|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Saturday, November 7, 1998
tactic, glib talk
infrastructure is ignored?
in the last season
Terror tactic, glib talk
ONE of the six links in the chain of the on-going India-Pakistan talks has broken down, thanks to the rigid Pakistani attitude on the construction of a Wular barrage for the Tulbul navigation project. The November 5 dialogue began on a negative note and ended similarly. There is no surprise in this. Nobody has great expectations from the current talks, which, at best, can be described as discussions to prepare a specific agenda for various issues made contentious by Pakistan so that the next round of Foreign Secretary-level talks can be fruitful. These include the situation at the Siachen glacier, the demarcation of maritime boundaries around Sir Creek, economic and commercial cooperation, the growth of terrorism, the proliferation of drug trafficking and the promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields. The breakdown of India-Pakistan parleys has always had one crucial reason: bad faith on the part of Pakistan. Most of the high-level discussions have taken place as "talks to stall talks". The Indian mediapersons, who returned from Islamabad recently, got the clear impression that the hostility between the two countries was being sought to be aggravated by Pakistani politicians. The common man was being misled by shrill propaganda, for which the text was provided not by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's civilian advisers but by those who ran the destructive edifice of the ISI. This wing of the Pakistani Army has ample funds, a very wide reach and US support. The ISI can buy ultra-sophisticated flying machines like those seized the other day in the Kalakot forest belt in Rajouri district.
The Indian intelligence
agencies, which have been flogged continuously for their
lapses in Jammu and Kashmir, have shown their mettle and
sense of duty. They arrested 12 militants about a
fortnight ago, subjected them to sustained interrogation
and ultimately extracted vital information about the
presence of high-tech machines and powerful ammunition in
the sensitive Rajouri, Poonch, Udhampur and Doda areas.
The entire stretch comprises a difficult hilly terrain
where saboteurs can make their hideouts and infiltrate
into populous territory if and when possible. The two
numbered flying machines indicate that the Pakistanis
have quite a few such mini-planes in the process of
assembly. These have a MIG-like appearance; they operate
on very little fuel each one can fly for two hours
continuously and hit targets from a distance of about 3
km. Pakistan is not able to manufacture them. Their parts
are made in Taiwan and Japan. The major primary assembly
centre is Muzaffarabad, from where convenient packages
are pushed into Indian forests and assembled. None of
these has been used so far, but this should not lessen
our worries. After all, mortar shells and heavy artillery
of various kinds have been used to kill villagers in
places close to the Line of Control (LoC). Precious lives
have been lost. Of course, Indian troops have hit back
and destroyed a number of Pakistani bunkers. The casualty
on the other side of the LoC has been considerable.
Pakistan's morale has yet not got a jolt. Its flying
machines are being smuggled into Indian territory with
the purpose of hitting defence installations, police
posts as well as VIP and other security convoys. The
Delhi talks are being held as per an agreed schedule. But
the shadow of enmity and battle-crazy cunningness is
looming large. The Pakistani officers, including the
military personnel, sent to the Union Capital "to
continue the dialogue" should be shown these
remote-controlled flying machines after arranging a
special picnic for them in Kashmir. If their ears cannot
hear, maybe, their eyes would see the symbols of the
Not an ordinary crime
THE claim of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh that the law and order situation has improved in the State was exposed as false when Police Inspector Pritam Singh was gunned down by four gangsters near Ghaziabad on Thursday. Inspector Pritam Singh was a member of the Special Task Force which killed the dreaded criminal Shri Prakash Shukla and two members of his gang in an encounter in western UP last month. He had recently been withdrawn from the Task Force and posted as Police Station Officer at Kavinagar. There is no denying the fact that in peace time more policemen are killed than members of the armed forces across the globe. An honest policeman accepts the risk to his life from organised gangs of criminals as part of his duty. In the present case Pritam Singh was evidently killed because of his association with the Task Force which eliminated, perhaps, the most ruthless criminal UP has produced in recent times. No policeman worth his salt would ever demand protection for himself or members of his family because of the high risk nature of his job. All he expects from the political establishment is the freedom to investigate crimes and bring the criminals to book. The Task Force itself may not have received categorical instructions to capture Prakash Shukla dead or alive had the underworld don, who had dreams of replacing Dawood Ibrahim as the most wanted criminal in India, not committed the mistake of accepting a Rs 6 crore contract for eliminating Mr Kalyan Singh. Pritam Singhs killing should not be treated as a routine case of murder. He has paid with his life for doing the duty assigned to him.
