|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Wednesday, December 15, 1999
does it again
booming beauty business
the devil his due
of Bengal Threatened
TRAI does it again
TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is forever on fast forward. While the government incessantly talks of privatisation as the advanced form of economic liberalisation but does nothing, TRAI is unfolding breathtaking reform packages at a speed that is the administrative equivalent of fighter jets. Its latest offer is to open up the long distance telephone service to competition. There will be no scramble though. The entry norms block not only non-serious operators but also those smart men who lack powerful financial muscle. Anyone wanting to get into the act of providing trunk phone facilities should deposit Rs 500 crore and prove that the net worth of his company and that of co-promoters is above Rs 2500 crore. This eye-popping minimum qualification is easy to understand. These long distance operators have to set up facilities in backward and inaccessible areas, or what TRAI describes in an anaesthetic term as rollback of network. The majority of its members favour any number of entrants to sharpen competition or to let the market determine how many can indeed do profitable business. (One member wants not more than three providers in any circle.) Though the licence, which the Department of Telecommunications will issue, will cover the entire country, the operators can link up with others and share the revenue. In these days of affordable satellite communication facilities, the capital investment will not be so prohibitive as to derail the core idea of an efficient STD network based on competition and cooperation. Interestingly, the existing providers, both basic and cellular telephones, have to float a separate company and keep separate accounts to calculate the government share (normally less than 5 per cent) of the revenue. This will also apply to the Department of Telecom Services (DTS), the present monopoly. And this has set off howls of protest.
The DTS is not
accustomed to being just another player; it is keen to
retain its position as the player. The prospect of losing
that unique privilege is galling. It also frankly says
that the huge income from its STD service goes to fund
extension of rural telephone network. This was the
argument it used to challenge the earlier recommendation
of TRAI to slash long distance service tariff. It will
trot out the same reason for countering the latest
proposal. Or, it may use the minority view (of TRAI) to
demand a sharply raised percentage of revenue sharing.
Three members have suggested that all operators should
hand over 16 per cent of their gross earnings by way of
licence fee. The DoT is right on one point. The new
recommendation will help only the cellular operators in
metropolitan areas, who have run away with crores of
rupees with the bailout announced by the government in
the middle of this year. They are the only ones who are
in a position to pay a fat entry fee of Rs 500 crore, of
which one-fifth in cash and the rest as refundable
deposit. The DTS realises that this form of competition
may contain the seeds of its ultimate demise.
Communications is a field which is witnessing
technological sophistication of a very high order and on
a daily basis. Equipment now costs less and manpower can
be shrunk to being virtually invisible. All cities and
towns have television cable networks and that can be used
to connect internet services which, in turn, can double
up as a communication mode. Given the overall approach of
the government, a world class telephone service cannot be
left to the DTS alone, and hence the importance of
Stuck in Ayodhya rut
The Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha is not a wooden horse for children or a cradle which needs to be rocked frequently for getting value for money. If the elected representatives of the people had been primary school students, they would have been sent back home for unruly behaviour which they displayed when Parliament was in session on Monday. Of course, the role of the Opposition in parliamentary democracy is as important as that of the ruling party. But there is a vital difference between obstructing the House from transacting the business for which it is constituted and constructive opposition to legislative business or other issues which deserve the attention of the House. Can the combined Opposition honestly claim that the issue on which it "rocked the Lok Sabha once again", to borrow a newspaper headline, on Monday represented the larger concerns of the nation? The issue on which the Congress-led Opposition wanted an explanation from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was the reported statement attributed to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta that construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was on the agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Union Tourism Minister Uma Bharati, who is charged with having personally supervised the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, in an interview to a television channel too was her usual blunt-self while answering questions on the subject. In Delhi and Lucknow the non-BJP partners in the BJP-led governments too raised their eyebrows on the statements about the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. In between the walkout by the Congress-led Opposition and the expression of displeasure by the alliance partners Mr Vajpayee managed to re-affirm his party's commitment to the implementation of the agenda of the National Democratic Alliance. When he stated that the BJP had no "hidden agenda" he was neither misleading the nation nor the House.
