|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Wednesday, December 8, 1999
rekha for Judges
OF THE POLITY TODAY
medals for moral courage
December 8, 1924
Lakshman rekha for Judges
THERE is a subtle jurisdictional struggle going on between the higher judiciary and the highest executive, and the former has drawn first blood. This is the significance of the newly evolved code of conduct for the Judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court. By discussing the 15-point self-regulating document and securing the agreement of the Chief Justices of the High Courts, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) has more or less pre-empted the government from imposing its own version on the judiciary. Prime Minister Vajpayee announced the governments decision to set up a judicial commission both to draw up a code of conduct and to select Judges. Now that one task has already been accomplished after an in-house exercise, the focus will be on the nomination to the Benches. The government is very weak here, if not quite helpless. The Supreme Court has in two judgements reserved the right to itself, rather to the CJI and a few of his seniormost colleagues. Is the government unaware of the judgements or does it propose to ignore them and thus provoke a lawyer or whoever to file a public interest litigation and earn a judicial censure? The Prime Minister refers to the election manifesto and claims that the BJP-led alliance has a mandate to undertake these twin tasks. The common man, who has greater respect for the higher judiciary than for the political fraternity, is likely to laugh off any attempt by the latter to tinker with core issues concerning the Judges. He would rather want the government to implement more important and less controversial poll pledges. As a columnist pointed out in this newspaper, the governments record in the matter of judicial appointments is pretty dismal and that was the reason why the apex court took the matter in its hands. There is room for improvement but it should not include wholesale restructuring.
The code of conduct
itself is a long wish-list with no machinery to monitor
its impact and no punishment for any infringement.
Perhaps that is the next step. Two points should go a
long way in removing a routine impropriety. The Judges
are asked not to associate themselves in any manner with
the cases argued by close relations. Now some sons and
daughters of those occupying the Bench have bulging
briefs just because their clientele tends to think that
this way they have a better chance of success. In fact,
the code goes to the extent of virtually banning
practising lawyers to share residential accommodation
with their parents if they happen to be Judges. The other
question vigorously tackled by the code relates to
business dealings. Keep away from the share market, it
tells the members of the higher judiciary and in these
days of extreme volatility, this is a sound financial
advice apart from being a moral one. It flows from this
injunction that no one will deal with cases involving the
companies in which he holds shares. Since the Judges are
to disclose their assets which should include company
shares, any watchful lawyer will be able to ensure that
everyone respects it. Come to think of it, every Judge of
the High Court and the Supreme Court must already be
following these points since they affect his or her daily
conduct and stringing them together in a binding code is,
therefore, plainly addressed to the Centre. It is time
for the government to return the compliment and for the
people to sit in judgement.
Ayodhya as ritual
THE street demonstrations in Ayodhya and the Opposition-engineered rumpus in the Lok Sabha on the seventh anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid may have served the purpose of keeping alive the memory of an excruciatingly painful event in the history of free India. The aftershock of what happened in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, manifested itself in the form of communal riots in Mumbai and elsewhere. However, the anniversary demonstration in Ayodhya and in other parts of Uttar Pradesh on Babri demolition day and the raising of the issue in Parliament lacked spontaneity and popular support. In Ayodhya some arrests were made to contain the tension which the observance of valour day by the Ram Temple protagonists or black day by members of the Ali Sena was likely to generate. But the frenzy associated with the commissioning of the original sin and the violent reactions across the country seven years ago were mercifully missing in the simulated shows put up by the two camps. The non-BJP political class should now realise that no worthwhile purpose is being served by reducing the Ayodhya tragedy into an annual ritual for opening up wounds which time is expected to heal. They once again raised the issue of the continuance of Union Home Minister L. K. Advani, HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Tourism Minister Uma Bharati in government, since their names figure in the charge sheet in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Irrespective of the outcome of the criminal cases pending against the Central Ministers [and others] the Lok Sabha verdicts in 1998 and this year indicate that as far as the people are concerned they have no problem in giving them the mandate to represent them in the countrys highest legislature.
