Monday, May 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Poaching on States’ power
T would appear that the Group of Ministers (GoM) which authored an elaborate paper on internal security, had landed from Mars only a few weeks back. Otherwise, it would not have raked up a heated controversy which has remained dormant for some years now. The GoM wants to vest the Centre with powers to rush paramilitary forces to any state without seeking its permission or without waiting for its request.

Back to SYL issue
large jatha of Haryana farmers accompanied by women and children went to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, on Friday to seek the Akal Takht Jathedar's intervention "on humanitarian grounds" for the release of Punjab river waters in the controversial Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. This adds a new emotional dimension to the inter-state water dispute that has remained unresolved for years.




Fire in army ammunition depots
Regulations are brazenly flouted
Harwant Singh
utbreak of fire in army ammunition depots with unerring regularity, has resulted in great financial loss to the state and caused apprehensions and misgivings in the public mind. What is the cause of these incidents? Is it sabotage, violation of safety norms or sheer negligence?


In praise of the middle
M. K. Agarwal
have come across many pieces of writing in praise of such zany subjects as idleness, flattery, nepotism gluttony etc., but hardly any worth the name to espouse the grandeur, sweep and dignity of the “middle”. The present article is an attempt to fill the gap, as well as possible.


Arundhati Roy talks bluntly of judicial excess
Anupam Gupta
N deciding to confront authority, one must be ready for the counterattack — for therein lies the challenge,” India’s greatest poet, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote to Bengal’s greatest writer, Sarat Chandra, in February, 1927. “To lament the severity of the blow will only impair the value of one’s action.”


2,000 undress for photographer
ore than 2,000 people posed naked in downtown Montreal on Saturday for a U.S. artist staging a nude group photo shoot authorised by the local authorities.

  • A romantic novel by Saddam?

  • Women too can benefit from Viagra


Calcutta Riot cases




Poaching on States’ power

IT would appear that the Group of Ministers (GoM) which authored an elaborate paper on internal security, had landed from Mars only a few weeks back. Otherwise, it would not have raked up a heated controversy which has remained dormant for some years now. The GoM wants to vest the Centre with powers to rush paramilitary forces to any state without seeking its permission or without waiting for its request. At present it does not have this power, nor can it order a CBI inquiry into affairs that belong to the states. It is as it should be since law and order is the exclusive responsibility of the federated units. A detailed study of the report on security reveals a desire to amend at least four Articles of the Constitution to shift the present balance of power decisively in favour of the Centre in the name of strengthening internal security. The idea seems to be that emotionally upset or frustrated people or professional protesters will slink away at the sight of a uniformed man carrying a sophisticated rifle. A look back at Punjab or at the present upheaval in Kashmir and Assam should disabuse anybody’s mind of this fanciful notion. This is the same thinking which sees an ISI hand behind every unpleasant event. Reducing internal security to a simple police function runs the risk of becoming counter-productive. One wrong judgement by the paramilitary forces will needlessly aggravate the situation, and the Punjab and Kashmir experience proclaims that this is distinctly possible.

What is deeply disturbing is the suggestions to expand Art 352 to make it possible to impose emergency on a state in the name of containing militancy. Even as this idea was taking shape, it must have struck the GoM that all political parties and state will reject it. So the second part that political leaders will be consulted to build a consensus and the Inter-State Council will be requested to set up a small group to examine it and offer its opinion. Threat to security is more likely from the collapse of social cohesion and an insensitive government than a failure of the policing system. Over the years there have been two unhealthy developments. One, social cohesion has broken down along caste lines, forcing splinter groups to take to militant struggle. Two, excessive use of force by the state, mostly by the Centre, has not only sanctioned violent agitations but has also lowered the faith in uniformed men. But the main cause is the coarsening of the administrative sensibility and visible distrust in the common man. Good governance, which the present regime keeps chanting every other day, is the best way to maintain security rather than rushing assault rifles from the Centre. Come to think of it, all these thoughts are available in the full report on internal security. 


