Thursday, October 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

West Asian totem-pole
T
HE sense of disappointment over the recent reverses in the Israel-Palestine relationship is palpable but such setbacks have taken place so often that there is no alternative except to get used to them. For formís sake, the emergency summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh has pulled the adversaries back from the abyss but even strong supporters of the half-hearted agreement admit that the truce is at best temporary.

A needless controversy 
I
T is hard to believe that a sober and clear-headed leader like Mr L.K. Advani will wade into a totally unavoidable controversy. On Tuesday he called in a select group of reporters to defend his presence at the RSS mahashivir at Agra.

Anarchy in Bihar
B
IHAR needs help. It must be saved, without further delay, from the clutches of politicians, who are collectively responsible for spreading anarchy throughout the state. The administration of the state should be handed over to a totally neutral and apolitical authority. 



EARLIER ARTICLES
N-armed basket case
October 18, 2000
Paddy crisis and after
October 17, 2000
Vajpayee is right, but...
October 16, 2000
Whatís wrong with our prisons?
October 15, 2000
A partial solution 
October 14, 2000
A status quo verdict 
October 13, 2000
No credit to policy
October 12, 2000
The law catches up
October 11, 2000
War drums in West Asia
October 10, 2000
Mamataís own oil shock
October 9, 2000
 
Frankly Speaking 

by Hari Jaisingh
After Vajpayee, who?

The speculation game is unfair
W
ILL Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee be able to function normally and effectively after his knee surgery at Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai? This question has been raised by some political and media pundits. Perhaps, it is sponsored anxiety which has led to speculations on his possible successor.

OPINION

Evaluating the doctorate thesis
by V. N. Datta
D
R RAJ BAHADUR DEHATI has raised pertinent questions on the evaluation of the doctorate thesis in Indian universities (The Tribune, Sept 23). A doctorate degree is the highest academic award given to a candidate in recognition of his original contribution to knowledge either by opening a new line of enquiry or by offering a new interpretation of existing knowledge.

analysis

Moral values still hold sway
by H. R. Khanna

i
ndia
, not in the very remote past, gave to the world moral titans like Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Gandhi and Tagore. Today, according to international perceptions, India is one of the 10 most corrupt countries. It is also one of the 10 poorest countries. This paradox baffles not only foreigners but also many deep-thinking Indians.

Of Life Sublime

Wanted a humanistic order
by Satya Pal Dang
concepts of morality and moral values change with changes in society. The primitive tribes, through their collective labour in the form of hunting etc., could produce with difficulty just enough to survive. When two such tribes clashed and one conquered the other, the former could neither keep them as prisoners nor as slaves. Killing them did not then shock anyone's conscience.

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS




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West Asian totem-pole

THE sense of disappointment over the recent reverses in the Israel-Palestine relationship is palpable but such setbacks have taken place so often that there is no alternative except to get used to them. For formís sake, the emergency summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh has pulled the adversaries back from the abyss but even strong supporters of the half-hearted agreement admit that the truce is at best temporary. There is no meeting of the minds, no forgive-and-forget and no sincerity to mend fences in any way. The recent Israeli aggression seems to have reopened all the old acrimony, hatred and the feelings for revenge. What has been attempted to solve the vexed problem is no better than a first-aid treatment whereas what is urgently needed is major open-heart surgery. It will be futile to expect that better sense will prevail in the near future. Either side has numerous stories to tell of totally unjustified violence by the other party. Under the circumstances, it would seem that the USA is more keen to sew up an agreement than either the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr Ehud Barak, or the Palestinian Authority President, Mr Yasser Arafat. Perhaps President Clintonís anxiety is sincere. He badly needs a foreign policy success feather to decorate the cap he is going to wear when he ends his second and last term. But this hurry has been counterproductive. The two sides seem to have been hustled into shaking hands and are visibly uncomfortable in this process. To make matters worse, there are lunatic fringes on both sides of the fence for whom any give and take is abject surrender. It is this section that has gained the upper hand during the past two weeks. The violence that erupted on September 28 has already claimed 100 lives and there are hardly any signs that war-weariness has set in.

