September 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India
Misuse of veto
Emerging threat to Pak nationhood
Rags to riches: story of a man from Shaheedan DELHI
Misuse of veto
THE American veto on the Security Council resolution asking Israel to desist from causing any physical harm to the elected Palestinian leader, Mr Yasser Arafat, or deporting him from his headquarters in Ramallah shows that the US administration cannot reconcile itself to the international opinion on Israel. This is not because the US considers itself the saviour of the Jewish state. The problem is that no American President can afford to ignore the powerful Jewish lobbies there, more so when presidential elections are just a year away. The veto can, therefore, be interpreted as an act aimed at taking care of these pressure groups, which are not happy with the US opposition to the Israeli Security Cabinet's decision to "remove" Mr Arafat from the scene for his suspected role in suicide bombings. But there is the fear that the Ariel Sharon government may read in the US balancing tactics Washington's undeclared approval of Israel's dangerous plan. Going by Israel's past record, one can believe that it will not bother about the sentiments of a majority of the Security Council members who have supported the resolution, vetoed by the US on grounds of its failure to explicitly condemn the Palestinian terrorist outfits.
But those following the developments in West Asia know that Mr Arafat was never hated so much by the US administration. President George W. Bush has accepted the Israeli argument that Mr Arafat is the most difficult roadblock in the way of implementation of the "road-map for peace". That is why Mr Arafat was sidestepped during the peace negotiations after he accepted Mr Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian Prime Minister (now replaced by Mr Ahmed Qureia). The only difference between the US stand and that of Israel on Mr Arafat is that Washington does not consider him a terrorist as Tel Aviv does.
In any case, the US should not forget that it has certain global responsibilities as the sole surviving super power. It should not behave like Israel on the sensitive Palestinian issue. It should force Israel to abandon its move against Mr Arafat in the interest of the rule of law. Any blatantly pro-Israeli action of the US will not only weaken its position as the principal facilitator of peace but also fuel the Arab anger against it. This will jeopardise the cause of keeping the world free from terrorism. Neither the US nor the rest of the global community can afford it.
WHILE medical experts continue to quibble over the nature of the mystery fever which has spread panic in Himachal Pradesh, the death toll has been steadily mounting. The number of confirmed deaths is 10 whereas it is feared that many more may have succumbed in little-known places. Timely response to this menace is, unfortunately, lagging. A team from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), which was scheduled to visit Shimla last week, could reach only this week. It remains to be seen how quickly it identifies the disease and suggests an antidote. The baffling disease has been stalking the state for the past several years. Tests conducted by the NICD last year had proved inconclusive. Earlier, the patients were thought to be suffering from infectious mononucleosis, a viral disease, but these reports were found to be negative.
Does that mean that the disease which causes high fever and organ failure is so mysterious that there is no known cure for it? Most doctors do not agree. In fact, a doctor from Solan says it is not mysterious at all. It is typhus and he had been treating patients successfully for many years through broad-spectrum antibiotics. The head of the medicine department of the Indira Gandhi Medical College at Shimla also confirms that the symptoms of the mystery fever match those of typhus. He says he has communicated this information to the NICD and has even questioned them as to why they had not tested the blood samples for the typhus fever for the last two years. NICD authorities, in turn. claim that it is not possible for them to test hundreds of fever cases.
The truth is that tests are not only complicated but also expensive. Most laboratories are not even equipped to handle them. Since most patients belong to the lower strata of society, their plight has not evoked suitable reaction. Till the experts submit their conclusions, there is no harm in giving a try to medicines which have already proved effective. What is more or less established is that the disease normally breaks out during the monsoon months. It is believed that the infection is carried by vectors like lice, mite and rat flea. The first line of defence against it will be personal hygiene. Those who still contract it can only hope that the reputed laboratories now engaged in identifying the disease will complete their work with no further loss of time.
MADONNA will end up with a broken heart if she were to read the devastating review of the first of a series of five children's books penned by her. The book critic of San Francisco Chronicle with her tongue firmly in the cheek described it as "a million copies of overblown, empty stories". Madonna fans need not get over-excited by the criticism for two reasons. One, the Material Girl's fame rests not on her foray into writing books for children, but her bare-devilry on stage as a pop diva, a disco diva, a makeup diva, a design diva. Two, she did find time for writing, but it is doubtful whether she will show the same enthusiasm for reading what others says about her story-telling technique. She herself has been the subject of umpteen juicy stories, particularly the ones in which she "steamed up" with her junior clone Britney Spears. Britney learned the art of shedding and shredding inhibition from the star who turned the bare minimum into a wholesome fashion statement.
The stories about her read better than the ones by her. The critics will be wasting their breath if they hope to catch her eyes through their comments on her new avatar as a fully-clad responsible mom of two daughters out to do her good deed - at last! - for the kids of less privileged mothers. They are welcome to tear every single page of The English Roses by Madonna to smithereens. But they will neither cause spiritual nor mental hurt to her. Why? Because, like some present-day successful writers, she doesn't read. She could not have been fibbing when she told an interviewer that she had not heard about or read Enid Blyton whose "Famous Five" stories, among others, have raised at least three generations of English-speaking children across the globe.
With a first print order of one million copies, simultaneously released in 30 languages and 100 countries, the book is supposed to keep the cash registers ringing. It was not meant to be read. The book is a modern-day publishing heist - a non-violent means of making the gullible part with their cash for a 46-page book of material inanities. Good luck to Madonna and the publishers. If they ever visit India, they should be conferred the Natwarlal award for picking $20 a book from the pockets of seemingly grateful readers!
Emerging threat to Pak nationhood
SINCE independence provincial nationalism has been seen as a great threat to Pakistani nationhood. The separation of Bangladesh only added to the threat. Over the years the establishment has used a combination of bribes, blandishments, blackmail and brute force against provincial and ethnic nationalist groups in the smaller provinces — Baluchistan, the NWFP and Sindh. And yet provincial and ethnic nationalism continues to remain an important force in Pakistan’s politics.
The last elections were seen as a great setback to the nationalist forces in Pakistan’s smaller provinces. In the NWFP the Awami National Party has been practically wiped out by the religious alliance, the MMA. In Baluchistan, the MMA has swept the Pashtun belt and worsted the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party while in the Baluch belt the Baluch nationalists have suffered losses to both the MMA and the General’s party, the PML (Q). In urban Sindh — Karachi and Hyderabad — the Mohajir party, the MQM, has lost seats and votes to the MMA.
In Sindh, where Sindhi nationalists have never been much of an electoral force, the nationalist vote generally went to the PPP. But this time even the PPP was unable to repeat its past performance and pro-establishment parties caused many upsets. The election results were, therefore, believed to have broken the back of the nationalist forces. But the opposite has happened and the setback in the elections has made the nationalists sink their differences and close their ranks in order to once again become more relevant.
Interestingly, the losses suffered by many of the nationalists are not so much because provincial and ethnic nationalism has lost favour with the people but more because the MMA articulated the anti-establishment sentiments of the people far more eloquently than the nationalists. According to journalists who are well-versed with the politics of Karachi, the MQM’s deal with General Musharraf has lost the party a great deal of support from its cadres. These people say that the hardcore MQM supporter is basically anti-establishment and has not been happy with the cosy arrangement that the party has struck with the military regime. This is the real reason why the traditional MQM voter either did not vote or voted for the MMA candidates in Karachi. The small victory margins of the MQM candidates corroborate this analysis.
MQM leaders accept that their victory margins have come down drastically but offer lame excuses to explain the reasons. The undeniable fact, however, is that the MQM has made peace with the establishment. It is, of course, still unclear whether the establishment has also made peace with the MQM or is just using the MQM for short-term political purposes. Some MQM leaders believe that there is an element within the establishment that still views the party with great suspicion and is doing whatever it can to discredit the party. They point to the resurgence of violence in Karachi and say that this is being done by some “agencies” who want to tarnish the image of the MQM ministers and build up a future case against the party.
While the MQM is treading the path of making peace with the establishment, other nationalist groups are moving the other way. Here the most interesting case is that of the Pashtun nationalists. They are trying to recover lost ground after their electoral debacle. But they face an uphill battle. An important reason for this is that the Pashtun nationalists’ political strategy is all wrong. The Pashtuns at least in the NWFP have thrown in their lot with the Pakistani state and no longer harbour a sense of discrimination in a Punjab-dominated Pakistan. They have been accommodated in the power structure and have come to the conclusion that they stand to gain far more as part of the system than if they fight against the system. The mistake being made by Pashtun nationalists is that they are trying to regroup by once again raising the same old slogans of discrimination and injustice which no longer have the resonance they did in the past.
The real issue before most Pashtuns is the situation inside Afghanistan and on this question Pashtun nationalists have not been able to take the sort of unambiguous and unequivocal position that the MMA took. The Pashtun anti-establishment sentiment is really against the support lent by the Musharraf regime to the American war against the Pashtun Taliban and the innocent Pashtuns. Moreover, the operations by the security forces inside the NWFP and tribal areas and the growing presence of the FBI and the arrests made by it have also been rankling with the Pashtuns. The MMA exploited this issue to the hilt and on which the nationalists have suffered the maximum. Nevertheless, the fact that the Pashtun nationalists are regrouping is significant, though how effectively they can challenge the growing strength of the MMA remains to be seen. They still have their pockets of support but will find it very difficult to regain the lost ground, especially in the NWFP.
The one province where provincial nationalism is most worrying for Pakistan is Baluchistan. In fact, it is probably in the Pashtun belt of Baluchistan that Pashtun nationalism based on discrimination and injustice could still become a rallying cry. But more troubling is the restiveness among the Baluch people which the Baluch nationalists could harvest. According to an important Baluch leader, the nationalist movement is gaining support among the Baluch masses. He accepted that the Baluch nationalist movement had suffered in recent years but insisted that it was making a comeback. He listed three important factors for this. First, personality clashes and splits in the movement; second, lack of resources; and third, hostility of the establishment. He said the weakening of the nationalists went in favour of the MMA, which also received tacit support of the establishment.
But he insisted that the province is seething with resentment and the mood is turning very ugly among both the Baluch and the Pashtuns in the province. He spoke about the big leaders closing ranks and said that very soon Baluch nationalism would acquire a stridency that was never witnessed in the past. He said the Baluch are being forced to pick up the gun once again.
The way the international situation, particularly in Afghanistan and Iran, is turning out, the Baluch nationalists might well be able to take on the Pakistani state more effectively this time round. The last time they went on the warpath they found no international support. Today they think things might turn out
HAVING put in 20 years of service in the Army I landed up at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the rank of Lieut-Colonel as Deputy Military Secretary to President Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy.
The time was flying fast and one hardly realised that one complete year had gone by Giani Zail Singh was sworn in as President.
Things changed drastically in Rashtrapati Bhavan with the grandchildren of Gianiji dashing across verandahs on their tricycles in front of the President’s study and inside the ADCs office. It took us quite some time and many raised eyebrows before we could restore some semblance of decorum, of course with the help of Gianiji’s daughter and the official hostess.
One fine morning six people — apparently old pals of the President — came to meet him. As they were ushered into the study; there were loud noises of hail-fellow-well-met kind emanating from the study. They took twice the amount of time scheduled for this meeting and left. In the evening I was to accompany the President to Hotel Siddharth where he was to grace a marriage function.
As I was sitting in my office waiting to leave for the hotel Mrs Kiran Bedi, who was then officer-in-charge, traffic, Delhi, walked in. She requested me if we could help her by giving her long enough advance notice of the President’s outings in Delhi to enable her to ensure a safe passage. I promised her timely information of such visits, which were mostly impromptu, and begged her to be excused as I was to accompany the President to Hotel Siddharth that very moment. She was shocked beyond belief as she did not know about it. Asking me to delay the departure as much as possible; she rushed back to her office at Teen Murti Marg.
We left for Hotel Siddharth 15 minutes late. As soon as we were out of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President asked me the venue of the marriage function. I had hardly finished the word Siddharth when Gianiji let go Oh Balle Balle Balle Balle Balle raising the pitch gradually as the words were uttered. I am being dead honest when I say that I have never heard Balle Balle being repeated for such a long time.
He ordered us to proceed at breakneck speed as the place was far off and he had to return to Rashtrapati Bhavan to be in time for dinner with his friends who had met him in the morning. It was now my turn to get shocked.
The President had apparently forgotten to mention to anyone that he had invited his six friends to dinner that evening. As the visitors had also left without mentioning anything about the dinner to the ADC on duty, nobody knew about the dinner except the President himself.
There were no mobile phones then, and we were in a tearing hurry to reach the hotel not to join the marriage function, but to grab the nearest telephone at the earliest. Since the President had decided to spend not more than five minutes at the hotel, we had to get through to Rashtrapati Bhavan to pass suitable instructions to all concerned for the Presidential dinner that very evening even if that meant delaying the boss for as long as the conveying of instructions took us.
In Rashtrapati Bhavan, the entire staff was in a spin. One ADC was busy finding the telephone numbers of the invitees and ringing them up to request them to come over for dinner despite the formal invitation cards not having reached them. By the time the invitees could be contacted, some of them had already had their dinner. All of them were requested to make for the dinner as early as possible even if they had had their meals. They were also requested not to mention this to the President.
On our return as we entered the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Gianiji decided to go straight to Ashoka Hall and wait for his guests there. All our efforts failed to persuade him to go to his suite or to his study and relax their till the guests arrived. Making the President wait for an hour or more for his guests to arrive was ridiculous, to say the least. Ultimately, Gianiji’s daughter, a doctor, was requested to come to our rescue. After a lot of effort and coaxing she could persuade the President to wait for his guests in his own suite as there were ADCs present to receive them.
That night the Presidential dinner went off extremely well as the friends were meeting after a long time and that too to celebrate Gianiji’s elevation to the highest office of the country. Nobody was actually in any hurry to order the dinner laid. I do not think Gianiji ever came to know about the
Rags to riches: story of a man from Shaheedan
HE is a frail 86 years old man. But he stands erect and holds his head high. He is refusing to give in to the corrupt system in India because he had got used to the American system. He has lived in the US for the past 37 years. From a mere farm labourer he rose to own 7,000 acres in California. He and his two sons are the largest pistachios growers, individually, in the world. Besides, they are the biggest blueberry growers in California. His yearly income is above US $20 million.
Meet Lajpat Rai Munger, who was born and brought up in Nangal Shaheedan village in Hoshiarpur. He did his schooling from Bajwara and joined the police in 1938 as a constable. He was then a follower of Swami Sarvanand Gir, who imparted him moral teachings. “One day, as a Head Constable, I compromised in a murder case with the guilty. But the incident kept haunting me and I could not be at peace with myself. Finally, I went to my ‘guruji’ and confessed. He was dismayed and scolded me. He then baptised me with a ‘mantra’. Later, my being upright caused discomfort to my senior colleagues. In frustration, I resigned in 1954. And 12 years later, I left for the USA”.
Back in Hoshiarpur, he began building Swami Sarvanand Gir Institute of Information Technology (SSGI of IT) spread over 11 acres at Bajwara, 5 km from Hoshiarpur, in 1999. In less than two years, he completed a huge administration block, 24 classrooms, nine separate rooms for the faculty members, a double-storeyed library, an auditorium, 10 fully equipped laboratories, got 32 computers installed, besides having a hardware lab and a physics lab. Two hostels for 240 boys and girls. He also built quarters for gardeners, electricians, carpenters, plumbers and security guards. He also ensured that the play grounds for football, hockey, volleyball, basketball, tennis and badminton were provided. The institute cost him Rs 16 crore.
Then Lajpat Rai Munger built a hospital and a temple in the name of his ‘guru’. At this hospital, patients are provided quality medicare at a cost of Re 1 only. Everyday, the hospital receives on an average 200 patients. The monthly expenditure of the hospital runs into nearly Rs 1 lakh.
SSGI of IT got affiliation with Punjab Technical University (PTU) for the course of BCA-Bachelor of Computer Application. However, the AICTE refused approval for two courses of MCA and MBA, insisting on a fixed deposit of Rs 25 lakh for each course though its representative had inspected the ‘A’ category infrastructure. “ I had only Rs 25 lakh. My sons transferred Rs 50 lakh. I picked up the bank statement and appeared before the AICTE for the second hearing. To my horror they said ‘this money has come after the date of the application, hence it cannot be accepted’. So they gave the approval to only MCA”, he says.
PTU was not far behind. Despite SSGI of IT having the approval for the MCA course, no student was sent to this institution by the university, which holds counselling for all such institutions in the state. While 62 students are doing their BCA from SSGI of IT, the institute has a capacity for imparting IT education to 800 students.
Lajpat Rai Munger went to the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging discrimination. The court ordered PTU to make an equitable and judicious distribution of students to various institutions at the time of counselling.
Meanwhile, Lajpat Rai Munger applied for collaboration to the California State University, Fresno, USA with his SSGI of IT. He had to pay US $ 31.5 lakh. This collaboration enables the students of this institute to study for two years in Hoshiarpur and complete the rest of the education in Fresno. The first batch left for the USA in July 2003 and the second batch is scheduled to leave in December, 2003. California State University conferred on him the honorary degree of “Doctor of Humane Letters” on May 17, 2003.
Lajpat Rai Munger is all set to build a law college and a homoeopathy college on the campus. “I am also applying to the AICTE for a approving a computer engineering course at this institute”. He has bought 22 more acres for the institute. “And now, the AICTE has reduced the condition for an institute to have at least 25 acres to 10 acres. Although, I will not benefit, other institutions will have relief”, he says without any malice.
MUCH as Defence Minister George Fernandes is trying hard that minister without portfolio and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee gets a portfolio of her choice, the Railways is out of the question. Despite inner party wrangles in the Samata between George and Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, the latter is not going to be moved out of the Rail Bhavan. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is clear that with the general election barely a year away, Nitish can be the only foil to RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar. George’s anti-Congressism is supported by Mamata. Now that she has an open invitation to visit Advani’s residence, a portfolio of her choice barring Railways does not seem far away.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is clear that with the general election barely a year away, Nitish can be the only foil to RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar. George’s anti-Congressism is supported by Mamata. Now that she has an open invitation to visit Advani’s residence, a portfolio of her choice barring Railways does not seem far away.
Dara Singh pips
Milkha to RS Cine star Dara Singh has pipped Flying Sikh Milkha Singh in the race for a Rajya Sabha seat. The suggestion that Milkha Singh be considered because of his achievement on the track set the BJP thinking. It thought of an equally good sportsperson match in wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh, whose exploits in the “akhara” are no less impressive. Further, Dara Singh is from the ranks of the BJP and his support in the House of the Elders for the Vajpayee government is assured. That could not be said about Milkha Singh, who is known to speak his mind in unambiguous terms.
Cine star Dara Singh has pipped Flying Sikh Milkha Singh in the race for a Rajya Sabha seat. The suggestion that Milkha Singh be considered because of his achievement on the track set the BJP thinking. It thought of an equally good sportsperson match in wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh, whose exploits in the “akhara” are no less impressive. Further, Dara Singh is from the ranks of the BJP and his support in the House of the Elders for the Vajpayee government is assured. That could not be said about Milkha Singh, who is known to speak his mind in unambiguous terms.
The Third Front With a former Prime Minister keen on laying the ground for forming the Third Front, it has been generally agreed that Chandra Shekhar should be its leader. A reluctant and ailing Vishwanath Pratap Singh appears to have given his nod to the proposal after some reservation. The irrepressible Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy has been in the vanguard of this effort even though it is in an embrionic stage. At the same time most of the former Prime Ministers believe that the emergence of a third force at this juncture appears highly unlikely unless there is a people’s movement as was evidenced in 1977.
With a former Prime Minister keen on laying the ground for forming the Third Front, it has been generally agreed that Chandra Shekhar should be its leader. A reluctant and ailing Vishwanath Pratap Singh appears to have given his nod to the proposal after some reservation. The irrepressible Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy has been in the vanguard of this effort even though it is in an embrionic stage. At the same time most of the former Prime Ministers believe that the emergence of a third force at this juncture appears highly unlikely unless there is a people’s movement as was evidenced in 1977.
American Sikhs The Sikh population in the US has grown to about 500,000 from 1,500 in the 1950s. The Sikh community has displayed courage and resourcefulness in a foreign land, notes researcher Bruce La Brack of the University of the Pacific, Stockton. La Brack observes he did not know any other group that had such inauspicious beginnings and went on to do so well economically, socially and politically. Every South Asian heritage includes the history of the pioneer Punjabis who began arriving in California from Punjab a century ago. The Sikhs are an extraordinarily resilient community and are in 60 countries worldwide. For the first 50 years, Sikhs and other South Asians were severely restricted in their choices of occupation, marriage partners, freedom to travel abroad, land ownership and mainstream political participation but they reacted with remarkable endeavour and ingenuity.
The Sikh population in the US has grown to about 500,000 from 1,500 in the 1950s. The Sikh community has displayed courage and resourcefulness in a foreign land, notes researcher Bruce La Brack of the University of the Pacific, Stockton. La Brack observes he did not know any other group that had such inauspicious beginnings and went on to do so well economically, socially and politically. Every South Asian heritage includes the history of the pioneer Punjabis who began arriving in California from Punjab a century ago. The Sikhs are an extraordinarily resilient community and are in 60 countries worldwide. For the first 50 years, Sikhs and other South Asians were severely restricted in their choices of occupation, marriage partners, freedom to travel abroad, land ownership and mainstream political participation but they reacted with remarkable endeavour and ingenuity.
DGPs’ meet The Directors General of Police and the chiefs of central police organisations will assemble in Delhi for a four-day conference from November 5. Senior IPS officers who have attended such annual jamboorees regret that this conclave has turned out to be a ritual and failed to contribute to the modernisation of the police force. Nearly 300 top cops in the country meet, present papers, eat and disburse after a high tea with the President. There has hardly been any major changes in the lectures or the presentation made at the meeting except the Naxalite menace and the problem of militancy. However, this time the head of the BSF, Mr Ajay Raj Sharma, is being extend a special honour. Contributed by T.R. Ramachandran and Satish Misra
The Directors General of Police and the chiefs of central police organisations will assemble in Delhi for a four-day conference from November 5. Senior IPS officers who have attended such annual jamboorees regret that this conclave has turned out to be a ritual and failed to contribute to the modernisation of the police force. Nearly 300 top cops in the country meet, present papers, eat and disburse after a high tea with the President. There has hardly been any major changes in the lectures or the presentation made at the meeting except the Naxalite menace and the problem of militancy. However, this time the head of the BSF, Mr Ajay Raj Sharma, is being extend a special honour.
Contributed by T.R. Ramachandran and Satish Misra
Let wisdom be your mother, contentment your father and truth your only brother. Let modesty and intuition be your parents-in-law, and good deeds your wife. — Guru Nanak I claim to represent all the cultures, for my religion, whatever it may be called, demands the fulfilment of all the cultures. — Mahatma Gandhi Act upon your impulses but pray that they may be directed by God. — E. Tennent A false modesty is the meanest species of pride. — Gibbon If we cannot live so as to be happy, let us at least live so as to deserve it. — Fitche
— Guru Nanak
I claim to represent all the cultures, for my religion, whatever it may be called, demands the fulfilment of all the cultures.
— Mahatma Gandhi
Act upon your impulses but pray that they may be directed by God.
— E. Tennent
A false modesty is the meanest species of pride.
If we cannot live so as to be happy, let us at least live so as to deserve it.
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