The alliance partners
have only themselves to blame for having assumed that the
BJP has abandoned its commitment to the construction of
Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, introduction of a common civil
code and abrogation of Article 370 granting special
status to Jammu and Kashmir. At no point of time has any
BJP leader said that the three contentious issues were
being removed from the party's own political agenda. To
be fair, the BJP leadership has all along maintained that
it simply does not have the numbers in the Lok Sabha for
implementing the agenda which helped it come within hand
shaking distance of "absolute power". The
non-BJP parties walked into the alliance with their
political eyes wide open. They cannot now complain of
having been misled by the BJP. By the same token even the
Opposition has no business to hold up proceedings in the
Lok Sabha over what the U.P. Chief Minister said in
Lucknow or what Ms Uma Bharati said in the television
interview. By saying what they said in response to
specific questions they were merely stating the
"open" and not the "hidden" agenda of
the BJP. It is different matter that Mr Gupta, Ms Uma
Bharati and others walked into the Ayodhya trap laid by
ousted U.P. Chief Minister and expelled BJP member Kalyan
Singh. He started the process of reviving the BJP's
agenda during his last days in office with political
mischief in mind. The statement he made while leaving the
party was meant to provoke the BJP leadership into
uttering the banned, not banished, words on Ayodhya. The
UP Chief Minister took the bait and forced the BJP
leadership at the national level into the damage control
mode. Looking at the issue from the Opposition's eye,
Ayodhya is the perfect "googly" for breaking up
the partnership between the BJP and other constituents of
the NDA. Unfortunately for the BJP, Mr Vajpayee is the
only "politically correct batsman" it has to
keep the partnership going. But for how long can only Mr
Vajpayee keep playing from both ends?
It is said about monkeys that every winter night they resolve to build a house of their own. Next morning, when warmth returns to their body thanks to the sunshine, they conveniently drop the idea. This trait of the simians may be just a tale but at times even their human cousins display a similar habit. Take the Rohtang tunnel for instance. It comes in the news whenever the need is felt for having an all-weather road to Ladakh. It was talked about way back in the sixties when Pakistan had launched an aggression. History repeated itself this year when the Pakistani intruders crossed the LoC, built bunkers on this side and targeted the Srinagar-Leh highway. The need to have another route to the area was acutely felt and that brought Rohtang into focus yet again. The bravery of the gallant soldiers pushed the Pakistani aggressors back and everything went back to the sleep mode. The visit of the Prime Minister to Himachal Pradesh has given an impetus to the demand and one hopes that something will come out of it. The resolution passed by the Himachal Pradesh Assembly urging the Centre to start work on the tunnel next year is only a clever move to nudge Delhi out of its repose. The strategic importance of the tunnel cannot be overemphasised. It can not only help the army to defend the border areas better but would also ameliorate the lot of the people of the Leh and Lahaul-Spiti region. They remain cut off from the rest of the world for the better part of the year. The result is that even essential supplies are not available to them at times and their produce cannot be sold outside. The virgin land of the area has proved to be extremely fertile and if it can find a dependable outlet, it can prove to be a veritable vegetable bowl. The 8.9-km tunnel would shorten the distance between Manali and Keylong by over 60 km.
have already been conducted by the Railway Institute of
Techno-Economic Survey. It has been concluded that with
modern construction techniques, the tunnel can be
completed in less than five years and would cost about Rs
500 crore. The expenditure may look to be prohibitive,
but if one measures the overall benefits, it is not all
that formidable. All that is required is political will.
The problem with the development of infrastructure of
this magnitude is that there is a long gestation period,
which deters action. But delays only make matters worse.
Then there is the apprehension that huge debris that
would be generated would create environmental problems.
