|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Wednesday, September 30, 1998
psyche & terrorism
An unwanted debate
LATE on Friday last Home Minister L.K. Advani was quite clear that there was no loss of face for the government or the BJP in the wake of the presidential rejection of the Art 356 recommendation. And he was right and reflected the correct and sober understanding of the situation. After all, the Union Cabinet recommended the dismissal of the Rabri Devi government in Bihar on the basis of its appreciation of the ground-level reality and its perception of the constitutional provision; the President returned the recommendation for reconsideration on the basis of his appreciation of the reality and his perception of the constitutional provision. As Dr L.M. Singhvi eloquently argues in an article in a Delhi-based newspaper, legal perceptions vary, and sharply conflicting conclusions on a sensitive and serious issue are not valid enough ground for a rancorous debate. Yet Home Minister Advani in his supreme wisdom (to quote his own words used to describe the Presidents action) has called for a national debate seemingly on the meaning and scope of Art 356 but in reality on the use or non-use of the Article in the specific case of Bihar. In other words, he seems to want an opportunity to present the governments case before the larger court of public opinion and perhaps work for a consensus in support of its recommendation. His Jaipur speech on Monday identifies the other parties to the debate : the unholy gang-up of parties behind Laloo Yadavs RJD which itself represents the malignant and uncouth element of Indian politics. It is obvious from the initial reaction that the opposition parties are not eager for a debate, gloating as they are over the BJPs embarrassment.
This is not the only
reason for dropping the idea of a national debate. By
repeatedly asserting the compelling grounds for
dismissal, the BJP, including Mr Advani, is subtly
insinuating that the President failed to fully grasp the
seriousness of the charges. The other side of the same
observation is that the Union Cabinet (and Bihar Governor
S.S. Bhandari) had failed to stitch together a convincing
case. Other BJP leaders have been less circumspect.
President Thakre was rather sharp: if Art 356 cannot be
invoked to set things right in Bihar, it is a dead
letter, he says. The implication is that Bihar provides
the first fit case for dismissal and the President has
misread the situation. Party spokesman Venkaiah Naidu was
even sharper. The BJP wanted to help the sad people of
Bihar and it has been frustrated! Is it then a case of
Rashtrapati Bhavan blocking pro-Bihari measures? The
angriest remark has come from Patna-based Mr Sushil Kumar
Modi, leader of the 43-member BJP legislature party. He
has pointed out that the President is a former Congress
MP, and should visit his state for an on-the-spot
examination like the bureaucratic teams Mr Advani sent to
Bihar and West Bengal. That was somewhat crude, but par
for senior Bihari politicians. Right now the one-sided
debate has not spilled over to the
inadmissible space, even though there is an unwise trace
of bitterness in the remarks. But as more leaders join
the fray, there is a distinct fear that the office of
President will be sucked in, and that is a no-no thing.
Election time is particularly an indecorous time and a
debate on Art 356 along the lines being conducted now is
a sure recipe for intolerable involvement of the Head of
State. Messrs Thakre and company should remember what
they said about the resounding presidential
No to the dismissal of the Kalyan Singh
Ministry in October last. The mere memory will act as a
THE concept of "friendly neighbourhood policemen" had become discredited quite a long time ago. Now even the image of an unhelpful policeman driven only by the lure of the lucre is getting further sullied. The way some of them are actively involved in criminal activities is a matter of grave concern. If reports about some policemen breaking into a few houses in a village near Ladwa in Haryana with the intent of robbing them are true, these mark a new low in the credibility of policemen. They are believed to be armed with everything from crowbars to break open the houses to chemicals to turn the residents unconscious. Their crime is further compounded by the fact that they were using a bulletproof police jeep. They are even alleged to have misbehaved with women. As usual, the police has tried to make light of the incident by saying that only one policeman, a driver, had gone to the village under the influence of liquor in a government vehicle and he would be suitably punished. That flies in the face of eyewitnesses who claim that there were four or five policemen. There are many who believe that the "Kale kachhchhewale" gangs in the state are made up of certain policemen. Naturally, there was considerable tension in the area and the people tried to vent their ire by blocking traffic. It is fortunate that the situation did not take an ugly turn.
By rising to the defence
of their colleagues who have erred, the police personnel
only strengthen the feeling that the entire department is
untrustworthy. What needs to be acknowledged instead is
that there are some black sheep in the police ranks. They
should be punished severely and swiftly. Unfortunately,
that never happens. The attempt is always to either
discredit the citizens who raise their voice against the
police atrocity or to prolong the investigation so much
that the very purpose of the enquiry is defeated. With
that kind of attitude being prevalent, police involvement
in criminal activity seems to be increasing. Only last
week, there were reports of a few Home Guards raping a
woman in a train near Ludhiana. From Bombay, there have
been allegations of some policemen indulging in contract
killings. The consequences are disastrous for the whole
country. When the impression gains ground that there is
no law and order and no remedy for a wronged person
because the keepers of the law are themselves the biggest
law-breakers, even law-abiding citizens fall into the
trap of self-styled vigilantes. The rise of terrorism in
Punjab had its genesis, among other factors, in the
highhandedness of the police. It is regrettable that no
lessons have been learnt from that nightmare. Senior
police officials must do serious soul-searching and
decide whether it is right for them to defend those who
misuse their uniform and thereby help in the rise of
disaffection against the state or to be on the side of
justice and restore peoples' faith in the law.
Bear children, not grudge
ENOUGH statistics can be marshalled to prove the case that todays marriages, among the career-minded generation across the globe, are not necessarily made in heaven and that the birth of a child is not an expression of divine will but an indication of mutual consent. In an increasingly gender-friendly world the issue of who shall change the nappies must be settled first before the nine-month process for bearing a child can get started. Unfortunately, courts everywhere take a dim view of such marital arrangements. If one party raises a dispute the courts not only order the restitution of conjugal rights but also allow the petitioner all the consequential benefits of unhindered natural matrimonial alliance, including the birth of a child to make the family complete. An Egyptian judge merely followed the approved script when he ordered a university professor to return to her husband and bear him children. To be fair the professor, a nuclear scientist at Alexandria University, had merely agreed with her husband (and not imposed her will on him) not to bear children until she had completed her research work. It appeared to be a sensible arrangement because the professor did not want the foetus to be exposed to harmful radiation. But how long is long enough for any research work to get completed?
The MCPs may agree with
the husband that 15 years was a long enough wait for his
wife to complete her research (in an unspecified area of
nuclear science) and get on with the matrimonial business
of producing babies. He must have argued before the court
that the best nuclear scientists take much less time to
produce a bomb and that his wifes seemingly endless
exploration for something new in the expanding world of
nuclear physics was meant to deny him the pleasure of
raising a family and live happily everafter. He did try
to reason with her, but when she left home in March, the
harassed husband sought judicial intervention to earn for
himself the right which in the good old days was part of
the matrimonial package. The court, in its wisdom, ruled
that a no-child agreement had no legal basis
and ordered the professor to give up the bomb, or
whatever she was busy producing in the laboratory, and
get on with the business of child-bearing. Hopefully, the
wife would do the courts bidding and bear a child
and not harbour a grudge against her husband for breaking
what she thought was a scared marriage vow. Before the
feminists of the world cry foul, they should try to see
the issue of no issue, for a period of 15
years, through the eyes of the aggrieved husband. He did
not want a child who would call him daddy as a
HUMAN PSYCHE & TERRORISM
TERRORISM is a global menace. It has no place in a civilised society. Terrorism is a crime against humanity. The United Nations has taken a strong stand against terrorism. Wherever terrorism takes place, it has to be condemned and resisted, said Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India, on August 23.
On August 7, 1998, the terrorists bombed the US embassies in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) killing more than 250 people. The US retaliated by missile strikes on suspected terrorist bases in Khost, about 45 km south of the Afghan capital, Kabul, and a similar attack on a Sudanese chemical plant in Khartoum. The USA fired 75 cruise Tomahawk missiles on August 20. It is said to have claimed 27 lives, left about 50 wounded and hundreds missing. The strikes violated the sovereignty concept as enshrined in the UN Charter.
A former ISI chief, Gen Hamid Gul, claimed that such precision bombing could not be achieved in the strikes if only cruise missiles were used. He asserted that fighter aircraft firing precision-guided munitions, and coordinated by sophisticated force multipliers like AWACS and J-STARS must have been used. This shows that the USA has used highly sophisticated weapons to meet terrorism.