In fact, indications are that both sides have steeled themselves to a long confrontation ahead. In this surreal scenario, Washington has failed to grasp the fact that it does not enjoy the image of Honest John. It has tilted so audaciously towards Israel that it seems to have lost much of the moral authority that it could have otherwise exerted on the Arab world. Unexpected developments like a terrorist attack on the USS Cole have coincided with the breakout of violence in the West Bank and Gaza to further complicate matters. The sum total of it all is that years of efforts made to iron out the differences have been wiped out in a matter of days. Mr Yasser Arafat has bravely tried to rein in his supporters but has found it increasingly difficult to manage in the face of the strident posture struck by Israel. Tel Aviv refuses to appreciate the fact that by embarrassing Mr Arafat, it is only sowing the seeds of more violence. Statesmanlike agreements are not supposed to be seen as capitulation. The only faint silver lining amidst all the dark clouds is that the UN leverage has increased somewhat. So far, President Clinton had been the perpetual go-between. That role is now rightfully going to Mr Kofi Annan. Israel has been opposing this development but perhaps it also knows that it is inevitable.

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A needless controversy 

IT is hard to believe that a sober and clear-headed leader like Mr L.K. Advani will wade into a totally unavoidable controversy. On Tuesday he called in a select group of reporters to defend his presence at the RSS mahashivir at Agra. Most national dailies carried photographs of the Home Minister saluting the bhagwa jhanda and listening to a lecture of the RSS chief issuing provocative advice to the minorities. Naturally the opposition parties latched on to this to sharply criticise him. As a senior leader he should have let it pass since he has already made an ideological statement by attending a high profile RSS meeting and establishing his formal and unbreakable links with the mother of the Sangh Parivar. As it is, his attendance at the Agra meeting where many made highly controversial statements like accusing the Christians (all Christians) of harbouring militants and asking the Muslims to get themselves Hinduised by joining the mainstream, was violative of the propriety of being the Home Minister. A Home Minister should not associate himself with such sectarian sentiments and it was evident that he shared them since he patiently listened to the Sudarshan diatribe. A Home Minister doing this in a country which has earned global encomium for nursing a multi-religious and multi-cultural polity?

It is regrettable that he compounded this lapse of official nicety by defending his action and inventing improbable arguments. He said that he and other senior BJP leaders have a ďhistoricalĒ link with the RSS which provides moral guidance to the political party. He is remiss in mistaking his personal links as historical, since an individual cannot claim historical importance which should be left to history to decide. Two, an organisation can provide ideological inspiration and not moral guidance which is strictly personal. He went beyond these. He compared the RSS leadership of the BJP to the role of Mahatma Gandhi in the Nehru government and JPís in the Morarji Desai-led Janata set-up. He was comparing individuals to an institution and advocates of absolute idealism to an organisation that is suspect in the eyes of many. The RSS is not universally accepted as Gandhism or Jayaprakash Narayanís fight against corruption in high places, nor is it open to criticism as these two towering leaders were. There were many who disagreed with Gandhiís policies but not one who feared them. Similarly, JP attracted a lot of flak for promoting the RSS cause but even the Left did not question his basic policy thrust. There is thus no basis for comparison of the RSS with either Gandhi or JP.

Then there is the question of political compulsion of Mr Advani. Before his press conference he had made his obligatory obeisance to the RSS on two occasions. He was part of the Prime Minister's team that paid floral tributes at the samadhi of the RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at Nagpur during the meeting of the BJP national executives last month. Then he attended the RSS mahashivir at Agra. That should have established his lifelong links to the organisation though it may create problems for him as Home Minister. What was then the need to stridently defend his action and reiterate his submission to a patently Hindutva outfit? One has to look into the developing political situation for an answer. It is safe to speculate that he is overanxious to have the RSS on his side if the question of succession to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee ever arises. Delhi-based newspapers are full of reports fed by interested quarters that the Prime Minister is suffering from Alzhemirís disease, a condition of brain wasting, as is evident from his loss of memory like calling US President ďShri LincolnĒ and the long pauses between sentences. This rumour has got a fillip ever since a leading newspaper published a survey saying that most people polled preferred Mr Advani as successor. But what is forgotten in all these is the fact that not all BJP leaders and men have come from the RSS. Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Yashwant Sinha and Mrs Sushma Swaraj do not have an RSS background. A large number of supporters flocked to the BJP in the wake of the rath yatra and are not very respectful of the RSS and its quaint ideology. Playing the hardline RSS card may please a few but surely will go down badly with the majority. It is mystifying that Mr Advani decided to play this double-edged card. 

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Anarchy in Bihar

BIHAR needs help. It must be saved, without further delay, from the clutches of politicians, who are collectively responsible for spreading anarchy throughout the state. The administration of the state should be handed over to a totally neutral and apolitical authority. Anything which can go wrong has irretrievably gone wrong in what was once counted among the best governed states in the country. The sacking Chief Minister Rabri Devi in itself may not be enough for arresting Bihar's journey towards total anarchy. All politicians from the benighted state should be taken into protective custody in the larger national interest. Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav and Mrs Rabri Devi are just two of the countless political villains who have turned Bihar into an extension of hell. Caste killings have become routine occurrence. One day 11 Yadavs are killed by a caste group and the very next day five members of a minority community are put to death to keep the scoreboard ticking. The media has evidently lost interest in reporting the disturbing developments in and from Bihar because of the lack of "newness" in whatever is happening in the state. Private armies are having a field day, gunning down innocent people at will. Who can save Bihar from the state of lawlessness patronised and promoted by all the political parties in the state? A look at the track record of the political leaders from the state should help understand why Bihar is a fit case for a long spell of President's rule. Union Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav cannot be trusted with the administration of Bihar because of his role in the diversion of the Alliance Air flight to Patna for obliging the contingent of MPs from the state. As Railway Minister another leader from Bihar, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, turned his constituency Hajipur into a railway division defying logic and prescribed norms.

How about Mr Nitish Kumar being asked to return to Bihar once again? He too is a former Railway Minister and as Samata Party leader has made the astounding announcement that all those wanting to attend the Patna rally on Thursday need not bother to buy rail or bus tickets. Attending a political rally organised by his party is a duty, he would argue, of the people of Bihar for which they should be provided free travel facilities by the government. Mr Pappu Yadav's is another name which keeps hitting the headlines not because of his achievements as a politician or an MP. His reputation as a feared gangster should help him establish his own brand of governance in the state. He will do what he is good at doing. Spread fear and lawlessness to every corner of Bihar. He will travel ticketless, without being advised by Mr Nitish Kumar to do so, on trains passing through Bihar and with the help of his henchmen terrorise other passengers. In the latest incident four girl students from Delhi, three from the National Institute of Fashion Technology and the fourth from Indraprastha College, had no option but to suffer the indignity of being pawed and subjected to verbal obscenities while travelling by the prestigious Rajdhani Express to Howrah. They found themselves in the same coach in which Mr Pappu Yadav and his goons forced their way into before the train left Delhi. Traumatising passengers and making them vacate their reserved seats is a speciality of the Pappu Yadav gang. Last year a senior British High Commission diplomat had complained to the Ministry of External Affairs about being forced to vacate his seat in the Rajdhani Express by Mr Pappu Yadav and his goons. Does the Centre have the political will of imposing President's rule for saving Bihar from becoming a place which is worse than hell?
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After Vajpayee, who?
The speculation game is unfair
by Hari Jaisingh

WILL Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee be able to function normally and effectively after his knee surgery at Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai? This question has been raised by some political and media pundits. Perhaps, it is sponsored anxiety which has led to speculations on his possible successor.

In a way, these are natural queries in a democratic polity, though we often overkill even simple thoughts at the altar of speculative games. Gossips, rumours and speculation are part of our national character. So is political horse-trading.

Indian politics today is a different ball game. What is in vogue these days is the politics of convenience based on power-sharing. Principles and ideology do not matter. The distinction between the Left and the Right has ceased to be sharp. Political culture nowadays is all power and money and hence the importance of an undesirable "nexus" that the Vohra committee talked about in a different context.

It is said that the best government is the least government. Today, the best politics is one of least resistance. This is how coalitions are run. Nothing wrong with this, provided there is the right person at the helm acting as a cementing force. Herein lies the importance of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. So anxiety about his health is natural. But stretching this anxiety to a speculative game on his possible successor is both unfair and misplaced.

It is necessary that those in authority should conduct themselves with sobriety, decency and maturity so that fixers and operators are kept at bay.

When Jawaharlal Nehru fell sick at the Bhubaneswar session of the Congress, a guessing game followed about his possible successor. The party had no dearth of talent. A number of stalwarts then dominated the national scene.

The party, however, opted for Lal Bahadur Shastri. A short-statured person of humble origin, he proved his mettle and generated confidence among the people about his ability to handle national affairs in a democratic way.

The 1965 war with Pakistan brought out certain hidden qualities of Shastri. He gave a unique thrust to the politics of sacrifice by asking every Indian to miss one meal a week. His raising of the slogan of "Jai jawan, jai kisan" put the right focus on the two vital segments of Indian life.

The point I wish to make is that the Indian system is capable of throwing up the right leader at the right time. Mr Vajpayee has been an integral part of the national scene for long. He has gone through the different phases in the country's political life. As External Affairs Minister in the Janata Party government in 1977 he showed both guts and skill in conducting foreign affairs.

As Prime Minister he had a shaky start. But in today's coalition politics he has proved his worth. He has shown that he is capable of acting as a catalyst despite diverse pulls and counter-pulls. Mr Vajpayee's strategic presence in the 22-party coalition has made all the difference to the performance of the NDA government.

He is undoubtedly the tallest leader and has proved this point beyond any shadow of doubt. His advantage is that while being part of the BJP, he carries with him liberal and secular traditions which have been part of the Nehru legacy.

If the NDA coalition government has managed to survive, it is mainly because of the acceptability of Mr Vajpayee as a sober and mature leader who sees things in a broad perspective while carrying regional leaders with him.

Some critics suggest that Mr Vajpayee wears the secular mask of the BJP. This is true in a way. However, the qualities which have really impressed even his worst critics are his amiable temperament, pragmatism and ability to look beyond today. He is surely more than the usual run-of-the mill politician, though, in my estimate, he stops just short of being a towering statesman.

Perhaps, in-built constraints do not permit him to grow beyond a certain point. The harsh fact is that he is badly caught in the politics of pressures and counter-pressures not only from his party and the Sangh Parivar, especially the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), but also from his coalition partners.

At its Agra meet the other day, the RSS leadership raked up the Ayodhya mandir and other issues which are bound to embarrass the Prime Minister. At this juncture, his major concern is the revival of the economy by pushing through the second phase of reforms. It is a hard task ahead. Any diversionary tactics will only weaken the country at a time when the global market is getting more and more competitive.

India, for that matter, cannot afford to lower its guards. It must see to it that it remains competitive in the global market vis-a-vis China, South Korea and other key players of Asia. In fact, this ought to be our national agenda number one.

Linked with improved economic performance is the future of the poor and the have-nots who seek a better deal so that they too have a better standard of living and basic facilities of education and health care.

It must be said to the credit of Mr Vajpayee that he is very much alive to basic economic issues. He wants the country to move fast on the development front. He is, however, equally concerned about security issues, especially India's relations with Pakistan. The nation looks to him to tackle these problems so that the country acquires the "big power" status it deserves.

In global diplomacy, the status of a nation flows from its economic power. India cannot become a big power without a sound economic base. Mr Vajpayee is well aware of this harsh reality. He needs full support for implementing the difficult economic agenda without further loss of time.

Viewed in a larger national framework, I don't think we as a people should unnecessarily speculate on the health of the Prime Minister. He should be able to lead the nation effectively since he has the charisma, experience and the ability to bounce back.

As for the question of his successor, it is an insult both to the people and Mr Vajpayee personally to speculate on this at this juncture. Time will decide who can and will lead the country.

Indian democracy has enough resilience. It has stood the test of time. It can provide the answer if the eventuality of choosing a successor to Mr Vajpayee (God forbid!) arises.

The question here is not of party or coalition. What is important is the right choice. The country needs a leader with vision who should have the ability to take all sections of society with him.

It may be asked: what type of leadership does India need? An instant answer will be: a firm, mature, determined visionary firmly committed to democratic values and egalitarian development.

A good leadership demands total identification with the ethos, hopes and aspirations of the man in the street. It also demands high standards of public conduct. A leader is expected not only to be clean but has to be seen to be clean. Equally vital is freshness of approach and drive.

A leader, however, is not like a consumer product to be produced in a factory on a "made-to-order" basis. He or she is thrown up by people or is thrust upon them by circumstances, or arrives through a consensus or a combination of various factors and forces.

To an extent, India is fortunate in having a vibrant democracy which moulds leaders of both desirable and undesirable character. The challenge lies in getting the desirable type.

We don't have "to invent" a Vajpayee to take the country forward. Every situation and every period throws up new challenges in a highly complex polity like ours. We need a statesman and not a politician.

The Indian nation's interests are safe so long as Mr Vajpayee is around. That is good enough. The Indian people are mature enough to provide a new answer at the appropriate time. They may have some "dark horse", if the need arises.

Meanwhile, the people's good wishes and prayers should help Mr Vajpayee bounce back and lead the nation with new vigour and enthusiasm. Well, after the problematic left knee having become "right", pray, where is the problem now?

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Evaluating the doctorate thesis
by V. N. Datta

DR RAJ BAHADUR DEHATI has raised pertinent questions on the evaluation of the doctorate thesis in Indian universities (The Tribune, Sept 23). A doctorate degree is the highest academic award given to a candidate in recognition of his original contribution to knowledge either by opening a new line of enquiry or by offering a new interpretation of existing knowledge. In other words, originality in research denotes breaking new ground or revaluation of the existing interpretation, a reinterpretation of extant interpretations. Thus, research is extending the frontiers of knowledge which serves as the key to the understanding of man and his place in the universe. Research covering various fields is the foundation of knowledge, and is an integral part of a teacherís professional life.

Teaching is perhaps the most moving profession, and primarily a teacherís responsibility is twofold, teaching and research, which are inextricably interconnected. Research improves and refines the quality of teaching. Teaching without research is friendship without devotion, and instruments without music. To hold the entire community of supervisors look, stock and barrel for the researchersí problems is unjustified. Of course, there are undeniably quite a number of able supervisors whose valuable guidance has acted as a great intellectual stimulus on the lives of so many students who have made a distinct contribution to knowledge. It is pertinent to ask what is the role of the supervisor, and what is he expected to do?

A supervisorís main function is to guide research in the method of analysis and the requirements of proofs. Methodology leads to the roads by which the human intellect arrives at conclusions, while proof is the testing and scrutiny of evidence. Whatever the failings of a supervisor be in the Indian context, and there is no need to condone his actions, if any, but the avenging force of fact is that the supervisor is placed in a predicament which exasperates him. The first difficulty of the supervisor is the type of student he is required to guide: what is his academic foundation? and for what purpose he pursues research. Is it a disinterested pursuit of enquiry or a purely utilitarian ploy of enhancing his academic status for securing a position in a college or university? However, competent and assiduous a supervisor may be, the quality of research will never attain the requisite standards unless the research student has within him the instrinsic merit in terms of ability, industry and dedication to undertake research.

It is not often realised to what a terrible strain a supervisor is subjected to on account of the excessive amount of work he is required to see through the completion of his studentís thesis. I think that researcherís demands on supervisors are pretty high. In the authentic sense of the term, research is individual, never collective. The role of the supervisor is to show the way to the researcher to stand on his own feet in order to pursue his own research independently and disinterestedly. But in India the supervisor is expected to read, comment and revise the whole text to make it fit for the award of Ph.D. In a number of completed thesis one sees more often the hand of the supervisor than that of the student. Such a type of research guidance has baneful effects for it never allows a researcher to grow into a full-blown free and candid thinker, who depends on his own inner resources. He is only an echo of others.

A supervisor occupies a pivotal position in the guidance of a researcher. His failing, generally speaking, doesnít lie so much in his authoritarian behaviour or indifference but in his insufficient grounding in his own research. Research is not a dinner party or honeymoon, but a sustained and continued intellectual activity of high order pursued with utmost sincerity to open the portals of knowledge which enrich the quality of thinking and life. It is often seen that the highest professional positions in the leading universities are held by such a class of teachers who, besides a preliminary Ph.D. thesis submitted in early years of their careers did not attempt even a short article for a second class journal. Alas! they content themselves on their past glory, if any.

The vastness of human knowledge chills us with despair, and it is becoming extremely difficult to keep pace with the growing knowledge, particularly due to the network of information available to us. Research is not a local affair, but international, and its quality has to be judged by international standards. So, in the world as constituted today we have to imbibe and assimilate ideas from different quarters, and to make the best use of them for our creative activity. We cannot afford to live ostrich like, cut off from the current of leading ideas in the world.

About a decade ago due to inadequate emoluments and excessive administrative and academic routine work, there were perhaps legitimate grounds for maintaining the view that it was difficult for teachers to engage themselves in serious research work. But what, unfortunately, is totally missing out in the university campuses is the exhilaration and excitement that accrues from the social and intellectual interaction among the academic community. The university departments are generally isolated islands. Interdisciplinary discourses seldom take place. I regard the university library a reliable barometer of the teaching communityís level of academic interests and excellence. Despite all the wild claims for promoting interdisciplinary studies, seldom does one find books and journals in university libraries dealing with these themes. Due to the paucity of funds, the conditions in regional university libraries are lamentable. Unless we know what is going on in the realm of ideas in the world, we cannot really advance ourselves intellectually. It is the spider who weaves his own texture from his self, but that canít be said of research, which is a continuing process of cross-fertilisation at national and international levels.

In our younger days teachers enjoyed the thrill of building their own private library. There is a vital difference between borrowing a book and buying it for oneís private reading. But due to the prohibitive price of books it may not be possible to buy them. But surely we can make the best use of libraries. It is often seen that teachers prefer to borrow books from the libraries and use them for their purpose at home. Of course, there is nothing wrong with such an attitude. But reading in a library is a different thing. This habit of reading in a library instils regularity, discipline and adds up some salutary and intangible benefits of giving a broader perspective.

Invariably, the Ph.D. dissertations do not show originality and critical mode of analysis, and are at best a compilation of facts collected haphazardly largely from second hand material. The result is the works produced which follow the conventional mode of thinking and organisation. In other words, it is the well-tried and established framework which are used uncritically. No attempt is made to throw away the conventional framework and evolve a new type of methodology deriving strength for the use of variety of disciplines for illuminating problems from a new perspective. There are no shortcuts in research: Problems in research as in life are too complicated to be susceptible to single-minded minicasual explanations that proved the failure of marxism and communism. A multicasual approach is valuable as explanatory mode in the analysis of problems relating to research. A scissors-and-paste approach which has become an occupational disease of our academics has absolutely no place in research. One of the demeaning perversities of our times has been that politics and ideology have adversely vitiated the canons of academic disciplines.

It must be emphasised that the nature of intellectual achievement corresponds to a large degree to the structures within which it is produced. Only in a free society independent research is possible. If the nature of universities compromises originality, daring and bold ideas and genuine intellectual diversity, then clearly new structures must come into being whether formal or informal. The danger is particularly great in our society which is tradition-bound where social economic and intellectual pressures work and pose a threat to independent thinking.

I think for the advancement of humankind it is necessary for us to encourage and cultivate the questioning spirit and notions of doubt about our history, values and assumptions. Surely we do not wish to see our academics as a squadron of like-minded individuals singing each otherís praise and denigrating others collectively as the sole guardians of truth. In research the right of free exchange of ideas, the presentation of even unpopular viewpoints and freedom to criticism are vital, not suppression, obstruction and intimidation. Therein lies the present and future salvation of our civilisation.
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Moral values still hold sway
by H. R. Khanna

india, not in the very remote past, gave to the world moral titans like Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Gandhi and Tagore. Today, according to international perceptions, India is one of the 10 most corrupt countries. It is also one of the 10 poorest countries. This paradox baffles not only foreigners but also many deep-thinking Indians. The rot started during the 'permit-quota-licence Raj'. The politicians had to contest elections and for that they needed large sums of money. They made demands on industrialists and business magnates who could not resist the demands because the politicians were to take over the reins of administration and issue permits, sanction quotas and give licences or render help for that purpose. It was also an unwritten convention that money so paid should not be reflected in account books and no receipts were to be issued. This gave rise to the evil of black money.

Once the politicians got afflicted with the vice of collecting money for elections, they could not resist the temptation of amassing wealth for themselves. Political corruption thus became a way of life. The nation had thus to suffer the phase of political corruption and black money. These two vices went hand-in-hand and no qualm of conscience was allowed to act as a deterrent.

Apart from money, the politicians also needed muscle power to fight elections and for this they had to rely upon mafia groups, anti-social elements and criminals because they are the main sources of muscle power. As time passed, the leaders of mafia groups, anti-social elements and criminals got the idea that if they could get the politicians elected because of their muscle power, why should they themselves not seek election. The result was that a large number of history-sheeters on police record fought elections and many of them got elected to legislatures. Some of them even came to occupy ministerial chairs. One effect of that was the havoc it caused to the administration of criminal justice. Effective and purposeful investigation of crime, so essential for securing conviction of the culprits, became difficult because of the interference, and it became almost impossible to secure the conviction of major criminals involved in serious crimes of murder, culpable homicide, grievous hurt, extortion and rape.

Inaction and reluctance on the part of investigating officers and those in charge of vigilance cells was brought to a halt by the Supreme Court. It directed them to spare no one in the investigation of cases relating to amassing of ill-gotten wealth and other offences. Earlier these officials were hesitant to proceed with the investigation against those wielding political power because they (officials) were under their (the politiciansí) administrative control. The Supreme Court removed the fear and hesitation by making the investigating and vigilance officers effectively investigate such cases. In doing so, the Supreme Court did not transgress the judicial arena. All that it did was to ensure the enforcement of the rule of law. It was because of such steps that cases of amassing ill-gotten wealth by politicians came to light and many skeletons in their cupboards came tumbling out.

Despite all that has been written earlier, I still feel that the heart of India is strong and there throbs and pulsates within the bulk of Indians a heart wedded to basic moral values. Most of the Indians are God-fearing and attached to moral values preached by the saints and sages and religious books.

Science and technology have placed in our hands vast resources and methods of acquiring wealth. I think that no stigma should be attached to the acquisition of wealth by lawful means. In fact, countries like Japan, Germany and other developed countries have taken full advantage of the newly acquired technology. It would be wrong and immoral for India to lag behind in this task of entrepreneurship and upsurge of national economy. The backlog of poverty, illiteracy and backwardness has to be wiped off if India has to occupy its rightful place in the comity of nations. We cannot afford to go about with a beggar's bowl. It hurts our self-respect when we find that even very small countries undertake to provide financial help to meet the cost of some of our projects. It is gratifying and heartening that the spirit of entrepreneurship has come to sway our educated young men and women and they are making great headway in different fields.

The urge to acquire wealth by taking advantage of the new technology should not be construed as evaporation of humanistic values, nor has this urge led to the extinction or abatement of the spirit of tolerance, mutual understanding, compassion and generosity.

The writer is a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India.

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Wanted a humanistic order
by Satya Pal Dang

concepts of morality and moral values change with changes in society. The primitive tribes, through their collective labour in the form of hunting etc., could produce with difficulty just enough to survive. When two such tribes clashed and one conquered the other, the former could neither keep them as prisoners nor as slaves. Killing them did not then shock anyone's conscience. Now killing of prisoners of war would send shock waves.

Formerly, men inherited property and it was considered just to give dowry to girls at the time of their marriage. When profit became the motive force of the economy, the dowry system began to be exploited for extracting the most from the parents of the girl. This led to dowry deaths and killing of wives to get married again for a bigger dowry. This led to an outcry and anti-dowry laws were framed. However, dowryless marriages have not yet become part of our value system. That will happen only when equal right of sons and daughters to the property of parents becomes universal in law and in practice.

Thus moral values change but there are some universal values such as respect for one's parents and elders, honesty, compassion, generosity, self-sacrifice, mutual understanding, selflessness etc. that do not change. When these humanistic values clash with the motive force for the production and distribution of goods, they get undermined.

No one will deny that honesty is a virtue and corruption is evil. Many who lecture against corruption, themselves indulge in it. Politics once entailed sacrifice for the country. Today it has become a profession which gives large returns on the 'capital' invested.

An economy the bigger part of which is run with black money cannot produce many honest politicians. Greedy politicians do not hesitate to use criminals and gradually themselves become criminals while criminals become politicians. This has led to a politician-criminal police nexus.

Under a particular type of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation introduced in 1991, whatever helps one to make more money is considered correct. Our middle class which once made immense sacrifices for India's freedom and stood for the oppressed and the poor has turned by and large, consumerist. Money has become the main goal of life and the urge to "enjoy" life with money has increased. And when money can get you off the hook when caught, crime is bound to increase, including crime against women. Universal moral values are still accepted as correct but are observed more in their violations by the rich and the neo-rich.

A survey done in the USA showed that only 4 or 5 per cent of the people there were completely selfless. The situation in our country is not so bad yet, but it is worsening.

Universal humanistic moral values will become universal only in a just society ó a society in which there is no exploitation of man by man. Continuous preaching of these values is necessary but no amount of preaching will make them universal. If the people are not strong enough to fight for a, just society, we may return to barbarism. No society can be run without parties and politicians. Let all those who rave for a life sublime observe the universal humanistic values and also fight to rid our public life of corrupt politicians.

The writer is a well-known social worker and a former member of Parliament.

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SPIRITUAL NUGGETS

Truth is high; higher still is truthful living.

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Truth is contained only in a truly cleansed body-mind; there are not many who practise Truth.

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The person is not worthy of respect if his thoughts are impure even when the body is washed clean.

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Cherishing the Truth within one's heart is the most sublime deed; all other pretensions and worship are vain...

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The souls whom the Guru has enlightened do not fall into decay; they remain absorbed in the praise of God; their understanding has been shaped by the divine knowledge.

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Happiness and prosperity find many friends,

But adversity and sorrow have none,

Saith Nanak: Ponder on the Beloved, O my soul;

Even in the bitterness of death

He is thy True Saviour.

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Alas, all my efforts have come to nothing!

I have not lessened my pride,

I have not cast down my vanity:

My mind is still the slave of evil impulses!

Nanak prayeth: O Lord, save, save!

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The Word of God shall be everlasting;

The saints of God shall endure eternally;

So shall the Guru's glory be for ever secure.

In this world, saith Nanak,

Those that have endeared themselves to the Word,

Truly, they are few and far between!

ó Sri Guru Granth Sahib 

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Why do not you look beyond at the sky, and see how we have set it in place and adorned it without flaw? And we spread out the earth as the basis (the many fields) and brought to life every beautiful form in pairs.

ó The Holy Quran, Sura Ghaf
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