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EDITORIALS

Dealing with terror
PM suggests a road map for NAM
P
rime Minister Manmohan Singh’s warning at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Egypt that terrorism can destroy NAM, and his call for a comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, reflect India’s deep disappointment with the ineffective global action against terror. That India had sought such a convention under UN auspices as early as 1996 but the lack of consensus on the definition of terrorism blocked its passage points to the need for well-meaning nations to forge a united front to see that such a move when initiated afresh does not get bogged down in technicalities again.


EARLIER STORIES

Letting Hafiz Saeed free
July 16, 2009
Murder and acquittal
July 15, 2009
Mishap shakes Delhi Metro
July 14, 2009
Focus on food security
July 13, 2009
Blueprint for growth
July 12, 2009
In the dark
July 11, 2009
Zardari speaks
July 10, 2009
Riots in Urumqi
July 9, 2009
Murder of an unknown Indian
July 8, 2009
An ‘aam aadmi’ budget
July 7, 2009
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS



Eating less dal?
Higher imports can soften prices
The prices of pulses have almost doubled in the past four months. Let alone the poor, even middle-class families may find it difficult to make this rich source of protein a part of their regular diet. Usually grown in areas having soil of poor quality and scanty rainfall, pulses’ production in the country has failed to keep pace with the growth of the population. As a result, the per capita consumption of pulses has fallen from 27.3 kg a year in 1958-59 to 12.7 kg now, according to a study of Assocham and Agri Watch.

Gorkhaland or No
Patience needed to tackle the emotive issue
T
he Union Home Ministry’s offer to hold tripartite talks next month on demands for a separate state of Gorkhaland does not appear to have cut much ice with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, spearheading the agitation in the Darjeeling Hills. Turning down the appeal for withdrawing the “indefinite strike” till the talks are held, GJM president Bimal Gurung declared that he would rather call off the strike after the talks and that too if they end to GJM’s satisfaction. The governments are understandably reluctant to give in to such arm-twisting.

ARTICLE

Hurriyat hand in Shopian
‘Demilitarisation’ a misused term
by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)
A
bout insurgencies in well-heeled democracies, militaries will tell their political masters that they can reduce militancy and violence to levels where political solutions can be applied. Sri Lanka is a 21st century exception where an overwhelming force was employed to quell the insurgency, an option with some calibration that India may have to consider in Jammu and Kashmir.

MIDDLE

That small step
by R. Vatsyayan
I
was a 10th standard student 40 years ago and after the annual exams had gone to Banikhet, a small hamlet near Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh. One of my uncles was the headmaster of the government school there. Given his scientific temperament, he made me and my cousins to remain awake that July 20 night when Man for the first time set foot on the moon. We sat near his old Phillips radio-set to listen to the running commentary of this great event.

OPED

Punjab budget ignores drug abuse, road accidents
by Prabhjot Singh
W
hen Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said at the start of his Budget speech that the finance furnishes the most trustworthy interpreter of a government’s doing, one presumed that financial memorandum presented by him before the Vidhan Sabha would take cognizance of serious socio-economic issues that are wreaking havoc in the state.

What’s wrong with Air India?
by N.K. Singh
I
t is not the meltdown but the consistent bleeding of the country’s premier airline for almost a decade, which has brought it to such a state of affairs that it does not have enough to pay to its employees. The financial year of the airline has ended with a net loss of Rs 4,000 crore.

Health
Staying healthy with age
by Jeannine Stein
Y
ou may have heard the advice “If you exercise, you’ll live longer.” The good news is that it’s true. Research backs this up. A 2007 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fitter people lived longer, even if they had extra pounds around the middle.



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EDITORIALS

Dealing with terror
PM suggests a road map for NAM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s warning at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Egypt that terrorism can destroy NAM, and his call for a comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, reflect India’s deep disappointment with the ineffective global action against terror. That India had sought such a convention under UN auspices as early as 1996 but the lack of consensus on the definition of terrorism blocked its passage points to the need for well-meaning nations to forge a united front to see that such a move when initiated afresh does not get bogged down in technicalities again. If terrorism has flourished and proliferated in recent years it is in no small measure due to the lack of international action in bringing to book those who aid and abet it. It is time that countries that fail to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and provide safe havens to terrorists are dealt with sternly by the international community.