Proper planning can take into account all such
objections. Similar fears were also expressed when Nehru
Tunnel was to be made at Banihal. The benefits of it are
there for all to see.
FOR we are all capitalists now, are we not? These days the victory of the market over State is quite taken for granted. The Economist, September 20, 1997.
Adam Smith, a man of deep ethical conviction and an intellectual crusader against any concentration of unaccounted Power, laid down five cardinal Principles in his Market Theory.
*Buyers and sellers must be too small to influence the market price.
*Complete information must be available to all participants and there can be no trade secrets.
*Sellers must bear the full cost of products they sell and pass them on in the sale price.
*Investment capital must remain within nation borders and trade between two countries must be balanced.
*Savings must be invested in the creation of productive capital.
Dr David Korten, formerly an Asia Regional Adviser on Development Management to the U.S. Agency for International Development, says: By contrast, what we know as the global capitalist economy is dominated by a few financial speculators and a handful of globe-spanning megacorporations able to use their massive financial clout and media out-reach to manipulate prices, determine what products will be available to consumers, absorb or drive competitors from the market, and reshape the values of popular culture to create demand for what corporations choose to offer.
Merger mania is spreading all over USA and Europe accompanied by large-scale layoffs. In Europe mergers recorded $400.6 billion in 1996. Mergers in 1997 totalled $1.6 trillion. Financial and telecommunication sectors with unaccountable corporate power are concentration grounds for mergers and acquisitions, very often hostile, with deeply ominous implications for the future of democracy. Combined sales of the worlds 200 corporations, employing less than 1/3 per cent of world population, is 28 per cent of the total world gross domestic product. The total sales of the Mitsubishi Corporation is greater than the GDP of Indonesia. The internal economy of Wal-Mart is larger than that of 161 countries, including Israel, Poland and Greece.
Global cartel is another favoured mechanism by which the largest global corporations avoid competing with one another in the global economy by agreeing on mutually protective price formula.
The largest merger in history to create the worlds largest financial institution the merger of the Citicorp Banking Corporation and Travelers Group Insurance Corporation is an arrogant defiance of laws of US. The Glass-Steagall Act prohibits banks from owning insurance corporations and brokerage houses to prevent repeat of the disastrous financial collapse of 1929. Now they are ready to enter the Indian market.
Dr Koten writes: Competition is key to the self-organising dynamics of a market economy. In contrast, capitalism loves monopoly with a passion equalled only by its abhorrence of competition that limits its ability to extract monopoly profits.
With regard to trade secrets, corporations have been engaged in an increasingly intense campaign to strengthen and extend government protection of technology and information monopolies in the name of intellectual property rights. The North America Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organisation are shining examples which protect biotech corporations to gain global patent rights.
A capitalist economy, different from an efficient market economy, subsists on subsidies and other externalised costs. Subsidies for research, the extraction of resources, advertising products in foreign markets, insuring overseas investments against political risks are extracted by corporations either by way of threat of shifting their operations or by way of contributions to election funds, etc.
The State of Virginia, in USA, gave Motorola a big package of subsidies $55.9 million grant, a $1.6 billion tax credit and a reimbursement of $5million for employees training. Mayor Giuliani of New York gave tax relief of $439 million to 18 financial institutions, including the New York Mercantile Exchange, the largest commodity market there, when they threatened to shift their commercial operations to suburbs because of high rentals in the city. In Tulsa, Oklahama, The country sales tax for one year was diverted from public purpose for the construction of a new Whirlpool factory. In addition, the state would reimburse Whirlpool 4.5 cents for every dollar paid in wages to 1100 workers for 10 years.
The Cato Institute, a Washington-based conservative think-tank, estimates that the US government each year provides corporations $75 billion in direct cash subsidies plus another $60 billion in industry specific tax breaks. In the USA, corporate income tax constituted 39 per cent of tax revenue in 1950 which dropped to 19 per cent in 1995. During the same period the share of income tax revenues coming from individuals rose from 61 per cent to 81 per cent.
