|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Sunday, February 7, 1999
English football coach lost his job
The voice of his master, Bal
bashing and the US media
THE new Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Narayan Rane, is a staunch Shiv Sainik and his loyalty to Sena supremo Bal Thackeray is total. Perhaps, this is the only qualification that pitch-forked him to the top position in one of the most advanced states of India.
Insiders say that with the sack of the assertive Manohar Joshi, who has lately declined to entertain the whims of the Sena dictator, the Maharashtra Government would now be run by remote control. In sharp contrast to Joshi, Rane is just a puppet in the hands of his boss.
The question being widely asked is whether the new Chief Minister will be able to implement the unrealistic schemes of Thackeray? One of them was announced by the Sena chief on Dasehra day and the promise held out by him was that farmers would be given free electricity. Will Rane be able to resurrect yet another much publicised scheme of Thackeray seeking to provide free houses to as many as 40 lakh slum dwellers in the metropolis and employment opportunities to 27 lakh jobless youth?
Elections are due in Maharashtra in just a years time. Another scheme of Balasaheb to provide meals at the cost of a rupee to the poor has also been gathering dust.
Rane, it is widely believed in BJP circles, has been thrown in a Sushma Swaraj like situation. All the acts of omission and commission of the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition and its inability to live up to the fantasies of Thackeray will be thrown on him. From all indications the combine is heading for a drubbing at the hustings and, like Sushma, Rane is evidently not in a position to perform a miracle in a years time.
Much to dislike of Thackeray, Manohar Joshi succumbed to pressures from the Centre and agreed to the arrest of Shiv Sainiks involved in the ransacking of the BCCI office in Mumbai. This was a loss of face for the Senapati.
What steps Rane will take if he is placed in a similar situation as his predecessor? Will he condone all the unlawful acts of Shiv Sainiks and bale some of them out of criminal cases?
Thackeray has also in mind the powerful Maratha factor which dominated the states politics for decades while replacing Joshi by Rane. Rane is a Maratha while Joshi is a Brahmin. But, it is widely believed, that Rane is not the Maratha of the sort represented by Y.B. Chavan, Vasantdada Patil or Sharad Pawar. Rane is a Maratha from the coastal Konkan and neither from the point of view of social perception nor class interest would the landed gentry of interior Maharashtra recognise him as one of their own.
Ranes career graph shows that his educational qualification is much below average he is only a matriculate. His political vacation for nine years from 1986 to 1996 was confined to trade union activities in BEST (Bombay Electric Supply and Transport) as General Secretary of the Kamgar Sena. He subsequently rose to the position of BEST Kamgar Sena president in 1996, a post he still holds.
Interestingly, the new Chief Ministers official biodata says he is a cricket lover and played for the Income Tax Departments cricket team for 13 years from 1971 to 1984. Sadly, Thackerays fear, preceded by years of indoctrination in the Shiv Sena, made him a hater of cricket; he forgot the rules of the game. There was not a whimper of protest when Shiv Sainiks dug up the pitch at Delhis Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium or when Sena goons ransacked the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai.
Rane has been very active in Shiv Sena affairs and is responsible for strengthening the organisations base especially in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. His contribution in getting Sena candidates elected in the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections from the region has been significant. He made his debut in the Maharashtra Assembly in 1990, was re-elected in 1995 and made a Cabinet Minister when the Shiv Sena-BJP combine formed the coalition. Owing to his proximity with Thackeray and standing in the Sena, he soon got Cabinet rank. He is a typical product of the Shiv Sena culture.
Though Rane lacks high
educational background, he is known to have acquired
diplomatic skill and the art of political management.
Like BJPs Pramod Mahajan, he has learnt the
technique of mobilising financial support having
developed good contacts with industrial houses. One
wonders if he will be able to undo the damage that the
BJP-Shiv Sena rule perpetrated on Maharashtra in the run
up to the Assembly elections early next year.
IN his farewell speech, Michael Jordan said he had done his best to remove the image of Chicago as a gangsters hangout a picture that had lasted ever since Al Capone held sway.
Frankly, I dont think anyone will ever forget that master criminal. But does anyone remember just how Al Capone finally found himself behind bars? He was a murderer several times over. He was blackmailer, a thief, and a dealer in banned substances but no policeman handcuffed him for those crimes. No, Al Capone finally met his match when the taxmen caught up with him.
I am reminded of Al Capones fate when reading of the sacking of the English football coach, Glenn Hoddle. He wasnt sacked because of that appallingly indiscreet diary that was published just after the last World Cup. He wasnt sacked because of squabbles with senior players. He wasnt sacked because his team performed so much below expectations in France 98. No, Hoddle was shown the door because the morality police decided he had crossed the bounds of political correctness.
The handicapped and the retarded, quoted Hoddle, had only themselves to blame. Their physical and mental disabilities in this life were a result of their bad karma in a previous incarnation. This proved to be an own goal, or rather two.
Handicapped and retarded are politically incorrect. The proper phrase, it seems, is to use a prefix with challenged. Therefore there arent any short men and women around any longer, merely those who are vertically-challenged. (I rather like this; instead of confessing I am computer-illiterate. I can now say I am technologically-challenged. Challenged has a marvellous old-world air of knight errantry about it, doesnt it?)
