Friday, December 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India




E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

It is election time
P
UNJAB will elect a new government or retain the old one on February 13. Conventional wisdom says the Akalis will have a tough time performing as well as they did five years ago in alliance with the BJP. For one thing, the BJP is not what it was and the central leadership has lost much of its charisma. The big brother, the Akalis Dal, has split and slipped in popularity chart both because of misgovernance and natural disasters. Procurement woes too have added to their problems.

“Non-resident” Chief Minister
T
HERE is a sea of difference between what you earn and what you get on a platter. One can have a clear idea of the two by studying the case of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. His illustrious father, Sheikh Abdullah, had worked hard to attain the enviable stature of Sher-e-Kashmir. The late revered leader was a man of the masses and remained with them through thick and thin. But the case of his son is exactly the opposite of this.



EARLIER ARTICLES

Politics of war cry
December 27, 2001
Border flashpoint
December 26, 2001
Foreign builders are coming
December 25, 2001
Tasks before Karzai regime
December 24, 2001
Time to plug loopholes in security apparatus
December 23, 2001
Naqli poll funding
December 22, 2001
Of Pak-linked terrorism
December 21, 2001
Unity wins the day
December 20, 2001
Hot pursuit put on hold
December 19, 2001
Restraint is the word
December 18, 2001
Time for total unity
December 17, 2001

National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

FRANKLY SPEAKING

Hari Jaisingh
Overcoming paralysis of will
A strong India geopolitical necessity
A
S the year comes to an end, it will be worthwhile to critically examine how the country has conducted itself while tackling the myriad problems which have been with us for years. There are a number of disquieting trends in the polity which call for a bold initiative. Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee's government is not the only one to blame for the mess we are in. Most problems have got accumulated because of the reluctance or inability of the leaders to take hard decisions.

MIDDLE

The book of life
N. S. Tasneem
R
EADING of books is at once an escape from and an attachment to life. It is an escape because the person who is always engrossed in books loses immediate contact with life. Books should be read with a view to supplementing the reading of the book of one’s life. Otherwise the very purpose of reading books is defeated. One discovers life’s many-coloured dome through the prism of books. The true lover of books is creatively engaged in the process of separating the wheat from the chaff. His mind takes the form of an internet that opens out new vistas of information and knowledge.

COMMENTARY

SAARC & S. Asia dispensation
M. S. N. Menon
T
HE SAARC summit may take place, or it may not. But it is time to turn out focus on it. South Asia is the poorest of all regions of the world according to the World Bank. About 40 per cent of the people live below the poverty line, half of its people are illiterate, there is population explosion and women’s lot is one of the worst. Worse, the steady over-crowding of its cities, growing pollution and the general degradation of environment.

America’s ‘evergreen’ love affair with gun
A
MERICA'S “evergreen” love affair with the gun has intensified as arms and ammunition sales across the country have risen sharply since September 11. Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), surveys by firearms associations and anecdotal evidence from storefront gun shops and distributors reveal a jump in weapons sales after the first jarring images of the terrorist attacks, says a New York Times report.

TRENDS & POINTERS

Children’s heart-breaking games in Gaza
T
HE children play “martyr,” a game where they pretend they have died fighting the Israelis. It is part of a phenomenon raising fears among child experts that a generation in the Palestinian territories has suffered serious psychological damage from the 15-month Palestinian uprising.

  • UN director wasted $ 76,000
  • Candy cane maker feeds US sweet tooth

A CENTURY OF NOBELS

1962, Physiology or Medicine: WATSON, CRICK & WILKINS

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS



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It is election time

PUNJAB will elect a new government or retain the old one on February 13. Conventional wisdom says the Akalis will have a tough time performing as well as they did five years ago in alliance with the BJP. For one thing, the BJP is not what it was and the central leadership has lost much of its charisma. The big brother, the Akalis Dal, has split and slipped in popularity chart both because of misgovernance and natural disasters. Procurement woes too have added to their problems. The worst misfortune is the thigh bone fracture of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the most energetic campaigner and vote-getter for the party. This is a formidable combination of negative factors and it will be illusory to think that these will not affect the voting pattern. The Congress hopes to ride on these minus aspects or what poll watchers describe as the incumbency factor. It is also divided but in the old party tradition it will share the seats to mutual satisfaction, the leaders will campaign in their own political turf and avoid crossing each other’s path even once. As is the case with all national parties, the election of the new legislature party leader, in effect the Chief Minister, will be done by the high command in New Delhi, thus minimising the importance of factional leaders. At the moment Mr Amarinder Singh enjoys a great advantage and that should prove to be the deciding factor. Back to the Akalis, it would have been better if all groups merged or at least came to an understanding to fight the election. Ego clashes stand in the way and the largely urban-based BJP cannot make up the disadvantage. Mr Omprakash Chautala faces a mini, mini challenge in Yamunanagar but it is only a pinprick.

Beyond this region attention will be focused on the UP and Uttaranchal polls. As in Punjab, the considered opinion is that the ruling BJP will lose in UP and in the hill state. The last minute change of guard in the two states may not persuade the electorate to get over the feelings of administrative insensitivity. The banning of SIMI and POTO have failed to ignite a Hindu hysteria and a quick war with Pakistan ending in a semblance of victory may help but that is a far cry, to go by the Chief Election Commissioner. The breaking up of the reservation quota for the OBCs has not helped create a pro-BJP wave. What is more, there are vague signals that the Samajwadi Party of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Congress may enter into an indirect alliance and film star Amitabh Bachchan may canvass for the former. Uttaranchal has now 70 constituencies, up from 22 it inherited when it was carved out of UP. The hill people are alienated from the ruling party and those from the plains are not very happy. Two other parliamentary seats evoke interest. In Guna the Congress may nominate Jyotiraditya, son of Madhavrao Scindia, thus acknowledging the family tree principle. In Mirazpur (UP) Munni Devi, sister of Phoolan Devi, is the legitimate aspirant and if Mr Mulayam Singh gives her the nod, Phoolan Devi will live even after her death.

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“Non-resident” Chief Minister

THERE is a sea of difference between what you earn and what you get on a platter. One can have a clear idea of the two by studying the case of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. His illustrious father, Sheikh Abdullah, had worked hard to attain the enviable stature of Sher-e-Kashmir. The late revered leader was a man of the masses and remained with them through thick and thin. But the case of his son is exactly the opposite of this. Dr Farooq Abdullah has never been serious about playing the role which came his way. He inherited the leadership of the National Conference and, therefore, the Chief Ministership of Jammu and Kashmir without being interested in politics, a profession very demanding in nature. He has shown his non-seriousness bordering on disinterestedness in the problems of the masses whenever the state has faced a crisis situation. Take his latest conduct for example. He should have been in the midst of the people of Jammu and Kashmir instead of vacationing in London when war clouds are hovering over the horizon, and there is migration of people from the border areas. Reports say that the situation is grim enough to remind the old-timers of the days of Partition. In such critical circumstances the masses naturally look to their leaders to come to their rescue. But the people of this border state are doubly unlucky. Whenever there is tension in the air and Indo-Pakistan relations reach breaking point with signs of armed conflict, they have to bear the brunt, something unavoidable. Their problems demand that the state administration should start working overtime. But this is not possible when the head of the state government is nowhere to be seen. Thus it is not surprising if along with the Chief Minister the Kashmir Divisional Commissioner and other senior officials have abandoned their responsibilities by remaining away from the valley.

Dr Farooq Abdullah is expected to be in Srinagar today because he has been asked by Prime Minister Vajpayee to put in his presence immediately, though the Chief Minister was unwilling to cut short his vacation planned to continue till the first week of the New Year. However, this is not the first time Dr Abdullah has exhibited his utter unconcern for the goings-on in J&K, or lack of seriousness in matters relating to the strategically significant state. When the country was preparing to defend its viewpoint on the Kashmir question during the failed Indo-Pakistan Agra summit, the J&K Chief Minister was the least interested in what was happening in New Delhi. He was busy attending social gatherings in London! During the worst days of militancy also he had preferred to leave his people in the lurch, enjoying life in the cool climes of the British capital. Can the country afford this questionable behaviour of Dr Abdullah in matters of governance? The time has come for taking a hard look before any serious damage is done to the interests of the state and the country by the style of functioning of a “non-resident” Chief Minister.

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FRANKLY SPEAKING

Overcoming paralysis of will
A strong India geopolitical necessity
Hari Jaisingh

AS the year comes to an end, it will be worthwhile to critically examine how the country has conducted itself while tackling the myriad problems which have been with us for years. There are a number of disquieting trends in the polity which call for a bold initiative.

Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee's government is not the only one to blame for the mess we are in. Most problems have got accumulated because of the reluctance or inability of the leaders to take hard decisions. In the country's sprawling and flourishing political bazaar they specialise in marketing sugar-coated promises and brave words instead of acting calmly but wisely. Why can't they learn to think coolly before making public declarations?

Most Indian leaders talk too much and that too mostly at cross purposes. A close look at their pronouncements during the past one year will show them as paper tigers with one difference — they roar but do not know how to bite!

No nation can establish credibility on the basis of rhetoric. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes and others have unnecessarily been bragging without backing it with action. Is there any need for such public show of empty vessels making noises?

A nation is respected for its actions and not its words. We know that there are certain constraints and compulsions which do not permit the leadership either to indulge in hot pursuit or destroy the terrorist training camps across the Line of Control as the USA did in Afghanistan. Such action has to be well-calculated and well-prepared. Thundering words alone cannot produce results.

In any case, better sense has prevailed and it seems the challenge from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism will now be met in a phased manner. But then every action has to be swift and decisive.

India is surely not a failed state. All the same, it carries symptoms of becoming one. The problem here is one of a paralysis of will and inability to view things dispassionately in an integrated manner and in a larger national perspective.

Provocations from Pakistan have been grave. The attack on Parliament on December 13 and earlier on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly were nothing but an outrageous proxy war against India's democracy and its value system. But then the leadership's response was selective and inhibited. Fortunately, the public mood forced the opposition parties like the Congress and the CPM to change their tones which ultimately enabled the Vajpayee government to reflect a unity of purpose and strength.

We are capable of giving Pakistan a bloody blow at the time of our choosing. But in the absence of political will, we are not sure of what is in the nation's interest. We get caught in too many petty interests and pressure games of different groups.

Indeed, the country, in the process, has been caught in a trap of its own making. What worries me is the unwillingness of the leadership to get out of this trap. Perhaps, it provides a ready excuse for inaction. Maybe, this suits our political leadership, more so the Opposition.

The main problem here is of diverse interests and petty calculations of various political leaders. Politicians do not think beyond their narrow angularities based on vote bank interests. In this setting the national constituency has shrunk. It is now both small and weak. No wonder, the national will gets defused and moves in different directions — giving the impression as if the country is in a state of paralysis. Politically, virtually everything is on the boil. There are numerous areas of conflicts: some mild and others grave. The dimension of the decay is actually a sad pointer to the crisis of leadership. We have too many small-time and small-minded leaders who lack a national vision.

Like India, America, too, is a multi-ethnic society. But the people there are, first of all, Americans. It is their country's interests which get top priority. And it is widely acknowledged that the land has given them a prosperous and happy life.

In America, the President is the supreme representative of the people. The people listen to him. If he says Osama bin Laden is an enemy, then Laden is seen as the enemy by all Americans. This was the case with America's stand on communism, against Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and China. There were, of course, dissenting voices in the cases of Korean and Vietnam wars. But, then, those were wrong executive decisions.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same of India's leaders and its people. India's ability tends to be divisive and its opinion equally divisive. There is no sense of outrage if someone betrays the country.

