made by Raja of IBN Live, isn’t it surprising that the hounding media willingly kept away from Singhvi, letting the ‘depressed soul’ some ‘rest’, given other occasions they have been known to shadow and stalk any ‘hapless victim/ prey’?

Like everyone who watched, read and partook in the screening of the ‘Singhvi Sexcapade’ drama, I too am inclined to give my verdict. There is a tweet i found striking. Will go by the same, support it and declare my verdict: Singhvi is guilty!!

 

 

‘the people of West Bengal will turn their back on her’

Rudrangshu Mukherjee writes in The Telegraph, Kolkata:

..No one can deny that Mamata Banerjee came to power through democratic means. She led a relentless campaign against the Left and her campaign would not have been possible or successful if the Left had effectively stifled democratic rights and expressions. When she sat on a hunger strike in Esplanade and then later blocked a major highway for days on end, the state administration did not send in the police to break up the protests and neither did the CPI(M) let loose its goons on the demonstrators. Moreover, the media were left free to report on these agitations in ways that they deemed fit. Some supported the protests and some didn’t. There was no external interference in editorial decisions.

….The Bengali word, paribartan, has suddenly come to acquire very ominous overtones. When the people of West Bengal voted overwhelmingly to overthrow the Left Front, they did not quite expect that they were ushering in a regime that would be irre sponsible, intolerant of criticism and would display a pronounced propensity for authoritarianism.

….The people of West Bengal, like people all over the world, have the right to dissent, to laugh, to mock, to criticize and, above all, to speak and write freely without the fear of the State and the bullying of party cadre. The present political regime appears to have scant regard for these rights. It wants to create an ambience of fear and to rule through terror. For this alone, the present dispensation has to be opposed.

Read the full article: http://epaper.telegraphindia.com/PUBLICATIONS/TT/TT/2012/04/18/ArticleHtmls/Fear-of-freedom-18042012010005.shtml?Mode=1

3.5 crore toilets are missing in India, 1.1 in U.P.

Govt and census figures show disparity of 3.5 crore latrines

If this doesn’t raise a national stink, little else will.

Around 3.5 crore toilets are missing in India, if official statistics are not meant to be flushed down the drain.

The Union rural development ministry claims its Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) has delivered more than 8.7 crore latrines to households across villages over the past decade. But household data from the population census shows that only around 5.1 crore households had latrines in 2011. (See chart) Such a wide gap need not be a proverbial slip but anything is possible in a country where industrial production has been miscalculated by as many as 5 percentage points a few months ago.

Toilets are missing from Bengal, too. The sanitation campaign figure for Bengal was 80.7 lakh, 16.6 lakh more than the census figure of 64.1 lakh. The state was sixth on the list of those where the discrepancy was high.

Uttar Pradesh was on the top, with over 1.1 crore missing toilets.

The rural development ministry had launched the sanitation campaign in 1999 under which Rs 2,200 was to be provided to every household below the poverty line to build a latrine. Installing a toilet costs about Rs 2,500 and the houses were expected to bear the balance.

The plan was intended to make India free of open defecation by 2017. The ministry claims that by erecting 8.7 crore latrines,i t has achieved 70 per cent of the sanitation campaign’s target of 12.5 crore. But the census data challenges the claim.

“This discrepancy in the number of latrines hints at over-reporting and pilferage in the implementation of the scheme,” said Naresh Saxena, a member of the National Advisory Council.

“The actual number of missing latrines is much higher than 35 million because when the TSC began in 1999, many households would already have had latrines,” Saxena said.

Saxena also said many villages projected to have complete sanitation facilities and accorded the Nirmal Gram Puraskar certification did not have latrines in even 50 per cent homes.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh,w ho last year said open defecation was a blot and a shame,admitted that the TSC data projected an inflated picture on rural sanitation.

“I believe the census data more than the TSC data. The TSC data is reported by state governments based on financial expenditure.This is unreliable,”he added.

Sources said calculations of state governments were based on how much money had been released and no inspections were usually carried out to verify if the intended beneficiaries had spent the amount for the purpose it had been given.

Till April 2011, the Centre’s total expenditure on the campaign was Rs 19,626.43 crore.

