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Sunday, July 4, 2010

editorial 04.07.10

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Editorial

month  july 04, edition 000558 , collected & managed by durgesh kumar mishra, published by – manish manjul

 

Editorial is syndication of all daily- published newspaper Editorial at one place.

For ENGLISH  EDITORIAL  http://editorialsamarth.blogspot.com

THE PIONEER

  1. EPIC REAFFIRMATION OF HINDU-BUDDHIST UNITY - CHANDAN MITRA
  2. OMINOUS SIGNS FROM KASHMIR VALLEY - SWAPAN DASGUPTA
  3. SINISTER FACE OF ISLAMOFASCISM - KANCHAN GUPTA

MAIL TODAY

  1. IF AP CAN FIGHT THE MAOISTS SO CAN THE OTHER STATES
  2. BRAZIL GETS A FATAL KICK
  3. TO SWIM IS AN ADVENTURE TOO - BY PALASH KRISHNA MEHROTRA
  4. SHOULD YOU PUT A RING ON IT? - RITU BHATIA

THE TIMES OF INDIA

  1. 'IN 16 YEARS, FOOTBALL CHANGED, SO DID SOUTH AFRICA' - JOHN CARLIN
  2. EUROPE COULD STILL SUFFER A MELTDOWN  - SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR
  3. BOTH FATHER AND SON ARE IN THE WRONG JOBS  - M J AKBAR
  4. HISTORY CAN BE SEXY AND THE HISTORIAN ROCKSTAR  - SWAPAN DASGUPTA
  5. INDIAN MEDICAL SKILL CAN'T CURE PAK'S CANCER  - C UDAY BHASKAR

HINDUSTAN TIMES

  1. LIES, BETRAYAL AND DENIAL IN BOMBAY - VIR SANGHVI
  2. COC & BULL THEORY - INDRAJIT HAZRA
  3. NOT JUST A TALL TALE - KARAN THAPAR

THE INDIAN EXPRESS

  1. TECTONIC SHIFTS
  2. MEGHNAD DESAI
  3. 'AS SPOKESPERSONS, WE ARE NOT EXPECTED TO SPEAK FOR INDIVIDUALS'
  4. LEADING THE VALUE-LED MARKET - SHOMBIT SENGUPTA
  5. MYTHS OF AUSTERITY - PAUL KRUGMAN

THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS

  1. AN UNHEALTHY ROT
  2. STAYING INTERESTED
  3. RUBBER RACING - SANJEEB MUKHERJEE
  4. SHALE GAS CAN TRANSFORM ENERGY - NOOR MOHAMMAD
  5. OF FOOTBALL AND ECONOMIC STRATEGY - MICHAEL WALTON

THE HINDU

  1. PEOPLE OF THE SAME GOTRA DO NOT NECESSARILY HAVE THE SAME ORIGIN - M. V. ANJANEYALU
  2. WHOSE HONOUR ARE THEY PROTECTING BY KILLING THEIR CHILDREN? - RAGINI NAYAK
  3. WE ARE CASTELESS, GIVE US OUR DUE - K. ALAGESAN
  4. HEY DOCTORS! IT IS GREEK AND LATIN TO US  - PRAKASH T JOHN
  5. BHOPAL: A CONTINUING TRAGEDY - RUPALI SINHA

THE ASIAN AGE

  1. AVOID DEBATE, FOCUS ON STRATEGY
  2. ENGAGE ALL IN J&K - ARUN NEHRU
  3. DISASTER STRIKES WHEN SPIES DON'T TALK - IRFAN HUSAIN
  4. A BILL TO REFORM - DILIP CHERIAN

DNA

  1. KASHMIR POLICE, NOT CRPF, SHOULD CONFRONT STONE-PELTING MOBS' - G SAMPATH
  2. DO INDIAN BUSINESSES HAVE A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE? - R JAGANNATHAN

THE TRIBUNE

  1. MEASURING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
  2. WE NEED A MORE RATIONAL AND ACCURATE MECHANISM, SAYS PUSHPA M. BHARGAVA
  3. SOCCER: A CULTURAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL WINDOW FOR LATINOS - BY ASH NARAIN ROY
  4. CBI ON INFO 'MISUSE' - BY MAJA DARUWALA
  5. 'HURDLES IN DECIPHERING THE INDUS SCRIPT' - BY NELSON RAVIKUMAR
  6. DHANANJAYAN: DANCER PAR EXCELLENCE - BY HARIHAR SWARUP

MUMBAI MIRROR

  1. BIT OF A RACIST IN ALL OF US

BUSINESS STANDARD

  1. MDG - NUMBERS VS. REALITY
  2. AFGHANISTAN - DEMINTING A GENERAL'S COIN - SHANTHIE MARIET D'SOUZA
  3. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SRI LANKA - HARSH V PANT
  4. 'WE MUST HAVE AMBITIONS BEYOND PROFITS AND VOTES' - PRANAB MUKHERJEE
  5. THE TASTE OF SHAME - SREELATHA MENON

THE ECONOMIC TIMES

  1. 'IN 16 YEARS, FOOTBALL CHANGED, SO DID SOUTH AFRICA'  - JOHN CARLIN
  2. EUROPE COULD STILL SUFFER A MELTDOWN  - SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR
  3. BOTH FATHER AND SON ARE IN THE WRONG JOBS  - M J AKBAR
  4. HISTORY CAN BE SEXY AND THE HISTORIAN ROCKSTAR  - SWAPAN DASGUPTA
  5. INDIAN MEDICAL SKILL CAN'T CURE PAK'S CANCER  - C UDAY BHASKAR

DECCAN CHRONICAL

  1. AVOID DEBATE, FOCUS ON STRATEGY
  2. ENGAGE ALL IN J&K - BY ARUN NEHRU
  3. DISASTER STRIKES WHEN SPIES DON'T TALK  - BY IRFAN HUSAIN
  4. 'POLICE CAN TACKLE NAXAL VIOLENCE'
  5. FALI'S WITTY MEMOIRS - BY KHUSHWANT SINGH
  6. A BILL TO REFORM - BY DILIP CHERIAN

THE STATESMAN

  1. POLITICS & PEDAGOGY
  2. NEPAL PM QUITS
  3. SINGULAR FIXATION
  4. CRIME SANS PUNISHMENT~I  - SAM RAJAPPA
  5. THE UNCOLLECTED WATER TREASURE
  6. URBANE ANGST
  7. LAW AND ORDER SANS ANARCHY
  8. 100 YEARS AGO TODAY

THE TELEGRAPH

  1. RETURN OF KIM
  2. A DIFFERENT OBSESSION  - IAN JACK

DECCAN HERALD

  1. SANSKRIT HAS ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO INDUS CIVILISATION
  2. ILLEGAL MINING: DEPARTMENTS PASS THE BUCK AROUND - SATISH SHILE

THE JERUSALEM POST

  1. JUDICIAL BULLDOZING
  2. MY WORD: OUT OF STEP  - BY LIAT COLLINS
  3. METRO VIEWS: AMUSING... OR APPALLING - BY MARILYN HENRY
  4. AMERICA'S FOUNDING FATHERS AND JUDAISM - BY ELI KAVON

HAARETZ

  1. THE FIGHT FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM - BY RONEN SHOVAL
  2. AN UNACCEPTABLE SURRENDER TO SHAS
  3. DIFFERENT TONE, SAME OLD MUSIC  - BY ZVI RAFIAH
  4. A PROPER INVESTIGATION - BY ZE'EV SEGAL

I.THE NEWS

  1. BLOODLETTING AT NAB
  2. ZIPPING LIPS
  3. TROLLEYS, WATCHES AND STAFF
  4. A FEW STORIES FROM PRISON - AAKAR PATEL
  5. FATA CALLS - AYAZ WAZIR
  6. CAPITAL SUGGESTION
  7. UNDER ZIA'S SHADOW - GHAZI SALAHUDDIN

8.      OVER THE TOP - MASOOD HASAN

 

PAKISTAN OBSERVER

  1. BHASHA DAM TO BE DELAYED FURTHER
  2. TRANSFER OF US TECHNOLOGY TO INDIA
  3. WHY TERRORISTS SHED THEIR LIVES?
  4. INTANGIBLE TRUTHS - DR ZAFAR ALTAF
  5. SCO SUMMIT: PROSPECTS & PERSPECTIVES - MUHAMMAD ASIF NOOR
  6. TOWARDS PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN - SAEED QURESHI
  7. INDO-ISRAELI RELATIONS & ITS EFFECTS ON PAK - SOBIA SHAHNAZ
  8. THE MYTH OF MODERN JEHAD - ROBERT WRIGHT

THE INDEPENDENT

  1. LOCAL GOVT BODIES
  2. RICE PROCUREMENT
  3. HOLLOW INSIDE..!
  4. THE UN AND DOLLAR AS SOLE RESERVE CURRENCY - SYLVIA MORTOZA
  5. CAN GOOD EMERGE FROM THE BP OIL SPILL?  - KENNETH ROGOFF
  6. HURRAH! FOR OUR LOCAL HERO

THE JAPAN TIMES

  1. ENVIRONMENTAL LITERATURE
  2. QUIET CHANGE IN JAPAN

THE JAKARTA POST

  1. THE WEEK IN REVIEW: THE PIGGY BANKS - KORNELIUS PURBA
  2. THE PEOPLE PAID TO ASK QUESTIONS - NURY VITTACHI, BANGKOK
  3. THE CONSTRAINED AND UNCONSTRAINED VIEWS  - JENNIE S. BEV  

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THE PIONEER

COLUMN

EPIC REAFFIRMATION OF HINDU-BUDDHIST UNITY

SHIVRAJ SINGH CHOUHAN'S RECENT MISSION TO SRI LANKA CELEBRATED THE LIVING LEGEND OF RAMAYANA AND REINFORCED THE AMITY OF TWO INDIC FAITHS

CHANDAN MITRA


Our arrival in Sri Lanka on Friday, June 25, coincided with a particularly auspicious occasion. Nearly 2,300 years ago on this full moon night, Emperor Ashoka's children Mahendra and Sanghamitra reached the shores of this island to spread the message of the Buddha and extend the civilisational boundary of their legendary father's empire. It is a public holiday here and the capital city of Colombo wore a festive look. Travelling as a member of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's team, our hosts, particularly the amiable Federal Minister Dinesh Gunawardene, repeatedly reminded us of the historical significance of the date during the reception at the airport. The Chief Minister was quick to point out that his native district is Vidisha, where the Buddhist pilgrimage of Sanchi is located and it was precisely from there that Ashoka's children had embarked upon their journey to Sri Lanka.


The following morning we travelled by helicopter first to Sita Eliya, on the outskirts of the fabled Ashok Vatika and then to Divrumpula, the spot where Lord Rama's wife undertook her first agni-pariksha (trial by fire) after being rescued from Ravana's captivity. It is interesting to observe how conflicting legends meet and merge in this assimilative sub-continent. Although Rama vanquished the king of Sri Lanka and destroyed Ravana's golden capital before slaying him, Sita is universally worshipped here. A temple to her stands at Ashok Vatika, the garden where she was held Ravana's prisoner. And now a magnificent temple will be built at the site of the agni-pariksha, under the aegis of the Mahabodhi Society in collaboration with the revered Hindu Swami, Dayanand Saraswati.


The Ramayana is a living legend in Sri Lanka as in most parts of South-East Asia. Even in Muslim-majority Indonesia Ramayana performances are routine and Ramlila shows are held with greater fanfare than in India. In Hindu-dominated Bali, they still observe Kartik Purnima as Bali Yatra — commemorating the annual journey by traders from Odisha to that faraway island. The celebration of Mahendra-Sanghamitra's arrival in Sri Lanka or Bali Yatra prove not only the deep civilisational connectivity between India and its cultural domain in the East, but also the commitment with which people outside our country perpetuate that connection as part of their history. Unfortun- ately, a perverse interpretation of secularism in India classifies observance of such occasions as obscurantist and communal!


The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister was invited to Sri Lanka for two reasons, first to participate in the bhoomi pujan of the new Sita temple and second, finalise plans to promote Sanchi as an upcoming international Buddhist destination. A university for the study of Buddhist tenets will soon be built at Sanchi, which is being developed as a major centre of religious tourism. The Madhya Pradesh administration has identified 65 acres of land close to the Sanchi Stupa, a Unesco heritage site, for construction of the Buddhist University. Mr Shivraj Singh Chouhan is keen to get going quickly on the project and proposes to have its foundation stone laid during the annual Buddhist festival at Sanchi in October-November this year.

 

We got a real feel of assimilation when we reached Divrumpula where Sita is believed to have undertaken her first agni-pariksha. A Buddhist monastery with fine ancient paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayana has stood there for as long as people can remember. Under a huge banyan tree just outside the building is a small structure commemorating Sita's trial by fire. Amazingly, the legend has been scrupulously nourished by Sinhala Buddhist monks. The presiding Abbot gave us a guided tour of the complex, explaining its various facets before leading us to the spot just outside its precincts where land has been earmarked for building a magnificent Sita temple.

Under Swami Dayanand Saraswati's supervision and in close coordination with Sri Lanka's Buddhist clergy, the ground-breaking ceremony was performed with appropriate sobriety amid the chanting of Hindu and Buddhist hymns. Local people congregated in thousands to witness the historic event and pay their respects to Sita, who despite the quibbles among scholars about her historicity, continues to live in people's emotions here. The temple, when completed, will symbolise the civilisational bond between the two countries and also become an example of the harmony with which different faiths can coexist in our extended sub-continent.


The Government of Sri Lanka is currently developing what it calls the Ramayana Trail linking various sites associated with the greatest epic of Asia. It hopes that the trail will soon become not just an added tourist attraction for thousands of Indians who visit the island, but will also draw many devout pilgrims from across the Ram Setu. Indeed the geological formation, which the British named Adam's Bridge, spanning the narrow, shallow Palk Straits, is so distinctly visible while flying that it seems a travesty that the present regime in Tamil Nadu actually wanted to destroy it to create a passage for small ships!


We learnt that religious-minded people in Sri Lanka still consider their lives unfulfilled without a visit to Jambudweep (ancient name for India), particularly for offering prayers at sites connected with Buddhism such as Kapilvastu, Sarnath (Bodhgaya) and Sanchi. Mr Chouhan promised to develop a Buddhist Circuit within Madhya Pradesh so that pilgrims travelling to Sanchi were also able to easily touch upon other sites associated with the Buddha and Ashoka who made Buddhism the state religion and ensured its spread to the north and east of India.


The brief stay in Sri Lanka was an eye-opener in many ways. We tend to treat Sri Lanka only as a leisure destination, soaking in the sea and sunshine on its fabulous beaches. But there is so much more to that small country, one-fifth the size of Madhya Pradesh with a population of just over two crore. I was deeply impressed by the depth of knowledge and intellectual calibre of its Buddhist clergy, particularly their concern for the preservation of history and our shared culture.


A visit to the Temple of the Tooth Relic at Kandy was especially illuminating. The spectacular temple was thronged by multitudes and we had to wait for over one hour before being escorted into the sanctum sanctorum where a tooth of Lord Buddha is preserved inside a shimmering gold casket, taken out only on two occasions in a year. The temple, incidentally, was built by the Hindu king of Kandy centuries ago. The upsurge of devotion we witnessed here and earlier at the Kelaniya temple in Colombo underlined the depth of the island nation's religiosity.

Our meetings at the Mahabodhi Society complex in Colombo and with the Mahanayake of Sri Lanka's biggest Buddhist sect in Kandy reaffirmed that different faiths could prosper without hostility or confrontation. The commonality between the Hindu and Buddhist religions that we discovered is truly a fitting rebuttal to the sectarian and confrontationist approach of some self-styled neo-Buddhist leaders in India who have turned professional Hindu-baiters and seek to drive wedges between two of the greatest Indic faiths.

 

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THE PIONEER

COLUMN

OMINOUS SIGNS FROM KASHMIR VALLEY

SWAPAN DASGUPTA


At a time when the Kashmir Valley has reverted to its status as a persisting trouble spot, it may seem churlish to target Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Political recriminations, it is accepted by most right-thinking Indians, can await a moment when things are relatively more settled. Unfortunately, it would seem that the third generation Abdullah — who, like his father, has a considerable fan following outside the troubled State — doesn't see things in the same way. In a statement from Srinagar last Friday, Omar argued that "the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir cannot be assuaged only by development, good governance and economic packages but needs a political solution". Pleading the case for more autonomy, the Chief Minister added, "But I am not averse to move beyond it, if there is a solution other than autonomy that is acceptable to both India and Pakistan and meets the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir."


Whether Omar is hinting his tacit support for the opposition PDP's espousal of "dual sovereignty" involving India and Pakistan is unclear. What is interesting, however, that the earlier belief, mouthed by many well-meaning Indian liberals, that a long dose of purposeful, good governance can bring an alienated Kashmir Valley back to the constitutional mainstream, has been challenged by the Chief Minister. The significance of this assertion should not be under-estimated, not least because it loosely corresponds to the position taken by some of the 'moderate' sections of the Hurriyat Conference.


Omar's assertion is calculated to inflict a great deal of collateral damage on another, well-entrenched position. Since 1948, the Nehruvian consensus has proceeded on the assumption that Jammu & Kashmir warranted exceptional treatment which would be guaranteed by the special provisions of Article 370. Although the parameters of this regional autonomy have been diluted, first in 1953 and then following the Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah understanding in 1974, the special status of Kashmir was protected by the Constitution. This meant that the State could either inch towards greater integration with the rest of India or regress into greater uniqueness. Whatever the to and fro movement of regional autonomy, it was believed that Article 370 would preserve Jammu & Kashmir as an integral part of the Indian Union. Now, Omar, a loyal ally of the Congress, has struck a hammer blow at one of the load-bearing pillars of the Nehruvian consensus.


The 'political solution' that the Chief Minister is alluding to is an euphemism for an understanding between India and Pakistan over the status of Jammu & Kashmir. Despite the presence of Kashmir on the dhobi list of the composite dialogue, it has been apparent for long that there is absolutely no meeting ground between New Delhi and Islamabad. India has maintained that Kashmir is an internal problem while Pakistan is equally clear that there is a liberation struggle being waged in a 'disputed' area whose future should be settled by a referendum.

It is conceivable that the Manmohan Singh Government has modified India's earlier refusal to talk the internal affairs of Jammu & Kashmir with Pakistan. If so, this is something that the people of India, not to speak of Parliament, are clearly unaware of. Whatever the reality, Omar's statement is certain to set the cat among the pigeons. Pakistan and its proxies within India have now secured an extra handle to press the case for the legitimisation of Islamabad's 'moral and political' support for the azadi movement in Jammu & Kashmir.


It would be prudent to recognise that in the event the civil unrest in the Kashmir Valley is not brought under control fast and effectively, the issue of 'dual sovereignty' will gain currency. At an international level, Pakistan has already successfully sold the West its self-serving thesis that peace in Afghanistan (at least the termination of the Al Qaeda threat) is substantially dependant on the concessions it secures in Kashmir. India has so far managed to withstand international pressure by successfully leveraging its economic clout. However, there was also the fact that Kashmir was plodding gently along the path of democracy, development and a half-decent Government. Coupled with the greater sensitivity of the Indian security forces to 'human rights' issues, there was a marked disinclination of the West to draw a moral equivalence between a democratic India and a dysfunctional Pakistan.


According to the logic of Western diplomacy, Pakistan received bucketfuls of aid but India was someone you could do business with. India's implied superior status may evaporate if the country is caught in a pincer movement of Left-wing extremism and Muslim separatism. If India isn't to go back to the days of the first Clinton Administration when the very accession of Jammu & Kashmir was sought to be questioned, the Centre must ensure that peace returns to the State. Redeploying some of the forces is a small price to pay for preventing 'dual sovereignty' to make its appearance on the international agenda.


For long, India's policy-makers have proceeded on the assumption that people are prone to rational political behaviour. In other words, it has been assumed that given a choice between a economically buoyant India and an imploding Pakistan torn between feudal decadence and Islamist lunacy, the people of Jammu & Kashmir would quietly prefer the status quo. Obviously this hasn't happened.


The implications are disturbing. Either Omar is an inept administrator who has taken to equating personal failings with systemic failure. Alternatively, the hold of religious separatism is far more deep-rooted in the Kashmir Valley than was widely believed. For India's sake, we can only hope that the disturbances in the Valley are all the fault of Omar Abdullah.

 

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THE PIONEER

COLUMN

SINISTER FACE OF ISLAMOFASCISM

KANCHAN GUPTA


We Muslims are one community... (my goal was to) injure people or kill people... One has to understand where I'm coming from, because… I consider myself a mujahid, a Muslim soldier." It's unlikely the American judge presiding over Faisal Shahzad's arraignment was quite prepared for such a candid admission of Islamism über alles by the would-be Times Square bomber. But this is not the first time that the jihadi impulse has been so baldly stated by those who believe that bloodshed serves the cause of Islam — the more horrific the bloodletting, the greater the piety of the perpetrator of what others consider to be both a crime and a sin.


The Fort Hood killer had no qualms about killing fellow soldiers; the underpants bomber was prepared to die to bring down a trans-Atlantic passenger plane, and Faisal Shahzad was comfortable with the idea of blowing up innocent people in New York's fashionable Times Square. Before them, Mohammed Atta al-Sayeed had led a dozen hijackers on a suicide mission to terrorise America; in London, young Muslims of Pakistani origin had stuffed their backpacks with explosives and pulled the trigger in crowded compartments of underground trains.


We in India have known for long what the West has discovered to its horror after the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center were felled on 9/11. Mohammed Ali Jinnah's sophistry was useful distraction from the Muslim League's coarse politics of separatism premised on the fundamentals of Islamic exclusivism, intolerance bordering on hatred of the 'other', the ummah's presumed right to rule the world and hoist the banner of Islam atop every capital.


Tragic as the violence that accompanied partition may have been, far worse has since been witnessed. Islamists from Pakistan have struck again and again, in more ways than one, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. When excessive attention is focussed on 26/11 because it was jihad brought live on television screens, their other crimes tend to be glossed over. For instance the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir Valley. Or the subversion of the Indian Muslim's mind.


Jinnah was given to lofty speech if not noble thought, but the lesser among the ranks must have sniggered when he declared on August 11, 1947, in a speech that is often quoted by those untutored in Islamism: "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state... You will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state."


That state is today rapidly sinking into the quagmire of Islamist fanaticism. Pakistan's citizens have neither ceased to be Hindus and Muslims "in the political sense" nor has the Pakistani state steered clear of religion. The degeneration began within months of the Quaid-e-Azam's death; a decrepit, derelict Islamic Republic of Pakistan, variously described as the "most dangerous place in the world" and an "international headache", is now engulfed in the very jihad which it thought would destroy India.


Jinnah was able to wrench out of India what he despairingly (some would say, disparagingly) described as "a moth-eaten Pakistan"; what remains of Pakistan is being gnawed at from within by those who are so consumed by hate that they find the idea of Muslims cohabiting with Muslims an intolerable idea. Nothing else explains why suicide bombers should target worshippers at Daata Darbar, an acient Sufi shrine in Lahore, drenching a saint's dargah with the blood of the innocent last Thursday, or kill believers gathered at a Rawalpindi mosque. Since by law Ahmediyas are not considered to be Muslims in Pakistan and treated as heretics by mullahs, their slaughter while at prayer, as it happened on May 28, is considered to be nothing extraordinary in the 'land of the pure'.

So, when Faisal Shahzad says, "One has to understand where I'm coming from," he means one has to look at Pakistan to understand what drives Pakistanis to kill with such ferocity and cite Islam as the reason. But Pakistan alone does not breed such monsters; look around and you will find that rare is the Muslim-majority country untainted by the violence propagated by Islamism and perpetrated by Islamists. Secular Egypt thought it would render the seeds of Islamism planted by Syed Qutb sterile by executing the man who called for "offensive jihad" as the true assertion of the Islamic identity. But the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen has flourished, carrying forth Qutb's message that "true Islam will transform every aspect of society, eliminating everything non-Muslim", and that Islam is the "ultimate solution".


It would be a folly to believe that every Muslim subscribes to Qutb's interpretation of Islam or that behind every Muslim name lurks a terrorist waiting for an opportunity to strike. For evidence of the deep schism that sets Faisal Shahzad and his ilk apart from those who just want to get on with their lives and live in peace we just need to look at Pakistan. For every suicide bomber there are thousands who are repelled by his act of terror, who weep at the sight of so much blood being shed for nothing. Muslims in Mumbai, let us not forget, refused to allow the bodies of Ajmal Kasab's slain colleagues to be buried in their graveyards. Such examples abound.

Yet, it would do us no good if we were to gloss over the reality. Islamofascism exists and those who subscribe to it are unfortunately also those who are fashioning policy and influencing society in Islamic countries — individually and collectively. The Organisation of Islamic Conference bears evidence to this: Every time it demands the criminalisation of criticism of Islamist excesses and crimes against humanity because it allegedly "defames Islam", it strengthens those very elements whom it should be condemning before anybody else does so but won't because it conflates Islamism and Islam and views the former as a triumphalist, faith-driven assertion of the latter.


It's easy to demonise critics of Islamism as 'Islamophobes' and call for global legislation to curb free speech. But if conceded, this will embolden the Faisal Shahzads and the suicide bombers and the fanatics for whom hate is a virtue and tolerance a sin. Rather than lash out at those who find Islamism abhorrent, its champions should ask themselves a simple question: After "eliminating everything non-Muslim", what shall happen to 'everything Muslim'? The terrible sight of Muslims killing Muslims in Pakistan, which was supposed to be the homeland of the Indian sub-continent's Muslims, should provide a clue to the answer to that question.

 

 Follow the writer on: http://twitter.com/KanchanGupta. Blog on this and other issues at http://kanchangupta.blogspot.com. Write to him at kanchangupta@rocketmail.com

 

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MAIL TODAY

COMMENT

IF AP CAN FIGHT THE MAOISTS SO CAN THE OTHER STATES

 

THE killing of top Maoist leader Azad is reflective of Andhra Pradesh's successful handling of the Maoist challenge. In fact, Andhra has been the only success story in the fight against left wing insurgency that infests nearly 200 districts in the country. This is significant as most of the top brass of the CPI ( Maoist) are from Andhra, the state where the insurgency has had the longest past.

 

The state's success is the product of sound strategy as well as strong political will to counter the threat.

 

Intensive patrolling by the police and the use of effective human intelligence networks accompanied by a greater coordination with the local people are central to the Andhra police's successful strategy. As is apparent from the neutralisation of Azad and a large number of other central committee members, the Andhra police have been targeting the big leaders and not the local sympathisers. Unfortunately, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal seem to be following the reverse approach, which has proven to be counterproductive.

 

Andhra's most significant strategic weapon against the insurgents since the 1980s has been the Greyhounds — a professionally trained commando force specifically meant for anti- Naxal operations. The experience from Andhra Pradesh, as also the Khalistan insurgency in Punjab, makes a resounding case for an empowered police force as the most effective option against the Maoists.

 

This is in sharp contrast to the approach in Chhattisgarh where the police's role has been marginal— with the state relying on the paramilitary forces on one hand and the vigilante Salwa Judum on the other.

 

This strategic efficacy has been backed by an astute political approach. By introducing a number of welfare programmes and undertaking large scale irrigation and public works in the Maoist areas, Andhra Pradesh made efforts to redress the socio- economic conditions in which the insurgency thrives.

 

Moreover, the greater penetration of the state in these areas helps provide effective intelligence. The consensus that the political class in Andhra Pradesh displayed on the Maoist problem should also be commended.

 

Compare this with the cynical approach of the CPI( M) and Trinamool in West Bengal.

 

The lesson to be learnt from Andhra Pradesh therefore is the need for a pro- active state, in terms of police operations and welfare measures, and the political will to end the menace.

 

BRAZIL GETS A FATAL KICK

HOW the mighty have fallen. The FIFA World Cup has been a graveyard for some of the strongest football teams, but none so emblematic as Brazil which was sent home by the Netherlands on Friday night in what most considered a shock defeat in the quarter- finals.

 

For the most part of the tournament, Brazil breezed through its matches. It played belowpar football ( by their standards) and still reached the quarter- finals with ease. It is the inherent flair for the game that makes Brazil a team of world beaters, and unarguably the world's top football nation.

 

But even the greatest armour has a weak link. It was evident in the previous matches, but no one dared speak about it because Brazil was winning its matches regardless.

 

That weak link was complacence. Brazilian players knew they were the best and never put in their best in any of the matches, least of all in the key group match against World No 3 Portugal which was billed as the best match of the tournament before it began and was relegated to being the most boring by the end of 90 minutes.

 

In a sense, therefore, Brazil deserved the defeat the Dutch handed them. For, when the Samba Boys came face to face with some serious ( and determined) opposition, they were found wanting. And as it happens with top teams which take their rivals for granted, Brazil did not know what hit them.

 

The match seemed to follow a script the World Cup has been witnessing so far. The first round saw the exits of the defending champion Italy and the runner- up France, both ranked in the world's top 10. The round of 16 saw the exit of two more top 10 teams — England and Portugal.

 

It is no surprise that all four had the same affliction as Brazil — the unwillingness to win at all costs.

 

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MAIL TODAY

TO SWIM IS AN ADVENTURE TOO

BY PALASH KRISHNA MEHROTRA

 

I AM NO Michael Phelps but I share in his twin passions: toking and swimming. Give me a pool and I'll happily take the plunge. There's no pleasure greater than smoking half a doobie, then doing some laps.

 

I learnt to swim the hard way, maybe the only way— by being thrown in the deep end. One moment I was crouching lamb at the edge of the pool, steeling myself for the dive, the next someone had shoved me in— on a tipoff from the coach — when I was least expecting it. I drank a lot of water, hit the bottom of the pool, rose to the surface miraculously, and somehow fought my way to the other side. In that moment I learnt the secret of water which, in Graham Swift's words, is " that the body naturally floated and that if you added to this certain mechanical effects, you swam… that in order to swim you didn't have to make as much frantic movement as possible." I've swum in all kinds of pools, starting with an inflatable one with pictures of Mickey Mouse to a frog- infested one in Allahabad, from a biscuit magnate's shallow pool in a Delhi farmhouse, to a heated one in London, where I was caught completely unawares by the wave machine, having mistaken the warning siren for an announcement that one's 45- minute time slot was over. At Taj Kovalam, the pool's at eye level with the sea; you turn your head and you're eyeballing infinite frothy blue. You feel like you are suspended in deep space, cut off from everything, with just your spacesuit for company.

 

Pools

 

As a five- year- old who didn't know how to swim, I would watch my father perched serenely on the edge of the diving board, knees straight, arms outstretched.

 

He'd take a couple of seconds to collect his thoughts, then spring off, freefalling through air for what seemed like an eternity, before finally sinking like a stone in the water. I had a selfish interest in the whole affair for when he finally broke surface, he would come straight to me and I would get a free joyride on his back up and down the length of the pool.

 

The Bombay Gym I remember more for the changing rooms than for the pool— really old- fashioned with lots of wooden benches and towel racks and several bottles of green- coloured Hair and Care scattered all over the place. When I asked my friend who had signed me in about the oil, he said it was to prevent head colds. I've certainly never seen that anywhere else.

 

Delhi Gym I remember for the wrong reasons, for being thrown out by a paranoid and belligerent Sikh doctor who insisted that my red eyes meant I had conjunctivitis, when it was clearly a case of excess chlorine in the water. But my favourite remains the pool of the Dehra Dun Club where one can spend hours floating on one's back, watching mare's tails float by in the sky ( or catch a light drizzle on one's tongue), the litchis ripening ever so slowly on the close- hanging branches of the trees bordering the pool. I'm no longer allowed inside for one of those complicated club reasons— are you a dependent? Are you a guest?— though I always manage to bluff my way in. It helps that the club library doesn't get a copy of MAIL TODAY . I am always on the lookout for new pools. My latest discovery is a small tank sandwiched in a narrow space between a hospital and a row of houses in a Dehra Dun street. The owner, now retired from the merchant navy, has imported a knockdown pool kit from Canada and installed it in his backyard. It's a remarkable example of Indian ingenuity. The neighbourhood kids are having a ball at fifty rupees a pop and so are some of their mothers who enter the water clad more or less in what they came in wearing.

 

When I asked him about the quality of the water, he asked his servant to fetch him a glass from the tap and stuck an electrode in it. In seconds, the water in the glass had separated into various shades of rust and green. Moral of the story? The water in my tank is cleaner than the drinking water supplied by the municipality. He performs this experiment for every new person who walks in and it hasn't failed him till now. I hope for his sake the pool takes off for the man has literally sunk his entire savings in it. He's already lost six weeks of the season, the kit's arrival being delayed for weeks because of the Icelandic volcano. Talk about the pitfalls of globalisation.

 

Culture

 

He's going to find it hard going though for the Indian middleclass isn't exactly big on swimming. Eating? Yes. Buying clothes? Yes. But swimming? That's really for the kids. The ambitious mother sits on dry land in a poolside chair and exhorts her seven- year- old to do laps, all the while complaining to the coach about the heat and humidity. At most, a couple of dads might lounge around the shallow end, discussing club politics or the commodities market. For an Indian, the pool is an aesthetic object, something to look at, like a museum artefact. Look but don't touch. It's also a very cold object, deep- frozen like chicken. Many come close, dip two fingers in the water, before walking away saying, " Oh ho, aaj to pani bahut thanda hai." I saw this happen yesterday and, if I'm not mistaken, summer is far from over.

 

There are also marked cultural differences between changing rooms in India and the West. We tend to follow what Richard Crasta has called " the no- show manoeuvre": "( a) Unbutton shorts but hold them up through will power ( b) Tie a furtive towel around the waist ( c) Wriggle: Allow shorts to slip to the floor ( d) Step out of them ( e) Do a little snake- dance to help your new pair climb up and clasp buttocks and privates ( f) Hold shorts with gravity- defying willpower; or reach under towel with stealthy hands and button up ( g) Let towel drop. Look Ma, no penis!"

 

Writers

 

I did this in London and the men looked at me like I was an anachronistic prude from the colonies, which I was. On my return, eager to prove those superior Londoners wrong, I dropped my trunks in the Doon Club changing room. As it turned out, it wasn't the smart move I'd thought it would be. A baker's son hissing ' tightass' followed me around for days.

 

When I finally confronted him, he said only gay men drop their shorts in public and since I had done this with him present in the changing room, he had read it as a come- on signal. I now follow the Crasta manoeuvre to a T. I haven't found it easy to find others who are as passionate about swimming as I am. Most prefer to play squash or go for a run. For a long time, I thought I was the odd one out until I discovered that writers have had a long- standing love affair with water. Shelley ( who died of drowning), Whitman, London, Valery and Virginia Woolf ( who loved swimming in the buff) all had what the Australian novelist Robert Drewe calls " exceptional hydrous psyches." Poe was prone to marathon mysterious swims, while Flaubert longed to be transformed with the sea's ' thousand liquid nipples'. They also did it in pairs: Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers going on long solo swims off Nantucket come to mind, as also Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald whose impulsive diving enlivened several cocktail parties.

 

After all, it was Fitzgerald who in The Crack- Up described " all good writing" as " swimming underwater and holding your breath."

 

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MAIL TODAY

PRESCRIPTIONS

 

SHOULD YOU PUT A RING ON IT?

RITU BHATIA

 

CONSENSUS doesn't guarantee much, as David Davidar, ex- CEO of Penguin Canada has probably realised. Davidar's defence against the sexual harassment charges levelled at him by Lisa Rundle — that they had a " consensual flirtation" — has succeeded in strengthening our conviction that married men are perpetually on the make. It has also aroused our curiosity about whether consensual sex is a sequel to consensual flirtation or not? Either way, what we do know for sure is that the absence of consensus where sex is concerned is likely to have disastrous consequences for men.

 

The female rape condom RapeaXe is making its rounds, having been distributed to 100 unnamed women in South Africa just before the 2010 World Cup. Its creator, Dr Sonnet Ehlers, believes that the raucous and alcohol fuelled celebrations during this event are the ideal circumstances for guys to go on a rampage; as it is, one out of four men in South Africa admit to having committed rape and the country also has the highest incidence of HIV and AIDS in the world.

 

Rape- aXe is a female condom, with sharp teeth- like barbs. It is inserted like a tampon by a woman and clenches a man's penis if he attempts intercourse with her against her will. Pain and discomfort are inevitable, especially since this doesn't come off easily. Any man unfortunate enough to have one of these adhering to his anatomy will have to visit a doctor's clinic to have it removed.

 

Though this device was patented in 2007, it's being tested for its efficacy in real- life situations only now, and has succeeded in drawing people's attention to the female condom, even if for the wrong reasons.

 

Entertainer Beyonce, who is second to Oprah on the Forbes 2010 list of most powerful celebrities, is also promoting the latest female ringed condom in her new song, Single Ladies . By encouraging her fans to " put a ring on it" the sexy lady has inadvertently become a cam- paigner for women's rights: This is the tag line being used by a public health campaign promoting the female condom.

 

Those of us who had consigned the female condom to the rubbish heap in our heads are being compelled to reconsider it. This device hit the market 15 years ago, but is singularly unpopular despite being touted as a " woman- controlled" contraceptive that provides protection against pregnancy and HIV. Popular South African MP Thabitha Khumalo offended female activist supporters of the condom recently by calling it a " drum", adding that inserting it was a real challenge for women, especially in the " moment of madness" that leads to sex.

 

Other rumours about the crackling sounds made by the device during the act, and the difficulty women have keeping it in place has damaged its reputation even more. Even those of us lucky enough to have consensual sex may not consider it the ideal choice.

 

But is this the fault of the device or are our own expectations too unrealistic? Reconciling our conflicting needs isn't easy ( in this case our need for ecstasy with that for safety) which is why both the female condom and consensual relationships can let us down. So even if you are brave enough to consider putting a ' ring on it' it may be a good idea to examine your assumptions beforehand: Are you anticipating more pleasure than inconvenience? Do its drawbacks outweigh its benefits? If you have answered yes to these questions, the female condom is definitely not the right choice for you. Just as bad an idea as " consensual flirtation" with Lisa Rundle was for Davidar.

 

Only Rape- aXe delivers exactly what it promises.

 

POWER OF ILLUSIONS

IF YOU think you are better looking and smarter than you actually are, this may be good for you. Harbouring some false beliefs about ourselves may benefit us, say psychologists Ryan McKay and philosopher Daniel Dennett in a new issue of Behavioural and Brain Sciences . Positive ' illusions' are largely unrealistically positive views of oneself, over- optimistic ideas about the future and unrealistic views of personal control. These help us cope with our lives and circumstances, and can enhance our psychological well- being and health, promoting a speedier recovery from illness. A body of research spearheaded by psychologists over 25 years confirms this connection.

 

Positive illusions work their magic by having a direct influence on our physiological responses: our nervous and cardiovascular systems respond better and our bodies secrete lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Not everyone agrees with this idea, though and critics say that this may do more harm than good. A smoker for instance may have a false sense of safety. Others with health problems who are overly optimistic may even be in denial.

 

SAVING TIGERS THE BUDDHIST WAY

SHE recently persuaded Cambodian Buddhist monks to patrol the banks of the Mekong river to help protect the endangered Mekong dolphin.

 

Sikkimese Devika Chungyalpa is the founder of the World Wildlife Fund Sacred Earth Programme, which

works with religious leaders in Asia on environmental initiatives. Environmental problems are often viewed as political issues, but Chungyalpa sees them as an essential part of dharma practice, as contained in the words of the Buddha.

 

Today Chungyalpa encourages religious leaders in the tiger states ( that include India) to speak out on behalf of the animals. " There's a reverence in life in Buddhism and Hinduism but it's hard to fight the commercialism around wildlife," she says.

 

The high demand for tiger penis soup in China which is thought to increase male virility and sold for thousands of dollars, tempts the local Himalayan communities to help poachers rather than protect the tigers. One of Chungyalpa's objectives is to help them find alternative income sources such as ecotourism.

 

ritu.bhatia@mailtoday.in

 

BOTOX & EMOTIONS

Psychologists say that the best way to get yourself to feel cheerful is to smile, even if you don't feel like it. The more you do it, the higher your spirits are likely to lift.

Research supports the fact that our expressions actually signal to our brain what to feel. A downturned mouth and frown when you are upset can actually signal your brain to intensify these low feelings.

 

Now researchers have found that Botox injections can reduce emotional reactions.

 

Since Botox temporarily paralyses certain muscles, it can trick your brain into not feeling the full extent of your emotions. While a person who has used Botox can respond otherwise normally to an emotional event such as a sad scene in a movie, movement in the injected facial muscles is less and so is the consequent feedback to the brain about such facial expression Over a long period, the absence of expression will end up reducing the intensity of our emotional reactions.

 

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THE TIMES OF INDIA

FOR THE RECORD


'IN 16 YEARS, FOOTBALL CHANGED, SO DID SOUTH AFRICA'

JOHN CARLIN

 

Renowed author and journalist, John Carlin's acclaimed "Playing the Enemy Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation" was the basis of "Invictus" last year's much-talked about film, star ring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon on Nelson Mandela and the Springbok rugby team. As The Independent, Lon don's South Africa bureau chief during the country's watershed years (1989-1995) Carlin was a keen – and acute – observ er of South African society and politics In South Africa for the World Cup, Car lin spoke exclusively to Siddharth Sax ena on Mandela, the current state of the Rainbow Nation and how the tournament proves South Africa is doing a fine job of building a shared future. Excerpts:

 

In the opening scene of the movie Invictus, when the convoy drives through the street, there's a bunch of white kids playing rugby and on the other side, a bunch of black kids playing football. That mirrored South Africa at the point?


• That opening scene is very telling. It just conveyed precisely that, how rug by is clearly the white people's sport and football very clearly, in those days a black people's sport.


Do you think that has changed now? Has football crossed over?


• I think both have changed. Look, first of all bear in mind, that we are only talking 16 years since Nelson Mandela became president and democracy was established in the country. And it's not a very long time in the life of a nation when you've had a nation that for hun dreds of years was absolutely cultur ally and racially separated. So to ex pect that in 16 years, everything will be mixed in this wonderful way is a bit staggering, But, now, there are more black people playing rugby than white


people playing rubgy in this country And if you look at the Springbok team every year that goes by, you get more and more black faces in that team, and some very good players. Football ... think it's a lot like India where most people know a lot more about the line up of Manchester United than their own local team. I think that's more true for white people here than black peo ple.


The idea of a displaced fan dissolves boundaries. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


• I don't think it's a bad thing. I know we all have this romantic notion that people have about the old days in Eng land when people from a town were loy al to their town's team. But I think as a general rule of life, that uniting peo ple is a good thing. And so, if in some remote corner of Bangalore, there's a whole bunch of guys who get together every Saturday afternoon, put on their Man United jerseys and scarves and watch it, and feel it and love it, and weep and celebrate it in the same way as they do in a suburb of Manchester. I think that's a great thing.


Your book is about a very serious political gambit by Mandela. How do you explain that?


• The rugby, the sport, is an important part of the book and it gives it the narrative thread. But the real pulse of the book was to highlight Mandela's genius in bringing together this divided nation. The amazing thing is how Mandela is face to face with the jailors in prison, is face to face with the minister of intelligence with whom he has 66 meetings, is face to face with the minister of justice of apartheid, face to face with the general who wants to wage a terrorist war against him. And when he meets these guys, he reaches out and tries to find out what they have in common rather than what divides them. What divides them is obvious. Mandela has the greatness to rise above that And in a way, that's what he managed to do with the rugby, that was a symp tom of division and racial hatred and he transformed it into an instrument of unity and reconciliation.


How difficult was it to convince his own people of the Springbok idea?


• The Springbok idea was like a metaphor for the general task of persuading people that reconciliation is the only way to go, that seeking the satisfaction of vengeance would be very short-term gratification. Mandela was very, very clear on his strategic objectives mainly democracy, stability, justice, and very clear in his principles which are basically, respect for all. When he had to make a decision such as on the Springboks, he filtered it through his principles and strategic objectives, because he's very cold thinking. He's a pragmatist. There's this tendency to deal with Mandela as a spiritual figure of generosity. And I'm not saying he's not, but I think he is first and foremost a shrewd political pragmatist. He is aware of what is possible and what isn't in politics. And his decision on the Springbok was not a decision of, 'Oh, let's be sweet and loving to the white people. The point was, if we ban this symbol, it's going to make it more difficult for us to create a stable democracy, keep right-wing terrorism at bay' etc. He convinced his people by appealing to their cold, rational political minds.


Do you think the whites' willing ness to integrate was because they knew they had little choice?

 

• Some white people are integrating more than others. A lot of white people are, actually. One shouldn't expect too much. I think the fact that people are getting along everyday, in a cordial, respectful sort of way and not killing each other, and there isn't any racial war, right wing terrorism, that I think is plenty. I spoke of Mandela being a pragmatist. I think white people are pragmatists too. That is the secret of this country. Afrikaaners have a pharse about themselves that means 'Survivors,' and by definition a survivor is a pragmatist.


What about reports that there is a white exodus from South Africa?


• Whites have been leaving South Africa since the 1980s, so I don't think there is a recent trend here or anything. If anything, there are stories of people returning to South Africa, from the US, from Australia. There is a lot of rubbish being written in the western press about this place being a cauldron of racial tension. There is more racial tension in the US. The American film-making team that was here for Invictus who were here for six, eight months felt the same. The problems of 15 years ago in this country are way down the list of priorities for the political class today. There are questions of combating poverty, justice, crime etc. Black and white relations come way below on this list today. What the World Cup has managed to do is rebrand South Africa for the western world. The World Cup has shown that South Africa can manage quite peacefully and efficiently.

 

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THE TIMES OF INDIA

SWAMINOMICS

EUROPE COULD STILL SUFFER A MELTDOWN

SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR

 

For those who think the Great Reces sion is over, have disturb ing news. asked a top Wall Street manager last week what the chances were of a fullblooded European financial crisis. He replied, "100 per cent."
   In February, the Greek fiscal crisis sent Indian markets crashing. This was the beginning of a European crisis that is not over. Wall Street experts believe it will get much worse. If so, the global financial system could freeze again, causing a double-dip recession.


Optimists say governments will surely rescue all large European banks. Very probably. But the US financial system froze despite government rescues of AIG, Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and General Motors. The British system froze despite rescues of Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Rescues keep insolvent institutions alive, but only after imposing huge losses on shareholders, creditors and those having outstanding transactions. Citibank is alive, but its share price fell from $60 to $1 during the meltdown, and has edged up to just $ 3.70 today.


   Nobody wants dealings with financial institutions that are tottering. When dealings freeze, credit freezes, and then all business freezes: the economic machinery cannot work without financial lubrication. The biggest Indian companies with the soundest balance sheets found credit cut off when global markets froze in 2008. A European meltdown may not be as bad, but will be troublesome.

 

Banks have a small amount of their own equity and a pile of borrowings. Some European banks in 2008 had debt 50 times their equity. By borrowing 50 times their own money, they could magnify profits 50 times. But they magnified risks and potential losses too, and these wiped out some premier banks.

 

US institutions had unwisely borrowed to invest in mortgage-related securities. When housing prices collapsed, so did mortgage-related securities, bankrupting many US institutions. Most big European banks survived because, while many had borrowed heavily, they had invested in government bonds. These are called gilts, because they have traditionally been regarded as good as gold. Indeed, the international Basle rules provide that banks can treat gilts rated AAA as having zero risk.

 

Alas, Greece showed in February that even European governments could become incapable of honouring their debts. As panic spread, Greece, Portugal and later Spain lost their AAA rating. European banks that had virtuously invested in AAA gilts suddenly found themselves holding devalued securities. This fall in assets threatened to wipe out many top banks. To prevent this, Eu ropean governments in June engineered a rescue package of 750 billion euros, covering not just Greece but all European nations. The aim was to save banks holding gilts of south ern Europe, and stop the Greek crisis from spreading. It had an immediate calming effect on markets. But analysts soon re alized that this did not solve the underlying problem of high unsustainable government debt in southern Europe. Most European countries have un wisely decreed high wages and generous retirement and med ical benefits that they can no longer afford, and this long-run problem was exposed pitiless ly by the recession.

 

Britain has now declared that the financial emperor has no clothes. It refuses to keep up the pretence that all problems can be solved by fresh stimu lus packages, each entailing ad ditional government debt. The new British government has opted instead for structural ad justment, earlier reserved for spendthrift Third Worlders This austerity will cost jobs and income, but will eventually re duce government debt and in crease domestic savings.


 Southern European coun tries have similar problems Bankers can shrug off the tra vails of small countries like Greece and Portugal. But Spain is a big country, and bankers worry whether it will weather the storm. If it falters, panic will spread to Italy. This is a G 7 country with enormous out standing debt, amounting to 120% of GDP. Italian bonds are widely held by European banks. If these bonds sink, they can sink the biggest European banks. Optimists say govern ments will find a way out. They can oblige the European Cen tral Bank to print euros and buy all European gilts in dis tress. This will ruin the repu tation (and value) of the euro but may be politically prefer able to a financial meltdown.

 

After 1990, Japan resorted to financial fiction to keep its banks going, at the cost of eco nomic stagnation for a decade Europe could replicate this Neither a meltdown nor decadal stagnation bode well for the global economy. Better outcomes are possible. Maybe Europe will find a way to grow out of its troubles painlessly The chances are that it won't.

 

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THE TIMES OF INDIA

OUT OF TURN

 

BOTH FATHER AND SON ARE IN THE WRONG JOBS

M J AKBAR

 

How long does it take to win an ideological war? A con frontation between the armies of ruling elites is conventional and therefore comprehensi ble: it lasts as long as the pow der is dry and the will of the subaltern to fight for the interests of his gen eral can be sustained.


   A war of ideas is circumscribed by differ ent ponderables and imponderables: conflict ing definitions of justice; a vision often com promised by power pitched against a dream stretched into fantasy by a surreal sense of self The ideological Armageddon starts in the mind so it is difficult to know when it began. But since it descends to the street we generally know when it ends.

 

We can set a precise date for Omar Abdul lah's "ideological war", which is how he chose to describe his present troubles. On June 11 1939, a special session of the Jammu and Kash mir Muslim Conference, born in 1932 and led by Omar's grandfather, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, changed its name to National Con ference. The 179 delegates debated through the night. In the morning, there were only three votes against the resolution. This was a re markable event. Not only due to its intrinsic values, but because it went against the trend of Muslim politics in the rest of the subconti nent, since the mood of the principal party, the Muslim League, was hardening against the sec ular, inclusive vision of Gandhi, Azad and Nehru. On March 26, 1938, the Sheikh told the sixth session of the Muslim Conference, "We must end communalism by ceasing to think in terms of Muslims and non-Muslims when dis cussing our political problems…" And at Anant nag in 1939, the National Conference endorsed Gandhi's policy towards the world war, setting course towards a partnership with plural In dia. Enter, caveat. History is so often the safest alibi for misrule. After 71 years has curfew be come an ideology?

 

Who would have carried the June 11 debate if it were being held today, the 176 members with Omar's grandfather, or the three against him? Since the past is the favourite pastime of alibi-seekers, a compendium of dates can al ways be trotted out in explanation. But histo ry can as easily be an 18-month-old baby as a hoary 71-year-old. In the winter of 2008 and the summer of 2009 the 1939 partnership of Na tional Conference and Congress won the sup port of Srinagar and large sections of the val ley. You cannot hold an election in a curfew.

 

Every incident does not become a confla gration. Omar Abdullah's mishandling of po lice-people confrontation has fanned a spark into a rage and this rage is waiting to become arson. The flaw might be in the fundamentals The people of the state did not elect Omar Ab dullah as chief minister. They voted for his fa ther Farooq Abdullah, who repeatedly clari fied during the campaign that he was the chief minister-designate. Omar Abdullah was en throned chief minister by one man's vote, that of Rahul Gandhi in an effort to remodel the Kashmiri young in his own and Rahul Gand hi's image. But Kashmir's youngest chief min ister has lost the youth of Kashmir.

 

What is the difference between Farooq and Omar Abdullah? Socio-political DNA. Farooq is a Kashmiri in his nerve cells; Omar is a new elitist offspring of English-accent India, which has confused its good fortune with a divine right to rule. Omar resides in Kashmir and lives in Delhi; the opposite is true of his father Farooq persuades in Kashmiri and sings in Urdu, Omar speaks in English and spends the more comfortable part of his week in Delhi Perhaps it is a four-generational syndrome typ ical of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic India, where fresh stalks reduce a family tree's roots to a dis tant memory. Omar is sincere, and represents his state sincerely, but cannot communicate with it. More important, the valley cannot com municate with Omar Abdullah. Father and son are in the wrong jobs.
   The opportunity for a switch will not last forever. In fact, Omar might make the Srina gar secretariat inhabitable for the Abdullahs if there is no course correction very soon. He still has time, but not as much as his friend Rahul Gandhi might want to give him. Jawa harlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah were close friends, but the former's perception of Indian national interest superseded sentiment in 1953
   The irony is that Pakistan cannot be a role model for Kashmiri youth. Our subcontinent has seen violence in the name of faith or pow er, by state and civilian, party and maverick over the last thousand years. The worst tyrant would never dare disturb the immaculate peace beyond the doorstep of the shrine in Lahore of the beloved Data Ganj Baksh Hajveri, who came from Persia in the 10th century. Lahore is syn onymous with Datasahib, whose shrine has survived Rajput, Turco-Afghan, Mughal, Sikh and British rule. On Friday, Muslim terrorists nourished by a culture of violent sectarianism crossed the ultimate threshold. Such sacrilege would be beyond a Kashmiri's imagination.

 

Why is Omar Abdullah losing what such a Pakistan cannot gain? TIME TO LISTEN?

 

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THE TIMES OF INDIA

RIGHT & WRONG

HISTORY CAN BE SEXY AND THE HISTORIAN ROCKSTAR

SWAPAN DASGUPTA

 

Novelists and poets have traditionally provided muchneeded fodder to gossip columnists. Their little quirks, eccentricities and bohemianism have added spice to the more predictable tidbits concerning politicians, film stars and the category that has come to be known as "footballers' wives". As an enthusiastic consumer of tittle-tattle, it is interesting that there is a new category of people who have made it to the celebrity lists: historians.

The idea of a dreary professor who spends his days burrowing through the archives or slyly ogling the skimpily-clad undergraduate, making it to the gossip columns is, of course, absurd. Oxbridge life, as Rab Butler, a successful Conservative politician who went on to become Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, put it, was too mired in "endless Port and dignity" to warrant popular attention.

 

 Fortunately, the better class of historian tends to be more exciting than the average, better-paid economist. AJP Taylor, the history don at Magdalen, Oxford, was unquestionably one of the most stimulating chroniclers of the past. Yet, he was passed over for the prized post of Regius Professor at the ancient university because he dabbled too much in the popular media including, horror of horrors, television. Had Taylor been alive today, he would have been a permanent fixture of London high society — by which I don't mean Russian tycoons or cricket impresarios who drive around Buckingham Gate in Ferraris.

 

 Fortunately, Taylor's inheritance hasn't been squandered. In the last few years, historians who invariably have the 'right-wing' prefix attached to them have become regulars on the society pages. There is Andrew Roberts, whose masterly studies of Lord Salisbury and Lord Halifax (Indians knew him as Lord Irwin, the Viceroy who invited the 'half-naked fakir' to the palace on Raisina Hill) are well worth perusing. His History of the English-speaking Peoples since 1900, an account of the Anglo sphere that includes a generous assessment of Lt Gen Dyer of Jallianwala Bagh, is worth recommending.

 

Leading the pack is, of course, Niall Ferguson, now professor at Harvard but more famous for his book and TV series, Empire. Ferguson makes his fellow historians (particularly the ones he left behind in Oxford) green with envy because he has proved that good history also commands a handsome market price. Now romantically linked to the Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose critique of Islam has made her a target of hate, Ferguson has deftly demonstrated that history is not a dead subject but has contemporary resonance.
   Linking the present to the past has been the constant endeavour of the historian since Edward Gibbon published his classic The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire between 1776 and 1788. Gibbon did not directly allude to the present: the intelligent historian doesn't have to. But anyone in the West reliving the steady erosion of Roman authority after Augustus and Tiberius, cannot but be struck by a sense of déjà vu.

 

Augustus, wrote Gibbon of an other time, "bequeathed as a valu able legacy to his successors, the ad vice of confining the empire within those limits which nature seemed to have placed as its permanent bul warks and boundaries." Emperors who violated this unwritten axiom left Rome vulnerable to predatory 'barbarians'.

 

 Has the West over-reached itself in assuming the role of global cop in Afghanistan? More than 2,000 years after Augustus, the issue of the nat ural borders of a civilization has be come the focus of a West that no longer has the resources and politi cal will to sustain a war against to day's 'barbarians'. The debate is no longer one of winning the 'war on terror' — the theme that resonated in 2001 — but the 'timetable' of with drawal. Once there was a price on the head of Osama bin Laden and Mul lah Omar. Today, earnest politicians talk of "including the excluded".

Is Afghanistan symptomatic of a larger decline or is it an expedient step towards course-correction? West ern politicians are naturally inclined to suggest the latter. Afghanistan, it is now being suggested, has always been the graveyard of empires. And there are always the celebrity histo rians to prove the point.

 

Delhi's very own White Mogul and toast of the literati, William Dalrymple is now researching the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1838-42 The war, which bears uncanny re semblance to events of another cen tury, was marked by the massacre of 16,000 Britons and Indians and the legend of Dr William Brydon the only 'white man' to reach Jalal abad alive.

 

 The legend inspired the Victori ans to persist with Afghanistan. In the reign of this Queen, it has become the flashback for quiet retreat, mas querading as prudence. Maybe we should await an offering from Roberts on Lord Kitchener's war against the Mahadi in Sudan to demonstrate that all history doesn't point in one di rection.

 

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THE TIMES OF INDIA

IN PRINCIPLE

 

INDIAN MEDICAL SKILL CAN'T CURE PAK'S CANCER

C UDAY BHASKAR

 

In the apocalypse tinged reportage of the troubled India Pakistan relation ship, came this wel come news: a suc cessful cord blood stem cell transplant on a one-year-old Pakistani baby boy Shaheer Imran, at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. It was symptomatic of the complex, often contradictory re lationship between South Asia's two large neighbours.


The Indian medical team report edly carried out a rare, unrelated dou ble cord blood stem cell transplant to redress the potentially fatal genetic immune system disorder detected in Shaheer. The operation was con ducted on March 15 but the doctors had to wait 10 weeks to confirm that white cells and platelets were being satisfactorily generated. The little boy's parents, Maliha and Imran Gulzar, count themselves lucky. So will little Shaheer when he grows up and learns he was one of the lucky few in Pakistan to have timely access to the marvels of modern medicine

 

Surgery for newborns, particu larly those with complex cardiac and blood-related congenital conditions is inadequate in Pakistan. Conse quently, many such babies are brought to India by their anxious par ents. The distances involved are rel atively manageable and the cost of medical care is a fraction of the de veloped world. Plans are afoot to bring 200 Pakistani children to Kolkata by chartered plane for heart surgery over the next few months. It is a happy indication of shared hu manity on either side if the border.

 

 Even so, what is Baby Shaheer likely to associate with India when he starts to go to school? His parents may remember Ganga Ram hospital with affection. Will their son do the same? Many liberal Pakistanis be moan the fact that their society is progressively more intolerant, more so after the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. The state' Islamic identity and its socio-cultural ethos was distorted and a selective interpretation of Islam was ad vanced, which began with the per secution of the Ahmadiyas and lat er, the Shias. After the Soviet inva sion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the deification of the 'mujahedin' war rior – metaphorically portrayed in the Reagan years as the brave tribesman with Koran in one hand and Kalashnikov in the other – reli gious radicalization and endorsement of 'jihad' had begun in Pakistan.

 

 The deeply religious and ex tremely conservative Pakistani dic tator General Zia-ul Haq used the meta-narrative about Pakistan and Islam as a basic tool block to persuade the impressionable mind that bloodshed was acceptable to protect Islam. History was embroidered, falsified or excluded through the country's educational system. From the toddler learning the alphabet to the college student – the textbook and the curriculum were shaped to nurture this ideology of exclusion and the abiding 'threat' to religion. The more tolerant and inclusive interpretation of Islam gave way to the current Wahabi-Salafi version, with its many inflexible gender-skewed characteristics. Pakistan's privileged citizen today is the Sunni-Wahabi Punjabimale, preferably with links to the Army, senior clergy or Taliban.

 

 The brainwashing begins early and as a Pakistani columnist recently commented after the New York Times Square incident botched by Faisal Shahzad: "The educational material in most secular and so-called 'English-medium' schools is, at times, equally hateful. Parts of their textbooks tell lies, craft hate, and incite readers for a new world order called pan-Islamism, hence ideologically confusing the students who already suffer from a serious identity crisis."

 

 Is the child Pakistani first, or Mus lim ? Who is the 'other' and are all non-Muslims enemies? These are crucial questions for young minds but in Pakistan, as commentator Ali K Chishti avers: "…the entire public and private school curricula are de signed to promote, inculcate and in cite the spirit of 'jihad' and hatred among children as young as five."

 

 This is why much as one wel comes the spontaneous medical help provided by Indian doctors to Pak istan's Baby Shaheers, people-to people initiatives need to be com plemented by addressing the poi sonous ideological indoctrination of the young mind. Pakistan should pay heed to its own commentators who admit that India and Pakistan cannot live together in peace "until there is a complete overhaul of the educational curriculum in Pakistan and the process of reverse indoc trination is completed." Only thus can Pakistan prevent the metaphor ical morphing of a Baby Shaheer into a Faisal Shahzad.

 

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HINDUSTAN TIMES

COUNTERPOINT

LIES, BETRAYAL AND DENIAL IN BOMBAY

VIR SANGHVI

We know now that 26/11 could have been avoided. Indian intelligence knew that the terrorists were heading for Bombay a day before the attacks and knew what their targets were. But, as Home Minister P Chidambaram admitted in an interview to me, "We failed to connect the dots."

The intelligence failures have been addressed and at least one head has rolled. But precious little has been done to hold the Bombay Police accountable for the terrible mistakes they made that night.

If the Bombay Police had not failed so spectacularly, the terrorists could have been defeated on the first night itself. Part of the problem was a loss of nerve. Despite individual acts of bravery (such as the capture of Ajmal Kasab) the police force simply refused to show the courage required.

We are lucky that there hasn't been another terrorist strike or that the Maoists do not realise what a soft target Bombay is. But if another attack took place tomorrow, the Bombay Police would let the city down and fail as comprehensively as they did on 26/11.For instance, two terrorists operating within a confined space (the Oberoi Hotel) and armed only with hand-held weapons should not have terrified the entire Bombay Police force so much that the cops just sat outside the hotel and watched, waiting for central forces to arrive the next day.

Some of this may have been more than mere cowardice. The then Police Commissioner, Hassan Gafoor, was sacked months after the event, at least partly because he had the courage to say openly what everybody already knew: many of his officers refused to cooperate in the anti-terrorist operation.

The more we learn about the failures of 26/11, a shocking story of petty politics, widespread corruption and divisions within the force emerges.

A few months ago, Vinita Kamte, wife of Ashok Kamte, who first wounded Kasab before losing his life, published a book detailing the circumstances of her husband's death. She based her account on transcripts of police wireless messages that she had obtained under the RTI after the Bombay Police tried to suppress them.

Mrs Kamte's book established that Hemant Karkare, chief of the state's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) was deliberately betrayed by the Bombay Police control room. For instance, Karkare asked for reinforcements to be sent to Cama Hospital where Kasab and his partner Ismail were operating.

Though the control room is at the police headquarters, around two minutes from the hospital, no forces were despatched for half an hour. As a consequence, Kasab and Ismail simply strolled out of the hospital unchallenged and headed for Rang Bhavan Lane. They were spotted there by policemen but the control room neglected to inform Karkare.

Karkare believed that Kasab and Ismail were being tackled by policemen at Cama Hospital when his car drove into Rang Bhavan Lane. He had no idea that he was driving into an ambush. In the firing that followed, Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar were shot. Kasab and Ismail tossed their bodies on the road and hijacked their car.

Though the control room knew the policemen were lying on the road a few minutes from headquarters, it took 40 minutes to send medical assistance. In those 40 minutes, Ashok Kamte bled to death from a scalp injury.

Now it transpires that even Karkare could have been saved. People have always wondered how the bullets penetrated the bullet-proof jacket he was wearing. The Bombay Police responded by saying that a) he was shot in the neck so the jacket was no protection, b) that the jacket was perfectly good but c) the file pertaining to its purchase had been lost and d) even the jacket itself had miraculously vanished.

An investigation conducted by Headlines Today has finally exposed those claims. The channel has found the file. It establishes that the jacket was clearly sub-standard and had been rejected by the police after tests showed that it offered no protection against AK-47s or 9 mm carbines. Despite this test, top cops okayed the purchase anyway. Obviously, somebody took a kickback — and killed Hemant Karkare.

Further, Headlines Today has also accessed Karkare's autopsy report. This shows that he was shot in the shoulder and chest — precisely those areas that the jacket was supposed to cover. So, a good quality jacket could have saved his life.

You would have thought that by now, the Maharashtra government would have launched a clean-up operation in the Bombay Police. In fact, the politicisation of the force has increased. Nor can the chief minister do very much because of the tussle with coalition partner, the NCP, which has consistently promoted its own dodgy protégées within the force. Promotions are now decided on the basis of politics, not merit.

What's worse is that nobody acts on the evidence of police ineptitude. I asked Ashok Chavan, the state chief minister, whether he intended to follow up on the revelations that emerged from the police wireless transcripts reproduced in Vinita Kamte's book. He took the line that as a governmental enquiry has patted the police on the back, there was no need to do more. About Mrs Kamte's book, he adopted the position that while one sympathised with a grieving widow, a government could not really be guided by her sentiments.

But of course, this is not about sentiment. Vinita Kamte's book is meticulously researched. The Headlines Today exposé  is well-documented with actual pages from the 'missing' file and the autopsy report. It is no longer possible to pretend that all is well. There is a serious crisis within the force and the government needs to act.

Whenever I read about Naxalite attacks in central India and come to the bit where commentators say that the Maoists only succeed because the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is disorganised and badly trained, I sometimes wonder if the Naxalites will realise that there is a more high-profile target within their reach.

Everything we have seen about the Bombay Police suggests that the force's level of competence is not much higher than the CRPF's. What's worse is that while the CRPF is at least sincere, the Bombay Police is a corrupt, badly-divided force where officers end up sacrificing the lives of their colleagues in pursuit of their own political and greed-driven agendas.

We are lucky that there hasn't been another terrorist strike or that the Maoists do not realise what a soft target Bombay is. But if another attack took place tomorrow, the Bombay Police would let the city down and fail as comprehensively as they did on 26/11.

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HINDUSTAN TIMES

RED HERRING

COC & BULL THEORY

INDRAJIT HAZRA

It could have been a thermometer entering an orifice, such was the love, bonhomie and competing martial music in the Wagah air. But it wasn't. It was the queen's baton being gently pushed into Indian territory on June 25 from Pakistan, a country that keeps getting kicked out of the Club Of ex-Colonies (COC) of the British Empire each time democracy (a prime requisite for COC member-States) is suspended there —  coming back time and again to knock at the COC doors proclaiming, "Boss, let us in! We're a democracy again!"

The Delhi COC Games Organising Committee Chief Organiser Suresh Kalmadi may have cut a dashing figure in his straw hat and purple and white threads in the Punjabi summer heat, but monarchists from Southall to South Extension are still upset that the queen's skipping the COC Games opening ceremony on October 3, a day after a 'dry day' too, thanks to laws regarding celebrating my mum-in-law's birthday. And the fact that the not-so-Bonnie Prince Charlie will be filling in won't do. We're not a nation of dabbawallas, Ms Windsor. As the head of COC, the queen should have at least sent a Corgi or two. But no. Instead of a couple of cute dogs that may have gone in heat in the Delhi heat, she sends Buckingham Palace's resident David Hasselhoff.

Which makes me beg the question: why are we so besotted with being a COC member? Nirad C. Chaudhuri is dead and I'd rather have the lady from Uttar Pradesh with a handbag feted at the COC Games than some other lady with a handbag speaking the Queen's English.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Britain (except its ludicrously overrated and subsequently exposed England Football World Cup squad). I'm even willing to accept knighthood if the queen purrs, after putting some roofies in my gin, "Rise, Sir Indrajit". It's just that, like the novelist Amitav Ghosh, I think that there's something a bit embarrassing about wanting to be in a club whose rules state — not too overtly, of course — that you have to be an ex-colony, a colony or an independent country that keeps printing Queen Elizabeth II's picture on its banknotes.

The COC Games, under the name of the British Empire Games, were first held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada, with the great British colonies of Australia, Bermuda, British Guiana, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland and Ireland, along with England and Wales, taking part in it. Over the decades, the name tag kept changing as the Brit empire kept frittering away. I suspect it was for the benefit of Winston Churchill that COC was actually formed.

After all, the chomper had once said, "I will not preside over a dismemberment [of the British Empire]." The British Empire was rather rapidly 'dismembered' and something of a facesaver was required for the person who saved the world from learning the word, 'Götterdämmerung'. So voila,  COC was formed: a happy family of benevolent ex-imperialists setting up a thrift shop for former subjects with discount coupons.

If you think all this old history stuff is in the past and doesn't matter, I'd love to see athletes from the former kingdom of Patiala get their asses kicked by athletes from the former kingdom of Cooch Behar in the Mehfil Games, the sporting event for only former Princely States and Britain.

But, if you're under 20, forget all the history. (If above 20, you'll do well to forget India's false starts at trying to be a Grade A nation.) Would you think it's kosher for a country to host the COC Games, or for that matter any event, that has the authorities telling us, natives (in the sense of citizens and not according to any old COC terminology) to stay away from the show, get out of town, or "better, stay at home" for 12 days? That's what the Delhi Police Commissioner advised Delhiites to do, so as to bypass the closure of many roads for "the movement of vehicles carrying players and delegates" (and VIPs?).

My advice? Don't get out of town during the COC Games if you're a Delhiite. Get India out of COC. If the former British colonies in America have done without hanging out in this  gymkhana club, surely, confident YiYiTee and YiYiEm-educated India can do without COC action. The gleaming flyovers, roads, airports and stadia are all almost ready. Who's going to complain now? So let's call off the COC Games politely.

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HINDUSTAN TIMES

SUNDAY SENTIMENTS

NOT JUST A TALL TALE

KARAN THAPAR

I'm sure you would agree that autobiographies are not easy to write. Even authors who have led fascinating lives are often mistaken about what events to include or judiciously omit, leave aside the degree of subsequent detail. Some start at the beginning and plod on to the end,  leaving you lost, bewildered or bored. Others skim or circumvent and end up offering an unsatisfactory and incomplete account. Most get confused between the personal and the professional.

Now, if you think about it, for these  very reasons, autobiographies are also not easy to read. You may be curious about the author but do you really want to know everything about him? On the other hand, how satisfactory is his own self-serving selection of events and details? Without the benefit of an astute biographer's commentary, you either have to rely on your own skeptical judgement or simply suspend evaluation. Neither is easy or advisable.

This is why Fali Nariman's autobiography, Before Memory Fades, is a joy to read. No doubt the author starts  at the beginning but it's not his life story he relates so much as an honest account of the important events that stood out in his life. You can pick and choose the ones that interest you and you don't have to read them in any particular order.

However, Before Memory Fades is  exceptional for two other reasons. They're worth noting, in case you are secretly or wantonly, planning an autobiography yourself. First, it deftly  avoids the pitfalls most memoirs inevitably hurtle towards and, second, it discovers the real secret of a delightful read.

The author doesn't blow his own trumpet, although if he'd wanted to he could've played a fairly riveting tune. You only discover accidentally that in the '80s Chief Justice Chandrachud invited him to join the Supreme Court. A rare direct appointment from the Bar. At the time he was 53. If Nariman had accepted, he would have ended up as Chief Justice and served an astonishingly long term. But he declined. Today how does he look back on this? "I comfort myself with the reflection that I would not have made a good judge." Pleasing modesty, which perhaps proves he's wrong!

The secret, the author has discovered, is that nothing is as gripping as a good story. And Fali Nariman certainly knows how to tell one. Lawyers, because they stand up and address a court for a living, have learnt to hold attention. When they don't, they usually end up losing. Nariman's account of the Bombay Bar he joined in 1952, told through  a series of stories about his mentor —  Sir Jamshedji Kanga — is simply impossible to put down.

Actually what you don't realise, except in the company of lawyers, is that they have a fund of fascinating anecdotes and riveting tales. More importantly, they tell them with a sense of drama. They enact the different parts, their voices rising to a shattering crescendo or dropping to the softest sotto voce. It's an act, of course, but it can be spell-binding.

Each of his stories tells you something about Fali Nariman. He's not just the raconteur but the man in the middle too. However, what they reveal is what you have to work out for yourself. This is, thus, an autobiography that makes you think. That, I would say, is the third Nariman 'trick'. The author makes you engage with the book rather than simply read it.

The views expressed by the author are personal

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THE INDIAN EXPRESS

COLUMN

TECTONIC SHIFTS

MEGHNAD DESAI

 

The Toronto G20 was much less dramatic than the London one last year. The world no longer faced a great peril and went back to its own divided ways. The Prime Minister did his best to patch up economic differences among the rich countries as to whether to continue reflating or start cutting. But that apart, the G20 is threatening to look as ineffective as the G8 has already become.

 

This is not in my view too hasty a judgment. Before the G20 process gets routinised, one must ask what use it is. In November 2008, faced with the financial meltdown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was able to persuade George Bush to expand the G8 to G20 which until then was only a finance ministers forum. In April 2009, former British prime minister Gordon Brown was able to harness President Obama's charisma to bind everyone in a common purpose of rescuing the world economy. It was a triumph of global diplomacy.

 

That was the perhaps the climax not the beginning. In Copenhagen in December 2009, the world looked coolly at the biggest threat to its survival and decided to do nothing. While the EU countries were seized with the urgency of global warming and small nations like the Maldives will be the immediate losers, there was no consensus as to what to do, and who was going to do what, even if they knew what to do.

 

The reason for this disarray is something we have known for some years but for which we have no solution. The 1945 settlement which gave us the UN and the Bretton Woods system is no longer working. The UN was an uneasy compromise between a gathering of sovereign nations which were juridically equal (General Assembly)and the old fashioned Concert of Great Powers (Security Council). While the General Assembly has expanded in size, it has become less effective in representing the people's wishes. This is partly because sovereign states have often been found abusing the human rights of their own citizens (Zimbabwe, North Korea) and also because sovereignty is often seen a license to oppress which only outside intervention violating the UN Charter alone can end (Tanzania's intervention against Idi Amin, India's intervention in East Pakistan).

 

The UN also resists reforms since no one wishes to acknowledge that all nations are not equal. The G7 was invented as an alternative to the Security Council to keep the USSR out and after Russia got into G8 to keep China out. So the SC 5 became G7 and then G8. But with globalisation of the 1990s proceeding apace and Asian countries growing swiftly, even the G8 was inadequate. Realities of economic and political power dictate a revision of SC and if the SC cannot be reformed then the G8 had to be.

 

This expansion of the G8 to G20 was also prompted by the unique contribution of Goldman Sachs when it invented the acronym BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China). It became a potent sign of the shifting tectonic plates in the world system. The problem, however, is not the viability of the newcomers but the persistence of the old laggards at the top table. In creating G7, Germany and Japan were added with some justification but Italy and Canada were undeserving. If only BRIC had been added to SC5, we would have had only Brazil and India. But with BRIC added to G8 many more countries entered the scene. The G20 has become in Churchill's famous words 'a pudding with no theme.'

 

In 2011, the so-called emerging economies will surpass OECD in terms of share of the world GDP. The days of the North looking down on the South are over. As the British Foreign Secretary William Hague said last Thursday, Britain has to shift its attention to India, China and Brazil and away from its traditional concerns. The EU will be for the two decades or more what Napoleon called China two hundred years ago 'a sleeping giant'. The dynamism of the global economy will be in Asia and the Pacific region and away from the Atlantic basin. Europe's days are over.

 

Until the world comes to terms with that reality we will go on having useless summits of the G8, G20 UN etc.

 

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THE INDIAN EXPRESS

EDITORIAL

'AS SPOKESPERSONS, WE ARE NOT EXPECTED TO SPEAK FOR INDIVIDUALS'

 

Vandita Mishra: How did both of you get to this job — being spokespersons of your parties?

Sitharaman: It is only from March this year that I have been spokesperson for the BJP. Every new president

brings in a new team. And when Nitin Gadkari took over as president of the party, he formed this team. I suppose they had very senior hands like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, all of whom are in Parliament already, so they were looking for somebody else, somebody fresh. This is not an official version but I suppose that is how I came in.

 

I married into a political family, a very Congress family. My father-in-law was a minister and my mother-in-law was an MLA and later an MLC. My husband was also in the students' wing of the Congress and subsequently left the party. I wasn't into politics, I was doing a lot of grassroots research, we run a research centre in Hyderabad and we had been working for UNICEF and ILO. I came into politics pretty late in the day but my party has never made me feel 'you are such a greenhorn, you can't survive here'. They are supportive and I am enjoying it. I came to be associated with the BJP only in 2008. But before that, I was associated with quite a few organisations like the Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

 

Tiwari: I have held a succession of jobs in the Congress — headed the NSUI, the International Union of Students, been president of the Youth Congress and before that, AICC secretary. I guess that over a period of time the party takes a decision to call people for different responsibilities. Essentially, that's how it happened.

 

Coomi Kapoor: What do you feel is the best attribute of being a spokesperson on TV? Is it to be aggressive or accommodating?

 

Sitharaman: I don't think aggression pays. You certainly will have to be sure of your facts. And you have to come in keeping the viewer rather than the camera in mind. The best way to deal with it is to be clear on what you want to articulate to the viewer, who is a cross-section of Indian society. He is watching to get information about your party, so no aggression. I think it helps to be pleasant, with clarity and to the point. TV is a very powerful medium, it does not have time for you, but it wants the punch.

 

Tiwari: Spontaneity. As lawyers, we are taught to be extremely calm. But if you have been in public life over a period of time, there are certain issues on which you have stronger convictions than others. There are also certain issues which excite you, if not agitate, more. So I feel rather than putting up a wonderfully structured facade of being either calm or aggressive, just be spontaneous. Essentially, I think more than words, what people are also trying to see is the conviction that you have when you say a particular thing.

 

Vandita Mishra: Like you said, clarity is important for a spokesperson. Both of you have a problem there. For Manish, the problem is that on any given issue, the Congress line can't be clear because there are layers of secrecy around 10, Janpath. For Nirmala, the problem is that you have to keep track of what the RSS wants, so it is not just the BJP's point of view.

 

Sitharaman: I don't look at it like that. On the contrary, even if you have just one person to deal with, on no one

issue can a political party take a black-and-white position. Consistent with the ideology of the party, I think you have to always make sure that you take a nuanced position, something that helps the process move forward.

 

Tiwari: In the Congress, the channels of communication are very clear. And most often, the spokespersons are on the same page. The other issue is that on a large issue, within the Congress, there are people who have differences of approach. But when it all settles down, you are able to crystallise it.

 

Vandita Mishra: I have a question on television debates and the constant demand it places on you. Do your parties list out dos and don'ts?

 

Tiwari: There is a certain demand of flexibility and freedom. I don't think there are any structured dos and don't, but essentially, you stick to your brief. And that brief has to be argued to the best of your ability.

 

Sitharaman: Yes, there are briefs given on topics, but there are no hard-and-fast rules. If there are issues which are developing rapidly, of course there is a small team of researchers who keep feeding you with information. Since I am new to this, I make sure that I consult my seniors before formulating my ideas.

 

Unni Rajen Shanker: Nirmala, you have seven spokespersons in your party. Have you divided the subjects on which you are going to speak?

 

As of now, there is no such division. We just do it as and when we want to do it.

 

Unni Rajen Shanker: If you have seven spokespersons, isn't there a possibility of people talking in different voices? When a news breaks, is there a mechanism where you first check with your party bosses on what to say or who will speak first?

 

Tiwari: We have a very robust internal consultative process. By and large, the stand you have to take is fairly clear. But we have a roster system. So let's suppose I am the spokesperson on Wednesday and there is something developing, then I am the lead spokesperson and then I would get into a consultative mode and talk to everybody who may need to speak. So everybody gets on to the same page. Yes, at times you do run into situations where you have to react in real time. My own experience is that notwithstanding the pressure that you are under, it is better to pause a little.

 

Sitharaman: We don't have a roster system but consultations on developing and policy-related issues keep happening. The support mechanism exists, but you don't really need to use that because there is already an ongoing discussion in the party, particularly involving all the spokespersons.

 

Dhiraj Nayyar: Do you think the party's leaders should speak to the public on a regular basis, without depending on spokespersons?

 

Tiwari: That's essentially what I have been telling the government—that there is a need for the government to speak out. While the government does emanate out of the political system, there are certain internal governance issues which are internal to the government. It is not for the spokespersons to be responding to every issue of an administrative nature.

 

Sitharaman: The distinction between government-speak and party-speak is very thin in India and therefore it leads to a situation where you are not sure who is speaking when. Even as an Opposition party spokesperson, I think it streamlines the process of the party very well if it is done through the spokesperson. In India, leaders speak informally too. It is good that it is happening this way because the informal expressions also give leaders a chance to talk to people directly. As for the formal ones, they put into perspective everything that the party wants to say and therefore, I think the blend is very nice here.

 

Manoj CG: Have you faced a situation where your personal view was different from the party's? Suppressing your view and giving out the party view — how difficult is that?

 

Tiwari: There is always flexibility and freedom to do things when you feel strongly about something. For example, my own private member's bill to amend the Tenth Schedule. I am aware that no private member's bill has gone through since the 1970s. But I saw that it was important enough to be put into the system, so that it is at least debated. So in this sense, you have the freedom to do things your way to some extent.

 

Sitharaman: There are situations where your personal view is very different from the party's position. It takes a bit to adjust to it. But I won't forget for a moment that I am speaking for my party and not for myself. If I speak for myself, I will do it when the discussions are on. Once the positions are taken, that's my position.

 

Subhomoy Bhattacharjee: Nirmala, whose point of view is more difficult to articulate? Mr Advani's or Mr Gadkari's?

 

I don't see it as an individual's point of view; it is the party's point of view. As spokespersons, we are not expected to speak for individuals. The party articulates it, we talk about it. All of us are there at these meetings, thorough discussions take place, but what emerges is the party's view, not any individual's view.

 

Coomi Kapoor: Nirmala, aren't you at a disadvantage compared to Manish since people in your party have a habit of speaking their mind? And then, there are the views of the larger Sangh Parivar.

 

Sitharaman: I thought that is rampant in the Congress too. Didn't we have 12 different views coming from the Congress on the Naxal issue? It is not just us, all parties are at it. But one voice on one critical issue from one party — I am still hoping that day would come.

 

Dhiraj Nayyar: Is there a reason why spokespersons from both your parties are urbane, cosmopolitan faces? Is that because you communicate with the English media?

 

Tiwari: No, I don't think there is any hard-and-fast rule. There are people from all backgrounds and all walks of life who have served as spokespersons. Some of the more eminent spokespersons of the Congress have actually been poets and litterateurs.

 

Swaraj Thapa: Do you support the idea of TV debates between political leaders, as it happens in the West?

 

Sitharaman: Why not? If it has to happen, it will happen. In a democracy, parties have to better inform viewers and readers on what they stand for. The more the platforms, more such forums, the better for democracy.

 

Tiwari: The models of democracy are different. In our kind of a structure, where you have leaders going out, addressing meetings, interacting with people at home, would you like to have an additional pro-active platform?

 

Vandita Mishra: As party spokespersons, do you find yourself articulating your message only to the television audience? Or do you keep two kinds of messages in mind when you rehearse—one for television and one for the rest.

 

Sitharaman: Certainly, it can't be the same way. Television requires crisp, to the point, responses, what they call byte-sized responses. When you are talking to the print media you can be more descriptive. I enjoy that a great deal because you are able to substantiate everything that you are saying. Both have their challenges. But the larger debate on any issue still happens in print. That's where the content takes importance and the debate can carry on for a few days.

 

Tiwari: Every medium has its own feel. While print obviously gives you much more creative space, the new mediums too give you a lot of space. So if you really sort of want to get into a descriptive mode, you can possibly write long blogs. It all depends on the medium you are addressing.

 

Swaraj Thapa: Is it a good idea for politicians to be on Twitter?

 

Tiwari: According to me, there is no harm. It depends on your ability to be able to use every medium in a responsible manner. So I don't think you can shoot the medium along with the messenger.

 

Swaraj Thapa: Do spokespersons get hauled up for their mistakes?

 

Sitharaman: Probably they do; I don't know. I have not have had any such experience yet.

 

Tiwari: If you end up embarrassing the party, they have the right to get you shot. The trick is to make sure you are not speaking for yourself, you are speaking for the party. Therefore, you need to be a little more responsible.

 

Coomi Kapoor: Can you both tell us about your biggest goof-ups, when you regretted something you said?

 

Tiwari: I feel I could have done without my "cargo class" remark. There was an austerity drive on in the party and somebody asked about travelling economy class. I said that left to myself, I would travel cargo class too. It may have looked like a smart answer but it may come across as being insensitive to people who are going through a tough situation.

 

Sitharaman: If there is something I have learnt out of my last few months as spokesperson is that I am over-

cautious. Maybe I can relax a bit more but then, it is too early in the day. I would rather be more cautious than get into trouble.

 

Dhiraj Nayyar: What's your opinion on public speaking in politics?

 

I think Parliamentary debates can do with a little more focus. At times, the whole rhetoric of these debate seems obscure. There is definitely a perception that compared to, let's say the 70s or even the 60s, the standard of parliamentary debate has come down.

 

Sitharaman: Electronic media, Twitter, Facebook, print, blogs, public meetings — I think we are at a stage where we are still acquainting ourselves with these various different media. So probably given a few more years, very good substantive debates will happen in all the different forums.

 

Shekhar Gupta: When emotional issues like Bhopal come up, the media sometimes tends to hijack the debate. Would you, as spokespersons, play along with the emotions if it suits you or will you go by the facts?

 

Sitharaman: I will definitely go with the facts. Segregate the facts for what they are and build the argument on that. I don't think it is just emotion or spontaneity that can help us steer any debate and I think we should understand where the debate is going.

 

Tiwari: If you steer the arguments away from the facts, you end up losing credibility. The challenge is to go by the facts in the face of whatever passion there may exist .

 

Transcribed by Maroosha Muzaffar

 

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THE INDIAN EXPRESS

COLUMN

LEADING THE VALUE-LED MARKET

SHOMBIT SENGUPTA

 

Business across the world operates in the paradigm of either catering to demand or leading the market with value. A demand led market is akin to trading, supplying to fill an order, but crafting value to lead the market with requires ample use of brainware.

 

When huge market demand exists for a product or service, it would mean the requirement is basic and useful. This market flourishes with high user demand, and it's the easiest situation for business houses to deal with. There is a 100 per cent certainty of big revenue generation. The only problem here is how to make a better bottomline and sustain it because competition is rife. There's always the temptation to increase volume, irrespective of the quality of the product, service or people behind it.

 

Because every competitor can deliver more or less similarly in demand led markets, and the hunger for increased business is so high, there is negligible scope to create differentiation. This situation compels an enterprise to reduce profitability year after year. The demand led market is extremely vulnerable as anybody with money, infrastructure, people and good trading skills can enter it. In this space, you don't have to worry about competency, skill set, differentiation, quality standard or capacity, you can also forget about high profit after tax. You are generating revenue on big volume alone.

 

Conversely, in the value led market, you can actually get sizable margins. Take a simple banana that has high demand in world markets. How can you create a difference with a banana? A talented chef can take two ripe bananas costing 50 cents, dramatically change their value by using crème, chocolate sauce, nuts for another 50 cents, and then with appetising styling, he can sell a banana desert for $15 in his restaurant. A four-star restaurant can even sell it for $50. The basic banana has been transformed to enter the value led market.

 

Sophisticated developed countries have displayed tremendous flair in creating the value led market. Value here does not mean bringing in fundamental invention. It requires intellectual thought and shared passion between the leader and team for market study and forward planning.

 

My favourite value led market example is the innovative success of Swatch. If we look back at the Swatch adventure under co-founder Nicholas Hayek, it happened when digital watches from Japan threatened the Swiss watch industry in the 1970s. Swiss entry level watches with manual craftsmanship was losing market share. Swatch not only innovated through high technology, but reduced parts in the watch from over 91 to 51, and with aggressive marketing, daring designs and unfailing quality made Swatch into a fashion statement. Swatch means both Swiss watch and second watch. This low-priced $30 "change your dress, change your Swatch", was cheeky and fun, girls even wore them as ponytail bands. Swatch proved that you can drive aspirational value even with low pricing. The company has become so successful since its 1983 launch that Swatch has acquired some of the world's most sophisticated watch brands, including Breguet, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz, Glashütte Original, Léon Hatot, Omega, Tiffany & Co., Rado, Longines, Union Glashütte, Tissot, Calvin Klein, Certina, Mido, Pierre Balmain, Hamilton, Flik Flak and Endura.

 

All-time trendy Swatch is the first individual brand in the watch category to bring out a business model through a retail chain. Walking along New York's Times Square five years ago, I crossed a funky painting gallery. I walked in to discover it was a Swatch retail. Inside there were very few watches interspersed with cult images and trendy gear. When an enterprise thinks like that in the demand led watch market, it gives you the learning of how to radically transfer from demand-supply to lead with value and win customers, profit and create benchmarks.

 

By the 1970s, fastfood outlets like McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, had established their brands. But a gap existed in fastfood chains that they somehow make you feel pressurised to eat quickly and leave so somebody else can occupy your chair. This is the way their revenues go up. There were those who looked at this gap of how to create fastfood chains that would give people a relaxed ambience. Latin societies like Italy and France have a cafe culture where, with a glass of beer or coffee, you sit in individually owned cafes for hours. Europeans have never thought that their cafe heritage can be made into a chain. But three Americans, by founding Starbucks, successfully commercialised this space, gave it value, and took the concept to 55 countries. This is the value led market approach with lateral thinking.

 

In the 20 years since economic liberalisation, India has responded well to the demand led market in most industries and amassed critical mass. It's good to hear that we have big size, billion dollar Indian companies with a global footprint, but while benchmarking with global competitors, we have a great deal of catching up to do. In a demand led situation, Indian companies can certainly grow in revenue. But they will be under huge profit pressure in the coming years unless they can change gears in the direction of the value led market.

 

The more companies drive towards value, attrition will come down as people will work with pride to help the company that they want to be part of grow. When people work with passion, they can create perceptible quality in products or services. Such a company's brand gets magnified when it becomes a subject of discussion in society, which automatically would lead to increased profitability, or even becoming the industry benchmark. India's vision in the next 20 years should be to climb the value led market. It requires only guts and brainware to get there.

 

Shombit Sengupta is an international creative business strategy consultant to top management. Reach him at www.shiningconsulting.com

 

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THE INDIAN EXPRESS

COLUMN

MYTHS OF AUSTERITY

PAUL KRUGMAN

 

When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions.

 

Which brings me to the subject of today's column. For the last few months, I and others have watched, with amazement and horror, the emergence of a consensus in policy circles in favour of immediate fiscal austerity. That is, somehow it has become conventional wisdom that now is the time to slash spending, despite the fact that the world's major economies remain deeply depressed.

 

This conventional wisdom isn't based on either evidence or careful analysis. Instead, it rests on what we might charitably call sheer speculation, and less charitably call figments of the policy elite's imagination—specifically, on belief in what I've come to think of as the invisible bond vigilante and the confidence fairy.

 

Bond vigilantes are investors who pull the plug on governments they perceive as unable or unwilling to pay their debts. Now there's no question that countries can suffer crises of confidence (see Greece, debt of). But what the advocates of austerity claim is that (a) the bond vigilantes are about to attack America, and (b) spending anything more on stimulus will set them off.

 

What reason do we have to believe that any of this is true? Yes, America has long-run budget problems, but what we do on stimulus over the next couple of years has almost no bearing on our ability to deal with these long-run problems.

 

Nonetheless, every few months we're told that the bond vigilantes have arrived, and we must impose austerity now now now to appease them.

 

Since then, long-term rates have plunged again. Far from fleeing US government debt, investors evidently see it as their safest bet in a stumbling economy. Yet the advocates of austerity still assure us that bond vigilantes will attack any day now if we don't slash spending immediately.

 

But don't worry: spending cuts may hurt, but the confidence fairy will take away the pain. "The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect," declared Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, in a recent interview. Why? Because "confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery."

 

What's the evidence for the belief that fiscal contraction is actually expansionary, because it improves confidence? Well, there have been historical cases of spending cuts and tax increases followed by economic growth. But as far as I can tell, every one of those examples proves, on closer examination, to be a case in which the negative effects of austerity were offset by other factors, factors not likely to be relevant today. For example, Ireland's era of austerity-with-growth in the 1980s depended on a drastic move from trade deficit to trade surplus, which isn't a strategy everyone can pursue at the same time.

 

And current examples of austerity are anything but encouraging. Ireland has been a good soldier in this crisis, grimly implementing savage spending cuts. Its reward has been a Depression-level slump and financial markets continue to treat it as a serious default risk. Other good soldiers, like Latvia and Estonia, have done even worse and all three nations have, believe it or not, had worse slumps in output and employment than Iceland, which was forced by the sheer scale of its financial crisis to adopt less orthodox policies.

 

So the next time you hear serious-sounding people explaining the need for fiscal austerity, try to parse their argument. Almost surely, you'll discover that what sounds like hardheaded realism actually rests on a foundation of fantasy. NYT

 

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THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS

EDITORIAL

AN UNHEALTHY ROT

 

The tussle between the Union minister of state for health, Dinesh Trivedi, and his ministry officials—the minister charged his bureaucrats of lacking accountability—may have cropped up over a relatively small issue like the setting up of a portal, but the malaise in the health ministry runs much deeper. The fact that the health ministry and the sector it governs is one of the most unreformed in the government has been evident for a while—from the systematic fraud and corruption in the World Bank-aided projects that were revealed a few years ago to the massive scam in the Medical Council of India more recently. Neither the ministry's bureaucrats nor its political leadership can absolve themselves from the blame. India's health sector has been one of the most ignored areas of the economy. Historically, public expenditure on health has been among the lowest in the world and it is only very recently that health financing has received some attention, with the government planning to almost treble the outlays from 1% of GDP in the middle of the decade to 3% by 2011-12. But in the meanwhile, the country continues to lag substantially in health care facilities.

 

An international comparison shows that the government's share of spending in the health sector in India during the latter half of the decade was just about 25%, which is significantly lower than the global average of 60% and the 47% share in low-income countries. The results have been dismal. The ratio of hospital beds, doctors and nurses for every thousand people in India was only 0.9, 0.6 and 1.3, respectively. This was less than half of that even in Pakistan (2, 1.8 and 3.9) and less than that in Brazil (2.4, 1.7 and 2.9). Adding to the problems was the inefficient use of the available infrastructure, with absenteeism among health workers in India touching 40%. The crunch in funds and infrastructure has ensured that India has lagged even in immunisation programmes. While the rate of immunisation for DTP3 and measles was only 66% and 70% in India, it was much higher in even Bangladesh at 95% and 89%. However, part of the blame should also be borne by the states that account for about three-fourths of the total government spending on health. But then, unlike in education or other central ministries dealing with social sector programmes, the health ministry has singularly shown a lack of vision that would be hard to beat.

 

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THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS

EDITORIAL

STAYING INTERESTED

 

RBI has taken a decision to hike both repo and reverse repo rates by 25 basis points each, well before it was due to present its monetary policy review for the first quarter of 2010-11 on July 27. Clearly, inflation continues to be a major worry for the central bank even though food inflation had come down to just under 13% in the most recent statistics. The worry, of course, is that inflation has already moved into items beyond just food, and that prompted the need to undertake some demand management, or at least send out a strong signal of RBI's future intent—25 basis points is a small hike. While a gradual upward movement in interest rates is inevitable, there is reason for RBI to be cautious about raising rates quickly. And this is because the global economic situation is looking increasingly fragile. The major European economies, and the PIGS, which now form the epicentre of the crisis, have pledged to cut spending and reduce debt drastically. In the short run, this may choke growth in Europe, which will have spillover effects in the US and the emerging economies, including India. But that may still be the best of all the potential outcomes of the European debt crisis.

 

There is a grave danger that many highly indebted countries in Europe will not be able to undertake the scale of cuts required. The political economy of Europe, long dependent on a generous welfare state, will resist drastic cutbacks. The jury is still out in a number of countries on whether deficit and debt reduction will happen quickly enough. There is also the problem of moral hazard now that the EU and IMF have arranged a bailout fund for stricken European economies. At the other end of the debt game are numerous global banks and financial institutions that will find it difficult to cope with another round of toxic assets on their balance sheets. What makes the situation in Europe even more delicate is the almost complete disinterest in carrying out major structural reforms of many sclerotic, overregulated economies. Ultimately, only structural reform can unleash the growth that can help a faster repayment of debt. So, while Europe dithers and tries to manage the crisis, the rest of the world needs to be on high alert. The last thing RBI would like to do is to hike rates sharply and then receive a direct hit from something that happens in Europe.

 

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THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS

COLUMN

RUBBER RACING

SANJEEB MUKHERJEE

 

Rubber prices are burning. Fuelled by rising auto sales, tyre demand has shot up, putting severe upward pressure on rubber prices. Tyre makers consume almost 60% of the total rubber produced in the country. Between April and May 2010, auto sales jumped by 28% as compared to the same period last year, while exports grew by a staggering 68%. Consequently, prices of RSS 4 grade rubber rose by 19.1% between Jan-Apr. At present, they are hovering at an all-time high of Rs 18,000 per metric tonne and could even top Rs 20,000 if demand doesn't slow down.

 

This price rise is purely on account of a demand-supply mismatch, as production has risen in 2010, albeit slower than the demand. Rubber demand in 2010 is expected to rise by 12%, mainly because of scorching auto sales in emerging economies and huge imports by China. Meanwhile, global production is projected to rise by just 5.2%, down from a May growth estimate of 6.1%. The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, a conglomeration of the major rubber producing countries, now feels that global natural rubber production would be around 9.384 million metric tonne in 2010. Of this, the bulk would be contributed by Thailand, Malaysia, China, India and Vietnam. These, incidentally, are also some of the biggest consumers of rubber.

 

It is projected that rubber prices will remain high, at least in the next few months, as there is limited scope for supplies to improve due to climate constraints, the unfavourable age structure of existing trees, acute labour shortage in plantations and the rising number of small holdings that limit the possibilities of enhancing yields using short-term measures. Output in Thailand, the world's largest rubber producer, fell 13.3% YoY in April due to a longer-than-normal winter.

 

Although production in India, the world's fourth largest rubber producer, is expected to rise by almost 8% in 2010-11 and demand is projected to grow by 6%, inflationary tendencies have not been curbed. This has prompted the rubber industry to raise doubts over output estimates made by the Rubber Board. Some are calling for a ban on futures trading. That would be a bad idea.

 

—sanjeeb.mukherjee@expressindia.com

 

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THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS

COLUMN

SHALE GAS CAN TRANSFORM ENERGY

NOOR MOHAMMAD

 

India has started preparations to explore and exploit its shale gas reserves. This was expected after the US started large-scale production of shale gas. The recent US success in shale gas production has also encouraged others like China to explore their own basins for the non-conventional gas. Meanwhile, international oil companies have also rushed to invest in shale gas acreages, apparently in a bid to get a first-mover advantage in a business that has the potential to transform the world's energy scenario.

 

It is not that shale gas reserves were not known earlier. The only thing was that cost economics of shale gas production was not competitive. But now that conventional energy sources are depleting fast, exploitation of shale gas reserves is fast becoming a commercially viable option. It is not surprising that oil companies are rushing to take a piece of the emerging shale gas business. The fine print of the growing interest in shale gas is that the world is running short of cheaper energy sources and now is the time to exploit costlier ones. Production cost of shale gas is higher compared to natural gas because of the complex technique required for its production.

 

World crude oil prices tumbled from the peak of $147 a barrel in July 2008 to $35 a barrel in December that

year following the global financial crisis. But the prices recovered soon. International crude oil prices were in the range of $85 a barrel in May this year, even though the world economy was yet to recover from the recession. Global crude oil prices fell to the level of $68 a barrel after the onset of the Eurozone debt crisis. However, oil has recovered the lost ground since then. This shows the resilience of the oil market.

 

Before it started production of shale gas, the US used to be a big LNG importer. But domestic shale gas has helped the world's largest energy consumer to significantly reduce its dependence on imported gas, sending international LNG prices crashing. Spot LNG prices had hit the level of $22 per mmbtu during the first half of 2008. But prices have since come down to $4-5 per mmbtu. The growing interest in shale gas also reflects a new thinking to exploit local energy resources to achieve faster economic growth. It takes a relatively long time to convert mineral ores into finished products. So ores can be imported. But converting crude oil into refined products like petrol and diesel is a much shorter process. This is the reason countries across the world are shifting attention to exploiting local energy resources. Renewed interest in shale gas is part of the same pattern.

 

India may finally find big shale gas reserves. However, evolving a cost-competitive economic model would be crucial to large-scale production of shale gas. Shale gas should compete with imported LNG rather than domestic conventional gas, given its high cost of production. US shale gas may have cooled world LNG prices for the now but once the global economy again gets back on the track, prices should harden.

 

India heavily depends on domestic coal to meet its primary energy consumption requirements. But now it is planning to shift its energy consumption pattern toward natural gas in a bid to reduce its carbon emissions as part of the commitment to fight global warming. The biggest obstacle to achieving the shift is the domestic demand-supply gap. India has been importing LNG to meet domestic gas shortfall, which is in the range of 25-30%. But India has secured only a small quantity of imported LNG under long-term contract. It has to meet the bulk of its LNG requirement from the spot market, which closely follows movement in the international crude oil market. This is the reason bulk users like power and fertiliser sectors have been rather hesitant about using LNG as fuel or feedstock. The government is paying a huge subsidy on cooking fuel LPG on the ground that it is a clean fuel. Shale gas is also a clean source of energy and can replace LPG in urban areas if city gas distribution network is expanded. However, growth of the sector remains hampered because of domestic gas shortage.

 

India will need to invest heavily in building infrastructure, like LNG import terminals, storage facilities and re-gasification plants, if it is to undertake large-scale import of LNG. Perhaps for this reason, India has not shown much urgency to go for long-term LNG supply contracts despite the precipitous fall in LNG prices.

 

If India succeeds in producing shale gas on a large scale, it would help its plan to move towards cleaner energy consumption in the long run, without having to invest much. It is good that ONGC has started research work on shale gas business through a pilot project. RIL is also trying to get a fix on shale gas business through its investment in US shale gas acreages.

 

—noor.md@expressindia.com

 

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THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS

COLUMN

OF FOOTBALL AND ECONOMIC STRATEGY

MICHAEL WALTON

 

The World Cup (of football, for those who have been missing it) is not only a huge global sporting event, a source of elation and despair, of triumph and humiliation, but also both model and metaphor for national economic performance. It vividly exemplifies how the success of nations in today's world flows from both globalisation and institutionally grounded national strategies.

 

The biggest profile is given to individual football stars, especially attackers such as the 'little magician' Lionel Messi of Argentina, or the egotistical Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (thankfully out of the competition now). But the real stories lie in the blend of inspiration with collective organisation. And this is where national history and strategy come in.

 

This was the first World Cup on African soil. At one level, African teams disappointed: only Ghana made it to the knock-out phase of the competition and (at the time of writing) to the quarter finals. Yet relative to their size and national prosperity, African teams actually performed above what would have been predicted. Ghana, indeed, knocked out the US, for the second World Cup running, when the US has 13 times more people and is 36 times richer in per capita terms.

 

Many European teams have also been struggling. England, economic leader in the Industrial Revolution, inventor of football, and never short of illusions of footballing grandeur, went out early in a classic humiliation from rivals Germany. France and Italy, the two finalists from the 2006 World Cup, did even worse, not even making it to the knock-out phase. France went out with a stunning blend of drama, dissension and dismal play, even managing French-style industrial action on the way, when players refused to practice before the last key match. Italy was just depressed. At times it seemed as if the collective trauma of the global financial crisis and Europe's relative decline was infecting team performance. By contrast, South American teams, somewhat shielded from the financial crisis by the prudent legacy of their many past crises, have done particularly well. But the parallel breaks down: Spain looks very good despite its sovereign debt premium!

 

The structural story is actually not one of a shifting centre of global economic power in football. European club football remains the epicentre. The English, Italian and Spanish leagues are extraordinarily wealthy, with corporate clubs built on consumer passion, lucrative broadcasting money and brand income. Many clubs—Manchester United, for example—are publicly listed capitalist firms. Others are more like personal fiefdoms, reminiscent of crony capitalism: Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi owns AC Milan, and billionaires from Russia, Thailand (briefly) and the Gulf have been buying up trophy clubs.

 

Whatever the form of ownership, money has been pouring into the elite clubs. And top European club competition has come to define the global technological frontier of football, in terms of both talent and techniques. The global elite of players is now truly international. Internazionale, Milan's other team, won this year's UEFA Champions League and the major Italian competitions with an Argentine captain, a Colombian vice-captain and not one Italian in their first choice team. Africa provides some of the best players in Europe. In a wonderful vignette of global linkage, two brothers of Ghanaian heritage played in the Germany versus Ghana game—one on each side.

 

Globalisation also applies to technique and organisation. Football is highly technical and European club competition defines the techniques. Brazil, historically proud of its joga bonito (play beautiful), now plays a highly technical European game, but does so very well, and with the flashes of brilliance needed to break down other defences.

 

So, globalisation of talent and technique is part of the story. The other part of national success concerns what economists have slowly been waking up to in interpreting economic performance—the role of institutions. In football, both historically shaped cultural traditions and contemporary organisation matters. Europe, South America and Africa all have long footballing traditions. Asia's is more recent. Germany's recent success has flowed from organisation and their capacity to nurture young domestic talent. While England has less than 3,000 top football coaches, Germany has almost 35,000, by the European governing board's standards. By contrast, while many African teams increasingly have the talent pool—thanks to globalisation—they have so far lacked the depth in national leagues and business organisation to build effective national teams, and have relied on imports of foreign coaches.

 

In football, as in economic strategy, the achievement of success depends on deep integration into global markets and techniques. But global integration is not enough. Of equal importance is the development of national institutional processes, to nurture the talent and capabilities, to solve the organisational challenges of building a collective enterprise, and to do this on the basis of local cultural traditions.

 

—The author is at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Centre for Policy Research

 

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THE HINDU

EDITORIAL

PEOPLE OF THE SAME GOTRA DO NOT NECESSARILY HAVE THE SAME ORIGIN

PEOPLE OF A GOTRA DESCEND FROM FAMILIES OF DIFFERENT ORIGIN. MOREOVER, THE GENES UNDERGO CHANGE IN COURSE OF TIME AS THE SPOUSES COME FROM DIFFERENT PARENTS

M. V. ANJANEYALU


At last, the murderers of Manoj and Babli were sentenced to death. However, the bigwigs of khap panchayats or caste councils in Haryana, who ordered the couples killed, are endeavouring to mobilise people demanding amendments to the Hindu Marriages Act in favour of barring intra-village and intra-clan marriages. Here, we have to deal with the question why the people are rallying round them and how to wean them away from the abominable khap panchayats.

There is the argument that "though there is nothing illegal about it, the local society prohibits one's marriage within one's village and gotra (clan)" as it considers it immoral. The feeling of immorality pivots on an age-old belief that marriage should not take place between intra-clan (sagotra) and intra-village couples. The male and the female of the same clan are treated as brother and sister and hence the marriage between them is taboo.

 

Intra-village marriages are common in India and the argument against it is not tenable though the ban does exist in some northern states like Haryana. But why are the intra-clan marriages prohibited? A strong belief is that since a couple belonging to the same gotra are the descendants of the same ancestral origin for several generations, they have the relation of brother and sister.

 

In India, the clan (gotra) has its origin not in the birth of people but derives from the gurus they followed. For example, families belonging to the Bharadwaja gotra are the followers of Bharadwaja Maharishi. But it does not necessarily mean that all its members belong to the same family. Different families in the same caste might have followed Bharadwaja Maharishi; hence so they acquired the name of Bharadwaja gotra.

 

Likewise, clans might have come into existence. In some castes, the clans were created by their profession and not by birth. For example, the main clans in Viswakarmas (Viswabrahmins) trace their origin to their occupation. They have five main gotras — Saanaga, Sanatana, Ahabhoonasa, Patnarasa and Suparnasa. Saanaga denotes blacksmithy. Sanatana denotes carpentry, Ahabhoonasa metallurgical works, Patnarasa sculptures and Suparnasa goldsmithy. There are some other gotras among Viswakarmas. So the people of the same gotra in the above said clans do not necessarily belong to same origin of birth or family. However, marriages among the same clan were banned.

 

We can trace the ancestry of families up to 10 or 15 generations. Beyond that it is not possible to go back. But how can the families having the same gotra say that they have descended from one source of family since time immemorial?

 

Moreover, we can see the name of the same gotra in different castes. For example, the Bharadwaja gotra can be found in both Brahmins and Viswakarmas. Marriages between Brahmins and Viswakarmas were banned not on the basis of gotra, but on the basis of caste. Moreover, marriages within the same caste are banned not on the basis of gotra, but on the basis of cult. For example, Brahmins have 18 cults. Inter-cult marriages among Brahmins are banned on the basis of their cult. The Reddy community has innumerable kinds and marriages between different kinds are banned.

 

To augment numbers

 

If so, why were intra-clan marriages banned? Intra-clan marriages were banned not because of brother-sister relations. They were banned in order to augment society of their ilk. For example, if marriages are allowed within the Bharadwaja gotra, the followers of Bharadwaja will become limited. If a bride is picked up from another gotra, she will become a new member of the followers of Bharadwaja, thereby increasing the number of the followers. This might be the reason why intra-clan marriages were banned.

 

Nowadays, it has become a practice to distort science in favour of traditional arguments. Such is one about the genes in the clan. Pseudo-theoreticians say that as the genes descend from the same ancestor within a clan, marriages within the clan will trouble the offspring because of the conjugation of the same genes; that is why, the argument goes, our elders prohibited marriages within a clan. This theory is baseless because the people of a gotra descend from the families of different origin as we saw above. Moreover, the genes undergo change in course of time as the spouses come from different parents.

 

Thus, it can be deduced that families bearing the same gotra are not the descendants of the same origin. They do not belong to the same family. Hence, it cannot be said that a male and female from the families of the same gotra have the relation of brother and sister. This should be inculcated in not only the people of Haryana, but the whole of India so that this kind of superstition and age-old beliefs are eliminated.

 

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THE HINDU

OPEN PAGE

WHOSE HONOUR ARE THEY PROTECTING BY KILLING THEIR CHILDREN?

THE FATE OF WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH COMPROMISING THE HONOUR OF THE FAMILY OR SOCIETY WITH ACTS LIKE MARRYING WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE FAMILY AND OUTSIDE THE CASTE... HAS USUALLY BEEN SEALED IN BLOOD TO REAFFIRM MALE DOMINION

RAGINI NAYAK

 

The concept of "honour" is intriguing. In essence, it relates to a sense of pride, respect and dignity attached to the very existence of a social being but endeavours for its sustenance have been extremely violent. To understand why a concept so noble has led to inhumane actions against certain sections of society, two issues have to be dealt with: the paradox of traditional values and changing times, and the patriarchal connection.

 

First, the traditional concept of honour belongs to what Lord Bhikhu Parekh calls in his essay "The modern conception of right and its Marxist critique — a pre-modern society," where there was no concrete individualisation of rights. Rights belonged to the realm of community/society. Honour like rights was a communal virtue in such a society and was viewed as a collective matter. There was no scope of a clash between individual rights and norms of societal honour. But post-17th century, in the modern conception of rights, the individual was regarded as its primary bearer. Since then, on the one hand, individuals have become aware of their rights, powers and capacities; and on the other, they have got detached from social background and relations. Communal ties and customary bonds got loosened. With every new generation, individuals became more independent and self-assertive, especially with respect to their own lives and related decisions.

 

The concept of rights evolved with changing times but the concept of honour lingered on with its feudal, paternalistic, communal presence. Thus, for a long time now, a large number of individuals have wanted to step out of the rigid, constrictive and suppressive clutches of this vestigial honour, which is a misfit in today's social context.

 

Also, traditions evolve and change with time. Over the years, each new experience shapes up traditions according to the needs and perspective of society. They are not concretised orders which have to be followed till eternity. Traditions evolve out of the ways of life and so, they have to change with the changing ways of life.

 

'Sati Pratha' was once a social norm and every 'virtuous' woman was supposed to voluntarily burn herself alive on the funeral pyre of her husband. But today, it is not just illegal but considered to be one of the most inhumane practices. Thus the traditional concept of honour has to be re-defined, keeping in mind the process of individualisation that has very effectively taken place in society, giving more space for individual volition.

 

Secondly, what is even more perplexing about the concept of honour is the rigidity defining its contours with respect to women. Catherine Mac Kinnon, a renowned feminist, wrote, "Male dominion is perhaps the most pervasive and tenacious system of power in history...its force is exercised as consent, its authority as participation, its control as the definition of legitimacy." The regime of honour is ruled by such male dominion. The fate of women who have been charged with compromising the honour of the family or society with acts like marrying without the consent of the family and outside the caste, being the victim of sexual assault, seeking a divorce, refusing to cover hair, faces, or bodies, dating or behaving in ways that are considered too independent, has usually been sealed in blood to reaffirm male dominion in the garb of upholding such honour, so much so that honour seems to be a male term now. Men seem to be the guardians of honour — personal, familial and social. Women seem to be the debasers. In this regime of honour, women's existence is reduced to a manifestation of honour or dishonour for men. Interpretations of honour are strongly connected with female chastity and conformity with the dictums prescribed by the other half of society. As a result of highly internalised patriarchal conditioning, coupled with legitimacy for coercion to enforce compliance, violence has become a tool that men use to restrict "transgressing" women in the name of honour. This violence is represented as "honour crimes" which, many a time, have social approval and endow the perpetrator with a "tragic virtue" which aims at diluting the gravity of the crime.

 

The present concept of honour is based on sheer power dynamics — the need to control. In this context, the constitution and role of khap panchyats cannot be overlooked. There is hardly ever a woman or young person present during the meetings of these panchayats. It is the old guard of the dominant castes of the village that passes dictums calling them consensual decisions. This one-dimensional perspective of society represented in such panchayats consolidates physical, mental, social and cultural control by this dominant section.

 

Violence in the name of honour must be combated as an obstacle to the enjoyment of basic human rights. The fundamental rights and individual acts of enjoyment of these rights should not be looked upon as degradation of honour. Honour crimes against women must be addressed from a rights-based perspective treating women as equal subjects of rights as men are.

 

(The writer is a former national general secretary, NSUI and former president, Delhi University Students Union. email: ragini_nayak@yahoo.co.in)

 

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THE HINDU

OPEN PAGE

WE ARE CASTELESS, GIVE US OUR DUE

K. ALAGESAN

 

As the government of India is seriously considering the question of undertaking caste census, we, inter-caste couples, request that a census of inter-caste couples, who have chosen to lead a life away from the casteist social order, be undertaken.

 

Our Constitution envisages a casteless society. But our social order is basically caste-ridden. The Supreme Court has said that the caste system is a curse. The sooner it is destroyed, the better. For that to happen, inter-caste marriage is the only remedy. In fact, such marriages will be in the nation's interest. Throughout India, crores of people have married across castes, discarding the oppressive caste system. They relinquish all rituals and practices connected with their caste. They go straight to the Registrar of Marriages, get their marriage registered and start to live as man and wife. Their offspring are naturally casteless.

 

The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution set up under the Chairmanship of Justice M. Venkatachalaiah, former Chief Justice of India, in 2000 has recommended a separate reservation of 0.5 % to the sons and daughters of inter-caste couples. It should be considered reservation for the casteless. Inter-caste marriage is considered a "dishonour" by the caste-ridden society. Hence it ostracises such couples and social sanctions are imposed on them.

 

Even where marriages are tolerated, a certain degree of subtle and not-so-subtle social excommunication is practised against them. Such couples plough a lonely furrow living away from society. So it is not justifiable to identify the inter-caste couples and their offspring as belonging to either of the castes. If caste census is decided upon, a census of the casteless couple, namely inter-caste couples and their offspring, should also be undertaken.

 

If the caste-oriented political parties could champion the cause of a caste census, it is the government's duty to see that people outside caste are also enumerated and identified so that reservation and other benefits could be given to them.

 

(The writer is State president, Tamil Nadu Inter-Caste Married Couples Association)

 

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THE HINDU

OPEN PAGE

HEY DOCTORS! IT IS GREEK AND LATIN TO US

PRAKASH T JOHN


The medical world is obsessed with jargon. Stay in a hospital for a few days, you will be bombarded with terms such as HbA1c, PP, glaucoma and hypokinetic loops. Yes, hospitals are passionate about bringing health to patients. Yet, they seem to be missing a point on the impact of their communication with the patients.

A doctor's prescription cannot be easily read even by the educated. The better the doctor, the worse is his hand-writing. With his added fame, it becomes the worst. However, doctors easily understand someone else's prescriptions due to their familiarity with the medical terms. Is the prescription meant for the patient or the doctor community?

 

Prescriptions are written in great hurry. Ornilox 1 — 1 means one tablet of Ornilox to be taken in the morning and evening. Is it before or after meal? Not sure. Can we do 1A — 1A for after meal and 1B — 1B for before meal? Can we make the communication a bit friendlier for the anxious lot of sick people through simple steps so that they can take the medicine on time in appropriate dosage?

 

Medical reports are Miltonian. What does one understand out of " CT study reveals that dilated loops with slow transmit of oral contrast suggestive of hypokinetic loops – to be correlated for subacute intestinal obstruction?" It approximately means "dilated loops with slow movement of colour fluid fed orally suggestive of less active loops – to be correlated for semi acute intestinal blockage." Can we develop a simpler language here?

 

What does one make of a kidney showing symmetrical uptake of contrast and a gall bladder unremarkable? Is it a good kidney or a bad bladder? Swelling becomes distention in reports; intestine gets renamed bowel, over-active intestine becomes hyperkinetic bowel and less active gets reworded as hypo. Urinary bladder is shown as attenuated in some reports and the spleen as enhanced in yet another one.

 

How does a layman or even the best of literates understand their sickness from such a report so that they can deal with it? It is finally the patient who needs a precise understanding of the sickness to fight it rather than the doctor or the radiologist. Can we get back to intestine instead of bowel or at the least show it in brackets? Can PP be shown also as "after meal sugar" and HbA1c as "three months average sugar?" Can a vegetable vendor use the term cocos nucifera when the buyer needs a coconut?

 

The medical world does need the terminologies for precise communication between the doctor and the laboratories. In this urge to be scientifically precise, the struggle of the patient is ignored.

 

Do not forget, though, hospitals are rendering an admirable service. Millions go in sick and come out healthy to live longer and contribute more to society and to their families. For this reason every hospital is a success story. Every doctor, nurse or radiologist is a life-giver. However, they can help these millions of patients fight their anxieties a bit more easily by communicating in a language that they speak or by giving an interpretation of reports that they can follow.Hospitals have a department called "Casualty." The dictionary definition of "casualty" is a person killed or injured. Do they kill or give life? Come on, let us give it a new name which is far more relevant — "Urgent Care Unit (UCU)." This rhymes well with Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well.

At the end, as it is stated at the end of every medical report, let all these ideas be considered for a clinical correlation and further evaluation!!!

 

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THE HINDU

NEWS ANALYSIS

BHOPAL: A CONTINUING TRAGEDY

MY LITTLE GIRL IS MARRIED NOW BUT SHE CAN'T BEAR CHILDREN. ALL DUE TO THE GASSHE INHALED AS A CHILD, SAYS A VICTIM'S MOTHER

RUPALI SINHA


December 2-3 1984, Union Carbide India Limited, Bhopal. Barely a toddler in my mother's arms, the tragedy and enormity of that night was much beyond my years. Twenty-five years later, on a recent visit to the Madhya Pradesh capital, I decided to talk to people who were actually there that fateful day.

 

The first person I spoke to was a very old woman named Mohini. What she narrated went somewhat like this. "Marriage season was on. So when the initial commotion started I thought maybe it was some function somewhere. …Then someone shouted that gas is leaking and outside there was a mad rush of people trying to outrun the lethal gas. On the roads people were falling down and dying and getting trampled upon by the ones following behind. I too ran with my family.

 

"Amid the turmoil my youngest child, my two-year-old daughter got lost. I asked my husband to take our other four kids to safety and ran back to get my missing child. Luckily, I found her and somehow managed a safe return." That little girl is married now but she cannot bear children. All due to the gas she inhaled as a child.

 

While we were at it, the person serving us tea looked up. There was pain on his face while he narrated his personal tragedy. His father inhaled so much methyl isocyanate (MIC) that he died a few days later. His death was not recognised as death due to poisoning and his son was denied the compensation due to the next of kin of victims. Moreover, his wife became mentally deranged. She sometimes runs naked out of the bathroom shouting, "run …run …the gas is leaking." He has to wrap her up and comfort her in times like these. This is her condition, even 25 years after the incident.

 

The Rs.25,000 he got for her is of little comfort.

 

From the government there is nothing in store for Mohini's little girl, who can never be a mother in her life, not that her pain and sorrow can be quantified in monetary terms.

 

These are just a few people but there are many others like them who are suffering even today just because some company was so busy making profits that it looked upon the most necessary safety measures as a waste of resources. But this was what a foreign company did to them.

 

What about their own so-called government? Till date, no proper survey method has been adopted to identify the victims or other affected persons. Naturally, the compensation process is skewed, leaving out many deserving candidates like the aforementioned ones.

 

Bringing the guilty to book is justifiable and should be done but in the process let us not forget our duty towards our own people. Adequate compensation to deserving candidates is just one of those little things which we can actually do, while they deal with their own real life nightmares of that night.

 

(The writer's email: rupali_sinha@ rediffmail.com)

 

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THE ASIAN AGE

EDITORIAL

AVOID DEBATE, FOCUS ON STRATEGY

 

It is time to go about shaping and refining the anti-Naxalite strategy without breast-beating or fanfare. And certainly we can do without the loud, controversial and unproductive debate on the deployment of the Army and the Air Force which has been made edgy on account of political one-upmanship engaged in by those who place a premium on flag-waving and call themselves "strong". Last Tuesday's attack by the Naxalites on a CRPF party in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh, which killed 27 jawans, was tragedy piled upon tragedy. In early April, 76 CRPF men had been ambushed and slain by Maoists in Dantewada district in the same state. In the intervening period, a group of eight of the same Central police force were blown up in their jeep, also in Narayanpur. The sequence of events — each being similar in nature, relating to assaults on road opening parties or attacks in the process of area domination — suggests that procedures followed by the security forces may suffer from weaknesses. Alternatively, the procedures are not being implemented according to the rules of jungle warfare.


It is for professionals to do a meaningful critique of the conduct of the CRPF combat units in hostile terrain where the road network is pitiful, communications difficult, and the area bigger than a couple of European countries taken together. Instead, the bogey of lack of coordination between the state police and the CRPF is being raised. This is a pity. The irresponsible innuendo can only do disservice to the leaderships of both forces, and demoralise the men under their command. It must also be taken into account that a succession of Maoist attacks has taken place in other states too. Of late, Jharkhand and West Bengal have been in the news on this account. Of course, it needs to be analysed why greater losses are being sustained by a Central paramilitary force (CPMF) in Chhattisgarh as compared to other Maoist-infested states, where the local state police appear to be taking more hits, relatively speaking. Does this point to particular territorial or administrative features of Chhattisgarh, or of Naxalite military dispositions in that state? Instead of looking at such specifics, which might have a bearing on the efficiency of the security forces in the future, we seem to have developed the special faculty of converting every operational setback into a political discussion. Such an approach can only comfort the elements the dedicated jawans are fighting in difficult circumstances.


There appears to be some thinking in the government that the deployment of CRPF units needs to change as it is based on threat assessments for different locations made five or six years ago. This is understandable. Men should be sent where they are most needed. However, this matter does not appear to be connected with the issue of high-profile Maoist attacks on our forces when they are engaged in routine operations such as road-widening or area domination to keep the insurgents at bay. It is important that we ask the right questions and not be diverted by esoteric discussions, such as the one concerning sending of the Army at least in non-combat roles. It also appears to be the case that the changing nature of Maoist tactics over the years, and the greater sophistication of the military equipment they have managed to procure through clandestine channels, need to be factored in as a part of the training and drill the counter-insurgency units are put through. It is better training, innovations in methods to counter the insurgents, better equipment, more advanced terrain-related tactics, and an upgrade of the intelligence apparatus which are needed to deal with the Naxalites. Let's focus on these with due diligence and not be carried away by arcane meanderings.

 

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THE ASIAN AGE

OPINION

ENGAGE ALL IN J&K

ARUN NEHRU

 

India lives in many dimensions. As we hurtle towards attaining "superpower" status, we are confronted with serious security issues, both internal and external. We see this in the increased violence in Jammu and Kashmir and in yet another daring and deadly attack by the Maoists.


Over the past three weeks, security forces in J&K have come under immense pressure from those with vested interests. It is very sad that while 53 Central Reserve Police Force jawans were injured in the clashes, civilian casualties have risen to 11. Given the fact that hardline separatists and anti-national elements have their own agenda, and are linked to the fragmented power politics in Islamabad, we cannot consider these incidents in isolation. Though home minister P. Chidambaram has made a successful visit to Pakistan, voicing concern about the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the fact is that the extreme elements within Pakistan are completely isolated and will make their presence felt through violence.  


Jammu and Kashmir needs a great deal of political attention. The people of J&K have done their bit by coming out in large numbers to vote in the Assembly elections. Now it is the turn of both the Central and the state government to deliver. Besides the National Conference, it is vital for the Congress to spread its wings in the Valley. The Centre must engage with the People's Democratic Party's Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti on current and other issues.


For the past five decades, the most difficult thing in Kashmir has been to segregate issues as there is a very thin line between internal political issues and claims raised by anti-national elements. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah needs assistance at all levels as the situation might get worse before there is an improvement. The theory of effective and good governance seems easy when written or spoken about but the ground reality can be very different. We have to rally all our resources to battle this menace and the Centre has an important part to play in this process.

 

THOUGH THERE has been fresh violence in Chhattisgarh where Maoists killed 27 paramilitary troopers in Bastar region, from media reports we see that a great deal of progress has been made in gathering intelligence. The arrest and detention of Maoist cadres, along with raids that have led to seizures of arms and ammunition, are indications that effective governance is beginning to take shape in Naxal-infested states. This, by itself, will be a warning to those casually associated with this extreme violence.


There are also measures to provide basic facilities in the tribal areas of several states. This needs to be highlighted by performance on the ground by both the Central and the state governments. We have seen images of those arrested for the train blasts and other crimes and it's clear that we are dealing with a different kind of extremism, one that requires a different approach. Hopefully, saner elements on all sides will find a way to put an end to this violence. Non-governmental organisations, social activists and intellectuals, all have an important role to play. Anyone with human sensitivity and feelings cannot but be moved by the poverty levels in these areas. Whilst this is no excuse for killing innocent civilians, it would be a pity if the voice of reason was lost in the sound of gunfire. There are many in these states who have experience of these situations and we must listen to them, especially since we know that a small militant minority with strong financial vested interests can keep all sides in a state of prolonged conflict.


I have written several times about the political system being held captive by financial criminal interests. What we are witnessing today in the mining sector is a deliberate and systematic loot of national resources. Little can happen without the active participation of the state. We have a crisis in Karnataka where the Reddy brothers hold the Bharatiya Janata Party to ransom. But is the situation any different in Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Haryana, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh?


The "mafia" is able to hold the political system hostage as it is a source of political funding. That's why little will change beyond the immediate crisis as almost everyone, cutting across party lines, is involved in one form or another. For example, look at the Madhu Koda scam which dominated media headlines where Rs 4,000 crores was looted from the state. But has anything happened beyond the ritual statements?
The political system is also being held to ransom by caste and religious votebanks and I do not know in which category we can put the khap panchayats. While law minister M. Veerappa Moily has agreed to amend the law on honour killings, the fact is that many politicians favour khap panchayats. This is true in the issue of a caste census, which is before various committees — there is reason to believe that it has significant support in Parliament.


Good governance is about legislating for the future needs of society but we have still not reached that stage of decision-making. We only react when disaster strikes.

 

THE GROUP OF TWENTY meet on the global economy was a good indicator of the power pattern emerging in the immediate future and it is good to see India playing an important role in this decision-making body. The immediate problem is Europe as a single entity and the situation in the United Kingdom is far from encouraging. All former colonial powers — stripped of their colonies and their commercial advantages over the past 50 years — are struggling with economic issues associated with the Third World. It would be rather unfortunate if they devised immigration controls that are racial in nature. I think it is time that the external affairs ministry urgently looked into these issues. Reciprocal action is necessary on many issues as many nations live in the distant past instead of paying attention to the global realities.


We need not worry too much about the gloom and doom theory being propounded in certain countries in Europe. The past month has indicated there can be no decoupling in global trade but the impact will vary from nation to nation. We have much to do as we strive towards a possible nine per cent gross domestic product growth for the current year.

 

Arun Nehru is a former Union Minister

 

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THE ASIAN AGE

OPINION

DISASTER STRIKES WHEN SPIES DON'T TALK

IRFAN HUSAIN

 

The recent revelations about a Russian spy network working under deep cover in the US gives us the farcical side of espionage. The fact that the Russian suspects had been under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance for 10 years without the Americans being able to uncover what secret information they had actually sent back to Moscow says as much about the spies as it does about the years of wasted counter-intelligence efforts.


All too often, spooks have little idea about why they are doing what they are ordered to do. Years ago, I met an official from one of our many intelligence agencies who confessed that he and his colleagues routinely wasted hundreds of hours following Opposition politicians around. He had no idea what happened to the reports they produced, or what purpose they could possibly serve. Since then, resources allocated to this futile exercise have multiplied, and we are no safer as a result.


Apart from this clueless, bumbling Inspector Clouseau aspect of espionage, there is a more sinister side: witness the chilling, quasi-criminal acts agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mossad, MI6 and the Inter-Services Intelligence — among many others — have carried out in the name of national security. All too often, the tight compartmentalisation of sundry agencies prevents them from sharing information that might have been of crucial importance had it been seen by agents from a sister organisation. There are times when this rivalry among spooks can be truly disastrous.


One example of this tendency has been documented in Lawrence Wright's extraordinary account of 9/11 in his book The Looming Tower. This carefully researched and lucidly written book reads like a spy thriller as it takes the reader from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to Sudan and back to Afghanistan in Osama bin Laden's footsteps. Simultaneously, we track the FBI's investigation of Al Qaeda, and learn how tantalisingly close it came to arresting several key figures of the conspiracy when they first arrived in the United States. Had not the CIA withheld crucial information, despite repeated FBI requests, the entire 9/11 plot might have been foiled. Indeed, the course of history over the past decade might have been very different.


Following the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemeni waters, an FBI investigation established links between the organisers and Al Qaeda, and an Arabic-speaking agent interrogated a suspect called Quso at length. He named other Al Qaeda operatives who met soon afterwards in Kuala Lumpur. This meeting was secretly observed by the CIA, while the FBI learned of phone calls from Yemen to a hotel in the Malaysian capital. When the FBI asked the CIA for more information about the Al Qaeda presence in Kuala Lumpur, the request was denied.


Weeks later, the FBI learned of the arrival of terror suspects in the United States, and again demanded photographs of these people on their list. Once again, the request was turned down. Similarly, telephone intercepts were not handed over to the FBI though one call referred to an atrocity "bigger than Hiroshima".
To understand the agency's motives, it is important to know its pre-9/11 guidelines. Under American law, the CIA operates only outside the US, while the FBI investigates criminal and terrorist activities within the country's borders. However, if Americans are killed abroad, the FBI has jurisdiction, and hence its massive presence in Yemen after the Cole bombing.


The CIA does not prosecute suspects in American courts, unlike the FBI. Hence, even though it had crucial information that would have enabled the FBI to arrest several of the 9/11 plotters when they entered the US, the agency considered that its investigation into Al Qaeda links with the Cole bombing would be jeopardised.
After repeated requests, the CIA finally turned over three photos of the Kuala Lumpur meeting, but withheld a crucial fourth one. The consequences, according to Wright, were disastrous: "By withholding the picture of Khallad standing beside the future hijackers, the CIA blocked the bureau's investigation into the Cole attack and allowed the 9/11 plot to proceed". Barely two months later, four airliners were hijacked and three of them flew into their targets, killing thousands.


Shortly before the attack, Bin Laden and his entourage fled their base in anticipation of the inevitable American respond. From his hideout above Khost, he and his inner circle followed the events on BBC's Arabic service. Wright describes the scene thus: "In Afghanistan, Bin Laden also wept and prayed. The accomplishment of striking two towers was an overwhelming signal of God's favour, but there was more to come. Before his incredulous companions, Bin Laden held up three fingers… At 9.38 am, the third plane had crashed into the headquarters of American military power and the symbol of its power. When news came of the Pentagon strike, Bin Laden held up four fingers to his wonderstruck followers, but the final strike, against the US Capitol, would fail".


At the end of the book, we are left wondering "What if…?" But ultimately, all history would have been different if people had acted differently at crucial moments.

 

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THE ASIAN AGE

OPINION

A BILL TO REFORM

DILIP CHERIAN

 

Many retired bureaucrats looking for reemployment with one or the other regulatory authority may have reason to worry over Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia's remark that retiring secretaries should not become regulators of industries they had overseen while in service.


Mr Ahluwalia, during a discussion on the bill for regulatory reform, suggested that licenses must be taken from ministers and given to regulators to ensure more accountability and transparency. He also stressed on the irrationality in the appointment of the selection panel in the ministry through a minister after the Prime Minister's approval. Getting the cabinet to decide, according to him, was a better way. Other steps the deputy chairman suggested included increasing accountability of regulators to Parliament and reducing secrecy within Parliament by making Standing Committee meetings public.


Mr Ahluwalia's views may have ruffled a few feathers among babus and netas, but the ball still lies in their court. Competition Commission of India chairman, Dhanendra Kumar, has said that since the bill would impact the existing regulators, comments should be invited from all. A reform bill on regulation was long overdue, but how effective it will be will depend upon the decisions the concerned take to keep the good and eliminate its shortcomings.

 

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Survey results

That the seductions of the corporate world have long bewitched babus is well-known. Clearly the civil service is no longer top draw for those seeking careers. Now confirmation of the fading lure of babudom comes from the first-ever government commissioned survey of the civil services carried out recently. The survey revealed that one out of three top officers in India's civil services has at some point of time considered quitting his/her job. And those who actually did quit, mostly went to swell the ranks of the growing private sector.
Interestingly, political interference was just one of the many problems that babus said they faced in their careers. The other equally vital concerns of babus relate to promotion, transfer, performance appraisal and opportunities for deputations.


These survey findings, calculated for the ever-analytical Cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, have now been circulated to state governments and central departments, including the home ministry for study and discussion.
Apparently, they've been asked to take corrective measures to address these concerns. That the government takes the findings seriously is seen from the decision to now make the survey an annual practice. But the findings also underline the need to urgently press forward with bureaucratic reforms.

 

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DNA

EDITORIAL

KASHMIR POLICE, NOT CRPF, SHOULD CONFRONT STONE-PELTING MOBS'

G SAMPATH

 

After months of seeming normalcy, Kashmir is simmering again. Eleven civilians, including eight teenagers, were killed in clashes with the CRPF over the past fortnight, prompting the state chief minister Omar Abdullah to term the CRPF a "force gone out of control". The latest surge in violence has once again brought the spotlight on two issues: the continued imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the Valley, and the use of the CRPF for mob control. EN Rammohan, who was recently in the news as head of the committee investigating the Maoist killing of 76 CRPF jawans in Dantewada, served as Inspector General (IG), Border Security Force (BSF) in Kashmir at the height of the insurgency in 1993-95. In an exclusive interview, he tells DNA why the Kashmir state government has got it all wrong when it comes to dealing with agitating mobs.

Till last fortnight, there hadn't been as much violence in Kashmir as, say, 15 years ago. So why not revoke the AFSPA in Kashmir?


The level of violence is not the point here. The AFSPA is meant for deployment of the army and paramilitary forces in a 'disturbed area' to combat insurgency. So far it has been notified only in areas where there has been an insurgency problem. Now the reason we need the AFSPA is this: normally it is only the police who have the powers under the CrPC to arrest anybody, and to, on suspicion, search a house without a warrant. Let's say, a sub-inspector is told by a source that a certain house has an armed person who has come from across the border. Now the sub-inspector can search the house straight away without getting a warrant. But the army or paramilitary deployed in that area, in a similar situation, cannot search the house because they have no powers to do so under the CrPC. If you have the AFSPA notified in that area, then it gives them powers to search the house without a police officer, arrest anyone, and fire in self-defence.



But this Act also authorises the army to fire on civilians, doesn't it?


No, it only authorises them to fire if somebody attacks them. Suppose a person is attacking CRPF jawans with stones, they can fire on the attackers in self-defence.


But isn't lathi charge the correct response to stone-pelting mobs? Firing is the last resort.
The problem in Kashmir is that the state police is asking the CRPF to help. If there is a mob throwing stones, why do they need the CRPF? There are so many armed battalions of the Kashmir police. They are trained in lathi charges. Yet you don't see the Kashmir police doing the lathi charge.


So what's stopping the Kashmir government from getting their own police to do the lathi charge? Is it that by getting the CRPF to do it, they can deflect all blame on to the Centre?


Please pose that question to the DG of the state police.


What should be the CRPF's job in Kashmir?

Guard important buildings, installations,  police stations. If somebody attacks the police station, they can fire back.

Coming back to the AFSPA, do we really need it in Kashmir?


When you are deploying the army in the border areas, where are the police stations there? When there are a group of men coming across the border with machine guns, what does the army do? They have to fire at them. Without the AFSPA, the army won't have the power to do so.


Forget the border areas. What about the urban centres in Kashmir?


Yes, there are towns in Kashmir which are far away from the border. But militants can and do come there and occupy Kashmiri houses. And when a police or army patrol passes by, they fire at them. What can the army do?

 

They have to fire back, and they need powers for that.


On what basis can we ever say that, fine, now we no longer need the AFSPA in Kashmir?


Only when Pakistan stops people from infiltrating into Kashmir, and the Kashmiri militants give up their arms.


According to the UN, the AFSPA violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a signatory. Isn't that reason enough to repeal this Act?


Look, there is nothing wrong with the AFSPA. What is wrong is when a force commits excesses, fires on innocent people, and no action is taken by the commanders of that force. I know a number of cases where a force on patrol is ambushed. Say, three jawans are killed. Now the force looks around for three people — it could be farmers working in the nearby field — rounds them up and shoots them. This is plain, cold-blooded murder. But often the force commanders don't take action against perpetrators of such crimes. The militants who fired at them escaped, and you round up four or five civilians and shoot them — is this the way to conduct operations? The AFSPA has earned a bad name due to bad leadership within the forces.


Suppose we repeal the AFSPA in Kashmir , what will happen?


It's simple: the army won't be able to operate anywhere in the areas, where there are no police stations nearby.

 

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DNA

EDITORIAL

DO INDIAN BUSINESSES HAVE A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE?

R JAGANNATHAN

 

A recent issue of Fortune magazine had this game-changing concept of philanthropy to report.

 

Warren Buffett, the iconic investor, and Bill Gates of Microsoft, two of the world's richest men, had apparently invited a handful of other billionaires for a confidential dinner in New York with a single item on the menu: how can the super-rich contribute half their riches, during their lifetimes or after death, to charity?

 

While there is no certainty that the billionaires will actually do this, if even half the assemblage - George Soros, Ted Turner and David Rockefeller, among them - decided to do so, the collective wealth available for charity would be in excess of half a trillion dollars (Rs 23,39,500 crore, about a fifth of India's GDP). And we are talking only of the people who came to dinner.

 

Buffett and Gates are already committed to giving away nearly all their accumulated wealth - and not just 50% - for good causes.

 

If the core idea - giving most of it away - takes root, it will rejuvenate capitalism like never before. Charity, daana and zakat have been part of all religious systems, but they are not good enough.

 

Reason: giving away 1% or even 5% of your wealth is good social responsibility, not quite revolutionary. It can take the horrific tinge out of global deprivation and poverty, but will never get us all to a situation where there is no hunger or lack of basic healthcare in the world.

 

The only truly revolutionary idea of giving came from Gandhi, who said that the rich should hold their wealth in trust for the poor.

 

It sounds utopian, but this is exactly what Buffett and Gates are attempting. The concept of trusteeship goes to the root of two problems relating to capitalist wealth creation: pernicious inequality, and inefficient redistribution of wealth.

 

Giving money away to those who can't preserve or grow it (government, for example) is a waste. Capital is best left with capitalists.

 

However, using it all for excessive personal luxuries or gifting it away to undeserving progeny is socially destructive. The idea of trusteeship deals with both pitfalls without destroying the basic capitalist urge to create wealth and leave a legacy.

 

The real wart in capitalism's face is not that so few earn so much wealth, but that the wealth created is left in the care of people who did little to earn it (sons and daughters, government babus).

 

Nobody, even the poor, would grudge a Birla or an Ambani his personal indulgences in return for creating thousands of jobs and wealth; but few like the idea of their children being entitled to the same riches, beyond a reasonable point. Gates' children will get a few millions but not billions; ditto for Buffett.

 

The real Achilles' heel of capitalism is not inequality, but inheritance. This is why governments the world over try to tax large estates heavily.

That they haven't succeeded is because they are up against the basic human motivation to preserve what you create and leave a legacy. The vast majority of the non-rich will leave their worldly possessions to their children; the rich can do more than that.

 

Apart from their own children, they can leave a legacy for society in general. No one likes leaving his wealth to an impersonal government.

 

The optimum way of doing good is thus by accumulating money, growing it, spending reasonable amounts on personal and family luxuries, and then creating an efficient system (trusts, foundations) to benefit the disadvantaged directly. This is more or less Gandhi's formula.

 

So where are India's businesspeople in this effort? While we do hear of the Tata trusts, the Infosys and Premji foundations, and the Ambani, Birla and Bajaj charities, no one is giving nearly as much as he should.

 

There are some India-specific reasons why our business families are not thinking like Buffett or Gates. One is that they are still busy trying to keep ownership entirely in their hands. Personal wealth goes towards consolidating shareholdings rather than charity.

 

Moreover, Indian businessmen have seen phenomenal wealth only over the last two decades - after economic liberalisation. They thus have memories of their own hard struggles (Dhirubhai Ambani certainly wasn't born from a rich womb), and are currently less than eager to give it all away so soon.

 

But these reasons do not ultimately hold water. Indian family businesses need to develop a conscience, and the place to begin is not charity, but corporate performance. They should deliver performance, and not worry about control. By letting professionals handle their businesses, their shares can go substantially to charity.

 

This will also force their inheritors to script their own success stories instead of living off the fat of the land. Indian capitalism's human face can come from adopting Gandhi's concept of trusteeship, a la Buffett and Gates.

 

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THE TRIBUNE

PERSPECTIVE

MEASURING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

WE NEED A MORE RATIONAL AND ACCURATE MECHANISM, SAYS PUSHPA M. BHARGAVA

 

Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia, where women's freedom and rights are severely curtailed, is 59 in the Human Development Index (HDI) ratings with a HDI value of 0.843. However, India, where women enjoy equal rights under the Constitution is 134 with a HDI value of 0.612.

 

The HDI rating ignores Saudi Arabia's support to religious fundamentalism and terrorism, explicit and implicit. Surely, there are a host of virtually universally accepted values, concepts and rights defined in documents such as the UN Charter of Human Rights. The present measure of HDI which is based only on a few parameters such as education, life expectancy and income, is not only insufficient but misleading. We need a more accurate measure of human development. It must take into account at least the following factors:

 

The extent of functional democracy in the country's governance; the extent of de jure commitment to secularism; the extent of de facto commitment to secularism; the extent of separation of religion and affairs of the state; the extent of pluralism in society; de facto commitment to UN Declaration of Human Rights; the level of crime; major/ minor crime based on caste, creed, minority status; the extent of organisation in traffic (a measure of civic sense); right to information; freedom of media; freedom of speech; extent of successful and productive involvement of government in school education; higher education; primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare; Independence and effectiveness of the judiciary; ant sectors of life such as freedom of movement and employment.

 

Other factors worthy of consideration are: Female education index in comparison to male education index; maternal and child health (in comparison to best in the world); percentage of undernourished or malnourished children below 18 years women; percentage of children below 18 years engaged in earning a livelihood for themselves or their family; percentage of population with 12 and 10 years of school education; percentage of population that can read a newspaper, write a letter or do simple sums; the extent of commercialisation of school and higher education and health services; general awareness; opportunities for sports, creative endeavour and education; leisure-time activities; total readership of Indian language newspapers as percentage of total population.

 

Some other factors which could also be considered are the average life expectancy; the level of cleanliness in villages, towns and top 10 cities (population-wise); health and nutrition; incidence of diseases like malaria, TB, leprosy; access to health care; income distribution (as percentage of the total GOP); employment; housing; the extent of conservation of water; access to potable water, electricity, cooking fuel; firewood in rural areas; environmental concerns; prevention of waste; extent of pollution; awareness of need for positive action in response to the problem of climate change; sanitation; telephone; television; radio; travel; transport; and scientific temper.

 

The list is by no means exhaustive; it is only indicative. It should be made reasonably exhaustive (with provision for periodical revision) through public debate. Criteria (as objective as possible) of 'measurement' against each item would need to be worked out.

 

Differential weightage would need to be given to various items, depending on their value relative to others. We can, perhaps, allot the highest marks – say 1,000 – for the first item (the extent of democracy in governance). (Other items that would qualify to be allotted the same marks will, no doubt, include equally of sexes.) Under this head, as an example, we would surely need to consider issues such as:

 

Is there a system of election for all those who are involved in governance, of which the right to legislate is an important part?

 

Does the electoral process ensure that those elected represent a majority of the electorate?

 

To what level does decision-making in governance percolate?

 

In some cases we would need to do research. For example, consider the percentage of adults over 50 with depleted immune response. In the US, according to scientific work published from the National Institute of Aging in Baltimore, adults over 50 generally have a depleted immune response which is a measure of the ability to fight disease. Though this writer doesn't believe hard data exists to support this view, this writer has no doubt this will not be true of India.

 

This implies that the level of infection by disease-causing agents that an Indian above 50 can deal with, without suffering from the disease, will be much higher than that for an American over 50. This is probably on account of our being exposed to low levels of infection all through our life; these levels don't cause disease but lead to a robust immunity which the Americans may lack on account of their living in a semi-sterile environment from day 1 – something for which, perhaps, Nature hasn't designed us.

 

To confirm this important point, the Indian Council of Medical Research should, perhaps, look at the immune status of our countrymen who are above 50. If the above prediction is verified, India would score much higher than the US on this important point which would be an example of Indians being far more capable of coping with an adverse environment than Americans: surely a significant factor for assessing human development?

 

On the other hand, if it turns out that women in more than 50 per cent of the households in India spend hours everyday collecting firewood and water for cooking, drinking and washing, our country would score high negative points in relation to, probably, all other countries in the world.

 

If the above exercise is undertaken both at the national and international level, we can arrive at a rational mechanism for measuring human development index in two years time. Such an exercise will give all countries valuable information about each other and new opportunities to learn from each other's experiences.

 

A lot of information required for the items listed above can be collected during national census and other surveys by appropriately augmenting their terms of reference. It should not be difficult to set up a mechanism for updating the data every year.

 

The writer is a former Vice-Chairman, National Knowledge Commission and Member, National Security Advisory Board, Government of India

 

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THE TRIBUNE

EDITORIAL

SOCCER: A CULTURAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL WINDOW FOR LATINOS

BY ASH NARAIN ROY

 

David Goldblatt's 978-page tome, The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer, is a travelogue of soccer which is a must read for football aficionados. But it has some thing for every one as Goldblatt has an eye of a sociologist and a historian. "There may be no cultural practice", says Goldblatt, "more global than soccer". He further adds: "Rites of birth and marriage are infinitely diverse, but the rules of soccer are universal. No world religion can match its geographical scope…" Nowhere is this observation more apt than in Latin America.

 

Such is the passion for the game that Latinos often see Nirvana in football. The die-hard fans follow the team wherever the matches are played. For example, Argentine teams have their own barra brava, a group of most dedicated fans who not only follow their teams but also entertain the crowd with drums and trumpets. R. Viswanathan, India's Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, has this to say, "In South America, marital infidelity is forgiven, not football disloyalty…Even marriages and friendships are built or broken on the issue of loyalty to the team."

 

Passion and football are one and the same in Latin America. A game it may be, but like it or not, its traditions, eccentricities and caprices have made it the most successful game ever invented by humans. Football is interwoven into the fabric of Latin American society and culture. It is admired universally for the skill, passion and flair. But in Latin America, football is unadulterated joy.

 

When the World Cup or Copa Americana is on, in most Latin American homes organised religion and organised football could be seen vying for supremacy. When the going is not in their favour, many invoke their God —the religious ones their Gods and football fanatics their heroes and stars for deliverance.

 

Latin Americans say they worship football which helps them escape from the harsh social conditions of their country. Talk to a Brazilian, the discussion often shifts to football. More so now when Brazil has won the privilege to host the World Cup Football in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. "We Brazilians cool ourselves off by watching football just as religious worshippers cool off with hymns and other rituals" is a familiar refrain.

 

There have been 18 FIFA World Cup tournaments since the inaugural in 1930. Nine have been won by Latin Americans and nine by Europe till now. Brazil is the only non-European country to ever win in Europe. What is so unique about the Latin American football? While European teams are taken to be a lot more strategic, they are also defensive and perhaps less entertaining. Latin American football is lot more open and fun, with more free-style moves.

 

Football in Latin America is the working class's ballet. As Italian journalist Thomas Mazzoni once wrote, "English football, well-played, is like a symphony orchestra; well-played, Brazilian football is like an extremely hot jazz band."

 

Diego Maradona, recognised by FIFA in 2000 as the greatest player of all time, is worshipped in Argentina for more than his footballing talent. Some would say he is bigger than football. If Sachin Tendulkar is god of cricket, Maradona is god of football. No other sporting figure perhaps has the kind of fan following that Maradona has. Some of his fans have set up what they claim the "Church of Maradona" with its own credo and prayers.

 

How does one explain this obsession? In Latin America there is a culture of love for the underdogs. Maradona

belonged to what is commonly known as descamisados, the shirtless people. Born to a poor family in Corrientes, a shanty town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Maradona's rise was epochal.

 

Such was his power that each time, the little, malnourished boy from Corrientes touched the ball, he incarnated the little man fighting great powers. In 1986 when Maradona scored the goals against England, it was as if Argentina took revenge for its humiliating defeat in the 1982 Falklands war. Maradona's autobiography, Yo Soy El Diego (I am Diego), published in 2000, became a national bestseller.

 

Maradona's politics is no less flamboyant. He loves Fidel Castro and sports a Che Guevara tattoo. He is lately enamoured of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. After meeting Chavez, he said, "I like women, but I left in love with Chavez". In 2005, when George Bush came visiting Argentina, he organised a march of protesters in Buenos Aires against what he called the "human garbage" Bush. Incidentally, Hugo Chavez too travelled all the way to Buenos Aires to join the protest against Bush.

 

There is also football nationalism in Latin America, the only region which fought a war over football. The two tiny Central American states —Honduras and El Salvador — fought a 100-hour-long football war in 1969. It was caused by Honduras' drubbing at the hands of El Salvador during the qualifying match for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

 

Football does inspire strong emotions — primitive and tribal. Tennis, basket ball or badminton don't create such frenzy. British author Arthur Koestler has therefore called it "football nationalism."

 

Latin Americans often use soccer as a cultural and sociological window. Latin America represents a strange and complex world where politics and football are intertwined, where tragedy and comedy co-exist, and where truth can perhaps be stranger and more compelling than fiction. Historically, a product of conquest and colonisation, of authoritarian European monarchies and indigenous theocracies, Latin America was compelled to invent and re-invent its own story continuously.

 

Only till a few decades ago, the Latins direly characterised themselves as "the people who never win." In fact, great Mexican philosopher Leopoldo Zea wrote typically of the pessimism that seemed to infuse Latin America from its very birth: "We carry our defects in our blood."

 

Here is a continent whose culture, religion and language were virtually destroyed. What remains today is a hybrid culture transplanted from every corner of the earth embodying a desperate need for identity. For long, Latin identity was expressed mainly in music, literature and crafts. There was good reason for this. During the conquest the only books that were allowed were either religious or scientific.

 

Hence football nationalism and football as identity are so ingrained. One analyst has even talked of an independent republic of football. Uruguayans boast till date, "Other countries have their history; we have our football."

 

The writer is Associate Director, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi

 

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THE TRIBUNE

OPED

CBI ON INFO 'MISUSE'

NEED TO CORRECT SOME IMPRESSIONS

BY MAJA DARUWALA

 

It is always convenient to moan vaguely into one's beard that access to information is being 'misused' without saying how it is being misused and who is allowing that misuse.

 

Reportedly, this is the latest allegation to come out of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which has had to process over 4,000 cases last year. Some grey beards have tut tutted in agreement with the notion of 'misuse'.

 

The quote attributed to the CBI says "people facing criminal charges are seeking details of their cases from probe agencies through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and using it to bolster their defence". This requires everyone to gasp in horror at the new fangled ways in which bad people are escaping the law through RTI 'misuse'.

 

There are two notions implicit in the statement: one that folks embroiled in criminal cases must necessarily be guilty and two, that by using access to information rights they are now doing something entirely illegitimate to escape the law. These notions must be disabused. 

 

The legal process has a fine logic which is not widely appreciated. First, a fundamental principle under our law — and one which is fast getting lost in the public's psyche — is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proving every element of that guilt lies with the prosecution.
Secondly, because the victim always has the full might of the State fighting on his or her side but the accused must mount his own defence, the accused has the right to know the basis of each allegation against him so that he can mount the best possible defence that he can. 

 

Unlike Bollywood films where some bizarre fact inevitably comes to light at the last moment or some long lost witness suddenly comes rushes into court shouting Rook jaayoh rook jaayoh, Mee Laard there are no surprise tactics allowed at court. The prosecution must marshal all its facts at an early stage of the case and make them known in detail.

 

This is for several reasons: one, as mentioned is the rule that a fair trial requires the accused to know what case he has to answer so he can mount his defence properly. The other is to ensure that there is a real case to answer and the law is not being used to victimise people unnecessarily.

 

The preliminary decision of assessing if all the elements of the crime are made out lies with the judge and not with the prosecution. So the judge needs to know the clear facts and circumstances on which the prosecution is basing its case as well.

 

Finally, by making sure that there is sufficient information to ground that the person in question may have committed the crime being tried, the exchequer does not waste money, nor the court its time, nor the state its energies on running cases that are thin or baseless and wont in the end, come to anything.

 

It is much to its credit that the CBI can say it provides information sought 95 per cent of the time. This in itself is proof that the information asked for is unexceptional and has to be given under the law. In truth, if systems ran as smoothly as they should the information would be given automatically as part of the process of bringing a person to trial rather than having to be specifically cajoled out through RTI applications. What should really be in question is why it takes so much effort to get what is rightfully required to mount a sound defence. 

 

By contrast to the CBI, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) — agencies excluded from making any disclosures under the Right to Information Act except where the matter relates to human rights violation or corruption — have recently refused to reveal how many cases of sexual harassment they have had to face in the last decade.

 

It could be argued that this non-disclosure amounts to 'misuse'. True, the statute does not oblige them to answer all requests. But it does not prevent them from giving innocuous information either. Giving the information would only have indicated how well or poorly staff is protected by the agencies internal sexual harassment policies and whether in fact there are vigorous standards in place. Taking shelter of a statutory exclusion intended for quite another purpose just feeds doubt and suspicion.

 

In reality, giving information almost always helps get to the truth of the matter. Though allegations of 'misuse' are flying around, there is no evidence to show that more people are getting off because more information is being given. One could argue that perhaps trials are becoming more just because everyone knows what's going on.

 

Even if as a result of having more information folks are getting off, it would only be indicative that the police/prosecution case was shaky to begin with and that more must be done to better equip investigating agencies with skills, manpower and infrastructure and hold the prosecution more accountable for mounting half-baked prosecutions. Implying that the root cause of bad folks getting off at law somehow lies in the use of the right to information is barking up the wrong tree.n 

 

The writer is Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative,New Delhi

 

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THE TRIBUNE

ON RECORD

'HURDLES IN DECIPHERING THE INDUS SCRIPT'

BY NELSON RAVIKUMAR

 

Dr Asko Parpola, Professor Emeritus of Indology at the Institute of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, is a leading authority on the Indus Civilisation and its script. On the basis of sustained work on the Indus script, he has concluded that the script, which is yet to be deciphered, encodes a proto-Dravidian script close to old Tamil. As a Sanskrit scholar, his fields of specialisation include the Sama Veda and Vedic rituals. During a visit to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, recently to attend the World Classical Tamil Conference, he shared some of his views with The Tribune.

 

Excerpts:

 

Q: The Indus script shows only short signs on seals and tablets. Do you think it is a writing system?

 

A: The Indus signs are generally available on seals and tablets. It was presumed that the seals and tablets had short Indus texts because they were meant for trade and commerce. However, a three-metre long inscription on wood inlaid with stone crystals was found at Dholavira in Gujarat.

 

The Indus script is a writing system because it is highly standardised and the signs are as a rule written in regular lines. There are hundreds of sign sequences which recur in the same order, often at many different sites. The preserved texts are mostly seal stones, and seals in other cultures usually have writing recording the name or title of the seal owner. The Indus people were acquainted with cuneiform writing through their trade contacts with Mesopotamia.

 

Q: Is the short form of the script an obstacle for deciphering it?

 

A: The main impediment is the absence of a key as the Rosetta stone, which contained the same text in different scripts and languages. There is no script closely similar of the same origin which could give clues to the sound values of the Indus signs. There is much controversy about its type and the language underlying it. Apart from the likelihood that the Greater Indus Valley was probably called Meluhha in Sumerian, there is no historical information concerning the Indus Civilisation. As you know, it was the names and genealogies of the Persian kings, known from Greek historians and the Bible, which opened up the cuneiform script.

 

Q: Some Indian scholars feel that the Indus Civilisation is Aryan and connected with the Rig Veda. You are a Vedic scholar, besides specialising in the Indus script too. What is your response to this?

 

A: Rigvedic hymns often speak of horses and horse-drawn chariots, and the horse sacrifice, Ashvamedha, is among the most prestigious Vedic rites. The only wild native known from the finds of the Indus Civilisation and depicted in its art and script is the wild ass. The domesticated horse is absent from South Asia until the second millennium BC. Finds from Pirak and Swat from 1600 BC show it was introduced from Central Asia after the Indus Civilisation.

 

Q: If the Harappan language is related to Dravidian languages, there must be some traces of it in north India?

 

A: Twenty-six Dravidian languages were now mainly spoken in central and southern parts of India. However, one Dravidian language, Brahui, had been spoken in Baluchistan of Pakistan for at least 1,000 years. Loanwords from the Dravidian family had been identified from Indo-Aryan texts composed in northwestern India around 1100-600 BC. Besides, Indo-Aryan had several structural features that had long been interpreted as borrowings from Dravidian. Historical linguistics thus suggests that the Harappans probably spoke a Dravidian language.

 

Q: You have found the key to deciphering the Indus script? Will it be easy to decipher the script in future?

 

A: There are still serious difficulties in the decipherment of the script. One is the schematic shape of many signs

which makes it difficult to recognise their pictorial meaning with certainty. Possibilities of proposing likely readings and their effective checking are severely limited by our defective knowledge of Proto-Dravidian vocabulary, compounds and phraseology.

 

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THE  TRIBUNE

PROFILE

DHANANJAYAN: DANCER PAR EXCELLENCE

BY HARIHAR SWARUP

 

Recipient of G.D. Birla International Award, V.P. Dhanan-jayan and his wife Shanta are among the most accomplished dancers and teachers of Bharatanatyam. Moreover, they are one of the legendary dancing couples of India. Dhananjayan was honoured for his outstanding contribution in the field of India's cultural heritage.

 

One of eight children of a not well-to-do school master, he had a flair for poetry and Shankrit dramas. No one in Dhananjayan's family had ever danced professionally, but his father had staged amateur dramatic performances based largely on mythological themes with a makeshift troupe he had gathered primarily from among his relatives.

 

Dhananjayan has acted in his father's plays and grew up seeing his father and other kin travel from village to village during school vacations, performing as they moved on. As a youth, Dhananjayan watched but did not train with two Kathakali troupe located in Payyanur-Kodoth Kathakali Sangam, a 150-year-old organisation sponsored by a big landlord.

 

While teaching at Kalakshetra in the 1950s, noted artist Chandu Panicker was assigned by Rukmini Devi the responsibility of finding young male dancers willing to come to Kalakshetra to learn Kathakali and Bharatanatyam. In 1953, when Dhananjayan's father happened to meet Chandu Panicker in a train, he expressed difficulty in feeding such a large family of his meagre school teacher's salary and offered one of his sons to Panicker.

 

Dhananjayan had taken a particular interest in Sanskrit literature during his primary school days and had been writing poetry from the age of eight. Having sensed a unique sparkle in Dhananjayan and a propensity for creative ideas, his father decided purely on instinct to choose him out of four sons to send to Kalakshetra.

 

A week later of his father's meeting Panicker, Dhananjayan was on his way to Kalakshetra where he spent the next 15 years of his life. Dhananjayan's father had requested that if his 14-year-old son did not meet Rukmini's qualifications, he should be sent back.

 

Fortunately, not only was he accepted, he was also given a scholarship to study at Kalakshetra where the rigors of his education and way of life prepared him to meet the challenges of life as a dancer. Initially, his dance training and education at Kalakshetra was his only contact with the outside world. Much of his inspirations, dedication and attitude to life were fashioned here.

 

Shanta Dhananjayan, a post-graduate diploma holder with distinction in Bharatnatyam has also learnt Kathakali and Carnatic music at Kalakshetra. She was a leading dancer from 1955 to 1968.

 

Born on August 12, 1943 in a well-to-do Indian family in Malaysia, Shanta was a child prodigy. Though Shanta was born in Malaysia, she traces her ancestry to Kerala from where her family migrated to Malaysia. Her father was an accountant with the BBC. By the time she was three, her parents were convinced that Shanta would be a dancer. They found in her an inborn response to dance and joy of movement and decided to send her to India for her education.

 

After a brief period in Kerala, her parents wanted to send her to Shantiniketan, which was then a great centre of arts. With the encouragement of her uncle Achuta Menon, they sent her to Kalakshetra as an eight-year old girl in June 1952.

 

When Guru Chandu Panicker was taking two boys — Balgopal and Dhananjayan — to meet Rukmini Devi, Dhananjayan saw the young Shanta for the first time at the Theosophical Society Gardens. She was the first girl Dhananjayan was introduced to when he, a village boy, who knew nothing except Malayalam, arrived at Kalakshetra.

 

Shanta was a serious girl totally devoted to her dance and she secretly made up her mind at the age of 12 to be the life-partner of Dhananjayan. Thus, the team of two formidable dancers was formed and it is still going strong though Dhananjayan is 71 and Shanta 67.

 

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MUMBAI MIRROR

VIEWS

BIT OF A RACIST IN ALL OF US

INDIAN AMERICANS ARE ANGRY OVER A TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE RIDICULING INDIAN IMMIGRANTS; BUT HAVEN'T WE ALL MADE FUN OF OUR OWN KIND?

 

In 2004 I took my 13-year-old son to a press screening of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. That may not have been the best parenting decision, since the film was rated R, but he thoroughly enjoyed the stoner comedy. During the film's many equal opportunity jokes at the expense of practically every race and ethnicity, my son looked at me delighted and yet in complete disbelief. His looks seemed to suggest one question – is it okay to laugh at these jokes?

 

White Castle and its sequel Escape From Guantanamo Bay found its audience and even critics appreciated the films. Nobody called the films racist. Instead critics said the films broke the ethnic stereotype barriers. A O Scott of The New York Times referred to the first film as "one of the few recent comedies that persuasively, and intelligently, engages the social realities of contemporary multicultural America."

 

There has always been a thin line between what can be considered humour and racism. In the US, there is also a general belief that it is alright for people of one ethnic group, race or religion to make fun of their own kind. Jerry Seinfeld and the creator of his hit TV show Larry David – both Jews, often made jokes at the expense of the Jewish community, but they ran into trouble when they had Kramer accidentally burn the Puerto Rican flag and then stomp on it to put out the fire. A Puerto Rican politician in New York said that the show had "crossed the line between humour and bigotry".

 

African American rappers and comedians often use the 'N' word, but it is a complete 'no-no' for anyone else. Seinfeld cast member Michael Richards addressed a heckler at his stand-up comedy routine by using the 'N' word and many African Americans were angry. And now, Mel Gibson is in similar trouble having used the 'N' word and other offensive language in his tirade against his exgirlfriend.

 

Last week, Time magazine – one of the most established global icons of journalism – landed in a significant controversy when it published a supposedly satirical column by writer Joel Stein. The column, 'My Own Private India' – Stein's nostalgia for his childhood city Edison, New Jersey which has been overtaken by a sea of brown immigrants from India, with habits and cultures that he finds unpleasant – had the Indian American community up in arms.

 

The issue was covered substantially in mainstream media, blogs and social networking sites. Even Kal Penn, the star of the Harold & Kumar films stepped in by writing a piece on the Huffington Post blog ridiculing Stein's humour and questioning why in 2010 Time magazine would not dare print a similar piece about Jews or African Americans.

 

There is no doubt that Stein's humour is offensive and smacks of racism at the expense of the hardworking poor Indian American immigrants who help oil the economy of New Jersey, and lack the ability to speak out and address the writer's remarks. One good thing that came out of the Stein episode is that it united the Indian American community across class boundaries. Most people who were angry and responded to Stein's piece were educated desi professionals, writers and activists who on a regular basis may not have much contact with the new Indian immigrants of Edison.

 A lot of people read Stein's piece a few times to look beyond his so-called humour. There is a troubling sign there. At some stage or the other we all have made racist jokes about ourselves or others. So many may have started to laugh at Stein's piece (I know I did) and then may have paused when the humour led to ranting and anti-immigrant bigotry.

 

The reactions to the piece led Time and Stein to make predictable apologies. But I believe there is a little bit of racist in all of us and unless we can exorcise that demon, writers like Stein will continue to come out of nowhere and even reputable publications like Time magazine may print such offensive writing, without realising the damage they are doing.

 

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EDITORIAL

MDG - NUMBERS VS. REALITY

IS INDIA ALL THAT WAY OFF THE MARK ON MILLENNIUM GOALS?

The United Nations (UN) report on progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that countries set for themselves paints a disappointing picture of slow improvement. While the report acknowledges that gains have been made in areas like poverty reduction, elementary education, child health and drinking water supply in several parts of the developing world, these are not always on track and more can clearly be done. The report recognises that there has been a setback in hunger mitigation in recent years due to the sharp spike in food prices in 2008 and on account of the impact of the global economic crisis. Jobs have been lost, and economic access to food has been curbed.

Despite the gains made, says the report, half of the developing countries' population still lacks essential sanitary facilities like toilets or latrines and that fewer girls than boys go to preliminary schools and far fewer to middle schools and above. On the upside, the report hails the drop in the proportion of the population subsisting on less than $1.25 (in constant terms) from 46 per cent in the base year of 1990 to 27 per cent in 2005 and the expectation that it will go down further to 15 per cent by the target year 2015, meeting the most critical millennium development goal.

 Coming ahead of the UN summit this September in New York to review progress on MDGs and prepare an agenda for future action, this report seems somewhat unfair to India by not taking adequate note of its significant initiatives in the social sector. The lack of due appreciation of India's achievements may partly be due to its geographical positioning, being in South Asia, which is home to some of the socio-economically most underdeveloped — and some even truly backward — countries of the world. This region has virtually been rated at par with or, in some cases, worse than Sub-Saharan Africa. Only in the case of poverty alleviation has India been singled out through the recognition that it is likely to slash its poverty rate from 51 per cent in 1990 to 24 per cent in 2015, while the rest of South Asia is set to miss the target in this key area.

On health, while it is true that the public health sector, especially in rural India, is still in a state of disrepair, despite the best efforts of a national rural health mission, the fact is that the mortality rate among children and mothers at child birth is gradually declining which, perhaps, is not the case in some other countries of this region. Even on hunger, India's recent record is better than what is claimed. The UN report may be correct in pointing out that in south Asia, as a region, the level of hunger has reverted back to 1990, but its categorical assertion that the region, and India, will not be able to meet the millennium goal seems premature. But, it is a good warning to governments, both state and Central, to get their act together in delivering on the promise of 'inclusive growth'.

Part of the problem is with data and part with measurement. The processes of inclusive growth have, over the past half a decade, made an impact on basic human development indicators. If the numbers do not bear this out the problem lies in large part with the poverty of estimation. The country's statistical system is in disrepair and does not capture the full reality of development in the era of inclusive growth. The numbers on poverty suffer from the poverty of numbers.

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BUSINESS STANDARD

COLUMN

AFGHANISTAN - DEMINTING A GENERAL'S COIN

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S DISMISSAL OF GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL HAS LAID TO REST DOUBTS ON THE CONTINUITY OF US STRATEGY, BUT VICTORY STILL SEEMS A DISTANT PROSPECT

SHANTHIE MARIET D'SOUZA

The Rolling Stones story on US General Stanley A McChrystal's comments on President Barrack Obama and his team has brought to the fore not just the uneasy civil-military relations in the United States, but also a major divide in the Obama national security team on the war in Afghanistan. McChrystal's counter insurgency (COIN) strategy of 'clear, hold, build and transfer' hinged on more 'boots on the ground' to reduce use of aerial power and consequent civilian casualties, provide protection to the populace and build on the host nation's trust and capacity, was opposed by the rest of Obama's Af-Pak team.

The dismissal of the top US military commander in a war situation did provide Obama an opportunity to shed the tag of being a weak and indecisive President. At a time when support for the war is dwindling among the American public and NATO countries, by appointing General David A Petraeus, a key architect of the Iraq surge strategy, Obama has laid to rest doubts on the continuity of the present US strategy in Afghanistan. By firing General McChrystal, Obama reasserted civilian control over the military and also sent a clear message that the White House would not tolerate division in the ranks of his team after a 'strategy' for Afghanistan had been laid out.

 If disrespect for the supreme commander of the armed forces is a reason for a senior commander's dismissal, there was a precedent for Obama to fall back on. Almost 60 years back, on April 11, 1951 President Harry S Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur in the midst of the Korean War for making public statements that contradicted the official policies of the US government. Even McChrystal's predecessor, General David D McKiernan, was fired by Defence Secretary Robert Gates in May 2009. Incidentally, Gates had then backed the candidature of General McChrystal, saying, "We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership is also needed."

Interestingly, after only about a year the new military leadership was found to be wanting in its relationship with its civilian counterpart. The US military effort in Afghanistan, which has now crossed the Vietnam War in terms of sheer duration, is increasingly proving to be a quagmire for the Obama administration. US military casualty figures in Afghanistan have soared in recent times. The proposed date for drawdown of forces in July 2011, in spite of a surge in troop levels, looks improbable, casting a long shadow on the promises made by the President.

Obama is reported to have privately reprimanded his national security team and emphasised 'unity of effort'. However, if McChrystal's dismissal is intended to remove divisions among the strategy team that has the potential of affecting the military performance in Afghanistan, Obama is sure to find soon that the firing of the General only partly addresses the problem. There are still men in his team who differ significantly on the strategy being adopted in Afghanistan. Even without General McChrystal, the differences are bound to flare up again in December, when the strategy is up for another major review.

There is an interesting parallel between McChrystal and McKiernan. Both wanted a heavier footprint. Both continuously asked for more troops. While Obama has fulfilled the request for more troops, it still remains about 30,000 less than what was demanded by McChrystal. However, Eikenberry, a retired Army lieutenant-general, who was once the top American commander in Afghanistan and currently is the US Ambassador to that country, repeatedly cautioned that deploying sizable American reinforcements would result in "astronomical costs" and would only deepen the dependence of the Afghan government on the US. Not long ago, Eikenbery wrote, "Sending additional forces will delay the day when Afghans will take over, and make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring our people home on a reasonable timetable."

Eikenberry also sent the infamous cable disparaging Karzai as "not an adequate strategic partner" who "continues to shun responsibility for any sovereign burden." The personal differences between President Karzai and Ambassador Eikenberry reached such levels that they were almost not on talking terms. Likewise, strong civil-military differences emerged when Ambassador Eikenberry opposed McChrystal's request for a troop surge. Vice President Joe Biden, another key member of Obama's team, supported a limited counter terrorism operation vis-à-vis a long-drawn-out counter insurgency campaign.

In contrast, General McChrystal shared a close relationship with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who even made a personal appeal to retain McChrystal. Building on the host nation's trust and capacity is a key essential of any counter insurgency strategy. Ahead of the proposed Kandahar offensive, Karzai travelled with McChrystal to apprise the Afghan leaders of the Kandahar campaign and involve them in it. McChrystal's clear rules of engagement hinged on reducing civilian casualties, a thorny issue that has been highlighted by President Karzai.

As General Petraeus takes charge, the task will by no means be less daunting. Afghanistan today presents a much more complicated case than Iraq, a country which Petraeus is credited with calming down. Mid-course changes in the war lead to loss of institutional knowledge and personal connections. General Petraeus, though a mentor of McChrystal, will take time to build on his personal networks, understand the rural nature of the Afghan insurgency, deal with an active sanctuary and, more importantly, work to a narrow time frame. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan poses significant challenges, so that redefining the rules of engagement alone would be the magic bullet.

General Petraeus has the arduous task of breaking the Taliban's momentum. Seven months into the surge of forces, the facts on the ground speak a different tale. If the ongoing operations in Marjah are any indication, the international forces will have to do much more than 'hold the area' and expect the Afghan government to bring in a semblance of governance. Most crucially, the bulk of these milestones will have to be achieved before July 2011, allowing Obama to keep his date with the most famous promise of 2009, the beginning of a drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan.

The author is a visiting research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Views expressed are personal. shanthied@gmail.com

 

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BUSINESS STANDARD

COLUMN

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SRI LANKA

CHINA'S TIES WITH SRI LANKA AIM AT EXPANDING ITS PROFILE IN THE INDIAN OCEAN, WHERE THE 'GREAT GAME' OF THIS CENTURY WILL BE PLAYED

HARSH V PANT

On the face of it, the visit of the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to New Delhi last month was rather successful. India and Sri Lanka signed a range of agreements including loans for major infrastructure projects and sharing of electricity. India has extended a line of credit of $200 million to assist in the setting up of the NTPC-CEB joint venture 500 Mw thermal power plant at Trincolamalee. The two nations also decided to set up an annual defence dialogue and increase high-level military exchanges. India has agreed to construct a rail link between Talaimannar and Madhu in the Northern Province.

However, the anger in Tamil Nadu at Rajapaksa's government's conduct during the war with the LTTE still remains high. A delegation of MPs from Tamil Nadu met Rajapaksa regarding the delays in rehabilitating Lankan Tamils displaced by the civil war. The President acknowledged the delay and suggested that those staying in relief camps will be resettled within three months. The DMK might be tempted to play the Lankan Tamil card with an eye on state elections in a year's time, even though the issue had little resonance in the Lok Sabha elections last year. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also emphasised the need for urgent steps to resettle internally displaced persons and urged the government to undertake speedy rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka. Singh underlined the need for a meaningful devolution package, building on the 13th amendment that would create the necessary conditions for a lasting political settlement. Rajapaksa, however, was largely non-committal on this.

 The Sri Lankan President is at the height of his power after having defeated the LTTE and winning an overwhelming mandate for himself and his party. Yet his government's human rights record is under critical scrutiny in the West and a visit to India would have helped him in underlining India's backing for his government to the world. But beyond that symbolic value, Sri Lanka is rapidly slipping out of India's orbit. India failed to exert its leverage over the humanitarian troubles that Tamils trapped in the fighting were facing. New Delhi's attempts to end the war and avert a humanitarian tragedy in North-East Sri Lanka proved utterly futile.

Colombo's centrality between Aden and Singapore makes it extremely significant strategically for Indian power projection possibilities. After initially following India's lead in international affairs, even demanding that the British leave from their naval base at Trincomalee and air base at Katunayake in 1957, Colombo gradually gravitated towards a more independent foreign policy posture. And it was India's enthusiasm for China that made Sri Lanka take China seriously, but after the Chinese victory in its 1962 war with India, Colombo started courting Beijing much more seriously.

And today China has displaced Japan as Sri Lanka's major aid donor, with an annual aid package of $1 billion. Trade between China and Sri Lanka has doubled over the last five years, with China emerging as the latter's largest trading partner. China now supplies more than half of all the construction and development loans Sri Lanka receives. Chinese investment in the development of infrastructure and oil exploration projects in Sri Lanka has also gathered momentum. China provides interest-free loans to Sri Lanka for the development of infrastructure. It is the first foreign country to have an exclusive economic zone in Sri Lanka. China is involved in a range of infrastructure development project in Sri Lanka — constructing power plants, modernising railways, providing financial and technical assistance in launching of communication satellites.

China is financing more than 85 per cent of the Hambantota Development Zone to be completed over the next decade. This will include an international container port, a bunkering system, an oil refinery, an international airport and other facilities. The port in Hambantota, deeper than the one at Colombo, is to be used as a refuelling and docking station for its navy. Though the two sides claim that this is merely a commercial venture, its future utility as a strategic asset for China remains a real possibility, to India's consternation. For China, Hambantota will not only be an important transit port for general cargo and oil, but a presence there also enhances China's intelligence gathering capabilities vis-à-vis India.

India has expressed its displeasure about growing Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka on a number of occasions. In 2007, India's then national security adviser openly criticised Sri Lanka for attempting to purchase Chinese-built radar system on the grounds that it would 'overreach'into the Indian air space.

Yet Sri Lanka has emerged stronger and more stable after the military success in the Eelam war and two elections at the national level. To counter Chinese influence, India has been forced to step up its diplomatic offensive and offer Colombo reconstruction aid. With the LTTE now out of the picture, the Indian government hopes it will have greater strategic space to manage bilateral ties. However, where New Delhi will have to continue to balance its domestic sensitivities and strategic interests, Beijing faces no such constraint in developing even stronger ties with Colombo. As a consequence, India is struggling to make itself more relevant to Sri Lanka than China.

Colombo matters because the Indian Ocean matters. The 'great game' of this century will be played on the waters of the Indian Ocean. Though India's location gives it great operational advantages in the Indian Ocean, it is by no means certain that New Delhi is in a position to hold on to its geographic advantages. China is rapidly catching up and its ties with Sri Lanka are aimed at expanding its profile in this crucial part of the world. Indian policy makers need to shape up soon or else they are in danger of losing this 'game' for good.

The author is with the department of defence studies, King's College London

 

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BUSINESS STANDARD

COLUMN

'WE MUST HAVE AMBITIONS BEYOND PROFITS AND VOTES'

PRANAB MUKHERJEE

When I was growing up in India, we used the word 'captain' to refer to someone who was in charge of navigating a ship through stormy seas. So, when I first heard the term 'captains of industry', I was a little puzzled.

But, having been the Finance Minister of India, I realise that the global economy can be as stormy as any sea. In fact, very often, it feels like a Tsunami. Anybody who tries to navigate his or her corporation through the global economy is, therefore, rightly called a captain. As you – being captains of industry – know, and I – as captain of a national economy – know, the world is going through a very difficult phase. The world has recently begun to come out of the great recession.

 What started as a sub-prime crisis in 2007-2008, became a financial crisis that affected banks and private corporations. And then it spread to the real economy. Governments around the world rallied to protect banks and corporations. Unfortunately, now some of the governments themselves seem to have got infected. I am referring to the difficult sovereign debt situation that our friends in Europe are facing today.

Economists used to tell us last year that the global economy will make a V-shaped recovery. That is, it will turnaround very quickly. Then, I was told that it will be U-shaped recovery, meaning that it will stay at the bottom a little longer before recovering. Recently, with the risk of a new crisis in Europe, experts are saying that it may be a W-shaped recovery.

Frankly, I am beginning to feel that for every alphabet in the English language, there is a theory of recovery. What so many competing theories of recovery mean is that we really do not know the answer. There is uncertainty concerning which way the global economy will go. We – be it the corporations or governments – have to be careful and vigilant.

Fortunately, for India, the recovery seems to be on a surer footing. Last quarter, our GDP grew at 8.6 per cent and this year my ministry has predicted a growth rate of 8.5 per cent. I notice that the IMF has recently challenged our prediction. For once, however, I am not going to argue with the IMF. The IMF believes that the Indian economy will grow by 8.8 per cent!

Standard economic theory teaches us that high savings and investment rates are essential for a nation to grow fast. We in India used to watch with envy how the East Asian super-performers saved and invested over 30 per cent of their GDP. What many observers do not know is that, from 2003, India has broken into this high-growth circle. We now save and invest around 34 per cent of our GDP.

At this opportune moment, India offers investment opportunities in excess of $850 billion over the next five years. In the infrastructure sector, we envisage investment at $1 trillion between 2012-13 and 2016-17, with a potential funding gap of 25-30 per cent bridged through innovative modes of financing.

We in India are also working to make our government more efficient, transparent, and in step with the modern world. As you no doubt know, we are in the process of a major reform of our direct and indirect tax systems. Our draft Direct Tax Code is now available on the web. We have sought comments and suggestions from all stake-holders. I have also made a commitment to bring down the public debt as percentage of GDP from the current level of around 75 per cent to below 68 per cent in three years.

I am aware that, as captains of industry, you will have a major focus on profits. I am sure you are equally aware that, as a politician, I have to keep a watch on votes. But, at the same time, all of us must have ambitions that go beyond these.

(Excerpts from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's opening remarks at the INDIA-US CEOs Forum meeting on June 22)

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BUSINESS STANDARD

COLUMN

THE TASTE OF SHAME

UNLIKE IN LANGARS, FREE FEEDING UNDER THE FOOD SECURITY BILL MAY FORCE PEOPLE TO SWALLOW THEIR SHAME

SREELATHA MENON

When a gurdwara serves food at a langar, everyone, including the head of the state, loves to eat it. But will proponents of community kitchens that are planned as part of the food security law want to eat at feeding stations meant exclusively for the poor?

If they would like to be seen eating at these kitchens, there may be something right with the concept. But, something must be wrong with a country which is willing to be fed like helpless beasts, driven by sheer hunger.

 A migrant from West Bengal working in the national capital as a labourer was asked why she went to eat puri-subji at a feeding session organised by someone after a puja in East Delhi. She said it was prasad, or offering to God. Asked if she would eat at the state government's community kitchen, she said only the most desperate would do so as even the poor had self-respect and did not want to be branded as poor.

At the Guruvayur temple in Kerala, the Madurai Meenakshi Temple and many other shrines, food is served for all and there seems to be no dearth of funds. The community provides the money to feed itself.

The Delhi government conducted its own experiment on feeding the poor. It expected industry chieftans to fund the plan but found them lacking in enthusiasm.

All of the 13 community kitchens opened in the city so far are run by a spiritual organisation, with just two private partners coming forward with sponsorships. The government is now wringing its hands, wondering what to do about the scheme, called Apni Rasoi. It has to spend around Rs 2 crore a year to feed over 100,000 people.

Things would have been different had the government tied up with gurdwaras or linked these kitchens to communities.

There are many wealthy people who like to feed the poor and do so. But should the government act like one of them, unless in emergencies?

Feeding programmes are held in countries that are drought-affected and poor. It is usually done by the communities themselves.

In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, such kitchens are being set up for pregnant women so that their health can be ensured.

If feeding people is shaming, can the same be said about subsidies? Whether shaming or not, it may be a better idea to prevent drought and scarcity than to create an infrastructure for giving alms.

Apart from teaching people to fish and making their catch remunerative, the right to food law may have to take a lesson from the failure of the Delhi government's Apni Rasoi scheme and the success of langars at gurdwaras. It will have to find a way to link self-respect with feeding to make the food palatable and non-discriminatory.

Amid the doomsday scenario that these proposals create, the brightly-painted rickshaws in the rapidly-expanding national capital region are like a million flags marking the triumph of the poor who migrate to cities for a living. They don't want alms. They need work and can find it without charity from anyone, least of all from the government.

 

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THE ECONOMIC TIMES

FOR THE RECORD

'IN 16 YEARS, FOOTBALL CHANGED, SO DID SOUTH AFRICA'

JOHN CARLIN

 

Renowed author and journalist, John Carlin's acclaimed "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation" was the basis of "Invictus", last year's much-talked about film, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, on Nelson Mandela and the Springbok rugby team. As The Independent, London's South Africa bureau chief during the country's watershed years (1989-1995), Carlin was a keen – and acute – observer of South African society and politics. In South Africa for the World Cup, Carlin spoke exclusively to Siddharth Saxena on Mandela, the current state of the Rainbow Nation and how the tournament proves South Africa is doing a fine job of building a shared future. Excerpts:

 

In the opening scene of the movie, Invictus, when the convoy drives through the street, there's a bunch of white kids playing rugby and on the other side, a bunch of black kids playing football. That mirrored
South Africa at the point?


• That opening scene is very telling. It just conveyed precisely that, how rugby is clearly the white people's sport and football very clearly, in those days, a black people's sport.
Do you think that has changed now? Has football crossed over?


• I think both have changed. Look, first of all bear in mind, that we are only talking 16 years since Nelson Mandela became president and democracy was established in the country. And it's not a very long time in the life of a nation when you've had a nation that for hundreds of years was absolutely culturally and racially separated. So to expect that in 16 years, everything will be mixed in this wonderful way is a bit staggering, But, now, there are more black people playing rugby than white people playing rubgy in this country. And if you look at the Springbok team, every year that goes by, you get more and more black faces in that team, and some very good players. Football ... I think it's a lot like India where most people know a lot more about the lineup of Manchester United than their own local team. I think that's more true for white people here than black people.
The idea of a displaced fan dissolves boundaries. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


• I don't think it's a bad thing. I know we all have this romantic notion that people have about the old days in England when people from a town were loyal to their town's team. But I think as a general rule of life, that uniting people is a good thing. And so, if in some remote corner of Bangalore, there's a whole bunch of guys who get together every Saturday afternoon, put on their Man United jerseys and scarves and watch it, and feel it and love it, and weep and celebrate it in the same way as they do in a suburb of Manchester. I think that's a great thing.


Your book is about a very serious political gambit by Mandela. How do you explain that?


• The rugby, the sport, is an important part of the book and it gives it the narrative thread. But the real pulse of the book was to highlight Mandela's genius in bringing together this divided nation. The amazing thing is how Mandela is face to face with the jailors in prison, is face to face with the minister of intelligence with whom he has 66 meetings, is face to face with the minister of justice of apartheid, face to face with the general who wants to wage a terrorist war against him. And when he meets these guys, he reaches out and tries to find out what they have in common rather than what divides them. What divides them is obvious. Mandela has the greatness to rise above that, And in a way, that's what he managed to do with the rugby, that was a symptom of division and racial hatred and he transformed it into an instrument of unity and reconciliation.
How difficult was it to convince his own people of the Springbok idea?


• The Springbok idea was like a metaphor for the general task of persuading people that reconciliation is the only way to go, that seeking the satisfaction of vengeance would be very short-term gratification. Mandela was very, very clear on his strategic objectives mainly democracy, stability, justice, and very clear in his principles which are basically, respect for all. When he had to make a decision such as on the Springboks, he filtered it through his principles and strategic objectives, because he's very cold thinking. He's a pragmatist. There's this tendency to deal with Mandela as a spiritual figure of generosity. And I'm not saying he's not, but I think he is first and foremost a shrewd political pragmatist. He is aware of what is possible and what isn't in politics. And his decision on the Springbok was not a decision of, 'Oh, let's be sweet and loving to the white people. The point was, if we ban this symbol, it's going to make it more difficult for us to create a stable democracy, keep right-wing terrorism at bay' etc. He convinced his people by appealing to their cold, rational political minds.
Do you think the whites' willingness to integrate was because they knew they had little choice?


• Some white people are integrating more than others. A lot of white people are, actually. One shouldn't expect too much. I think the fact that people are getting along everyday, in a cordial, respectful sort of way and not killing each other, and there isn't any racial war, right wing terrorism, that I think is plenty. I spoke of Mandela being a pragmatist. I think white people are pragmatists too. That is the secret of this country. Afrikaaners have a pharse about themselves that means 'Survivors,' and by definition a survivor is a pragmatist.
What about reports that there is a white exodus from South Africa?


• Whites have been leaving South Africa since the 1980s, so I don't think there is a recent trend here or anything. If anything, there are stories of people returning to South Africa, from the US, from Australia. There is a lot of rubbish being written in the western press about this place being a cauldron of racial tension. There is more racial tension in the US. The American film-making team that was here for Invictus who were here for six, eight months felt the same. The problems of 15 years ago in this country are way down the list of priorities for the political class today. There are questions of combating poverty, justice, crime etc. Black and white relations come way below on this list today. What the World Cup has managed to do is rebrand South Africa for the western world. The World Cup has shown that South Africa can manage    quite peacefully and efficiently.

 

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THE ECONOMIC TIMES

SWAMINOMICS

EUROPE COULD STILL SUFFER A MELTDOWN

SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR

 

For those who think the Great Recession is over, I have disturbing news. I asked a top Wall Street manager last week what the chances were of a fullblooded European financial crisis. He replied, "100 per cent."

In February, the Greek fiscal crisis sent Indian markets crashing. This was the beginning of a European crisis that is not over. Wall Street experts believe it will get much worse. If so, the global financial system could freeze again, causing a double-dip recession.

 

Optimists say governments will surely rescue all large European banks. Very probably. But the US financial system froze despite government rescues of AIG, Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and General Motors. The British system froze despite rescues of Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
   Rescues keep insolvent institutions alive, but only after imposing huge losses on shareholders, creditors and those having outstanding transactions. Citibank is alive, but its share price fell from $60 to $1 during the meltdown, and has edged up to just $ 3.70 today.

 

Nobody wants dealings with financial institutions that are tottering. When dealings freeze, credit freezes, and then all business freezes: the economic machinery cannot work without financial lubrication. The biggest Indian companies with the soundest balance sheets found credit cut off when global markets froze in 2008. A European meltdown may not be as bad, but will be troublesome.

 

Banks have a small amount of their own equity and a pile of borrowings. Some European banks in 2008 had debt 50 times their equity. By borrowing 50 times their own money, they could magnify profits 50 times. But they magnified risks and potential losses too, and these wiped out some premier banks.

 

US institutions had unwisely borrowed to invest in mortgage-related securities. When housing prices collapsed, so did mortgage-related securities, bankrupting many US institutions. Most big European banks survived because, while many had borrowed heavily, they had invested in government bonds. These are called gilts, because they have traditionally been regarded as good as gold. Indeed, the international Basle rules provide that banks can treat gilts rated AAA as having zero risk.

 

Alas, Greece showed in February that even European governments could become incapable of honouring their debts. As panic spread, Greece, Portugal and later Spain lost their AAA rating. European banks that had virtuously invested in AAA gilts suddenly found themselves holding devalued securities. This fall in assets threatened to wipe out many top banks. To prevent this, Eu ropean governments in June engineered a rescue package of 750 billion euros, covering not just Greece but all European nations. The aim was to save banks holding gilts of south ern Europe, and stop the Greek crisis from spreading. It had an immediate calming effect on markets. But analysts soon re alized that this did not solve the underlying problem of high unsustainable government debt in southern Europe. Most European countries have un wisely decreed high wages and generous retirement and med ical benefits that they can no longer afford, and this long-run problem was exposed pitiless ly by the recession.

 

Britain has now declared that the financial emperor has no clothes. It refuses to keep up the pretence that all problems can be solved by fresh stimu lus packages, each entailing ad ditional government debt. The new British government has opted instead for structural ad justment, earlier reserved for spendthrift Third Worlders This austerity will cost jobs and income, but will eventually re duce government debt and in crease domestic savings.


Southern European coun tries have similar problems Bankers can shrug off the tra vails of small countries like Greece and Portugal. But Spain is a big country, and bankers worry whether it will weather the storm. If it falters, panic will spread to Italy. This is a G 7 country with enormous out standing debt, amounting to 120% of GDP. Italian bonds are widely held by European banks. If these bonds sink, they can sink the biggest European banks. Optimists say govern ments will find a way out. They can oblige the European Cen tral Bank to print euros and buy all European gilts in dis tress. This will ruin the repu tation (and value) of the euro but may be politically prefer able to a financial meltdown.

 

After 1990, Japan resorted to financial fiction to keep its banks going, at the cost of eco nomic stagnation for a decade Europe could replicate this Neither a meltdown nor decadal stagnation bode well for the global economy. Better outcomes are possible. Maybe Europe will find a way to grow out of its troubles painlessly The chances are that it won't.

 

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THE ECONOMIC TIMES

OUT OF TURN

 

BOTH FATHER AND SON ARE IN THE WRONG JOBS

M J AKBAR

 

How long does it take to win an ideological war? A confrontation between the armies of ruling elites is conventional and therefore comprehensible: it lasts as long as the powder is dry and the will of the subaltern to fight for the interests of his general can be sustained.


A war of ideas is circumscribed by different ponderables and imponderables: conflicting definitions of justice; a vision often compromised by power pitched against a dream stretched into fantasy by a surreal sense of self. The ideological Armageddon starts in the mind, so it is difficult to know when it began. But since it descends to the street we generally know when it ends.

 

 We can set a precise date for Omar Abdullah's "ideological war", which is how he chose to describe his present troubles. On June 11, 1939, a special session of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, born in 1932 and led by Omar's grandfather, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, changed its name to National Conference. The 179 delegates debated through the night. In the morning, there were only three votes against the resolution. This was a remarkable event. Not only due to its intrinsic values, but because it went against the trend of Muslim politics in the rest of the subcontinent, since the mood of the principal party, the Muslim League, was hardening against the secular, inclusive vision of Gandhi, Azad and Nehru. On March 26, 1938, the Sheikh told the sixth session of the Muslim Conference, "We must end communalism by ceasing to think in terms of Muslims and non-Muslims when discussing our political problems…" And at Anantnag in 1939, the National Conference endorsed Gandhi's policy towards the world war, setting course towards a partnership with plural India. Enter, caveat. History is so often the safest alibi for misrule. After 71 years has curfew become an ideology?

 

Who would have carried the June 11 debate if it were being held today, the 176 members with Omar's grandfather, or the three against him? Since the past is the favourite pastime of alibi-seekers, a compendium of dates can always be trotted out in explanation. But history can as easily be an 18-month-old baby as a hoary 71-year-old. In the winter of 2008 and the summer of 2009 the 1939 partnership of National Conference and Congress won the support of Srinagar and large sections of the valley. You cannot hold an election in a curfew.
   Every incident does not become a conflagration. Omar Abdullah's mishandling of police-people confrontation has fanned a spark into a rage and this rage is waiting to become arson. The flaw might be in the fundamentals. The people of the state did not elect Omar Abdullah as chief minister. They voted for his father Farooq Abdullah, who repeatedly clarified during the campaign that he was the chief minister-designate. Omar Abdullah was enthroned chief minister by one man's vote, that of Rahul Gandhi in an effort to remodel the Kashmiri young in his own and Rahul Gandhi's image. But Kashmir's youngest chief minister has lost the youth of Kashmir.

 

What is the difference between Farooq and Omar Abdullah? Socio-political DNA. Farooq is a Kashmiri in his nerve cells; Omar is a newelitist offspring of English-accent India, which has confused its good fortune with a divine right to rule. Omar resides in Kashmir and lives in Delhi; the opposite is true of his father. Farooq persuades in Kashmiri and sings in Urdu, Omar speaks in English and spends the more comfortable part of his week in Delhi. Perhaps it is a four-generational syndrome typical of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic India, where fresh stalks reduce a family tree's roots to a distant memory. Omar is sincere, and represents his state sincerely, but cannot communicate with it. More important, the valley cannot communicate with Omar Abdullah. Father and son are in the wrong jobs.

 The opportunity for a switch will not last forever. In fact, Omar might make the Srinagar secretariat inhabitable for the Abdullahs if there is no course correction very soon. He still has time, but not as much as his friend Rahul Gandhi might want to give him. Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah were close friends, but the former's perception of Indian national interest superseded sentiment in 1953.

 

The irony is that Pakistan cannot be a role model for Kashmiri youth. Our subcontinent has seen violence in the name of faith or power, by state and civilian, party and maverick over the last thousand years. The worst tyrant would never dare disturb the immaculate peace beyond the doorstep of the shrine in Lahore of the beloved Data Ganj Baksh Hajveri, who came from Persia in the 10th century. Lahore is synonymous with Datasahib, whose shrine has survived Rajput, Turco-Afghan, Mughal, Sikh and British rule. On Friday, Muslim terrorists nourished by a culture of violent sectarianism crossed the ultimate threshold. Such sacrilege would be beyond a Kashmiri's imagination.

 

Why is Omar Abdullah losing what such a Pakistan cannot gain?

 

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THE ECONOMIC TIMES

RIGHT & WRONG

 

HISTORY CAN BE SEXY AND THE HISTORIAN ROCKSTAR

SWAPAN DASGUPTA

 

Novelists and poets have traditionally provided muchneeded fodder to gossip columnists. Their little quirks, eccentricities and bohemianism have added spice to the more predictable tidbits concerning politicians, film stars and the category that has come to be known as "footballers' wives". As an enthusiastic consumer of tittle-tattle, it is interesting that there is a new category of people who have made it to the celebrity lists: historians.

 

The idea of a dreary professor who spends his days burrowing through the archives or slyly ogling the skimpily-clad undergraduate, making it to the gossip columns is, of course, absurd. Oxbridge life, as Rab Butler, a successful Conservative politician who went on to become Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, put it, was too mired in "endless Port and dignity" to warrant popular attention.

 

 Fortunately, the better class of historian tends to be more exciting than the average, better-paid economist. AJP Taylor, the history don at Magdalen, Oxford, was unquestionably one of the most stimulating chroniclers of the past. Yet, he was passed over for the prized post of Regius Professor at the ancient university because he dabbled too much in the popular media including, horror of horrors, television. Had Taylor been alive today, he would have been a permanent fixture of London high society — by which I don't mean Russian tycoons or cricket impresarios who drive around Buckingham Gate in Ferraris.

 

Fortunately, Taylor's inheritance hasn't been squandered. In the last few years, historians who invariably have the 'right-wing' prefix attached to them have become regulars on the society pages. There is Andrew Roberts, whose masterly studies of Lord Salisbury and Lord Halifax (Indians knew him as Lord Irwin, the Viceroy who invited the 'half-naked fakir' to the palace on Raisina Hill) are well worth perusing. His History of the English-speaking Peoples since 1900, an account of the Anglo sphere that includes a generous assessment of Lt Gen Dyer of Jallianwala Bagh, is worth recommending.

 

 Leading the pack is, of course, Niall Ferguson, now professor at Harvard but more famous for his book and TV series, Empire. Ferguson makes his fellow historians (particularly the ones he left behind in Oxford) green with envy because he has proved that good history also commands a handsome market price. Now romantically linked to the Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose critique of Islam has made her a target of hate, Ferguson has deftly demonstrated that history is not a dead subject but has contemporary resonance.

 

Linking the present to the past has been the constant endeavour of the historian since Edward Gibbon published his classic The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire between 1776 and 1788. Gibbon did not directly allude to the present: the intelligent historian doesn't have to. But anyone in the West reliving the steady erosion of Roman authority after Augustus and Tiberius, cannot but be struck by a sense of déjà vu.

 

Augustus, wrote Gibbon of another time, "bequeathed as a valuable legacy to his successors, the advice of confining the empire within those limits which nature seemed to have placed as its permanent bulwarks and boundaries." Emperors who violated this unwritten axiom left Rome vulnerable to predatory 'barbarians'.

 

Has the West over-reached itself in assuming the role of global cop in Afghanistan? More than 2,000 years after Augustus, the issue of the natural borders of a civilization has become the focus of a West that no longer has the resources and political will to sustain a war against today's 'barbarians'. The debate is no longer one of winning the 'war on terror' — the theme that resonated in 2001 — but the 'timetable' of withdrawal. Once there was a price on the head of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Today, earnest politicians talk of "including the excluded".

 

Is Afghanistan symptomatic of a larger decline or is it an expedient step towards course-correction? Western politicians are naturally inclined to suggest the latter. Afghanistan, it is now being suggested, has always been the graveyard of empires. And there are always the celebrity histo rians to prove the point.
   Delhi's very own White Mogul and toast of the literati, William Dalrymple is now researching the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1838-42 The war, which bears uncanny re semblance to events of another cen tury, was marked by the massacre of 16,000 Britons and Indians and the legend of Dr William Brydon the only 'white man' to reach Jalal abad alive.

 

The legend inspired the Victori ans to persist with Afghanistan. In the reign of this Queen, it has become the flashback for quiet retreat, mas querading as prudence. Maybe we should await an offering from Roberts on Lord Kitchener's war against the Mahadi in Sudan to demonstrate that all history doesn't point in one di rection.

 

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THE ECONOMIC TIMES

INDIAN MEDICAL SKILL CAN'T CURE PAK'S CANCER

C UDAY BHASKAR

 

In the apocalypsetinged reportage of the troubled India-Pakistan relationship, came this welcome news: a successful cord blood stem cell transplant on a one-year-old Pakistani baby boy, Shaheer Imran, at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. It was symptomatic of the complex, often contradictory relationship between South Asia's two large neighbours.

 

The Indian medical team reportedly carried out a rare, unrelated double cord blood stem cell transplant to redress the potentially fatal genetic immune system disorder detected in Shaheer. The operation was conducted on March 15 but the doctors had to wait 10 weeks to confirm that white cells and platelets were being satisfactorily generated. The little boy's parents, Maliha and Imran Gulzar, count themselves lucky. So will little Shaheer when he grows up and learns he was one of the lucky few in Pakistan to have timely access to the marvels of modern medicine.

 

Surgery for newborns, particularly those with complex cardiac and blood-related congenital conditions, is inadequate in Pakistan. Consequently, many such babies are brought to India by their anxious parents. The distances involved are relatively manageable and the cost of medical care is a fraction of the developed world. Plans are afoot to bring 200 Pakistani children to Kolkata by chartered plane for heart surgery over the next few months. It is a happy indication of shared humanity on either side if the border.

 

Even so, what is Baby Shaheer likely to associate with India when he starts to go to school? His parents may remember Ganga Ram hospital with affection. Will their son do the same? Many liberal Pakistanis bemoan the fact that their society is progressively more intolerant, more so after the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. The state's Islamic identity and its socio-cultural ethos was distorted and a selective interpretation of Islam was advanced, which began with the persecution of the Ahmadiyas and later, the Shias. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the deification of the 'mujahedin' warrior – metaphorically portrayed in the Reagan years as the brave tribesman with Koran in one hand and Kalashnikov in the other – religious radicalization and endorsement of 'jihad' had begun in Pakistan.

 

The deeply religious and extremely conservative Pakistani dictator General Zia-ul Haq used the meta-narrative about Pakistan and Islam as a basic tool block to persuade the impressionable mind that bloodshed was acceptable to protect Islam. History was embroidered, falsified or excluded through the country's educational system. From the toddler learning the alphabet to the college student – the textbook and the curriculum were shaped to nurture this ideology of exclusion and the abiding 'threat' to religion. The more tolerant and inclusive interpretation of Islam gave way to the current Wahabi-Salafi version, with its many inflexible gender-skewed characteristics. Pakistan's privileged citizen today is the Sunni-Wahabi Punjabimale, preferably with links to the Army, senior clergy or Taliban.

 

 The brainwashing begins early and as a Pakistani columnist recently commented after the New York Times Square incident botched by Faisal Shahzad: "The educational material in most secular and so-called 'English-medium' schools is, at times, equally hateful. Parts of their textbooks tell lies, craft hate, and incite readers for a new world order called pan-Islamism, hence ideologically confusing the students who already suffer from a serious identity crisis."

 

Is the child Pakistani first, or Muslim ? Who is the 'other' and are all non-Muslims enemies? These are crucial questions for young minds, but in Pakistan, as commentator Ali K Chishti avers: "…the entire public and private school curricula are designed to promote, inculcate and incite the spirit of 'jihad' and hatred among children as young as five."

 

This is why much as one welcomes the spontaneous medical help provided by Indian doctors to Pakistan's Baby Shaheers, people-topeople initiatives need to be complemented by addressing the poisonous ideological indoctrination of the young mind. Pakistan should pay heed to its own commentators, who admit that India and Pakistan cannot live together in peace "until there is a complete overhaul of the educational curriculum in Pakistan and the process of reverse indoctrination is completed." Only thus can Pakistan prevent the metaphorical morphing of a Baby Shaheer into a Faisal Shahzad.

 

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                                                                                                               DECCAN CHRONICAL

EDITORIAL

AVOID DEBATE, FOCUS ON STRATEGY

It is time to go about shaping and refining the anti-Naxalite strategy without breast-beating or fanfare. And certainly we can do without the loud, controversial and unproductive debate on the deployment of the Army and the Air Force which has been made edgy on account of political one-upmanship engaged in by those who place a premium on flag-waving and call themselves "strong". Last Tuesday's attack by the Naxalites on a CRPF party in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh, which killed 27 jawans, was tragedy piled upon tragedy. In early April, 76 CRPF men had been ambushed and slain by Maoists in Dantewada district in the same state. In the intervening period, a group of eight of the same Central police force were blown up in their jeep, also in Narayanpur. The sequence of events suggests that procedures followed by the security forces may suffer from weaknesses. Alternatively, the procedures are not being implemented according to the rules of jungle warfare. It is for professionals to do a meaningful critique of the conduct of the CRPF combat units in hostile terrain where the road network is pitiful, communications difficult, and the area bigger than a couple of European countries taken together. Instead, the bogey of lack of coordination between the state police and the CRPF is being raised. This is a pity. The irresponsible innuendo can only do disservice to the leaderships of both forces, and demoralise the men under their command. Instead of looking at such specifics, which might have a bearing on the efficiency of the security forces in the future, we seem to have developed the special faculty of converting every operational setback into a political discussion. Such an approach can only comfort the elements the dedicated jawans are fighting in difficult circumstances.

There appears to be some thinking in the government that the deployment of CRPF units needs to change as it is based on threat assessments for different locations made five or six years ago. This is understandable. Men should be sent where they are most needed. However, this matter does not appear to be connected with the issue of high-profile Maoist attacks on our forces when they are engaged in routine operations such as road-widening or area domination to keep the insurgents at bay. It is important that we ask the right questions and not be diverted by esoteric discussions, such as the one concerning sending of the Army at least in non-combat roles. It also appears to be the case that the changing nature of Maoist tactics over the years, and the greater sophistication of the military equipment they have managed to procure through clandestine channels, need to be factored in as a part of the training and drill the counter-insurgency units are put through. It is better training, innovations in methods to counter the insurgents, better equipment, more advanced terrain-related tactics, and an upgrade of the intelligence apparatus which are needed to deal with the Naxalites. Let's focus on these with due diligence and not be carried away by arcane meanderings.

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DECCAN CHRONICAL

EDITORIAL

ENGAGE ALL IN J&K

BY ARUN NEHRU

India lives in many dimensions. As we hurtle towards attaining "superpower" status, we are confronted with serious security issues, both internal and external. We see this in the increased violence in Jammu and Kashmir and in yet another daring and deadly attack by the Maoists.

Over the past three weeks, security forces in J&K have come under immense pressure from those with vested interests. It is very sad that while 53 Central Reserve Police Force jawans were injured in the clashes, civilian casualties have risen to 11. Given the fact that hardline separatists and anti-national elements have their own agenda, and are linked to the fragmented power politics in Islamabad, we cannot consider these incidents in isolation. Though home minister P. Chidambaram has made a successful visit to Pakistan, voicing concern about the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the fact is that the extreme elements within Pakistan are completely isolated and will make their presence felt through violence.  

Jammu and Kashmir needs a great deal of political attention. The people of J&K have done their bit by coming out in large numbers to vote in the Assembly elections. Now it is the turn of both the Central and the state government to deliver. Besides the National Conference, it is vital for the Congress to spread its wings in the Valley. The Centre must engage with the People's Democratic Party's Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti on current and other issues.

For the past five decades, the most difficult thing in Kashmir has been to segregate issues as there is a very thin line between internal political issues and claims raised by anti-national elements. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah needs assistance at all levels as the situation might get worse before there is an improvement. The theory of effective and good governance seems easy when written or spoken about but the ground reality can be very different. We have to rally all our resources to battle this menace and the Centre has an important part to play in this process.

THOUGH THERE has been fresh violence in Chhattisgarh where Maoists killed 27 paramilitary troopers in Bastar region, from media reports we see that a great deal of progress has been made in gathering intelligence. The arrest and detention of Maoist cadres, along with raids that have led to seizures of arms and ammunition, are indications that effective governance is beginning to take shape in Naxal-infested states. This, by itself, will be a warning to those casually associated with this extreme violence.

There are also measures to provide basic facilities in the tribal areas of several states. This needs to be highlighted by performance on the ground by both the Central and the state governments. We have seen images of those arrested for the train blasts and other crimes and it's clear that we are dealing with a different kind of extremism, one that requires a different approach. Hopefully, saner elements on all sides will find a way to put an end to this violence. Non-governmental organisations, social activists and intellectuals, all have an important role to play. Anyone with human sensitivity and feelings cannot but be moved by the poverty levels in these areas. Whilst this is no excuse for killing innocent civilians, it would be a pity if the voice of reason was lost in the sound of gunfire. There are many in these states who have experience of these situations and we must listen to them, especially since we know that a small militant minority with strong financial vested interests can keep all sides in a state of prolonged conflict.

I have written several times about the political system being held captive by financial criminal interests. What we are witnessing today in the mining sector is a deliberate and systematic loot of national resources. Little can happen without the active participation of the state. We have a crisis in Karnataka where the Reddy brothers hold the Bharatiya Janata Party to ransom. But is the situation any different in Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Haryana, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh?

The "mafia" is able to hold the political system hostage as it is a source of political funding. That's why little will change beyond the immediate crisis as almost everyone, cutting across party lines, is involved in one form or another. For example, look at the Madhu Koda scam which dominated media headlines where Rs 4,000 crores was looted from the state. But has anything happened beyond the ritual statements?

The political system is also being held to ransom by caste and religious votebanks and I do not know in which category we can put the khap panchayats. While law minister M. Veerappa Moily has agreed to amend the law on honour killings, the fact is that many politicians favour khap panchayats. This is true in the issue of a caste census, which is before various committees — there is reason to believe that it has significant support in Parliament.

Good governance is about legislating for the future needs of society but we have still not reached that stage of decision-making. We only react when disaster strikes.

THE GROUP OF TWENTY meet on the global economy was a good indicator of the power pattern emerging in the immediate future and it is good to see India playing an important role in this decision-making body. The immediate problem is Europe as a single entity and the situation in the United Kingdom is far from encouraging. All former colonial powers — stripped of their colonies and their commercial advantages over the past 50 years — are struggling with economic issues associated with the Third World. It would be rather unfortunate if they devised immigration controls that are racial in nature. I think it is time that the external affairs ministry urgently looked into these issues. Reciprocal action is necessary on many issues as many nations live in the distant past instead of paying attention to the global realities.

We need not worry too much about the gloom and doom theory being propounded in certain countries in Europe. The past month has indicated there can be no decoupling in global trade but the impact will vary from nation to nation. We have much to do as we strive towards a possible nine per cent gross domestic product growth for the current year.

- Arun Nehru is a former Union Minister

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DECCAN CHRONICAL

EDITORIAL

DISASTER STRIKES WHEN SPIES DON'T TALK

BY IRFAN HUSAIN

The recent revelations about a Russian spy network working under deep cover in the US gives us the farcical side of espionage. The fact that the Russian suspects had been under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance for 10 years without the Americans being able to uncover what secret information they had actually sent back to Moscow says as much about the spies as it does about the years of wasted counter-intelligence efforts.

All too often, spooks have little idea about why they are doing what they are ordered to do. Years ago, I met an official from one of our many intelligence agencies who confessed that he and his colleagues routinely wasted hundreds of hours following Opposition politicians around. He had no idea what happened to the reports they produced, or what purpose they could possibly serve. Since then, resources allocated to this futile exercise have multiplied, and we are no safer as a result.

Apart from this clueless, bumbling Inspector Clouseau aspect of espionage, there is a more sinister side: witness the chilling, quasi-criminal acts agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mossad, MI6 and the Inter-Services Intelligence — among many others — have carried out in the name of national security. All too often, the tight compartmentalisation of sundry agencies prevents them from sharing information that might have been of crucial importance had it been seen by agents from a sister organisation. There are times when this rivalry among spooks can be truly disastrous.

One example of this tendency has been documented in Lawrence Wright's extraordinary account of 9/11 in his book The Looming Tower. This carefully researched and lucidly written book reads like a spy thriller as it takes the reader from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to Sudan and back to Afghanistan in Osama bin Laden's footsteps. Simultaneously, we track the FBI's investigation of Al Qaeda, and learn how tantalisingly close it came to arresting several key figures of the conspiracy when they first arrived in the United States. Had not the CIA withheld crucial information, despite repeated FBI requests, the entire 9/11 plot might have been foiled. Indeed, the course of history over the past decade might have been very different.

Following the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemeni waters, an FBI investigation established links between the organisers and Al Qaeda, and an Arabic-speaking agent interrogated a suspect called Quso at length. He named other Al Qaeda operatives who met soon afterwards in Kuala Lumpur. This meeting was secretly observed by the CIA, while the FBI learned of phone calls from Yemen to a hotel in the Malaysian capital. When the FBI asked the CIA for more information about the Al Qaeda presence in Kuala Lumpur, the request was denied.

Weeks later, the FBI learned of the arrival of terror suspects in the United States, and again demanded photographs of these people on their list. Once again, the request was turned down. Similarly, telephone intercepts were not handed over to the FBI though one call referred to an atrocity "bigger than Hiroshima".

To understand the agency's motives, it is important to know its pre-9/11 guidelines. Under American law, the CIA operates only outside the US, while the FBI investigates criminal and terrorist activities within the country's borders. However, if Americans are killed abroad, the FBI has jurisdiction, and hence its massive presence in Yemen after the Cole bombing.

The CIA does not prosecute suspects in American courts, unlike the FBI. Hence, even though it had crucial information that would have enabled the FBI to arrest several of the 9/11 plotters when they entered the US, the agency considered that its investigation into Al Qaeda links with the Cole bombing would be jeopardised.

After repeated requests, the CIA finally turned over three photos of the Kuala Lumpur meeting, but withheld a crucial fourth one. The consequences, according to Wright, were disastrous: "By withholding the picture of Khallad standing beside the future hijackers, the CIA blocked the bureau's investigation into the Cole attack and allowed the 9/11 plot to proceed". Barely two months later, four airliners were hijacked and three of them flew into their targets, killing thousands.

Shortly before the attack, Bin Laden and his entourage fled their base in anticipation of the inevitable American respond. From his hideout above Khost, he and his inner circle followed the events on BBC's Arabic service. Wright describes the scene thus: "In Afghanistan, Bin Laden also wept and prayed. The accomplishment of striking two towers was an overwhelming signal of God's favour, but there was more to come. Before his incredulous companions, Bin Laden held up three fingers… At 9.38 am, the third plane had crashed into the headquarters of American military power and the symbol of its power. When news came of the Pentagon strike, Bin Laden held up four fingers to his wonderstruck followers, but the final strike, against the US Capitol, would fail".

At the end of the book, we are left wondering "What if…?" But ultimately, all history would have been different if people had acted differently at crucial moments

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DECCAN CHRONICAL

OPED

'POLICE CAN TACKLE NAXAL VIOLENCE'

Mr Vishwa Ranjan, the Director-General of Police (DGP), Chhattisgarh, says in an interview with Rabindra Choudhury that a well-trained police force can tackle the Maoist menace. The DGP does not believe that there is a lack of coordination between the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Q. Chhattisgarh has seen three major Maoist strikes against security personnel recently. Is there a problem of coordination and lack of trust between the state police and the CRPF?


A. This is absolutely incorrect. All joint operations involving two forces can only be done after joint consultations. Unless everyone is on board, joint operations cannot be undertaken. I have given strict instructions to my officers that in case the CRPF and state police have divergent views, either the SP concerned will conduct the operation with his own force, or defer it.


Forces act independently while conducting routine exercises like protecting their respective camps and carrying out logistic movements. This is the practice followed in any combat zone, anywhere in the world. These operations are either road opening exercises or area domination exercises. Independent actions of this nature cannot be misconstrued to suggest that there is lack of coordination with the CRPF.
We share enough intelligence between us. Even in the recent case of Dhorai, intelligence was shared about presence of Naxals in the area. In fact, it was already planned to lay an ambush to trap the Naxalites on the night of June 29-30. However, the operation had to be cancelled after CRPF personnel got ambushed during routine logistic movement.

Q. A weak intelligence network is said to be a major hindrance in combating the Naxal menace effectively in Chhattisgarh.


A. This is not at all true. It would not be possible to carry out intelligence-based operations — and these are being done — by either the Central paramilitary forces (CPMF) or the state police if the intelligence network is weak. The record shows that the highest number of Naxalites have been killed in Chhattisgarh in encounters. This would not be possible without proper intelligence. Also, the highest number of encounters with Naxals have taken place in Chhattisgarh. This too is not possible without adequate intelligence.

Q. It is heard in security circles that the anti-Maoist operations have so far failed to yield results for two reasons — one, attention on routine operations instead of intelligence-based operations; and two, the use of big combat units instead of small.
A. Routine exercises are needed as much as intelligence-based operations, and certain routine exercises have to be done to ensure the success of planned operations. Routine operations are required to provide protection to camps of security forces.
If an area is not dominated through routine operations, how is it possible to launch an intelligence-based operation from a forward post? Everything forms a part of a chain. If logistic movement is not undertaken, forward posts cannot be sustained. If area domination exercise is not done around the camps, then Maoists will come very close to the camps and try to overrun them. Also, if long- and short-range patrols are not regularly undertaken, the forces will not be able to acquaint themselves with the terrain. Jungle warfare cannot be fought unless the forces are extremely familiar with the terrain and the nature of the jungle. So, if all these things are not taken care of, it is foolish to think intelligence-based surgical operations can be launched.
When Andhra Pradesh was facing the problem, Maoist guerrillas were moving in batches of 15-25. So, it was very easy to operate with smaller groups of policemen. Since 2000, the Maoists have upgraded themselves from the stage of guerrilla warfare to mobile warfare. In the process, they have become highly militarised and move in company formations. A small group of security personnel will be encircled and liquidated. Therefore, the police have to learn the art of company manoeuvres in jungle warfare.

Q. Chhattisgarh police is said to be ill-equipped. Are there modernisation plans, or a plan to raise a special force on the lines of the Greyhound in Andhra Pradesh?

A. Chhattisgarh police is as modern as any police force in India. They are trained at the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College at Kanker in Chhattisgarh. Of course, there is always scope for improvement. Besides, it is not only weapons that matter, but also the man holding it. We already have a Special Task Force (STF), highly trained like the special forces in the Army. It is a small elite force.

Q. Chhattisgarh has been waging a battle against the Maoists for the past decade. Why has it not succeeded?
A. Andhra Pradesh began fighting the battle in 1970. It was only in 1990 that it could turn the tide. We began in 2005. Even Maoists documents say that they have suffered the biggest reverses in Chhattisgarh. Despite their two recent successes against the CRPF, which can happen in the course of a long war, it is true that in joint operations with the CRPF we have won many battles against the Naxals. You must understand that the CRPF is the oldest force of the Government of India. It has fought successfully in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. Two or three major reverses need to be critically analysed but not be used to blackbrush an entire force which has a creditable history.

Q. Has Salwa Judum contributed to the growth of Maoists in Chhattisgarh?

A. This malicious propaganda was unleashed by Maoists and their supporters. What Salwa Judum has done is that for the first time in the hinterland of Bastar, such a big movement emerged to oppose the Maoists. Earlier anti-Maoist movements were very small and were crushed by the Naxals.

Q. Do you support the idea of giving government patronage to Salwa Judum to counter the Naxals ?
A. Salwa Judum was never given government patronage. But it is the responsibility of the government to protect civilians who opposed an anti-democratic group like Maoists, which believes in violence. It is also the responsibility of the government to protect Salwa Judum members when they are attacked by the Maoists. Salwa Judum members were forced to live in relief camps because of violence perpetrated by Maoists. The government has no option but to provide relief and protection.

Q. Is Maoism a social or law and order problem?

A. It is neither. It is based on the sinister ideology that power can be achieved through a protracted war so that a democratically-elected government may be dismantled and replaced by a totalitarian system.

Q. Don't you think it is the lack of development that has helped Maoism grow?

A. It is true that lack of development can provide the soil where such sinister ideologies may take root. However, since the ultimate goal of the Maoists is to capture power, they would exploit any socio-economic contradictions to gain a foothold. In a developing nation there would never be a period where all socio-economic contradictions can be put to rest.

Q. Do you need the help of the Army to tackle the Maoists?

A. Using the Army is a political decision. However, I can say that a well-rained police force is capable of tackling Naxal violence.

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DECCAN CHRONICAL

OPED

FALI'S WITTY MEMOIRS

BY KHUSHWANT SINGH

As I read Fali Nariman's memoirs Before Memory Fades - An Autobiography (Hay House), I kept thinking about Nani Palkiwala who I had the privilege of befriending during my years in Bombay.

Both men were Parsis from the middle class families with modest means. Both rose to the top of the legal profession and were involved in many landmark cases which had far-reaching effects.

Nani was a great orator. Every year he used to pronounce on the National Budget the day after it was announced in Parliament. Literally, thousands turned up to bear him.

He spoke extempore for exactly one hour touching every aspect of the Budget spiced with anecdotes and quotations. He never had a piece of paper in his hand.

I also had the privilege of dining with him. Bapsi Nariman has several cookery books to her credit.

I learn that there is a lot more to the Parsi cuisine from Dhansakh and patra-fish.

Fali Nariman spent his childhood in Rangoon where his father was then posted. The family fled to India when the Japanese overran large parts of Asia in early years of the Second World War. They made their home in Delhi. Fali was sent to Bishop Cotton School in Shimla.

He was an average student. He went to college in Bombay and did his LLB coming out on the top. At the time the Bombay Bar was dominated by Parsis. He had no difficulty getting admission to the chambers, being hired as a junior and then as a leading counsel. The climb to the top had begun. Like Palkiwala he never compromised with his principals.

When Mrs Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency, both men refused to comply. Nariman who was standing counsel for Gujarat resigned when the state government failed to stop violence against Christians and Muslims. Both man and wife involved themselves in good works. Bapsi
worked for Mother Teresa.

Both involved themselves in the cause of Tibetan autonomy and publicly supported the Dalai Lama. Fali was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP government. He had little time to spare and made no great contribution in the debates.

What makes his autobiography very readable is the all-pervading sense of modesty and touches of humour. Earlier, in his memoirs he writes: "I received my first lesson in life not to show off. If you do not have the courage of suppressing your ego when you are young, it will surely overtake you when you are older. After which it will become unavoidable. Human-beings are not born humble and the tendency to show off is congenital but it has to be repressed."

There was an incident of a murderous attack on the life of Chief Justice Hidayatullah by a disgruntled litigant. Hidayatullah and his assistant overpowered the assailant but he managed to stab another judge in the head. Daphtary called on him in the hospital but could not resist making fun of him at the same time. He said: "They are most dastardly than these assassins. They always attack you in your weakest point."

Fali Nariman's present worry is shared by many people including myself. At the end of his memoirs he concluded: "I must end with a note of apprehension. My greatest regret in a long, happy, interesting life is the intolerance that has crept in our society. For centuries Hinduism has been the most tolerant of all religions. But over the past few years I have see a new phenomenon.

The Hindu tradition of tolerance is under strain of religious tension fanned by fanaticism. The great orchestra of different languages and praying to different gods - that we proudly call India -is now seen and heard playing out of tune."

What does oxymoron mean?

An Oxymoron is usually defined as a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are brought together:

  1. Clearly misunderstood
  2. 2. Exact estimate
  3. 3. Small crowd
  4. 4. Act naturally
  5. 5. Found missing
  6. 6. Fully empty
  7. 7. Pretty ugly
  8. 8. Seriously funny
  9. 9. Only choice
  10. 10. Original copies
  11. One oxymoron was used on Americans when they couldn't find weapons of mass destruction:
  12. 11. American intelligence
  13. and Mother of all
  14. 12. Happily married

(Courtesy: Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)

The Siberia of India

M'lord Dinakran's transfer to Sikkim reminds me of 1961, when an Airforce Officer, who was to be disciplined, was posted at Chushul airfield (14,300 feet), Ladak, under the direct observation of Chinese observation post. As a punishment posting to this inhospitable and barren terrain of Sikkim, with subzero temperature, he was assigned the duties of Air Traffic Controller.

The ad-hoc ATC consisted of himself and two airmen to warm the bench (usage in judiciary and IPL also), operating from a small tent subjected to strong and chilly winds.

(Contributed by Colonel Trilok Mehrotra, Noida)

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DECCAN CHRONICAL

OPED

A BILL TO REFORM

BY DILIP CHERIAN

Many retired bureaucrats looking for reemployment with one or the other regulatory authority may have reason to worry over Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia's remark that retiring secretaries should not become regulators of industries they had overseen while in service.

Mr Ahluwalia, during a discussion on the bill for regulatory reform, suggested that licenses must be taken from ministers and given to regulators to ensure more accountability and transparency. He also stressed on the irrationality in the appointment of the selection panel in the ministry through a minister after the Prime Minister's approval. Getting the cabinet to decide, according to him, was a better way. Other steps the deputy chairman suggested included increasing accountability of regulators to Parliament and reducing secrecy within Parliament by making Standing Committee meetings public.

Mr Ahluwalia's views may have ruffled a few feathers among babus and netas, but the ball still lies in their court. Competition Commission of India chairman, Dhanendra Kumar, has said that since the bill would impact the existing regulators, comments should be invited from all. A reform bill on regulation was long overdue, but how effective it will be will depend upon the decisions the concerned take to keep the good and eliminate its shortcomings.

Survey results

That the seductions of the corporate world have long bewitched babus is well-known. Clearly the civil service is no longer top draw for those seeking careers. Now confirmation of the fading lure of babudom comes from the first-ever government commissioned survey of the civil services carried out recently. The survey revealed that one out of three top officers in India's civil services has at some point of time considered quitting his/her job. And those who actually did quit, mostly went to swell the ranks of the growing private sector.
Interestingly, political interference was just one of the many problems that babus said they faced in their careers. The other equally vital concerns of babus relate to promotion, transfer, performance appraisal and opportunities for deputations.

These survey findings, calculated for the ever-analytical Cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, have now been circulated to state governments and central departments, including the home ministry for study and discussion.
Apparently, they've been asked to take corrective measures to address these concerns. That the government takes the findings seriously is seen from the decision to now make the survey an annual practice. But the findings also underline the need to urgently press forward with bureaucratic reforms.

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THE STATESMAN

EDITS

POLITICS & PEDAGOGY

CENTRE'S AFFIRMATION OF LIBERTY 

 

THE HRD ministry has done well to draw a distinction between the bureaucracy and academics in the matter of political discourse. While civil servants are expected ~ it is a different matter that they usually don't ~ to observe neutrality, it is generally accepted that faculties in colleges and universities are entitled to articulate their political views. This is deemed to be an index of intellectual freedom in a libertarian ambience. Indeed, the political hue of the faculties is the hallmark of many a university.  The HRD ministry must have been acutely aware that the Nagaland University Vice-Chancellor's recommendation to penalise teachers for their political views would have caused  a deleterious flutter in the academic roost. It might even have been interpreted as suppression of dissent. Political sympathies are a matter of subjective reflection and a teacher is perfectly entitled to an opinion, but one that falls short of engaging in active politics on campus.  Participation in a rally is also a democratic right, but one that must never be exercised at the cost of lectures or the academic schedule in the wider context. In that respect, the academic circuit must perform more responsibly than say the CPI-M's Coordination Committee in West Bengal or the Opposition State Employees Federation. 
    A balance between holding views on and actually participating in politics is crucially imperative. The Nagaland VC, K Kannan's proposal on a blanket ban and penalty would only have created problems.  Having turned down the suggestion as "untenable", the HRD ministry must now ensure that teachers don't  politically influence the taught, far less use the campus to pursue their political agenda. As opposed to bureaucrats, teachers have the right to voice their political views. Vice-Chancellor Kannan may have proposed a bout of overkill; yet the Centre's affirmation of academic liberty ought never to be misconstrued as licence.  The sanctity of the campus must rank highest in the list of priorities. Political discourse ought strictly to be conducted as an off-campus pursuit.

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THE STATESMAN

EDITS

NEPAL PM QUITS

BUT POLITICKING CONTINUES TO FLOURISH 

 

WHILE stepping down as Prime Minister after 13 months of what can be described as politically fruitless rule, Madhav Kumar Nepal made it known that he did so because he could not "bear seeing the nation held hostage to indecision", and this despite enjoying a majority in the Constituent Assembly. But if he was so sharply aware of this, he should have quit a long time back because it was his stubbornness in holding on to his chair that stymied the formation of a national government based on consensus. In Nepal, politicians pay scant attention to accords or deadlines. As per the 28 May Accord signed by the main parties, and which staved off a major political crisis by allowing extension of the term of the present Constituent Assembly to enable it to compete drafting of the new Constitution, the Prime Minister was supposed to vacate his post "without delay". But that was only after a consensus was reached on the formation of  a new government. One possible explanation for Nepal's quitting now could be his fear of facing dissent from some sections of his own party when the assembly meets on 5 July.

 

Now caught up in a state of  flux, political parties are trying to fill the void. Whichever of these manages to assume power, its foremost task will be to see that a draft Constitution is ready by 28 May next year. Indeed, for the  prime ministership there are contenders from all three main parties. Some in the second largest party ~ the Nepali Congress ~ argue that since the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist) ruled the country for the past 13 months and the Maoists under Pushpa Kamal Dahal had tested power earlier, it is now their turn to lead. If the Maoists can discipline themselves by agreeing to the integration of some of their combatants with the Army, disband their Young Communist League, return to owners the property seized during the rebellion and meet the terms set by the NC for its support, they can, perhaps, clean things up for the coveted post. 
 

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THE STATESMAN

EDITS

SINGULAR FIXATION

KOOKABURRA HITS JABULANI FOR SIX 

 

CALL it commitment, steadfastness or just obstinate refusal to look beyond the stereotype, but the rest of humanity's cavorting to the cacophony of the vuvuzela has been bypassed by the Indian masses. That too despite the domestic media working overtime to project the FIFA World Cup as what it is ~ the most celebrated sporting extravaganza on the planet. The desi delicacy still remains cricket. Never mind that even the demi-god players lament that there is just too much cricket, or that the IPL filth is still flying, and that it is no longer the gentleman's game. Two unconnected surveys of TV viewership ~ and that is a valid popularity index ~ have determined that the Indo-Pak match in the Asia Cup ODI tournament had attracted an Indian audience twice as large as the one that saw Portugal play Brazil in South Africa: which till then had been the most-watched game. Some of the viewing might have been reflective of the traditional Indo-Pak rivalry that extends beyond the playfield, but the fact that the Sri Lanka-India final was not too far behind in that numbers game reconfirms that the beautiful game does not get Indian hearts throbbing. A ball thundering into the back of the net just does not dazzle as much as a slog that ends on the pavilion roof. The surveys' only consolation for football lovers being that, not unexpectedly, Bengal and Kerala recorded the highest World Cup viewership ~ we trust that desperate as they are for positives, Karat & Co won't claim to have contributed to that. There can be little argument against personal preferences or popularity, the cricket mania cannot be derided. But it does arouse concerns for the development of other sport. Commercial sponsors play a huge role in funding contemporary sport, their roadmap is determined by TV ratings. A vicious circle exists, the fact that India does win international cricket matches proves self-propulsion: only occasionally does the Tricolour fly high at other sporting events. Just think of it: after her unparalleled three-in-a-row Saina Nehwal is being given a cash award of Rs 500,000. An Indian cricketer would take his time about going to the bank to deposit a cheque for that amount!

 

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THE STATESMAN

SPECIAL ARTICLE

CRIME SANS PUNISHMENT~I

WHY PURSUE ANDERSON AND NOT OTHERS?

SAM RAJAPPA


THE reconstituted Group of Ministers on the Bhopal gas tragedy, as was its wont, exonerated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of any involvement in ensuring safe passage to former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson to the USA and letting off the American chemical company responsible for the horrendous industrial accident which claimed more than 20,000 lives and caused injuries to a little over half a million people, lightly.

 

People's attention was diverted by the 'arrest' of Anderson that never was and his escape in a Madhya Pradesh government aircraft which had all the ingredients of a Bollywood potboiler.


When tragedy struck the Bhopal plant of Union Carbide on the night of 2-3 December, 1984, and the poor people living in the surrounding slums were dropping dead like flies, Surinder Singh Thakur, SHO of Hanumanganj police station, Bhopal, filed a case against J Mukund, KV

 

Shetty, SP Choudhary, Yathin Rai Chowdhary and Shakil Ibrahim, operating staff of Union Carbide factory, for their "careless attitude in stopping the leaking poisonous gas in which many people died, others are in critical condition, and cows, buffaloes and animals have died. This crime was found under Section 304A IPC and thus taken under investigation after registration of a case." The names of Anderson or Keshub Mahindra, chairman of Union Carbide India Limited, and Vijay Gokhle, managing director, convicted by Mohan P Tiwari, chief judicial magistrate, Bhopal, on 7 June, do not figure in the FIR.


Hardly four weeks before the tragedy, Rajiv Gandhi, who had until a couple of years earlier been piloting Avro aircraft of Indian Airlines, was pitchforked into the Prime Minister's chair following the assassination of his mother, Indira Gandhi. Unable to cope with the anti-Sikh pogrom indulged in by his partymen, he was faced with the Bhopal disaster. If one were to go by CIA accounts of the period, it was the fledgling Prime Minister's idea that if the Union Carbide chairman visited Bhopal and assured the victims of all help and rehabilitation it would go a long way in allaying their suspicion.


A classified CIA document (No. 1852 dated 8 December 1984) titled "India ~ Political Implications of Bhopal Disaster" says: "The Indian press reports that most public criticism over the poison gas leak in Bhopal has been directed at the Indian management of Union Carbide subsidiary and the Central government in New Delhi for inadequate safety precautions and relief measures. The Madhya Pradesh government has filed a criminal negligence suit against the subsidiary. With Indian national elections just over two weeks away, both state and Central government politicians are trying to deflect blame from themselves to the subsidiary and to wring compensation from its parent company. The Centre's quick release of the Union Carbide chairman from house arrest yesterday, however, suggests that New Delhi believes that state officials were overly eager to score political points against the company. Public outcry almost certainly will force the new government to move cautiously in developing future foreign investment and industrial policies and relations with multinationals ~ especially US ~ firms. The incident is not likely to have a major effect on the election results." 


Application for an industrial licence to Union Carbide's pesticide plant and research and development centre in Bhopal was made first to the Ministry of Industry, Government of India, on 1 January 1970. Because of its hazardous nature and the poor safety record of Union Carbide Corporation, the application was put in cold storage in New Delhi. Among the top seven chemical companies in the USA ~ DuPont, Monsanto, American Cyanamid, Allied, Celanese, Dow and Carbide ~ the safety record of Carbide is the worst. A safety audit report prepared by RT Bradley for the period 1959 to 1968 says: "We have been twice as bad as their combined average over the last 10 years."


Came Emergency in 1975 and Union Carbide took up its pending application for the pesticide plant with Indira Gandhi and the licence was granted on 31 October 1975. Officials who raised questions about safety were assured by Carbide officials: "Our Bhopal plant will be as inoffensive as a chocolate factory." Earlier, Union Carbide Corporation, USA, and Union Carbide India Limited headquartered in Kolkata, signed a Foreign Collaboration Agreement on 13 November 1973, under which the parent company would supply design, know-how and safety measures and the best manufacturing information available for the production and use of Methyl Isocynate (MIC). 


The factory in Bhopal, however, was deficient in many safety aspects. After an initial period of profit, the Bhopal plant was incurring heavy losses. In the first 10 months of 1984, its losses exceeded Rs 5 crore and the Hongkong-based Union Carbide East directed the Bhopal plant to be closed and the machinery shipped to Indonesia vide its letter dated 26 October 1984. UCIL dragged its feet in implementing the order. What happened six weeks later is history.


After getting an assurance of safe conduct from the Ministry of External Affairs, Anderson undertook the long journey and reached Bhopal on 7 December 1984, accompanied by Keshub Mahindra, chairman of Carbide's Indian subsidiary, and Vijay Gokhle, its managing director, none of whom was accused in the FIR filed by Surinder Singh Thakur of Hanumanganj police station. With the death toll mounting steadily and tempers running high in and around the plant, the state government escorted the three to the Carbide guest house for their own safety.


Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh, with a view to scoring political points and furthering the cause of the Congress in the Lok Sabha election a few weeks away, spread the news of "arresting" the VIPs and got a bail bond for Rs 25,000 signed by AM Kuruvila, the company's accountant. It was this innocuous news that made the US embassy in New Delhi overactive to the extent of President Ronald Reagan telephoning Rajiv Gandhi and Arjun Singh arranging a state aircraft to send Anderson to New Delhi with due ceremony.
During the next two days Anderson spent in Delhi before leaving for the USA, he was entertained to tea at Rashtrapathi Bhavan by President Giani Zail Singh, and received with due courtesy by the Union Home Minister, PV Narasimha Rao, and Foreign Secretary, MK Rasgotra, in their North and South Block offices. Anderson was made an accused in the Bhopal gas tragedy case only on 30 November 1987, when the CBI, which took over the investigation, filed a chargesheet against him, Mahendra, Gokhale and others under Section 304 Part II and other Sections of the IPC in the Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate's court and obtained a summons on 1 December 1987, and a non-bailable warrant of arrest to enable his extradition to India five years later on 10 April 1992.


Within days of the tragedy, tort lawyers from the USA flocked to Bhopal to strike deals with the victims. American tort lawyers are the most aggressive breed of the legal profession who secure settlements for huge sums. Taking advantage of Rajiv Gandhi's lack of experience and naivety, the Prime Minister was persuaded to exercise the power of parens patriae (parent of the nation) and prevented the victims from filing suits through lawyers of their choice. The government also passed the Bhopal Gas Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985, without consulting the victims or caring for their well-being, and took away the victims' right to fend for themselves. With three-fourths majority in the Lok Sabha the government could steam-roller the patently unconstitutional legislation. And what did the Rajiv government do next? It filed a suit in a New York district court claiming $3 billion compensation for the victims. According to Subramanian Swamy, president of the Janata Party, a person very close to Rajiv Gandhi persuaded him to entrust the task of engaging counsel to Ottavio Quattrocchi. Knowing the power of tort lawyers, Union Carbide succeeded in sending the case to India.                      (To be concluded)


The writer, a veteran journalist, is Director,  Statesman Print Journalism School.

 

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THE STATESMAN

PERSPECTIVE

THE UNCOLLECTED WATER TREASURE

GIVEN THE LOOMING GLOBAL WATER CRISIS, MANMOHAN SINGH'S FOREMOST ECONOMIC PRIORITY HAS TO BE TO ENSURE THAT THE COUNTRY URGENTLY IMPLEMENTS RAINWATER HARVESTING SYSTEMS, SAYS RAJA MURTHY

 

It's the monsoon months in Mumbai, but commercial water tankers continue plying their trade. Water shortage ravaging a city with one of the world's heaviest urban rainfall - and in the middle of the rainy season - is a loud enough testimony to making rain water harvesting India's top-most priority. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must take the lead.


In fact, challenges which Manmohan Singh said are India's priorities - such as energy self-sufficiency and improving relations with neighbours like Pakistan - have to be ranked below the urgency to ensure water self-sufficiency. Life would be less convenient with less or even no electricity, but there can't be life without water.
India being one of 12 countries with trillion-dollar plus economies, and expected to be one of the three biggest economies in the world by 2050, counts for little if water shortage is allowed to grow to a crisis. For all the 21st century scientific and technological marvels, we are yet to invest sufficient effort and resources to evolve out of the millennia-old annual panic over a weak monsoon. When it comes to water, we share the same boat as our ancestors in 5000 BC.


Imagine your house having no water for five days in a row. It could happen, with water shortage being the biggest crisis Earth faces.


Scientists predicted in the year 2000 that by 2025, only 15 years away, a third of the world's population would suffer water shortage. More morbid forecasters expect wars over water. India already sees growing uneasiness with China and Pakistan over sharing river water. Tensions may increase, with water consumption increasing with increasing population and incomes.


Besides headaches over water that isn't there, tragedy strikes water that is there. The World Health Organisation says over a quarter of the total number of children in the developing world are dying of diseases from contaminated, unclean water - such as from stagnant, muddy ponds and pools.


India can learn from countries like Israel that have successful rain water harvesting systems. With the world's second largest population and as largest democracy, India must take the water lead. The capital and the financial capital, New Delhi and Mumbai, already suffer an acute water deficit. Kolkata and Chennai fare no better.

 

Smaller towns and villages suffer more water-related misery.


Mumbai faced one of its worst water woes last year in 2009, with the municipality reducing supply by 30 per cent. The Statesman office in Mumbai, located in one of the world's most expensive bits of real estate, now depends on water lorries for its daily needs. Yet this June, millions of litres of non-harvested rain water gushed out of rooftop drainage pipes from many big buildings in the Churchgate - Nariman Point area, finally feeding the Arabian Sea.


Mumbai needs about 3,500 million litres of water daily, but the "regular" supply by itself falls far short. Even upmarket residential areas such as Juhu receive about two hours water supply daily. Mumbai isn't the only tragi-comical case of having both a water crisis and average annual rainfall of over 85 inches. The water-starved nearby town of Igatpuri, 150 km from Mumbai, has even more annual rain.

India receives about 4,000 billion cubic metres (BCM) of rain annually, but manages to use only about 1,100 BCM, in a staggering waste of Mother Nature's generous gift. Manmohan Singh's hard work to strengthen India's economy will be of little use without better water management. Rain water harvesting has to be made a leading component alongside other key water managing measures such as water recycling. India has individual success stories. A Bangalore resident Shivkumar has been using only harvested rainwater for the past 16 years. His family not only enjoyed sufficient water every single day the past 16 years, but also supplied surplus water to neighours. The urgency is to encourage hundreds of millions of houses and buildings to follow Shivkumar's example.


The central and state government have rainwater harvesting measures and regulations, but hardly enforce them. Tamil Nadu made rain water harvesting systems compulsory for house owners, but opposition leader Jayalalitha has accused the Karunanidhi government of abandoning the rainwater harvesting initiatives she launched, and plunging the state into a water crisis.


The West Bengal Municipal (Building) Rules, 2007, Vide Rule 171, made installing rainwater harvesting systems compulsory, but one wonders how many Kolkata residents know. Likewise, not many Delhiites may be aware of the local government offering financial assistance for installing rain water harvesting systems. The Maharashtra government has the 'Shivkalin Pani Sthawan' for compulsory rainwater harvesting for new constructions, but quite likely even the state chief minister doesn't know of it.


India has ample water bodies to efficiently execute these rain water harvesting drives. The National Water Harvestors Network includes over 70 diverse members, including governmental, non-governmental, corporate and charitable organisations. The Haryana-based Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources, calls itself the apex water body in the country. Over a dozen organisations will be participating in the fourth edition of the "Harvest Rainwater & Recycle Water for Future'' conference in Pune this July.


But the entire rain water harvesting necessity requires a nationwide upgrading of profile, best given if Manmohan Singh instills the urgency. Being one of the world's most apolitical national leaders, and possibly the most globally respected prime minister in Indian history, Manmohan Singh has a rare chance to lay the foundation for India's water self-dependence for centuries ahead.


