|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Monday, December 20, 1999
Lankas date with terror
BMW TO MATTOO CASE
but speak not, says code
visit to London
Sri Lankas date with terror
IT takes the entire electorate in the case of Sri Lanka nearly 11.8 million to choose a President but only one crazed suicide bomber to determine who it will not be. As a negative vote this trade mark LTTE terror weapon is more powerful than the combined weight of the ballot papers of a majority of people. On Saturday the LTTE did detonate a high explosive belt but the quarry had a miraculous escape from being blown to bits. For Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga it is a minor consolation; it reminds her once again the ever-present danger to her life, and for a long time to come. As the equally determined killer group of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) once warned the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, she had to be successful 100 per cent of the times while it would succeed if the bomb went off at the right place and the right time just once. Although the Tamil terrorist gang wanted to eliminate her, it might have actually advanced her cause, even if marginally. She has been hawkish on a military solution to the 16-year-old ethnic strife and the recent reverses have only steeled her. The hardline Sinhala vote should come her way, helping her to win 50 per cent of the polled votes and capture the post of executive presidency in the first count. Even if she fails, she can still hope to make it. As the recent polls to five Provincial Councils showed, the alliance she heads has a base of more than 42 per cent and the nearly 7 per cent votes secured by the militant socialist organisation, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, should come to her in the second ballot. (Sri Lanka has adopted the French model in which the first ballot decides the two leading candidates and the second the winner.) The blast will drag in the rest to propel her a winner. In this respect, terrorist violence can create a victim and earn him or her sympathy and electoral support.
main rival in the Tuesday election had a handicap to
start with. In his eagerness to reverse the 1994 trend
and garner Tamil backing he promised a ceasefire and
talks on two key demands of the LTTE. That seemed a
win-win strategy until the Saturday explosion shattered
the fragile hope. True, there was also a suicide bomber
present at his partys rally but it is not the same
thing as the LTTE targeting a woman who has staked her
all in subduing it. It is intriguing that a minority
fringe group is able to set the political compass in a
country which it has nearly destroyed and brought the
economy to its knees and has made a bloody partition
nearly inevitable. If there is peace for a few years and
disarming of the Tigers, most Tamils would prefer the
more conventional and overground political parties. LTTE
supremo Prabhakaran has done his damned worst to stall
both peace and the surrender of guns. This adamant
and authoritarian outlook has affected the traditional
sympathy the Sri Lankan Tamils enjoy across the Palk
Straights. Terror tactics as a political weapon is
subject to diminishing returns, as Naxalites know in
Andhra Pradesh. Although they are able to intimidate the
people, the police, the administration and politicians to
do their bidding, they do not chalk up more than a few
hundred votes in the Assembly elections. A daring and
bloody act like the murder of a Madhya Pradesh Minister
draws national attention to Naxalites, but nothing else.
Chief Minister Digvijay Singh understands this well.
Coordinated intelligence under a unified command (to
persuade the state police forces to part with hard
information) and devolution of more power and
responsibility to villages are likely to be more
effective in defanging such groups than a born-again
TADA. Mr Digvijay Singh may be right but will not succeed
in selling his ideas to those who have come to rely
entirely on force to restore social harmony.
BJPs private face
THE Oppositions reaction to the introduction of two private members Bills on Friday was expected and sharp. The introduction of a uniform civil code and the demand for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter are among the several contentious issues on which the Bharatiya Janata Party (even when it was known as the Jana Sangh) has not been able to win support at the grassroots level. The delicate task of introducing the two non-official Constitution amendment Bills was entrusted to the saffron-clad Swami Adityanath, the BJP member from Gorakhpur. The strong reservation of the Opposition to forcing a common civil code on the country can be gauged from its decision to seek a division on the introduction of the Bill. The BJP member earned the right to move the Bill by a slender margin of two votes, after MPs belonging to the Trinamool Congress, which is part of the National Democratic Alliance, left the House for obvious reasons. Not surprisingly, the Opposition accused the BJP, the senior partner in the NDA, of pursuing its hidden agenda by encouraging its members to keep the two (out of several) contentious issues alive through the introduction of non-official Bills on the subjects. The charge that the BJP is following a two-track policy of running with the NDA hare (by not raising controversial issues) while allowing its members to hunt with the hound (by freeing them from following the NDAs agenda) is not without substance.