The scheme is being implemented in 607 districts across the country.S tate governments give a matching grant. (courtesy: The Telegraph)

Promised Delivered – Mamata’s Achievments in 168 pages( 4 of which are ‘ulta’)

AMID NEGATIVE NEWS, 168 PAGES OF GOOD NEWS IN BENGAL

The answer was blowin’ in the wind and rolling off the presses while the chief minister was insisting

“you (a section of the media) only see the negative, you don’t see anything positive“.

A 168-page paperback, titled Promises Delivered and printed in glazed paper, is available for anyone willing to fork out Rs 100 and eager to read about the achievements of the new government which feels its good work is not being given enough recognition.

Advance copies have already started reaching the tables of senior officials who were caught by surprise because they were already working on such a list for the big day round the corner: the Mamata Banerjee government’s first anniversary next month.

“Very few people in Writers’ actually knew that it was getting published…. Everyone is now working on the oneyear commemoration book, scheduled to be published next month,“ said a senior state government official.

Others were marvelling at the production quality and size of the tom-tom tome. “This is the first time that I have seen such a voluminous publication about the government’s achievements,“ said an official who got the book free yesterday after the chief minister’s office started distributing it.

Some officials suggested the chief minister’s office wanted the publication “as soon as possible“ to counter what Mamata has described as “slander and conspiracy“ in the foreword of the book. (See excerpts in chart) If such a word did indeed go out, those who printed the book appear to have spared no effort:

such was the haste that Pages 41-44 in at least one copy have been printed upside down.

But that should not take anything away from the effort to highlight the achievements the government has managed over the past 11 months.

After explaining the problems -mainly financial constraints -that she has faced in her attempt to deliver on development, the chief minister has highlighted some of the major achievements in her four-page foreword, which have been explained later in detail under different department heads.

“Some are publicly criticising us without mentioning our good performances. This is unmixed conspiracy….False statements are issued forth and facts and statistical data are being ignored,“

she has written in the foreword.

The past few weeks have been a public relations disaster for the government and the chief minister, culminating in the arrest of the Jadavpur University professor for emailing a cartoon.

Against such a backdrop, the book presumably hopes to set the record straight and bring those who strayed back to the straight and the narrow.

Sources in the state secretariat said that around 10,000 copies of the book -a majority of them in English and the remaining in Urdu and Santhali -have been printed from government-owned Saraswaty Press. Unlike most government publications, quality paper has been used for Promises Delivered, which has several colour pictures of Mamata, some of them reliving the happiest moments of her chief ministerial career. Among them are a November 10, 2011, picture with Sharmila Tagore and Shah Rukh Khan at the film festival inauguration and another a week later with Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden.

A senior official of the state information and cultural affairs department, which has published the book, said that the main objective of the book was to make people aware of what the government has done. “It is nothing new. The book is basically a translation in English, Urdu and Santhali from the book published in Bengali to mark the new government’s 200 days in power,“ he said.

The government had brought out a Bengali book -Kichu Kotha, Kichu Kaj (Some words, some work) -in January as Mamata had promised in her manifesto that she would give the people of the state the chance to evaluate her. “We could not distribute the book to all the departments that time and that’s why we have brought out the English version now,“ said the official.

Such a publication would not have drawn much attention but for the fact that government of Trinamul spokespersons have been repeatedly speaking of negative publicity .

Last evening, the chief minister herself had complained of negative news and said in response to a question on development:

“Had you seen the positive side too, you would notice that this government’s performance is 100 out of 100.“

The only problem is if the paperback becomes a bestseller, the state may end up losing money , although for a good cause. Off the record, some officials put the cost of producing the book between Rs 150 and Rs 200 a piece, which means if more and more readers buy it at the official price tag of Rs 100, the state will be adding to its losses.

The Telegraph does not intend to add to the burden of the state exchequer but it is sticking to the cardinal paperback code of not letting out the suspense-filled contents of Promises Delivered.

Instead, the newspaper has done the next best positive thing to plug the book by unabashedly offering a sneak preview of the foreword and highlighting the outlet (see chart) from where you can buy it.

Happy reading! Courtesy: The Telegraph