Back to SYL issue

A large jatha of Haryana farmers accompanied by women and children went to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, on Friday to seek the Akal Takht Jathedar's intervention "on humanitarian grounds" for the release of Punjab river waters in the controversial Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. This adds a new emotional dimension to the inter-state water dispute that has remained unresolved for years. The visit was organised by the Haryana chapter of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, which is known for its agitational approach to solving problems. This time, however, it has, like the Akalis, taken the religious path as the 500-strong Haryana jatha included a large number of Sikhs. As newspaper reports indicate, the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, who is away on a trip to the USA, is unlikely to involve himself in such an emotionally charged political issue. Nevertheless, the drought-hit farmers from the southern and western parts of Haryana did make a point: something needs to be done urgently to make drinking and irrigation water available to them. A few farmers have committed suicide after they failed to repay bank loans due to crop failure. The BKU leaders point out that about 31 lakh hectares in Haryana have become barren because of the stalemate over the SYL canal issue. Crores of rupees spent on canal bricklining have gone waste. Based on the concept of "kirat karo te wand chhako", the BKU memorandum, submitted to the Jathedar's personal secretary, seeks an Akal Takht direction to the Punjab Chief Minister to release Haryana's share of river waters.

However, Punjab's water experts are bound to challenge the BKU claims. The widely held Punjab view is that Haryana is already getting its share of Punjab river waters. If the Punjab Government agrees to the Haryana BKU's demand and releases Sutlej waters in the SYL canal, parts of the state will go barren. It is said Haryana is getting a lion's share of the Yamuna waters. This may explain why the Punjab chapter of the BKU did not join the Haryana farmers to plead their case at Harmandar Sahib. Given the nature of this dispute, other ways have to be found to meet the water needs of both states. Water-intensive crops like paddy will have to be replaced with others that make less demands on the water resources. The watertable in both Punjab and Haryana has gone down to an alarming level. Given the glut of foodgrains and problems of storage, it may not be an altogether bad idea to observe a "paddy-less year". Hitherto paddy-growers will have to be adequately compensated to cover the risk of shifting to cash crops. Or lands can be left uncultivated, as they do in the USA. Apart from the threat of cheaper agricultural produce imports, the rain gods too have let down farmers in many parts of the country. The Union Finance Minister has admitted that because of drought the targeted over 6 per cent GDP growth is unlikely to be achieved. There is likely to be a foodgrain shortfall of 12 million tonnes. The agriculture growth rate has fallen to less than one per cent. A silver lining in the dark cloud is that the monsoon will be normal this year, that is, if the weather pundits are proved right.


Fire in army ammunition depots
Regulations are brazenly flouted
Harwant Singh

Outbreak of fire in army ammunition depots with unerring regularity, has resulted in great financial loss to the state and caused apprehensions and misgivings in the public mind. What is the cause of these incidents? Is it sabotage, violation of safety norms or sheer negligence?

There was fire in the Jabalpur depot in 1988, Pulgaon depot in 1989, during 1991 and 1999 at forward ammunition dumps at Poonch and Kargil in that order, Bharatpur depot in 2000, in Badowal and Mamun this year and now at Birdhwal (Suratgarh). One factor common to most of these fires is the prevalence of very high ambient temperatures at the time of start of fire.

The forward dumps at Poonch and Kargil were within the range of Pak artillery guns but they were well concealed from observation from across the LoC and consequently escaped damage from Pak guns all these years. However, since the start of insurgency, terrorists equipped with radio sets or even cell phones, can, by locating themselves in nearby houses etc, could direct the fire of Pak guns and score direct hits. Once shelling became a regular feature at Kargil, the ammunition dump there should have been shifted to an area outside the gun range but the one at Poonch could not be relocated due to tactical compulsions.

Instructions for handling, care, maintenance, inspection, safe storage etc of ammunition (including missiles) at ammunition depots are laid down, most comprehensively, in the Magazine Regulations and miscellaneous instructions issued by army headquarters. It is invariably a case of non-compliance with these that results in fire at the depots. However, there are certain unavoidable aberrations and departures from these regulations, outside the control of depot staff, which are prevalent and continue to be cause for concern.