As far as the question
of banning cow slaughter across the country is concerned,
the protagonists of the measure may have to do a bit of
introspection. They should look at the state of health of
the cattle population, not just cows, in western
countries and compare it with the situation in India. In
the developed countries raising farm animals is not a
religious duty but a commercial activity. (It was greed
to maximise profits which resulted in the eruption of the
mad cow disease in England which forced farmers to
destroy their livestock raised on suspect cattle feed.)
The overall quality of health of farm and domestic
animals in the West is in most cases far superior to that
of even the human population in impoverished countries.
The sentiments of the supporters of the anti-slaughter
campaign are appreciable, but they should first
demonstrate their love and concern for cows by initiating
a sustained drive to end the problem of stray cattle.
Merely slapping a nationwide ban on slaughter would not
ensure better health-care and proper places of shelter
for cows left to fend for themselves by rummaging through
garbage heaps and get seriously wounded by passing
vehicles. Again, people in the West do not let loose cows
and other domesticated animals on the streets to cause
traffic snarls or accidents and in the process get
seriously injured themselves. Those who genuinely care
for cattle should also plug the source through which
truck-loads of cows and buffaloes are shipped to
Bangladesh everyday. It is a multi-crore rupees illegal
business which has its roots in states where cow
slaughter is legally banned. Who are these people who
sell their under-nourished and over-used cows to local
touts knowing fully well that they would end up as dead
meat in Bangladesh? The BJP MP should first introduce a
Bill for ensuring western norms of raising cattle in
India, with stiff penalties for those violating them,
before insisting on the enactment of a cow-protection law
which may only reflect the hypocrisy of the State.
FROM BMW TO MATTOO CASE
NOTHING in a long time has had the Indian public as shocked at the state of the criminal justice system as Judge G.P. Tharejas verdict in the Priyadarshini Mattoo case. This is the most damning legal indictment ever of Indias prime police investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The fact that the accused, Santosh Singh, is the son of a senior police officer only underscores its gravity. As former CBI Joint Director N.K. Singh says: Earlier, allegations against the CBI were restricted to inaction in particular cases such as St Kitts or Bofors, but this is the first time that a court has ... (seriously accused the CBI of) fabricating evidence, replacing exhibits, holding back evidence....
Mr Tharejas pronouncement on Mr Singh is stunning: Though I know he is the man who committed the crime, I acquit him giving him the benefit of the doubt thanks to the way the CBI handled the whole matter. His 450-page judgement painstakingly shows how the agency failed to examine the relevant witnesses, especially the most important witness, Priyadarshinis servant, Virendra Prasad; how it tampered with material evidence and influenced the preparation of a DNA-matching report; and how it resorted to outright lies to cover its tracks, including the utterly fraudulent claim that Prasad was untraceable. (This was demolished within days when a reporter interviewed him in a Bihar village).
None of the dramatis personae in the prosecution from the investigating officer to the forensic specialist, and from the CBI diarist to scientists of the prestigious Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology comes out untainted in the verdict. The damage to the CBI and to the legitimacy of the justice system is unlikely to be redressed by the agency Directors belated announcement that he will seek to get Santosh Singh convicted, and that if the court gives us a directive to re-investigate, we will do so. The court is supreme... Nor is it good enough to say: its a warning to the CBI..., and it could... be a blessing ... we must always be conscious of our responsibilities.