Clearly, the US has been little concerned about the terror outfits working from Pakistan, in return for the latter joining it in its war on terror on the Afghan border. The Americans have only one concern: to see that India does not do anything that ‘distracts’ Pakistan from its current engagement with the ‘bad’ Taliban, the ones who hate the US. The UN on its part has banned the Lashkar-e-Taiba but has nothing to say when the terrorist organisation re-surfaces under a different name — Jamaat-ud-Dawa — under the same leader Hafeez Saeed. A key UN official recently warned of another terror strike against India by the LeT but the country that harbours this terror outfit goes unpunished.

It is just as well that Dr Manmohan Singh has reminded NAM leaders that extremism, intolerance and terrorism are the very antithesis of the 118-nation grouping. It is time such organisations shed their hypocrisy of paying lip service to peace and brotherhood while condoning the behaviour of those who not only provide sanctuary to terrorists but aid and abet terrorism. Be it the UN, or NAM or any other international organisation, the attitude towards states abetting terror must be unambiguously strong.

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Eating less dal?
Higher imports can soften prices

The prices of pulses have almost doubled in the past four months. Let alone the poor, even middle-class families may find it difficult to make this rich source of protein a part of their regular diet. Usually grown in areas having soil of poor quality and scanty rainfall, pulses’ production in the country has failed to keep pace with the growth of the population. As a result, the per capita consumption of pulses has fallen from 27.3 kg a year in 1958-59 to 12.7 kg now, according to a study of Assocham and Agri Watch.

The scarcity and high prices of pulses can squarely be blamed on the long neglect of this vital commodity by policymakers and farm scientists. The Green Revolution (1967-78) stressed only on improving the production and productivity of wheat, rice, maize and oilseeds. Researchers made little effort to provide farmers with better varieties of seed to improve the yield. In the absence of remunerative minimum support prices, farmers in Punjab and Haryana turned to paddy in a big way with disastrous consequences, ruining the quality of their soil and depleting ground water resources.

To meet the ever-rising domestic demand, India imports pulses from Canada, Myanmar, Australia and the US. Imports from the US were restricted after India refused to relax the pest control guidelines earlier this year despite pressure from the US Agriculture Department. The recent oil price increase and deficient rain in north India have also contributed to the price spiral. The only way to soften the prices of pulses is to go in for higher imports. Despite the zero duty, traders have not stepped up the import of pulses due to high prices in global markets and the appreciation of the rupee against the dollar. The government will have to step in and buy sufficient quantities of pulses to keep them within the reach of ordinary people.

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Gorkhaland or No
Patience needed to tackle the emotive issue

The Union Home Ministry’s offer to hold tripartite talks next month on demands for a separate state of Gorkhaland does not appear to have cut much ice with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, spearheading the agitation in the Darjeeling Hills. Turning down the appeal for withdrawing the “indefinite strike” till the talks are held, GJM president Bimal Gurung declared that he would rather call off the strike after the talks and that too if they end to GJM’s satisfaction. The governments are understandably reluctant to give in to such arm-twisting.

Earlier this week, Sikkim has remained cut off from the rest of the country. Schools have shut down in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong and police have been taken off to avoid a confrontation. The state government has in the past turned the other way when GJM activists replaced West Bengal number plates on vehicles with their own “GL” ( Gorkha Land) number plates or when the Morcha closed down state government offices and encouraged people to stop paying taxes. The state government finds itself unable to take effective steps to restore normalcy.

The situation has been complicated further following the BJP’s support for the demand for statehood. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha this week, BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy questioned why Sikkim, with a population of just five lakhs, can be a state but Darjeeling Hills, with eight lakh people, cannot. The situation, of course, is far more complex than what the BJP would like to paint. But there is little doubt that the inept handling of the situation by the state government has led to the present impasse. At this point one can only hope for better sense to prevail and for the talks to yield positive results.

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Thought for the Day

When you put a limit on what you will do, you have put a limit on what you can do. — Charles Schwab

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Corrections and clarifications

n The headline “Reliance insurance to pay Rs 25,000” (Page 3, July 13, Chandigarh Tribune) should have been “Reliance insurance told to pay Rs 25,000”.

n The headline “Caste remarks without knowledge no offence: HC” (Page 3, July 14) should have been “Inadvertent caste remarks no offence: HC”.

n The abbreviation COI is not commonly understood. In the headline “Brigadier faces COI over ‘misbehaviour’” (Page 18, July 14) it should have been substituted by “inquiry”.

n In the report “Land allotted for academy on Ishmeet” the word “legendary’ has been mis-spelt as “legendry”.

Despite our earnest endeavour to keep The Tribune error-free, some errors do creep in at times. We are always eager to correct them.

This column will now appear thrice a week — every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We request our readers to write or e-mail to us whenever they find any error.

Readers in such cases can write to Mr Kamlendra Kanwar, Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh, with the word “Corrections” on the envelope. His e-mail ID is kanwar@tribunemail.com

H.K. Dua
Editor-in-Chief

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ARTICLE

Hurriyat hand in Shopian
‘Demilitarisation’ a misused term
by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)

About insurgencies in well-heeled democracies, militaries will tell their political masters that they can reduce militancy and violence to levels where political solutions can be applied. Sri Lanka is a 21st century exception where an overwhelming force was employed to quell the insurgency, an option with some calibration that India may have to consider in Jammu and Kashmir.

Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, who recently observed that “India was never a threat to Pakistan and it was their own perception that they had to remove”, must remind the Cabinet Committee on Security that violence in J&K is the lowest since the third proxy war began in 1990 and it is time politics matched the efforts of the military.

Twice before, following the Bangladesh victory in 1971, and containing the insurgency in J&K in the late 1990s, the government failed to convert military gains into political dividends. Sixtytwo years on, the extended and high visibility presence of Indian soldiers is being manipulated to create a high tide of hate, anger and alienation as well as the renewed cry for “azaadi” among Kashmiris. Not only are we missing another window of opportunity but also attracting the law of diminishing returns. J&K’s intriguing domestic politics for the seizure of the Islamist high ground and the vote bank reflect in the outrage in Shopian and Baramulla for which inevitably the Indian soldier will be blamed.

Containment of militancy has not been easy, constrained by minimum force — heavy weapons or aircraft as in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka are taboo — but exemplifying good faith and the Army Chief’s Ten Commandments that have guided the observance of human rights with violations promptly punished. After the incredible achievement of fencing the LoC and realignment of counter-insurgency grid, infiltration has been brought down to a trickle. As many as 95 per cent infiltrators are now being neutralised near the LoC and the fencing.

In April and May, 100 to 150 militants had attempted crossings in Keran-Kupwara-Gurez on the Shamshabari Range, at places with 50 feet of snow, but the attempts were foiled due to good intelligence, early warning devices and the employment of smart forces. Last winter, in this heavy snow-prone belt, 89 avalanches were recorded, all sure death traps. UAVs were able to track down infiltrators who had breached the fencing to safe houses. Another 400 militants, poised to follow up, were thwarted.

Up to June 15 this year, only 44 cases of violent incidents were recorded of which 28 were of grenade throwing. In 2004, there were 980 incidents, progressively brought down from the high of nearly 2000 in 2001. The terrorist population has also been whittled down from 2500-3000 in 2001 to 600-800 today. Eliminating 70 per cent of the top leadership of the foreign and indigenous terrorist groups has put militants on the defensive, unable to confront troops and forced to outsourcing even grenade throwing. More militants are, therefore, arriving from Nepal and Bangladesh than from across the LoC.

But violence levels could escalate should the Pakistan Army and the ISI, engaged in the Western side, decide to reignite the Kashmiri jihad, thereby unadvisedly opening a second front.