It goes without saying
that other officers and members of the Special Task Force
too would be on the hit list of what remains of the
Prakash Shukla gang. It is not that the members of the
Task Force do not know how to deal with them. Reports
from Lucknow suggest that they have received instructions
from the higher authorities to give up the
hunt for the members of the Prakash Shukla
gang. Why? Because they have documentary evidence to
prove that Prakash Shukla enjoyed the patronage of top
politicians, including members of the Kalyan Singh
government, and bureaucrats. The police is under pressure
to suppress the evidence it has itself collected from the
hide-outs of the gangster in Delhi and UP. They show that
he often used to operate his crime syndicate from the
residences of ministers and bureaucrats. In one instance
the police had to give up the chase because the car he
was using belonged to a so-called VIP. The criminal
background of some of the UP ministers is well documented
to bear repetition. Yet, Mr Kalyan Singh claims that he
is running a clean government and that the
law and order situation in UP has improved after he
became Chief Minister. Statistics show that a large
number of potential Prakash Shuklas are still brazenly
roaming the streets of UP and many more Pritam Singhs
face the risk of being killed not because they do not
know how to deal with criminals but because their hands
are tied by politicians who extend patronage to
criminals. What not only UP but India needs are officers
who have the courage to ignore the pressure on them not
to act for breaking the diabolical nexus between
politicians and criminals. The killing of Inspector
Pritam Singh should not go unpunished.
THE $5 million award announced by the US Government for the arrest of fugitive Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden is the biggest ever but it is doubtful that it will go far in bringing Laden to trial before American courts soon. He seems to be well entrenched in the war-battered Afghanistan where he is being treated as an honoured guest. He was given refuge in the time of President Burhanuddin Rabbani but seems to have found good mates in the Taliban. Although the Taliban have set up a judicial enquiry to accept evidence of his involvement in terrorist activity and have even promised to prosecute him if the evidence warrants it, they have also firmly declared that he would not be extradited. If the current mood in the Muslim world is any indication, the Taliban are not likely to change their stand. At the same time, there are reasons to apprehend that there would be violent reaction to the formal charging of the Saudi renegade for masterminding the August 7 bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, which killed 224 persons, including 12 Americans and injured more than 5,000. The biggest threat is to the US embassy in Kabul where some embassy workers are already back on the job, after being pulled out a little before the August bombing of Afghanistan fearing retaliation. Interestingly, the most vehement reaction has emerged from Pakistan where Omar Warsi, a leader of Pakistans militant Sunni group, Sipah-e-Sahaba, said that Washingtons enemy number one was a hero to radical Muslims worldwide and that there would be swift retaliation if he were arrested. This group has the wherewithal to carry out its threats, considering that they have been behind the killing of hundreds of Shia Muslims.
How much evidence the USA
has about his involvement in the bombing of the embassies
is not certain, but it is quite apparent that Osama has
been in the forefront of those who target non-Muslims. He
was indicted earlier in June for his active role in the
1993 attack on US military personnel in Somalia. That
first indictment is now to be dropped and the charges
merged with the new case. While the USA has been
highlighting the threat that he poses to American
citizens everywhere, what has not been underlined is that
his next major target is Kashmir. It was revealed
recently that an attempt was being made to launch a
full-scale war against India in Kashmir through
battle-hardened supporters of Osama. The USA must realise
that a terrorist is a threat to civilised society even
when he does not specifically target US personnel or
property. What it should also realise is that in most
recent incidents of terrorism around the world, one
common factor has been Pakistan. It has been aiding and
abetting violence with impunity. The same USA which is
now worked up over the gruesome murder of its citizens
looked the other way when similar tactics were being
employed in Afghanistan, India and many other countries
of the world. Even now, the route to capturing Osama bin
Laden lies through Pakistan.