But to return to Hoddle, his second error was using the word karma, something that smacks of un-Christian values. By the time Hoddle clarified that he hadnt meant to insult anyone, the tabloids and the clergy had already condemned him.
Nobody should be surprised any longer at the frenzied excesses of English tabloids, but what did the clergymen object to? Reduced to its bare essence, karma is nothing more than as you sow, so shall you reap a thoroughly Biblical sentiment. Was it, then, the idea of reincarnation?
If so, it must be said no less than Jesus Christ implicitly supported their concept. According to tradition, the prophet Elijah would herald the Messiah, as sceptics pointed out to Jesus. He responded, But I say unto you that Elijah is come already and they knew him not... And the text continues that the disciples then understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. (Read the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.) That is a clear case of reincarnation.
No, I rather think the only thing that was un-Christian about Hoddles choice of words was the fact that he used a term generally associated with Indian philosophy. But why should Anglicans be so touchy about a celebritys flirtation with another faith? This isnt the first such instance, mind you, when a public persons private beliefs have been debated. When Prime Minister Blair was discovered in a Catholic church, his official spokesman had to hurriedly clarify that Blair wasnt being converted!
No law specifically prohibits non-Anglicans from Downing Street; several Catholics and at least one Jew have even served in the Cabinet. In this day and age a persons religious identity shouldnt matter to a nation preaching religious tolerance to others, right?
The excuse for the Blair
furore was that Prime Ministers advise the monarch on the
appointment of bishops, and Catholic sympathisers
shouldnt arrange the fate of Protestants. If so,
how shall the English clergy react to the Prince of Wales
becoming their boss? After all, he has never made a
secret of his deep respect for oriental religions.for
Anglicans to advise other nations to practise tolerance.
But, like charity, that is a virtue that should begin at
THE campaign against Christians in India launched by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal during the last two months hardly attracted the attention of the United States media in the initial stage. Presumably the desecration of churches and the attacks on Christian schools and nuns in Dangs district of Gujarat were treated as an aberration arising out of local conflicts. The outpourings of VHP and Bajrang Dal against the Christians were also ignored as the impression was that these two militant Hindu organisations do not reflect the feelings of the Hindus in general who were the inheritors of tolerance and respect for all religions.
But now the situation has changed. Even before the burning of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons in a village in Orissa, a lengthy report appeared in New York Times on January 23 under the caption, Wider attacks on the Christians unsettle rural India. The report highlighted the intensified violence against Christians in Dangs districts in Gujarat. The report obliquely criticised Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who after visiting Gujarat called for a national debate on conversions. Mr Vajpayee, the moderate face of Hindu nationalist cause and the man who stood up for secularism within his party, sent out more ambiguous signals in Dangs. While here, he called the national debate on conversion a call that made Christians even more insecure, the New York Times said.
On the day the New York Times carried the desptach from its correspondent in New Delhi on the attack on Christians, Australian missionary Staines along with his two minor sons were burnt to death in Orissa. The NYT as well as most of the newspapers gave prominence to this ghastly act.
The San Francisco Chronicle report, dated January 25, said, The missionary Graham Staines, 58, and his sons Philip 10 and Timothy 6, burned to death as hundreds of villagers watched a mob of 50 to 100 people circle the van in the East India state of Orissa police officials said the people charged with attack were associated with the Bajrang Dal, a youth group that is part of the same family of the Hindu Nationalist Organisations, which heads the Nationalist Coalition government.
The CNN also telecast the news about the burning of the Australian missionary to death. So too the radio network in the USA. It will be seen that the US media, both print and electronic, have taken note of the terror campaign accompanied by the killing of the Christian missionary in India.
The impression in the USA till now was that India was relatively free from fundamentalist politics unlike Pakistan and other countries. Now India is being viewed to be moving towards fundamentalism, the point that US Assistant Secretary of State Talbott recently made in one of his speeches here.
The USA is a nation of immigrants. Asians, Latin Americans, including Mexicans, have migrated in large numbers and they are in a relatively affluent position. There is yet no sharp reaction among the people to the attacks on Christians in India. But then, attention here is mainly on the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. However, the Bible belt consisting of North and South Carolina and other southern states may raise the issue if Hindu extremists continue their violence against Christians. The US Congress too may take note of the killings if they continue.
The danger of this
happening is all the more since the VHP and the Bajrang
Dal are in an unrepentant mood. What is intriguing many
observers here is that the BJP-led coalition government
has not shown an inclination to curb the activities of
the communal organisations. Already Germany is upset
against India for this reason. Many more countries
including USA may follow suit. IPA
Legality of occupation
A NOTE repudiates the French charge of inconsistency in refusing to acknowledge the legality of the occupation of the Ruhr when twice previously she joined in the presentation of ultimate, threatening the occupation of Dusseldorf, Dulsburg and Ruhart.
The Note says that such action was not in the pursuance of the reparations clauses, but on account of Germanys failure to perform the Treaty obligations.
If His Majestys Government have hitherto abstained formally from contesting the legality of the occupation of the Ruhr, it was solely due to the desire to avoid needlessly embarrassing the Allies.
This should not be made a reproach now.
His Majestys Government would not have even now taken up the question of legality if they had not been challenged. The French Government declare that the object of entering the Ruhr was not for reparations, but for breaking Germanys resistance and the creation of a will to pay, but the will to pay is likely to be extinguished altogether by the continuation of the stranglehold on the most important centre of German industries.
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