According to business analyst Paul Hawkens compiled data, US corporations receive more in direct financial subsidies than they pay in taxes.
In Tyranny of the Bottom Line, CPA Ralph Estes estimates public costs of private corporations in the USA alone as $2.6 trillion a year not including direct subsidies and tax breaks which is five times the corporate profits of $530 billion and 37 per cent of the GDP of the USA in 1994. He says, If we were to extrapolate this ratio to a global economy that had an estimated total output of $ 29 trillion in 1997, it suggests that the annual cost to humanity of maintaining the corporate infrastructure of capitalism may be upward of $10.73 trillion.
The most advanced stage of capitalisms pathology is known as financial capital or financial capitalism. Speculating on fluctuations is another way of making money out of nothing and without contributing to the creation of real wealth.
The IMF provided South Korea a $57billion bailout in 1997. The Korean stock market rebounded smartly for a brief period. Then the speculators took the IMF money and ran way. Koreas stock market suffered a 50 per cent drop to an 11-year low. Koreas tax payers were left with an IOU to the IMF for $57 billion plus interest to be paid in foreign currency.
This is the naked picture of multinational corporations, many of which have entered the Indian market and many are likely to enter shortly. The IMF and the World Bank prescribe, rather impose, conditions to advance loans to developing countries. The Government of India under pressure from the donor countries is cutting on subsidies and resorting to disinvestment in public sector units to narrow down its budget deficit.
The MNCs thrive on subsidies but hate this arrangement in a country they enter. Perhaps the Government of India is not aware of the grim ground realities. In the earlier dispensations, the issue price of wheat was not higher than the procurement price of wheat. Subsidies filled the gap. Last year the procurement price of wheat was Rs 450 a quintal and the issue price Rs 650 a quintal, a whopping increase of about 70 per cent. This year the procurement price of wheat was Rs 550 a quintal which was less than the issue price of wheat last year. Distress sale of paddy this year by farmers is in contravention of the well-established procurement policy. It seems the government is looking the other way and profiteers, hoarders and black-marketeers are having a field day. Both the farmers and the consumers are being fleeced.
The Green Revolution has been achieved at a great cost. Blood and sweat of farmers and labourers have made India self-sufficient in foodgrains. By withdrawing subsidies on fertilisers, diesel, etc, the government has sown the seeds of discontentment among the people. This liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, without a social security net, is likely to turn into liquefied petroleum gas. The entire social and democratic edifice is likely to burn down if a light is shown to it. The withdrawal of subsidies is justified when there is a full employment situation.
Space does not allow to plead the case of public sector undertakings. Suffice it to say that they have been employment multipliers. Instead of disinvestment, especially of blue chip companies the Finance Minister should try to retrieve the Rs 45,000 crore bad debt which the scheduled banks are unable to receive back from those living a comfortable life. In contrast certain farmers who were unable to pay their loans committed suicide. Those living are being arrested by the mandarins of the Punjab State Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank for the non-payment of some thousands of rupees.
Our entrepreneurs demand a level-playing field vis-a-vis MNCs. But the same level-playing field we are denying to our own compatriots. A Dalit can start a tea-shop at the peril of his life and property. Bill Gates donated $17.1 billion (equivalent to about Rs 74,000 crore) to set up his foundation for doing research and granting scholarships to poor, deserving students. There are many foundations like the Carnegie Foundation in the USA. A recent survey conducted there shows that 73 per cent households donate to charities. A large portion of these donations goes to teaching institutions and scholarships to poor and deserving students, who, after finishing their studies, not only contribute to the economic development of their country but also increase their purchasing power to keep the economy moving at a faster speed. But here in this country university libraries have no funds to purchase books and periodicals. Laboratories are defunct without money and the Principal of a prestigious college, St Stephen of Delhi University, has sleepless nights as he has no money to pay salaries to teachers. What about the millennium day? The rich in India are too callous and selfish to donate for a noble cause. They simply exploit the poor with impunity. Sadly, cynicism of the 1990s has taken the place of social commitment of the 1960s.