IN an exclusive interview with a national paper, the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, termed as very unfortunate the divide which exists between the defence bureaucracy and the armed forces. He has asked the three Service Chiefs to submit proposals for restructuring the Defence Ministry to remove this unpleasant situation, which although deep rooted in history, is related mostly to attitudes.
To say that the strategic landscape remains unsettled would be an under-statement. In the brief 50 years since Independence, the Indian military has fought three major wars, performed numerous non-traditional humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, struggled to adjust to a variety of social demands such as the full integration of women in the officer ranks, and at the same time attempted to prepare for the 21st century. What is more, the armed services have been asked to do all this within the worst budgetary environment. As a result, the Indian military faces a dilemma; how to respond to the uncertainties of the new domestic and strategic landscapes, maintain a healthy relationship with Indian civil society, and yet retain its core raison detre, which is to deter or win war against the nations enemies.
The Indian military has been particularly facing this dilemma following the 1962 Chinese debacle, the two inconclusive wars with Pakistan, and the 1984 Sri Lanka fiasco. At least one lesson clearly emerged from those experiences; the military profession dare not withdraw into an ethical cocoon and take on a defensive posture. Instead, it must make a prudent and positive response to the travails imposed on it and not shrink from articulating its views in the public square. In short, senior military officers must reshape the very notion of military professionalism by candidly admitting the impact of politics on the militarys ability to do its job and daring to practice constructive political engagement. The above would appear to violate the sacred code of silence by which the Indian military is strictly apolitical, offers technical advice only, and goes out of its way to honour the principle of civilian control. But only through constructive political engagement can military professionals legitimate their role in policy debates, provide a clear boundary between defence policy and merely partisan politics, and provide the Indian public with a clearer understanding of military life and culture. Nor are constructive political engagement and loyalty to the country, civilian leadership, and the Constitution in any way incongruous. Indeed, such constructive political engagement, far from threatening to make the military an independent actor, presupposes that the military is dependent upon a variety of political actors and the public at large. It is because the Indian military is under such tight civilian control that it needs to make its voice heard in civilian councils.
Any number of issues might fall within the scope of constructive political engagement, but the two most critical are the so-called democratisation of the military (the convergence or divergence between the military and society) and the problematical utility of military force in the foreign policy contingencies of the century to come. These issues are interconnected and have a profound impact on the militarys operational effectiveness.
Nothing makes the point more eloquently than the Sri Lanka episode, the mismanagement of which forced military professionals, especially in the Army, to go through an agonising reappraisal of the meaning of the military profession. In the broader policy arena, the failure of senior military leaders to speak out with a realistic military perspective that war provides is an enduring lesson for military professionals. Recently, the role of the chiefs of staff in the decision to go to war in Sri Lanka and in its conduct has been studied and found wanting, precisely because these three silent men did not give voice to their professional doubts, but instead submerged themselves under a cloak of political deception.
What is forgotten is that a top soldier is a citizen first and a soldier second, and that troops under his command are an instrument of the peoples will. The Indian Army is really a peoples Army in the sense that it belongs to the Indian people who must take a jealous proprietary interest in its involvement... The Indian Army is not so much an arm of the executive branch as it as an arm of the Indian people. Therefore, as military professionals we must speak out, we must counsel our political leaders and alert the Indian public that there is no such thing as a war fought on the cheap... The Army must make the price of involvement clear before we get involved so that the country can weigh the probable costs of involvement against the degree of non-involvement.
It now seems clear that the Indian military belongs to the Indian people, and military professionals have the duty and obligation to ensure that the people and political leaders are counselled and alerted to the needs and necessities of military life. This cannot be done by adhering to a notion of the military profession as a silent order of monks isolated from the political realm.
Most importantly, the military brass should feel no hesitancy about providing the President, who is also the commander-in-chief, with its specific and clear opinion on important military issues. Disagreements that arise among the military, the President, and members of Parliament should not be stifled, but should be aired honestly without prejudice to the militarys obedience to, and implementation of, civilian directives. Nor should the armed forces wait until a debate occurs before presenting its perspective and objections to a given policy line. Military professionals ought to be as free to make known their technical judgements without conjuring fears that they are trying to escape civilian control. The alternative, after all, is to perpetuate the timidity, extreme defensiveness, and fear of criticism from the public and Parliament that seems to pervade the military today.
The wide range of civil-military contacts enumerated above would seem a basis for challenging the notion of a widening gap between the military and society in India. But to the extent the military and society do exist in two worlds, such a gap would only seem to underscore the need for a more politically streetwise military, one attuned to certain values and institutions. Indeed, to ensure that the needed equilibrium between the military and society is not thrown out of balance, military professionals must engage in the political process. Such engagement would lead to a clearer civilian understanding of military culture and help to correct the distorted views and unrealistic images that currently threaten the effectiveness of the military. The real danger today is not military dominance of civil government, but rather a civilian policy elite dominating a military of which it has only the most superficial understanding, and thus imposing on the military frivolous reforms and imprudent commitments without regard to long-term consequences.
To conclude, let our Army speak out in order to institutionalise decision making in the country. We cannot afford insecurity driven policies, leading to polarisation and vendettas. The Pakistan Army Chief, Gen Jehangir Karamat, went public and resigned on this very issue. Unless that is done, the existing divide between the defence bureaucracy and the armed forces will still remain.
East Asian crisis and IMF
AS the East Asian crisis continues to deepen, the debate on the role of the International Monetary Funds policies has heated up.
The IMFs top officials continue to defend their macroeconomic approach of squeezing the domestic economies of their client countries through high interest rates, tight monetary policies and cuts in the government budget. Their argument is that this pain is needed to restore foreign investors confidence, and so strengthen the countries currencies.
However, some economists had already warned at the start of the IMF treatment for Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea that this set of policies is misplaced as it would transform a financial problem that could be resolved through debt restructuring, into a full-blown economic crisis.
The prediction has come true, with a vengeance. The three countries under the IMFs direct tutelage have slided into deep recession. Partly due to spillover effects, other countries such as Malaysia and Hong Kong have also suffered negative growth in the years first quarter. Even Singapore is tottering on the brink of minus growth.
For the countries afflicted with sharp currency depreciations and share market declines, the first set of problems involved the heavy debt servicing burden of local banks and companies that had taken loans in foreign currencies; the fall in the value of shares pledged as collateral for their loans, with its resulting weakening of the financial position of banks, and inflation caused by rising import prices.
But then came a second set of problems resulting from the high interest rates and tight monetary and fiscal policies that the IMF imposed or advised. For companies already hit by the declines in the currency and share values, the interest rate hike became a third burden that broke their backs.
But even worse, there are thousands of firms (most of them small or medium-sized) that have now been affected in each country. Their owners and managers did not make the mistake of borrowing from abroad (nor did they have the clout to do so). The great majority of them are also not listed on the stock market. Therefore, they cannot be blamed for having contributed to the crisis by imprudent foreign loans or fiddling with inflated share values.
Yet these companies are now hit by the sharp rise in interest rates, a liquidity squeeze as financial institutions are tight-fisted with (or even halt) new loans, and the slowdown in orders as the public sector cuts its spending.
The interest rate hike and the reluctance of many banks to provide new loans have caused serious difficulties for many firms and consumers. This has led to open complaints against the financial institutions by the business sector, and to calls by political leaders, including the Prime Minister, to find measures to reduce the lending rates.
In this matter, countries subjected to currency speculation face a serious dilemma. They have been told by the IMF that lowering the interest rate might cause the market to lose confidence and savers to lose incentive, and thus the country risks capital flight and currency depreciation.
However, to maintain high interest rates or increase them further will cause companies to go bankrupt, increase the non-performing loans of banks, weaken the banking system, and dampen consumer demand.
These, together with the reduction in government spending, will plunge the economy into deeper and deeper recession. And that in turn will anyway cause erosion of confidence in the currency and thus increase the risk of capital flight and depreciation. A higher interest rate regime, in other words, may not boost the currencys level but could depress it further if it induces a deep and lengthy recession.
This is in fact what is
happening. The main bright spot for Thailand, South
Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia is that as recession hits
their domestic economies, there has been a contraction in
imports, resulting in large trade surpluses.
BEARING and rearing your first one is a curious mix of joy, affection, warmth, fun and confusion. All mothers have their share of it. I was the blessed one to have it twice overconcurrently. The result? Confusion, fun, joy, affection, all together in a concentrated form.
The news of twin foetus was great. I was to be a mother of two in one go. On first blush the information was received with the relief of undergoing pregnancy only once, not knowing or even imagining what I was heading for. Reaction of the man responsible was practical. Double expenses, that is, two prams, two walkers, two wardrobes, two bikes, double school fee; everything twice over. Despite his apprehensions, my euphoria never subsided. My thoughts revolved around Comedy of Errors, Angoor, Ram aur Shyam. Life was going to be so comical and cute with two toddlers walking in different directions, simultaneously calling for attention. I would not wait to have the little angels in my arms.
Finally, the D day came and the doctor announced the arrival of the two souls. Friends congratulated us twice over. Within a week of their arrival, the duo gave me the first feel of their plans. One of the two had an eye problem, So a visit to the eye specialist was advised. The doctor opened the babys right eye, then the left eye, then the right again and looked at me inquisitively. In a flash of a second it dawned upon me Oh God! the one with the eye problem was home, sleeping in the arms of his granny. I had brought the wrong baby to the doctor. The doctor, the nurse and the patients in waiting had just witnessed what Shakespeare had only imagined.
Next time I was saved of the public gaze. It happened within the four walls of my room. I fed one child and went to the kitchen to warm the milk for the other. When I returned from the kitchen, both of them were howling. I lifted one and started feeding him. He refused to hold the bottle and started howling louder. The other one was yelling too. I did not know what to do and then the one in my arm, whom I was trying to feed burped. That was the first encounter of the famished other with the errors.
Soon the brats started walking and I wished I had no drapes, sofas, carpets, just the bare room with nothing that could be broken or messed around with. Nothing was ever in its right place. Drawing room would be decorated with patilas and karchhis and the kitchen with brooms and wipers. My life had become funny, more for others than for myself.
This bundle of joy is a source of confusion for others too. I took them to the school for their admission. One of them was interviewed and I was told to wait for the result to be despatched by post. Saying my thanks I came out of the office of the Principal and entered again with the second one in toe. The Principal gave me a cold look. Before the situation could worsen, I proudly explained that I was a mother of twins.
Naming the duo was another tough exercise. Suggestions poured from everywhere. It started from mythological Love and Kush, Karna, Arjun to Kaju Kishmish to the latest film duo of Judwan. Anyway I settled for the less pretentious Karan and Kartik.
Now that they have started going to school, things are much easier. They respond to their names; lesser errors. But even now I have difficulty at times when I think my neck would break looking at the first one and then the other performing acrobatics or dancing. I am forced to go through the ordeal of listening to their tales again and again. They still drive me crazy by lying and blaming each other. Once, one of them took hours writing one page of alphabets. As he came to inform me of his achievement, the other one thought that some of the alphabets were not written appropriately. So he tried rubbing them and in the process erased everything that was written by the hard worker.
Now, who did it? is a question I try avoiding as I knew I would never get the right answer. The two are quiet a handful when one of them is scolded. They have somehow got the message that united they stand and so they try and befool others by lying.
Why infrastructure is ignored?
IN the week that the entire national press was getting hysterical over the recitation of the Saraswati Vandana at the State Education Ministers conference another equally important conference was taking place in Delhi which went almost completely unreported. It was a conference on infrastructure, organised by the CII (Confederation of Indian Industries) and for the highlight of it was an address by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, which left me stunned. I had heard from businessmen that Naidu was the only Indian politician who really understood what lay behind our economic problems but, to tell you the truth, I had not expected anything near the performance he gave that morning in Delhi.