Despite dire warnings, no Taliban footprint has been observed in J&K. Kashmiri civil society, nurtured on Kashmiriyat, has successfully resisted succumbing to radical Islam and is unlikely to support the Pakhtoon Taliban. The Punjabi Taliban, the more fierce version of the jihadi groups operating out of PoK, made its debut last month in Muzaffarabad by launching the first ever suicide attack against an Army camp. Further, terrorist groups like LeT, JeM and Harkat, banned by Pakistan, have expanded recruitment and operations in PoK which includes opening of madarsas.

Whether or not J&K is insulated from the Taliban, only time will tell. It is the suicide bomber who has to be kept at bay. In the past there have been fidayeen attacks in Srinagar but none like the classic belt bomber. Muzaffarabad, a mere 30 km from the LoC, is connected to Srinagar with a regular bus service and Indian security forces have to be prepared to counter the Taliban and the human bomber while maintaining a tight leash over armed militancy.

Governance and politics, the other side of the coin in J&K, have been driven not by national but by local and trans-LoC interests. Widespread and unabated protests about rape and murder of two women in Shopian and the resultant Baramulla deaths of four civilians mask the real battle being fought among the National Conference, the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party over the leadership of the Kashmiri Islamist movement.

Beneath Shopian and Baramulla, for that matter, any incident involving the state, security forces and militants is the hidden hand of the separatist Hurriyat instigating demilitarisation, repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and alleged human rights violations.

Direct and indirect war having failed, the new enemy strategy is psychological war and subversion. This will, most likely, fritter away the gains of the Army unless a unified Centre-State political approach is adopted to replace the “azaadi” debate on the streets with autonomy in the legislature. Some politicians have deflected the ire and emotion from the streets to demand troop reduction and removal of the AFSPA from parts of the state. The PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, whose loyalty to the state was questioned by former Governor Lt-Gen S.K. Sinha, is citing the absence of encounters and drop in militant strength to mere 500 as justification for troop reduction. Others say that troops have done their job and their presence has become a cause for friction with the people.

Troop deployment or deinduction is assessed on present and future threats. Depleted in strength, militants are down, not out. Further, replacement of the olive green with the khaki should not be driven by emotion or politics but by cool thinking as impulsive actions in Shopian have shown. The call for force reduction, the colour of the uniform and phased removal of the AFSPA have to be taken up by Delhi in consultation with the Army which, in the event of denotified areas becoming terrorist hubs, will be required to restore the situation. The Army requires legal safeguards to operate in the disturbed areas afflicted by insurgency/terrorism as distinct from aid to civil authority in specific law and order situations.

Refinement to make some provisions of the AFSPA more humane, rather than its repeal, is being considered by the Central government. No rash or politically expedient rationale should determine internal security and stability in sensitive border states.

A widely misused term, demilitarisation is relevant only in the context of a settlement of the LoC as part of a Kashmir solution. What has been done in the past and is being contemplated now is thinning out, relocation and withdrawal to restore the operational balance to combat future Kargils. One Army division was pulled out last year and more formations will leave after Amarnath.

Operationally, the optimum level has been achieved to curb militancy. It is in India’s interest to seek an early resolution of Kashmir. A political solution ideally, reviving the five-point formula agreed upon through backchannel efforts by both sides in 2007, be pursued and, if necessary, the US may be involved. To those who say that let Pakistan sweat it out, or that Kashmir is not the real problem, repeated Shopians and Baramullas are certainly not the answer.

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MIDDLE

That small step
by R. Vatsyayan

I was a 10th standard student 40 years ago and after the annual exams had gone to Banikhet, a small hamlet near Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh. One of my uncles was the headmaster of the government school there. Given his scientific temperament, he made me and my cousins to remain awake that July 20 night when Man for the first time set foot on the moon. We sat near his old Phillips radio-set to listen to the running commentary of this great event.

All India Radio was left wanting on that occasion as none of its stations was relaying anything relating to this rare happening. Most of the news was devoted to the then Prime Minister’s resolve to nationalise some private banks and about her differences with her deputy who incidentally was also the finance minister of the country.

Soon a neighbour told us that Radio Ceylon (later Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) was relaying the commentary. After trying real hard on the shortwave frequency, finally I succeeded in tuning in to the station.

The commentary was being relayed in English courtesy the Voice of America and was punctuated in Hindi by the Radio Ceylon. My uncle briefed us about the Apollo-11 space mission and explained about the hard work put in by the scientific community in this regard.

As the commentators were telling and counting the final moments of the mission we felt quite excited and it was around midnight when we listened ‘The Eagle has landed’. Our joy knew no bounds and all of us, including the neighbours, danced on this scientific feat.

The next morning my uncle declared a holiday in the school while I continued to keep track of the commentary. I vividly remember the moment when Neil Armstrong came out of the Eagle to set foot on the moon followed by the other astronaut Edwin Aldrin. As he walked bumpily on that alien land I listened his famous “one small step for Man, one giant leap for mankind”.

As a teenager I was awestruck to be an observer of this great event. Putting man on the moon not only inspired the Americans, but many like me in different corners of the world.

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OPED

Punjab budget ignores drug abuse, road accidents
by Prabhjot Singh

When Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said at the start of his Budget speech that the finance furnishes the most trustworthy interpreter of a government’s doing, one presumed that financial memorandum presented by him before the Vidhan Sabha would take cognizance of serious socio-economic issues that are wreaking havoc in the state.

His quote “our resources are exiguous, but we have manfully striven to meet our obligations and the course of our financial administration clearly demonstrates the most zealous care for the best interest of the Punjab,” however, remained unsubstantiated in the proposals and actions he wanted to be taken during the year for augmenting growth, affluence and well-being of the people of the state.

The Budget, though an annual ritual, should not be an exercise only to reflect the state of finances of a province but should also reflect the socio-economic fabric of society. Human resources should find a major role in the overall development of the state and in case this sector has been rendered less useful or useless, causes should not be left unattended.

Intriguingly, none of the major causes of unnatural human fatalities — addiction, especially of drugs, and road accidents — were considered important enough to be mentioned either in the financial memorandum or the detailed budgetary proposals.

Not only these serious issues have evaded the attention of the State planners, the legislators too have not raised them. Except for an Independent, Charanjit Singh Channi, making a mention of the problem of drug addiction in the state during the debate on the Appropriation Bill, no one else even mentioned the problem.

Drug addiction has emerged as the single largest cause of unnatural deaths in the state followed by deaths in road accidents. There are many areas in all three regions — Majha, Malwa and the Doaba — that are afflicted with this problem. The police and law enforcement agencies admit that drug trafficking is a statewide problem.

A recent study conducted by the anti-narcotic task force of the Punjab police made startling revelations. It says that the State police recovered 3.73-lakh kg of poppy husk, 1,944 kg of opium, 142 kg of smack and 472 kg of heroin in last four years.

Sangrur and Bathinda are far ahead of other towns in the recovery of poppy husk and bhukki. In neighbouring Rajasthan, there are legalised vends where bhukki and poppy husk are sold.

Besides, there are hundreds of chemist shops, both in the urban and rural areas, that sell allopathic formulations that are used as addictives by youth. The mushrooming of chemist shops may have been worrying social scientists but not the State that is keen on raising its VAT collections.

Hundreds of families have been shattered because of the drug menace. Since it is an all-cash business, its size is proportionately higher than major revenue-generating departments of the State.

Though some non government organisations have been trying to create awareness, besides running de-addiction centres, their efforts appear to be addressing just a fragment of the huge problem facing the State where studies conducted fromtime to time indicate that 56 to 79 per cent of the population is addicted to addictions, including alcohol. Drugs alone account for over 50 per cent addicts in the State.

Though finance and economic experts may not take cognizance of this rapidly growing and flourishing menace, it has emerged as a major drain on the economy. Besides, the growing incidence of domestic violence, breaking of families an increasing number of first timers in heinous and dreadful crime have been putting additional pressure on the law and order agencies, besides damaging the social fabric of the society.