India adopted the Westminster model of government, hoping that the people were the same all over the world. But they are not. There is nothing like a universal model of democracy. Which is why there is nothing in our practice which resembles even remotely the Westminster model.

It is the failure of the national parties to protect regional, religious and other interests which led to the growth of smaller parties. They have broken away from the national parties. Smaller parties promote only sectarian interests. To them, the interest of the nation comes last of all.

The Westminster model calls for a two-party system. It is assumed that each party will protect the interests of minority groups. It has worked reasonably well in the West. This explains why the Mexicans in America have not thought of forming a party of their own. But things are different in India as far as politics is concerned.

Today, we have reached the end of the political alley. We have nowhere to go. We have no consensus even on the need for reforming the political system. In the circumstances, the paralysis is natural.

It is common sense that a state should arm itself with a law against its enemies both within and without. But what can be done if the entire Opposition is against such a law? The fate of POTO (Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance) is the latest example in this context.

Take, for example, the much-talked-about electoral reforms. We know for certain that without electoral reforms, no real change is possible. Still, there is no eagerness on the part of political leaders to get on with this job. The existing system favours entrenched groups and they have no desire to change it.

In fact, vested interests in different areas seem to be dictating practically every segment of national life. It is the money and muscle power which controls everything. And our Parliament and parliamentarians have not been able to curb these evil tendencies.

The point I wish to make is that we have landed ourselves in a state of total paralysis. That is the reason why we often seem to be incapable of taking action. We saw this paralysis when Parliament was attacked recently. That was the occasion we could have given a better account of ourselves as a united people.

Whose fault is this? We spoke in 100 different voices on inaction. But does anybody care? Unfortunately, a career in politics today has become quite lucrative. That is why it attracts the worst possible elements.

Criminalisation of politics and politicisation of the state machinery have only made matters worse. This is not a happy situation. The problem is too glaring to be overlooked. We have to face stark realities of our national life and take the required correctives on a priority basis.

Can Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee do it? He has the ability to see things in a wider perspective but he does not know how to assert himself in the nation's interest. As the head of a joint political family, he should be able to inspire the members' confidence and respect to prevent them from going astray. He should be able to impart new ideas and values and fulfil the common man's hopes and aspirations.

The people expect him to guide the nation's destiny with firmness, tact and a clear sense of direction and elan.

A major challenge facing the polity is how to match rational political consciousness with the increasing complexities of national, subcontinental and global realities. A strong India is a geopolitical necessity.
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The book of life
N. S. Tasneem

READING of books is at once an escape from and an attachment to life. It is an escape because the person who is always engrossed in books loses immediate contact with life. Books should be read with a view to supplementing the reading of the book of one’s life. Otherwise the very purpose of reading books is defeated. One discovers life’s many-coloured dome through the prism of books. The true lover of books is creatively engaged in the process of separating the wheat from the chaff. His mind takes the form of an internet that opens out new vistas of information and knowledge.

Books enkindle imagination and satisfy curiosity. An inquisitive mind absorbs the wisdom of the earth as sand absorbs the early showers of rain. Nothing goes waste as everything is preserved in the reservoir of the mind. Knowledge ultimately leads an individual to the path that converges on the meadows of wisdom. The books are not merely the stepping stones to the cherished goal. They are in fact like fireflies that abound in a valley to dispel the darkness of ignorance prevailing there. Ultimately there appears a glow that radiates both the heart and the soul.

Francis Bacon has said laconically: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” John Milton is of the view: “A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” The American novelist Herman Melville has expressed his opinion in his famous novel, Moby Dick, that — “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme”. To cap it all, Old Testament mentions — “Of making many books, there is no end.” So the process of producing books is endless. But the discerning reader finds out the kernel by breaking open the outer hard shell. Else, it is like the releasing of fragrance encased in the covers of a hard-bound book.

William Shakespeare says: “Present mirth has present laughter.” In the case of books too, it is not hereafter. A good book should be read without losing time. It should not be kept on the shelf indefinitely for future reading. On the shelf, the book becomes a part of one’s forgetfulness. At least it loses its charm when read after a long time. True, the old classics and the scriptures never get outdated. But in the case of the books, concerned with the urgent topics of the day and the pressing problems of life, prompt attention is warranted.

Some years ago I posed a question to the members of a Rotary Club: “Is there anything more beautiful than a good book?” No one answered and I still stand by that question. The beauty of a book lies in its appeal to the mind and in its timelessness. The book that creates in a person sublime feelings and he finds himself transported to an enchanted island serves its purpose. There he will meet Sirens to fascinate him and the Cyclops to frighten him. These are the two aspects that weave the warp and weft of human existence. Fascination is frightening whereas fear is fascinating. In the corridors of man’s imagination exist strange creatures that correspond with the real life individuals. The episodes are merely illustrative of the working of the minds of such characters.

The timelessness of books has an edge over all other considerations. A thing of beauty, as John Keats avers, is a joy forever. Indeed, the joy that books provide is perennial. It is somewhere in the heart that it finds itself ensconced. When one returns to a book again and again, it certainly deserves a high pedestal in the world of thoughtful minds. Such a book is an eternal link between the past and the present. Ultimately, this link is further extended as it finds itself connected with the forthcoming products of the creative minds. It is the aesthetics of the creative process that determines the meaningfulness and purposefulness of human existence.

In the present-day world, dazzled by sight and sound, it is high time to return to the sanctuary of books. The magic of words can never lose its charm, yet still its importance need not be relegated to a secondary position. A written sentence is an idea solidified into an elegant pattern or it is the snowflakes taking the shape of a crystal. It is a flame that moves forward imperceptibly to enkindle other numerous flames on the way. A good book is a flower, still folded in its pristine glory, that blossoms in the loving and caring hands. It neither wilts nor withers away at any stage; rather it blooms all the more all the time.

Indeed, we have to read a large number of books so as to know at the personal level as to what is contained in the book of life.

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SAARC & S. Asia dispensation
M. S. N. Menon

THE SAARC summit may take place, or it may not. But it is time to turn out focus on it. South Asia is the poorest of all regions of the world according to the World Bank. About 40 per cent of the people live below the poverty line, half of its people are illiterate, there is population explosion and women’s lot is one of the worst. Worse, the steady over-crowding of its cities, growing pollution and the general degradation of environment.

Who is to be blamed for this? In one word, the politicians. And their demented politics.

South Asia is potentially one of the richest regions. Its people are among the most skilled. It has huge resources which remain untapped. How is one to explain this criminal neglect? There is, again, only one explanation: South Asia is mired in political conflicts. No one has made an assessment of the cost of this conflict, nor has anyone made an assessment of the opportunities missed.

The report of the Group of Eminent Persons, “Looking at SAARC Beyond year 2000” paints a grim picture. But it is interesting for the suggestions it makes. There is realism too, for it says that one must go ahead according to circumstances. That is, if cooperation is not possible among all the seven, then sub-groups must be formed to carry on the work.

The year 2000 has been set to make the SAARC region a “free trade area”, but little has been achieved so far. Even SAPTA has made little progress. Realisation of SAPTA is essential to achieve a South Asian community and, eventually, a South Asian Economic Union. But to make it a success in every way, there is need to build up several other supporting institutions. For example, a South Asian Monetary Union, a common South Asian currency and a South Asian clearing union.

It is time to give up the regional approach to development, for I cannot see how the India-Pak conflict can be resolved in the foreseeable future. It was wrong on the part of SAARC members to have allowed Pakistan to block the progress of SAARC. We should go for a sub-regional approach. For example, a sub-regional group of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the North-East of India. A similar group should be formed of Sri Lanka, Maldives and South India. And a third group can be formed of North-West India, Pakistan and Afghanistan (if Afghanistan wants to join SAARC).

As India’s dominance is what the small countries fear, India should have a low profile in all these sub-groups. It should only provide a supportive role and not seem to be leading them.

India should, however, concentrate its attention on macro-development, which will benefit the entire region and all countries. For example, the development of energy, technology, particularly bio-technology, marine and sea-bed resources, human resources and tourism. In all these India, as an already developed country, can play a major role, in cooperation with the international community.

South Asia is rich in energy resources. In fact, the potential is enormous. Bangladesh and Pakistan are rich in natural gas and Nepal and Bhutan have huge hydropower and water resources. Yet, the region is short of power almost everywhere. Again, a case of human failure.

There is only one way to overcome this problem. And that is to learn from the experience of the European Union. As long as the EU Parliament was weak, decisions were difficult to take. But once the EU Parliament is made supreme, it was easy to take decisions. And, what is more, the EU Parliament gives greater emphasis to economics. I think we have to learn something here. It is time to set up a South Asian Business Council with some statutory authority for planning and management of South Asian economy.

I believe that the countries of the region must take up the least controversial projects for the development of cooperation. For example, tourism. Better coordination among tourist authorities, joint development of sites and uniform rates will go a long way to attract a larger flow of tourists. It is a matter of shame that South Asia can attract only about two million tourists, while one country — Thailand — can attract six million!

A common energy programme will be a great boon to the entire SAARC region and must be high up on its priorities.

As for intra-regional trade, it is still only 3 per cent of the total trade of the region. I see some real problem here. Even tariff reduction has not made any significant difference. Perhaps trade linkages are strong, which is why the SAARC countries are unable to break off their present linkages.

Be that as it may, if SAARC meets as scheduled, its principal focus will be on terrorism. Of the seven countries, three are worst victims of terrorism. They are India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

This concern for terrorism is reflected in the November 1987 SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, which was ratified and came into effect on August 23, 1988. Under the provisions, member states are expected to extradite or prosecute terrorists. The idea is: no SAARC state should be a safe haven to terrorists.

More than a decade has passed. Terrorism has grown in South Asia to an intolerable level and the SAARC states have distinguished themselves for the breach of the convention rather than its implementation.

The world community is up in arms against this new scourge of mankind. With UN involvement, one should expect terrorism to be stamped out in the coming years. Perhaps the prospects of SAARC will be bright once terrorism is eliminated.

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America’s ‘evergreen’ love affair with gun

AMERICA'S “evergreen” love affair with the gun has intensified as arms and ammunition sales across the country have risen sharply since September 11.

Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), surveys by firearms associations and anecdotal evidence from storefront gun shops and distributors reveal a jump in weapons sales after the first jarring images of the terrorist attacks, says a New York Times report.

The rise was anywhere from 9 per cent to nearly 22 per cent during September, October and November, say FBI statistics on background checks for purchases. The total peaked in October, at 1,029,691.

Those in the gun industry say a variety of firearms have been purchased, from high-priced handguns small enough to fit inside a purse to shotguns and assault rifles.

And there has been a steady stream of serious-minded first-time buyers.

“September 11, like other catastrophes, makes people want to protect themselves and their families against the enemy, who, in this case, is hard to identify”, said James Alan Fox, Lipman Professor of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in Boston.

“People may say, ‘Let Tom Ridge (in charge of Homeland Security) watch out for our shores’. I’ll watch out for my doors”, he remarked.

To many in and out of law enforcement, such a proliferation of weapons is unsettling, even as many new gun owners argue that their right to bear arms is worth exercising to gain a feeling of personal security. IANS

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Children’s heart-breaking games in Gaza

THE children play “martyr,” a game where they pretend they have died fighting the Israelis. It is part of a phenomenon raising fears among child experts that a generation in the Palestinian territories has suffered serious psychological damage from the 15-month Palestinian uprising.

On a Gaza City street, Nada, aged seven, and her friends unfolded a Palestinian flag on the ground and quarrelled over who will wear the mantle of the martyr. “Me, I will be the martyr today. You were yesterday and since I am the youngest, then it is my turn since I am the one who will die,” said Fayez, six. Nada reserved herself the role of the martyr’s mother. She held her head in her hands and howled in sadness, while her friends mounted Fayez on their shoulders for the mock funeral procession.

They shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest) and “Let the Martyr pass” as they brandished plastic Kalashnikovs in their make-believe funeral procession.

The Gaza Strip buried seven teenagers for real in just 48 hours last week after clashes between police and Islamic radicals in the Jabaliya refugee camp, north of Gaza City. Their deaths came on top of more than 850 Palestinians killed since September, 2000 in Israeli-Palestinian violence. AFP

UN director wasted $ 76,000

The controversial director of the UN Drug Control Programme wasted $ 76,000 in UN funds and mismanaged a dubious programme involving a 90-year-old wooden sailboat, the UN watchdog agency reported. But the Office of Internal Oversight Services concluded that allegations of misconduct against Pino Arlacchi “are not supported by the evidence”.

In June, the watchdog agency criticised the management of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, which Arlacchi heads. But it didn’t make public its findings on allegations of fraud and misconduct at the Vienna, Austria-based UN agency.

Arlacchi characterised the shortcomings identified in yesterday’s report as “administrative mistakes” and disagreed that they represented “mismanagement” or a “waste of resources,” the watchdog agency said.

The report issued yesterday details Arlacchi’s dealings with a sailboat captain he met in August 1999 in the Canary Islands and his decision to spend UN funds to draw up plans for the captain to take a solo round-the-world voyage to raise awareness of the UN programme’s anti-drug activities — against his staff’s recommendation.

But Arlacchi said he did not consider that resources were wasted because the money was spent studying the feasibility of the project —and such preliminary projects do not always lead to a main project being conducted, according to the report. AP

Candy cane maker feeds US sweet tooth

If a sweet tooth has you reaching for a candy cane during the holidays, there is a good chance the object of your cravings came from southern Georgia.

Bobs Candies, a family-run candymaker based in Albany, Georgia, has churned out 525 million of the crooked sugary treats, or about 30 to 35 per cent of US candy cane production.

To accomplish all that, the family business requires a hefty dose of high technology and a sharp focus on fast-changing US trade rules and global sugar market trends.

Indeed, some might say that to remain viable in the highly competitive market — where individually wrapped candy canes sell for just pennies apiece — requires a Scrooge-like attention to detail.

Candy canes date back 400 years to Germany, but the technology used by Bobs borrows from the space programme and high-tech automation. Reuters

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A CENTURY OF NOBELS



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War is an unmitigated evil.

— Mahatma Gandhi, Non violence in Peace & War

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All the Gods are dead except the God of war.

— Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice

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The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war.

— Erasmus, Adagia

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There never was a good war or a bad peace.

— Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Josiah Quincy, September 11, 1773

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Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.

— John F. Kennedy, Address to UN General Assembly, September 25, 1961

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War makes the victor stupid and the vanquished revengeful.

— Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human

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They make a desert and call it peace.

— Tacitus, Agricola

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Of war, men ask the outcome not the cause.

— Seneca, Hercules Furens Vice foments war.

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War exists because man is in conflict. The root of war is within; on the outside you see only the branches and foliage of it.

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Unless... we give man a totally new programme of living and being, we can go on talking about peace but we will go on preparing for war.

— Osho, Won’t you join the Dance

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War is cruelty and you cannot refine it.

— William T. Sherman, Memoirs, V.I

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There are nine types of punya or good actions.

Anna Punya or the virtue of serving a hungry man

Pana Punya or the virtue of quenching the thirst of a person

Vastra Punya or the virtue of giving clothes to the needy ones

Layana punya or the virtue of providing residential accommodation

Shayana Punya, or the virtue of supplying beds

Mana Punya or the virtue of controlling one’s mind

Sharira Punya or the virtue of controlling one’s body

Vachana Punya or the virtue of controlling one’s speech.

Namaskara Punya or the virtue of bowing down to an ascetic.

— The Jaina Canon
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