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Perspective |  Oped | Reflections

Perspective

Punjab farmers deserve a better deal
by Manpreet Singh Badal

I
N 1951, India found itself on the brink of starvation and had to look towards the US to keep body and soul together. President Johnson sent food grains in driblets to make the new Republic crawl. 1966-67 was the critical year of drought when India imported 11 million tonnes of food grains.

On Record
Article 370 needs a close look, says Tarigami
by R. Suryamurthy
Communist Party of India (Marxist) secretary in Jammu and Kashmir Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami has escaped several attempts on his life, but his family members have not been so lucky. These threats have not prevented him from articulating his views fearlessly.



EARLIER STORIES

Some reservation
December 16, 2006
Of the babus, for the babus
December 15, 2006
The N-deal and after
December 14, 2006
Game of disruption
December 13, 2006
Prime Minister in waiting!
December 12, 2006
Deal is done
December 11, 2006
Suicides in the Army
December 10, 2006
Creamy Bill
December 9, 2006
One-issue party
December 8, 2006
Jolt for Akalis
December 7, 2006
From minister to lifer
December 6, 2006


Sharing of Rajasthan canal water
by G.S. Dhillon
T
HERE has been a bitter struggle between the farmers of Stage I and Stage II of the Rajasthan Canal Project. Stage I farmers say, they will have to get 58 per cent of water flowing in the canal as agreed upon earlier.

OPED

Reflections
Expediting the pace of justice
by Kiran Bedi
I
n a recent television programme, the question posed was “Is the judiciary the last hope of our country”? The verdict was a thundering “Yes”. We have all heard about a series of sentences pronounced by the judiciary on the high and mighty in the last few days.

Profile
Giving a fillip to low cost aircraft
by Harihar Swarup
W
hy drive, when you can fly? This is the question Dr Ram Pattisapu, a surgeon-turned-aviation inveterate, often poses. His passion for flying was so intense that he quit the medical profession and started an aircraft company — “Indus” (Indo-US) Aviation — in 1994, dedicated to providing high quality, low cost aircraft for aviation and sport flying communities.

Diversities — Delhi Letter
Seminar for review of transport policy
by Humra Quraishi
W
ith infrastructure not coping with the changing scenario, there is bound to  be chaos. And what do we do about it. Nothing really, except hold a seminar or call for a discussion or a meet. And this is what has been happening here, every single day of this season.

  • France honours Alka Pandey

  • Joint meeting of Dalits, Muslims

  • Show on Prithviraj Kapoor

 REFLECTIONS

 

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Perspective

Punjab farmers deserve a better deal
by Manpreet Singh Badal

IN 1951, India found itself on the brink of starvation and had to look towards the US to keep body and soul together. President Johnson sent food grains in driblets to make the new Republic crawl. 1966-67 was the critical year of drought when India imported 11 million tonnes of food grains. A year earlier, it imported 10 million tonnes, which led the Paddock Brothers, often referred to as the ‘Prophets of Doom’ to conclude that India would face famine by 1975 and half of the country would vanish.

Soon, India launched the “Grow More Food’ campaign to attain self-sufficiency in food grains. Dr Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, introduced high yielding varieties that displayed magical results. The government fashioned a support mechanism to isolate the farming community from any decline in prices, purchased wheat that flowed into the market and allowed farmers to realise 18 per cent more.

The Green Revolution was the result of progressive farming, determination, sustained efforts of scientists and vigour of the Indian farmer who readily adopted improved technology and the highest growth was achieved in Punjab.

Thereafter, Punjab became India’s food bowl and made India politically stable. The country rightly placed emphasis on food stability along side national security. It became the Punjabi farmer’s responsibility to perform his national duty.

The term Green Revolution (1967-1978) defines the efforts at achieving food sufficiency. It was India’s successful agricultural experiment that led to a record grain output in a situation when agriculturists continued expansion of farming areas, double cropping of existing farm land, using seeds with improved genetics, all of which led to India’s repaying her loans from the World Bank and improved the country’s creditworthiness.

Today, the picture in Punjab is one of grief and tragedy. Farmers are reporting a high incidence of cancer and other unknown illnesses. The pesticide levels are 15 to 65 times higher than those found in blood samples of those in the US. When the Green Revolution was operational, the chemical pesticides and fertilisers were used in high dosage and their usage was guided by experts from Central organisations. Soon insects developed immunity to pesticides which contaminated the soil and the atmosphere. The Green Revolution also led to a terrible chemical invasion of Punjab.

Alarmingly, the crop yields and water resources are declining leaving large tracts of barren land and making farmers debt-ridden. Unemployment is increasing, the farm machinery has deteriorated and the ground water table is fast depleting. It seems Punjab’s agricultural house of cards has collapsed. The natural concomitant is that food security in India would apparently steer the country back to a ‘ship to mouth’ existence as in 1951. The Centre should view the larger picture of a Punjab that is feeding the country by sustaining the wheat and paddy production.

Therefore, the burden of this writer’s research into this intricate and convoluted situation of avoidable sorrow is to inquire into the primary cause of the present tragic condition of the proud Punjabi farmer. The exhilaration of the Green Revolution has turned into a failing battle confirmed by the farmers’ suicide that conclusively proves that there is no direct relationship between progress in agriculture and the economic lot of agriculturists.

The Green Revolution has made cultivable lands sick and replete with poisonous pesticides and a steeply falling water table. Surprisingly, when rehabilitation packages are being announced and Vidarbha is the principal recipient today, Punjab has been left out of the Prime Minister’s rehabilitation package. In September, the Government of India announced Rs 17,000 crore package for the suicide-prone districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra including the Vidarbha region. Andhra Pradesh got Rs 9,650 crore, Maharashtra Rs 3,873 crore, Karnataka Rs 2,689 crore, Kerala with fewest districts affected got Rs 765 crore and Punjab nothing.

The Government of India’s announcement of minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 750 a quintal for wheat is a cruel parody of attempted goodwill. It will lead to a massive dip in wheat production in the imminent future since the marketing price for wheat is Rs 1,000 a quintal. In fact, the agricultural marketing system and the traditional rural banking system known as the Artiha arrangement or local system of rural banks have, in different degrees, been exploitative all along as the costs of inputs have always been very high.

Thus, it must be clearly understood that Punjab has been depleted of its natural resources. Its energies have been exploited by the Government of India which is fully aware about the kind of resources — natural and human — that were being drawn upon through the Green Revolution to save the country from starvation and political disaster. The Centre cannot ignore the consequences that drained Punjab’s natural resources during the Green Revolution.

The Punjabi farmer suffers from the dread of debt, disease and cancer and suicide is stalking the countryside. Today, Punjab has turned a Nelson’s eye towards the tragic lot of the Punjabi farmer. All farmers are burdened with an average debt of Rs 41,000 per capita as against the national average of Rs 12,000. Apparently, the Centre is discriminating against Punjab in many ways by giving the Punjabi farmer a lesser and unrealistic MSP for wheat.

The Green Revolution has been the backbone of Punjab’s development. There is also the legendary tradition in Punjab where the mother in the house serves an extra dollop of ghee to the Kamau Puttar. Today, however, Mother India has abandoned the earning son on whose broad shoulders India’s prosperity was built. In the continuing state of affairs, there appears on the horizon a kaleidoscope of disastrous consequences for the Punjabi farmer, for Punjab, and for the country, where the only sunrise visible would be the shoreline of the US or alien lands for the most basic sustenance.

If the Punjabi farmer is not recognised today as in the yesteryear, there will be no music anymore in Punjab’s golden green fields, small boys will no more play the flute on a buffalo back and peacocks will no more dance in the rain. Indeed, the vertebra of India’s pride, the surplus in food grains and the country’s credibility as a surplus nation will soon be replaced with the grim visage of a weak-kneed third world country unable to feed herself. It is time the Union Government stood up and resurrected India’s earning son, the Punjabi farmer. n

The writer, a Bar-at-Law, is Member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly
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On Record
Article 370 needs a close look, says Tarigami
by R. Suryamurthy

Mohd Yusuf Tarigami
Mohd Yusuf Tarigami

Communist Party of India (Marxist) secretary in Jammu and Kashmir Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami has escaped several attempts on his life, but his family members have not been so lucky. These threats have not prevented him from articulating his views fearlessly.

In an interview to The Sunday Tribune, he rejected abrogation of Article 370 as it would undermine the basis of the region’s accession with the Indian Union. "We try to develop flexible ideas of sovereignty to meet the requirements of Jammu and Kashmir and the need to re-look at Article 370".

He is in favour of commutation of Afzal’s death sentence to life imprisonment in the Parliament Attack case.

Excerpts:

Q: What has created the perpetual distress between the Centre and the people of Jammu and Kashmir?

A: One has to understand first how the problem has arisen, the special circumstances under which Kashmir acceded to India and the special status granted to it in the Indian Constitution. The Centre, unfortunately, has eroded the special status over the years. Further, the state has unfairly been deprived of the freedom of democracy which the rest of the country enjoyed.

Q: You talk about special status under Article 370. But other parties like the BJP demand its abrogation.

A: Article 370 needs to be reviewed. This has not been done in the past. Abrogation is not the solution. Erosion of Article 370 is the main cause of trouble and political uncertainty in the state. It is on the basis of this Article that Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession, which is different from the merger of other states to the Indian Union.

Q: The People’s Democratic Party has been arguing for self-rule, elected Governor and no posting of All-India Services officers in the state.

A: These demands only strengthen the country’s federal structure. After 59 years of Independence, the federal structure needs a close look. It is not just Kashmir...other states are also asking for more powers. Over the years, there is a growing sense of alienation and the military is not the way to go forward. With the bullet you can kill people but not remove alienation. The PDP is demanding the restoration of Article 370 in letter and spirit.

Q: The National Conference has boycotted the Kashmir Working Group (KWG) meeting. Will it not make the whole exercise futile?

A: The NC has attended the KWG meetings earlier. Now they have expressed some concern. I had talked with NC leader Farooq Abdullah. He assured me that they would certainly be part of the process. I would request the government to expand the scope of the dialogue and include those who are described as separatists.

Q: What has been your suggestion to the five Working Groups on Jammu and Kashmir?

A: Novel forms and procedures will have to be devised for Kashmir which is divided between the two nation states and which, on both sides of the divide, is far from being homogenous. The guiding principle should be that we try to develop flexible ideas of sovereignty to meet the state’s requirements.

There is an urgent need to create a soft border/LoC and recognise the importance of a pan-Kashmiri regional identity, irrespective of Indian or Pakistani administration. This line (LoC) has to be soft as to remove the people’s impression on both sides that an unnecessary barrier stands in their movement, trade and commerce, cultural and other exchanges. This should be done in a manner that reconciles Indian and Pakistani concerns over Kashmir. This step may render the LoC irrelevant, thus removing a mental barrier to the onward movement towards reconciliation.

Q: What about your suggestion at the KWGfor the extension of regional autonomous councils as in Leh and Kargil to other regions of the state?

A: Just as regional empowerment will promote state unity, the districts, as the primary units of development, should be made autonomous to strengthen the unity of the regions. The Leh and Kargil pattern of district autonomy provides us an example which should be replicated in all the districts. This will also be in the interest of uniformity in the state.

Q: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf recently proposed a four-point solution to the Kashmir tangle — no change in boundaries of Kashmir; make the border and the LoC irrelevant; staggered demilitarisation; and autonomy or self-governance with a joint supervision mechanism. How optimistic are you about these suggestions?

A: Peace in Kashmir cannot prevail without peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. The leadership in both countries should have a fresh look at the issues by shedding their old and dogmatic approach. Both should be flexible in their approach. The four-point solution by General Musharraf, various options proposed by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh should be seriously considered for arriving at a solution. The first step should be strengthening economic ties between Kashmir which is divided between two nation states. This may create the climate for a political solution to the problem.

Q: What about the debate on the death sentence awarded to Afzal in the Parliament Attack case?

A: A large section of the Kashmiri polity has come out in the streets seeking mercy for Afzal. In reality some key separatists and fundamental organisations want Afzal to hang and make political capital out of his death. For the first time in many years Kashmiris are out in the streets. It is an opportunity to revive public suppot for separatists.

Afzal’s hanging will become a rallying point and provide political capital for the separatists. Moreover, in several countries death sentence has been abolished. But we must look at the political consequences also. By commuting death sentence to life imprisonment, the government can nip the separatists’ design to portray Afzal as a martyr and prevent the emergence of more people following his footsteps.

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Sharing of Rajasthan canal water
by G.S. Dhillon

THERE has been a bitter struggle between the farmers of Stage I and Stage II of the Rajasthan Canal Project (RCP). Stage I farmers say, they will have to get 58 per cent of water flowing in the canal as agreed upon earlier. Stage II farmers, who occupy nearly two-thirds of the command area, do not want the unfair distribution to continue. Clearly, this calls for a re-assessment of the situation. Stage II of the project should be reframed and, consequently, the share of water.

The command area of Stage II falls in the Thar desert. It extends up to the Gadra Road (Jaisalmer district). The work involves building of a 356-km-long main canal, 5000-km-long branch canals and distributary system. The project’s total command area is about 25 lakh acres and this consists of 17.29 lakh acres to be covered by the flow irrigation mode on the right bank of the main canal.

On the left bank, there will be six lift schemes to lift the canal water through a total height of 575 ft and irrigate 9 lakh acres. Some special features of this stage are: irrigation; afforestation to prevent advance of the Thar desert; and a common carrier channel for irrigation and drinking water purposes.

According to RCP Chairman B.P. Bhatnagar, if funds to the tune of Rs 100 crore had been made available annually, then Stage II would have been completed by 2002. The main cause for the delay is paucity of funds and some unusual problems, he says.

Surprisingly, before starting the project, no soil investigation was done. Land classification, agricultural economics, settlement schemes and plans for project development had not been done. The Centre and the Rajasthan government made only some rough assessment.

In a project of this kind, the vertical drainage of the soil is absent and seepage water travel laterally which endangers the stability of the embankments built, cracks in the lining, quick sand traps in the borrow pits and depressions outside the banks. The quick sand traps create dangerous conditions and animals entering the same cannot get out. In addition, due to liquefaction of loessian soil on saturation, many canal works have failed.

Though an expert panel appointed by the RCP Control Board suggested zero seepage and fully flexible lining for the canal system, this is yet to be adopted. More important, the Aeolian (wind blown) fine grained sandy soil in Stage II is unfit for conventional system of irrigation or flow irrigation. The project authorities advocate sprinkler system of irrigation and go in for pasture development growing Sewan grass.

Experts feel that this mode would lead to considerable wastage of water resources as the channel will have to be kept running round the clock throughout the year instead of operation by rotation as is done in the case of irrigation channels. The project involves six lift schemes. Owing to power crisis, the idea was dropped in 1977. Why was this revived again?

The basis on which the planners planned to utilise 8 MAF of the Ravi-Beas water in 1958 got altered due to various factors. A complete reappraisal of the Stage II project for effective use of the water is in order.

The writer is a former Chief Engineer (Irrigation), Punjab
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OPED

Reflections
Expediting the pace of justice
by Kiran Bedi

In a recent television programme, the question posed was “Is the judiciary the last hope of our country”? The verdict was a thundering “Yes”.

We have all heard about a series of sentences pronounced by the judiciary on the high and mighty in the last few days. Some may well recall the conviction of a minister and a bureaucrat in Maharashtra for non-compliance of court orders which led to resignations and imprisonments a few months back. This sent a clear message to the officials, perhaps for the first time, that the judicial directions cannot be circumvented. 

Following this in the past few days, we have had sentences pronounced for Sanjay Dutt, Shibu Soren and Navjot Sidhu. The apex court added one more punch, by categorically ruling that no prior sanction is required for prosecuting the elected representatives in cases of corruption. “Taking bribes is not a part of official duty”, said the court. 

This has caused a huge vulnerability for all those high profile public officials whose cases were hibernating due to non-receipt of sanctions. With the present trend, the day of reckoning seems to be at the doorstep of almost all of them.   

All this is not fun to write…  
In fact, it is painful. And even more when it concerns all those who were under an oath to uphold the law but did something totally to the contrary.

What has made this proliferate? The fact is that we inculcated social acceptance and recognition of law-breakers-turning-power-usurpers and ill-gotten wealth accumulators. Alongside they occupied expanding space with constituencies, to develop purchasing power to dictate orders. We as a society developed tolerance, fear, apathy, hypocrisy, and even self-aggrandisement with indulgence to go along with many of them.

In fact, we paid a price and even took a price! Some paid the price, while the receivers accumulated it and further built mansions over it. There were millions who were onlookers. They too paid the price by losing faith in the system as a whole, as the spot survey revealed on the television programme.  

For long everything needed a contact, a reference or an incentive or else you are in waiting forever. Subordinates in many cases need approvals for right initiatives. Being courageous at times is threatening to the corrupt or the insecure. Today senior and upper middle level generations of officials in any field are by and large a product of a subculture which perpetuates indecision, inequality, fear and patronage in delivery services.

Can any one dare to give a traffic ticket to a VIP or even a friend of a VIP and get away without a reprimand or a transfer? Or suffer isolation? Can a VIP even today be questioned, leave alone arrested, by an officer empowered by law, for visible disproportionate assets without the highest clearance? So where is the rule of law?

No wonder, the prisons are overflowing with over 3 lakh people who are predominantly from below the poverty line. In fact, more than controlling crimes, prisons in India are feeding these many men and women while depriving their children of their parents. 

But thanks to the growing desperation, and public awakening, critical issues are getting addressed today in the speed and language many in power are not used to. There is both a sigh of relief in some sections while an outcry in others.

The key issue now before us is whether this speed will be restricted to only those who are high profile? Or will it also extend to the non-profile cases? My earnest prayer is that if we truly want to practice equality and restore faith and trust, we must do the following:

lBegin by filling up of all existing  vacancies of judges in the subordinate courts and the High Courts, which are around 22 per cent as of now. Records show that subordinate courts are able to dispose off as many as 88 per cent cases filed before them in a year in spite of the existence of 21.92 per cent vacancies in their sanctioned strength. Thus, even if the vacancy position is brought down by 12 per cent, it will logically lead to disposal equal to 100 per cent cases filed during the year.

However, if the vacancy position is brought down further to zero, it will start liquidating the old pending cases correspondingly and this is where benefit to the society as whole will accrue.

lOther important measures which could be taken up are improvement in legal procedures to reduce pendency such as Active Case Flow Management Technique by creating dual tracks, one for keeping abreast of filing of new cases and the other to deal with old pending matters. This is a model being followed in the highest judiciary, which needs replication in all other courts.

  • Checking of arbitrary adjournments.
  • Computerisation at every level in the department of judiciary. Let the pendency of all courts be visible on the net and its years’ performance for all to see.  
  • Greater practice of recently introduced plea bargaining.
  • Increase in the number of public prosecutors.
  • Evolve alternative system of grievance redressal like the Gram Nayayalaya Act of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Delegation of powers for compounding of petty offences.
  • Fast track courts for case trial by the magistrates.
  • Video conferencing facilities for remand prisoners.
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Amendment in perjury law. 
  • And last but not the least, let the judiciaries annually publish in the newspapers its pendency and vacancy status, for all to see; including a result of research studies on people’s perspectives. Thereby setting the trend for true transparency... 

Once these suggestions are holistically addressed, the judiciary will have ensured speedy justice to all by getting criminals punished before they assume responsible positions.
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Profile
Giving a fillip to low cost aircraft
by Harihar Swarup

Why drive, when you can fly? This is the question Dr Ram Pattisapu, a surgeon-turned-aviation inveterate, often poses. His passion for flying was so intense that he quit the medical profession and started an aircraft company — “Indus” (Indo-US) Aviation — in 1994, dedicated to providing high quality, low cost aircraft for aviation and sport flying communities.

The cost of a two-seater aircraft now manufactured by Indus in collaboration with Bangalore-based Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd works out to Rs 40-45 lakh. It is cheaper than class-one Mercedez Benz, costing over Rs 65 lakh.

A 150- km Bangalore-Mysore trip by the tiny two-seater will take less than an hour while by road it takes about four hours. The fuel cost comes to about Rs 1,000. These small aircraft can take off and land on fields measuring 350-400 feet and cruise at a top speed of 212 km an hour. Commercial establishments have now the option to touch down at places not covered by regular flights.

For those, who do not know flying, says Dr Ram, there is no problem: flying lessons come with the aircraft at no extra cost. The Indus-Taal venture also plans to launch what Dr Ram calls — “built a plane” — project where children from orphanage will learn about aircraft design and manufacturing. Anyone who helps out with the training will get a discount at flying clubs.

In addition, the company also proposes to start an aviation academy complete with simulators and trainer aircraft at Hosur, 30 km from Bangalore. The aircraft will also be produced at Hosur. 

According to him, such aircraft will help revive interest in aviation. The corporate houses can buy the planes through a consortium approach but the DGCA may have to simplify the procedure — just as simple as driving a car out of a showroom.

Indus has opened a showroom at Koramangala in Bangalore. It is home to the likes of Infosys top gun Nandan Nilekani and several software companies. “Gone are  the days when your neighbour envied you for distributing sweets on the purchase of a luxury car. It’s time now to feel proud of owning a sporty new aircraft. What a better way of flattering your better half than going on a honeymoon in a two-seater aircraft of your own to the neighbouring states or may be even the romantic Lakshwadeep Islands”, says the hoarding at the showroom.

Working professionals and businessmen, says Dr Ram, should now forget about all those painful hours of waiting to complete formalities at the airport or jostling crowd at the railway station for their visits to Chennai or Hyderabad. On  display at the showroom, recently inaugurated by Dr Ram,   is the aircraft — Throp T-211 — a twin-seat light and sport aircraft.

It has received an airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of the US, implying an automatic stamp of approval by the Director General of Civil Aviation in India.

Dr Ram has an ambitious plan to cater to Indian market. His company plans to manufacture a four-seater aircraft and set up a flight-training academy in Bangalore. “India has a personal aviation growth market and we are taking a leadership position by putting together a group of products and technologies that will have strong demand”, says the surgeon-turned aviator.

Now 58, Dr Pattisapu left India for America when he was in his teens to study medical science. He excelled in his studies, having obtained masters degree. Although he became an accomplished surgeon, aircraft always fascinated him even when he was a child. His love for aviation was so abiding that he undertook flight training while advancing his medical studies. He holds a private pilot’s license, with instrument and multi-engine instrument rating. Currently, he has over 800 hours of flying time in a wide variety of aircraft.

Having owned six different aircraft over the past several years, he has developed a very strong network of friends and colleagues in the field of aviation as well as medicine. In addition, he holds patents for development of two devices that are designed for enhancement of aviation safety, which he hopes to manufacture in India.

He firmly believes that  India has a personal aviation growth market and says “we are taking a leadership position having put together a group of products and technologies that would have strong demand”.

So impressive was the record of  Dr Ram Pattisapu that the Dallas Indo-American Chamber of Commerce honoured him with the “Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2006. The Chamber was established by successful NRIs, wanting to further encourage and facilitate trade between India and United States.

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Diversities — Delhi Letter
Seminar for review of transport policy
by Humra Quraishi

With infrastructure not coping with the changing scenario, there is bound to  be chaos. And what do we do about it. Nothing really, except hold a seminar or call for a discussion or a meet. And this is what has been happening here, every single day of this season.

Traffic chaos has overtaken all other forms of hassles on the road. It seemed rather apt that the Association of Transport Development of India together with the Jamia Millia Islamia held a national workshop on the transport policy for the XI Five-Year Plan. Critically reviewing the transport policy in the past 10 Five-Year Plans, it focused on the imbalances in the rural and urban development of transport amenities, the problems of  basic connectivity in several parts of rural India and between core cities and  peripheries.

There was the success story of the BMTC, the possible design of new   buses, the impact of transport policies on the economy.

There is a need to make all the decision-makers — politicians, bureaucrats and planners — drive their own vehicles. Only then, perhaps, the reality  would hit them as never before. As of now, these men at the creamy layer, are so dependent on their drivers that they are simply unaware of the dangers confronted by the drivers. It’s all very comfortable to do back seat driving, but not when you have to actually face the music.

France honours Alka Pandey

Unabated are the French in their enthusiasm to honour Indians who are making a mark on the scenario. On Dec 12, Ambassador of  France to India Dominique Girard bestowed the French government’s award of Chevalier dans I ‘Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) on Alka Pande, “in recognition of Dr Pande’s contribution to Indian cultural life and also to the development of Indo-French cooperation in the field of art.”

Yes, Alka Pande has made an impact on Delhi’s art scene. Besides being   the Director of the Visual Arts Gallery of the India Habitat Centre, she has  been curator of major art shows here and in other cities too. What I absolutely marvel is that along with this, she has managed to write at least   seven books on art and related aspects.

On Dec 12, her seventh book, The New Age Kamasutra for Women was   also launched. As she says of this book, it “is not about judgements or  opinions but evolves and emerges from the observed behaviours. It is as  much for the males as for the females; it is about sharing and caring, and   bringing them together in a fruitful union. While each couple plays its own  role, evolves its own balances. Some basic formulae are common to all and often the mundane and the forgotten can weave magic and an excitement in a relationship, thus like kama sutra.”

Joint meeting of Dalits, Muslims

Close on the heels of the submission of the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report to the Prime Minister, there have been at least two discussion meets on it. Now a third one is coming up.

Reports suggest, Ram Vilas Paswan is calling a joint meet of the Dalits and the Muslims, which is scheduled to be held here in the capital.

This week also witnessed a seminar on the theme, “Autonomy versus self-rule in Kashmir”. Can’t really say whether it was triggered off by General Musharraf’s four-point formula to resolve the Kashmir crisis, which does seem a practical way out to resolve the crisis.

Show on Prithviraj Kapoor

In these days of Big B and King Khans, it was a pleasant surprise to see Max Mueller Bhavan hosting an exhibition on the life and theatre of Prithviraj Kapoor. After all, he was the pioneer in giving life to theatre. In the same mood, I want to add that in these days of the US and the UK trying to rule and overrule, it was a surprise to see smaller countries also having their say.

Not just lectures by scholars and academics from the so-called developing nations but more interactions. The Embassy of the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan celebrated their Independence Day on December 14. It was a spendid and well attended national day.

Meanwhile, something very different is coming up at the IIC from December 18, right through the week. The focus will be on “Yogis and yoginis”. It’s a full series and I will update you on it next week.
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What they are like, is one who lit a fire, and when it illumined everything around God took their light and left them in darkness, unseeing.

 — The Koran

God pervades everywhere And motivates all under His will.

— Guru Nanak

He gives most who gives with joy.

 — Mother Teresa

The Bhagvad Gita advises that all work must be done as if it is worship. The same devotion and care must be lavished on work as is done on worship of God. In this way, self-realisation may be achieved.

 — The Bhagvad Gita

If your bonds are not broken while you live, what hope do you harbour of deliverance in death? It is but an empty dream that the soul shall have union with him because it has passed from the body.

 — Kabir

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