In his first Budget speech in 2007, Manpreet Badal had proposed de-addiction centres in all civil hospitals besides a state-level drug dependence treatment centre. But in his subsequent Budgets, there has been unfortunately no mention of any follow-up action or for furthering the fight against drugs.

At places, there are chemist shops though there is no doctor in the immediate vicinity. How come these chemist shops are flourishing in villages and smaller towns without any prescribing doctor closeby?

Interestingly, the Shiromani Akali Dal in its election manifesto for the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections had specifically mentioned that “special centres to fight drug addiction in the State would be set up and a social awareness campaign launched. But the promise has remained in manifesto only.

The anti-narcotics task force needs funds not only to create awareness but also to treat those who have been into it.

Though Manpreet Badal tried to strike an emotional chord by paying tributes to his predecessor, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who was killed in a dastardly road mishap less than four months ago, yet it did not induce him to raise concern and seek support of the House in cutting road fatalities. Punjab has been losing nearly 3000 lives a year on its roads.

Shocking as it may sound, the place where Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Cooperation Minister of the State and general secretary of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, was killed has been one of the killer stretches of the state that has claimed more than 250 lives in the past four months.

The Jalandhar-Amritsar stretch of National Highway 1 has been another such killer spot. Fatalities are three times the total murders that take place in the State every year. But successive governments have been ignoring road safety to the great detriment of the socio-economy of the State. One road fatality affects a minimum of three families of five members each.

Is not it the responsibility of the State to make road travel safe? Harassing road users with toll tax barriers dotting the state and national highways is perhaps its only mandate.

A multi-application approach is required to address the problems posed by these two major causes of unnatural deaths and subsequent socio-economic crises in the State. Even if one takes the case of growing incidence of suicide, be it among farmers or even urban areas, the issue needs to redressed clinically as well.

Many social scientists and even economists agree that the states like Punjab are having growing number of psychic wrecks. They identify the phenomenon as depress-flation, inflation-led depression. All such cases need psychic counselling.

While proposing to augment health care facilities in the State, Manpreet Badal would have done well if he had also included in his agenda a plan to start redressing these gigantic social problems — drug addiction, suicides and deaths in road accidents — to save not only valuable human resources but also the scarce financial resources of the State.

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What’s wrong with Air India?
by N.K. Singh

It is not the meltdown but the consistent bleeding of the country’s premier airline for almost a decade, which has brought it to such a state of affairs that it does not have enough to pay to its employees. The financial year of the airline has ended with a net loss of Rs 4,000 crore.

In the eighties the airline was the pride of the country and made profit. During Rajiv Gandhi’s time Air India, Indian Airlines and Airports Authority were all in profit. All companies were headed by professional personnel either pilots or management professionals.

I happened to be the CMD of International Airports, ex-officio Director on the Board of AI and two fliers headed both airlines. It was a time of aviation success stories as all the entities did exceedingly well.

The government gradually placed bureaucrats from the central services in the airlines and the decline of the airlines began. Fortunately, airports were left out and they continued to be in profit but in the airport sector by constant interference the government injected its own dilatory system to scuttle its expansion and modernisation plans and finally privatised major airports.

To get out of red tape, airport privatisation looks the only alternative and has shown results. The case of the public sector airlines is a classic model of exploitation by its own people and the government without an effective management.

It needed a strong professional management but it got unaccountable heads and constant expansion of free privileges of the non-aviation persons-be it politicians or government servants.

The market share of various airlines clearly shows how Air India is nosediving. An airline which has the biggest fleet of 70 aircraft and 21 on orders has only 15.4 per cent share of the market as shown in April to June.

During the same period smaller airlines like Indigo has a 11.7 per cent share with only 20 aircraft. Jet has a 21 per cent share and Kingfisher a 14 per cent share of the market.

It is not a sudden development but the decline has been continuing for years. No one has taken any responsibility nor the government has fired anyone for this gross mismanagement of the airline.

