|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Sunday, January 10, 1999
figures in history
disrupts ethnic balance
brilliant new CBI chief
CHARGED with a grammatical error, the Roman poet Horace shrugged it off, saying: Sometimes even good, old Homer nods. Ever since, professional writers have been saying Homer nods when their mistakes are pointed out. As someone said: Other professions try to hide their errors, writers put them up to be admired!
I confess to my fair share of mistakes. For instance, I once referred to the late V.P. Menon as an ICS mandarin. This resulted in a wake-up call (literally and metaphorically) from Captain Nair, the man behind the highly successful Leela Kempinski group. Menon, he rebuked me, was not one of the heaven-born, but someone who had come up the hard way, rising from a clerical job in a mining firm to becoming the highest-ranking civil servant in British India.
Captain Nair was right and I was wrong. But I have to confess that I was intrigued how he became such an expert on the life and times of V. Pangunni Menon. There was, as far as I knew, nothing in his career Army officer, industrialist, and hotelier in succession to draw any interest in Menon, one of the (unfairly) ignored figures in the history of independent India. Except, perhaps, a mutual inability to bear fools gladly?!
V.P. Menon, for the benefit of those who dont know, was the Secretary in the newly-created States Ministry in 1947, a post he held at Sardar Patels express request. His task was to integrate over 500 princely states into India. History records that the Sardar and Menon succeeded so well that by November, 1947, they had added more territory into the Dominion of India than had been lost three months earlier by Partition.
After he retired Menon fulfilled a promise that the Sardar had extracted from him. He wrote two books, The Transfer of Power and The Integration of the Indian States, on the road to independence and its immediate aftermath. Captain Nair plans to bring out deluxe editions of both later this year.
I should point out that V.P. Menon isnt the only one to be adored by Captain Nair. His other idol is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. He even takes out advertisements on the birth anniversaries of both every year.
Quite frankly, there are no commercial returns from doing so. It is simply a tribute to two great sons of India who have received much less than their due from successive generations of Indians. The cynical might sneer at all this as nothing more than a parochial affection for a fellow Keralite and the man who stressed the Indian in Indian Army. So I should point out that he cherishes the heroes of today just as much.
Many saw that disgusting photograph of Indias gold-medal winning hockey team receiving no better welcome-mat than the cold floors of Mumbai airport where they sprawled out in sheer exhaustion when returning from the Bangkok Asiad. Fog had shut down their ultimate destination, Delhi, and no government agency was concerned.
It fell to Captain Nair to carry them off to the comfort of his own hotel, welcoming them with garlands as such victors should be. He didnt get anything out of doing so, not even publicity. He just did it for sheer love of India.
On occasion, that unfashionable attitude can be a loser. When the Michael Jackson circus was planning its Indian tour, they were offered a huge concession by the Leela if Jackson sang something praising Netaji. Jackson refused, Captain Nair withdrew the offer, and another hotel scooped up all the publicity.
Netaji, V.P. Menon, the
hockey stars of the Bangkok Asiad we forget them
all easily enough. I cant say I am fond of being
told that Homer has nodded. But that is a small price to
pay if the man telling me so is someone who forces every
Indian, not just me, to remember who our heroes really
Chandrika disrupts ethnic balance
WHEN Sri Lankas President, Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga, blurted out during her recent South Africa tour that Tamils were not the original people of her island, she did more than elicit a few disbelieving gasps.
Grabbing the opportunity to rubbish rebel Tamil Tigers claims to a separate state in northern Sri Lanka, the ethnically Sinhalese leader may have undone four years hard work trying to assure the world of her commitment to a multi-racial society in which all citizens Tamils, Christians and Muslims included feel they belong.
Coming home from South Africa, the Presidents reception was anything but warm.
Her usually-reliable clique of anti-Tiger Tamil MPs threatened to withhold support for the next Budget. The Tamil United Liberation Front wishes to communicate the grave anguish caused to the Tamil people and the feelings of condemnation arising in their minds by the (Presidents) statement, cried one mainstream Tamil party.