To accept the
peoples verdict with grace and dignity is to
strengthen the foundations of democracy. It is strange
that the charges levelled against the three Union
Ministers by the Opposition in Parliament were not even
whispered during the election campaign in their
respective constituencies. Instead of raising the issue
now, they should have asked the people not to return the
three leaders to the Lok Sabha. The BJP leadership has
time and again indicated that Ayodhya and some other
contentious issues are no longer on its political agenda.
By keeping alive an issue in which people by and large,
of all religious denominations, too have lost interest
the Opposition is inadvertently playing the same game
which the ousted Chief Minister of UP, Mr Kalyan Singh,
wants to play but for totally different reasons.
The Opposition wants to embarrass the BJP leaders by
reminding them of the past they want to forget. And
low-grade political impulse has made Mr Kalyan Singh pull
out the Ayodhya pack of cards, although no one in his
shrinking circle of supporters seems interested in
playing the game which caused much bloodshed and pain in
December, 1992. The issue which ought to have been raised
on the streets and in Parliament was not even mentioned
by anyone. The Centre should set up a special court for
speedy disposal of all the cases arising out of the
demolition of the Babri Masjid seven years ago. Since the
three Union Ministers are not the only elected
representatives in the Lok Sabha against whom criminal
cases are pending in different courts, the better option
would be to enact a piece of legislation providing for
the setting up of special courts. These courts should be
directed to dispose of all criminal cases pending against
those elected as MPs and MLAs within a specified
time-frame. Such an initiative would not only ensure a
time-bound disposal of the Ayodhya-related cases but also
the ones pending against Ms Phoolan Devi [since February,
1980] and other representatives of the people in the
Rabri raj & jungle rule
HELPLESSNESS! Thy real name is ministership! Had it not been so, how could the recently anointed Union Minister of State for Food Processing, Syed Shah Nawaz Hussain, have suddenly become aware of the fact that there is jungle raj in Bihar? Mr Hussain is a blue-blooded Bihari. His constituency, Kishenganj, is poor and inhabited by a large number of the members of the Muslim community. He is the only Muslim candidate to win a highly politicised Lok Sabha seat on the Bharatiya Janata Party ticket in the recent election. He had lost a chance there earlier by 6,000 votes. This time he has won by more than 8,600 votes and consequently been rewarded with a ministerial berth. Incidentally, he is also the Secretary of the National Bharatiya Yuva Janata Morcha. This Minister goes to his constituency to address a meeting. The stage is set to honour him, among other things, with a country-made pistol, which fails to fire a bullet. It is used to hit him in the chest. Then follow powerful blows on his head. The Yuva Morcha man does not panic; he starts addressing the gathering. Five minutes later, he bleeds profusely and falls on the dais. The state guest has no magistrate to accompany him according to the usual practice. He is taken to a hospital where patient-care remains in a routinely casual state. The Prime Minister wants to talk to him but he cannot do so because the hospital telephone has no hand set. The state government cannot make arrangements to have the VIP, with head injuries, scanned. The Border Security Force is somehow contacted and one of its flying machines takes him to a moderately equipped hospital with cracks in the skull. A Deputy Superintendent of Police and an Inspector meet him to record his statement 12 days after the incident. Policing promptitude in its finest form, indeed!
These are Mr
Hussains own words: The main accused in the
case has been moving freely .... A few persons have been
arrested mainly under pressure from the Union Home
Ministry.... Is the rest history? Yes, for the
Rabri Devi government it is just so. Mr Hussain cannot
say like Burke for obvious reasons: I was not
swaddled and rocked and dawdled into a legislator.
He has graduated to ministership. The BJP is a force to
reckon with in Bihar. At the Centre, Mr Atal Behari
Vajpayee knows the full story. The Minister is his
partyman and a victim of Rabri raj and
jungle rule. Why is the main culprit
traceable but still at large? The President knows the
facts and the Governor has been told the whole truth.