The writer is a freelance contributor

 

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THE STATESMAN

PERSPECTIVE

URBANE ANGST

ISHAN JOSHI

 LAW AND ORDER SANS ANARCHY

 

India as functioning anarchy or dysfunctional democracy is old hat. But the reasons for such analyses in the first place are constantly being bolstered by the buffoonery of our best minds. For the Indian nation-state and its leadership, including civil society, the ability to think straight yet absorb the complexities of a situation, to have a multifaceted strategy to deal with contemporary crises yet retain the sanctity of each of those facets, is proving singularly elusive.


The stone pelting, India-baiting crowds ~ with an occasional armed provocateur amidst them ~ in some parts of the Kashmir Valley have by their actions in recent weeks drawn a response from the state apparatus and its key civil society interlocutors that is as confused as it is disingenuous. Confronted by the cynical separatist tactic of pushing children, teenagers and in some cases even preteens, to the forefront of the belligerent protestors ~ protesting, incidentally, the killing of one foreign and one local militant in an encounter which no evidence suggests was anything but a genuine confrontation between security personnel and two armed private citizens suspected to be terrorists ~ they have retreated to all too familiar positions.


With the honorable exception of a particularly solid contributor to public discourse on internal security issues who holds a senior editorial position in a contemporary based out of Chennai, the twin trumpet calls of nearly every mainstream commentator on what some semi-literate separatists will soon begin pushing as the "Kashmir intifada" if this stone pelting business is allowed to spread from the confines of a few separatist strongholds and merge with other, even petty, local grievances and score-settling have been: (a) "It's a complicated situation;" (b) "We need a political solution." Having stated the obvious, most of them then merrily elide the issue at hand and roam the side streets of the angst and alienation that would prompt kids and/or their parents/siblings to participate in agitations that clearly could, and have, ended in tragic fatalities.


All that a multi-faceted approach to Kashmir ~ whom to talk to, whom to engage and whom to attempt to isolate politically; how to fine-tune and keep flexible sectoral priorities for funds allocation; the need to establish an architecture of accountability not to mention autonomy, how to bridge the legitimacy deficit, et al  ~ includes is just fine. And there are a select few in government and outside who have a keen grasp of the issues, who should be encouraged and empowered to bring all of this to fruition. There is no lack of genuinely imaginative, creative, even out-of-the-box thinking on the issue.


Having established our support for such an approach, however, a central theme must be emphasized: Do not link any of the above to the response of the local armed constabulary or indeed central forces such as the CRPF to those breaking the law as long as the forces are, as they do in the main, functioning within the confines of the law in both letter and spirit. Restraint, a word that is much bandied about nowadays, is built into the laws/procedure governing the use of force in this land by various state agencies.


In this sense, the stone pelting mobs egged on by separatists who have the blood of children on their hands should certainly be viewed clinically as a purely law and order issue and confronted as such by those tasked with doing so. Such a course does not preclude all of the above multidimensional engagement at various levels and through multiple channels, of course. But it refuses to let upholding law and order, the primary duty of a liberal-democratic state, be held hostage to a putative political solution. And it ensures that the sanctity of the law and order enforcing machinery is preserved and the loss of innocent lives, public property and state authority is minimised.

The benefits that accrue from staying true to first principles nearly always outweigh temporary gains that may be had by interfering in due processes and subjecting it to counter-intuitive responses. Nobody is suggesting that police and paramilitary forces be allowed a trigger-happy reign or indeed that they fall for the "bait" of their actions resulting in the deaths of children; by all means upgrade response capability, upgrade local intelligence gathering ability, induct non-lethal weaponry and ensure the forces put into practice modern methods of crowd control. But if the forces need to open fire in extreme situations, in keeping with the law, so be it. The power of images to set the agenda is certainly a powerful tool in the hands of those who are pushing children to the forefront. But it's imperative the political-administrative leadership and civil society groups take on that battle, not the women and men in uniform.


Tough on terror, tough on the causes of terror ~ that simple credo if explained and implemented down the line may do more for the Indian state and the brutalised people of Kashmir than any softly, softly approach.

 

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THE STATESMAN

PERSPECTIVE

 100 YEARS AGO TODAY

NEWS ITEM

CHINESE CHURCH DISPUTE


Are Chinese Priests Celibrates?

Some curiously interesting evidence was elicited in the Chief Presidency Magistrate's Court on Thursday last during the cross-examination of a Chinaman named Leong Shi Qui, who described himself as the head member of the Sevoy Church, situate in Blackburn's Lane, for the Chinese community of Calcutta, and over which the present case has been pending for some time now. Particulars of this strange prosecution in which several Chinamen are charged with sacrilege and robbery have already appeared in these columns.


Mr P Kerr, Attorney-at-Law, in the course of a somewhat long cross-examination asked Leong Shi Qui ~
How many members are there on the rolls of your Church? ~ There are some four hundred members. Some have to go to sea some to China and some elsewhere.


How many members are there in Calcutta at present? ~ About two hundred or three hundred. Perhaps the priest can make out a list of the members that are in Calcutta at present.


Are you acquainted with the facts of the case instituted by Leong Mow at the High Court? ~ Yes, I am. One hundred and fourteen members were present in Court at the hearing.


What is the duty of head members at meetings? ~ Head members help the abbot to consider what is right and what is wrong?


Is the abbot paramount? ~ Yes, the abbot is paramount.

 

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THE TELEGRAPH

EDITORIAL

RETURN OF KIM

 

George Smiley will have to be summoned back from retirement as the ghost of Harold Adrian Russell — popularly known as Kim — Philby refuses to go away. The arrest of 10 persons in the United States of America on charges of spying for Russia suggests that the black art of espionage is not dead. It has been active, though all the while it was presumed to be dead. Spying is by no means a 20th-century phenomenon: it has been described by one of its chroniclers as "the world's second oldest profession". (It is significant that the world's oldest profession and the second oldest one came together in one of the most notorious scandals of the last century, involving Christine Keeler and John Profumo.) Its long history notwithstanding, very few will deny that espionage acquired new and unprecedented dimensions in the course of World War II and its aftermath. When an Iron Curtain came down over Europe and a few years later the Berlin Wall came up, the world came to be divided, politically, ideologically and economically, into two opposing camps which were at war with each other without actually resorting to warfare. The Cold War, as the hostilities came to be called, was one of the defining periods of the 20th century till the collapse of the Soviet Union. The principal instrument of the Cold War was espionage, and both sides, in almost a mirror image of each other, used it relentlessly and without scruple. One of the great triumphs of that long and cruel espionage war was the recruitment by the KGB — the Soviet secret service — of five Cambridge students who served as deep penetration agents — or moles in the jargon — within the highest echelons of British intelligence agencies. The most successful of these was Kim Philby. The recent discovery of spies in the US by the FBI after an investigation lasting over a decade has resurrected memories of Philby and his fellow spies, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. The Cold War and the black arts linked to it, contrary to popular belief, may not be things of the past.

 

Apart from spies, the Cold War also produced its own literature. The spy thriller became a genre in itself and its two masters portrayed the world of spooks in dramatically contrasting terms. In Ian Fleming's James Bond, the spy became the glamour boy engaging in acts of derring-do for the glory of Britain; in John le Carré's George Smiley, the spy became an introverted, middle-aged gentleman struggling to retain a foothold in a declining Britain being overwhelmed by Soviet Russia and the US. Fleming died during the Cold War and Mr le Carré's fictional world lost its special charm after he decided to come in from the cold once the Wall came down and Smiley's people became redundant.

 

The news of a Russian spy ring in the US opens up the possibility of Mr le Carré's return to the turf that was truly his own and also to his old form. The honourable schoolboy may have to be sent out again from a renovated Russia house. The spy is not dead. He only sleepeth.

 

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THE TELEGRAPH

EDITORIAL

A DIFFERENT OBSESSION

MORE THAN A MATTER OF MUSCLES AND EGGS

NOTEBOOK - IAN JACK

 

Why isn't India better at football? I asked this question of a distinguished Indian historian recently. "Physique," he said. "We're not strong enough."

 

"But you're very good at cricket."

 

"Cricket is different. It depends much more on technique. Good wrists, hand and eye co-ordination, that kind of thing."

 

I was about to mention hockey — all those Olympic golds, so long ago — when I remembered a few days that I'd once spent with the Eastern Railways football side and how their coach was always looking for eggs, and fitting the price of eggs into his budget. "We need eggs," he'd say. "The more eggs the better. Meat is too dear and of course some of the team won't eat it. So we need eggs for protein, to build up the players' strength."

 

I think this conversation took place inside an Eastern Railways building somewhere near Dalhousie Square, though not the building that contained the Eastern Railways public relations office, which was in Old Court Street and where the staff sometimes invited me to share a regular lunch of rasgullas and toast — not a diet to feed footballers or perhaps anyone with a long-term interest in his health. The year was 1983 and I think the month was August — the late monsoon at any rate, because I watched Eastern Railways play Mohun Bagan under a steady drizzle on the Maidan. I sat on the bench with the coach, and it was my umbrella that protected both of us when the supporters of Mohun Bagan started to throw their empty kulhars in our direction. What had prompted their anger? Perhaps an Eastern Railways player had fouled an opponent or scored a goal. The bench could be the only target; Eastern Railways had no supporters to aim at. As the coach said, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting were the only clubs in Calcutta that had a real following; the purpose of other clubs was to play them and so decide which of the three would win the league.

 

I recognized a familiar situation, as anyone from Scotland would. Growing up in that country, I followed the team from my local town, Dunfermline. Every city and every sizeable town in Scotland had a professional football side. Glasgow had five while other cities and towns could provide two each. Some had lovely names (Heart of Midlothian, Queen of the South) that disguised their location, while others came from places so obscure (Stenhousemuir, Brechin) that only a keen geographer could find them on the map. But halfway through almost every football season, the question of who would lift the title came down to the formula 'either/or'. Either it would be Rangers or it would be Celtic.

 

I write in the past tense, but in fact Rangers and Celtic are even more dominant now than they were in the 1960s. These two Glasgow teams have the largest stadiums, crowds three or four times bigger than their nearest rivals', and much more money to spend on players' wages. They owe their success to a long and intense rivalry that has its roots in Victorian Scotland, when Glasgow boasted that it was "the second city of the Empire" and its industrial working class could be divided along sectarian lines, between Irish Catholic immigrants (Celtic) and native Scots and Ulster Protestant immigrants (Rangers). Scotland, like the rest of Britain, is now a post-religious country and it would be surprising if more than a small percentage of the Celtic crowd regularly attended Mass, or an even smaller percentage of the Rangers crowd heard a sermon on a Sunday. You might even argue that the two teams persist as the last badges of ethnic and religious identities that began to wither when consumerism replaced heavy industry as a way of life. Where are the shipyards and the factories now, and the Protestant foremen denying jobs to Catholics, and the Protestant skilled worker fearing for his wage rates with the influx of cheaper workers from Ireland?

 

Scottish football was born in that time as the country's chief recreation. England may have invented the rules, but Scotland believed that it had perfected the dribbling and passing game. In population, England was ten times the size, but when the two countries played each other, England was regularly beaten. A historic moment — the day of 'the Wembley Wizards' — came in 1928 when the Scottish team travelled south to Wembley and beat England 5-0. The Scottish forward line comprised five players not one of whom was more than 5ft 7in tall. The English defenders were much bigger and stronger, but Scotland ran rings around them.

 

So, can it really be that physique is the reason for India's poor record at football? Think of those little Scotsmen jinking their way towards the English goalmouth. Think of where that kind of professional footballer typically came from — mining villages, or the cramped and insanitary tenements of Glasgow, where inadequate diet caused rickets, which stunted growth in children and deformed their bones. Think of what Scottish footballers then ate and drank: dripping mutton pies and sweet chocolate bars, fat and sugar, a pint of beer before kick-off, a cigarette at half-time. The wonder is that Scotland produced any footballers at all, let alone a few that in the first six or seven decades of the last century were among the best in the world.

 

On this evidence, we need a different answer to account for India's lack of success. Mine is that in India football simply doesn't matter enough. It has never gripped the national imagination, despite Mohun Bagan beating the East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911 and finding a place in the national folklore. Fifty and more years ago in Scotland, boys from the poorest families would spend hours kicking an old tennis ball around any quiet street or patch of waste ground. They had footballing heroes and pretended to be them. New pastimes and habits, mainly indoors, have replaced this enthusiasm, and today you hardly ever see the once-familiar sight of jackets and jerseys piled to form substitute goalposts and a dozen boys scampering after a rubber ball. Consequently, Scotland breeds far fewer good footballers. To find similar sights these days, you need to travel to South America — or to India, where stumps have been painted on the walls of the meanest slums and any old piece of wood will serve as a bat. A different obsession; football in India will probably never escape from its shade. It's more than a matter of muscles and eggs.

 

************

 

Now a slightly different question: why isn't England better at football? In the days since England got knocked out of the World Cup, many column inches and broadcast hours have been devoted to perplexed inquiry. England hired a celebrated Italian coach on a salary of £6 million a year; the coach, Fabio Capello, recruited an expensive string of technical and psychological assistants (all Italian); England believed it had a 'golden generation' of players whose skills had been honed (and bank balances massively enriched) by the Premiership, which is hailed as the most exciting and most watched soccer league in the world. And yet England struggled against lowly Slovenia, Algeria and the USA, and finally went out to a humiliating 4-1 defeat by a German team that exposed England as too old, too tired and too incompetent. No matter that I come from Scotland where hatred of the old footballing enemy is so extreme that this year's favourite World Cup t-shirt says "Anybody But England…": the English performance could provoke only pity even in the most twisted Scottish heart.

Some of us had seen this coming for a while. Satellite TV has given English football enormous global audiences (so that the rickshaw-driver in Muzaffarpur knows the Arsenal-Liverpool result) and with those audiences has come stupendous revenue from rights and advertising. This has been wholly bad for the development of English football, in the sense of football played by Englishmen. In Germany, football's profits tend to head in the direction of training young German footballers. In England, the money goes on players' wages that have been inflated to secure stars or potential stars from any part of world. The result is that only 38 per cent of Premiership players are actually qualified by nationality to play for England. It is easier, after all, to buy a decent player off-the-shelf in Nigeria or Brazil than to invest in academies and technical training that in five or ten years' time could produce players who are just as good. A debt-laden football club wants instant gratification, and several of them, including Manchester United, carry heavy debts due to the leveraged buy-outs of their American owners.

 

'Short-termism', a particularly British component of late capitalism, is ruining English football just as it once ruined Scottish shipyards. In terms of national stereotypes, the England-Germany result could be seen as fitting. Germany invests and produces, while England buys and consumes. And then there arrives the day of reckoning…

 

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******************************************************************************************DECCAN HERALD

SANSKRIT HAS ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO INDUS CIVILISATION

ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS AND LONG UN-DECIPHERED MYSTERIOUS SCRIPTS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HAUNTINGLY ENGAGING CHALLENGES TO THE HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS.

 

Fired by John Chadwick's classic in archaeology, 'The Decipherment of Linear-B', that chronicles how the secrets of the late Minoan and Mycenaean civilisation in ancient Greece were unveiled, renowned Indologist Prof Asko Parpola set out on an equally challenging task over 45 years back to crack the script of the Indus Valley Civilisation. For someone who has done a lifetime of monumental research on 'Deciphering the Indus Script' even using modern computerised tools, Parpola, whose path-breaking study on 'A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem' had bagged the 'Kalaignar M Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Research Award' at the 'World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC)' in Coimbatore, is remarkably self-effacing and realistic. A diligent scholar from Finland in both 'Vedic' and 'Dravidian' studies,spoke to M R Venkatesh of 'Deccan Herald'.

Excerpts:

What prompted you to undertake this amazing intellectual journey?


Well, my interest in the Indus Script was aroused during my student years. I also studied the classical languages of Europe, Greek and Latin, when I became a student of Helsinki University in 1959. At that time there was much discussion whether the 'Linear-B Script' had been deciphered or not. Actually it had been deciphered in 1952. A book on it by John Chadwick came out in 1960. I read it and it was quite fascinating. I was quite convinced that this (decipherment) is correct though there were still some Greek scholars who were sceptical. And then, my childhood friend Seppo Koskenniemi who was working for IBM in Finland asked if I would like to try computers for any problem in my field. He volunteered to do the programming; so at that time I thought we might do something useful to promote the study of the Indus Script. Because compiling statistics (on the frequency with which signs are repeated, etc.) has been very useful in all decipherment
attempts. My brother Simo who studied 'Assyriology' also joined the team.


How did you use computer technology in this study of Indus Script as India's renowned epigraphist, Iravadham Mahadevan says you are the first person to have done it?


Asko Parpola: Well, it is not me. Seppo Koskenniemi and his brother Kimmo Koskenniemi, who is now Professor of Computer Linguistics at the University of Helsinki, assisted me. They have been there from the beginning.

On your seminal work on the Indus Script, what effected your change of approach to include sociology, anthropology and linguistics, instead of just an epigraphist approach that failed to make headway earlier?


Well, actually, I have not changed my approach. It has been there all the time.


I think every aspect has to be taken into consideration. We have to take advantage of every possible source (of knowledge) at our disposal.


Your solution to the Indus Script riddle - that the underlying s a syncretism rather than a collusive view of Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian family of languages. Your comments please?
 Yes, I think these two language families have been in contact with each other ever since the Indo-Aryan speakers entered South Asia. It is impossible to leave Indo-Aryan sources out of account. They have preserved very important information of Harappan heritage.


One of 20th century's greatest philosophers Wittgenstein had said understanding a language is understanding a whole form of life. Has your findings on Indus Script vindicated that insight on how language works?

Well, may be. You are putting it in very lofty words. I think every language is a unique way to see the world. I am using this phrase in connection with the tragic situation that is prevailing now in the world. So many languages, minority languages, are disappearing. At the moment, we are still having may be some 5,000 languages in the world, but very rapidly a large number of them have disappeared. It is just as with plant and animal species. Once they have gone, you can't get them back and each of them is a unique
creation which is very valuable.


But these linguistic identities, when politicised, could lead to all kinds of disastrous consequences. So how is a harmonious understanding of world languages possible?


Yes. Besides Tamil, there are other Dravidian languages that have descended from the proto-Dravidian. But Tamil has preserved the language structure in a very archaic form. And also it has very ancient sources that are very precious. But at the same time, we must say that 'Sanskrit' has also preserved a very important part of the Indus heritage. So, it is impossible to say that there is something like 'pure Dravidian' or 'pure Aryan'. They should not be pitted against each other. I mean, there has been mixture from the beginning. And even if you look at the history of Tamil Nadu, the 'Brahmins' were here already in 'Sangam' times. So, they have also contributed hugely to the Tamil civilisation. So you have at least these two main language groups in India from very early times, side by side.


 
Your next project: will you continue your work on the Indus script?


I think it will be difficult not to continue, but actually my PhD was originally on 'Sama Veda' and I have been doing 'Sama Vedic' research in South India for many decades. There is a lot of material which I have not really had a good opportunity to work on, but which I would like to publish. Also, the 'Thirukkural' (of Tamil Saint-poet Thiruvalluvar) is a timeless book. I am working on a translation of it into Finnish and I would like the Finns also to have it.


How do you see the WCTC's significance? Has it provided a platform to take forward your work on the Indus script?

Yes, I think so. For the Indus script it (WCTC) is certainly very important, a big boost to draw the attention of more Tamil and other Dravidian scholars into this venture. Scholars should get funds to pursue the studies further.

 

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DECCAN HERALD

SECOND EDIT

ILLEGAL MINING: DEPARTMENTS PASS THE BUCK AROUND

SATISH SHILE


Illegal mining trade. Whose responsibility is it? All the departments concerned are pointing fingers at each other. The buck passes from the departments of mines and geology to forest, to ports, to customs and back.

 

Nobody is ready to take the blame.

 

There are seven checkposts between Bellary and Belekeri, manned by mines and geology (DMG) and forest department staff. DMG staff check mining lease and way permit at five points - Hospet, Koppal, Hubli, Yellapur and Ankola. Checking of the consignment, tonnage and forest permit is done by forest staff. No truck can miss these checkpoints as there are is no alternative route. But the Karnataka Forest Rules, 1969 put the onus of reporting to these checkpoints on the transporters passing through them.


Forest officials say they cannot verify the authenticity of documents at checkposts. "It is difficult to differentiate between fake and valid permits. It is as difficult as identifying a fake currency note. Moreover, the checkposts are not provided with electronic weigh bridges to weigh the goods," noted a forest officer. Shouldn't checkposts, by virtue of their name at least, be equipped to identify fake from real.


Porters only?


The port department plays a major role in the export of iron ore. It has leased out its area to registered shipping agencies and exporters to maintain stockyards. In return, the department gets a pittance as royalty - Rs 40 per tonne of ore exported.


Port authorities, however, argue that they are not responsible for checking illegal permits. Group D (ministerial) staff man the entry points. Many of the staff do not understand English. There is no designated 'custodian' for the stockpiles. Hence, they cannot fix responsibility for the missing ore, they contend.


Port Officer Capt Swamy says until March 20 the port officials were not required to check veracity of road permits or mining licenses. Only after 'illegal ore' was seized, the officials have begun checking the records. The department has no trained staff to verify documents.


Customary amnesia

The customs department comes under the Union Finance Department. Its duty is to take samples of cargo exported, assess its value and collect the customs duty accordingly.


The Commissioner of Customs has written to the State government stating that the department has no role in the iron ore heist. According to the Customs Act, no goods in the department's notified area can be seized by any other department. Moreover, the department cannot stop export for more than seven days unless there is a direction from the Centre. The department officials point fingers at the forest department.


The department was aware of the iron ore seizure. It should have been cautious while allowing the goods for export and verified the documents.


How much was the illegal ore?


Mine owners need road permit issued by the Department of Mines and Geology to transport extracted ore to the port. If the ore pit is located in forest area, clearance from the Forest Department is also must.


The total quantity of iron ore that reached Belekeri and Karwar ports between November 2009 and February 2010 is  57,17,370 MT. Whereas, the Mines and Geology Department   permit for the corresponding period was for transport of only 21,85,452 MT.


The differential amount of 35, 31,918 MT of iron ore was  transported without valid  permits. The cost of iron ore  in the international market varies from $60 to $ 140 a tonne. Even if the lowest value is taken, the total worth of iron ore transported to the ports without valid permits is approximately Rs 953 crore.


Loss of revenue

As much as 35.31 lakh tonnes of iron ore was illegally exported from the State between November 2009 and February 2010. In other words, the State government did not earn any royalty for the exported ore.


The Department of Mines and Geology (DMG) collects royalty of Rs 123.40 per tonne of fine ore (called fines) and Rs 121.5 per tonne for lumps. For ore extracted from reserve forest area, a forest royalty of Rs 18.60 per tonne is added on.


The total loss of revenue to the government for the quarter in question is DMG royalty of Rs 43.48 crore and another Rs  Rs 6.56 crore if extracted from reserve forests.


The process of export


»No goods can be either exported or imported without the clearance of the Customs Department. The goods are broadly divided into three groups - free goods (open general licensed goods), restricted goods and prohibited goods.

Iron ore with grades up to 63.5 comes under free goods category. The ore of grade 64 comes under restricted goods category and cannot be exported by private people. The prohibited goods are those which the country does not export to other countries. In the year 2009-10, the Customs Department collected duty of Rs 116 crore from export activity through Karwar and Belekeri ports.


The Customs officers say that they are not bothered about the source of the material arriving in their notified area. Particularly in respect of free goods, they need not check records or permits.


The process

-  Iron ore meant for export is unloaded in stockyards in the port, allotted to exporters on lease. The stockyards are also notified areas of the Customs Department. The department officials have powers in the areas.

-  International export agents contact their clients in Karnataka and strike a deal for export of iron ore. The sub - agents in the local area purchase the cargo from the licensed mine owners. And they book the ships for export.

-  The exporters prepare shipping bills, which consist details of the quantity and quality (grade) of iron ore meant for export. Superintendents of the Custom Department verify the documents and take samples of the ore. A representative each from the exporters, importers and the ship join the officers while collecting samples.


-  The Custom Department collects duty at the rate of five per cent of the total worth of the ore, from the exporter. The price of ore at international market varies from $60 to $ 140 per tonne. Currently iron ore of grade 56 to 63.5 is exported. On an average the duty would be anywhere between Rs 300 to 800 per tonne (varies with the value of $). Besides, Rs 1 per tonne is collected as cess towards labour welfare.


After collecting samples and the duty, the Customs Dept gives clearance for loading the cargo onto the ship. The Port department collects anchorage charges from the ship.

 

 Ore samples are sent to the Customs Department's Lab in Cochin to verify the grade exported. If the grade is higher than what is stated by the exporter, the department serves demand notice on the exporter to pay the customs duty due. If the ore is of more than 64 Fe grade, the exporter is penalised.

 

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THE JERUSALEM POST

EDITORIAL

JUDICIAL BULLDOZING

CHEAP LABOR IS MORE ENTICING FOR CONTRACTORS.

Once in a while officialdom tries to do the right thing, only to find its desirable initiatives end up stymied. But when the obstruction originates in our highest judicial echelons, it is all the more dispiriting.


Quite belatedly, at the end of 2009, the government decided to reduce the number of permits it accords to foreign laborers in the building industry.


Only 5,000 of the 8,000 construction workers currently here were to remain. In the view of many, that cut was not sharp enough, but the decision was a bold step in the right direction and it meant the deportation of 3,000 foreigners as of July 1.


The 3,000 were to be the most veteran – those whose permits had either expired or were up for renewal. The criterion was to be first-in, first-out.


As expected, building contractors were up in arms, as were self-appointed human rights spokesmen. An appeal by 500 workers was lodged with the Jerusalem Administrative Court, while the Contractors Association petitioned the High Court of Justice.


The state had done nothing patently illegal, but the Administrative Court issued an injunction which preempted the scheduled deportation. The High Court then lassoed the already critically hobbled state into a "compromise."

Since the deportations were in any case impeded, the state has had no choice but to agree to a strange formula whereby the projected deportations will be "postponed" until at least October, and in the interim, new government deliberations will ensue on whether to deport these workers at all.


The signal to the government could not be clearer: It has basically lost the first round of a praiseworthy campaign to significantly reduce the number of foreign employees taking jobs that could be filled by Israelis.


IT IS hard to conceive of a situation whereby the government would return months from now to the High Court and announce that it had decided to modify nothing of its initial plan. What presumably will emerge is going to be – at best – a watered-down version of the original initiative.


This is highly regrettable, foremost because this case constitutes an egregious example of judicial intervention. There was no legal precedent for trampling on the executive branch in this instance and certainly no issue of callous humanitarian abuse.


The prospective deportees weren't hapless refugees, but economic migrants with temporary permits, which were now either invalid or soon to expire.


Such steps are an executive prerogative. The government is entitled to embark on a policy to encourage Israelis to enter the building trades.

From the contractors' vantage point, such a policy would be bad for business. Foreigners are largely at their mercy, and earn a fraction of what Israelis would (to say nothing of social benefits), making them preferable to employers. If anything, foreign laborers are apt to be more amenable and deferential.


They're likelier to submit to outright exploitation, especially as in some cases, workers' passports are held hostage by their boss.


It serves greedy property developers to claim that Israelis don't want to work in construction. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Since many employers look for workers who'd do more for less, they aren't likely to attract Israelis – who'd do better subsisting on the dole. A vicious cycle results, which the government was finally trying to break via these deportations.

THERE IS no rational reason why Israelis can't earn a living in construction, except for the fact that cheap labor is more enticing for contractors.


Construction isn't one of the employment niches where reliance on foreigners has become indispensable – such as in caring for the elderly and infirm or in seasonal agricultural work, where crops cannot wait for the vagaries of our labor market.


Were foreigners replaced by Israelis, contractors would be forced to pay fair wages. That's the outstanding objection to Israeli labor. Because jobs are being withheld from Israelis, taxpayers must foot additional unemployment and welfare bills.


Overall, cheap labor – not just on the construction site but in a broad array of enterprises – is exceedingly expensive for Israeli society. We should be able to count on our judges to understand that.

 

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THE JERUSALEM POST

COLUMN

MY WORD: OUT OF STEP

BY LIAT COLLINS

 

Schalit march to J'lem: Mistake in the address?

Talkbacks (3)

July 4 has very different significance for Americans and Israelis. But both, in their own way, reflect independence. While the United States was busy celebrating its bi-centennial on July 4, 1976, this date went down in history for another reason. It was the day that Israeli forces pulled off the most daring counterterror operation ever: freeing the hostages hijacked aboard an Air France flight and held, until the dramatic rescue, at Uganda's Entebbe airport.


No wonder movies were made about it. Some 100 hostages were set free by IDF commandos who had traveled 4,000 km. to reach them rather than negotiate with terrorists. Three hostages were killed in the raid and another, a woman who had been hospitalized, was later murdered.


The only fatality among the rescuers was the raid's commander, Yoni Netanyahu. It was current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as the commanding officer of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, who chose Bibi Netanyahu over his brother for the rescue mission of a hijacked Sabena plane in 1971.


Barak once told me how he "consoled" Yoni, telling him there would be future operations in which he would take part.


One assumes that the price of rescue operations remains at the back of the minds of both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak.


Ditto, the price of terror. Not so far at the back of their minds, in fact.


Which is why the "Free Gilad Schalit" march – full of the best intentions – seems to be heading in the wrong direction.

Who can blame the Schalit family, four years after their son was abducted, for setting out on an all-or-nothing campaign for his release? But the fact that their 11-day march will take them from their Galilee home to the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem shows they might be sadly off course.


Netanyahu, and his immediate predecessors, might have missed opportunities to obtain Schalit's freedom – and certainly there are those who feel that Barak as prime minister squandered chances to discover the fate of Israeli POWs missing since the First Lebanon War in June 1982 – but ultimately one thing needs to be kept in mind: Netanyahu is not the one holding Schalit.


Whatever you think of his politics and character, he is not the bad guy in this case. Hamas is holding Schalit.

Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal just last week said the organization would abduct more IDF soldiers if Israel didn't meet all its demands and set free every last prisoner on the list it had drawn up.


The trouble is, I suspect Hamas will carry on trying to abduct soldiers – and maybe civilians – even if Israel does give in and meet its demands.

The day in February 2004 that Hizbullah returned the remains of abducted soldiers St.-Sgts. Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Sawayid and kidnapped alleged criminal Elhanan Tenenbaum – in return for 400 terrorists – a suicide bomber blew up a Jerusalem bus close to the Prime Minister's Residence, killing 10 people and wounding scores.


Government figures released last week, in an obvious attempt to counteract the effect of the Schalits' media-event march, show that 52 percent of those released in the deal that day have returned to terrorism, killing another 27 Israelis.


ON JULY 4, 2006, a few days after Schalit's abduction, a rocket launched from Gaza landed – for the first time – in the center of Ashkelon, in a school playground, sending "what-if" type shock waves around the country. By the end of the month, much of the North was under attack in what was to become the Second Lebanon War.


Since then, we have also had what amounts to a war in Gaza.


Hamas to the south, Hizbullah to the north – and their sponsors in Damascus and Teheran – all watch how Jerusalem responds to attacks and determine their actions accordingly. They also monitor how the world reacts, and at the moment they have more reason to feel encouraged than Israelis do.


Israel wants to demonstrate to the Palestinians in general, and Hamas and Hizbullah in particular, that kidnapping does not pay. But it is in a trap.


While Hamas continues to blame Netanyahu for Schalit's plight – without a trace of irony or shame – it is clear that a mass prisoner release in return for Schalit will not only strengthen Hamas by numbers, it will send out a message to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas, who has been unsuccessful in negotiating a mass release of Fatah prisoners in Israeli jails, will hear the following: There is no point in negotiating with the Zionists.

Force, Hamas-style, is the only language Israel understands.


There will be others in the Arab and Islamist world receiving the same signal and it does not bode well.


As a Post editorial pointed out last week, Hamas has not even bothered to answer Israel's offer, made six months ago, to release 1,000 terrorists, including 450 Hamas operatives, 100 of whom are murderers responsible for the deaths of about 600 Israelis, and an additional 550 Fatah prisoners.


Netanyahu has (so far) rejected Hamas's demands to include "mega terrorists" like those responsible for the 2001 suicide bombing in Jerusalem's Sbarro restaurant that killed 15; the 2001 bombing of Tel Aviv's Dolphinarium that killed 21; the 2002 Rishon Lezion attack in which 16 were killed; the Moment Café where 11 were killed in 2002 – a few meters from the Prime Minister's Residence; and the infamous Netanya Park Hotel massacre in 2002 when 30 people were killed for the crime of gathering for a Seder night meal.


MY HEART goes out to the Schalits. My mind says they are heading in the wrong direction – they should be heading for the border with Gaza for a mammoth media event. The Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem is the wrong address. They not only run the risk of raising the price for their own son, but if they can show Hamas that Netanyahu can't withstand the pressure, they are raising the inevitable price that will be paid by others later on. And although we assume Schalit is still alive – partly because he is still worth more alive than dead to Hamas – without a visit by the Red Cross we cannot confirm it.

Sadly, by focusing on Netanyahu, the family and supporters are also creating a divide along political lines in one of the few issues on which the country is united, that Gilad Schalit should be home.

 

Schalit's tragedy, in fact, has drawn people together well beyond Israel's borders. As his parents prepared to start their march from their Galilee home, vigils and rallies were held in places ranging from Paris and Rome to Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.


On June 24, the "True Freedom Flotilla" sailed from Pier 40 on Manhattan's West Side to the United Nations building on the East Side in a peaceful but demonstrative show of support for a real humanitarian issue.

More is at stake than the fate of Schalit. The entire country is being held hostage. Now is not the time for division. Whatever the outcome of Schalit's terrible ordeal, the life-anddeath implications of the decisions taken now will continue to affect all of us well into the future.


The writer is the editor of The International Jerusalem Post.


liat@jpost.com

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THE JERUSALEM POST

COLUMN

METRO VIEWS: AMUSING... OR APPALLING

BY MARILYN HENRY

 

The 'Newsweek' list of influential rabbis seems to be for Jews who don't know much about Jewish life.

 

Newsweek's annual list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America has hit the stands. The 2010 list, admittedly "mischievous" says Newsweek, is compiled by media moguls Michael Lynton (Sony Pictures) and Gary Ginsberg (Time Warner), so it is no surprise that this would be entertainment.


For their listing, Lynton and Ginsberg use unscientific criteria. They seem to enjoy hype, appreciating hobnobbers and hondelers more than ministers. They assign the highest number of points in their ranking to rabbis known nationally or internationally, and who have political or social influence outside the Jewish world. In other words, clergy score as rabbis for the masses, not for the tribe.


Fewer points are awarded to rabbis considered leaders within Judaism or their movements, and who have made an impact on Judaism in their careers. Silly me. And here I thought we wanted our religious leaders to be teachers, preachers, scholars.


Apparently a place on the White House guest list trumps the traditional pulpit.


NO. 1 ON the Newsweek list is Chabad's Yehuda Krinsky, who served for decades as an assistant to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Krinksy is virtually unknown outside Chabad, and is believed to lead only a portion of the divided movement. Then comes Eric Yoffie, the long-time head of Reform Judaism, who may be the most important rabbi in the US as the leader of some 1.5 million Jews who worship in 900 synagogues.


To have Chabad trailed by the Reform either says a lot about the severe divisions within American Jewry, or that the rabbi-watchers perceive Chabad as "authentic" Jews although they themselves probably belong to Reform temples.


Krinsky and Yoffie are followed by Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and defender of the embattled Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem. Hier is given kudos for his "tireless work combating issues such as anti- Semitism, bigotry and hate."


However, if Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League were ordained, we'd have a challenger for the anti-anti-Semitism czar on the rabbi ranking.


David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, was No.


1 last year, and is in the top 10 this year. He is without a doubt one of the most influential rabbis and legal scholars in the US. Had the list compilers been more Jew-savvy, they would not have missed Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, now the head of Agudas Yisroel, the long-time director of its governmental affairs department, and one of the finest church-state lawyers in the US.


You can't have a list of influential rabbis without Shmuley Boteach. He tells you so. He contends he is "America's rabbi," which he apparently became after leaving the UK. He is the only rabbi I know of who sells bobblehead dolls in his own image. His big claims to fame, other than dazzling selfpromotion skills, are his books about sex and about Michael Jackson – two things with which Americans are obsessed. You have to wonder, though, if Jackson hadn't died last year, and if Boteach had not been so quick to publish The Michael Jackson Tapes, would the rabbi-watchers have noticed him? The Newsweek list seems to be primarily by Jews for Jews who don't know much about Jewish life.


The order is confusing. At No. 17, for example, is Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, president of the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis. In terms of influence, it makes no sense that she is ahead of Avi Weiss, the Orthodox rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, New York, who in his maverick manner has advanced the rights and public leadership roles of Orthodox women.


Jeffrey Wohlberg, president of the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative rabbis, ranks ahead of Yehiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.


Again, by the influence scale, Eckstein is way up there compared to Wolhlberg. Besides, how many Jews, including Conservative ones, can identify the Rabbinical Assembly, much less its leader?


PEOPLE LIKE lists: the best songs of the decade, books of the century, the worst-dressed. It is tempting to treat this list as another lark; the moguls candidly say it is. But it is irritating because it likens rabbis to rock stars whose stock rises as they mingle with the outside, rather than serve the community – unless the community is a very large one, that is.


There are several pulpit rabbis on the list who are noted because they preside over congregations of more than 1,700 or 1,800 families.

 

It is quite easy to be a rabbi without a pulpit, with none of those irksome rabbi tasks to do, no congregants desperate with fear, pain and problems. And I think it is fairly easy to be a rabbi with a large congregation. True, it must be tough recalling the names, family histories and dynamics of 1,700 members, but I suspect the rabbis of these cathedrals have multiple resources at their disposal.


And that brings me to the slights category. Much as I view the list as a cross between poor taste and a bad joke, it still rankles me that Sharon Kleinbaum is ranked at only No. 25. Kleinbaum is a courageous pioneer for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Jews. She is the senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York. Kleinbaum, hired in 1992, had the dual tasks of leading a growing congregation in need of sustenance and acceptance, and ministering to a community that was cruelly struck by the AIDS epidemic. It is hard to imagine a more influential or essential rabbi – on the pulpit, in congregants' homes and among the mourners.

To be amused or appalled, you can find the list on
www.newsweek.com.

 

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THE JERUSALEM POST

COLUMN

AMERICA'S FOUNDING FATHERS AND JUDAISM

BY ELI KAVON

 

While American Jews have always admired the nation's founders for their vision, they tend to ignore that these great men had little respect for Judaim as a faith.

Talkbacks (3)

 

In America, the July Fourth holiday is a day of picnics, barbecues and fireworks. For me, as for many American Jews, however, it is much more: Independence Day represents the safe haven and the opportunities that the United States gave to our grandparents 100 years ago and to us today. American Jews – like all Americans – cherish the values of freedom of speech and assembly enshrined in our Constitution's Bill of Rights.


We understand that more than two centuries ago Thomas Jefferson and James Madison fought for a separation of religion and state that in our own time allows us to worship our God in freedom.

 

Although Jews comprised a small part of the population of colonial America, the country's Founding Fathers realized the importance of freedom of worship for even this small minority. George Washington's 1790 letter to the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island affirms the American commitment that bigotry would have no place in the US and that Jews would not be a tolerated minority but would "possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship."


That commitment has withstood the test of time.


WHILE AMERICAN Jews have always admired the nation's Founding Fathers for their genius and vision, they tend to ignore that these great men had little respect for Judaism as a faith. It is true that John Adams praised Jews on many occasions in his personal correspondence.


America's second president called the Jews "the most glorious nation that ever inhabited the earth."


Adams, challenging the anti-Semitism of French Enlightenment luminaries like Voltaire, argued that Jews "have influenced the affairs of mankind more and happily than any other nation, ancient or modern."


God, Adams exclaimed in a letter of 1809, had "ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing nations."


Why was this American Founding Father so full of praise in his assessment of Judaism? Adams, in the reality of his life and as a leader of the Federalist Party, knew few Jews and had no Jewish friends. Jews, indeed, supported Adam's political nemesis Thomas Jefferson. What was Adams' point of reference for understanding the Jewish contribution to civilization? The answer to this question comes in another letter that Adams wrote to an American-Jewish admirer in 1819. In the letter, Adams endorses the return of the Jews to their homeland in Israel. This proto-Zionist impulse sounds wonderful on the surface – but then Adams explains the reason for it: Once Jews return to the Land of Israel, they will "wear away some of the asperities and peculiarities of their character and possibly in time become liberal Unitarian Christians."


It is clear that Adams, like all of America's Founding Fathers, supported the Jews' right to worship their God in peace and prosperity. But as a typical man of the Enlightenment, Adams expects Jews to "see the light" and to leave Judaism. Jews embrace Enlightenment and Emancipation even today, without realizing its ground rules. The American and French revolutionaries granted Jews citizenship and equality but did so fully expecting that Jews would assimilate into the majority culture. And, in fact, that is what is happening in America today. Assimilation and intermarriage are eroding American Jewry and sapping its vitality. Today's ethnic pride and multiculturalism are not forces that are strong enough to stem the tide of the phenomenon of "the vanishing American Jew."


Thomas Jefferson was a zealous defender of the wall of separation between church and state. For that, American Jews should be thankful. But, as with Adams, we should not ignore Jefferson's attitude toward Judaism. While Thomas Jefferson upheld freedom of Jews in America to hold fast to their faith, he belittled Judaism in private. In an 1803 letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Jefferson accused Jews of having a "degrading and injurious" understanding of God that was "imperfect" and was devoid of "sound dictates of reason and morality." Jews "needed reformation," the Founding Father wrote, "in an eminent degree."


Seventeen years later, in a letter to William Short, Jefferson claimed "Moses had bound the Jews to many idle ceremonies, mummeries and observances, of no effect towards producing the social utilities which constitute the essence of virtue." It was Jesus, Jefferson wrote, who "exposed their futility and insignificance."


Jefferson was the creature of his place and time. He could write the famous words that all men are created equal yet own African slaves. The logic of his political ideology led him to defend freedom of religion in America, while at the same time ridiculing the Jewish faith. In fact, there were many Jews who agreed with Jefferson that the Judaism of the ghetto was superstitious and tribal.


As an American Jew, I am a great admirer of the Protestant men who founded this great country. But I am troubled by the reality that most of the founders only knew Jewish reality through the "Israelites" of the Hebrew Bible and had little understanding of Jewish history, belief and culture as they all developed in the Diaspora. The granting of religious freedom was not done with an understanding of the rich heritage of Judaism. Rather, this freedom was given with the understanding that it would be used to negate traditional Jewish identity. It was simply the logical outcome of political ideology, not love of Jews.


And, if we, as American Jews, want to understand why our numbers are dwindling and our influence waning, perhaps we should realize that America, as a nation, addresses our needs as Americans, but is indifferent to our fate as Jews.


The writer is on the faculty of Nova Southeastern University's Lifelong Learning Institute in Davie, Florida.

 

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HAARETZ

OPINION

THE FIGHT FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

AFTER DECADES OF A FEELING OF STIFLING ANTI-ZIONIST BIAS AT THE UNIVERSITIES, CHANGE IS KNOCKING AT ACADEMIA'S GATES.

BY RONEN SHOVAL

 

This opinion page has recently carried articles attacking the legitimacy of the Im Tirtzu movement and distorting the report we submitted to the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee. These articles continued a hysterical assault against our movement by academics on Internet forums. The authors' main argument boils down to the tired old mantra of labeling with McCarthyism anyone trying to criticize what happens in academia.

 

The system is trying to depict those seeking academic freedom as enemies of enlightenment, those fighting to end the discrimination against Zionism as thugs, and the academics with the stable salaries, complete academic freedom and wanton lack of transparency surrounding their appointments as victims of the students dependent on them for their grades. These are the same students who dedicate the little time they have after work and studies to fight for future students.

 

But the truth cannot be concealed, and the fight for equality and true academic freedom cannot be suppressed. After decades of a feeling of stifling anti-Zionist bias at the universities, change is knocking at academia's gates. Sooner or later the exclusion and silencing of anyone with opinions slightly to the right of the academic consensus between Meretz and Hadash will cease. The freedom and liberty to research, study and enrich education, the freedom and liberty to think differently, will soon be given to all students in Israel, not just an extremist anti-Israeli minority.

 

The attempt to escape a matter-of-fact discussion on the anti-Zionist bias in some departments, and the feeling of exclusion and humiliation felt by many students will come to naught. Throwing around swearwords like "McCarthyism," "fascism" and "Stalinism" a dozen times a day won't stop the public and the students from asking over and over the following questions.

 

Is there, in some parts of academia, an over-representation of post-Zionism in complete disproportion to this worldview's representation in the overall population? How did this situation come about? Is it true that academic achievement is limited to these circles, or could it be that academics of such persuasions promote their fellow post-Zionists? Is it right for academics, people with a clear vested interest, to be the only ones marking the boundaries of "academic freedom" - or rather, deciding that such freedom means that everything is allowed? Don't the public, the education minister and NGOs have a right to help mark the borders of academic freedom? Is merely raising this question equivalent to censorship and a witch hunt? Could it be that the cries of McCarthyism are the real attempts at censorship?

 

Is a member of academic staff allowed to call for the boycott of the institution where he works and expect not to

be sanctioned? Can we accept a situation in which scores of anti-Israeli petitions calling for economic, cultural

and academic boycotts are issued from the universities sponsored by our taxes? Did a handful of lecturers buy a monopoly on truth, and when did this take place? Is the opinion of the education minister, the members of Im Tirtzu, significant parts of the academic faculty who find themselves silent, and significant parts of the Israeli public less worthy than the cries of McCarthtyism by that academic handful? And how long will the exclusion and silencing of Zionist voices at universities last? Freedom is knocking on the doors of academia. Don't hold it back.

 

The writer is the chairman of the movement Im Tirtzu.

 

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HAARETZ

OPINION

AN UNACCEPTABLE SURRENDER TO SHAS

NETANYAHU IS WELL AWARE OF ISRAELI SOCIETY'S NEED TO EXTRACT THE HAREDIM FROM THE CYCLE OF POVERTY AND STATE HANDOUTS, AND THE NEED TO INTEGRATE THEM INTO THE LABOR MARKET TO ENSURE FUTURE ECONOMIC GROWTH. HIS SURRENDER TO SHAS' DEMAND PERPETUATES AN UNACCEPTABLE ARRANGEMENT AND GOES AGAINST THE NATIONAL INTEREST.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says he did not make a commitment to Shas party leader Eli Yishai to reinstate the stipends for yeshiva students that the High Court of Justice took away, but Shas' leaders understood things differently. They say Netanyahu promised to make sure the payments continue, via a provision in the Economic Arrangements Bill.

 

Just two weeks ago, the high court ruled on a petition by Jenny Baruchi and others that no distinction could be made between university students, who do not get income stipends, and yeshiva students, who do receive them, and that the fundamental principle "requiring all citizens to accept the fundamental values of government and to take responsibility for the obligations of each citizen" must be respected.

 

This is an important court ruling, and it aroused protest among ultra-Orthodox public figures. They have "arranged" an array of special support for their yeshiva students for a long time, and have thereby assured them a life of idleness, devoid of the need to acquire a profession or education to earn a living. In the absence of a responsible legislature that sees the interests of society as a whole and the danger inherent in creating such a large stratum of poor, willfully ignorant people who are not suited for the modern labor market, the high court drew a line between government coalition agreements and clear harm to the principle of equality.

 

It now appears Netanyahu is looking for circuitous ways to bypass the high court's decision, in order to satisfy his coalition partners. If that is in fact what he is doing, he will again prove to the public that he places political survival above honoring a High Court decision, and that he is ready to pay any price to maintain his position as prime minister. Netanyahu's surrender to Shas is puzzling inasmuch as Yishai has not even hinted he might threaten to resign. This is Netanyahu, who as finance minister preached and acted against evading productive work and in favor of returning the unemployed - and those not working by choice - to the workforce. It is therefore difficult to understand how he is now bolstering the Haredi viewpoint - which is controversial even among the Haredi public itself - that a poor yeshiva student who avoids working should be more entitled to benefits than any other citizen in Israel.

 

Netanyahu is well aware of Israeli society's need to extract the Haredim from the cycle of poverty and state handouts, and the need to integrate them into the labor market to ensure future economic growth. His surrender to Shas' demand perpetuates an unacceptable arrangement and goes against the national interest.

 

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HAARETZ

OPINION

DIFFERENT TONE, SAME OLD MUSIC

OBAMA IS STILL STICKING TO HIS BELIEF THAT RESOLVING THE ISRAELI-ARAB CONFLICT IS THE KEY TO SOLVING THE MIDDLE EAST'S OTHER PROBLEMS AND STRENGTHENING AMERICA'S IMAGE IN THE ARAB AND MUSLIM WORLDS.

BY ZVI RAFIAH

 

Ehud Barak isn't only defense minister. He is also the minister for U.S. affairs - at least, to judge by the reception he gets from his counterparts in Washington. Barak appears to enjoy his double role, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have no problem with his defense minister representing him stateside. But as great as the two leaders' self-satisfaction is, equally great are expectations in Washington (and among many in Israel ) that Barak indeed deliver the goods. Those goods are, of course, "two states for two peoples." Even if that goal is not met within two years, the White House will likely settle for any kind of substantive progress toward implementation.

 

Barack Obama has admitted to erring in striking a distant, derisive pose toward the Israeli administration in his first year in office. His second year has thus far been marked by a dramatic turnaround. The U.S. president and his staff are now displaying an attitude of friendship and understanding toward Jerusalem, and making sure that Jewish members of Congress, Jewish groups and Israelis themselves are well aware of that change.

 

The change in tone is underscored by new realities on the ground. Alongside Netanyahu's invitation to the White House (this time with all the diplomatic protocol generally seen between allies and friends ), Israel has been allotted $205 million in aid - on top of the annual $3 billion it receives, and additional allocations to develop the Arrow and David's Sling projectile interceptors - to purchase the Iron Dome rocket-defense system. Obama's decision to shore Israel up despite the international outcry over its May flotilla raid is another manifestation of the change in attitude across the pond.

The tone is indeed new, but Netanyahu and Barak must not misinterpret the nature of the change. "C'est le ton qui fait la musique," say the French - the tone makes the music - but the music makers inside the beltway seem to believe otherwise. The shape and style of U.S. relations with Israel have changed, but the content and policy have not - not even one bit.

 

Obama is still sticking to his belief that resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict is the key to solving the Middle East's other problems and strengthening America's image in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Despite the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, bad news from Iraq and Afghanistan and a number of yet-unsettled scores on the domestic front, the U.S. administration's faith in that course of action remains unshaken. And despite the wishes of some on the Israeli right, the upcoming Congressional elections will not divert the president from his goal of making tangible progress toward a two-state solution. The Israeli-Palestinian morass is hardly the decisive issue at the polls. Even if the Democrats sustain heavier losses than expected in the midterm elections, Obama will be unlikely to attribute them to his Mideast policy.

The U.S. president recently spoke to journalists in Washington (and made sure word spread to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv ) of his conviction that relations with Israel are a two-way street - that Jerusalem must assist its ally in protecting American interests just as Washington must take Israel's into account. At his next meeting with Netanyahu, therefore, Obama expects to hear decisive, transparent statements about Israel's vision for reaching a two-state solution and how the Jewish state may reinforce America's standing in the region and the world. For Obama, honesty and candor on Netanyahu's part are the real conditions for maintaining ties of friendship and understanding.

The writer is a former diplomat and an expert on U.S. affairs.

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HAARETZ

OPINION

A PROPER INVESTIGATION

THE PRIME MINISTER SHOULD KNOW THAT ONLY A REAL, SKILLFULLY CONDUCTED AND CREDIBLE INVESTIGATION LAYS THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE AMERICANS WILL REFRAIN FROM SUPPORTING AN INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION.

BY ZE'EV SEGAL

 

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indeed supports a serious investigation into the Gaza flotilla affair, as his associates adamantly suggest, and is not merely sufficing with an investigation for show, a golden opportunity has fallen into his lap that he will be able to promote at this morning's cabinet meeting.

 

Contrary to what is believed in Israel, the Americans are meticulously examining this country's constitutional state of affairs. They understand the difference between a state commission of inquiry, whose members are appointed by the Supreme Court president exercising his or her own judgment, and a government investigative committee appointed by ministers with a connection to the matter at hand.

 

These two types of panel are different from the informal committee headed by Jacob Turkel to look into the flotilla incident. Turkel's committee lacks a real mandate, public status and investigative powers. Forming it was cooked up by various cabinet advisers, led by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, to reveal little and leave much undisturbed.

 

The prime minister should know that only a real, skillfully conducted and credible investigation lays the groundwork for the possibility that the Americans will refrain from supporting an international investigation. At this stage, the Americans have made it clear they don't rule out support for an international inquiry.

 

Under the existing circumstances, the chances for the preferred option of a state commission of inquiry are slim unless other ministers demand it of the prime minister and unless Defense Minister Ehud Barak agrees. At the same time, a decision to convert the Turkel Committee, in a properly expanded format, into a government investigative committee as provided for by law, with full investigatory powers, would also be significant.

 

Providing the committee with investigative authority, however, would only accomplish half the job. What the committee would examine is no less important. Without a broad mandate, the committee would resemble an empty shell. If its current mandate is left in place, as the parties involved in the matter seek, the Turkel Committee would be useless, of no advantage either domestically or internationally.

 

Its current mandate is limited, inadequate and turns it into a forum for legal debate with authorization only to examine a few subjects: the military circumstances surrounding the naval blockade on Gaza and its conformity with international law; the conformity with international law of Israel's steps to enforce the blockade; and an examination of the flotilla organizers' actions and the quality of Israeli supervisory mechanisms in cases of violation of the international laws of war.

 

The Turkel Committee was not authorized to look at how preparations for the the flotilla's arrival were carried out on the political level in Israel or to examine the actions of senior military officials such as the naval commander. The emphasis in the current mandate, which with respect to the military only authorizes the committee to request information from the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and to receive summaries of the military investigations, explicitly contradicts the broad authority needed for a serious inquiry.

 

The current mandate pales in comparison to the mandate given to the government committee of inquiry headed by retired judge Eliyahu Winograd that examined the Second Lebanon War. That committee's authority included the preparations for and conduct of the war on the political and military levels. It covered all relevant aspects including the conduct of the campaign from its political, military and civilian aspects. The Winograd Committee was authorized to develop findings and conclusions and submit recommendations as it saw fit.

 

Usually a committee convened as a state commission of inquiry via a cabinet decision or appointed by ministers on a subject within their area of responsibility sticks to its mandate. At the same time, it has happened that a commission of inquiry - the Kahan Commission that investigated the massacres in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Lebanon - declared that it could not carry out its work properly if it did not "to a certain extent" exceed the authority provided by the cabinet's resolution. Exceeding authority in a limited manner is possible, but the cabinet's decision narrowing the committee's range of action could foil the investigation if the committee conducts itself "by the book," as is the accepted practice.

 

A serious cabinet debate either today or at a later session cannot suffice with approving full investigative powers of a government investigative committee. Without a comprehensive and broad mandate, it would not be worth the efforts of the committee's members. Judge Turkel has reportedly demanded that the committee's investigative powers be expanded, but only if it is given a real mandate will it be able do its work with the integrity expected of it.

 

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 I. THE NEWS

EDITORIAL

BLOODLETTING AT NAB

 

Fresh from bombing the legal fraternity with cash in the hope of influencing their voting patterns, Law Minister Babar Awan has turned to a little freelance throat-slitting within the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Matters have come to a head over the Swiss cases and conflicting statements regarding the withdrawal of the COTECNA case against president Zardari. At first the case was said to be withdrawn, then it was not and then last Thursday, in dead of night, the press statement was again retracted and the case was said to be withdrawn. Behind the scenes whilst all this was going on there was mayhem; and behind the mayhem the question of who really runs the National Accountability Bureau and to whom is it accountable? To date, nine officers have either been fired or transferred to other – remote – stations and all NAB officers have been ordered to say nothing to the media about anything; especially nothing about what is going on behind the scenes.


All of this it seems is a part of the struggle by NAB to retain what it can of its independence, against the desire of the Law Ministry to tighten its grip over NAB and control who does what and to whom they do it. And the pilot at the Law Ministry is? Bomber Babar. Good old 'Bombs' as he is known to his party chums has decided to have a bit of a shake-up at NAB. Out of the window sans parachute goes anybody who has worked on corruption, to be replaced by nodding lapdogs who do as they are told in exchange for a quiet life and a bigger share of the bones. Seven out of the nine ejectees were known as capable administrators and most of the nine are ex-army officers. This is no coincidence. The acting chairman of NAB Javed Zia Qazi has told his colleagues that Bomber Awan has issued instructions to the effect that no official of military origin can be trusted and that they are to be ditched forthwith. One of those ditched was posted to Quetta at a days notice – a clear indicator that 'Bombs' means business. Key NAB positions are vacant, and at least one member of senior staff has resigned in disgust. There, it seems, is really no limit to what some will do to ensure that the corruption ruling and ruining our lives keeps ruling and ruining it as long as they can keep on building their empire of unreason on the ruins.

 

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I. THE NEWS

EDITORIAL

ZIPPING LIPS

 

Looking very uncomfortable while being interviewed on a private TV channel, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, said somewhat lamely that the proposal to limit broadcast coverage and criticism was 'not bringing out any policy'. He was at pains to reiterate this when he addressed the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) on Friday. The media community may view his statements with scepticism at best, outright disbelief at worst. Kaira was commenting on the news that new media regulations are being proposed by a committee that until a few days ago the public was unaware of, but has apparently been in existence for 'years' according to him. These new regulations, details of which are yet to be seen, are going before parliament in the next session and are likely to be passed into law by the end of the summer. Few will doubt that this is yet another attempt by the government to stifle a media that has very quickly developed a taste for governmental blood, and is happy to serve up goblets of the stuff to an agog populace.


That there is a need for media regulation there can be no doubt. Many nations regulate their media in an effort to ensure that on the one hand freedom of speech is preserved; whilst on the other common decencies are respected and that hate speech has no place on the airwaves. Our electronic media has grown from being a state monopoly a decade ago to there being, reportedly, 73 TV channels of which 12 offer news and current affairs 24/7 and 148 radio stations, today. Unsurprisingly, in this fast-forwards free-for-all, standards may have suffered and a need for regulation was recognised by the industry itself; which led the managers of eight TV news channels agreeing a set of standardised guidelines in 2009. This is apparently not enough for the government, nor it seems for the military who are a part of this venerable committee about which we know so little. The military? Now what are they doing on a committee discussing media regulation? And where are the working journalists on this committee? Any? Apparently not. And then we had the words of Faranaz Ispahani (PPP) who is quoted as saying…"For us this is not a freedom of media issue. This is really more about responsibility, because it's creating depression among the people of Pakistan." Well Ms Ispahani they have an awful lot to be depressed about, don't you think – your government among them.

 

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I. THE NEWS

OPINION

TROLLEYS, WATCHES AND STAFF

 

Given the current climate in which fraud, corruption and fakery are under scrutiny it is perhaps not a good idea to offer an expensive watch to each of the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production – especially when they are about to give you a grilling about the lamentable state of the national airline of which you are the managing director. Yet this is what Captain Ijaz Haroon did. The Senate committee in a creditable display of incorruptibility refused the watches, handed them back to Captain Haroon and got down to business. It was a packed agenda. Did Captain Haroon have any idea where 1,100 airport trolleys purchased at a cost of $550 each had disappeared to? The captain said it was 'only' 800 – valued at a mere $440,000 or about Rs37 million – and that those responsible for the thefts had been sacked. So no problem there, then.


Moving swiftly on the committee made enquiry about PIA employees who were political appointees, and demanded that political appointees have their services terminated with immediate effect. Committee members observed, perfectly correctly, that Pakistan was approaching a 'state of decadence' because of the corruption endemic to government institutions. Captain Haroon was a little more equivocal over this point, saying that the management had in principle agreed to reduce the numbers of staff appointed abroad and was committed to laying off 'unnecessary employees'. It is perhaps worth noting that PIA has the highest employee-to-aircraft ratio in the world, at a whopping 434 per aircraft (2007-08 figure). Indian airlines have 276 per aircraft and the highest employee to aircraft ratio in the US is at United Airlines, with fewer than 120 per aircraft. There was little good news before the committee, and PIA present a continuing picture of deteriorating service standards, poor maintenance, and a shrinkage of facilities for business and economy passengers alike. Captain Haroon's offer of watches to members of the Senate committee was clumsy, inappropriate and indicative of the corporate mindset that has taken our once-proud national carrier to its current condition. Something needs to change at PIA, and getting the staff-to-aircraft ratio below 300 would be a good start.

 

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I. THE NEWS

OPINION

 A FEW STORIES FROM PRISON

AAKAR PATEL


I have been to prison three times. I was 18 the first time, and studying for a diploma in how to operate textile machinery. This was at Baroda's MS University, named after Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, who set it up by giving it all his palaces. The Maharaja famously showed his back to George V at his coronation as emperor of India in 1911. Perhaps this was because as 'maharaja' -- great king -- Sayajirao thought himself the emperor's equal. This act of defiance made him talked about. More importantly, Sayajirao paid for the education of one of only two modern Indian leaders to attend college in America instead of England. This was B R Ambedkar, who went to New York's Columbia University and returned to write India's fine constitution.


My education -- if learning how to run looms and fix cotton carding machines is an education -- happened at a palace called Rang Bhavan. It was said that the Baroda kings had kept their dancing girls here, and a century ago it had been a polished and cultured place (no evidence of this in my class of barely-literate men). And it was for the damage of this building, to bring to an end the rather long detour I took as I began to write this, that I first went to jail.


University students in India are quite angry and often violent -- mostly without cause. The reason for that particular protest in 1988 has now faded, but I think it had something to do with wanting a delay in the exams. This wasn't accepted by the dean and so our response was, naturally, to stone the windows of that quite lovely structure. The police were around and picked us up. My watch broke in the scuffle, but I was released later in the night.


The lock-up was filthy, but there were plenty of us together so it was made tolerable. The second time I spent time inside was also as brief, and this was in 1995. I had just taken a job as a journalist, and was returning home one morning by local train after a night shift. I boarded, by mistake since I was new to Bombay, a ladies' first-class coach that was vacant. I was taken off by a constable and asked to pay a fine. I was indignant that I wouldn't pay (or bribe) since I had made an honest mistake. He carted me off, quite rightly, before a magistrate. I was ordered to pay a fine, I think it was Rs1,000, which I did not have. And so it was off to the lock-up again before someone from the office could come get me out.


The third time I entered a prison, I was invited in. This was a few months later, when I was asked to cover the trial involving Sanjay Dutt, who was in Bombay's Arthur Road jail for keeping assault rifles at his house in Bandra. I reached Arthur Road looking for some leads, but the gates were shut and there was nobody to speak to and so I hung around at the bus station directly opposite the gate. There were some women there, whose husbands, or perhaps brothers, were in jail. As undertrials the men were allowed home-cooked food. But for this to happen, they had to write an application, and most of the women were illiterate. One asked me if I could write that note for her, and after I agreed about a half-dozen others asked me to also help them. By the time I was finishing, the gate opened and a guard came out and straight to me. He said the jailor wanted to see me. The jailor, a man named Hiremath, had seen me from his quarters on the second floor. He asked me what I was doing and when he heard, took me in with him into the jail compound, and straight to where Sanjay Dutt was sitting with a small group of men. It wasn't yet dusk, it might have been about six, but they were already eating supper, fat roti and black dal.


I chatted with Dutt for a few minutes, and told him I had met him years ago when he had visited Surat. He didn't remember the trip, but he asked me to come again the next morning, this time to the court that was attached to Arthur Road jail. The next morning, he handed me a sheaf of papers, all handwritten. "Print this if you like," he said, "it's for my birthday."


He had written a long letter claiming he was innocent, and that if guilty he ought to be shot at the crossroads. It was quite dramatic, as these things tend to be in India and he swore on his dead mother that he hadn't done anything wrong. It struck me that the letter had been written by at least three different hands, but it was excellent material and I filed the report with his remark as the headline. I met Dutt often after that in court and just outside. He was always with another man, Mohammed Jindran, also an accused in the case that Dutt was being tried for. This was the bomb blasts in Bombay in 1993, which killed 257 people. Jindran was arrested after the explosive RDX was found in his warehouse. He says he stocked it without knowing what it was and when he did find out, tried to get rid of it but was caught. He was a soft-spoken middle-class man in his 30s, and he spoke English. Both he and Dutt were released on bail. On June 29, 1998, Jindran was shot and killed as he was leaving home, apparently by a rival gang.


My beat meant that I always met interesting people. One afternoon, as I was leaving the court, a man tapped my shoulder and asked if I was a reporter. When I said I was, he said he wanted a job as a racing correspondent. I introduced him to the newspaper's editor, M J Akbar, and he got the job. Some months later, Akbar said this man, Usman Rangila, was quite good at writing about horse racing and asked how I knew him. I said we met at the sessions court. What was he doing there, Akbar asked. He was trying to get a relation of his out on bail, I said. On what charge was that man in, asked Akbar. Drugs, I said. Akbar was aghast: "Couldn't you have told me this before?" But, I said, it wasn't he who was being tried. Usman kept his job, and we are good friends. He now reports for the Mirror.


In that period, one of the most famous police officers in Bombay, a very young man called Rahul Rai Sur, was in charge of the narcotics department. A Fulbright scholar from Johns Hopkins University, he fled to America with his wife, after randomly arresting people on drugs charges unless they paid him. I met many of his victims, including old men, and he came across as a cold and frighteningly efficient man. Astonishingly (to me, anyway) after the charges against him were revealed, he was deputed to the United Nations and he did not return from there.

I have always tried to find sympathy for those in prison, because few of us are innocent of all crimes.

A colleague of mine spent two nights at Arthur Road a couple of years ago. He was caught driving after having a couple of drinks, and Bombay's police have become quite firm about this. After about 11 pm, the police set up roadblocks where all cars are made to slow down. The driver is asked to exhale, sometimes into a device. When alcohol is detected, the police confiscate the car and license but send the driver off home, summoning him the next day. When Zaheer, my colleague, arrived the next morning he was taken to a magistrate, before whom he confessed and was sentenced to two days. He called me from his mobile phone for help, but there was little to be done after the sentence had been passed. He would be taken to Arthur Road later in the day but for a few hours he was at the lock-up in the basement under the court. It was a bare place with a stone floor and a stench. There were four other men with him, all middle-class and probably all caught for the same thing. A sub-inspector and a constable watched over them. The sub-inspector took a call from a politician, who demanded that someone be released soon. The sub-inspector was craven on the telephone, saying "yes sir" and "will do, sir". But after hanging up, his face changed. He pointed to one of the men and told the constable: "Don't let that one go for an extra two days."


The writer is a director with Hill Road Media in Bombay. Email: aakar@hillroadmedia.com

 

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I. THE NEWS

OPINION

FATA CALLS

AYAZ WAZIR


Our print and electronic media have so far not given due coverage to the atrocities committed against the people in FATA, though it can partly disclaim any responsibility for this omission by claiming not to have free access to the areas. Another factor contributing to this is the projection of biased or incorrect analysis of those who have brief exposure through government assignments in that area.


The situation there has not remained at a standstill. It has changed rapidly in the recent past and so have the realities on ground. It is only through regular contact and interaction with people that one keeps himself abreast of developments in any region. And to understand the distinct dynamics of the tribal customs and traditions in FATA one needs to be a part and parcel of that system. There are no shortcuts to that.


Recently our minister for information and broadcasting issued a broadside rejecting the report of Amnesty International about human-rights violations in FATA. He should not have relied only on reports received from political agents or other partisan agencies that are, allegedly, themselves involved in these violations. He should have acquainted himself with facts and figures about FATA before issuing that statement. I am sure he would not have been able to reject the AI report in toto with a clear conscience had he known the facts of the Tanai incident in South Waziristan or the Humzoni debacle in North Waziristan. The list of violations is too long if one starts from South Waziristan and ends up in Bajaur. But that is not the purpose of this article.

The government has kept FATA totally isolated from the rest of the country through the draconian laws of the FCR (Frontier Crimes Regulation). Interaction of the people with their brothers in the settled districts is marginal, one way and generally limited to tribesmen visiting the settled areas, and that also when unavoidable. Even today you can find people who have never been to large cities in the country.


Similarly, very few from settled areas may have visited FATA because of government restrictions. It can be easily called an open-air sub-jail. No one, other than the inmates, is allowed to enter this sub-jail and that also with government permission. This makes FATA inaccessible for the outside world, thus the atrocities committed against the local people remain hidden and unnoticed.


The army was deployed in the areas mainly to flush out foreign militants, but in the process it got bogged down with its own people. Such are the consequences of wars imposed upon people against their wishes. A former senator of the ruling party has rightly said that despite the government's best efforts it could not convince people to accept it as their own war. Our leaders have accepted this war as ours but have paid only lip-service to its success.

The leaders of the west do not tire of lending support to their troops in Afghanistan. President Obama visited his troops immediately after taking over power as did Bush before him. The same was done by British Prime Minister David Cameroon or Tony Blair earlier as well as other leaders of the west. In contrast, our leaders have barricaded themselves in Islamabad parading along Constitution Avenue in bullet-proof cars without taking the trouble to visit the strife-torn area to lend moral support to the troops engaged in combat operations or to acquaint themselves with the hell unleashed upon the locals living in those areas.


Leaders in the west are walking a tightrope to go along with the wishes of their people. Ours are not bothered; they care two hoots for public sentiments. The prime minister is on record as having said that development in FATA cannot take place till the return of peace in that area. He conveniently forgets that it is his own government which is responsible for the restoration of peace in the area, and not the people. President Zardari also went back on his promise of extending political and economic reforms, including the Political Parties Act, to FATA. What compulsion he had to go back on that promise is not the concern of the people of FATA. They want their area to be developed where they can live in peace and harmony and enjoy the same rights and privileges that their brothers enjoy in the rest of the country.


FATA is not the same as it was decades ago. Things have changed drastically leading to change in the power centre in the area. The government has done nothing to reverse the situation so far. It has used force only which is not the remedy. The remedy lies with the government which needs to show its presence in the area and take bold decisions for immediate implementation of its promises.


We cannot afford to waste more time in deliberations as to whether the FCR be amended or repealed. We need to act and amend it quickly along with extending the Political Parties Act to the area. This will make the people stakeholders in the affairs concerning FATA. That should be followed by massive aid for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The younger generation of tribesmen is aware of its rights and has not inherited the patience of its elders. It will not brook further delay to get its rights. The youngsters have seen their elders rendering sacrifices and in return getting nothing from the government. They are in a hurry. They have the resolve and strength to stand up together and get from the government what is due to them. Let us not deny them their rights anymore. Let us not force them to come out on the streets.


The writer, a former ambassador, hails from FATA. Email: waziruk@hotmail .com

 

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I. THE NEWS

OPINION

CAPITAL SUGGESTION

THAR: CLAIMS VS FACTS

DR FARRUKH SALEEM


Claim 1: Thar coal reserves stand at a colossal 185 billion tons. Fact 1: Pakistan's proven reserves of bituminous or anthracite (higher-quality) coal are next to nothing. Pakistan's proven reserves of sub-bituminous and lignite reserves (lignite is brown coal, the lowest-ranked coal) stand at 3,050 million tons, which amounts to 0.3 per cent of the global total. (Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy.)


Claim 2: Thar coal reserves dwarf Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves of 264 billion barrels. (Saudi reserves amount to 25 percent of the global total.) Fact 2: In 1981, Pakistan produced 1.6 million tons of coal. Over the past 25 years our coal production has steadily gone up and we currently produce around 4.3 million tons a year, or a meagre 0.6 percent of world production. Asad Umar, president of Engro Corporation Limited, the company that has signed a joint venture with the government of Sindh for Thar Block II, has this to say on the subject: "One cannot make a direct comparison between oil and coal because oil travels very well and coal does not, and therefore oil dominates the energy market. So even if your [coal] reserves are bigger than Saudi Arabia's [oil reserves], it doesn't mean that you are going to become a Saudi Arabia of energy. And given that we don't have the best-quality coal, we have lignite coal which is very high in moisture, it's not going to be a globally traded commodity. It's not that we will start exporting 10 million barrels of oil energy per day."


Claim 3: Thar coal reserves can produce enough electricity to end load-shedding and then power Pakistan for the following 50 years. Fact 3: Leading financial institutions around the world have long discontinued the financing of coal-fired power plants. According to Engro, "Pakistan is unlikely to generate any power from Thar coal before 2016. Feasibility should be completed …by the end of 2010. Then one year for financial close and then four years of execution, which means the end of 2015."


Claim 4: Americans do not want Pakistan to develop Thar coal reserves. Fact 4: As a matter of record, in the early 1990s, it was the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), actually looking for water, which first identified the presence of coal deposits in Thar.


Claim 5: Thar coal can be converted into gas and the gas can then be converted into transportation fuels. Fact 5: The South African company Sasol (Suid Afrikaanse Steenkool en Olie) has been producing petrol and diesel from coal (through the Fischer-Tropsch process). In essence, coal gasification is a proven technology. Thar coal can potentially be converted into gas, but the question that is yet to be answered is: will such conversion be cost-effective and economically viable?


Claim 6: Thar coal is both technologically and economically viable. Fact 6: There is not a single scientific study on record that claims that Thar coal is both technologically and economically viable. Technical and economic feasibility studies are yet to be undertaken. At the same time, "regional geologic conditions, coal seam continuity, structure, quality, topography, altitude, slope, surface drainage patterns, groundwater conditions, availability of labour and materials, coal purchaser requirements, capital investment requirements" and environmental impact are yet to be ascertained.


Imagine. Japan's proven reserves of lignite coal is zero, but Japan manages to produce $4 trillion worth of goods and services a year. It's not about extracting coal. The real name of the game is developing your human capital.



The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:
farrukh15@hotmail.com

 

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I. THE NEWS

OPINION

UNDER ZIA'S SHADOW

GHAZI SALAHUDDIN


With the deadly thunder of suicide bomb blasts inside the Data Darbar in Lahore still reverberating in your mind, do pause to think about an anniversary that falls tomorrow, Monday. It should remind you of an event that took place thirty-three years ago on this ignominious day.


Thirty-three years is a very long time, spanning an entire generation. The world has certainly changed during this period. We now live in another century. Well over half of the population of this country was born after July 5, 1977. But their lives are still shrouded in the dark shadow of that event.


So, how do we contend with the legacy of Gen Ziaul Haq? Why was it possible for a villainous military dictator to subvert the very spirit of the nation and sow the seeds of religious militancy in a country founded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah? We can pose that question once again: is this Jinnah's Pakistan or is it Zia's?


One wonders if our military leaders who came after Zia, and the present ones, have had time to ponder this question. It is interesting, however, that while Zia was manifestly an Islamist and some would also define him as a jihadist, the other chiefs of army staff did not have the same ideological fervour. Gen Pervez Musharraf, for instance, raised the banner of 'enlightened moderation' – and he ruled for almost as long as Zia did. But they were not able – or willing – to repair the damage that Zia had done to our polity.


It is true that the situation now is very complicated. Our military is at war with the terrorists, though it still seems to be somewhat selective in defining its – and the country's – enemies. In the smoke that rises from the recent bomb blasts in different parts of Pakistan, you can figure out the ghost of Ziaul Haq.


Coming back to the devastating attack within the premises of the most revered shrine in this land where Islam had spread as a message of peace and love by the likes of Ali Hajwairi, the message delivered by the perpetrators of this monstrous assault on our faith and our values should be carefully analysed.


Unfortunately, the trend has been evident for a long time. There was that bomb attack on the shrine of Rahman Baba, the legendary Pashto poet and a revered Sufi near Peshawar in March last year. But Data Darbar represents the soul of Lahore and the intensity of this primitive attack must have traumatised millions of Data's devotees. And they must be wondering: what is it that those who believe in the divine message of peace and tolerance can do to stop this onslaught of primitive passions that are aroused in the name of religion?


I have alluded to the responsibility that falls on the shoulders of the military to deal with the legacy of Zia. But we now have civilian and professedly democratic rulers. What is their responsibility and how are they discharging it? Irrespective of the limits of the power they possess, they have obviously not taken any concrete steps to revise the policies that are rooted in Zia's attempts to Islamise our polity.


After all, we should remember Zia not just for his religious fervour and how he invested it in his support for the Afghan jihad. He was the one who committed the judicial murder of the founder of the Pakistan People's Party. Incidentally it is not only the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that the present rulers have to avenge, not in any literal sense but metaphorically. There is the more recent and still bleeding wound that the terrorists, Zia's disciples in some ways, inflicted in December 2007.


Does this not mean that the first task of the present government, led by the PPP, is to mobilise the liberal and democratic forces in this country to change its ideological sense of direction? Democracy is the best revenge, they proclaim, invoking the political wisdom of Benazir Bhutto. However, they have not done much in this direction in more than two years that they have been at the helm of affairs.


It is truly unfortunate that in spite of their coalition with the Awami National Party, itself wedded to the legacy of Bacha Khan, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a seemingly secular outfit, no decisive steps have been taken to reverse the tide that was raised by Zia's Islamisation. Indeed, the 18th Amendment did not dare to tackle laws introduced by Zia, including the Blasphemy Law.


Meanwhile, the rulers have remained engaged in deviant political pursuits. While we lament the frequency of suicide and terrorist bombings, with Lahore being a particular target, we should also be extremely worried about the overall drift of our society. When not distracted by diabolical acts of terrorism, we are disturbed by the spread of poverty, by suicides and violent crime and social disorder.


A dominant issue at this time is that of fake degrees that the legislators had filed with the Election Commission in 2008, to circumvent the law that prescribed graduation for their candidature. It has blown into a storm because the extent to which this deception was used now seems enormous. It became almost the main theme of the speech that President Asif Ali Zardari made while launching a subsidiary of the Benazir Income Support Programme recently.


Is it that while the very poor need and deserve Benazir Income Support, our politicians need the support of fake degrees to compensate for their moral poverty? A laughable remark was made that even the Quaid was not a graduate. The point is not whether he was a graduate or not, the point is whether he would file a document that was fake. Yes, the condition of graduation is not justified. But lying on record is a crime that any politician in a genuine democracy must pay with public disgrace and a prison sentence.


Graduates or not, this is the time when our ruling politicians have to demonstrate that they at least have the ability to understand the crisis of Pakistan and find ways to lead the country out of this mess. How many of them, for instance, read books and have some knowledge of history and practical politics? They will never allow it, but an IQ test would tell us a lot about the intellectual capacity of our leaders.


Some of them, yes, are very clever and well-read. We trust that they have a fair idea of what ails the nation and what should be done to steer it in the right direction. But they have either been relegated to the periphery of the present system or have willingly made a Faustian bargain to remain in power. But for how long?

 

The writer is a staff member. Email: ghazi_salahuddin @hotmail.com

 

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I. THE NEWS

OPINION

OVER THE TOP

MASOOD HASAN


I am looking at an old photograph of the Nathiagali Club building that shows a lush forest in the background and a group of what seem to be Britishers posing on the steps of the Club House with the tennis courts in the foreground. The picture is not dated but it could well be a hundred years old. That was Nathiagali then rather a far cry from the chicken karahi centre coated with diesel fumes it has now become. Our famous kiss of death has successfully killed the second of the two hill stations we have. Murree's obituary appeared years ago and it is now dead and buried. Nathiagali being a little further up in the hills but not far enough from the marauding Suzukis has somewhat survived the onslaught but make no mistake because its final rites too are underway.

The club is symptomatic of the decline that has characterised us as a nation. We have no talent, imagination or desire to build new and aesthetically designed public buildings. Instead, we have butchered with callousness and indifference what was given to us. With our customary neglect we have reduced these to hideous skeletons and not cared two hoots what happens to our heritage. We do pontificate a great deal on our sensibilities but in actual practice we allow murder of what should have been preserved. True we could never beat the British at conservation but we are also at the other end of the spectrum and the gap has widened to become catastrophic.

The Nathiagali Club was never the Savoy or the Ritz but it was a meeting point for the residents and visitors alike. What we have here today should be quickly converted into a cemetery. It certainly looks like one. But it wasn't in such a terrible state always. The club was alright – had a billiard room, table tennis, a library and some social activity. Today it is literally falling apart. Things are so bad that the sole guard (what is he guarding, please?) refuses to sleep under the roof of the Club House, convinced that one of these days the roof will surely cave in. Mercifully even dead dodos don't visit this derelict skeleton. Instead, for residents and visitors alike, the 'in' thing is feasting at the Afaq and that famous chicken eatery I can't recall (too over spiced and too hyped if you ask me) plus the dozens of ugly, unhygienic and cheap shacks that now infest what was once and still is, Nathiagali's main street.


There is a committee of sorts that is supposedly looking after the Nathiagali Club but if all its members have passed on into the hereafter it would at least explain the supreme indifference of its worthy members. Nathiagali has about 50 permanent residents – people who have built lavish properties here. They contribute about Rs2500 annually towards the club though seeing that not a penny has been spent, are unwilling to continue paying this fee. An NGO put together supposedly to look after the club, has collected about Rs10m from the residents and companies but it remains in the bank or is spent on projects and litigation that are of no value or relevance to the club. A retired general heads this committee but seems very reluctant to refurbish the club. The committee itself seems just as dead as the club. Of course it won't be the end of Pakistan were the club to cave in and become disposable rubble. Worse things have happened here, but when the country's rich and influential citizens own properties in Nathiagali, what has happened to their own sense of culture or indeed civilisation? Anyone can make money but few have the gift of spending it generously and properly. By neglecting that fading club, they only indict themselves and reinforce the fact that we are a nation of boors who value nothing except amassing fortunes. Culture defines societies and indeed it defines ours too – the Nathiagali Club simply becomes yet another classic case of our fall.


The sad fact is that most of Nathiagali's real estate, now worth a fortune, has been acquired illegally and by simply possessing vacant land or encroaching on any open space. Those who live here in splendid retirement were influential and highly placed persons and they felt no embarrassment or remorse in using their clout for personal gain. Some of the country's most famous men are all guilty of raping Nathiagali and doctoring papers. But they thrive and take long walks in the 'season', entertain more VIP friends and extend their influence to overcome what little it might have waned as they head further into blissful retirement. Thus gating properties that don't belong to you or taking over roads that are not yours and in the case of a great legal whiz, encroaching and building on what were once the club's tennis courts, are stories that are commonplace. The few officials of the Galiyat are easy to buy – they come pretty cheap and are in awe when summoned by their majesties and asked to do yet another dirty deed. In that sense the Nathiagali Club does reflect the moral decay into which we have plunged.


In another country and in another society, perhaps the club would have been humming with life, with adults and children enjoying the summer break as these are meant to be. The club spread over four kanals or so, could have had fine dining – indeed meals 24 hours a day, bars, games, club nights, music, dancing, performances, exhibitions, lectures – oh the list is long and a painful reminder of what could have been and is not. It would have been easily self-supporting and indeed been a money spinner. But we are not made of the stuff that can do this kind of thing. Instead we eat and defecate. Nathiagali is choking in its own garbage. The valleys below, where all refuse flows down, are littered with refuse.


The hill station is infested with cars and jeeps and other diesel belchers. The roads are full of bags, plastic shoppers, bottles and half-eaten food – a long litter list. There are absolutely no regulations and ugly buildings are added to existing ugly buildings. There is no sensibility visible here, just crass wealth and indifference to rules. Nathiagali must have traffic regulations enforced, must have strict zoning laws, a master plan of what it should look like, investments in things like water which is woefully getting scarce and sanitation which is happily absent. People litter because they don't give a damn and they also litter because there is hardly any place where litter can be placed. The atmosphere of this retreat, once fragrant and fresh is rapidly diminishing and will soon be like Murree, an old whore misused by generation after generation. With the death of Nathiagali, we would have successfully killed the last of our hill stations. In our capable and much tainted hands, this is going to happen as surely as another hot sun rises tomorrow on a sizzling and cemented Lahore. Tennis, anyone?
The writer is a Lahore-based columnist. Email: masoodhasan66@gmail.com

 

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

EDITORIAL

BHASHA DAM TO BE DELAYED FURTHER

 

DESPITE growing shortage of irrigation water and crippling energy crisis, the country has been affording the luxury of sitting over the construction of several technically feasible major water reservoirs that have the potential to ease out the situation. The successive governments indulged in criminal negligence in this regard and lost many opportunities for taking meaningful initiatives and measures in this regard.


The previous Government also could not undertake the ready-for-launch project of Kalabagh Dam because of political expediencies but it deserves credit for making an announcement that all five water reservoirs would be built over time. It also prioritised the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam on which there was consensus among all the stakeholders. The present Government also takes credit for moving a step further in resolving the ticklish issue of land compensation and allocating necessary funds in the budget for acquisition of land, an essential prerequisite for starting practical work on the crucial project. However, it seems that the Government is not taking the matter as seriously as it should have been as it failed to line up finances for construction of the Dam. WAPDA officials told National Assembly Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination that the World Bank has expressed its inability to extend loan for this project but did not elaborate as to what are alternative options. It is all the more regrettable that the World Bank has been influenced by India on the plea that Gilgit-Baltistan, where this dam is to be raised, is a disputed territory. This also speaks volumes about effectiveness of our diplomacy and cobweb of Indian intrigues all over the globe to undermine interests of Pakistan in different ways. India never misses any opportunity to inflict damage on Pakistan but our diplomats and leaders are enjoying a deep slumber. This development would further delay the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam, prolonging the agony of the people and compounding economic woes of the country. Construction of new dams is a question of life and death for the country and, therefore, in the first instance, we must resolve to translate them into reality by allocating our own resources even if it means a squeeze on other sectors and programmes. Secondly, there are many other financiers and donors like China and Gulf countries, which have proved to be dependable partners and we should explore the possibility of seeking their assistance for the purpose.

 

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

EDITORIAL

TRANSFER OF US TECHNOLOGY TO INDIA

 

AS Pakistani officials and leaders were joyous on receipt of three F-16s from the United States and were trying to portray the molehill as mountain, Washington has acted benignly to offer New Delhi top of the shelf and top of the line defence weapon systems, saying that three agreements were being negotiated which would allow India to share frontline American technologies.


This is indeed a serious development as it would give a boost to India's military capabilities creating alarming regional imbalance and triggering arms race to the disadvantage of the poverty-stricken millions of the Sub-Continent. The United States never gets tired of describing Pakistan-US ties as strategic relationship but in practice this 'strategic partnership' is confined alone to the war on terror, which is a primary concern of the United States and real benefits of such a partnership are being showered on India. This shows the clear difference of approach by the United States vis-à-vis its relations with Pakistan and India and its pathetic attitude towards security requirements and concerns of Pakistan. What a classic example of duplicity is it that both India and the United States made frantic efforts to make Sino-Pakistan civil nuclear cooperation an agenda item of the recently concluded meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) but India itself is getting advance cooperation in the field, which goes beyond mere setting up of nuclear power plants, not only from the United States but also from other leading members of the NSG. India is already procuring state-of-the-art weapons and technologies from all available resources and the decision of the United States to transfer its key technologies would provide a spring-board to New Delhi to become an arms exporting country in just a few years and advance its hegemonic designs. This should be a matter of concern and eye-opener to our policy-makers as all these preparations are mainly directed at Pakistan.

 

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

EDITORIAL

WHY TERRORISTS SHED THEIR LIVES?

 

LAHORITES and Data lovers across the country were in a state of shock on Friday over the heinous act of terrorism at Data Darbar. To express their strong resentment, people from all walks of life in Lahore and in other cities held demonstrations while markets remained closed to condemn the incident that claimed innocent lives and desecrated the sanctity of Shrine of the mystic Saint.


It was in the perspective of the blasts at Data Darbar that the Government made special security arrangements in all mosques and Imambargahs during Friday prayers to thwart any untoward incident. But more important is the question that why these people shed their most precious thing ie life in such heinous acts? It is not for money but they are brainwashed to give up their lives for the cause of religion. Brothers of one suicide bomber Usman, who helped in his identification, told the police that he was affiliated with a religious group and had been missing for the last few months. This reinforces the perception that religious sensitivities and sectarianism have gripped the society and religious groups are exploiting the sentiments of illiterate and poor masses that their religion is under threat. These hardcore religious groups would continue to recruit agents for the attainment of their nefarious objectives until and unless they are eliminated and a far-sighted policy is devised and implemented on a fast track basis that ensures provision of free education in Government run schools and job opportunities to the poor. The menace of terrorism could only be eliminated with the active support of the society as the Government alone cannot deploy security personnel at each and every Mosque, Imambargah, school, market and other places to thwart such acts. While thousands of lovers of Data Sahib marched in Lahore and other cities condemning the blasts, one hopes that they would make it a mission and extend a helping hand to the Government by identifying the suspects in their neighbourhoods. Once people started acting against these fanatics, who are bringing a bad name to our sacred religion, the ground situation would change and they would run for their lives instead of indulging in ruthless murders.

 

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

ARTICLE

INTANGIBLE TRUTHS

DR ZAFAR ALTAF

 

There are certain primary truths that must force the humans of any consequence to depend. These commend themselves to any reasonable mind. There is no evidence for such reasoning but this is antecedent to the internal evidence commands the assent of mind. Where this does not happen and the universal truths are questioned then there must be some internal disorder or some influence that perverts those eternal truths. The influence factor may be of such strong interest or passion or prejudice that it overrides the considerations of truths. Natural and dictates of common sense are to be taken seriously.


In the art of morals and politics men are seen to be less sensible and not given to the exercise of reason. Caution and investigation are necessary to safeguard against error and imposition. As is evidenced from our societal development this error may be carried too far and may end up in suspicion, obstinacy, perverseness or any kind of hate or hurdle creation. Moral and political knowledge do not posses the same kind of certainty as some of the sciences do. Even the most natural of sciences are however now under question. That is how it should be as the mind has started perceiving things differently and with a different span of comprehension. The obscurities of morals, passions and prejudices are more in the humans then in the subject.


This is also more dangerous as these prejudices are likely to move to any area where the human mind is at play. If one scans the Pakistani society of today then some bitter truths as to fair play have to be understood. Humans have this bias to entangle themselves in something unconsciously and by the mere use of words and confound themselves in subtleties. Evidence to this affect is visible and seen on the electronic media. Political thought works at two ends-the power but reasonable aspect of the persons administering the said governance factors and the public that itself is pluralistic in thought and action. The cultural divide is such that it does not convey the consideration of reason as a predominant factor. In Pakistan this has led to the impossible and irresistible conclusion that our parochial past is catching up with us. For a government has to contain itself to the requisite of and to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care. Power does not mean the acquisition of assets and the deprivation of assets or the shift of these very assets from the poor to the rich. The last government and the all such governments have been doing this at will. As such the trusts that were reposed in these governments by the erring population as fait accomplice [for they never came through the ballot] meant that these disenfranchised people never had a chance to become the real citizens of Pakistan. The regard for public good and the sense of the public was lost.


Pakistan's developments in economics and in political economics have followed the direction of the international donors. The fetish attached to resources for the prodigal send thrifts has meant a perpetual resource misuse. The evidence on this is not available but this exclusion of the poor and this disregard for their internal requirements has led to the current impasse that one sees at this point in time. Expand this to the world scene and you have a complete picture on the current war on terrorism. The irresistible truth is that no one would want another occupation army and yet that is what the major powers have been doing since the Viet Nam war. These wars are bound to fail for they do not understand the internal compulsions of the local inhabitants whether they are Iraqis, Afghanis, or whatever. The war against narcotics is another one such act. If the societal development is such that about 40% of the local populations of the developed world are suffering from depression and these depressions are due to the economic or social workings of the society at large then the war on narcotics is not and cannot be managed by the containment of the supply side of the commodity. The cause and effect that the west was so god at has been forgotten. The solution lies elsewhere.


The error in developing countries is even more and is visible by the lack of comprehension of the real requirements of the public of the areas that are now in turmoil. Where was anyone when the leaders of the minor provinces were put in jail by those that had no right to be in authority as there was no collective authenticity to their assuming power? For East Pakistan the west kept on using their foreign exchange earnings and they had no choice but to cast themselves asunder. The revenues that accrued were to have been reasonably and justifiably used but this did not happen. The deprived over a period of time became depraved and then became even more aggressive as none could satisfy their ordinary requirement was of fair play and justice. What did we do their leaders/ the leaders of these minor provinces? Human errors of judgments aside the governance rules were broken at will and we have come to a serious pass as a result; a point in time where we have to take the dictates of these other nation states and try and implement them. The chances of success are that much less as a result of the aforementioned thoughts and actions.


Where does human correctness come in to play? Will it happen in our lifetime? Humans have a greater tendency to lose themselves in their pettiness irrespective of the larger interest[s]. The evidence is not far to see. The perception is missing as the individuals are not one with the natural systems of this country. Shaheed ZAB used to say the ministers have to travel by road so as to keep contact with the country, an eye contact with the earth, with one's own country. These days the argument is on VAT and on the power of the Federal Government to levy this tax. Does the federation have infinite power to tax? The federal government is unable to tax the moonlighters who happen to be powerful traders. How will the federation work without the power of taxation? On the part of the federation the requirement is to see that these finances are used not as wastefully as these were used in the past. I can give umpteen examples of cause and effect that have taken place. The laws of the federation are the supreme laws of the land and for them to be so then reason would have us believe that these would be in the interest and benefit of the general public irrespective of caste or creed or ethnicity. The rules of the game are as they should be and there would be no exception to these rules.


Should this not come to pass then the options are on the table. There is a long haul in terns of social justice creation. Make no mistake it is a long haul. The noise makers of this country have always benefited from the parochial and more often self justified polices and I take you to the industrial sector that has been acting as parasites to the system. The resources that they have wasted go on unabated and the manner in which this is done is no one's business except their own. The chambers of commerce instead of acting as a champion of thought and action have acted otherwise. That is a subject for further discussion? It stands alone in terms of creating inflation in this country and in wasting scarce resources. Today the concern is with the intangible truths and the palatability or otherwise of these truths. There is to my mind no way that one can get out of this morass except by facing it head on. The power of containment of every government follows from the generic requirement that every citizen must have the power of containment for it to become common to all and therefore applicable to all. I give you Pakistan for whatever it is worth. It is our job to make it a haven or take it down the other path.

 

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

ARTICLE

SCO SUMMIT: PROSPECTS & PERSPECTIVES

MUHAMMAD ASIF NOOR

 

With the Chinese President's six point speech of enhancing the cooperation of Shangai Cooperation Organization's framework, the 10th Summit meeting of Council of Heads of States of SCO was held in Tashkent on 11th June 2010. This was the 10th scheduled meeting of the Council of Heads of States of SCO attended by all members, observers and guests of the host country, Uzbekistan. At the end of the Summit Declaration of the 10th Meeting of the Council of Heads of States of SCO was issued which has opened up new avenues for collaboration amongst the member states. SCO has emerged as a regional power house in this changing world from a uni-polar to multi-polar world where regionalism and its extended issues are gaining their grounds. Thus far the achievements on the part of SCO have not much of influence but there is still hope that exists among the members states that since its inception it has greatly strengthened the collaboration amongst the member states. Beginning in 2001 as "Shangai Five" the organisation has a long way to go while there is a need to explore various avenues of internal partnerships to answer the challenges faced by "half the humanity" living in the area covered by the organisation.


Hu Jintao , Chinese President spread and explained six basic issues that SCO as a regional power house must recognized and adopt a policy of coherence and search for common ground to tackle the challenge that region is facing since the inception of War on Terror. He talked on need for consolidate solidarity and mutual trust and strengthen the political foundation of SCO's development. He has suggested that SCO must act swiftly against all odds with vigor so to act effectively in safeguarding regional security. Then he highlighted the need to increase SCO members states and their ability of fighting the "three forces" in the region, strengthen the information sharing, border control and security and safety of vehicles, improve the cooperation mechanism on fighting cross-border crimes including drug trafficking and enhance efficiency of joint law enforcement. Third, tap potential of cooperation and maintain the sustainability of the SCO's development. Fourth, expand friendly exchanges and consolidate the cultural foundation. Fifth, improve the SCO's internal construction and decision-making mechanism and his sixth point of deliberation was to pursue transparency, opening up and create a sound environment for the SCO's development. Following these points in concrete terms, SCO as a regional economic and strategic alliance can play an effective role and can have a balancing act.


The role of China and Russia in spearheading the organisation cannot be denied but interesting and positive characteristics of the organisation is that it has became a regional alliance where members states has interacted to find the solutions. Even sometimes during the sidelines of the summit some important developments do take place like for example meeting of India and Pakistan's Prime Minister and President respectively. It is also perceived that SCO is being used by Russia and China as a vehicle to assert their influence in the region, says General William E. Odom, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. SCO is so far different from other regional alliance if for instance we compare it with SAARC which has lost its influence on its members. Now the organisation is opening up with intention of providing more membership to the countries of the region, where Pakistan stands at the for front. For Pakistan, being with the alliance is significant since the disappointment of SAARC and new hope from SCO has gained new foreign policy initiative where Pakistan is connecting itself with more zeal towards the Central Asian Republics.


Here the role of Uzbekistan is commendable first of all of it's hosting of this summit and on Pakistan's perspective its bid to support Pakistan's permanent member status in this grand regional grouping. For Pakistan SCO is also very much important, which has been reflected by the presence of President Asif Ali Zardari, to be part of since of its Counter Terror Strategy of Regional Anti Terrorism Structure (RATS) which has its headquarters in Tashkent. RATS is a permanent agency of SCO to counter the threat of terrorism, separatism and extremism and is designed for assisting, coordinating and interacting the competent agencies of member states to counter the relevant threats. Since Pakistan is a frontline state in War on Terror(WoT) and is not only facing the internal threat of terrorism and extremis but has work ahead of its capacity to fight the war against the insurgents while cooperated with International community Pakistan is the only country that has suffered more than any country in war on terror.


While the summit was going on in Tashkent, Osh was the scene for fierce ethnic clashes were carried out by the armed ethnic groups of Uzbeks and Kyrgyz resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands of Kyrgyz people to the neighboring regions. SCO cannot be indifferent to what is happening in the Kyrgyzstan and it has sent six member observers team to the Kyrgyzstan to monitor the whole scene. The situation in Kyrgyzstan posed a real challenge to the SCO as an organisation where it promotes not only internal harmonious working but vows to bring member states on one platform to work together for development and security at the same time.


"Kyrgyzstan is a very tiny country surrounded by big powerful countries and totally dependent on the goodwill of these countries," says Charles William Maynes, president of the Eurasia Foundation. Interestingly Manas Air Base, north of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is another U.S. military strong hold in Central Asia and closer to Russia so as to curb the influence. The United States leased out some Soviet Era military bases after the inception of war on terror in 2001. These bases were primarily used to station soldiers, refueling jets, and cargo planes. As the sources quotes that the U.S. base is the greatest source of foreign currency for the Kyrgyz," Maynes says, referring to the steep user fees the U.S. government pays for the base at Manas. "For them to lose this would be a big thing." The base contributes some $50 million to Kyrgyzstan's economy each year, according to the Associated Press. In addition, Bishkek receives roughly $10 million in annual military aid from the United States. Thus the situation in Kyrgyzstan is threatening for the U.S and its interests in the region. It has been observed by the experts that US has failed to grab the situation there in Osh since being too much in grip of its position in Afghanistan. Surrounded by SCO member states, Afghanistan posed another test case for organisation. Afghan President Hamid Karzai participated in the summit as the guest of the state of Uzbekistan. There is need for deep rooted collaboration of the member states to help Afghanistan to come out of its dark ages. The terrorism and extremism is not only threatening to the region but to the world at large. Iran, Pakistan India and Afghanistan must take combined concrete initiatives to foster the cause of peace and development which are few of the core objectives of the grouping. Afghanistan has become the strategic point for the Great Gamers to explore the avenues to converge and diverged their interests. After the peace Jirga where the issue of reconciliation has had a jump start but not in a real sense of reconciliation since the angry part of the society is sitting on the sidelines and watched the whole drama, even the attempted suicide attack on the tent could well give a concrete presence of Talibans. Neo in their ideologies and tactics, the Talibans are not easy to defy or reconcilable. For a real sense of political reconciliation and later reintegration of the group in the society, international community and regional actors needs to put themselves in Afghans shows, which are quite big and wishful but not impossible. For this matter role of SCO is very significant.


With the rise of SCO as an organization, with the strength of having four nuclear powers( two permanent members and two observers) in one regional network, a rich in energy resources region, mineral wealth and almost half the humanity, the regional grouping has all the strength to present a balance to the international politics. Along with this balancing act there is a lot more that the humanity do expect from this network of powerhouses. From Pakistan's perspective the organization is very significant as its cementing of its ties with Central Asian States has been enhanced. Especially the leading member of these republics, Uzbekistan has cordial and warm brotherly relations with Pakistan that are larger then life. In the whole setup of SCO, the role of Uzbekistan is where very commendable to organise such an event which has laid out a prospective future for the organisation and the region as a whole.

The writer is Executive Editor The Diplomatic Insight.

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

ARTICLE

TOWARDS PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN

COLUMN FROM DALLAS

SAEED QURESHI

 

The kind of skepticism expressed by both president Obama and CIA director Leon E. Panetta about the prospects for an Afghanistan peace deal pushed by Pakistan between the Afghan government and some Taliban militants is a natural outcome towards an unpredictable situation that remains fluid and subject to unforeseen changes. President Obama expressed his views after the Group of 20 meeting in Toronto while Mr. Panetta articulated his point of view on ABC's "This Week." Show.


The skepticism of both the president of United States and CIA director stems from their main concern that the "The fundamental purpose, of disrupting and dismantling Al Qaeda and their militant allies may not be hampered by inclusion of Taliban into a power sharing arrangement with the government in Afghanistan." If viewed and analyzed logically, the mission launched by Pakistan government is well- intentioned and can be carried out in three phases. The first phase is to make the Taliban agree on joining the government in Kabul. This step should not be difficult to achieve, because even the Taliban should be wanting to end the deadly war raging in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan's territory for a decade now. Pakistan with the support of friendly Taliban can even prevail upon Sirajuddin Haqqani faction, the so known supporters of Al-Qaida, to agree to join the peace efforts and to become part of the power sharing in Kabul. This phase might be more bumpy but with the will and consent of Karzai government and with the support and backing of Pakistan, the desired pacification can be brought about.


If these stages are achieved, this should be construed as a stupendous victory for America, because as a result of that rapprochement, the fighting can recede and one can look forward to the next step, which is to hunt down the Al-Qaida militants so that Afghanistan and Pakistan is cleared of their existence and calamitous operations. It would be naive to pre-suppose that Sirjuddin Haqqani group would not agree to the complete annihilation of the terrorist band that was primarily responsible for the deadly attacks within America and prompting the NATO and US troops to come all the way to Afghanistan in their pursuit. If Taliban, ten years ago, had handed over the Al-Qaida leaders to the United States, the horrendous decade long war could have been avoided. I find it extremely difficult to agree with some Islamic revolutionary ideologues that al-Qaida was fighting for Islam. They could have fought for Islam through media, preaching, peaceful and non-violent means. With their stubborn insurgency Afghanistan and the whole region has bathed in blood and horrifying devastation.


America under no circumstances would budge from its mission of disbanding the Al-Qaida network and break their militancy for all time to come. After all al-Qaida does not represent the Islamic world in matters of Islamic ideology or the faith. There are countless diverse schools of faith in Islam and most of these may not look eye to eye with Al-Qaida's perception or philosophy of Islam. If al-Qaida was so much in defense of Islam then why it fought in support of the Christian armies against the Soviets who were as heathen and anti Islam as the Christian world is. It means that their love, outlook, or perspective of Islam is not in harmony or in conformity with the other shades and genres of Islam.


If Sirajuddin Haqqani outfit lifts its hands off al-Qaida, then it should not be difficult for the United States to approve the formation of such a coalition administration in Afghanistan in which not only the warring factions including Haqqani faction could join, but which the Pakistan and Afghanistan governments would also safeguard and promote. If this arrangement fructifies then the United States would be able to achieve peace at its bidding, which it had not been able to obtain through a decade long war at huge monetary and human cost. This set up would definitively isolate al-Qaida, which would not be able to maintain its physical presence in Afghanistan and continue its heinous activities all by itself. Therefore, the central idea is to snatch the sanctuaries that are now available to al-Qaida in the form of Sirajuddin Haqqani and some Taliban factions. As such, the efforts being mounted by Pakistan should be appreciated and encouraged. The indications are that Karzai and Pakistan governments are nearing a tacit understanding on this crucial way-out which essentially serves America better than the NATO coalition partner do. For the United States, this would spell a diplomatic triumph, which would be more durable, and far reaching than the elusive military victory. Once an American friendly government with the participation of Taliban of various brands, both from Pakistan and Afghansintan come into being, the task of the United States to chase and annihilate Al-Qaida would become much easier.

Still it would be irrational and fanciful to expect that the entire army of al-Qaida would be netted. If America manages to capture arch leaders, it would be a gigantic breakthrough. To the lower ranks and ordinary members, America can offer an amnesty so that they can lay down tbeir arms and also join the mainstream of a civilized life and turn away from their murderous mandate. If concurrently, a solution to the Middle East tumult can also be found by creating the promised independent land for the Palestinians, there is no gainsaying that the friction that exists between Muslims on one hand and Israel and United states on the other would eventually evaporate. If Muslims, can live along with the Christians and Jews in Spain for 700 years, there is no reason as to why they can't coexist in the modern times when the world is moving towards a contiguous abode commonly known as the global village.

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

ARTICLE

INDO-ISRAELI RELATIONS & ITS EFFECTS ON PAK

SOBIA SHAHNAZ

 

Indo-Israeli relations refer to the bilateral ties between the State of Israel and the Republic of India. Relations between Israel and Republic of India did not exist until 1992 but since then the two countries have developed relationships. India did not recognize the state of Israel until then for two main reasons. Firstly, although India belonged to Non-Aligned Movement it was an ally of the USSR and yet followed the general pattern of non-aligned countries with regards to foreign relations. Secondly, India was a strong supporter of the Palestinian independence.

After the Kashmiri insurrection in 1989 the collapse of the USSR and the military escalation with Pakistan the political framework changed resulting in the establishment of relations between India and Israel in 1992. Establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel also was a step in strengthening relationships with the US. Israel is now India's second largest arms provider after Russia. India and Israel have increased cooperation in military and intelligence ventures since the establishment of diplomatic relations. India recently launched a military satellite for Israel through its Indian Space Research Organization.


In 1996 India purchased 32 Searcher Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Electronic Support Measure sensors and an Air Combat Manoeuvering Instrumentation simulator system from Israel. Since then Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has serviced several large contracts with the Indian Air Force including the upgrading of the IAF's Russian-made MiG-21 ground attack aircraft and there have been further sales of unmanned aerial vehicles as well as laser-guided bombs. In 1997 Israel's President Ezer Weizman became the first head of the Jewish state to visit India. He met with Indian President Shankar Dayal Sharma, Vice President K.R Narayanan and Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. Weizman negotiated the first weapons deal between the two nations involving the purchase of Barak-1 vertically launched surface-to-air (SAM) missiles from Israel. The Barak-1 has the ability to intercept anti-ship cruise missiles such as the Harpoon. The purchase of the Barak-1 missiles from Israel by India was a tactical necessity since Pakistan had purchased P3-C II Orion maritime strike aircraft and 27 Harpoon sea-skimming anti-ship missiles from the United States.


In naval terms Israel sees great strategic value in an alliance with the Indian Navy given India's dominance of South Asian waters. Since the Mediterranean has a dominant Arab and European presence that is hostile to the Israeli navy in varying degrees, it thus sees the potential of establishing a logistical infrastructure in the Indian Ocean with the cooperation of the Indian Navy. In 2000 Israeli submarines reportedly conducted test launches of cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in the waters of the Indian Ocean off the Sri Lanka coast. In 2003, Israel's Minister for Science and Technology said that Israel was keen on strengthening science and technology ties with India considering that the latter had a rich base of scientists and technologists and the two countries could benefit by synergising their activities. In 2003, the two countries proposed to double the investment under the ongoing science and technology collaboration to $1 million with $0.5 million from each country in the next biennial period starting October 2004. In 2004 the Ministry of Science and Technology in India signed an MoU with Israel for jointly funding industrial R&D projects. In an agreement signed on May 30, 2005 India and Israel pledged to set up a fund to encourage investment and joint industrial ventures.

According to the Press Trust of India there are five priority areas for enhanced collaboration: nanotechnology, biotechnology, water management, alternative energy, and space and aeronautics. India and Israel will each start by contributing US$1 million to provide risk-free grants to entrepreneurs in the two countries. India purchased 50 Israeli drones for $220 million in 2005. India is also in the process of obtaining missile-firing Hermes 450s. India is building closer ties with Israel in the areas of nanotechnology, information technology, water technology and biotechnology.


Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd signed a $2.5 billion deal with India to develop an anti-aircraft system and missiles for the country in the biggest defense contract in the history of Israel at the time. IAI CEO Yitzhak Nissan visited India to finalize the agreement with heads of the defense establishment and the country's president. IAI is developing the Barak-8 missile for the Indian Navy and Air Force which is capable of protecting sea vessels and ground facilities from aircraft and cruise missiles. The missile has a range of over 70 kilometres. On November 10, 2008, Indian military officials visited Israel to discuss joint weapons development projects, additional sales of Israeli equipment to the Indian military, and counter-terrorism strategies. The round of talks was seen as a significant expansion in the Indian-Israeli strategic partnership. Bilateral trade which was at $200 million in 2001, grew to $4.1 billion by 2009, excluding defense trade. This includes manufacturing, satellite launch, agriculture and diamond industries. In 2008, PBEL, a joint venture of two Israeli real estate firms and an Indian developer, announced an investment of $1 billion in real estate projects in India. India's commerce minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia, visited Israel in February 2010 to discuss a free-trade agreement. He met with Israeli president Shimon Peres; Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, and representatives of Israel's water technology and high-tech industries.


India is relying on import of components and collaboration. India's attempts to improve its defense system with the aim to counter its nuclear-armed adversary, Pakistan, have been greatly supported by Israeli weaponry that includes surface-to-air missiles, avionics, and sophisticated sensors to monitor cross-border infiltration, remotely piloted drones, and artillery. The motives of both countries in pursuing cooperation range from strategic, security and military to political and economic. In this regard, the most important is the nuclear dimension. India also makes use of its nuclear cooperation with Israel in maintaining qualitative superiority over its enemy, Pakistan. So Indo-Israel ties are a security threat for Pakistan.

 

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PAKISTAN OBSERVER

ARTICLE

THE MYTH OF MODERN JEHAD

VIEWS FROM ABROAD

ROBERT WRIGHT

 

It would be an understatement to say that Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, pleaded guilty last week. "I'm going to plead guilty a hundred times over," Shahzad told the judge. Why so emphatic? Because Shahzad is proud of himself. "I consider myself a Mujahid, a Muslim soldier," he said. This got some fist pumps in right-wing circles, because it seemed to confirm that America faces all-out jihad, and must marshal an accordingly fierce response. On National Review Online, Daniel Pipes wrote that Shahzad's "bald declaration" should make Americans "accept the painful fact that Islamist anger and aspirations" are the problem; we must name "Islamism as the enemy." And, as Pipes has explained in the past, once you realise that your enemy is a bunch of Muslim holy warriors, the path forward is clear: "Violent jihad will probably continue until it is crushed by a superior military force."


At the risk of raining on Pipes's parade: If you look at what Shahzad actually said, the upshot is way less grim. In fact, at a time when just about everyone admits that our strategy in Afghanistan isn't working, Shahzad brings refreshing news: maybe America can win the war on terrorism without winning the war in Afghanistan. As a bonus, it turns out there's a hopeful message not just in Shahzad's testimony, but in Pipes's incomprehension of it. Pipes exhibits a cognitive distortion that may be afflicting Americans broadly — not just on the right, but on the centre and left as well. And seeing the distortion is the first step toward escaping it. Once you decide that some group is your implacable enemy, your mind gets a little warped.


Here is how Shahzad explained his role in the holy war: "It's a war," he said. "I am part of that. I am part of the answer of the US terrorising the Muslim nations and the Muslim people, and on behalf of that, I'm revenging the attacks." Now, for a Muslim holy warrior to see his attacks as revenge runs counter to Pipes's longstanding claim that Islamic holy war is about attack, not counterattack. Roughly since 9/11, Pipes has been telling us that jihad is "unabashedly offensive in nature, with the eventual goal of achieving Muslim dominion over the entire globe." This notion of "jihad in the sense of territorial expansion has always been a central aspect of Muslim life" and is now "the world's foremost source of terrorism." That's why you have to respond with "superior military force."


Now we have Shahzad suggesting roughly the opposite — that the holy war could end if America would stop using military force. He said in court, "Until the hour the US pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops killing the Muslims and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that." Should we really take this testimony seriously? It does, after all, have an air of self-dramatising grandstanding. Then again, terrorism is a self-dramatising, grandstanding business, and there's no reason to think this particular piece of theatre isn't true to Shahzad's interior monologue.


Indeed, it tracks the pitch of jihadist recruiters, notably Anwar Awlaki, the American sheik in Yemen who inspired not just Shahzad but the Fort Hood shooter and the thwarted underwear bomber. The core of the pitch is that America is at war with Islam, and the evidence cited includes Shahzad's litany: Iraq, Afghanistan, drone strikes, etc. Of course, this litany amounts to pretty severe terms for peace. Shahzad says terrorism will continue until we end two wars and all drone strikes? And quit "reporting" suspicious Muslims to our government? Anything else we can do for him?


But as a practical matter, taking any of these issues off the table weakens the jihadist recruiting pitch. (Different potential recruits, after all, are sensitive to different issues.) And if we could take the Afghanistan war off the table, that would be a big one. At least, that's my view. This isn't the place to fully defend it (e.g., address the question of whether I'm "blaming" America for terrorism or whether ending the war would amount to dangerous "appeasement"). My point is just that, if you take Shahzad at his word, there's more cause for hope than if Pipes were right, and Shahzad's testimony were evidence that jihadists are bent on world conquest.


Now on to the second cause for hope: Pipes's confusion itself. For these purposes, it doesn't matter whether Shahzad was telling the truth, because Pipes certainly thinks he was. Pipes applauds Shahzad's "forthright statement of purpose," adding, "However abhorrent, this tirade does have the virtue of truthfulness." So then why doesn't it bother Pipes that Shahzad's depiction of Islamic holy war as defensive counter-attack is the opposite of the depiction Pipes has peddled for years? How can he possibly hail Shahzad's comments as confirming his world view?


I've been kind of hard on Pipes — in parts of this column and in an earlier column. So I'm glad to have the opportunity to emphasise that he's just an example of the human mind at work, albeit a particularly revved up example. It's only natural to attribute to your enemy more cohesion and menace than is in order. We used to do this with communism, and now we do it with radical Islam — and radical Muslims, for their part, do it with us. It's a temptation we all have to fight. Maybe if we fought it as hard as we fight other enemies, we'd have fewer of them. — The New York Times

 

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THE INDEPENDENT

EDITORIAL

LOCAL GOVT BODIES

 

The World Bank (WB) backed Local Governance Support Project (LGSP) due to end next year is going to be extended by another two years. A five years' duration for the local bodies' administrative capacity building as well as making them equipped with the knowledge of sustainable basic infrastructure and services, was not enough to accomplish the task for which LGSP was launched. But the question is whether the two years' extension as reported will serve the purpose. By the WB's own admission, 50 per cent union parishads (UPs) could not fulfill the criterion set in the Bank's LGSP manual. Yet the WB officials consider this a successful project. Because, so far 3,350 UPs out of a total of 4,498 were brought under the programme. This may mean that about 1,700 UPs have achieved their targets. The WB aims at covering the rest of the UPs gradually.


Institutional support for the local government bodies is crucial because participatory local governance for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation, as envisaged under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), may prove decisive. Much will, however, depend on how the next phase of LGSP is worked out to help the local bodies achieve the expected capabilities. Ensuring participatory governance through planning, financing and managing development programmes in a responsive, transparent and accountable manner is certainly the bottom line. So there is no alternative to strengthening the local government bodies.
The WB's project, therefore, ought to be devoted to capacity building from within so that the local government bodies can take care of their own affairs in their own right. Devolution of power, although hard to come by under the present arrangement, will be more of a compelling factor than just a grace. The current tussle between and among the members of parliament (MPs), government functionaries (UNOs) and the elected Upazila representatives like chairmen is certainly not ideal for empowering the local bodies. If the WB's programme can enhance the quality of governance at the grassroots level, no one can deny the local bodies of their due share. We will be looking forward to seeing that the fight against misuse of funds, irregularities and all that has impeded the pace of socio-economic development starts from the local government bodies.   

 

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THE INDEPENDENT

EDITORIAL

 

RICE PROCUREMENT

 

Against all odds, production of paddy in the just culminated Irri-Boro season was satisfactory. An efficient management, supplemented by some import, is expected to meet our need for staple food. One almost in-built lacuna in our food management and distribution is the machination of the middlemen. Immediately after harvest before even the government goes for procurement drive, they buy a large quantity of paddy at a cheaper price for hoarding. Already the government's target of procuring 12 lakh tonnes of rice has been frustrated mainly by the dealers and hoarders. The government was able to procure only about 2.60 lakh tonnes so far.
In a renewed endeavour the government has now targeted to build a further buffer stock of 2.60 lakh tonnes of rice. Apprehending non-cooperation from the food dealers it was decided to give Taka 3 a kilogram as an incentive on the Taka 25 as offered earlier. Much will depend on how the dealers respond. Not that the government is unaware of the fact that this may escalate the market price of rice. If that happens, the food minister makes it a point that the government will introduce open market sale (OMS) to rein in the price rise.
To our understanding, price will go up prior to starting the operation and hence the government needs to have all preparations for OMS operation. To make the programme a success inter-ministerial coordination among the ministries of food, finance, agriculture and commerce will be of utmost importance. There is no denying the fact that the business syndicate responsible for manipulating the cereal market needs to be busted. Whether the incentive will be enough to appease the syndicate remains doubtful.

 

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THE INDEPENDENT

BOB'S BANTER

HOLLOW INSIDE..!

 

Quite often we are startled to hear that some person we think highly off, some religious leader or even so called godman has been exposed for something we are shocked to find they've done. I for one was quite shocked to read about former Vice President Al Gore and allegations of molestation leveled on him or even for that matter David Davidar CEO of Penguin, Canada.


Weren't these people saints, we wonder and I think of the Morgan's oak tree: At the back of the house where the Morgan's lived grew a tall oak tree. Though not young, it appeared in excellent health. It provided a delightful playground for the children, giving them shade from the burning sun and in winter it protected the house from snowstorms and heavy rain.


Then one bleak winter night a vicious storm blew up and in the middle of the night the Morgans heard a terrible crash. Mrs Morgan went back to sleep thinking it was a neighbouring tree, thanking God for her own supposedly secure tree till next morning she looked out and horror of horrors it was their oak tree which had fallen.


She couldn't believe it, nor could the rest of the family, and also the whole village, "Who would have thought such a solid, strong and respectable tree would fall!" said the mayor to the police chief and Mr Morgan who was there when the conversation took place also nodded sadly.


Mrs Morgan was found wandering round the garden next day in a state of deep shock and even the children were found crying next to the tree and there was a feeling as if a close friend had died, which was exactly how it was.


Finally Mrs Morgan went up to the tree and glanced closely at it and found that it was almost absolutely hollow inside, this undoubtedly accounted for the sudden collapse, but she realized that there had been no way of knowing from the outside that the tree was hollow inside.


Sounds like many of us doesn't it?


We know to dress up well, look solid and are respectable pillars in our community, wearing the best suits, and putting on false smiles, attending church, or visiting mosque or temple, but deep inside we rot.


Till one day the crash, and all who know us wonder how this could have happened, "You accusing my son of being a child molester?" asks the father of the child rapist in Mumbai weeping.


So important to build character as you learn to knot a tie, to learn the meaning of honour as you hold a fork or spoon, to speak the truth as you climb up the corporate ladder.


So important, to fear God as you gain the love and respect of your fellowmen. Or would you have your near and dear ones standing round you as they hear a crash realizing too late, that horror of horrors you were hollow inside..!        


—bobsbanter@gmail.com

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THE INDEPENDENT

POST EDITORIAL

THE UN AND DOLLAR AS SOLE RESERVE CURRENCY

SYLVIA MORTOZA

 

A United Nations (UN) report is calling for abandoning the US dollar as the main global reserve currency as it has not been able to safeguard value. The UN World Economic and Social Survey 2010 stated that "The dollar has proved not to be a stable store of value, which is a requisite for a stable reserve currency." Motivated in part by needs for self-insurance against volatility in commodity markets and capital flows, many developing countries accumulated vast amounts of US dollar reserves during the 2000s but in recent years they have been hit by the US dollar's loss of value. The report now supports replacing the dollar with the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights (SDRs), an international reserve asset that is used as a unit of payment on IMF loans and is made up of a basket of currencies.


  The report said a new reserve system "must not be based on a single currency or even multiple national currencies but instead, should permit the emission of international liquidity - such as SDRs - to create a more stable global financial system.  Such emissions of international liquidity could also underpin the financing of investment in long-term sustainable development." Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a Malaysian economist and the UN assistant secretary general for economic development, told a news conference "there's going to be resistance" to the idea. "In the whole post-war period, we've essentially had a dollar-based system," but added that the gradual emission of SDRs could help countries phase out the dollar.


America's currency monopoly once believed to be the perfect pyramid-scheme because it allowed the United States to continue its profligate spending unrestrained is now being seen as not so perfect after all. But once the dollar had been accepted as if it were gold, central banks and various financial institutions with a vested interest in maintaining a workable fiat dollar standard, were no longer secretive about selling and loaning large amounts of gold to the market. In fact, gold price fixing then became the order of the day. The only restraining force was if the world rejected the dollar so everything possible had to be done to protect the dollar, even should it come under attack of market forces.


In other words, if the dollar was to stay as the preeminent currency, the dollar/oil relationship had to be maintained at all costs. Provided the United States could continue to force nations to buy oil in dollars it would remain in the unique position of being able to "rule the world" without any productive work or savings - and without limits on consumer spending or deficits. This was arguably a heady experience for the people of America, and thus the United States constantly ignored all warnings and suggestions to cut back on the senseless pursuit of the good life.  Why should they worry? Everyone was feeling secure. Besides if a country showed any sign of making a shift away from the dollar to an alternative currency, it was crushed ruthlessly by US military and political might. A threat to the dollar would compel central banks to diversify their holdings, sending billions of dollars back to America, ensuring a devastating cycle of hyperinflation.
Therefore any attempt to nudge the Euro toward replacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency was met with resistance because, if oil markets replaced dollars with Euros it would in time, curtail US ability to continue to print dollars without restraint. But compelling people to accept money without real value had limitations and today that limitation has been reached and the American economy is now on its knees with its budget deficit soaring.


It was not so long ago that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in a public statement raised questions about the solvency of the US government. He said that China, as the largest holder of US treasury debt, was "concerned about the security of our assets."  He called on the United States to "maintain its good credit, to honour its promises and to guarantee the safety of China's assets." Chinese officials feared the huge borrowing in world credit markets required to finance the US government's budget deficits - a projected $5 trillion over the next four years according to an estimate released by the Obama administration - would lead to a decline in the value of the dollar. Since Beijing now holds about $1 trillion in dollar-denominated assets, including nearly $700 billion in US Treasury debt, a decline in the value of the US currency would hit China hard.  China has been loudly complaining of the risks that inflation and depreciation pose to its huge stash of dollars and has been arguing for an alternative to the dollar as the world's reserve currency.


Although the agreement with OPEC to price oil in US dollars for all worldwide transactions is still in existence, nevertheless more and more countries are abandoning the dollar. Syria and Kuwait switched their currency peg away from the US dollar some time ago joining countries like Iran and Venezuela. According to trading in currency forwards, the UAE "may be the next Middle Eastern country to stop pegging its exchange rate to the US dollar." But by turning away from the US dollar these nations are not just hurting its international value, they are also undermining the dollar's political power as the world's reserve currency. To keep the dollar from collapsing the Federal Reserve has to raise rates. Even so it will not be able to defend the dollar against the rising interest rates of other nations.


If as it seems the dominance of the dollar is coming to an end, and foreign countries receive it less enthusiastically, it is to be expected, because some years ago the erosion of the value of the dollar was predicted by former Fed-chief Paul Volcker.


Engaging in some of the most profligate spending known to man encouraged the creation of an unprecedented level of falsely low cost liquidity, expanded the money supply at an alarming rate, and ran up huge debts and borrowing against the earnings of future generations. Thus the United States created its own threat to its political "power multiplier" and to its global economic strength. If put another way, the US economic system depends on continuing the current monetary arrangement but with the situation that prevails in Iraq and a runaway war in Afghanistan  there is no way the United States can save the dollar. It is no secret that the dollar is on a downward spiral. Its value is dropping with the result that several countries are considering a shift away from the dollar because they are growing weary of losing money. Who does not want to protect their financial interest? Though it is not clear how many will actually follow through, what is abundantly clear is the dollar's status as a world currency is in serious trouble, and losing that status could rock the financial lives of both Americans and the worldwide economy. As for China after dropping the dollar peg in 2005, it is now threatening a "nuclear option" of huge dollar liquidation in response to possible trade sanctions intended to force a Yuan revaluation. China "doesn't want any undesirable phenomenon in the global financial order," and their large sum of US dollars does serve as a "bargaining chip," but it is clear that China does have the power to take the wind out of the sails of the dollar. In 2004 Russia's central bank First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said, "Most of our reserves are in dollars, and that is a cause for concern." The following year Russia put an end to its dollar peg, opting instead to move towards a euro alignment. It also discussed pricing oil in euros, a move that could provide a large shift away from the dollar and towards the euro.

(Sylvia Mortoza is a staff writer of The Independent)

 

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THE INDEPENDENT

POST EDITORIAL

CAN GOOD EMERGE FROM THE BP OIL SPILL?

KENNETH ROGOFF

 

Perhaps it is a pipe dream, but it is just possible that the ongoing BP oil-spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico will finally catalyze support for an American environmental policy with teeth. Yes, the culprits should be punished, both to maintain citizens' belief that justice prevails, and to make other oil producers think twice about taking outsized risks. But if that is all that comes out of the BP calamity, it will be a tragic lost opportunity to restore some sanity to the United States' national environmental and energy policy, which has increasingly gone off track in recent years.


Why should there be any reason for hope, especially given that US environmental policy has been predicated on the unrealistic belief that relatively small subsidies to new energy technologies can substitute for tax-induced price incentives for producers and consumers?


The fact is, the BP oil spill is on the cusp of becoming a political game-changer of historic proportions. If summer hurricanes push huge quantities of oil onto Florida's beaches and up the Eastern seaboard, the resulting political explosion will make the reaction to the financial crisis seem muted.


Anger is especially rife among young people. Already stressed by extraordinarily high rates of unemployment, twenty-somethings are now awakening to the fact that their country's growth model - the one they are dreaming to be a part of - is, in fact, completely unsustainable, whatever their political leaders tell them. For now, it may only be black humor (e.g., the New Orleans waiter who asks diners whether they want their shrimp leaded or unleaded). But an explosion is coming.


Might a reawakening of voter anger be the ticket to rekindling interest in a carbon tax?


A carbon tax, long advocated by a broad spectrum of economists, is a generalized version of a gas tax that hits all forms of carbon emissions, including from coal and natural gas. In principle, one can create a 'cap-and-trade' system of quantitative restrictions that accomplishes much the same thing - and this seems to be more palatable to politicians, who will jump through hoops to avoid using the word 'tax'.


But a carbon tax is far more transparent and potentially less prone to the pitfalls seen in international carbon-quota trading. A carbon tax can help preserve the atmosphere while also discouraging some of the most exotic and risky energy-exploration activities by making them unprofitable.


Of course, there must be better (far better) and stricter regulation of offshore and out-of-bounds energy extraction, and severe penalties for mistakes. But putting a price on carbon emissions, more than any other approach, provides an integrated framework for discouraging old carbon-era energy technologies and incentivizing new ones by making it easier to compete.


Advocating a carbon tax in response to the oil spill does not have to be just a way of exploiting tragedy in the Gulf to help finance outsized government spending. In principle, one could cut other taxes to offset the effects of a carbon tax, neutralizing the revenue effects. Or, to be precise, a carbon tax could substitute for the huge array of taxes that is eventually coming anyway in the wake of massive government budget deficits.
Why might a carbon tax be viable now, when it never has been before? The point is that, when people can visualize a problem, they are far less able to discount or ignore it. Gradual global warming is hard enough to notice, much less get worked up about. But, as high-definition images of oil spewing from the bottom of the ocean are matched up with those of blackened coastline and devastated wildlife, a very different story could emerge.


Some say that young people in the rich countries are just too well off to mobilize politically, at least en masse. But they might be radicalized by the prospect of inheriting a badly damaged ecosystem. Indeed, there is volatility just beneath the surface. Modern-day record unemployment and extreme inequality may seem far less tolerable as young people realize that some of the most cherished 'free' things in life - palatable weather, clean air, and nice beaches, for example - cannot be taken for granted.


Of course, I may be far too optimistic in thinking that the tragedy in the Gulf will spur a more sensible energy policy that attempts to moderate consumption rather than constantly seeking new ways to fuel it. A great deal of the US political reaction has centered on demonizing BP and its leaders, rather than thinking of better ways to balance regulation and innovation.


Politicians understandably want to deflect attention from their own misguided policies. But it would be far better if they made an effort to fix them. A prolonged moratorium on offshore and other out-of-bounds energy exploration makes sense, but the real tragedy of the BP oil spill will be if the changes stop there. How many wake-up calls do we need? 

 

(The writer is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and was formerly chief economist at the IMF.)

 

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THE INDEPENDENT

POST EDITORIAL

HURRAH! FOR OUR LOCAL HERO

 

As a nation we are in short supply of heroes. I feel no cheer in saying this but it needs to be said. These fertile plains have provided the vanguard for almost all important movements coming out of this region for more than a century with the likes of Surja Sen, Aurobindo, Shubash Bose, Sheikh Mujib and more. Those were times when this land engendered heroes in profusion, begetting sons and daughters, whose names adorn the pages of history; names that are lionized the world over. So, what has changed? Why is the same land now so impoverished for heroes?


I am not passing a harsh indictment on the leaders - celebrities - of today. A hero is no ordinary mortal. The Webster's American dictionary describes a hero as, "a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities". The one slight fault with Webster's definition is the elision of the word inspiration. Heroes inspire us to reach beyond ourselves, to emulate their courage and resolve.


So what happened? Why did this fructuous soil turn barren with such shocking suddenness? Why the courage of giants came crashing down in the face of mundane adversity? Has the drudgery of everyday living so debilitated the once-proud Bengali soul that we have forgotten what true living is?


We all need heroes. Youths need them as paragons to emulate, but the old need them even more. Ask a twenty year old what he thinks of life and he will tell you it's something he is about to conquer. But age brings with it the onerous weight of practicality and we realize that most of the great things we had imagined in our youth are only brilliant fantasies and that real everyday life is rote, mundane, and, in comparison to past aspirations, insignificant.


That's why we have the need to live vicariously through the adventures of those brave, venturesome souls - it is through their temerarious feats that we experience the vaunted ceilings of human achievement and life starts to seem less dreary. They lend us a ride high on the tide of romantic heroism.


After a long hiatus we find among us today an ingenuous youth with the unmitigated thrill for living, a young man who beat the odds of his birth (just check the statistics for Bangladeshi mountain climbers) and conquered the throne of Shiva himself. I have heard it said that the novelty of the climb has worn off since Hillary and Tenzing first conquered its heights, a 13-year old has climbed it as has a 71-year old. There is no doubt that climbing Everest is no longer an unconquerable feat, but it still requires more than a lion's reserve of courage, masterful skills, and an indomitable spirit: things shown by our local hero Musa Ibrahim.


In this climate of heroism-recession, surely this remarkable man deserves to be honoured at least with a postal stamp dedicated to him.

 

(Bobby Hajjaj is an Oxford scholar, a global consultant and lecturer in Business Strategy)

 

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THE JAPAN TIMES

EDITORIAL

ENVIRONMENTAL LITERATURE

 

Preparations are now under way for the 76th annual International PEN Congress to be held in Tokyo this September, only the third time Japan has hosted the event. It promises to be a stimulating occasion with such guests as Chinese Nobel laureate in literature Gao Xingjian and authors from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Margaret Atwood will talk about her novel "Year of the Flood" and Sara Paretsky, about writing in an "age of silence" after 9/11.

 

The theme of the meeting, "Environment and Literature," is, if anything, timelier than ever following the eruption of a volcano spewing ash in Iceland and the oil spill endangering Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. The theme, however, is not limited to global warming or environmental destruction. According to the Japan PEN Club's English-language site, it encompasses human birth, aging, sickness and death as intimately connected to the natural world. Green Wiki defines the new genre of environmental literature as writing that comments intelligently on environmental themes, particularly as applied to relationships between man, society and the environment.

 

In comments to Asahi Shimbun, Japan PEN Club environment committee chairman Atsuo Nakamura reveals that the committee is experiencing some difficulty in applying such an amorphous definition to its task of selecting 100 volumes of Japanese environmental literature (kankyo bungaku) for a publication to accompany the congress. Should the post-apocalyptic manga "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" be included? What about Masuji Ibuse's Hiroshima novel "Black Rain"?

 

At a January symposium in Tokyo on environmental literature, Haruki Murakami's trilogy "1Q84" (pronounced ichi-kyu-hachi- yon, meaning 1984 in Japanese) was discussed in terms of its cultlike, self-sufficient agricultural communes. This story of two characters — each appearing in alternate chapters — living in parallel worlds set in George Orwell's year of 1984 has been a publishing sensation in Japan, selling over 3.6 million copies.

 

Surely Murakami's uncanny instinct for putting into words what people are unconsciously feeling makes him an environmental novelist in a wider sense, as he captures the surrounding temporal and societal "air" we breathe.

 

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THE JAPAN TIMES

EDITORIAL

QUIET CHANGE IN JAPAN

 

Anyone reading about the failure in letting married women use their maiden names in their family registers, or watching the latest to-do over whaling, could be forgiven for concluding that nothing ever changes in Japan. Quiet currents of change, however, are running under the surface.

 

Not so many years ago, smoking was accepted as a matter of course everywhere, even in hospitals. Now Japan has largely become a smoke-free zone. On July 1, Osaka became the 40th of Japan's 47 prefectures to ban smoking in taxis, and Japan's universities are increasingly imposing a total ban throughout their campuses. According to the Japanese Association of School Health (Nihon Gakko Hoken Gakkai), as of the next academic year, 151 campuses at 107 universities will have imposed such bans, both to prevent secondhand smoke and to nip the smoking habit in the bud among their students.

 

In another quiet change, women are slowly advancing into previously all-male domains such as the railways. Commuters in Tokyo are no longer startled to see a woman checking the doors on subway platforms or to hear a nonrecorded female voice making announcements inside a Yamanote-line car.

 

As if to symbolize that change, on June 23 two women became stationmasters at Yotsuya and Mejiro stations, JR East's first women stationmasters in Tokyo, after having worked their way up through the ranks since 1993 and 1995. Roughly 20 to 30 percent of the company's new employees have been women in recent years.

 

A third noteworthy change is the slow but steady growth of nonprofit organizations and gradual rise in civil consciousness. One recent example is the cooperation of Tokyo convenience stores and NPOs in the experimental sale of "fair trade" products, such as coffee and dried mango, at slightly higher prices to help farmworkers in developing nations. Special bentos have also been sold for a limited time with a small percentage, for instance 3 percent of the selling price, going toward food aid to Africa. This is a small but clear sign of changing attitudes.

 

Perhaps we can add a changing political consciousness to this list, although it remains to be seen whether the Democratic Party of Japan under Mr. Naoto Kan can deliver on its promises of a stronger societal safety net and a revitalized Japan.

 

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THE JAKARTA POST

EDITORIAL

THE WEEK IN REVIEW: THE PIGGY BANKS

KORNELIUS PURBA

 

Pigs grabbed headlines across the media last week following the strong reaction by National Police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri toward the cover of the highly respected Tempo weekly news magazine. Bambang said the cover, which features an illustration of a police officer surrounded by three piggy banks, was an insult to the country's police force.

 

"Police officers who are now assigned to remote areas and border areas must feel pain when they see the magazine cover," he said.

 

Perhaps the police chief forgot that not all members of the police force are Muslims. For many Papuans, for example, pigs are a symbol of wealth. He also should not rule out that his subordinates might think outside the box, and may not have cared so much about the pig aspect as the generals' huge bank accounts that the piggy bank illustration implied. And they might also be wondering why it was so easy for the generals to accumulate such huge amounts of money.

 

Perhaps it is not too excessive to say that most Indonesians believe the police are highly corrupt, and many of us feel intimidated when we are approached by police on the street.

 

Major political parties including Golkar, the Democratic Party (PD) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) reacted differently when their names were "connected" with pork last month. Golkar sparked controversy when it insisted on going ahead with its "pork barrel" proposal. According to the proposal, each of 560 legislators at the House of Representatives would receive Rp 15 billion (US$1.65 million) from state coffers to finance developments in their constituencies. They never raised objections to the use of the word "pork" by the media, but focused on the substance of what was being discussed: They needed the money, no matter how it was labeled.

 

A quick search on Google will show you that "pork barrel" is "a slang term used when politicians or governments "unofficially" undertake projects that benefit a group of citizens in return for that group's support or campaign donations. This spending mostly benefits the needs of a small select group, despite the fact that the funds of the entire community are being used.

 

The police generals need to learn from the politicians to concentrate more on the money (in this case how to ensure that their money is in a very safe place), and forget about the pigs.

 

***

 

On Friday, The Jakarta Post carried a ridiculous, but also funny, report on businessman Hartono Tanoesudibjo who fled abroad precisely one day before the Attorney General Office imposed a travel ban on him. The AGO had named Hartono along with former justice and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra suspects in a corruption case at the ministry.

 

The AGO and Immigration Office could say anything to defend their innocence in the Hartono scandal, but it will be very hard if not impossible for the public to trust their defense. Such a scenario happens quite often here when super-rich suspects are implicated in corruption cases.

 

The government has often blamed other countries (Singapore has become a primary target) for receiving Indonesian corruption suspects, defendants and convicts, but pretended to forget its responsibility for letting them get away. There are even rumors that many blacklisted businessmen are free to enter and leave Indonesia anytime "undetected" by immigration authorities.

 

***

 

According to a local official, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika may use his right to select a second importer of liquor to the island in addition to PT Indowine. The company has apparently monopolized the lucrative business serving the more than 1.9 million tourists who visit Bali each year.

 

Nationally, the liquor import business is also still not fully left to the market mechanisms. Under Soeharto's rule, the government clearly had reason to make excuses for maintaining monopolies — because Soeharto's family were involved in them.

 

But it does not make sense for the government to maintain such obsolete and corrupt practices.
In the meantime, according to a survey by AC Nielsen, most Indonesian consumers believe in Indonesia's recent positive economic growth. No less than 70 percent of the consumers described their jobs as excellent or good, and more than half concluded that their country was no longer in economic recession.

 

Despite the flourish in economic perceptions, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced last week that around 31.02 million Indonesians were still living under the poverty line during the year ended in March. BPS officials, however, insist this was less than in the previous year. The per capita income of Indonesians living in poverty line was about Rp 211,726 (US$24) per month.

 

***

 

On Wednesday, Benigno  S. Aquino officially became the Philippines' 15th president (his mother, Cory Aquino, was the 11th) and promised to improve the life of the whole nation. He also pledged to bring to justice to those who had stolen state money. He assured the public that "Here, on this day, ends the reign of a government that is indifferent to the complaints of the people."

 

President Aquino's pledge is not new to people in democratic countries, including in Indonesia and the US.

 

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and US President Barack Obama also did not forget to deliver long lists of promises in their swearing-in ceremonies.

 

— Kornelius Purba

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THE JAKARTA POST

OPINION

THE PEOPLE PAID TO ASK QUESTIONS

NURY VITTACHI, BANGKOK

 

A little girl from Asian roots is on a "no-fly" list in the United States. Six-year-old Alyssa Thomas, originally from India, was told she was listed as a suspected terrorist when she tried to check-in for a flight in the US city of Cleveland.

 

The US Homeland Security department was informed of her age but has declined to remove her name, I heard from reader KK Ram.

 

Homeland Security gets criticized a lot, but this decision is smart. Man, I'm telling you, six-year-olds on aircraft

are dangerous. Making you spill boiling hot drinks on your lap several times per trip is
de rigueur. You'd be much safer sitting next to al-Qaeda guys, who at least limit damage to their own genitals.

 

Readers sent in a flood of travel tales after an item in this space about the unanswerable questions asked by immigration officers in the US, such as:  "So, Mr. Chan, why is your name Chan?"

 

A New York immigration officer asked Minkha, a reader raised in Poland, how it was that she spoke English. Minkha replied: "Because I learned it at school."

 

The officer responded:  "Why do they teach English in Poland?" The correct answer is probably better left unsaid: "So we can have intelligent conversations with almost everyone, except of course no-hopers like you."

 

A US immigration officer asked reader Jason Sydon why he did not have a degree in computer science if he used computers at work. Jason explained that he didn't need one to use programs like Word and Excel. The officer became suspicious, declaring that he'd never heard of those programs. "Microsoft?" offered Jason. "Bill Gates?" The officer had never heard of them, either. How did a guy that dumb get into a position of feeding and clothing himself, let alone carrying loaded weapons in airports?

 

Kim Parfitt told me her husband accidentally ticked yes to the US visa questions asking whether he had ever been a communist, a Nazi and a drug dealer. "He's a bit vague," Kim said. Luckily, his secretary intercepted the form before it was sent to the embassy.  I reckon he owes her his life.

 

Meanwhile, Otis Schindler asked what would happen if US immigration type questions asked by other people. Imagine the scene. Neighborhood baker: "Why did you buy 10 loaves of bread today but only eight yesterday?

 

"What kind of jam will you put on this bread?" Taxi driver: "How long have you two known each other? Is this destination her place or your place?" Travel agent: "Are you going to do terrorist acts on this trip? Are these really your children?" Google: "Why did you search for 'Miley Cyrus'?" Arrival immigration officer: "Did you perform terrorist acts during your trip overseas?" Waiter: "Why did you order white wine with steak? Why do you know how to speak English?"

 

I often wonder what sort of conversations US immigration officers have with their spouses. Spouse: "Morning." Officer: "Why do you think it is morning?" Spouse: "Because the sun's rising." Officer: "Why is it rising? Did you cause it to do so?" Spouse: "Possibly." Officer: "What sort of response is that?" Spouse: "An adverb expressing conditionality."  That should puzzle him long enough for her to get out of the house.

The writer is a columnist and journalist.

 

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THE JAKARTA POST

OPINION

THE CONSTRAINED AND UNCONSTRAINED VIEWS

JENNIE S. BEV

 

Raphael's painting The School of Athens depicted Plato pointing to the sky and Aristotle pointing to the ground. It encapsulates the two approaches in how we perceive the world: perfection and grounded reality.

 

These perspectives divide the world into unconstrained and constrained views, using terms used by Harvard professor of behavioral studies Tal Ben-Shahar.

 

In psychology, they become perfectionism and optimalism; in politics, they become communism and capitalism; in everyday arguments, they become can-do and cannot-do.

 

Plato's unconstrained view distinguishes the world into the perfect model and the one we're experiencing as mortals. He believed that an archetype always precedes the perceived world.

 

An idea comes first, experience comes second. Aristotle, however, saw the world as one big reality, in which experience must precede perception and our senses don't follow certain expectations. Experience comes first, synthesis of ideas comes second.

 

Understanding how human nature works both at the individual and collective levels may shed some light on how to approach social and political issues, including current issues in Indonesia.

 

Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions, called "unconstrained" and "constrained" visions. He stated,
"A vision is what we sense or feel before we have constructed any systematic reasoning that could be called a theory, much less deduced any specific consequences as hypotheses to be tested against evidence. A vision is our sense of how the world works."

 

This explains why certain systems based on an "unconstrained view" place people as powerful and unlimited beings, while other systems based on the "constrained view" claim that people are limited and bounded by nature and natural laws.

 

Of course, there is a spectrum of visions or views, which also give place to hybrid systems. And most likely a system is not purely unconstrained or constrained either.

 

Notions of utopia, such as communism and socialism, are based on the Platonian unconstrained view, in which people are believed to be able to do good deeds for others because they are unlimited beings with altruistic intentions. Capitalism, on the other hand, is based on an Aristotelian constrained view, in which people are limited to their own self-interest, a view which was popularized by Adam Smith.

 

One thing, which unconstrained and constrained views are not, is the swing of the left and right spectrum or good and bad.

 

The unconstrained view may sound leftist, but it's actually referring to the control and uncontrollable elements of deeds. Thus, whether Indonesia is Platonian or Aristotelian isn't important.

 

What's important is how to balance both unconstrained Utopian hopes and wishes with constrained actions and behavior. At the state level, this must be properly acknowledged by policy makers in their activities resulting in fair and just policies. At the public level, we should strive in understanding how things work and when and where a constrained vision is more appropriate than an unconstrained vision and vice versa.

 

Pancasila itself is a set of noble principles with God as the ultimate model, just like how Plato believed in heavenly ideas.

 

However, the performance of the Indonesian government is by far "a bad example" of Aristotelianism, as noticeable in the culture of corruption and massive human rights abuses. Such culture is an example of the worst type of self-interest.

 

Extremist groups' vision, such as the FPI (Islam Defenders Front), is unconstrained as they believe in the noble qualities of humans, which — unfortunately — are based on their version of virtues. Too much idealism tainted with violence, however, makes this noble intention a fakery worthy  punished by law. Altruistic motive doesn't mean much when it's not supported with factual altruistic deeds. And when violence is the chosen path, the notion of nobility is a fallacy.

 

At this point, we may have been spending too much emphasis on the importance of noble intentions and virtues by adhering to some altruistic notions based on religious creeds and teachings. The recent Ariel-Luna sex video scandal also shows how the Indonesian government places excessive emphasis on its people's private domain and morality.

 

We need realistic fair and just policies, as much as we need realistic and doable acts, to help people, or at least to "do no harm". John Stuart Mill said it well, "A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury."

 

Let's  cultivate a calm and conscientious heart to find a balance between unconstrained and constrained views of the notions of how the world should be and what we should act upon.


The writer (JennieSBev.com), is an author and columnist based in Northern California.

 

***************************************


 

 

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