Everyone knows that the courts supremacy is a meaningless principle to invoke here; the police can appeal, reopen the case, and re-work and re-present the evidence if they wish to. Nor is the first reminder to the CBI of its responsibilities. On several occasions in the past, the courts have had to issue specific warnings to ensure it should be free and fair in its investigation. There are many instances when the CBI mischievously and deliberately distorted evidence and weakened its own case. One of the worst is its sloppy handling of the Bhopal disaster case when it went after small-time managers, rather than Union Carbides top directors. Others are the Ayodhya case, and the hawala and securities scams.
What makes the Mattoo case special is the scale of deception, and the blatant manner in which the CBIs work was corrupted by senior officers. Clearly, the integrity of the prime investigation agency of the country has reached such a low point that we cannot possibly trust it even in individual cases. The pressure on the agency in institutional cases has always been onerous, especially where state agents or corporate interests are involved, as in Bofors or Bhopal. But now the CBI is plumbing the lowest depths. The chickens of venality, political interference, officers corruptibility, decline in operating standards, slovenliness in preparing litigation, and collapse of leadership are coming home to roost even in the creamiest layers of our police force.
In some ways, this is not unexpected. You cant maintain the integrity of the police in a situation where recruits pay anything from Rs 30,000 to Rs one lakh to land a constables job, and where prime postings in city centres, or at highway checkpoints where thousands of trucks pass daily are literally auctioned. If you sit by and watch while IPS and IAS probationers collect crores of rupees in dowry; if you ignore the rot that is spreading in agency after agency as senior officers misuse their position to extort money (as is happening with the Enforcement Directorate); and if ministers mess roguishly with the department of personnel (which supervises the CBI), then there is nothing beneath which police agencies wont stoop.
In state after state, we have allowed the police to turn from guardians to predators, from the laws enforcers to its calculating abusers. This phenomenon is now creeping up to the Centre. For decades, we have failed to punish those held guilty of fomenting communal violence by unimpeachable enquiry commissions. This has only ensured that the likes of Mr Bal Thackeray know that they can kill and wreak havoc with impunity. Today, Mr Thackeray openly boasts that if the non-Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra implements the Srikrishna Commission report, Bombay will burn. Even the higher judiciary has repeatedly failed to issue a writ of mandamus to prosecute him for open incitement to communal butchery during the ghastly 1993 riots.
Today, we can confidently predict: no one who has a certain amount of wealth will serve a full jail term, no matter what the offence defalcation, spiriting funds abroad, defrauding millions of investors, large-scale bribery, organised brigandage (Veerappan has evaded arrest for two decades), gang rape, even murder. Sanjay Nanda of the BMW case has been freed although there is overwhelming evidence that he and his drunken friends mowed down five innocent people. To its disgrace, a court has sanctified a dishonest deal that exchanges his freedom for Rs 65 lakh, the same that a BMW costs, and a fraction of what his arms-dealing relatives make in a month. Someone ensured that witnesses would turn hostile, and that the BMW would be suddenly transformed into a truck that strayed on to a pavement!
Similarly, one can bet that no one will be punished for the Jessica Lall murder in a socialite-run illegal bar-cum-pick-up joint in South Delhi. Mysteriously, only two among the 70-odd people who witnessed the shooting are prepared to stand in the box. One of them is Bina Ramanis own daughter! Meanwhile, Delhi society has refused to shun contact with those complicit in that crime. They continue to be sought after by the jet-set. All that has changed is excise rules which now stupidly prohibit the open-air serving of liquor in private clubs!
Lets face it. The rot has spread deep, wide, right to the top of the police force. There is no simple, normal way of stemming it. It is not that remedies have not been suggested by successive police commissions, law commissions, conscientious administrators, thoughtful judges and whistle-clean civil servants. They range from changing recruitment procedures to cutting legal delays, and from institutionalising police autonomy to making official procedures transparent. So much has been written about this that it is unnecessary even to summarise it.
The real obstacle to systemic reform is not lack of ideas, but the absence of a signal from the very apex of the system that it is serious about enforcing the rule of law, combating corruption, and preventing and punishing the abuse of power. Such an extraordinarily purposive and serious signal must come in a manner which is commensurate with the depth of our crisis. Only then would we have a snowballing process of purging of the system of some of the toxins that have gone deep into its interstices as in Italy, where an activist judiciary unfolded just such a process to good effect three years ago. But this needs a starter, a catalyst, a spark-plug.
Such a spark-plug is best provided by the Babri mosque case. The demolition of the mosque is perhaps the worst crime against our Constitution, against the law, and against the judiciary, since Independence. It damaged the foundational pillars of our democratic edifice, mocked at Parliament, and deeply offended the notion of tolerance of differences that is so central to the survival of any minimally civilised or decent society. Those responsible for the demolition must be punished in a genuinely exemplary fashion. This is not a plea for vengeance, but for penalty of an adequately deterrent nature.
The Babri case is now
coming to a head for the 49 accused, who include Mr L.K.
Advani, Mr M.M. Joshi and Ms Uma Bharati, all Central
ministers. The Liberhan Inquiry Commission is due to
submit its report too. This is an excellent, indeed,
unique opportunity to pursue the litigation with the
utmost seriousness and urgency and obtain a clear
judicial verdict. This is impossible without the freeing
of the CBI from political control. There is a clear
conflict of interests here. This can be resolved only if
these Central ministers resign during the trial and a
totally autonomous special prosecutors office is
created under the overall supervision of eminent citizens
of impeccable integrity. If we grasp the Ayodhya nettle,
we could dramatically re-establish the credibility of the
justice system. The system has never needed this more.
millennium moment for Ireland
MODERN historiography has gone far beyond the concept of history as a record of wars and conquests, of thrones and dynasties, of kingdoms and empires, as also beyond the apotheosis of Alexanders, Caesars or Napoleons. It has now ingested so many other disciplines as to make it a complex, pluristic study of the past even when a certain philosophical line of thought is, in some cases, vigorously maintained and strenuously worked out in the text. And of the strains that go to make the tangled tapestry of history today, I pick up two for purposes of understanding the blood stained saga of the Irish conflict which after centuries of struggle and sacrifice, murder and mayhem has, for once, offered a semblance of peace amidst a host of insurmountable roadblocks.
If the Good Friday Agreement, painfully arrived at after a sacrifice of the cherished dream by both the feuding parties the Catholic dream of a united Irish republic and the Protestant claim of the Northern half to retain its links with the Crown and Westminster , holds and helps evolve the mechanics of producing and integrated community of race and religion, and a machinery of governance, civic and republican in essence, well, then, one could not but salute the moment, the Millennium Moment, if you like. What such a historic moment can mean in terms of a peoples corporate life is one of the nodal points of this piece.
Let me elaborate the thesis in a brief and skeletal manner. A time comes in the troubled and tormented history of a people, an ethnic group or a religious community when the ground realities compel them to face the growing consciousness of the futility of dreams that could be kept alive only through guns and bombs. Such dreams no longer are life-sustaining ideals, but mere shadows, or even hobgoblins and ghosts in the path of peace. That moment of recognition is the right moment, the moment of truth. The Greek concept of Kairos very forcefully expresses the spirit of the argument in process. As a leading Christian thinker of our times, Paul Tillich, points out in The Eternal Now, all great changes in history are accompanied by a strong consciousness of a Kairos at hand. Which means, in effect, the arrival of the right time the moment of moments and the power of the involved community or communities to reorient their aims and aspirations, and, above all, to drop their old allergies and antagonisms.
Happily, theres at last a feeling in both halves of Ireland that its possible now to keep nursing hardened attitudes. A spirit of accommodation and accord has to be worked out which moves away from thanatos or the death-wish to agape or a feeling of fraternity and a sentiment of tenderness. The moment is at hand, and it has to be grasped. Yes, dreams of glory and grandeur do keep communities in a buoyant mood for ages, but as Irelands greatest poet W.B. Yeats, who, incidentally, was involved to the gills in this struggle (if we remember poems like Easter 1916 . The second coming) put it in an earlier poem, In dream begin responsibilities. It has taken the torn Irish community nearly a century to realise the truth of Yeatss insightful line.
Both parties, including the British and the American mediators, know this well enough that a mere devolution of power by Westminster to Belfast, and disarming of the militant IRA and the Ulster Unionist Orange Order or such groups would not be enough to hold the precarious peace for long if radical changes are not duly effected in the mindsets of the adversaries, and the power to forget the past injuries engendered in the process of reconciliation.
And this brings me to the second point of this little discourse. How to understand and deal with the nuclear character of a people, particularly with that ingrained trait or streak that we all tragic flaw in literary lexicon.
Each community has some known strengths and some inherent organic weaknesses, and its only in moments of crises that those qualities manifest themselves in one form or another. As for the Irish people whose past harks back to the misty, folk-lorish, legendary Gaelic periods of romance and heroism and sea-faring, exploits now lost in antiquity, and resurrected in song and story till this day, they are known for a highly volatile, wanton and self-destructive streak in their psychic make-up. Geography, climate, soil and occupation over several centuries turned this emerald island into a rough, hostile piece of land where generations living in penury, and in the shadow of marine disasters sought refuge in extremes in booze and rank bawdiness, in pub-brawls and public profanities, etc. And this alloy in their element, in the end, could not but spill over into their politics, making it highly vulnerable to violence, intransigence and cussedness. This trait became particularly over bearing after the Easter uprising of 1916, and its brutal repression by the British boots and red-coats.
No wonder, all efforts since then have come to grief, for the Irish mind on either side of the dividing line became conditioned, almost in the Pavlovian sense. Thus, their politics became bloody and brutal, with their faiths (an armed Catholic majority and a strong, defiant, Protestant minority) queering the pitch to the point of no return.
This could perhaps be best seen at work in the works of the 20th century Irish writers from yeats and Synge to the American playwright Eugene ONeill whose Irish ancestory is a major factor in the type of hell-driven anarchists, isolatoes and desperadoes to be found in scores in his profoundly pessimistic tragedies. The Irish people, it appears, take their troubles and problems to the outposts of their being, when things start going wrong for them. Its this tragic Mindlock that the present generation of the great Irish people have to break to achieve peace which has eluded them for so long. The furies fuming in their blood, and the atavistic impulses of regression have to be burnt out through a vigilant concern for the benevolent, flexible pragmatism that seems to have prepared the ground for the Millennium Moment, despite some ominous signs.
The Irish accord,
inconceivable till the moment of the signing ceremony, is
at last a palpable, viable reality. Its future, as I have
argued, depends on the factors that make for peace. But
whatever the doubts or apprehensions, it has widened the
possibilities, and shown the way. The accord may, thus,
well serve as a moral for all those feuding communities,
ethnic or religious- terrorist militancies that we find
darkening the frontiers and horizons of so many countries
across the globe today.
Judge but speak not, says code
A JUDGE, says the code of conduct for Supreme Court and High Court Judges announced last fortnight, is expected to let his judgements speak for themselves. He should not give interviews to the media.
The rationale for this rule, which has the status of a maxim in the British system of justice (followed in India), was expressed by the head of the English judiciary, Lord Chancellor Kilmuir in 1955 in words which beggar improvement:
So long as a Judge keeps silent (he said), his reputation for wisdom and impartiality remains unassailable: but every utterance which he makes in public, except in the course of the actual performance of his judicial duties, must necessarily bring him within the focus of criticism.
That is precisely what happened with Lord Denning, unquestionably the most famous English Judge of this century. Devastated by a barrage of public criticism for his snide out-of-court remarks against black and coloured jurors, Denning was forced to put in his papers in 1982 after 38 glorious years on the Bench.
Titled A Judgement Too Far, a leading article in The Times published on May 24, 1982 had this to say about the controversy:
Lord Dennings ill-considered remarks on the unsuitability of many blacks for jury service have, understandably, caused considerable offence in the black community. Should he have to give judgement in a case in which race is a factor, he will be exposed to charges of prejudice and to suggestions that his decision might be affected by his personal feelings on racial matters. Such criticism would, it is hoped and expected, be unwarranted. But Lord Denning has only himself to blame for placing himself in a position where such attacks could be made.
That is putting it very fairly. And practically beyond rebuttal. A Judge who moves out of the seclusion of the judicial office and enters the public domain forfeits thereby the security that goes with such seclusion and constitutes the basis of judicial independence. Regardless of whether he does so out of conviction, as Lord Denning did (though he later apologised), or out of a secret desire or weakness for publicity, the consequence remains the same.
I wish not to sound churlish, nor unpatriotic, but the experience of judicial activism during the past few years has demonstratively shown that the members of the higher judiciary in India are particularly vulnerable to the lure of publicity.
About the most glaring violation of the convention against Judges seeking publicity for themselves and giving interviews to the media occurred 45 months ago in March, 1996, in connection with the hawala case, the case that shook India.
Even as the case lay pending before him (or a three-member Bench presided over by him) for adjudication, Supreme Court Judge J.S. Verma (later Chief Justice of India) held forth to India Today magazine in an sweeping interview touching the case and much else besides, including the need for a judicial code of conduct.
The interview was published as part of a cover story pegged on the hawala case and paying fulsome tributes to the Judge, who posed for photographs for the magazine alongwith his family.
Once in a while, Justice Verma told the interviewer, our duty compels us to answer questions (from the Press) regarding the constitutional scheme and the functioning of the court. This has to be understood in a proper perspective and should not be related to a particular case, he said.
This is a rather subjective and unconventional view of judicial duty, I wrote in this paper on March 17, 1996, reacting strongly, and one that is fraught with great danger.
Justice Verma, I pointed out, is not yet the Chief Justice of India. if every one, or even a majority, of the puisne Judges of the Supreme Court start displaying the same sense of duty and feel compelled to give interviews to the Press on matters of judicial policy, there will be no difference left between Judges and politicians.
And imagine the chaos (I added) If the infection spreads down to the High Courts, and High Court Judges also feel equally duty-bound to speak out on matters falling in their domain. At a time when the concept of justifiability has all but disappeared from the judicial lexicon and a Judges domain is as large as his range of interests. Or, better still, his range of ambition.
Addressing a similar problem way back in 1947, US Supreme Court Judge and former Attorney General with Roosevelt, Robert Jackson was slightly more understanding.
(N)othing in my experience or observation, he said in Craig vs Harney, confirms the idea that (a Judge) is insensitive to publicity. Who does not prefer good to ill report of his work? And if fame a good public name is, as Milton said, the last infirmity of a noble mind, it is frequently the first infirmity of a mediocre one.
Iftar get-togethers galore
THE only person from whom an invite for iftar (breaking of the fast, during the month of Ramadaan) hasnt, so far arrived, is Kalyan Singh! Otherwise, you name the person and in all probability he would be hosting an iftar get-together, irrespective of the past records complete with mutterings to the effect off with their heads... down with monumental bricks! In fact, to put it in a nutshell, hypocrisy is at its best during this month. You get invites for these feasts from the remotest and least expected quarters. And to top it all, the invitees are either flourishing politicians or bloated socialites or some of those Muslims who seem desperate to be spotted in such company. A pity that the genuine rozadaars are invariably omitted. How could they have been included, when they do not figure in the whos who list of the Capitals glitterati, nor in the great nexuses operating around. Before I move ahead let me mention that the only place where I saw some genuine invitees orphans from a well-known orphanage was when the then Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal had hosted an iftar get-together at his residence here, about seven or eight years back.
And this year a sort of fiasco was stemmed, just in time. Invitation cards for an iftar scheduled for December 20 evening arrived from both, the President of India Mr K.R. Narayanan, as well as from the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Separately, of course. And when contacted one of the senior general secretaries of the Congress Party admitted that they realised this clash of dates a little too late, when the cards had already been despatched. And now the only alternative was to shift the date of the iftar hosted by Sonia Gandhi, to December 23. Needless to add that fresh invitation cards are under print, to be delivered by Monday. And these confusions are bound to increase in the coming days dont overlook the fact that the month of Ramadaan has just about crossed 10 days and iftar hosting picks up during the last week, when active politicians try to outdo each other. So much so that the joke going around is that Laloo Prasad Yadav might host one too, in spite of the IT notice slapped on him!
At a wedding reception last week I was somewhat taken aback when the lead singer of the entertainment group, especially hired for the occasion, focused less on the bride and the groom and more on the closing millennium! And though the news around is that programmes for major celebrations are being worked out but if you talk to the well known as well to the lesserknown you find that most are determined to spend the last day of this century at home! Five star hotels neednt be visualised as bubbling with tourist activity few flyers because of the Y2K scare and not to overlook the fact that even the most hardhearted tourist would like to be with the family on the day. The government on its part hasnt laid out any special attraction (s). Come to think of it not even for the golden jubilee celebrations of the Republic Day just five weeks from now.
But the scenario on December 31 would be very different in many countries of the world, especially in Panama where the national pride would take a definite upswing on December 31. That would be the day when the USA would formally hand over the rights of the Panama Canal to Panama. In fact at a function hosted by the Embassy of Panama here on December 14 evening the mood seemed already upbeat. Though the occasion was the award presentation ceremony of the Rogelio Sinan contest but it was also the day when the informal transfer of the canal had just taken place and each of the speakers did make it a point to mention this and these included Delhis former Lt Governor Tejender Khanna, Secretary Culture (GOI) Vaidynanatha Ayyar,Secretary Sahitya Akademi Professor K Satchidanandan and filmstar Padmini Kohlapure. Dont ask me how Kohlapure got fitted in the scenario but the few lines she spoke werent bad. The audience seemed taken aback by her flawless English and the sense ridden lines, uttered by her.
Some more events
I heaved a sigh of relief seeing the title of psychiatrist Sanjay Chughs latest book Sexuality & Human Relationships (Piper books). Released on December 18, it deals with all those aspects, talking about which is still a taboo in most Indian homes. Hypocrisies gnawing even here. I am happy that at least now some people are making a dent and believe me this could have some effect on the building up of healthier relationships.
Here let me also fit a details of another book Handbook for Legislators on HIV/AIDS, Law and Human Rights to be released by Speaker of the Lok Sabha GMC Balayogi, on December 21 at the Parliament House Annexe.
Let me end on a happy
note .... The Shankars Childrens Art Number
released on December 18, celebrates 50 years of the
Shankars International painting competition. It was
in 1949 that the then popular cartoonist Shankar Pillai
had announced this painting competition and invited
children from different countries of the world to
participate. Thirteen countries had responded that year,
sending 7000 entries. And, this year, 135 countries have
responded, with 1,60,000 entries pouring in. And on
December 18 evening the Vice- President of the country
honoured this years prize winners together
with about a hundred Indian children, 15 prize winners
from the different nations coming down to receive their
prizes in person.
THERE arrived in London yesterday seven Tibetan priests. The head of the party is the Chief Lama of the monastery of Palkor Choide at Gyantse. With much difficulty they have been persuaded to come to England by the British Trade Agent in Tibet and they will take part in a prelude to a film depicting the Mount Everest Expedition.
In their picturesque
attire bright red gowns and hoods with brilliant
yellow sashes, big white shoes and sheepskin helmets
the Lamas attracted much attention upon their
arrival. They themselves were overcome with amazement at
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