Invariably, every depot is holding ammunition (in terms of tonnage vis-a-vis space and staff) far in excess of what the Regulation lays down. Consequently, the parameters for spacing of ammunition stacks, their height etc cannot be adhered to. Nearly 60 per cent of ammunition is lying in the open; exposed to the elements, which vastly increases the fire risk in the first count and subsequent spread of fire on the second. This over stocking and restricted space also inhibits the making of proper fire lanes. Further, storage in the open reduces the life of the ammunition and results in nearly 6 to 8 per cent of the ammunition being downgraded as unserviceable every year.

Ammunition from Ordnance Factories is required to be inspected and passed fit by the DGQA (which is part of MoD — Defence Production) before dispatch. Often, this does not happen and ammunition consignments have to wait, at the depot end, for one to two years before DGQA is able to inspect and pass these fit for issue to the depots. The stocking of ammunition, which has not been inspected and passed fit, increases fire/accident risk in the depots. Depots also hold vast quantities of obsolete ammunition (both serviceable and unserviceable) of weapon systems gone out of service. Magazine Regulations require periodic turnover and inspection of ammunition to certify its serviceability; some numbers may be up for discard and some others may be in need of repair. Over time, the ban on filling vacancies against retirees has resulted in further shortage of staff and consequently turn over, inspection, repair and destruction of obsolete ammunition etc cannot be carried out as required. Destruction of ammunition is a slow and cumbersome process. Lack of space and shortage of staff adds to the problems, consequently obsolescence of ammunition is constantly overtaking the destruction of existing stocks of obsolete ammunition.

There are nearly 24 major base/advance ammunitions depots. In addition to these there are a large number of forward dumps where units’ first and second line along with formation reserves of ammunition are held. The depots were initially sited well away from populated areas. Due to ill planned growth and unauthorised construction, with the connivance of civil administration, these depots are now surrounded by all kinds of buildings. This infringement not only jeopardises the safety of those residing in these houses/buildings but also seriously infringes on the security and safety of the ammunition depots. While such constructions need to be demolished, all those civil officials in whose tenure of duty these came up must be hauled over coals.

While the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the removal of such illegal structures, within one mile of the Badhowal ammunition depot, the Punjab Chief Minister has requested the Defence Minister for the shifting of the depot itself! Taking cue from him, villagers in the immediate vicinity of Mamun are agitating for the removal of ammunition dump located in that cantonment.

Other than sabotage, there are three possible causes of fire at the ammunition depots. One, electric short circuit. Two, lighting of fire inside the depot or along the perimeter, even in the form of smoking which otherwise is strictly forbidden. Three, copper oxidation of certain types of ammunition along with high ambient temperatures and or improper handling which can lead to self-ignition. The conditions that result in the spread of fire are generally:-

  • Storage of ammunition in the open (outside proper bays) and improper spacing due to paucity of space.
  • Presence of dry grass/sarkanda within the depot and along the perimeter.
  • Absence of proper fire lanes within the depot and along the perimeter.
  • Inadequate fire fighting equipment and lack of training of fire fighting staff.

The non availability of adequate and modern fire fighting equipment is a serious drawback; consequently fire cannot be quickly brought under control. Most of the Fire Trailer Pumps (FTPs) are of First World War vintage, even there the shortages are huge. There are in all 26,000 fire fighting staff in the MoD. Only a small percentage is trained at the schools of instruction while the bulk of them have to make do with “on the job training”. Most of them are in the upper age group.

Depots are authorised to use tractors and dozers to clear grass and sarkanda but due to financial crunch and low budgeting and priority, this equipment has not been made available. Therefore, the cutting of dry grass and sarkanda has to be done manually. Earlier the villagers, under the strict watch of the depot security staff, were permitted to cut grass/sarkanda in a timely and regulated manner. Some years ago the department of Military Estates of the MoD seems to have discovered a new avenue to earn a little extra money for the Government of India (GoI) by auctioning the grass/sarkanda. Contractors take their own time and consequently dry grass/sarkanda continues to remain uncut for long periods. This arrangement also carries security risk. In the case of some depots, high tension wires pass close to the perimeter. All electric wiring within the depots are required to be of copper and encased in metal conduit pipes. Shortage of funds have resulted in the violation of this mandatory requirement. Nor is wiring periodically changed as per the regulations.

Where no foreign buyer of obsolete serviceable ammunition can be found, the same along with unserviceable ammunition is required to be destroyed at a suitable location within the depot premises. Paucity of space and staff has resulted in the piling up of this category of ammunition. Since obsolescence of ammunition is a regular and continuing occurrence, ideally separate depot(s) should be created specifically for this purpose.

The country can ill afford to lose scarce and costly ammunition/missiles (some of it is imported at great cost) and in addition, put the lives of citizens residing in nearby areas in jeopardy. Therefore, there is pressing need to:-

  • Allocate sufficient funds to place all ammunition in proper bays, as per the Magazine Regulations and other such instructions.
  • Provide the full range of fire fighting equipment and ensure proper training of fire fighting staff.
  • Provide machinery and plant so that fire lanes can be cleared and grass/sarkanda is removed well before it dries. Military Estates department should not be allowed to auction grass/sarkanda.
  • Rewire the depots as per the laid down specifications.
  • Remove obsolete ammunition to depots to be organised exclusively for the purpose where it can be destroyed expeditiously.
  • Ammunition issued by the Ordnance Factories should be inspected by the DGQA and only if passed fit, should it be dispatched to the depots.
  • Remove all unauthorised construction within one mile of the perimeter of ammunition depots.
  • Re-align high tension electric lines where they are laid in close proximity of depots.
  • Make up deficiencies in technical staff for periodic inspections and destruction of obsolete/unserviceable ammunition.

Sabotage cannot be completely ruled out, more so in these times, nor can the sabotage aspect be easily discerned after the fire has done its full damage. Quite a few clever techniques can be applied to start a fire within a depot or along its perimeter without arousing any suspicion. The possibility of an inside job cannot always be ruled out. There is a strong case to replace the civil staff and labour in the ammunition depots with ex-servicemen who remain under the Army Act, somewhat on the lines of DSS (Defence Security Staff). The need to enhance vigilance and security cannot be over emphasised.

Finally, inspecting officers must carefully examine the aspect of fire risk and that instructions as laid down in the Magazine Regulations etc, and within the capacity of the depot staff to follow, are complied with. Highlight the urgency to adopt those outside the scope of the depot commanders to implement and indicate the fire risk involved in the non-adoption of these. Any carelessness and noncompliance of instructions must be dealt with firmly.

The writer is a retired Lieut-General.


In praise of the middle
M. K. Agarwal

I have come across many pieces of writing in praise of such zany subjects as idleness, flattery, nepotism gluttony etc., but hardly any worth the name to espouse the grandeur, sweep and dignity of the “middle”. The present article is an attempt to fill the gap, as well as possible.

Reflection will show that the “middle” actuates and sustains a myriad human activity. Politician hugs middle-of-the-course policy so as to avoid all controversy. The market depends on the middleman, or the trader, to buy goods from the producer and sell them to the customer. So many transactions and business deals will come to naught but for the liaison and negotiating skills of the middleman. Most TV shows and films are produced to cater to the middlebrow i.e. people who like to enjoy light art and music, but who have no time for intellect. The middle path — neither indulgent nor ascetic — has spawned innumerable moral lessons and philosophical discourses.

Foreign investment pouring into the country, rest assured, is not out of philanthropy or love for India, but because of the potential size of its market, constituted by the great middle class. It is the middle class values — lack of high ambition, placidity of temperament, tolerance of the humdrum, security of job — that shore up the edifice of society. According to a wit, the middle class unit is the best guarantee of orderliness and peace in life, because the unit essentially means a moderately honest man with a moderately faithful wife, moderate drinking habits in a moderately healthy home. These units, one can easily imagine, hold no threat to the social order.

Further, the middle status of life has been universally considered as the best calculated for enjoyment of all the agreeable diversions and the least exposed to life’s disasters and vicissitudes of fortune, which afflict the upper and lower parts of mankind. History bears testimony, as much to the lamentations of kings at surfeit of pleasure, and uneasiness of being born to great things, as to the moans of the poor at sickness and starvation. Hearken the prayer of David Mallet: “O’ Grant me, Heaven, a middle state,/ I Neither too humble, nor too great; /More than enough for nature’s ends, /With something left to treat my friends”.