Tamil newspapers lamented yet another betrayal by a Sinhalese leader sporting two faces, and recounted several solemn pacts revoked by Sinhalese past prime ministers.
And thousands of Tamil campaigners abroad mostly enthusiastic supporters of Tamil independence gleefully seized on her words to strengthen the case for armed rebellion against a blatantly chauvinist Sinhalese regime.
Sri Lankas main Opposition party, the UNP, sensing a chance to regain Tamil votes squandered during its own repressive 13-year rule preceding Kumaratungas ascension to power in 1994, jumped in the bandwagon too.
Interestingly, the only group to applaud Kumaratungas politically-incorrect utterance was one calling itself the National Movement Against Terrorism, thought to have close ties with the military.
But being a Sinhalese supremacist outfit, with a philosophy dangerously akin to Americas Ku Klux Klan, this is a group whose support the President would much rather do without.
Kumaratungas outburst, moreover, could not have come at a worse time for the government, especially when Tamil backing is so crucial ahead of parliamentary polls in two years time.
Such statements badly injure Tamil pride, because Tamils generally see themselves as just as much the islands original people as the Sinhalese, if not more so.
But to a lot of Tamils, the Presidents apparent slip-up had more profound implications.
It indicated, to them, that Kumaratungas mindset was tainted with Sinhalese racism. And this brought into question the ultimate aim of her military campaign in the Tamil-inhabited north which is led, not insignificantly, by an overwhelmingly Sinhalese armed force.
Tamils are now asking: is the Presidents military effort really aimed, as she is fond of claiming, at weakening the Tigers so the government can pave the way to gift Tamils with the autonomy they so thirst for?
But the South Africa episode, too, has created a legacy. And led to its fair share of casualties.
Chief among these have been some of the Presidents dearest Tamil supporters, particularly the Foreign Minister, the only Tamil in the Cabinet.
This distinguished politician, usually noted for his quick-step diplomacy, evidently lost his balance when questioned about the Presidents words, and worsened his plight by insisting on national television that Kumaratunga could never in principle have uttered such a racist comment.
Knowing her intimately, he said, her entire philosophy would forbid such language. He finally dismissed the matter as the work of mischievous journalists.
But even as he spoke, a video-cassette containing the whole of the Presidents interview was doing the rounds both in Colombo and abroad, alienating waves of Tamils as it went. There could no longer be any question that Kumaratunga made the offending comment.
A further clumsy attempt by the Information Ministry to reinterpret the meaning of her remark only led to more red faces.
The centre-piece of Kumaratungas domestic policy has been a dogged insistence on the equality of all the islands communities. Routine pronouncements to this effect have won it sound military and political backing from several useful Western allies including the USA, which periodically steps forward to commend Colombos commitment to resolving its ethnic problem.
But the USA like other Western countries, does have more than a passing interest in Sri Lanka. It provides the country a strategic island just a stones-throw from India with weapons and training. It also recently tightened the screws on the Tigers by placing them on its terrorist list (alongside the Kurdish PKK rebels and Hamas) effectively curbing pro-Tiger activities on its soil.
It is unlikely, then, that the Sri Lankan Presidents remarks in South Africa would weaken support from the countrys Western friends.
ACADEMICIAN and policeman generally do not go together. The image of a policeman one conjures up is that of a burly, tough guy having powerful muscles, curled up moustaches and wielding a baton or a danda. Like elsewhere, there are, however, exceptions in the police force too. The IPS has produced some rare officers, physically powerful and, at the same time, intellectually and academically brilliant. The newly appointed Director of the CBI, the premier investigative agency, Dr R. K. Raghavan, is an exception in the lathi wielding and gun-totting force.
One wonders how so well read and a spiritually gifted man like Dr Raghavan has landed in not so coveted police service. His academic career has been impressive. Having acquired a masters degree from Madras University, he took to research and obtained Ph.D. He also qualified for masters from Temple University, Philadelphia. The new CBI chief has authored two books India Police: Problems, Planning and Perspectives and in the yet to be published work he dealt with comparative study of policing problems in India and the USA.