What are Mr Hussains electors doing? The Minister
has lived in the lawless state for many years and seen
massacres there. Now that he is in the position of an
aggrieved party, and an eye-witness to how citizens live
and die in Bihar, can he get some effective steps
initiated against the officially patronised goondas,
unsecular politicians and the deaf and blind
administration? Sometimes, the personal becomes universal
and a new chapter begins.
STATE OF THE POLITY TODAY
THE caretaker government became inevitable after the previous BJP-led coalition ministry lost the confidence vote, and the record-breaking protracted election for the Lok Sabha brought in a National Democratic Alliance government led by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. The most important event during the caretaker governments rule was the Pakistani intrusion in the Kargil sector leading to indeed a limited war with a long-term objective which was frustrated by a strong response from Indias security forces and the decisive intervention of President Clinton. The serious setback and humiliation suffered by Pakistan resulted in unexpected developments ending with the military takeover on October 12.
The government of Mr Vajpayee is something more than a ministry of the National Democratic Alliance in the sense that it has accommodated even the National Conference nominee, Mr Omar Farooq, son of J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, even though this party had opposed the BJP candidates in the Lok Sabha poll. The objective of the BJP hierarchy is quite clearly to ensure the every political section which is not in the Opposition now is accommodated in the Council of Ministers. Yet there are some disgruntled elements like Mr R K Hegde. Mr Vajpayee is still trying to accommodate him with a Cabinet rank post. The Council of Ministers is of a jumbo size with 74 Ministers, including 29 of Cabinet rank, and seven Ministers of State with independent charge.
There is an allegation that the BJP has ensured that there is a BJP Minister of State in every ministry/department presided over by a non-BJP Cabinet minister with a view to keeping a tab on the activities of the latter. The accusation is not entirely without foundation. However, none of the non-BJP ministers has said anything in this regard. Even that temperamental leader, Ms Mamta Banerji, of the Trinamool Congress who was reportedly upset over the appointment of Mr Viren Shah as Governor of West Bengal, did not make an issue of it. It is obvious that all the non-BJP constituents of the NDA government have learnt their lessons from the previous governments fate and they are not likely to rock the boat.
The winter session of Parliament has already successfully passed the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Bill with the active cooperation of the Congress party. The amendments proposed by the Congress have been gracefully accepted by the NDA government. It should be said to the credit of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, that notwithstanding her partys serious reservations and resentment against the BJP for having included Rajiv Gandhis name as an accused in the charge sheet in the Bofors case, she took the decision and directed the party to vote for the Bill. The attitude of the Congress was positive and constructive unlike the Left parties, the Samajwadi Party and a few others. It may be recalled that the Insurance Bill had been hanging fire for nearly three years, since the days of the United Front government, and Indias willingness to join the global trend of economic reforms was in question all along. With the Bill becoming an Act shortly, the economic reforms have indeed taken a giant step forward.
On the law and order front, the situation is far from happy. Home Minister L.K. Advani has promised to release a paper on the activities of Pakistans ISI whose main objective is to destabilise India through a series of acts of terrorism not only in J&K, Punjab and the North East but also throughout the country. There is a shift in the trend of militant terrorism in Kashmir. The terrorists are now mostly foreigners including Pakistanis, equipped with sophisticated armaments and explosives and they have changed gear to an active mode by attacking the camps of security forces. Their attacks of this nature started soon after the Kargil ceasefire came into being and the last one in the Badamibagh cantonment area in Srinagar was audacious. The death toll is increasing and the fear expressed by the BSF chief recently that such attacks may continue throughout winter in the valley appears justified.
Across the Indian subcontinent the most important development was the suspension of Mr Kalyan Singh from the BJP and his impending expulsion. His sacking from the post of Chief Minister of UP and his replacement by an RSS veteran, Mr Ram Prakash Gupta, foretell an uneasy phase of politics and administration in that state. Whatever may be the developments in the political field, it is beyond doubt that the BJP will be weakened and the gainers are likely to be Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ms Mayawati.
Bihar is due to have the assembly poll early next year and the main actors are positioning themselves for the plum job of Chief Minister. The RJD of Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav is bound to lose except in North Bihar. The BJP, the Samata Party and the Janata Dal (U) are making a determined bid to capture power. The BJP, and the Samata Party are projecting Mr Nitish Kumar, the Kurmi leader, as their Chief Ministerial candidate while Mr Ram Vilas Paswan is also making a determined bid for the coveted position. Mr Paswan is part of the JD (U) but he has also the Dalit card to play and the massive rally he organised at Patna on November 26 was intended to serve a notice on the NDA about his determination.
There is an impressive representation of Cabinet ministers in the NDA government from UP and Bihar but, unfortunately these two states have remained as backward as ever. On the human development scale and in respect of literacy, rural uplift, health and population control the two states lag behind every other state.
On the other hand, the southern states are marching forward. The information technology revolution has taken firm roots in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka now regularly hold tele-conferences with district officials. In Andhra Pradesh important officials in the capital and the districts have been given computers with e-mail links. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are not far behind and Kerala is also catching up. These states have marched ahead of Maharashtra, Punjab and West Bengal who were ahead of the four southern states a couple of decades ago.
In diplomacy, the Minister of External Affairs, Mr Jaswant Singh, has done a remarkable job in normalising relations with some of the major nations like Japan which had taken a negative stand against India after Pokhran-II. Mr Jaswant Singh has strengthened the relations between India and the Central Asian countries as well as Russia. The CTBT is an issue to be resolved, and the process of evolving a consensus among all the parties has become difficult after the American Senate voted down the proposal to ratify the CTBT. The setback in its own backyard has not deterred the USA from urging India and Pakistan to sign it. President Clintons likely visit to India early next year may result in an improvement in Indo-US relations, notwithstanding the fact that some of the major sanctions imposed by the US President are still not relaxed. The US attitude towards Pakistan after the military takeover has also been somewhat equivocal, in sharp contrast to the position taken by the Commonwealth countries and many of the Western nations.
Defence has come into
focus after the Kargil war, and there is willingness on
the nations part to increase budget allocations for
the defence forces. Indias emergence as a nuclear
power is a major development of the year. As regards the
nuclear doctrine, while the basic parameters may be
acceptable, some of its open-ended aspects, which may
result in enormous and unbearable expenses, may have to
be toned down. India spends a bare 2.3 per cent of its
GDP on defence while Pakistans is more than double
that figure. It is estimated that upgrading the weapon
systems of the defence forces alone may cost about Rs
15,000 crore, and the implementation of the nuclear
doctrine, even on a reduced scale, may cost much more.
India has to find resources for all this expenditure
while there is a crying need for an increased allocation
of funds for vital national areas like education, health
and population control. A healthy balance in the larger
national interest has to be worked out by finding a
consensus among all the political parties.
New century, new millennium
JANUARY 1, 2000, will signify a triple birth the beginning of a new year, the start of the 21st century, and the beginning of the third millennium. Such a moment comes but once in a year, once in a 100 years, once in a thousand years. This statement will be challenged by technical experts, who assert that the first day of the new century and of the new millennium will not be 2000 but the year 2001. They have a point though; a century is from the year 1901 to 2000; the millennium is from the year 1001 to 2000.
But 2000 is the most spectacular figure that has caught the imagination of the people. It is a landmark. Countless millions of people across the world are celebrating the year 2000, not 2001, whatever its technical claim.
For the last nine or 10 centuries, the figure 1 has been with us at the first place. Now it is giving place to the figure 2 at the thousandth place. Let the new century or new millennium begin when you will. Grand celebrations will take place globally in the year 2000. By next year, the excitement of the novelty of the number 2 will have been exhausted through the routine use.
The computers which are increasingly becoming a part of our civilisation have recognised the year 2000, not 2001. On the midnight of December 31 all the date-sensitive computers will go on revolt and threaten global confusion. There will be a grave problem in air services, the accounts of banks and financial institutions and umpteen other spheres unless corrected by Y2K treatment. No such computer chaos will take place at the start of the year 2001.
Every age considers itself most important since the world began. The 19th century made its own contributions, which were hailed as extraordinary at their birth though with the passing time they became common place and are taken for granted. Its highlights were the coming of the railways, the invention of electricity, the beginning of the moving pictures, the gramophone, the telegraphs, the telephone, industries and a host of such other items.
The 20th century is sure that by its inventions and innovations it has changed the shape of this planet and there seems hardly any scope for radical improvements. Its glories have shattered all old records; it brought about improved railway services and industries and the all important air travel (in 1931, Gandhiji travelled by oceanic ship to go to London to attend the RTC), the conquest of Mount Everest, the landing on the moon (a mythological tale come true), the radio and TV that have invaded drawing rooms bringing entertainment to the masses, the splitting of the atom, the making of the atom bomb (its first use in Hiroshima), the communications and electronic revolution which has shortened the world into a global village, the coming of the computers and their ever-increasing use, space flights to other planets etc.
For us, the 20th century was the century of our destiny because we gained independence (on August 15, 1947) after the slavery of the centuries. Also for the first time in history the whole of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Assam to Punjab, had been politically united under one Central Government (despite Partition). Such a thing had never happened before in Bharat. For us, the man of the century was Mahatma Gandhi.
Our Independence became the signal for the freedom of other colonies and dependencies. All empires topping with the British Empire (over which the sun never set) went into liquidation.
On the international sphere, for the first time in history, the world was dominated by two super powers, the USA and the Soviet Union, and their long cold war a novel phenomenon. Later the Soviets lost the race; their East European empire was lost and communism suffered an eclipse. It debunked the belief in the historical inevitability of socialism and communism in which at one time the intellectuals and the poor majority had a firm faith.
On the negative side were the two world wars that killed crores, without bringing any gain to anyone. Aerial bombing was the order of the day; prophets of doom warn us that in the next war atomic bombings would be very common (this is possible if leaders of international terrorism like Osama bin Laden expand their base from Afghanistan to Pakistan, with Jehad to India).
When World War II began , the top powers were England and France; after the war the USA and the Soviet Union came on top (later the Russians dropped out). Now the only communist power left is China. But it practises market economy.
Another innovation is the coming of the credit cards, debit cards and, above all, the Master Card that is claimed to take the place of money in the new world.
What of the future? When the 20th century began in an unspectacular manner, no one in his wildest imagination could forecast the super wonders that day in its womb. Facts are stranger than fiction. The same about the next century. Journeys to the moon would be common and man would explore other stars. Even the space beyond the solar system.
Prophets of doom like Nostradamus of France warned us 400 years ago that the end of the world is near. May be the earth would blindly spin in space. Like the moon, lifeless and cold. Recall the lines of Shelley:
O Cease, must death
and hate return,
RECENTLY when we visited an elderly friends house on his retirement, his wife had most thoughtfully presented him a lounging chair along with a foot-stool. I looked at it longingly knowing well that my moment to earn the lazy-boy chair, was as yet years of grind away. A couch potato like you doesnt require this anyway, remarked my wife, reading my thoughts quite well as usual; and putting me in my place. Though I have earned some accolades in life; none of them has been for physical agility. In fact, I am the uncrowned king cabbage of the family.
And I hate modern furniture, which adorns the plush interiors of my architect colleagues homes and offices. For me nothing to beat old the world charm of the Raj furniture. Remember those huge, reclining cane chairs with stretchable arms, usually kept in the railway retiring rooms and rest-houses of the yore!
Sometimes back, I re-discovered this gem of human ingenuity on a holiday to a remote place in Himachal Pradesh. The old PWD rest house had the typical veranda, commanding a panoramic view of the resplendent Kinner Kailash mountain range. I would love to slouch there with my legs perched on the extended arms of the chair, a drink skilfully balanced alongside, and just spend hours gazing at the snow-capped peaks veiled by mists. If I ever came close to nirvana it was then.
Similarly, when we had gone to Mumbai for a vacation at my nephews seaside cottage, my favourite perch was the hammock strung between two coconut trees, that swayed merrily with the sea breeze, lulling me into a blissful snooze after a tankard of beer had been downed.
At home too, I have my favourite reading corner. A sink-in sofa chair besides the window in the living room gives me the choice of reading or just gazing out at the silver oak trees, on which the goings-on of the birds and squirrels are most fascinating. At night, the light from the old standard lamp creates a cosy ambience for literary pursuits.
Now that the TV has become rather seductive, I have placed one in the corner direct to the line of viewing from my bed. With the remote control in hand, and a bowl of potato chips kept beside; I am the monarch of all the myriad channels that can be surfed.
I also use the beds for a lot of activities, other than those they were invented for. Bolstered by a couple of pillows on the backrest; I even manage to support a large coffee-table book on my knees and write. I find this posture much more comfortable than writing on a table and chair. But for my wife, I would have even placed an antique slant board used by the munims of the yore and do all my writing there! However, notwithstanding her ravings and rantings the beds are used merrily for TV dinners; and if I had my way, even for breakfast.
No medals for moral courage
COURAGE is the most admired of human virtues in all societies and in all walks of life to be a man, is to be courageous. Courage is no less in the higher than in the lower levels of command, but the greater the responsibility and higher the ranks, the emphasis shifts from physical to moral courage a much rarer quality, rare but essential to higher leadership.
Our war with China, three wars with Pakistan and the latest operation Vijay in Kargil, have amply demonstrated the superb physical courage of the Indian jawan and officer, specially in the junior and middle levels. There has never been any doubt on this score. Moral courage, contiguous to higher leadership, has not, however, been demonstrated to the same extent, at least visibly. In this respect perhaps, a clearer definition of the Indian Army officers credo would be more meaningful. This credo as inscribed at the Indian Military Academys (IMA) Chetwood Hall, reads as follows: The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time; The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next; Your own ease comfort and safety come last, always and every time.
The main ingredient of the above credo is courage and self sacrifice. However, this does not just apply to the physical aspect of safety, ease and comfort, as is normally expected of the junior and middle level officer in the combat zone, but more so to its moral significance in the decision making zone, whereby higher level leadership places the larger aspect of the safety and honour of the country, before its own mental ease and career interest. Whereas, the former that is physical courage, is easy to see, and the officer concerned is rewarded with a medal or an award, as was the case in Kargil where 58 awards were given in a 15-day battle, in the case of the latter, namely moral courage of higher leadership, where the senior officer at times has to sacrifice not only his command but his entire career, seldom comes to public notice, and is never awarded a medal or a sensure.
Whereas it is not difficult to narrate examples of moral courage from British, American or European wars, on which so much has been written and critically analysed, unfortunately with us, due to our obsession with a false sense of security, and more so due to our sycophant culture of adulation of personalities, very little literature exists or is allowed to be recorded. However, if examples of moral courage, or the lack of it, have to be analysed and useful lessons drawn from them, then we must do so without regard to the reputation of the government in power or personalities involved. From what little information is available, let us examine just a few cases in respect of our army since Independence.
The 1961-62 conflict with China was perhaps the most demoralising era for the Indian Army. The fact that we suffered a military defeat was only one part of this sorry episode. The more important aspect was its exposure of the moral tone of higher leadership. It will be recalled that, Lieut-Gen Biji Kaul, the then Corps Commander, tried to vindicate himself through his book The Untold Story, followed by Brig John Dalvis factual account in his Himalayan Blunder. No matter what the Henderson-Brooks report reveals or conceals, there is now no doubt that it was a political fiasco of the worst order; the military debacle only lay in its acceptance of that fiasco, and in its lack of moral character to oppose it. Military honour dictated that, rather than jeopardise the safety of his troops and the prestige of his country, the then COAS, General Thapar, should have resigned at that time, or even threatened to resign. Him not having done so, was the real Himalayan Blunder, and why he did not so, is the only Untold Story.