Financial capitalism is like a bewitching and captivating siren whose embrace is fatal. But the siren soothes our fear, My way is natural, right, inevitable. The pain will soon be over and from here there is no return.
The siren who hides her true nature behind a false cloak of democracy and market freedom has laid claim to our soul and is feeding on our flesh. Her name is capitalism. Circe warned Odysseus about the danger and advised him to bind himself to the mast of his boat with ropes and save himself from an enchanting and seductive siren. Subsidies are those protecting ropes!
Corruption: need to simplify laws
OFFENCES of corruption committed by, or in relation to, servants were earlier dealt under the Indian Penal Code, and the Prevention of Corruption Act, of 1947. The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 came into force on September 9, the same year, and all the corresponding provisions in the IPC and PC Act 1947, automatically stood repealed. However, in respect of offences committed up to, and inclusive of, September 8, 1988, chargesheets would continue to be filed (even in future) only under the (old) sections of the IPC and PC Act, 1947. This is on account of Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897.
Dealing with corruption in any organisation is a specialised affair. It is because each organisation has its own culture, methods of functioning, operational, environmental, production and marketing problems. Broadly speaking, the following methods are suggested for dealing with any infractions involving people of doubtful integrity. First of all, dealing with corruption should be looked upon as a management function and an aid to effective administration. The Chief Executive should, once in a quarter, discuss with the heads of the departments any bottlenecks in their functioning and the persons coming in the way of achieving the goals and objectives of the organisation.
The heads of departments should be asked to identify the persons, who in their view are people of doubtful integrity. The reputation of a person travels faster than the wind. Due note should be taken of any dubious conduct. Generally hard evidence would be difficult to come by in collusive corruption, wherein both the giver and the receiver benefit and the only loser is the state or the organisation, which is being short-charged. Such a data should be kept on a dedicated computer network, with access being available only to the chief executive, the chief vigilance officer. Others should be brought into the picture, only on a need-to-know basis.
The data bank should contain all instances wherein the organisation has suffered a loss or any departmental action taken or any person prosecuted in a court of law, irrespective of the fact whether he was convicted or acquitted. The data should also contain details of any complaints against any individual in the organisation and action taken thereon. The complaints, whether anonymous or pseudonymous, should be maintained department-wise and year-wise. It is worthwhile to emphasise that all anonymous or pseudonymous complaints are not false. It is only that the complainant is afraid of owning it up either due to fear or apprehension or has some vested interest. While not regarding them as gospel truth, it is worthwhile to verify verifiable allegations. This serves a dual purpose. If the allegations are frivolous, it clears the aggrieved person, restores his confidence in himself and prevents his demoralisation. If the complaint is even partially true, it has the effect of making the organisation cautious in taking remedial measures.
The following steps will help in tackling the corruption: First of all, account matters should be computerised. Receipts and payments should be closely monitored. Corruption prevails in the preparation and passing of the bills. It also prevails in seemingly harmless activities, like writing of the cheques and delivering the same to the person concerned. Outer time limits should be fixed for all such activities and prominently displayed publicly so that it does not remain confined to the dusty and musty files. Wrong, incorrect billing, double accounting and double payment, fake muster rolls where such a system prevails, contracts and tendering need special attention. Right to Information: except the commercial information, which may affect the operations of the organisation, it should be freely practised. There should be rotational transfers from one section to the other, unless it is the case of scientific staff, which cannot be replaced. Nobody should be allowed to stay in one seat or place for more than three years.
Public counters or those sections which deal with the public should be located in such places, that all their activities and working is visible not only to the outsiders, but also to its own officers. The senior officers, at least once a month should man such windows to know how their public relations are faring. There should be a fixed time for access, needing to visit the departments, only at the authorised level. Access to the case workers should not be granted. Only senior officers equivalent to the Under Secretary and above should meet visitors coming to the department. As far as possible, clear and unambiguous rules should be laid down.