The US Defence Secretary, Mr William Cohen, said in an article published in The Washington Post (August 24), The US strikes against terrorist facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan should not be seen simply as a response to the August 7 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, but as the long-term fundamental way in which the USA intends to combat the forces of terror. Mr Mahmood Saikal, Afghanistans Honorary Consul to Australia, said on August 23, according to a DPA report, We believe the time has come that the CIA should sit down with the Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate (ISI) of Pakistan and question the ISI for nurturing terrorism inside Afghanistan.
The US rationale behind the missile attacks has opened a new Pandoras box. Mr Richard Norton Taylor wrote, Nuclear strikes against terrorist groups armed with weapons of mass destruction are part of official US military doctrine. The British-American Security Information Council (BASIC), an independent research group, wrote, Neither the law of armed conflict nor any other customary or conventional international law prohibits the use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict. This suggests the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in such strikes.
The international community should launch a collective action, a universal peace plan, against international terrorism. We must evolve a common strategy, preferably under the auspices of the United Nations, to deal with the menace of terrorism, or in other words, concerted global action to end terrorism root and branches.
This article explores the basic question whether the missile strike by the USA in Afghanistan and Sudan against terrorism-related sites can end terrorism. Is this the right and just way to combat the forces of terror? Can we collectively explore a global plan to end terrorism? Such an exploration is bound to lead to a long-term action plan.
Modern science has shown that all the crises/challenges facing mankind are constructs of the mind-brain-body system. The patterns scientists observe in nature are intimately connected with the patterns of their minds with their concepts, thoughts and values. We see our reactions out there which are reflections of what is going on in here. Whatever we see in the overall picture is simply a reaction of what is happening (inner world) in each person. This suggests that all reforms in the socio-economic-political fields have never transformed human motivations and desires and they never will, because they deal with the symptoms in the external world. Without radically transforming ourselves, there can be no transformation of society, or in other words, there can be no end to violence, environmental challenges, corruption, terrorism, and so on.
The psycho-social evolution over uncountable aeons of time have resulted in the fragmentation of human psyche into the object and the subject. There is energy interaction via photon exchange which leads to coherent superpositions of different webs; and this results into a mutilated perception of the object and modified memory which again gets recorded as frequency and amplitude information. The recorded subtle matter content is called cultural belief structure, or behaviour patterns, or matter content of the consciousness. In technical parlance, this is called conditioning of the mind-brain-body system or conditioning of the human psyche or psychic pandemic. The cultural belief structure is meta-stable, it spontaneously disintegrates to thought, so thought is matter. The quality and quantity of characteristics of thought is responsible for human behaviour.
The interaction between the subject and the object may be expressed as: Object + Subject è Mutilated Perception + Modified Memory
The mutilated perception is invariably accompanied by emotions or feelings, or identification, and this split in the psyche leading to energy exchange gives rise to all psychological imbalances. This we call living which is antagonistic to the laws of nature. The psychological imbalances also express themselves as psychic imbalances, violence, global terrorism, corruption, religious fundamentalism, and so on; which implies creating distance between the observer and the thing observed. And in that distance, the division between the seer (observer) and the thing seen (observed), the whole conflict of man exists. All psychological imbalances are basically illusions based on a false concept that the object and the subject are two separate entities.
Man has emerged as a violent species. He has built a society which is violent and we, as human beings, are violent. Violence has become a part of society by the long denial of justice. No human society has an inbuilt mechanism for peaceful transformation and self-correction. We live in the external world, deal with the symptoms, and this cannot transform human nature. The violence is basically due to the stored matter content of the consciousness, which expresses itself as terrorism. All concepts, ideals, thought-patterns, appeals by the United Nations or religious/political leaders cannot bring in radical transformation, or the mutation of the human psyche. As terrorism is a construct of thought-patterns, so the challenge cannot be resolved by missile (or nuclear) strikes against terrorist groups. It appears that such strikes, which is a violent activity in the external field, may suppress terrorism temporarily due to fear, but it cannot end violence in the human psyche unless the inner psyche of man is transformed.
The answer to the human paradox lies in understanding the psychodynamics of the conditioned psyche and living in the light of that feelingful understanding.
In the psychological mode of mind, the subject of cognisance is recalled memory. This leads one to live perpetually in conflict, in contradiction. Inwardly, there is no duality. There is only what is, that is I am violent. Violence implies that the human brain is not living in symbiosis with nature, but it brings rupture and opposition between man and nature. So we have to learn to observe a fact, a thought, without interfering in its flow. One has to be aware of ones own inward activities, watch what one is thinking and never let even one thought escape without observing the nature of it, the source of it. This implies that memory as the subject of cognisance goes to abeyance, and attentivity takes over as the true subject of cognisance. When one is observing, enquiring into the fact, there is no conflict in the mind. The attentiveness is invariably synergistic to the fact, so there is the flow of energy, from attentiveness to the fact raising the fact to the same quantum energy potential as the attentiveness. This leads to the perception of the fact, what is the truth. When one is attentive, all the conditioning disappears, all the image-building comes to an end, and having no image there is then no division. This leads to an important conclusion that the thinker is the thought, the seer is the seen, the observer is the observed. This frame of reference, where there is no division between the observer and the observed, is called the non-dual or non-symbolic frame of reference.
Vimala Thakar, the greatest living saint-philosopher, gave the most powerful metaphor, The human being seems to be born with the faculty of self-awareness and understanding. That understanding which is not knowing has a perceptive sensitivity. Understanding comes when the cerebral activity goes to abeyance voluntarily. J. Krishnamurti wrote, Understanding comes only when the mind is very quiet.... Only the truth can liberate the mind from its own ideation, to see the truth, the mind must realise the fact that so long as it is agitated it can have no understanding. The symbolic-dualistic frame of reference of the mind spectrum has self-awareness. The non-dual frame of reference of the mind spectrum is bestowed with understanding. The quantum jump from the symbolic-dualistic frame to non-dual frame of reference implies a quantum jump from self-awareness to understanding.
The essence of the masterplan is (a) restructuring of science. Karl Pribram stated, Brain science must deal with the awareness of awareness. It could no longer afford to shut out that part of the world which we call subjective. It implies seeing the subjective and objective together without interaction of the subject and the object. (b) Restructuring of education: the first step is to educate the educator. The second step is to introduce the dynamics of the mind-brain-body system in the science faculty, and transpersonal psychology in the arts faculty as a part of the curricula. The third step is the integration of spirituality (science of life) and science. The fourth step is a new vision on holistic health. The fifth step is to learn the scientific observation of the conditioned psyche and the art of living. (c) Awareness of human values: all ethical values are essentially spiritual values; they proceed from the trans-sensual dimension of man. A dynamic interplay of science and spirituality bestows the true human values.
As we march towards the 21st century, we shall have to find the answers and a credible mechanism to the aberrations of the past. The US missile (or nuclear) strikes on suspected terrorist bases in another independent and sovereign state can create panic and fear, but it cannot resolve the crisis of terrorism in the human psyche. The fundamental way to combat the forces of terror is to radically transform the human psyche.
What is needed today is a mutation of the human psyche, the creation of a new landscape for life and the building of a new edifice on the foundational plank of justice, equity and oneness of mankind. We must understand that an order in the external world is only a reflection of the order in the internal world. A sustainable social order, both nationally and internationally, cannot be achieved by laws, concepts, ideals, prescriptions, appeals and conventions alone. It needs a global ethic. Again there cannot be a global order without a global ethic, and a global ethic emerges from a non-dual mode of human perception. What we need is a spiritual regeneration of our forgotten past heritage to be a beacon to humankind.
Peace is related to human psychology. It requires the mutation of the human psyche. Peace is not only non-war and non-aggression in the external world, but it is also non-violence in thought, word and deed in the inner world. It is moving from a fragmentary, partial or compartmentalised perspective of life to a holistic view of it. There has to be a global effort in this direction which has to be monitored and coordinated by a global agency.
Humanity is poised for the most crucial and the most difficult transition it has ever sought to accomplish. This is for the first time that the human race is faced with an unprecedented crisis of survival. As the crisis is new, so the response must be new. The resolution of the challenge is offering the last chance to work for the mutation of ones psyche. It is an open call to a higher hierarchical level of expression of consciousness through our daily living.
It is the integral dimension of consciousness that can resolve all challenges facing mankind. It is to heal the diseased mind-brain-body system. This is the only guarantee to human survival and excellence.
A look at India-South Africa rift
THE end of apartheid and the installation of a democratic and non-racial government in Pretoria in May, 1994, opened a new chapter in the history of India-South Africa relations. Even earlier, there had been an enormous fund of mutual goodwill in both countries based on the pioneering role played by Mahatma Gandhi in establishing the foundation of the South African freedom struggle and the sustained support provided by India to the struggle against apartheid. Added to this is Indias respect and admiration for Mr Nelson Mandelas leadership, whose life is a saga of commitment for human values, justice and equality.
During the past four years and more, the fund of goodwill has translated itself in a very intensive interaction between the two countries in varied fields of activity economic, social and cultural and the cooperation is there for everyone to see. The exchange of high-level visits between the two countries has given added strength to mutual cooperation.
But during the past few months, Indo-South African relations have been on the downslide, touching their nadir at the recently concluded 12th summit of the non-aligned movement in Durban. President Mandelas unfortunate reference to Jammu and Kashmir at the inaugural session of the NAM summit and needlessly offering NAMs support in solving the J&K imbroglio damaged the relations which then looked irreparable. Overnight an anguished Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had to amend the text of his speech at NAMs plenary in response to Mr Mandelas observations. Coming to J&K, the Indian Prime Minister raised his voice and said: ... The Shimla Agreement which both India and Pakistan have ratified, provides an agreed mechanism for resolving these differences amicably among ourselves. Let us say this loud and clear: there is no place for any third-party involvement in this process, howsoever well intentioned. The State of Jammu and Kashmir is, and will remain, an integral part of India. The real problem there is one of cross-border terrorism.
Where South Africa did succeed at Durban was when it saw to it that a nuclear status was not conceded to India. But in reality this was no defeat, because India has never asked for a recognition of its nuclear status. India believes it is not a conferment.
South Africas estrangement with India did become serious after the latters nuclear tests this May, when Pretoria condemned New Delhi in strong language. But this is not the only issue on which the relations between the two countries have become sour. There are at least two more issues involved.
First was the open complaint by the South African officials and political leaders involved in making arrangements for the 12th NAM summit that India did not provide any logistic help or guidance in the matter. Officials in South Block do say that India did promise help, but the South African side never spelt out the substantive nature of the help guidance required. Hopeful signs are that this issue will soon be forgotten by Pretoria, since it did stage the NAM summit rather efficiently.
Another issue that is causing resentment in South Africa is the quick change of Indian High Commissioners in Pretoria. Mr Harsh Bhasin, a career diplomat, who served as the Consul-General in Johannesburg in 1993-94 and who will resume charge as the new High Commissioner soon, will be the fourth in just over four years. South Africans say it loudly that they feel that India does not take their country seriously but rather casually. Even for New Delhi this is not a happy situation, but the quick changes were unintentional. It is certain that Mr Bhasin will remain in Pretoria for more than his full term.
South Africa is today the Chairman of NAM, but, frankly speaking, in its foreign policy option it is hardly nonaligned; it is too much pro-West, rather pro-USA. Pretorias full support to the USA on the indefinite extension of the NPT, on the CTBT and in lending unqualified support to the World Bank/IMF prescribed development strategy hardly coincides with the interests of the nonaligned countries. Freedom of choice and independence of action, the main principles of NAM, are also lacking.
At the same time, unlike India, South Africa gives first preference to its national interests. Here it must be understood that the South African economy is inextricably linked with those of the Western developed countries of Europe and America, and thus Pretorias national interests hardly lie with the developing nonaligned countries. India and South Africa, therefore, stand at different wavelengths; the global view of the two countries is vastly different.
But all is not lost. There
is still scope for removing the misunderstandings between
India and South Africa. This can be achieved through
continuing dialogue on matters of mutual concern. The
strategic partnership between India and South
Africa that was initiated a couple of years ago must be
given a new lease of life.
The Taliban factor in Kashmir
PAKISTAN and India have agreed not to escalate the line of control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir by continuous firing on each other, during the Prime Ministers talks held on the sidelines of the UN. But the Indian government appears to be in a dilemma on handling the Kashmir issue, as Pakistan does not seem to be sincere in settling the Kashmir issue once and for all. The Pakistanis have a stake in escalation as they want to portray Kashmir as a potential nuclear flashpoint to the world.
It has been confirmed that the recent blood bath at Poonch in Jammu, Uri in Kashmir and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh has Taliban militias hand in the killings of innocent Hindus. It has also been reported that Taliban has taken over militancy from the local militant groups who work only as subsurvients to them. There are more than 200 Talibans operating in Doda district, the hot-bed of insurgency.
With Mr Advanis pro-active policy proving ineffective, the Home Ministry is likely to put into action a plan which will target foreign mercenaries, who have set up a solid network in J&K with the help of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.
A leading Russian newspaper has also warned India against Taliban threat to Kashmir. Cautioning against the threat of Taliban expansion into foreign territories, the daily claims Kashmir can be the next target of Taliban militia after their success in Afghanistan. The popular Russian daily Russki Telegraph claimed that the Taliban, emboldened by their victory in Afghanistan, are preparing to expand its horizons beyond the frontiers of that country.
The news is based on the declaration by Taliban leaders to unleash a holy war for the victory of Islam in India and Central Asia. It has been reported that Taliban rebels have already sneaked into India with ISI help as Afghanistans immediate neighbours Pakistan is providing all financial and manpower support to them.
Contrary to the general belief that Taliban recruits are fighting as hired mercenaries alongside Kashmiri extremists, the paper said the Islamic militia had far more dangerous plans for Kashmir than what India is thinking. The Taliban in Kashmir are not fighting for any fear or money but for an Islamic cause and an ideology.
Infiltration of Talibs into J&K ended their confinement within the frontiers of Afghanistan. Kashmir with the majority Muslim population possibly would be the first foreign conquest of Taliban, if it captures a few outposts on the Indian side of the LoC. Because launching a full-fledged offensive against a 2,50,000-strong Indian Army deployed in J&K is not possible, but their aim will be to capture some Indian territory through hit and run guerrilla tactics.
It is very interesting to note that the USA is silent on Pakistan getting missile support from North Korea and on the other hand is supporting Taliban. It is a folly on the part of the USA to think that Sunni-Shia conflict would not hurt the Western interests or security. As a matter of fact it will be more dangerous than the havoc the USA wrought on this region through the Afghan and Iran-Iraq wars. The narcotics trade exploded, millions of small arms flooded the area and Islamic extremism was spawned.
Mr Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, who described himself as Ambassador-designate of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, accused India, among other countries, of interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, though Taliban movement began only to bring peace and security to Afghanistan, and it has managed to accomplish its task in 95 per cent of the country, he said. The Taliban, Mr Mujahid said, had assured its neighbours on numerous occasions that the changes in Afghanistan did not present any danger to them. The Taliban are against all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other countries. This norm, however has been violated against our country by Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, India and Uzbekistan, said Mr Mujahid at a Press conference held at the UN.
In view of such an explosive situation, India has to formulate its strategy carefully and play its cards at the international forums carefully while tackling Kashmir. The Indian strategy should focus on exposing Pakistan of nuclear blackmail and abetment of terrorism in J&K. Any concessions on Kashmir will amount to encouraging Pakistani nuclear blackmail. It is in this context that Indias no first use declaration is highly significant. It shifts the burden of nuclear-risk proneness on to Pakistan. Projected this way the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue could be converted into internationalisation of Pakistani blackmail.
The second strategy could be that India should ask the major powers to advise Pakistan to follow the Helsinki principles of accepting all existing borders and lines of control without attempting to alter the status quo by force as it has been attempting to do so.
The third strategy should be to expose Pakistan at all international forums regarding its involvement in encouraging terrorism in J&K with evidence of involvement of foreign mercenaries, especially Taliban. The USA and the UK have already taken action in curbing global Islamic terrorism. This is the right time to voice our concern on terrorism to pin down Pakistan which is helping Taliban wholeheartedly.
And finally India has to adopt a pro-active strategy in J&K by giving a free hand to the armed forces to be ruthless in tackling terrorists because it wont be human rights violation. So far the Indian government has left the initiative with Pakistan, despite the fact that the Home Minister is openly announcing a pro-active stand. The unified command in J&K has got to be strengthened under the Army leadership so that a planned operation of attrition of Taliban militia is undertaken seriously.
Proposed telecom tariffs
THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed a new set of tariffs for telecom services and has invited public comments. The final tariff structure is suggested for revision in November, 1998. The proposed tariffs tend to do away with various cross-subsidies and are cost-related. The new frame-work speaks the language of commercial age. In the present structure business phones subsidise the residential phones. TRAI has turned the existing socialist tariff structure on its head.
The basic rental for the telephone has been doubled and the concessional rates that exist for low usage has been erased. For low-end users the call charge structure proposes a uniform Rs 1.30 per 3 minute call from the existing Rs 0.60 to 1.40 for rural areas and Rs 0.80 to 1.40 for non-rural areas for 5 minutes. The domestic long distance calls are to be charged at a maximum of Rs 19.50 per minute from the existing Rs 42. For calls to the USA it has reduced the rates from Rs 84/minute to Rs 39. Similarly for calls to Europe, Asia and Africa the slashing is from Rs 70/minute to Rs 30.
Before analysing the proposed structure let us look at the international scene.
International tariff is immensely lucrative; globally it accounts for 12 to 15 per cent of the revenues of the big telephone companies but a hefty 30 to 40 per cent of their profits. National telephone call costs in $ per 3-minute call for some rich countries are: Germany (1.1), USA (0.6), Canada (0.5) and Britain (0.4). International call rates are: Germany (2.0), USA (1.5); Canada (1.25) and Britain (1.1). The rate of first call between London and New York in 1956 was $ 50. With the technological advance the rate today is just $2.25. Competition from internet as well as that among long distance providers will help drive the cost of phone calls almost to zero.
In the rich OECD countries fixed charges for residential telephones rose only by about 7 per cent between 1990 and 1994. The charges for these users in the same period fell by about 8 per cent. The total of these two charges fell by about 1 per cent. For business users the fixed charges rose by 15 per cent in the same period but remained constant between 1992 and 1994. User charges, however, fell by 15 per cent and the total fall was around 10 per cent through incentives. Rates are not so much distance sensitive as politically sensitive.
In international calls malpractices like call-back services is also keeping a lid on the rates for international calls. A caller in a high cost country say Germany telephones a number in a low cost country say the USA, a computer identifies the caller without answering the telephone, rings back and connects the subscriber to a third country.
The proposed structure is skewed in favour of big users while the existing one is in favour of the small user. It is true that the rentals have not been increased in step with inflation since 1993 but then telecom charges the world over have actually come down even in nominal terms. It is also true that residential customers make few calls and this contributes barely 20 per cent of the total revenue. It takes two parties to make a telephone call.
People in the fixed income group; old and sick will be hard hit by the proposed structure. These categories will find it hard to remain contactable. It is also common knowledge that telephones of this category of persons remain out of order for a sizeable time in a year as they cannot afford hefty tips. So rentals in effect are much more than the nominal rates. TRAI has not linked quality of service with the tariff.
ON the 29th September, five Sikh representatives of the people met Lala Nathuram, Inspector-General of Police, who advised them not to begin agitation merely on the reports of newspapers without any initiative from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
They replied that their own knowledge of facts was clearer than that of reporters and that they knew their own responsibility and were doing nothing on any outsiders instigation.
When the police officer tried to impress upon the Sikhs the view that the Maharaja had voluntarily offered to abdicate, they retorted with the question: Did not the Maharaja Sahib write letters to the Government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee withdrawing his consent from the forced abdication?
At this, another high state official, who was also present, admitted that the letters had been written but that the one addressed to the Government could not be despatched for want of a messenger.
Congress Secretary Arrested
S. Dalip Singh, General
Secretary, District Congress Committee, has been arrested
under Section 380-420 IPC on the complaint of Nathu Ram,
Secretary, DCC. Dalip Singh is in the lockup and the
police are enquiring into the matter. Nathu Ram has been
relieved of his Congress work.
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