Coming to recent history of the past 10 years, a lot of criticism has appeared in the press and questions asked in the Lok Sabha, regarding the military fiasco and high rate of casualties which took place in operation Pawan in Sri Lanka and operation Vijay in Kargil. Speaking at a function organised by the Unity International Foundation, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, while releasing a book IPKF in Sri Lanka by Lieut. Gen Depinder Singh, former IPKF Chief, has solely blamed the government for launching most military operations in a hurry, without a clear mandate, adequate intelligence or necessary resources, which concluded in heavy casualties. In this respect, history will slow that one of the failure of moral courage in higher leadership was the way every commander down the line shirked responsibility for the Kargil episode, and the avoidable carnage that followed. Instead of the buck sticking somewhere at the top, it came to a halt at the lowest commander on the spot, who was made the scapegoat.
What the Field Marshal had stated may be 100 per cent correct, however, no General can vindicate his loss or get his men slaughtered in battle claiming that he was compelled to do so against his better judgement due to political pressure. If he has to execute a lawful (but politically loaded) order of gaining a victory by endangering the lives of men though accepting a very high rate of avoidable casualty, then the only course open to him is that of either delaying the operation till he is fully prepared, resignation or even disobedience, but for which he must be prepared to pay the price with his head. It will be recalled that, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw did just that, by giving an ultimatum to Mrs Indira Gandhi, in insisting on the postponement of the Bangladesh operation by one month till he was ready.
It is not for one moment being suggested that our Generals should oppose every action if their views differ from those of their political bosses, or to tender their resignations at the drop of a hat. Far from it. However, to date, we have had no one who has refused to obey an order, or has resigned, wherein the security of the nation, or the lives and morale of troops, or the honour of the Army was at stake. Any resignations that have taken place so far, have all been on administrative or personal grounds, mainly supersession.
Orissa cyclone no news in West
WASHINGTON: The recent cyclone in Orissa that killed nearly 10,000 people may have been one of the worst natural disasters to occur in any part of the world in recent times but the tragedy was given a short shrift by the western media.
The Washington Posts ombudsman Mr E.R. Shipp, writing in his Sunday column last week said the papers coverage had not pleased some of its readers.
Last month, Londons Evening Standard carried an article critical of the western medias inadequate coverage of the Orissa disaster that had affected an estimated 15 million people.
The Posts ombudsman noted the cyclone never made it into the papers front page. The story was reported by the New Delhi-based correspondent, Pamela Constable, two weeks after the event and it was carried on page A 27.
One Post reader wondered if the paper was ignoring the story because Orissa is not in Europe and does not have oil underground. After evaluating the international news that has been in the Post since the cyclone hit, another reader concluded, The Post (has) undercovered such a disaster, which is the biggest devastation in India in the past 100 years.
The Post ombudsman contrasted the papers treatment of the Orissa disaster with a November 13 front page story on the earthquake that rocked Turkey. He noted that when there was an earthquake in Turkey last summer it too was front-paged for seven consecutive days. Similarly, an earthquake in Taiwan made front page twice.
The ombudsman quoted The Washington Posts Assistant Managing Editor for Foreign news, Mr Phil Bennett, as saying, We were a little late on that (the Orissa cyclone). Constables story was not deemed front page news because the urgency had passed. Mr Bennett denied that there is a sort of geographic determinism in which disasters we pay attention to more than others.
The Post ombudsman added, The Post and other major news operations have long been accused of ignoring some parts of the world. The accusation was heard loudly last summer when comparisons were made by international relief workers and by some news media that the Balkan conflicts received far more coverage than comparable struggles in Africa.
The ombudsman also pointed out that the Post carried a full wire service story on November 2, a story that got wrong the name of the capital of Orissa-Baleshwar instead of Bhubaneswar.
WE have no hesitation in saying that the decision of the Government of India not to participate in the British Empire Exhibition, if it is again held next year, is commendable.
The ground of the decision is not stated but there is no doubt that the public condemnation of the action of the Government in participating in the last exhibition has at least something, perhaps a great deal, to do with it.
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