Discretion in all facets of the organisation should preferably be done away or reduced to the bare minimum. All laws, rules, procedures pertaining to the organisation should be simplified. They should be constantly reviewed so that they do not become a bottleneck in the way of the success of the organisational goals. In every organisation, it is mandatory to file property returns. They should be carefully scrutinised. (CNF)
Indias booming beauty
India may not be doing particularly well as far as economic development and the eradication of poverty is concerned, but there is one area where it is close to topping the world. I am referring to the beauty business. India has long been known for its beautiful women yet, except for one solitary exception, they did not score in beauty contests. One Miss India, Reita Faria, went on to become Miss World, much to public jubilation. But that was quite a long time ago.
In recent years, however, it has been an entirely different story. Sushmita Sen began it by becoming the first Indian woman to win the Miss Universe title. On her heels came Aishwarya Rai, a real breathtaking beauty with her perfect figure and grey-green eyes. She became Miss World and is now pursuing a very successful career in films (Sushmita Sen has not had the same success, while being embarrassed by the fact that she had special surgery done to enlarge her bosom).
Then, came Anne Hayden, another Miss India who became Miss World. Now we have Yukta Mookhey, who, too, has just won the Miss World contest at Londons Olympia Theatre. Only Venezuela, known as a beauty factory, has had more winners.
What is the secret of Indias success, apart from having a large number of very beautiful women? Beauty alone does not decide such contests. The judges take into account the composure, the dress, the personality and the intelligence of the contestants. This is where the Indian girls have scored. Most of them speak English well and are articulate. They also combine the confidence of westerners with the shy, traditional conservatism of the East. It seems to have been a winning combination, at least with the judges.
Above all, the answers the Indian girls have given to tricky questions have placed them in a different category altogether and the question and answer round is usually the deciding factor. Madhu Sapre, for instance, one of the most successful models in the country and a statuesque beauty, failed to win the Miss Universe contest simply because she did not speak well. If she had been given a little speech training and coached in how to answer the kind of questions usually posed by the judges, it might have been a completely different story.
Yukta Mookhey, on the other hand, went through a rigorous programme of preparation for the big day, as did the other successful Miss Indias before her. She had ace designer Hemant Trivedi to make her stunning blue evening gown, festooned with crystals, while Bharat and Doris Godambe provided the tips for make-up and hair styling. Her public speaking was handled by Sabira Merchant, one of Mumbais leading theatre personalities. Apparently, just before Yukta left for London, she practised 150 possible questions that the judges might ask her, with Sabira.
Thats not the end. Most important of all is to have the body ship-shape. Enter fitness and judo expert, Micky Mehta, who imposed a rigorous regimen on her for nine months prior to the contest, which included two hours of workouts every day. The result? Yukta became almost eight kilos lighter. Was it worth it? Not if you lost, of course. But the prospect of $100,000 in the kitty, plus a years world travel and plenty of modelling assignments, is what must have spurred her on.
There was a time, not so long ago, when beauty contests in India were frowned upon. Well educated upper class girls simply did not compete in these contests, with rare exceptions (the late classical dancer, Indrani Rehman, was one of them). Attitudes were so conservative then that the swimming costume part of the event, which used to be compulsory, was not held before the audience but only before the judges!
The public mood began to
change about a decade or so back, with upper class Indian
parents objecting much less to the participation of their
daughters in beauty contests, even allowing them to
model. In fact, nowadays parents of attractive daughters
often push them in that direction! Which is why the
typical entrant in a Miss India contest nowadays is not a
school or college dropout but a girl who is a graduate
and eager to pursue a working career. That also explains
their smartness and confidence essential qualities
Giving the devil his due
LET me be a devils advocate today. Or at least let me say a few nice things about the devil who is very much in the news the Portuguese rulers in Goa so as to give a historic sense of proportion. This is, after all, the season of goodwill, and its proper that we dont drag up the past in order to damn the present.
There is a very little to recommend the Portuguese from any point of view, writes K.M. Panikkar in his Survey of Indian History. Devoid of scruples or sense of honour, overweening in their pride, indolent and with no sense of morality, they produced no statesman or administrator of outstanding ability during the 150 years when they held the mastery of the Indian Ocean. Panikkar then quickly mentions that Alfonso de Albuquerque was an exception; he was an administrator of outstanding ability. He adds: But they made some contribution to the life of India. Garcia da Ortas treatise on the medicinal plants of India is the first systematic study of an important subject. The introduction of printing and the establishment of seminaries for the training of Indian priests at Verapoly (Cochin) and at Goa are notable contributions to enlightenment. The ornate Manuelesque architecture which they popularised on the West Coast and the bungalow type of building they introduced are also worthy of mention.
As traders the Portuguese provided a world market for Indian goods, especially spices and muslin, on a scale unknown before, and they also introduced into India the products of Europe and China.
According to George Mark Moraes, who has written a fascinating study of the history of Christianity in India (first published in 1964), Christianity was not unknown in Goa before it was taken there by the Portuguese. Ibn Batuta, passing through Goa in 1342, a century and a half before the arrival of Vasco da Gama, describes a settlement of Muslim Arabs on the Zwari river and also a Christian settlement in the neighbourhood. However, says Moraes, after the successful conquest of the city of Goa by the Portuguese, and the prestige which it brought them, the church attracted to its fold a number of persons from the higher classes. Some Brahmins and Naiquebares (Kshatriyas) have become Christians, wrote Alfonso de Albuquerque in a letter to the King of Portugal, dated 1512. They serve Your Highness loyally and well in this metropolis of Goa.
Moraes says, Save for the prohibition of the cruel custom of Sati, Albuquer-que wisely left the Hindus undisturb-ed in the practice of their civic rights. He, however, made over the property of the mosque to the Church of St Catherine. He had caused this church to be built within the fortress with a large compound, in order, as he said, to thank the saint on whose day our lord gave the victory (over the Muslim rulers).
From all accounts, Albuquerque was a liberal and farsighted administrator. It was in Goa that Albuquerque tried his great experiment in colonisation. He knew that it would be impossible for Portugal with a population of a mere two million to manage the extensive maritime empire he was aiming to establish in the East. If this empire was to endure, it was essential that the strategic positions that would be built up from Mozam-bique to the Moluccas should be placed in trusted hands.
He had won the affection of the Goan people through his excellent adminis-tration and fair treatment. Unlike the Nair women of Malabar who preferred to marry Brahmins, the women of Goa were beginning to take an increasing liking for the Portugu-ese. He, therefore, conceived his great plan of rearing a population of half-breeds by encouraging some of his men to marry these women after converting them to Christianity, and settle in the country permanently. Some of these women were Muslims who had been taken prisoner after the fall of the city. Albuquerque purchased them from their master and gave them in marriage to anyone who wished to have them as wives. He also gave each couple a dowry to help them settle down.
The marriages are on the increase, reported Albuquerque to his king on April 1, 1512, because many well-to-do men are marrying. This year alone more than 500 were married and there are so many servants of Your Highness and of the dukes and counts in Portugal in Goa eager to marry that your Highness will hardly believe such a thing.
Moraes notes that the Hindus of Goa whose daughters Albuquerque had taken and given to his soldiers and officers, were a first scandalised and aggrieved by this proceeding, which had indeed in it an appearance of force. But they soon found their daughters enriched with property and treated as honoured wives and they themselves rising in the social scale, and were content to see them well settled.
Panikkar writes: The degradation of Portuguese life in India after the first 20 years of pioneer effort is affirmed by all authorities.... . As time went on, the successors of Vasco da Gama, Duarte Pacheco and Albuquerque, living on the tribute of the seas, sank into a state of indolence unusual even in India, moral depravity for which it will be difficult to find parallel, and a luxury which eclipsed even the neighbouring courts of Golconda and Bijapur. The sense of security which the mastery of the seas gave to the Portuguese was their undoing.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Dutch and the English and the French found their way to the Indian seas. And the rest is history.
It was unfortunate that
the people of India had to suffer colonisation (though
some did well out of it) but we have to share some of the
blame for sinking into indolence and a state of social
Reunited after renovation
COUPLE Kitty is a recent phenomenon, which has intruded into the middle class families. Years ago it was a virtual monopoly of aristocracy and an occasion to exhibit ones possessions, whether real or imaginary.
I was invited to one such couple kitty with the assurance that I wont get bored and that I will meet people of different shades and views. I noticed a middle-aged man stealing the show with his vegetarian and non-vegetarian jokes. He was a divorcee.
How do you fit into this couple kitty? I asked.
He laughed and said: I have got a degree and experience certificate. He explained that he was married 15 years ago and had a daughter.
Why did you not get remarried? I asked. Oh! Probably God created only one marriage for me. You know, doctor, marriages are predetermined in heaven and solemnised on this earth! We have erred and strayed from His ways like lost sheep. We followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against His holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. Yes, you are right, that is what is written in General Confession in the Protestant Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. I emphasised.
A year passed and we had a new entrant in our kitty. He was a professional manager in a marriage bureau and claimed to find a suitable match for everybody. Many ears were raised and they looked stealthily towards their wives. Suddenly all ladies shouted in unison. If you can find a match for Rakesh Bhai Sahib only then will we have faith in your capabilities.
We reached his office along with Rakesh Bhai Sahib. Age, height, qualification, hobbies and horoscope details were given. The data was fed in the computer and lo! Within minutes we got the answer. I could see excitement on the face of Rakesh Bhai Sahib. None of us had ever imagined the curiosity and need on his face.
The meeting was fixed and five responsible persons from our kitty were nominated to decide and take action. We met the lady in question. She looked very sweet, charming, intelligent and sober. Even in horoscope 34 out of 36 characters were compatible.
We politely told the lady all the good qualities of the boy, oh! sorry, man in question. Now came the crucial ceremony of showing the girl to the prospective bridegroom. All of us were tense. My heartbeat was audible. Rakesh Bhai Sahib said: Before I see her face, I will like to ask her some questions. If I am satisfied only then will I see her. We agreed.
As an opening dialogue I quoted John Selden, It is mind, not body, which makes marriage lasting. Of all actions of mans life, his marriage least concerns other people; yet of all actions of our life, it is the most meddled with by other people.
We said: Shoot, ask whatever you want to. He smiled and said: after listening to your sermon, I dont have anything to ask. As they looked towards each other, both said in unison, Tum! Ye tou wahi hai. We were dumb and did not know what to do.
I took up the courage and said, Bhai Sahib, now you are seeing each other after renovation. I think God has made you for each other and hence He wants to rejoin you.
Both of them gave
consent and we took them straight to kitty party. Now
this became truly, a couple kitty-alas! Minus
non-vegetarian jokes. Suddenly a lady said, Bhai Sahib,
JEHRI EK WARI GAL PAI JAWE, UHNU PHIR RUB HI
The peace of Bengal and the lives of its citizens are threatened by no popular uprising but by a comparatively small body of men who have introduced methods of terrorism into their political programme and are seeking to murder those whom they hate or fear, or to overawe by threats of murders those whose political activities are inconvenient or objectionable to them, and to import foreign arms and ammunition into the country for the purpose of making their terrorism effective.
Commuted to Penal Servitude
The sentence of death by
courtmartial imposed on a private from the Cameron
Highlanders, named Halliday, for the murder of a German
woman has been commuted to fifteen years penal
servitude. The accused, who was automatically dismissed
from service with ignominy when convicted, is being
transferred to England.
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