Air India employs today 230 persons per aircraft against half the number by other airlines. Air India and Indian Airlines were merged in a huff without any substantial gain and for a long time confusion prevailed as to who is flying AI or IA.

Sometime even airhostesses, poor girls, seemed perplexed and announced in Air India flights that the passengers were in Indian Airlines.

The trade unions have rightly clamoured for a good management but there is no way unless radical transformation takes place and the Chief Executive has a task to deliver results or get out (not transfer!).

Government ownership is a big burden on the airlines and it is better if the route followed for the airports is taken for the airlines too and privatisation takes place. It is a historical record that the public sector too can function efficiently but provided the government leaves it to autonomously carry its commercial business.

One of the best airlines and airports in the world at Singapore are in the public sector run by professionals. Singapore Airline has the most modern and youngest fleet in the world. Can’t we learn from them how a government should function?

The way red tape, which is the product of the state bureaucracy, is holding investment and development of the country, this malady is slowly killing the airline too.

The Prime Minister should take personal interest in throwing out the existing managerial structure lock, stock and barre to bring in a fresh management team to take harder decisions, which should not be shirked by the top political leadership in the interest of thousands of employees and the country.

Bailouts are not going to help the sick airline. It needs a good doctor and the pushers of files are neither good doctors nor do they have any stake in the organisation.

The writer is a former Chairman, IAAI, and Director, Air India.

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Health
Staying healthy with age
by Jeannine Stein

You may have heard the advice “If you exercise, you’ll live longer.” The good news is that it’s true. Research backs this up. A 2007 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fitter people lived longer, even if they had extra pounds around the middle.

Among 2,603 adults 60 and older enrolled in that longitudinal study, the fittest people (those who did best on a treadmill test) also had the lowest risk factors for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Most of the negative changes to our bodies over time can be chalked up to two things, says Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, head of the department of kinesiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: normal aging and disease-related aging (that is, changes accelerated by illnesses and conditions such as diabetes and heart disease).

Exercise, he says, can reduce the severity of both types.

— Strength maintenance: Normal aging results in a gradual loss of muscle mass (about 1 percent a year) that begins in middle age.

Strength-training can offset this loss, called sarcopenia, Chodzko-Zajko says. “The link between functionality and longevity may be indirect but more muscle mass allows you to be ambulatory and maintain function, whereas in a wheelchair you can’t.”

Having stronger muscles — especially leg muscles — and better balance may mean fewer falls, a leading cause of death among the elderly, according to the American Geriatrics Society.

— Cardiovascular health: Over time, arteries become stiffer, paving the way for cardiovascular disease. The chemical composition of the artery walls begins to shift, says Douglas Seals, a professor in the department of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado, making the walls more rigid.

“That stiffening of the arteries can cause changes in your blood pressure,” putting extra stress on the heart, Seals adds. Regular aerobic exercise slows or reverses some of the changes.

— Diabetes risk: As we age, blood-glucose control becomes less robust, making us more insulin-resistant and increasingly susceptible to diabetes. People also tend to gain weight as they age, further upping the chances for developing the disease.

During aerobic exercise, muscles take up glucose from the blood and use it for fuel, keeping the body’s blood sugar levels low.

Exercise also causes the pancreas to decrease production of insulin. Continuous, steady exercise especially causes the liver to take lactic acid, amino acids and fats and turn them into glucose, further feeding the muscles and regulating blood sugar levels.

— Inflammation control: Inflammation can also worsen as we age and become exacerbated by extra weight, upping the risk for cardiovascular disease, lowering the immune system and paving the way for bacteria and viruses to take hold — even cancer cells to grow. But exercise may cause a decrease in levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.

— Brain health: A small study found that older adults who did a minimum of 180 minutes per week of aerobic activity a week for 10 consecutive years had more small-diameter blood vessels with less twisting than a less active group that did less than 90 minutes of physical activity a week. The vessels of the more active group had a vessel pattern that was similar to those of younger people. The study appears this month in the American Journal of Neuroradiology.

Studies linking exercise to living longer sometimes leave off the important message that being physically active improves the quality of life as well.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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