Infrastructure is fashionable these days. Every other politician I meet in the corridors of power, and lower down the line, are eloquent on the importance of infrastructure but, generally, their understanding of the subject is about as superficial and futile as that of our Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha, whose address at the beginning of the conference shocked businessmen by its shallowness. The Finance Minister breezed in to inform the gathering that he had been very busy lately so he had spent the drive to the conference hall thinking about three important things to say on infrastructure. Businessmen I talked to afterwards said that it was hardly surprising that he had nothing of any significance to say on infrastructure and instead rambled on about how he had been told in New York that he was in the temple of capitalism and how this had given him the opportunity to make a few witty jibes.
We were not allowed questions afterwards or I would have asked him what this had to do with infrastructure, said a businessman in the business of building infrastructure. Others said that they had been expecting the Finance Minister, as the most important economic minister in the country, to outline an agenda of how India was going to cope with its infrastructure demands in the next few years and where the money was going to come from. He had not one word to say on this subject. Almost, as if he did not know that we need 60,000 megawatts of additional power in the next ten years if we are to meet the minimum needs of the average Indian a light bulb and a fan. We are also probably the only country in the world that does not yet have a modern road. Even Pakistan has managed to build itself a motorway from Lahore to Islamabad.
The reason why the Finance Minister is so important is because in any country in the world, even those who believe firmly in private investment in the infrastructure area, more than half the roads, power plants, airports and ports have to be built by the government. It is one of the fundamental responsibilities of any government and in India if we are still nowhere near building even our first modern road it is mainly because we have had Finance Ministers who have either not understood the importance of infrastructure or have not managed to raise the money to build it.
In our old socialist days there was also an attitude problem. Socialists of the kind that made up the upper echelons of the Congress Party seriously believed that roads and airports were luxury items that served only the rich. They preferred, therefore, not to build them in case they were thought to be putting too much money into facilities that were only for the rich.
Our tragedy is that even now we have few politicians who realise that there can be no development without roads and electricity. Villages where these two 21st century necessities have become available are today 50 years ahead of those where they have not even in our own country. Chandrababu Naidu is one of a very small number of politicians in India who has understood this.
He began his speech by saying: According to a global competitiveness report which I just saw we are among the top countries in the world where are scientists and engineers are concerned but when it comes to infrastructure we are ranked 53rd. Nature has given our country everything to develop....but without infrastructure there can be neither development nor economic growth.
Then, through a slick slide show he outlined exactly where Andhra Pradesh stood in infrastructure matters and where it planned to go. In the area of power, for instance, they plan to be generating 35,000 megawatts by 2020. They were looking for as much private sector participation as possible and were changing their electricity laws to ensure that this participation was made easy.
He went on then to roads and said that they had identified 10,266 km of roads which were considered high density and these would be made into four-lane super highways. On from roads to ports and he said that in India ports were so dilapidated that they had become one of our biggest bottlenecks. Andhra, he pointed out, had a long coastline which was ideal for setting up ports. The ones they already had were being modernised. On airports he said that not only were trying to develop Hyderabad into a major international airport, and thinking of doing this elsewhere as well, but they were thinking of Hyderabad as an international hub for travellers between Europe and Asia.
At the end of the thunderous applause Naidu got after he had finished speaking, a businessman asked him whether he was managing to sell his reformist ideas to the people. It had been seen, he pointed out, that other reformers (like Narasimha Rao) had been unable to win elections on the strength of their reforms. Naidu replied that he was trying to ensure that along with everything else he was not neglecting the small things that were essential for ordinary people to see that a government was doing something. He had raised loans that were available to build village houses, he said, increased pensions and started several programmes that would involve ordinary people in development.
Naidu was recently in the
United States seeking investment in Andhra. CII Secretary
General, Tarun Das, travelled with him. There was
not a meeting he said that ended without
someone or other asking him when he was going to become
Prime Minister of India. After listening to him
speaking in Delhi that day I would like to say that India
could be a developed country in 15 years if that ever
National obsession with news
CONCEDING that Indians are the greatest political animals in the world one still feels that television news is getting out of bounds. Certainly in quality.
There are two full-time foreign news channels, CNN and the BBC. The first has not really caught on in India, one reason being that even its sports news is not of immediate interest to India. And no matter what its statistics, Indian viewers still look on it as more America-orientated than Indian. I find even Larry King a bit out of the way as far as his interviewees are concerned. And, frankly, I only watch CNN where there is a major international event. It is the channel I watched least. The BBC is now going desi like the rest and even its programme, Question Time India, has got bogged down in the capital with the same politicians and the same political issues as all the Indian channels.
The most recent innovations have been in Star News which has nation wide, a one-hour news programme which tries to get away to the regions. This is certainly giving a better deal to say, the North-East, which is the most neglected part of India as far as news goes. It has an excellent team of regional correspondents. The technical glitches which are still obvious are due to lack of uplinking facilities which are long overdue and to which the ministers and bureaucrats concerned are giving a prejudiced so-called patriotic twist which will soon become obsolete as electronics are progressing very fast and will outstrip them. Nation wide also picks up off-beat items and recently it has had experienced analysts, such as Pran Chopra to comment on the days news. It also has its one-hour News Hour which is a good round-up of the days news with people being interviewed in between. Star News has assiduously built up over the years a good team of staff correspondents and anchors and is doing very well with these new programmes. But it must build up a team of good newscasters as well some of whom mispronounce words and literally dont know where to look. Of two other new programmes, Sawal Aap Ka has slightly improved in its choice of guests but needs much more research and punch. I also watched the week-end programme Limelight, anchored by Sunil Sethi. Sunil started his career in radio and his rather stiff style of speech still has a hangover from radio. TV is a different medium altogether, and Sunil needs to relax in speech, the way he sits, the way he looks at the camera, in fact he just has to be himself, which is good enough, and not his concept of what a TV anchor should be.
With the increase in news programmes, I find the same people being repeated in the same way on all channels. Mahesh Bhatts interviews ranged from two minutes to half an hour and had little variety in approach. I have lost count of how many times I watched him on Star News alone. And I find some of the interviewing not only amateurish but at times appalling. The art of interviewing seems to be almost non-existent, especially where non-political personalities are concerned. The questions are superficial and monotonous and get the kind of trite answers they deserve. I felt the people who interviewed Jahnu Barua had probably not seen any Assamese film, let alone Jahnus films, in their life. The kind of questions they asked betrayed that at every step. Perhaps it is time the more ambitious channels had specialist interviewers to interview special people and not let routine generalists skim over interesting subjects in a cursory manner.
If Minister Mukhtar
Naqvis knowledge of cricket is anything like his
knowledge of broadcasting, the line I am about to write
will be completely lost. He has been spending too much
time in transferring people like the DG News in
Doordarshan because his Gorakhpur correspondent did not
put the Ministers luggage in his rail compartment.
He also keeps on dropping pearls of wisdom at various
places which have become media jokes nation-wide. I would
suggest he gives some time and thought instead to the way
the relays of international cricket matches are being
massacred by Doordarshan. It cuts off commentaries in
mid-sentence, lets viewers miss the first two balls of an
over and cuts off important interviews to push in
untimely, crude advertisements. They are even put in
mindlessly. The minute Tendulkars wicket fell, they
put in the cheery ad with him. When Dravids wicket
fell, they did the same. If DD cannot give Indian viewers
their full view of a match and complete commentaries,
they should give up their monopoly and let properly
qualified channels take over. Mr Rakesh Bahadur of the
IAS who, coincidentally, holds charge of both sports and
advertising at Mandi House, has a lot to answer for to
viewers and sports lovers in this regard. And so does Mr
Rainfall in the last season
SHIMLA: During the rainy season the Bay monsoon was vigorous and caused widespread rain in Burma and the greater part of Northern India. Very heavy rain fell on the Tenasserim, Arakan and Chittagong coasts, three to four times the normal amount being received in the last two areas.
Akyab had 43 inches in the week and Sandoway 49 inches up to the morning of the last day of the last month.
The Arabian sea monsoon was weak in the Peninsula outside Malabar, but over the rest of its field it was vigorous and produced heavy rain in conjunction with two depressions.
The first of these, which appeared over the East Coast, disappeared on the same day after causing heavy rain there and in the north-west of the Central Provinces.
The second formed over south-east Bengal and moving westwards reached Rajputana.
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