Dr Raghavan has based his books on many sources as well as personal experience. He derived the conclusion in his first work published 10 years back, that the public image of the police is far from good. This is attributed mainly to the unsatisfactory police performance and misconduct by policemen vis-a-vis individual members of the community.
He strongly suggested that a well devised personnel development programme that imparts sound knowledge of the profession and clarifies the role of the police in the community would greatly improve the situation. Regrettably, the rulers of those days did not pay heed to this very vital issue improving the image of the police and it has gone from bad to worse. The second book, expected to be released shortly, deals comprehensively with the problem of policing.
He believes that police reforms should give greater priority to personnel management than to merely attempt at modification of procedures. A judicious application of management concepts to police personnel management will lead to better employer-employee relationship and motivate policemen, particularly in the lower ranks, he feels.
A stroke of bad luck eight years back cut short Dr Raghavans promising career. Rajiv Gandhi was to visit Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, and the Zonal Inspector-General, who was supposed to look after the former Prime Ministers security, had proceeded on leave. Call it a coincidence, Raghavan visited the Tamil Nadu police chiefs office when the security aspects were being discussed. Though he was, at that time, heading the states Fire Service Department and had nothing to do with security, the chief asked him to coordinate and supervise the arrangement at Sriperumbudur.
Raghavan could not have done anything to plug the loopholes in the security arrangements at such a short time but he had to share the blame for the lapses leading to Rajiv Gandhis assassination. He was subsequently accused of failing to control access to the former Prime Minister, figured in the Verma Commission report denied promotion and refused empanelment for selection to any Central Government post. So much so that last year he was refused the Presidents Police Medal for Distinguished Service. Those were the years of agony for a police officer of high integrity like him.
On his part, Raghavan showed extraordinary courage and maintained his cool in the wake of the assassination. He did not retreat but remained on the scene the whole night and maintained vigil. As a result, valuable evidence, including the camera of one of the collaborators, could be recovered. One reason for the dastardly crime is said to be withdrawal of the SPG protection to Rajiv Gandhi and another was failure of the Tamil Nadu police to strictly adhere to rules and instruction laid down for VIP security. Had those in charge of frisking discharged their duty properly, the assassins could have been detected easily, experts say.
The eight-year-long wait did not break the morale of Raghavan. Luck smiled on him last week when he became the first CBI Director to be appointed under the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court envisaging that the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and Secretaries of the Ministries of Home and Personnel would select a panel of three officers for the premier investigative agencys chief and the government would pick one of them.
Besides Raghavan, whose last posting was as Tamil Nadus Director-General for Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. Andhra Pradesh police chief, H. J. Dorai and Trinath Mishra, the acting CBI Director, were recommended for the top post of the agency. The Government picked up Raghavan who, even the Congress feels, is the kind of officer the CBI needs desperately.
The 57-year-old new CBI
chief had topped the 1963 batch. He is among a few CBI
chiefs who does not have experience of the investigative
agency but he had a 15-year long stint with the IB. He
will have a tenure of two years.
NEWS has been received that the C.P. Legislature has adopted two more resolutions in the teeth of official opposition.
The first resolution recommends the release of all persons under arrest as undertrial prisoners as well as the withdrawal of all pending prosecutions in connection with the National Flag Satyagraha.
The second recommends the release of all prisoners who have been convicted in this connection. By passing these resolutions the CP Council has immensely raised itself in the estimation of the whole country. It is now for the Government to speedily decide the course of action that it wants to follow.
After the debate in the Legislature and the decisive defeat of the Government, there should remain no doubt in the official mind that the Nagpur orders and the subsequent arrests, prosecutions and convictions are regarded as wholly unjustifiable not only by the noncooperators but also by those who have no sympathy with the movement of Civil Disobedience.
| Punjab | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir |
| Chandigarh | Business | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | World | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |