November 12, 2001



Guru of Joy?
The fastest growing guru in the marketplace of happiness is presiding over an empire of air-and breathing with him are the despairing and the dandy in over 135 countries.


Tussle Within
As the war drags on, the US discovers the perils of allying with a dictator who wants to appear a statesman abroad and a politician at home.


Battle Weary Wasteland
An exclusive photo feature captures images of Afghan life during unending conflict.


Down and Out
An account of sebi's undoing under D.R. Mehta and the tasks for a new team that will be at the helm in the regulatory body early next year.




Monica's Internee

Mumbai: Neither the CBI nor the Mumbai Police can confirm, almost two weeks after the alleged event, whether gangster Abu Salem had been arrested in Sharjah. On October 22, a Pakistani called Mohammad Ali was arrested with his female companion from his plush Sharjah residence. This sparked off a flurry of charges and counter-charges over extradition and identity. Finally, 48 hours later, Ali walked free. While CBI officials are certain Ali was Salem-as per "informal information"-the official stand is "the UAE has denied Salem's arrest".

Salem is wanted in over 20 cases by Mumbai Police, including the serial bomb blasts of 1993. The Dawood aide runs his underworld empire from the UAE. The police has managed to foil five recent murder attempts, including one on Ashutosh Gowarikar, director of Lagaan, apparently inspired by Salem. While India had tipped off Interpol on Salem, the FBI traced calls he made on an American visit. They had references to the ongoing Champions Trophy in Sharjah. The British press reacted to Salem's arrest by wondering if cricket fixing earnings ended up helping terrorists.

Another version of the slippery Salem story came from Ahmad Musali, UAE ambassador in Delhi. He was quoted as saying the Indian Foreign Ministry had sought Ali's arrest. Musali, however, told India Today he had been misquoted. A media report in UAE added Salem was tracked through cell phone calls to his girlfriend and film starlet Monica Bedi. The conclusion: she was his "female companion".



Treasurers of political parties are not supposed to be high-profile, flamboyant people. A typical example was Sitaram Kesri, money manager of the Congress for aeons and as dour as they come. In the BJP, the venerable Ved Prakash Goyal did the job for an equally long period. Sensing the need for a generational change, the BJP appointed the Chennai-based M.N. Sukumar Nambiar as its new treasurer. Nambiar, 52, is anything but a regular politician. A black belt in the Shorinjiryu Kenkokkan school of karate, Nambiar has trained Army commandos as well as the security guards of J. Jayalalitha, former Tamil Nadu chief minister. The relationship with Jaya ran so deep that Nambiar was his party's ambassador to her court during the tempestuous BJP-AIADMK alliance of 1998-99. Son of M.N. Nambiar, legendary Tamil screen villain, smooth Sukumar is also an industrialist, heading the Sabari Group. Nambiar has got an MBA from a US university. If all that were not enough, he is skilled in rifle shooting too. Now as BJP President Jana Krishnamurthy's handpicked coffer keeper, Nambiar has shot himself into the national political stage.
-Arun Ram


Vice-Admiral Madhvendra Singh as new chief of naval staff and Air Marshal S. Krishnaswamy as air chief marshal.

B.K. Nehru, 93, ICS officer, former ambassador to US and governor of Jammu and Kashmir. The title of his memoirs, Nice Guys Finish Second, summed him up.


Congress leader Margatham Chandrasekar, 83, in Chennai. She had served as a minister in the Nehru, Shastri and Indira Gandhi cabinets.

Pradeep Kumar, film actor, of a heart attack, at the age of 77 in Kolkata. Beginning his film career in 1942, he played historic roles in Taj Mahal and Anarkali.





Shoot and Run
For three years, Kolkata filmmakers Soumitra Dastidar and Kingshuk Ray, chased every shopkeeper, mason and paanwallah in Raipur with the same question: did they know where the People's War Group (PWG) camp was?

Looking Glass

Banglore: Pub

Delhi: Furniture Store

Kolkata: Restaurant

    Web Exclusives
  With foodgrain prices crashing and debts mounting, farmers in Kerala are now resorting to suicide. Is there no lasting solution to the grassroots problem, asks India Today Principal Correspondent M.G. Radhakrishnan
Dying Fields


Click here to view
the previous issue