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EDITORIALS

Unrest in Baluchistan
Musharraf should tackle its problems
W
hat is happening in Baluchistan is much more than what was experienced by the Shias in Gilgit and Baltistan recently, forcing India to lodge its protest against the large-scale human rights violations there. In the name of punishing the people behind a rocket attack near the venue where Gen Pervez Musharraf was to address a public meeting a few days ago, the Pakistan Army has unleashed an orgy of violence against its own people.

SAFTA’s potential
South Asian free trade has many benefits

T
he Union Cabinet’s approval for the implementing the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, in time for the January 1, 2006, deadline, is indicative of New Delhi’s commitment to freer trade in the region. Given the variations in size and strength between the seven-member economies, SAFTA allows for a differential and progressively freer regime.






EARLIER STORIES

Need for a policy for the displaced people
January 1, 2005
Whither BJP
December 31, 2005
Island of discord
December 30, 2005
Stinging sleaze
December 29, 2005
No Maya this
December 28, 2005
Election funding
December 27, 2005
Darkness at dawn
December 26, 2005
We, they and the
idea of India

December 25, 2005
Good riddance
December 24, 2005
Now, punish
December 23, 2005
Let truth triumph
December 22, 2005
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Ram vs Lakshman
Vajpayee takes a bow
T
he Ramayana is forever being rewritten and adapted to the times. In the latest adaptation as unravelled by none other than poet-orator Atal Bihari Vajpayee—at the BJP’s silver jubilee rally in Mumbai’s Shivaji—Ram Rajya entails the likelihood of Lakshman Raj. And, for good measure, Lakshman Rekha may be obliterated to draw the line against Ram.
ARTICLE

Sins of the clergy
Priests tend to cling to the past
by Pushpa M. Bhargava
I
T is a cliché that man has today all the means to destroy all of his species through weapons of mass destruction possessed by many countries led by the US. There is no country that can be trusted not to use them; in fact, the larger the stock of the WMDs, the greater is the illusory arrogance of power and, therefore, greater the chances of the country using them.

MIDDLE

Death be not proud
by A.J. Philip
T
HE story of an aged couple organising their own “bhog” at Baurhai Kalan near Mandi Ahmedgarh caused shock and revulsion among those who read it. But no such sentiments were evoked when my own maternal grandfather did the same over three decades ago.

OPED

You are being watched
New system for Automatic Number Plate Recognition
by Steve Connor
B
RITAIN is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the road are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least for at least two years.

Gender budgeting to help women
by V.P. Prabhakar
T
HE Government has announced its intention to gradually introduce the concept of “gender budgeting” in line with the basic principles of governance to which the Central Government is committed under the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), which includes the empowerment of women.

Chatterati
Silver linings for the BJP
by Devi Cherian
T
HE high profile silver jubilee meet of the BJP in Mumbai was an eye opener for many. Pramod Mahajan’s efforts were such that he has become Laxman to Advani’s Ram, according to Vajpayee. Now is that good or bad, nobody knows. Raj Nath Singh is BJP’s next generation chief. From the Hindu belt of Uttar Pradesh, this Rajput speaks fluent Hindi and is a quiet, grass roots worker. He may not be as savvy as Arun Jaitley or Pramod Mahajan but he is one who knows the field worker and not just the cocktail circuit.

  • Music that speaks

  • Nayee awaaz


From the pages of



 REFLECTIONS

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EDITORIALS

Unrest in Baluchistan
Musharraf should tackle its problems

What is happening in Baluchistan is much more than what was experienced by the Shias in Gilgit and Baltistan recently, forcing India to lodge its protest against the large-scale human rights violations there. In the name of punishing the people behind a rocket attack near the venue where Gen Pervez Musharraf was to address a public meeting a few days ago, the Pakistan Army has unleashed an orgy of violence against its own people. Their crime: they have been protesting “too much” against the denial of their share of the development cake! The unrest in this resource-rich province of Pakistan is becoming uncontrollable because of widespread unemployment among the Baloch youth.

India is feeling greatly concerned about the growing disturbances in Baluchistan because the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline will pass through the areas which are at the receiving end from the Pakistani Army. The affected areas have served as a haven for those belonging to the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups having links with the terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir. Any show of force is unlikely to help, though the Pakistan Army has been using helicopter gun-ships and jet fighters to silence a people who basically want greater employment avenues. They are fighting for greater representation of the Baloch in development projects like Gwadar port.

General Musharraf, who has described India’s comments on the situation as “unwarranted”, should remember the saying that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others. If he uses every available opportunity to poke his nose into the affairs in Jammu and Kashmir —- where people are otherwise free to express their grievances like those in the rest of the country —- he should not expect India to keep quiet on what is happening in Baluchistan. In any case, India has every right to feel concerned about the unrest in its immediate neighbourhood; more so because the developments in Baluchistan may affect the climate in the entire region. Instead of indulging in blame-game, he should concentrate on removing the grievances of the Baloch, who hate the Pakistan Army because they consider it as the most visible symbol of their exploitation.
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SAFTA’s potential
South Asian free trade has many benefits

The Union Cabinet’s approval for the implementing the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, in time for the January 1, 2006, deadline, is indicative of New Delhi’s commitment to freer trade in the region. Given the variations in size and strength between the seven-member economies, SAFTA allows for a differential and progressively freer regime. India, in effect, will offer relatively unhindered access to its markets for Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal, the poorest SAARC members, while different “sensitive lists” on goods and services would be prepared for Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The poorer countries will also have a longer time in which to reduce duties.

SAFTA’s success, of course, depends on more than Indian commitment. Sri Lanka already has a successful free trade agreement with India since 2000, and has asked for more time to ratify Safta. It has cited transition problems with the taking over of a new government, but is known to have some reservations on the agreement itself. Pakistan too, has continued to debate SAFTA’s benefits and disadvantages, especially vis-ŕ-vis India, its main concern; much will thus depend on how Pakistan advances on its commitments. Apart from ratification of the agreement, the creation of sensitive lists, formulation of rules of origin, and a revenue loss compensation mechanism will have to be decided on by all member-countries.

Pakistan has indicated that it intends to treat the current import list from India, which includes some 700-odd items, separately from SAFTA. This would not be legally permissible, and a tiff with India over this would undermine the regime. Businesses in Pakistan are also divided over SAFTA. It is political equations, however, which will ultimately determine SAFTA’s fate. Regional trade agreements have grown many-fold over the last few years, in contrast to the difficulties faced by the WTO regime. Trade between the SAARC nations constitutes a measly 5 per cent of member countries’ total trade. Trade within member-countries of ASEAN and the EU, in contrast, account for over two-thirds. The region stands to benefit immensely from SAFTA, and members should pull out all stops to ensure its success.

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Ram vs Lakshman
Vajpayee takes a bow

The Ramayana is forever being rewritten and adapted to the times. In the latest adaptation as unravelled by none other than poet-orator Atal Bihari Vajpayee—at the BJP’s silver jubilee rally in Mumbai’s Shivaji—Ram Rajya entails the likelihood of Lakshman Raj. And, for good measure, Lakshman Rekha may be obliterated to draw the line against Ram. Yet this is not about the convolution of mythology, but about the involution of the epic entity’s evolving stature in the BJP. Simply put, it means that Chanakya Vajpayee has anointed Mr L.K. Advani as Ram—all things only two days before he was to lay down party presidentship—and Mr Pramod Mahajan as Lakshman. The original Ram, Atalji, has bowed out with such panache that his renunciation of power politics only reinforces the fact that he continues to reign.

Now Atalji is the seniormost leader in the BJP and what remains of the NDA. To those who thought that the force is no longer with him, he had to send out a message: you chaps go about these exercises of choosing the party president and Mr Advani may swagger as much as he wishes. But it is my choice that shall prevail. In asking Mr Advani to “rise” to the role of Ram, Mr Vajpayee has made it plain that Mr Mahajan is his chosen Lakshman to lead the BJP among the second line of leaders. What he didn’t say but is more emphatic for that reason is that the other bright sparks should now reconcile themselves to continuing as talking heads on television. There is, however, a Venkaiah Naidu around to spoil Mr Mahajan’s party and contend that there are many Lakshmans in the BJP.

Those disappointed should make no mistake: Mr Vajpayee has renounced power politics and will not contest another election; and at the helm of the NDA in Parliament until the next election. And, that is as early as 2009 if they come in due course.
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Thought for the day

If we do not find anything pleasant, at least we shall find something new. — Voltaire

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ARTICLE

Sins of the clergy
Priests tend to cling to the past

by Pushpa M. Bhargava

IT is a cliché that man has today all the means to destroy all of his species through weapons of mass destruction possessed by many countries led by the US. There is no country that can be trusted not to use them; in fact, the larger the stock of the WMDs, the greater is the illusory arrogance of power and, therefore, greater the chances of the country using them.

The only insurance against something like this happening would be an effort towards one world and one government that would safeguard the interests of all its constituents: a real coming together of peoples of the world, with cooperation and not confrontation being the buzzword. Why is it, then, that this is not happening? One of the main reasons is the baggage we carry today of some deadly sins of clergy that control religion, be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian or any other. Indeed, the clergy are the second multinationals around the world whose primary concern is to safeguard their interests as against the interests of the people.

The priests survive on misinterpretation of the teachings of the founders of their religion or other respected leaders. An example would be the emergence of Wahabi-Salafism in the Islamic world. Today’s Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are a direct consequence of the ideology of Wahabi-Salafism. The way in which the Wahabis and Salafis have misinterpreted the Quran is well-documented in the book, Terrors’ Source: the Ideology of Wahabi-Salafism and its Consequences, authored by Vincenzo Oliveti (a pseudonym of one of the most illustrious 43rd generation living descendants of Prophet Mohammed).

The way the Christian clergy has done the same thing with Christianity is clear from the bestseller, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The only people who have gained by misinterpretation of the teachings of the founders of the great religions or the real writers of the ancient scriptures are the clergy.

It is the clergy who have invented miracles and attributed them to the founders of the great religions. Miracles have been the single greatest weapon in the armour of the clergy. Would Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi ever have the following if he was not perceived to be capable of performing miracles? It is another matter that everything that he can do which people perceive as miracles can be done by scores of others who are honest and call it a sleight of hand.

An outstanding example of deceit implicit in the phenomena of miracles is that of Mother Teresa. I had the privilege of meeting her and was extremely impressed by her humility and humanity, which alone should have been enough in any civilized world to confer on her the status of a saint. However, for her to be canonised, Vatican required that it be shown that she had performed at least two miracles; therefore, these miracles had to be invented, with (almost) everyone knowing that they were actually never performed! It is to her credit that she never ever in her life claimed that she had performed any miracle.

The clergy invented the concept of “divinity” which implies that one’s life is totally controlled according to what has been ordained by the “divine” power (whatever that may be), and since the clergy represent this divine power, they and they alone can help you change the course of your so-called “destiny”. Most gods are “bribable” and the clergy will tell you how and what to give as a bribe. The processed link with the divine power makes them a closed community. Can you think of a Shankaracharya being a Shudra?

The Hindu clergy tell you that your caste is a divine dispensation and defines your duties and obligations. It is a different matter that no religious leader (past or present) could tell the caste or religion of a newborn child! If you are designated entirely on the basis of your parentage, as belong to the lowest caste or being casteless, you must accept that you have no more right than an (unwanted) animal and that you must do without complaining, all the dirty work of the higher castes, with the only compensation being abuse and insult.

One of the paramount duties of the clergy everywhere has been to distort history and to first invent and then present legend as history. For example, common sense tells you that Rama and Krishna, and the stories associated with them, are legends — in fact, fairy tales like those of Hans Christian Anderson or Grimm. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code brings out, with courage and elegance, the attempt to distort history in the Christian world. There is no codified religion the clergy of which have not attempted to “sanitise” history to suit their interests.

Science has been the biggest enemy of the clergy — perhaps all through history but certainly from the beginning of Renaissance in Europe from which time organised science began to evolve. Thus Bruno was burnt at stake and Galileo incarcerated for stating a truth arrived at by using the method of science. Opposition to abortion and renewed efforts in the US to give equal status in school teaching to creation and evolution to explain the origin of man, are other contemporary examples.

A major attempt of the clergy all over the world, in every religion, has been to replace evidence and truth by belief and myth. Their preachings have, therefore, been the greatest single impediment to the development of a knowledge-based society in the world, which alone can lead to universal peace.

The clergy and their followers have been, in fact, the single promoters of war and other conflicts around the world in the last many centuries. Examples would be the Wars of Crusades, the religious conflicts in Ireland and Central Europe, and the problem between India and Pakistan. The clergy mislead people all the time by giving them a feeling of greatness by simply belonging to their religion or sect. They then subtly convert this feeling into the right to govern others who are not so “great”. There are lessons in this process for our management and ad gurus.

The clergy have, all through history, kept their followers bound to laws that often have no basis in reason, humanism or basic human rights. Not only that, they interpret the so-called “religious laws” to suit their convenience. Indeed, one of the best things that has happened to the Hindu community in India in the above context was the codification of the Hindu law. Unfortunately, this has not happened with the one billion-strong Islamic community around the world. The Islamic clergy have tied this community down by various — sometimes conflicting — provisions of Islamic personal law, the Sharia.

My personal commitment is to reason, to basic human rights, and to evidence-based truth, and not to any religious dogma. Nevertheless, in a democratic world, everyone must have a right to believe whatever one wishes to as an individual. However, no one should have the right to preach to others, using falsehood and deceit, their own beliefs, including belief in religious dogma.

One of the biggest challenges we, therefore, have today is to eventually decimate the hold of clergy on the people so that they may think freely and on their own. Unless that happens, we cannot dream of a conflict-free world. The time has come when we must start thinking seriously about how to achieve the above objective: that is, to punish the clergy of all religions for their deadly sins.

The writer is the Vice-Chairman of the Knowledge Commission.

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MIDDLE

Death be not proud
by A.J. Philip

THE story of an aged couple organising their own “bhog” at Baurhai Kalan near Mandi Ahmedgarh caused shock and revulsion among those who read it. But no such sentiments were evoked when my own maternal grandfather did the same over three decades ago.

He was a self-made man, who struggled with land to take care of his large family and provide the best of education to his children. He was a man of many virtues, including his love for his wife. Their only outing together was on Sundays when they went to the church. On Saturday evening, it was a ritual for him to press grandma’s dress.

They lost their teeth but they did not give up pan-chewing. It was he who always pounded pan. Since both their sons were in Bombay, they lived virtually alone. As was his wont, he would openly say that he wanted grandma to die before he was called to eternal rest. One day she joked that he might want to marry again.

Grandpa had a reason for his wish. If he were alive, he would be able to ensure a “good” funeral to grandma. As was the custom in Syrian Christian families, a grand feast was given to the villagers a week after the death of an elder.

For all his love for grandma, he did not have much trust in her ability to organise such a feast in case he died earlier. After all, there were no caterers then!

He had a premonition that death was imminent. He used the ruse of a birthday to organise a sumptuous, pure-vegetarian feast to which every villager was invited.

He also bought a 6x5 sq. feet plot in the church graveyard and built an aesthetically designed two-cell grave with an ornate cross towering over it. He wanted a marble slab with his family name etched on it.

One of his daughters, who was in Agra, fulfilled his wish. All the details were on the slab except his date of death. The grave cost him a princely Rs 3,500.

Grandpa wore a loose, kurta-like, button-free shirt. In Christian tradition, the body is given a bath before burial. In case rigor mortis set in, he feared, it would not be possible to put such a dress on the body. So, he got one front-open shirt stitched for this very purpose.

On formal occasions, he wore a turban. But tying a turban was an art he never passed on to his children. He was particular that his body should have a turban on it. He nicely folded one accordingly and kept it ready.

Nowadays coffins of any design and cost are available off the shelf in all towns in Kerala. His solution was to fell a mango tree and keep wood ready for the purpose.

As was his desire, grandma’s death preceded his own. The wood came in handy and so was the grave. He gave her a befitting funeral. As was the custom, he also gave an elaborate feast in her memory, which every villager partook of.

Grandpa did not live long as a widower. And when he died, his children only had to take out the shirt and turban, put them on him and place the body in the coffin he had arranged for and take it to the grave he had himself built.

As grandpa was laid to rest, he seemed to recite John Donne’s famous line, “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee/mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so”.
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OPED

You are being watched
New system for Automatic Number Plate Recognition
by Steve Connor

BRITAIN is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the road are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least for at least two years.

Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.

By next March a central database installed alongside the Police National Computer in Hendon, north London, will store the details of 35 million number-plate “reads” per day. These will include time, date and precise location, with camera sites monitored by global positioning satellites.

Already there are plans to extend the database by increasing the storage period to five years and by linking thousands of additional cameras so that details of up to 100 million number plates can be fed each day into the central databank.

Senior police officers have described the surveillance network as possibly the biggest advance in the technology of crime detection and prevention since the introduction of DNA fingerprinting.

But others concerned about civil liberties will be worried that the movements of millions of law-abiding people will soon be routinely recorded and kept on a central computer database for many years.

The new national data centre of vehicle movements will form the basis of a sophisticated surveillance tool that lies at the heart of an operation designed to drive criminals off the road.

In the process, the data centre will provide unrivalled opportunities to gather intelligence data on the movements and associations of organised gangs and terrorist suspects whenever they use cars, vans or motorcycles.

The scheme is being orchestrated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and has the full backing of ministers who have sanctioned the spending of Ł 24 million this year on equipment.

More than 50 local authorities have signed agreements to allow the police to convert thousands of existing traffic cameras so they can read number plates automatically. The data will then be transmitted to Hendon via a secure police communications network.

Chief constables are also on the verge of brokering agreements with the Highways Agency, supermarkets and petrol station owners to incorporate their own CCTV cameras into the network. In addition to cross-checking each number plate against stolen and suspect vehicles held on the Police National Computer, the national data centre will also check whether each vehicle is lawfully licensed, insured and has a valid Ministry of Transport test certificate.

“Every time you make a car journey already, you’ll be on CCTV somewhere. The difference is that, in future, the car’s index plates will be read as well,” said Frank Whiteley, the chief constable of Hertfordshire Police and the chairman of the ACPO steering committee on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).

“What the data centre should be able to tell you is where a vehicle was in the past and where it is now, whether it was or wasn’t at a particular location, and the routes taken to and from those crime scenes. Particularly important are associated vehicles,” Mr Whiteley said.

The term “associated vehicles” means analysing convoys of cars, vans or trucks to see who is driving alongside a vehicle that is already known to be of interest to the police. Criminals, for instance, will drive somewhere in a lawful vehicle, steal a car and then drive back in convoy to commit further crimes “You’re not necessarily interested in the stolen vehicle. You’re interested in what’s moving with the stolen vehicle,” Mr Whiteley explained.

According to a strategy document drawn up by ACPO, the national data centre in Hendon will be at the heart of a surveillance operation that should deny criminals the use of the roads.

“The intention is to create a comprehensive ANPR camera and reader infrastructure across the country to stop displacement of crime from area to area and to allow a comprehensive picture of vehicle movements to be captured,” the ACPO strategy says.

“This development forms the basis of a 24/7 vehicle movement database that will revolutionise arrest, intelligence and crime investigation opportunities on a national basis,” it adds.

Mr Whiteley said that MI5 will also use the database. “Clearly there are values for this in counter-terrorism,” he said. “The security services will use it for purposes that I frankly don’t have access to. It’s part of public protection. If the security services did not have access to this, we’d be negligent,” he said.

The Independent
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Gender budgeting to help women
by V.P. Prabhakar

THE Government has announced its intention to gradually introduce the concept of “gender budgeting” in line with the basic principles of governance to which the Central Government is committed under the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), which includes the empowerment of women. This means that the budget data will in due course be presented in a manner that highlights the gender sensitivities in the budgetary allocations.

Gender budgeting is not about providing for a separate budget for women; rather it is the dissection of government spending to establish its gender-differential impacts and to translate gender commitments into budgetary commitments. The main objective of a gender-sensitive budget is to improve the analysis of incidence of budgets, attain more effective targeting of public expenditure and offset any undesirable gender-specific consequences of previous budgetary measures.

Gender budgeting is gaining increasing acceptance as a tool for engendering macro economic policy-making. Emphasis on gender budgeting was also placed by the sixth conference of Commonwealth Ministers of Women’s Affairs held in New Delhi in April 2000.

The gender budgeting initiative in India started in July 2000 when a workshop on “Engendering National Budgets in the South East Asia Region” was held in New Delhi.

The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) was commissioned to study various issues, which included gender segregation of relevant macro data, quantification of contribution of women in economy, assessment of impact of government budget on women, the role women can play in improving institutional framework for delivery of public services and the policy alternatives for building a gender sensitive national budgeting process.

The study said that gender incidence of the benefits of public expenditure is difficult to measure in precise quantitative terms, since the bulk of expenditure is meant to provide services that are essentially public in nature; for instance, benefits of expenditure on defence, maintenance of law and order and dispensation of justice are enjoyed by all citizens irrespective of caste, creed or sex.

Nevertheless, considering the gender bias inherent in a male dominated society the budget should provide some idea about how much is earmarked specifically for the benefit of women.

An expert group on “Classification System of Government Transactions” had submitted its report in July, 2004 outlining the broad outline of issues and concerns involved. Now, the Department of Women and Child Development and National Institute of Public Finance and Policy are being entrusted with the task of jointly undertaking a review of the public expenditure profile of the Departments of Rural Development, Health, Family, Welfare, Labour, Elementary Education, Small Scale Industries, Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, Social Justice and Empowerment and Tribal Affairs.

This review will be through a gender lens, and has been tasked to conduct beneficiary-incidence analysis and recommend specific changes in the operational guidelines of various development schemes so as to improve coverage of women beneficiaries of public expenditure. Village women and their associations will also be encouraged to assume responsibility for all development schemes relating to drinking water, sanitation, primary education, health and nutrition.
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Chatterati
Silver linings for the BJP
by Devi Cherian

THE high profile silver jubilee meet of the BJP in Mumbai was an eye opener for many. Pramod Mahajan’s efforts were such that he has become Laxman to Advani’s Ram, according to Vajpayee. Now is that good or bad, nobody knows. Raj Nath Singh is BJP’s next generation chief. From the Hindu belt of Uttar Pradesh, this Rajput speaks fluent Hindi and is a quiet, grass roots worker. He may not be as savvy as Arun Jaitley or Pramod Mahajan but he is one who knows the field worker and not just the cocktail circuit.

The surprise was Arun Jaitley’s absence. But yes, Uma Bharti was missed the most. Especially since Joshi’s sleaze CD was also from Madhya Pradesh, and her comments would have added spice for the media. Never has the BJP been shaken by such a series of incidents that knocked the puritan party off its probity plank. Advani, whose image is in the minus-zero region, says that it’s the Congress that has infected them with corruption. Hello!

Advani said that the Congress is only a couple of seats ahead in the Lok Sabha. In Gujarat, once again the BJP has swept the local polls. Bihar has been swept by the NDA as are the civic polls in many states. And his successor Raj Nath Singh is no light weight. Sonia’s warning of petty politics of course falls on Congress chief ministers’ deaf ears. So, the BJP silver jubilee is not a total write-off!

Music that speaks

This has clearly been a year of scintillating jugalbandis and open air recitals. But the Zubin Metha show at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, that was designed to lift one’s spirits beyond all imaginable means, was outstanding. So what if the stadium was not full and the audience lacked etiquette or that they were not perfect. His music speaks. Under his clever guidance the audience got to hear gems of the Western Classical world and more gently flowing pieces of music from the early romantic period.

The audience that included Sheila Dixit, Jagdish Tytler, the Maestro Ravi Shankar and his wife, who were greeted specially, music die-hards like Nusli Wadia and his wife, and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, enjoyed the treat. It was completely a no frills concert with the national anthems of India and Germany playing. It was clearly an event for Delhi’s who’s who, and they turned up in their winter best for a date with Zubin after ten years.

Nayee awaaz

No. 10 Jan Path has chosen former MP J.P. Aggarwal for the Rajya Sabha. But if Arjun Singh and H.R. Bhardwaj are to be retained after the cabinet reshuffle, obviously Mrs. Gandhi will have to re-nominate them. Equally surprising was the move for Dr Karan Singh’s re-nomination. After all, he does hold a cabinet rank as chair person of ICCR. And how could the Congress leader not re-elect her speech writer Diwedi again?

Is there an explanation that’s logical? Or is it the time for the new baba-log to come in with the slogan of Naya Bharat, Nayee Nasal, Nayee Awaaz. Of course, to be led by Rahul Gandhi. The new slogan is going to be the theme of the four day long AICC plenary session from Jan 22 in Hyderabad. Preparations are on, and there is the rumour that Priyanka will be there too. So, lots of fun to watch out for.
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From the pages of

July 28, 1921

Time for golden silence

NOW that the Press Act is about to go, the notifications applying the Seditious Meetings Act to the central districts of the Punjab have been cancelled and the Act itself will in all probability follow suit, may we make one suggestion to our countrymen which we have long been anxious to make but which could not possibly be made with any advantage so long as these measures were in operation or even on the statute-book? We have long tested the virtue of silver speech; let us now test, as far as possible, the virtue of golden silence. Just at the present time this suggestion, indeed, rests on an incomparably higher authority than any we can claim for ourselves, that of Mahatma Gandhi.

It was he who first enunciated the proposition that we should be chary of random speeches and that when we did want to make a speech, we should first carefully prepare it and even write it out and then deliver it.
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A person who does good, does not need any yoga. He does not need any other form of prayer or renunciation.

 — Sanatana Dharma

Let us deck ourselves with the silks of merits and embellishments of virtue.

 — Guru Nanak

Shreya and Priya are like twin sisters. Only the enlightened can distinguish between them.

 — The Upanishads

Let there be no distinction between rich and poor, high and low.

 — Mahatma Gandhi

He who departs with face soiled with blackness of sin, does not find a place of rest at the Divine Portal.

 — Guru Nanak
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