The happiest period of life is frequently regarded as the middle age. Contemplating the blessings of this age, T. Arnold muses that this is the period when the eager passions of youth have cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun. A couple’s love for each other is also the serenest and sense of companionship, the keenest, in middle age.

In the matter of female attire, the middle has a pre-eminent place. It is becoming fashionable to wear a dress, which shows the midriff tantalisingly. If a woman dons a maxi, she is called prudish and old-styled. A mini, on the other extreme, invites curious glaces and even censure. But a midi, reaching to mid-calf, passes as dignified and causes no ripples. Ladies of all ages embellish the middle of their forehead with a coloured dot/fleck (bindi) to enhance their beauty. Married Hindu women put a streak of vermilion in the middle parting of their hair to convey their marital status.

Nature, too, seems to pay tribute to the middle. The great cataclysm i.e. menopause, in women, comes in midlife. Midnight is that strange mystic watershed of time from which the streams of yesterday and today take their way. Midday is that blessed hour when the sun is at its zenith and shadows, which are so large in morning and evening, almost entirely disappear. Organs of love and procreation are all planted in the middle of human anatomy. That belly button in the middle of the stomach, is a lasting reminder of the umbilical cord; it is also the centre of body mass.

Significance of the middle is further evident from other phenomenon and facts of life. A visit to a place of pilgrimage or historical interest cannot be complete and fully rewarding without a cleric, panda, or guide, who “middles” between you and the deity or the monument. In a lecture room or assembly hall, the front rows are too close to the stage for comfort, while the back ones are too far from the podium for good view and are also always in a state of commotion. But, the middle rows are ideal — you can not only enjoy the presentation, but also indulge yourself i.e. yawn, dose, guffaw, blackslap the neighbour, hold the beloved’s hand, come late or rise early. ‘Middle’ also sets the limit or borderline of decency and fair play: any remark or kick below the middle is viewed as particularly uncharitable and hurtful. Nobody — priest, thief, orator, or lover — likes to be disturbed in the middle of his act. A person’s middle is a good barometer of fitness and grace — a bulge of the middle may herald disorder and disease, or announce the on-set of age; it is certainly enough to ruin feminine figure.

Lastly, as middle article in a newspaper, by definition, is of literary or general rather than topical interest, fun and delight of a writer, too, lie in finding a place in the “middle”. Hence, this piece!


Arundhati Roy talks bluntly of judicial excess
Anupam Gupta

“IN deciding to confront authority, one must be ready for the counterattack — for therein lies the challenge,” India’s greatest poet, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote to Bengal’s greatest writer, Sarat Chandra, in February, 1927. “To lament the severity of the blow will only impair the value of one’s action.”

First published by the Visva-Bharati Patrika in 1949, and re-published by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson in 1997 in their “Selected letters of Rabindranath Tagore” brought out by Cambridge University Press, Tagore’s letter to Sarat Chandra, setting out his reaction to the British ban on Sarat’s novel “Pather Dabi”, is one of the profoundest statements ever made of the writer’s moral obligation to stand by his or her words.

And has a direct bearing on the challenge recently thrown by Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy, to the Supreme Court of India in reply to the court’s contempt notice arising out of a protest demonstration organised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in December, 2000.

“I have finished reading your Pather Dabi,” Tagore told Sarat. “The book is certainly inflammatory. In other words it aims to incite the minds of its readers against British rule. This is not necessarily a black mark against its author, because if a writer feels British rule to be reprehensible, he cannot remain silent. But he must accept that there are penalties for not remaining silent. There is no manliness in the idea that however much we may vilify the British rulers, they will always forgive us.”

“If we taunt the foreign rulers (Tagore continued) while relying on their tolerance rather than our inner strength, we make a mockery of manliness — acts of this kind signify respect for them and not self-respect. They are physically powerful, and if we are to stand up to them honorably, on our own side we need strength of character, which means the strength to endure blows.”

“Looked at from the point of view of those in power,” said Tagore, and mark the withering sarcasm of his words, “the suppression of your book without punishing you personally is almost like a pardon.”

“So should our pens then be stilled?” he asked. “I do not say that they should be — only that we should put pen to paper with due recognition of the likely penalties.”

Three quarters of a century after the sage of Shantiniketan wrote these words, a stirring testament to literary defiance, a young and unfazed Arundhati Roy stood at the bar of the Supreme Court on April 23 and defended herself with a courage of conviction unparalleled in the history of contempt jurisprudence. A history studded with unbecoming retractions and craven apologies.

Hauled up by the court, alongwith NBA leader Medha Patkar and counsel Prashant Bhushan, at the instance of some practising lawyers for demonstrating outside its premises in protest against its verdict in the Narmada dam case, Roy spoke up manfully as Tagore would have liked all writers to.

“As a writer I wish to state as emphatically as I can,” she said in her affidavit in reply to the contempt notice, “that this is a dangerous trend. If the court uses the Contempt of Court law, and allows citizens to abuse its process to intimidate and harass writers, it will have the chilling effect of interfering with a writer’s imagination and the creative act itself.”

“This fear of harassment (she said) will create a situation in which even before a writer puts pen to paper, she will have to anticipate what the court might think of her work. It will induce a sort of enforced, fearful self-censorship. It would be bad for law, worse for literature and sad for the world of art and beauty.”

This anticipatory contempt — if one may be permitted to coin the expression a la anticipatory bail — this fear of contempt resulting in self-censorship, and in a culture of complaisance disguised as compliance, is perhaps the worst consequence of a law that has been described (by the US Supreme Court) as the “Proteus of the legal world”.

Like Proteus, a sea-god of Greek mythology capable of assuming different forms at will, “contempt of court” is, in the ultimate analysis, a concept as variable as the sensibilities of the Bench which happens to be seized of the matter.

But Roy developed in her affidavit a broader, and even more fundamental, critique of the Supreme Court’s sensibilities.

“(W)hoever they are, and whatever their motives,” she submitted, “for the petitioners to attempt to misuse the Contempt of Court Act and the good offices of the Supreme Court to stifle criticism and stamp out dissent, strikes at the very roots of the notion of democracy.”

In recent months, she pointed out, the Supreme Court had issued judgements on several major public issues: the closure of polluting industries in Delhi, the conversion of public transport buses from diesel to CNG, and the construction of the Sardar Sarovar (or Narmada) dam.

All these judgements, she said, have had far-reaching and often unanticipated impact. They have materially affected, for better or for worse, the lives and livelihoods of millions of Indian citizens.

“Whatever the justice or injustice of these judgements (said Roy), whatever their finer legal points, for the court to become intolerant of criticism or expressions of dissent would mark the beginning of the end of democracy.”

And went on to make in the very next paragraph — perhaps the most important paragraph in her seven-page affidavit — a statement that has, not unoften, been made in this column though in a far gentler way.

“An activist judiciary (observed Roy), that intervenes in public matters to provide a corrective to a corrupt, dysfunctional executive, surely has to be more, not less accountable.”

Whatever view the court might ultimately take of Roy’s reply as a whole — the proceedings now stand adjourned to August, with the Bench having voiced its displeasure prima facie at the tone of defiance adopted by all the three contemners in their respective affidavits — is there any answer to this submission?

How can the court couple, or correlate, a shrinkage in judicial accountability with its expanding jurisdiction in ever-new areas of public life?

“If the judiciary removes itself from public scrutiny and accountability,” Roy continued, “and severs its links with the society that it was set up to serve in the first place, it would mean that yet another pillar of Indian democracy will crumble. A judicial dictatorship is as fearsome a prospect as a military dictatorship or any other form of totalitarian rule.”

Just three days after Arundhati Roy appeared before the Supreme Court, the High Court in the nation’s capital, taking umbrage at the publication in Madhu Trehan’s new fortnightly “Wah India” of a lawyers’ opinion poll about Judges, issued an order that brought the Indian judiciary for the first time within arm’s reach of a judicial dictatorship.

Aimed at helping the Judges “to learn what lawyers who appear before them every day, think of them” — of their integrity, their understanding of the law, their courtroom behaviour and the quality of their judgements — the fortnightly carried the results of the opinion poll in terms of marks notched up under different heads and published against the name and photograph of each of the 32 Judges of the High Court.

Staggered by the audacity of it all, a Division Bench of the High Court summoned Madhu Trehan and four others connected with the publication for contempt of court.

Accompanying the contempt notices were some interim directions so extraordinary that they have been described by one learned commentator, special correspondent V. Venkatesan of the Frontline magazine, as “bizarre”.

A direction to the Deputy Commissioner (Crime), Delhi Police, to seize and confiscate all copies of “Wah India” from shops, news-stands or any other place where they were being sold.

And a direction to the contemnors to withdraw from circulation all copies of the issue in question.

And a further direction that no one shall publish an article similar to the one published in “Wah India”, nor any article, news, letter (to the editor) or any other material that tended to lower the authority, dignity and prestige of members of the judiciary.

And a still further direction to the media not to publish the proceedings of the case (just initiated against “Wah India”) in any manner.

All in one composite, consolidated order handed down on April 26.

It is a matter of research, and difficult research at that, if an order so drastic and sweeping has ever been passed earlier by any High Court in purported exercise of its contempt jurisdiction. And that too at the very first hearing and much before the contemnors had a chance to appear before the High Court and explain their position!

Fortunately for all concerned, the “dispute” was “patched up” less than a week later on May 2 after six leading media personalities — Shekhar Gupta, Dilip Padgaonkar, Vinod Mehta, Shobhna Bhartiya, Ashwini Chopra and Kuldip Nayar — intervened to challenge the order gagging the media.

The gag order was withdrawn, Madhu Trehan apologised, and the High Court reserved judgement, giving a sudden quietus to the matter.

All is well that ends well, of course, even though the complete facts leading to the “patch up” on May 2 will never perhaps be known.

But if what all the High Court had ordered on April 26 was or is valid in law, Arundhati Roy’s apprehensions about judicial dictatorship are fully justified.

“In conclusion,” wrote Arundhati Roy in her affidavit before the Supreme Court, “I wish to reaffirm that as a writer I have the right to state my opinions and beliefs. As a free citizen of India I have the right to be part of any peaceful dharna, demonstration or protest march. I have the right to criticise any judgement of any court that I believe to be unjust. I have the right to make common cause with those I agree with. I hope that each time I exercise these rights, I will not be dragged to court on false charges and forced to explain my actions.”

As one who had, in this very column, publicly supported the Supreme Court’s Narmada dam judgement, I deem it my duty now to publicly affirm Arundhati Roy’s right to criticise it even if the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, thinks otherwise.


2,000 undress for photographer

More than 2,000 people posed naked in downtown Montreal on Saturday for a U.S. artist staging a nude group photo shoot authorised by the local authorities.

New York-based Spencer Tunick, who specialises in taking shots of nude crowds in urban centres, had expected no more than 300 people to answer his call for volunteers for photographs that will be featured next month at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Arts.

“This was the easiest performance of this scale that I have done,” an ecstatic Tunick told a large group of reporters outside the city’s Place des Arts, where the unclothed participants lay on the ground to be photographed in cool, 55-degree F (13 C) weather.

The 50-minute session was supervised by the police, who set up a security perimeter to keep curious, clothed bystanders at a distance.

Tunick said he had had problems with a recent nude photo shoot in New York, which, he said, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had described as indecent.

“Here people just listened, they cared about my work and wanted to be a part of something original.”

Tunick, (34) has conducted similar group photo sessions in cities such as San Francisco, London and Jerusalem and displayed his works around the world.

“I use the body as a shape. It’s using the body as an art object, not a sex object,” he said. Reuters

A romantic novel by Saddam?

CIA agents are studying a romantic novel thought to have been written by Saddam Hussein. It claims that it is studying the boddice-ripper to try and get inside the mind of the Iraqi leader.

Experts have compared Saddam’s writing with Winston Churchill’s landscape painting, Mao Tse Tung’s poetry and Bill Clinton’s sax-playing.

The CIA spotted an article in the Al-Sharq al-Awsat identifying Saddam as the author of Zabibah Wal Malik (Zabibah And The King), an allegorical love story.

After months of study, agents think Hussein probably did not write it on his own, but carefully supervised its production and filled it with his own words and ideas. The book tells of the close relationship between a mighty king (Saddam) and a beautiful villager named Zabibah, (Iraq’s people).

Experts have compared events in the book to Iraq’s recent history, and think the king’s words are really those of Saddam.

Zabibah is shown on the cover in a flowing one-shoulder blue satin gown, her long brown tresses blowing in the breeze. The king says: “I’m a great leader. You must obey me. Not only that, you must love me.”

Zabibah replies: “The people need strict measures so that they can feel protected by this strictness.”

In the book Zabibah is raped — an obvious reference to the US invasion of Iraq. She is eventually killed in battle — on January 17, the same day as the US-led coalition began bombing Baghdad. Reuters

Women too can benefit from Viagra

Viagra, the anti-impotence drug that has improved the sex lives of men, also works for women, Italian sexologists reported on Sunday.

Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy who tested the tiny blue pills, known generically as sildenafil, found they helped women get aroused too. “Our results demonstrate that sildenafil may directly improve female arousal disorder and thus other sexual qualitative functions such as enjoyment and orgasm,” Professor Salvatore Caruso said in a report in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The researchers said the pills, made by Pfizer, may also play an indirect role in sexual enjoyment by increasing the frequency of fantasies and intercourse. In the first study on the use of Viagra on women with sexual arousal disorder, Caruso and his colleagues tested the pills on 51 women between the ages of 22-38. The women were randomly selected to receive Viagra in 25 mg or 50 mg doses or a placebo over three four-week periods with a week interruption between each.

Each month the women rated their arousal, orgasms, enjoyment and sexual fantasies on a five-point scale.

The Italian scientists said arousal scores of the women taking Viagra rose from 1.5 to 4.2 on both drug doses. But the placebo group only achieved a 2.6 grade.

Enjoyment scores, intercourse frequency and sexual fantasies all rose in the Viagra group. The results provided evidence that “sildenafil affects women in a way similar to that found in men with erectile dysfunction”, the researchers said. Reuters


Calcutta Riot cases

Several cases arising out of the Calcutta riots were disposed of today by the Additional Presidency Magistrate. Five Hindus charged with looting a shop were discharged. A durwan employed under McLeod and Co and another upcountry man, charged with forming an unlawful assembly, were acquitted for want of sufficient incriminating evidence.

Several witnesses were examined in the case in which a Durwan employed under Rao Bahadur Rangolal Jaguria, MLA was charged with rashly and negligently firing a gun.

The Magistrate altered the charge to one under section 66, under clause 11 of the Calcutta Police Act, wantonly discharging a gun and adjourned the hearing.

An upcountry Hindu was sentenced to two weeks' rigorous imprisonment for possessing property looted during the riots.



When you think you are a body you are apart from the universe; When you think you are a soul you are a spark from the Great Eternal Fire; When you think you are the Atman (Self) you are all.


Strength is in goodness, in purity.


The Universe is - objectified God.


You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.


The root of evil is in the illusion that we are bodies. This, if any, is the Original Sin.


One party says, thought is caused by matter, and the other says matter is caused by thought. Both statements are wrong; matter and thought are coexistent. There is a third something of which both matter and thought are products.


As particles of matter combine in space, so mind-waves combine in time.


To define God is — grinding the already ground; for he is the only Being we know.


Religion is the idea which is raising the brute unto man, and man unto God.


External nature is only internal nature writ large.


This world is a great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.

—From the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. V.


“Sayings and Utterances”.

Poetry is wisdom that enchants the heart.

Wisdom is poetry that sings in the mind.

If we could enchant man’s heart and at the same time sing in his mind, Then in truth he would live in the shadow of God.


We often sing lullabies to our children that we ourselves may sleep.


All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.

— Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |