|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Thursday, October 14, 1999
back to black rule
CONGRESS COULDNT DO BETTER
set to Talibanise Pakistan
October 14, 1924
Pakistan: back to black rule
PAKISTAN is once again back in the army fold. This is surely a major setback to that country's re-emergence as a democracy in its 52 years of turbulent existence. Gen Pervez Musharraf is the fourth army chief to have struck at the civilian regime in Islamabad. What is ironic in the development is that the ousted Prime Minister had virtually handpicked him by sacking Gen Jehangir Karamat and superseding two other Generals about a year back. There is a parallel in the situation of Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto opting for Gen Zia-ul-Haq in 1976. What happened subsequently is part of Pakistan's black history. There has been always a love-hate relationship between the civilian authority and the military in Islamabad. The top brass in the Pakistani armed forces has never relished any democratically elected Prime Minister gaining control beyond a limit. Mr Nawaz Sharif had emerged as the most powerful Prime Minister since his impressive victory in the 1997 election to the National Assembly. He could successfully get rid of the "inconvenient" President Farooq Leghari. He shuffled the Generals at will. He even managed to subdue the judiciary. However, because of his autocratic style and poor performance he got himself alienated from the general public. That is the reason why the Pakistanis have taken the coup news coolly.
Mr Sharif could have his way so long as the going was good. The Kargil debacle and the "don't take us for granted" rebuff from Washington only added to the tension and the drift between General Musharraf and the deposed Prime Minister. Though the General is said to be a professional soldier, he nurses his own ambition. Small wonder then that there were rumours about plots and counter-plots during the past two months or so. Mr Sharif never trusted General Musharraf and was looking for a chance to strike at him. He saw that opportunity when the General was away to Colombo to participate in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan army. He "dismissed" the Gen and opted for the ISI chief, Gen Ziauddin Ahmad, as his successor. The subsequent events show that Mr Sharif miscalculated his move against the coup leader. Perhaps he was overconfident and hence failed to gauge the mood of the senior officers in uniform.
Though Gen Pervez Musharraf is right on top at the moment, it is doubtful if he will be able to have his way in the critical weeks ahead. It is no secret that the Pakistani economy is in a terrible mess. Sectarian violence has been on the rise. The Islamic fundamentalists and the Taliban are dominating political life there. Sensing the new danger under American pressure, the Pakistani authorities had just begun the "deweaponisation process" of the Taliban-sponsored militants. Looking at Pakistan's complexities, this was not an easy task.
Islamabad today is in a bloody mess of its own making. Its Talibanisation, encouragement to religious terrorism, total obsession with Kashmir and the ill-fated misadventure in Kargil have had a destabilising effect on the country's politico-military leadership. How these happenings develop is anybody's guess. It does not augur well for peace and stability in the region. It also gives a blow to the much-trumpeted India's Lahore bus diplomacy. For the newly installed government of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee it is a major upsettling event. New Delhi has been looking forward to a resumption of dialogue with Pakistan. But it is now faced with an odd situation of having to deal with a General who was part of Islamabad's Kargil misadventure. In any case, General Musharraf has to first work for his own survival in Pakistan's Punjabi-dominated military establishment. Being a Mohajir, he is likely to feel uncomfortable in the power structure in Pakistan. So the best bet for him will be the restoration of civilian rule. What makes the latest coup particularly disturbing is the nuclearisation of Pakistan. And we know that the nuclear button is with the military establishment there. This should be a major point of worry for New Delhi and Washington. The hope is that better sense will prevail and the army will go back to the barracks.
The future of Pakistan
is very much linked with India. It is possible to have
stable, peaceful and fruitful relations between the two
neighbours if Pakistan allows the democratic process to
have free play and brings the Taliban and fundamentalist
forces under control. The policy of brinkmanship cannot
take Pakistan anywhere. Nor can competitive negativism
help that country's fragile democracy to take roots.
Pakistan has to come out of its old military mindset and
build bridges of peace, understanding and development at
home and with India.
India: business as usual
IN a Council of Ministers that is the largest this decade, there is no representation to Punjab and a few states in the North-East. Nor is there a member of the minority Muslim community at the Cabinet level. There are only eight women in the 70-member Council and only one, Ms Mamata Banerjee, is Cabinet Minister. The lone Muslim BJP MP, from Krishanganj in Bihar, has secured a junior berth, rightly so since he is a first-timer. The Janata Dal (U) in Bihar has cornered four Cabinet posts, the biggest for any state. To highlight these facts is not to criticise the whole exercise but to bring out the imbalance in the composition of the National Democratic Alliance parliamentary party. All 24 alliance parties, most of them with two or three members, had to be accommodated. That explains the size and the compulsion to make every fourth MP a Minister. Until the swearing-in there was speculation that every party would get one place in the Council of Ministers for every six MPs. This calculation was based on the strength of the earlier Vajpayee-led government which had only 42 members. Then the ratio was increased to one in five, taking the total number to 60. Obviously the Prime Minister came under tremendous pressure. Second, the BJP as also its key allies have many senior and seasoned men who have to find a place if the new government is to get down to serious and efficient business. In former Chief Minister Shanta Kumar Himachal Pradesh has a Cabinet Minister and Mr I.D.Swamy, who vanquished Mr Bhajan Lal, is the lone Minister of State from Haryana. The reluctance of Mr Om Prakash Chautala to join the government has robbed the state of one more seat.
The absence of any Sikh
or Muslim in the Cabinet reflects the failure of the BJP
and its major partners to widen their political base to
embrace a cross-section of the population. The BJPs
senior Muslim leader, Mr Sikander Bakht, had to go so
that JD (U) stalwarts from Bihar and the three former
Chief Ministers Mr Shanta Kumar, Mr Sunderlal
Patwa and Mr Manohar Joshi could join the Cabinet.
The poor electoral performance in Karnataka and the
desire to avoid the charge of over-representation of the
JD (U) has apparently influenced the Prime Minister to
drop Mr Ramakrishna Hegde. The DMK has secured two senior
level places and another going to Mr Kumaramangalam,
Tamil Nadu with a total of 26 MPs looks a big gainer. Of
course, the BJP with 182 MPs out of the NDAs 303,
has more than its due share in the Council of Ministers.
Prime Minister Vajpayee can justifiably retort that this
is only natural considering the strength of the party and
that in last government the party was happy to be
under-represented. Mr Ram Naik, a veteran of many BJP
battles in Mumbai, gets a well-merited promotion and Mr
Ajit Panja of the Trinamool Congress, despite his many
years of experience as Minister, has to be satisfied with
being a Minister of State. But then with just eight
members, the party cannot aspire for anything more grand.
Uttar Pradesh has been punished for not sending a large
enough contingent and Maharashtra has been rewarded, with
a junior berth going to the only Gandhi cap sporting
Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, an experienced state level
Minister. With one Cabinet post and seven at the junior
level, women are grossly ignored; that has always been
the BJPs weakness.
ON Tuesday the world's population touched the projected six billion mark. This is no occasion to celebrate, though the birth of a child is a happy development anywhere in the world. Now is the time to coolly think as to what can be done to ensure that the balance between the population and the available resources does not get disturbed dangerously. The emerging scenario demands a two-pronged strategy. Something will have to be done to prevent the concentration of the world's wealth in certain advantaged areas, besides keeping the population at a manageable level. Here it must be borne in mind that the number of the poor is multiplying at a faster rate than that of the well-off. The regions adding the maximum to the world's population are in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern and western Asia. Western and central Europe and Japan are faced with a different kind of crisis---how to retain the present level of their population which is declining. But they are at the same time worried about the spillover effect from the poverty-stricken parts of the world. Thus, it is in their interest too if corrective measures are taken to effectively prevent the baby boom in the areas where it is unwanted. Unfortunately, the rich of the world are doing very little to either improve the condition of the poor or to restrict the growth in their numbers.It was estimated at the Cairo conference on population that by the year 2000 the world will need $17 billion for population control and reproductive health-related projects. However, the major part of this requirement has been fulfilled by five seriously affected countries---India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Iran---and the contribution of the rich nations remains below $2 billion. This is shameful, to say the least.
So far as India is
concerned, its population record has not been
praiseworthy. There is a situation of total indifference,
which does not augur well for the country. Today it
sustains one-sixth of the world's total population---an
army of one billion people. Yet no political party in the
just concluded elections thought it fit to include the
problem in its manifesto. If the country remains
undisturbed at the present rate of population
growth---1.9 per cent---it would be doing it at its own
peril. No doubt its gross domestic product (GDP) has
grown at a faster rate, but the productivity level is
very low. According to the Washington-based World Watch
Institute, India spends a mere .7 per cent of its gross
national product on heath care and family planning. This
will have to be increased considerably to create greater
health-related confidence among people. The other factor
which plays a major role in the success of any population
control programme is education. But even today when India
has grown into a nuclear power and one of the leading
suppliers of computer software to the world, it has a
little less than half of its population as illiterate.
The new government must focus its attention on the
factors that help in preventing baby boom, besides
finalising a new population policy at the earliest. This
is also essential to reduce the number---40 per cent---
of those living below the poverty line.
WHY CONGRESS COULDNT
THE 1999 election has posed a major tactical challenge to the Congress party. It must be wondering how it has in most places increased its voting percentage but lost the seats it should have won.
The answer is that the Congress party was not lacking in support but was luckless and tactless in organising its campaign. Its political foe number one, the BJP, has been more orderly, mathematical and knew what it should do to draw to it the maximum advantage. This is the only answer that analysts would get while they try to find out how the Congress got greater vote percentage but lost the seats while the BJP came down in the vote percentage but won at least as many seats as it had in the last election.
The Congress disdained electoral adjustments while the BJP gushed about collecting them so much so that in the final tally it had as many as 24 participants in the coalition it formed. This is why the Congress has lost and the BJP allies have won. If the Congress wanted to do better, its Pachmarhi resolution was not the right way to go about it. In the future the Congress would have to be clear cut about forming electoral alliances. This time it kept on dilly-dallying with the idea, sometimes saying that it would go in for alliances and adjustments and sometimes that it would go it alone.
It fell between these two stools. In the fall that this caused it lost the massive popular response Mrs Sonia Gandhi received as she went round the country. Her party will have to get over the dilemma whether to have alliances or not. If not, it would have to give out a programme that would unhinge the antagonist parties.
It finally went in for two alliances, with Ms Jayalalithas AIADMK and Mr Laloo Yadavs RJD, both highly controversial, charged with corruption allegations and inspiring little by way of popularity. As if this was not enough, both these leaders treated the Congress crudely and offered it a few seats to contest on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. This made the Congress look like a junior partner. This lowered its prestige. It nervously accepted the insults. Mrs Sonia Gandhi should have turned down the AIADMK alliance when Ms Jayalalitha refused to come to their inaugural public meeting.
While negotiating with these two parties the Congress did not seem to realise that it was being deeply insulted by two arrogant chieftains who had little to commend themselves. The Congress did not seem to know its strength. If it could be tough with Mr Sharad Pawar, it should have sternly dealt with with Ms Jayalalitha and Mr Laloo Yadav too.
It is easy for an outside commentator to say this after the elections, but the partys army of so-called tacticians should have been able to discern this while the negotiations were going on. It would have been more honourable for the Congress to spurn their measely offers and strike out on its own as it did in Karnataka and UP. At the worst it would have lost the few seats that it won in Tamil Nadu and Bihar. It would have done better elsewhere. Left to itself, it could have chosen the constituencies where it was strong and made a better showing there. The Bihar Congress leaders had a better feel of the pulse.
It is a pity for the Congress that it did not come to have an alliance either with the Samajwadi Party of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav or Ms Mayawatis BSP. True, they were not keen because the Congress was going to cut into their vote bank. These two parties were also cutting into the new votes that were coming to the Congress from the minorities in UP. The Congress should instead have gone in for certain constituency-wise compromises if reaching broad alliances was not possible. Adjustments could have been reached on a seat-by-seat basis in UP, Bihar and other states. The Congress did not seem to take into account that the anti-BJP vote was getting split into three segments, the Congress, the SP and the BSP. The advantage clearly went to the BJP. It is strange that the Congress did not take this into account. This was being talked about all through the electioneering but the party planners did not seem to know about it.
In UP where the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP had everything in their favour, the party allowed the BJP, riven by dissension and suffering a wave of anti-incumbency with the Chief Minister out of tune with the central leadership, to run away with successes. Uttar Pradesh presented a great opportunity for the Congress. It was satisfied with fewer seats. The Samajwadi Party and the BSP did better. The Congress should have done much better than just a dozen seats. The Congress seemed to assume that if the minority vote was quitting the BJP, it would of its own come to it. This proved to be wrong. The Congress should have set its target higher. It was reachable with proper adjustments. The Congress may not get this kind of an opportunity again. The BJP will not let it happen.
After losing Mr Sharad Pawar, the Congress knew that it would lose seats in Maharashtra. But it did nothing to make that up elsewhere. (Even Mr Sharad Pawar feels that he has gained nothing. In a tearful television interview he said that he had been expelled for nothing.) This is not Mrs Sonia Gandhis mistake but of her tacticians who crowded the AICC corridors but produced no formulae for seat sharing. She should have put all of them people like Mr Arjun Singh, Mr Rajesh Pilot, Mr M.L. Fotedar, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Scindia and others in a room like school boys and asked them to work out how each seat could be won or shared with whoever partner it managed to find.
If it was not possible to have adjustments with big parties, which in most cases it was not, it should have won over smaller groups, like the RPI, the BSP in states other than UP and Mr Moopanars TMC. It fought against TMC which is emotionally linked with the Congress. What a sad thing to happen for both parties! The BJP had decided to rope in all such forces but the Congress threw them aside. This showed the mindlessness of the Congress planners.
In many places the choice of candidates was also faulty. It drove away Mufti Mohammed Sayeed of Kashmir into forming a regional party. He did it because he received no hearing in Delhi. This is the man who kept the Congress alive in Kashmir for years and won a seat for the party in 1998 but he was now driven away because Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad feathered his own small nest rather than drive an advantage for the party.
Choosing Mr T.N. Seshan and Mr Karan Singh to fight Mr Advani and Mr Vajpayee was a good idea. It forced the two top BJP leaders to spend more time in their constituencies. But the main task before the Congress was to win seats. Its two candidates could have been put up in better constituencies where they would have had a greater chance of winning Mr Seshan and Mr Karan Singh could have perhaps done better, say, in a Tamil Nadu and a Delhi constituency. For giving a fight to Mr Advani and Mr Vajpayee the symbolic contest could have been waged with, say, a strong student leader or a trade unionist as its candidates. In 1967 the Congress President, K. Kamaraj, was defeated by a student leader. The then railway trade unionist, Mr George Fernandes, once beat S.K. Patil, who was thought to be the King of Bombay. This does not mean that Mr Advani or Mr Vajpayee could have been defeated but a symbolic fight could have been waged without wasting two leaders who could have won from somewhere else.
The Congress brought out Mr H.L. Kapur, whom Rajiv Gandhi had thrown out as Lt-Governor in the wake of a Delhi epidemic, from moth balls to fight in Delhi. Whoever thought that Mr R.K. Dhawan would win against Mr Jagmohan? Or Mr Jagdish Tytler against Mr Madan Lal Khurana? Could the Himachal Congress get nothing from the anti-incumbency vote? And was it not a mistake to have supported Mr Bansi Lal who had been siding with the BJP? He brought down Mr Bhajan Lal too. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Orissa should have been managed better. So also Andhra Pradesh.
With Ms Mamata Banerjee on the other side, the Congress should have had the leftists as its natural allies, in West Bengal and Kerala and more so in other states where they have pockets of influence which could help it in tilting the scales.
Not everything is lost for the Congress. It did wonderfully well in Punjab. What is not being given proper importance is that the Congress has gained Karnataka. This is not a small achievement. No other party has won a new state. Despite Mr Pawar breaking away, the Congress has done well in Maharashtra by emerging as the largest single party in the assembly. This also is not a small achievement. Mrs Sonia Gandhi winning handsomely in Bellary and Amethi and enabling even Mr Satish Sharma to win against Mr Arun Nehru is excellent showing and should shut up those who still talk of the foreign origin.
But the party could have
done better with wiser planning and execution. If the BJP
relies on alliances, the Congress cannot be far behind.
It also must not forget the mantra Indira Gandhi has
given it, that of Gharibi Hatao, which
appeals to the entire country. Merely attacking the BJP
was not enough.
Need to review military plans
PRIME Minister Atal Behari Vajpayees hands have been considerably strengthened by the people who have given him a mandate for a strong and stable government to take India into the next millennium. Mr Vajpayee and his colleagues should now be drawing up their priorities to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The Prime Minister has already put the national economy and security on top of his agenda. Indeed, much is required to be done on both fronts, keeping in mind that the security of a country is interlinked with its health, economy and foreign affairs. Which, in other words, means that security is the key to the strength and prosperity of the country, requiring highest priority.
The armed forces, it needs to be understood, are only one element of national security. But doubtless they are a crucial element and require urgent attention of the Vajpayee government. A new plan for the defence forces is the need of the day. Such a plan should actually be in two parts short-term and long-term. While drawing up both, there are several other points which could profitably be considered. One, and most important, a Kargil-like situation may recur anytime and all along the Line of Control. Two, if at any time such operations turn into a full-scale war, the Pakistani attack will be from the Arabian Sea, for which its Navy is already getting set. Three, right priorities are required to prepare the forces to meet the situation.
Take the last first right priorities. Unfortunately, the armed forces have for long suffered from lack of planning and unduly delayed decisions by the government. Not only that. Even when decisions are taken, they are implemented late or never by the file-pushers in the government. The result? Most of the major purchases since the mid-sixties have been made too late, at times even after the machines become obsolete in militarily-advance countries. Take, for example, the fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. Each one of them, starting from Jaguars, has been inducted into the IAF at least a decade late. When we started assembling and producing them in India, the country of origin had already started producing the next generation of the aircraft.
This is just one example. Actually what has been happening for the past three decades and more is that successive governments at the Centre have failed to give right priorities to the requirements of the armed forces. When guns were required tanks were bought and when tanks were required aircraft were bought. Anything which provided better terms and more slush money was ordered. This was done by those who understood nothing or little about military requirements. A case that readily comes to mind is the Bofors gun for the artillery, the purchase of which at high costs led to the fall of one government at the Centre. It is true that most of the advanced armies in the world had procured 155 mm. Howitzer guns years, perhaps decades, before India thought of them.
No doubt, the artillery needed the Howitzers to improve its performance in an actual warfare, not in Kargil-like operations where the enemy had not used its air power. But with the budgetary problems which the Government of India always faces in its effort to provide more funds for development projects, priorities have to be worked out. The 130 mm field gun which India had procured from the Soviet Union and which are being produced in abundance here, along with its ammunition, were doing a good job. Their range is 25 to 27 km and their shell weighs 40 pounds, compared to 42 of the Bofors. The only thing is that its fire does not have the trajectory and the shoot-and-scoot quality of the Bofors.
The point to stress here is the need to prioritise the military purchases. If the infantry needs light and automatic rifles, then have it before spending as much as Rs 1600 crore on Howitzers, especially when the artillery field gun we already have can serve the purpose. Remember, during the 1971 war with Pakistan, the 130 mm Topkhana in the western sector had totally demoralised the Pakistan Army. In fact, a Pakistan gunner whom I met in New Delhi during the Asian Games in 1982 as an official of the Pakistan contingent confessed in no uncertain terms that your 130 mm guns had really broken our spine and totally demoralised our forces. With such a good gun with our artillery, the purchase of the Bofors gun could have been delayed for some more time.
A correct understanding of this kind of opinion could profitably be made only when defence planners at all levels comprise, among others, competent officers of the three Services. This should not be left entirely to the bureaucracy, which generally rides rough-shod on the military top-brass, aided and abetted in some cases by political masters. The reorganisation of the Defence Ministry to include in it senior officers of the three Services is a subject for detailed examination. What is of utmost significance in todays context is the need to work out the priorities to suit the funds available. This must be done before any decisions are taken to equip the Services with modern machines and systems.
There is no denying the fact that none, including Parliament, has ever questioned the budgetary grants for military upgradation. But they have always stressed on accountability and priorities. One remembers Mr Vajpayee, Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr George Fernandes, among others, insisting on this from the Opposition benches in the past, year after year. But with the business of middlemen and commission agents remaining uncontrolled, the distorted planning and lack of cooperation between the Defence Ministry and Service headquarters have created a situation that led to the Kargil tragedy. One hopes we learn our lessons from the Operation Vijay in the Kargil sector.
However, before considering the lessons from Kargil and the much-needed and the long-neglected requirements of the armed forces, one crucial point to understand is the need to procure first what is needed immediately, because the funds at our disposal are limited. The immediate task is to keep a vigil along the long borders. The first step, therefore, is to firm up the intelligence system intelligence at home and abroad, as well as in the Army itself. On the forces front, the outdated communication systems should be modernised on a top priority basis. In other words, the upgradation of the Corps of Signals of the Indian Army needs to be undertaken soon and its units posted all along the Line of Control.
Next in the order of
priority for short-term planning is the modernisation of
the infantry which is the key to success in the terrain
India has along the LoC. Equipment like light rifles,
snow-boots and all that is required for mountain warfare
need to be procured first. This done, a long-term plan
must start getting implemented in regard to the early
procurement of advanced jet trainers (AJT) for the Air
Force and the production of the much-delayed light combat
aircraft (LCA), main battle tank (MBT) and the air
defence ship. All this is a must to give the much-needed
teeth to Indias armed forces. INFA
NO subject in Shakespeariana has been so wilfully, wildly and wantonly exploited as the question of the British bards identity and lineage. I remember to have told my Shakespeare classes during the sixties at Patiala that a recent book had listed as many as 57 contenders or pretenders to the Shakespearian crown. Some of the stories were too far-fetched and grotesque to find favour ever with a music-hall or circus audience. But such has been the sway of Shakespeare, the poet and playwright, over the world mind that some crazy nationalists even in India could not restrain their fanciful steeds, and jumped into the continuing race to claim Shakespeare as the countrys great son. Why, a South Indian scholar had seriously gone on to pontificate in a true Brahminical vein in this regard.
The name, the name is the thing, he argued, and the person who during the Elizabethan age had made his bow before those bawdy, brawling, but spell-bound audiences was, in reality, a runaway from India. His name, Shashu Iyer, during the passage to the British Isles, got mysteriously or providentially changed into Shakespeare. So the inescapable logic of transformational linguistics proved Bharats claim. No wonder, there were references to the land of his origin, to its wonderful airs and spices and pearls in the poetry of the Warwickshire man.
Now, not to be beaten in this game of claims, a Muslim scholar refuting the South Indian story suggested that one Sheikh Pir from the neighbourhood of Karachi had managed to board a boat as a sailor, and this divinely-ordained saint-divine-poet reached England to appropriate their language, and make it his own. You may laugh and laugh at such scholarly yarns, but these wildly ingenious stories, in one form or another, continue to multiply.
I leave aside here the more serious and credible stories about the real identity of the great poet of Royal England the theories regarding Bacon, Marlowe, the Earl of Oxford, Lord Derby and others of that supreme age in British annals , and return to the one that the Sunday Times carried recently in its august columns. A German scholar, Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel (HHH what a Teutonic name!) in yet another book, The Secrets of Shakespeares Dark Lady, has gone on to argue that Shakespeare had an affair with one Elizabeth Vernon, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and that his illegitimate daughter, Penelope, a swarthy oriental beauty, managed to marry one Baron Spencer the progenitor of the Spencer Clan right down to Princess Dianas father! And if this lineage holds, why, then, its fair to assume that a few of Shakespeares genes have reached the blood of 17-year-old Prince William, the 2nd heir to the British crown today! A royal bards blood has touched a royal heart at last, and who knows what divine thoughts and songs may yet flow from that fount!
Of course, the Dark Lady of the sonnets has never been out of serious Shakespeare criticism. If earlier during my teaching days a historian had brought up the name of an Italian dark damsel, Emilia Viviani (also, a maid in the royal court), as Shakespeares secret heart-throb, a German writer with his Germanic gift for ponderous research and involved logic has now milked the Shakespeare story, and brought it to the bed-room of the fabulous Di, now, alas, gathered with the English grasses, and mourned widely in soulful numbers!
As a post-script, I may
add that Im doing my yearly Shakespeare these days,
and the dark comedy, Measure for Measure, a
play on human casuistry, sexual vice and justice, is
under my troubled scrutiny. One may, I think, find some
echoes of Shakespeares own sexual ethics in its
Musharraf set to Talibanise
WITH blackmail having failed and supplantment of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as per the classic coup detat now complete, Chief of Army Staff Parvez Musharraf will move ahead towards the Talibanisation of Pakistan so as to retain the advantages of strategic depth that has been developed in Afghanistan through Islamic fundamentalism.
Mr Nawaz Sharifs cardinal error, in the eyes of the military establishment, was the neutralisation under US diktat of the perceived strategic advantages of troops camouflaged as mujahideen straddling the heights in a 140-km segment of the Mushkoh-Batalik sector overlooking the Indian road leading to Leh.
The intrusion into Kargil was the beginning of the march of the Pakistan army disguised as jehadists into Kashmir. Its significance was as great as Pakistans manoeuvre of using talibs (students) from madrasas as footsoldiers led by Pakistan army personnel for the expansion of its influence into Afghanistan and beyond into the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union. That is how an otherwise emaciated Pakistan acquired the requisite strategic depth to satisfy its yearning as a global player.
Jehad or the camouflaged version of it, is Pakistans low-cost option to achieve its strategic goals. Its frontline role during the Afghan war against Soviet troops was based on the concept of an Islamic army fighting Soviet infidels. It has been used effectively by Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya and that is why Gen Parvez Musharraf is loathe to allow such a potent weapon to be neutralised.
To retain it, the military establishment instigated the furious reaction of the jehadists within Pakistan against Mr Nawaz Sharif in a classic tactic of blackmail to achieve its aim. It was on an analysis of developments in Pakistan and the Osama bin Laden factor in Afghanistan that Asia Defence News International (ADNI) came to the conclusion that Mr Nawaz Sharif was reluctant to attend the UN General Assembly beginning September 20 in New York out of a fear of being toppled in his absence from the country.
The report was published in several Indian newspapers before the UN session began. Washington, too, understood the drift of what was taking place in Pakistan and at the end of September issued a formal warning to the Pakistan army not to destabilise an elected government.
But the Chief of Army Staff continued applying pressure on Mr Sharif escalating the internal turmoil into a Sunni-Shia pogrom for which the Prime Minister made the fatal mistake of laying the blame on terrorist training camps inside Afghanistan. The threat thus posed to his strategic hinterland was, perhaps, the last straw for General Musharraf.
When Mr Sharif did to his Chief of Army Staff what he himself was afraid of (sacking in absentia), he played into General Musharrafs hands. This became apparent when he was received ceremonially at the Karachi airport even after reports that the air traffic control had refused permission for his plane to land there.
Because the coup was carried out in spite of the US injunction, it is becoming clear that the retention of the strategic depth inside Afghanistan and the enhancement of religious homogeneity between the two neighbours is of greater importance to the military establishment in Pakistan than Washingtons ire. A mismatch between the religious mores and practices between convert Afghanistan and proselytiser Pakistan could prove dangerous for the latter.
Standardising building sector
GLOBALISATION is a reality. The fast-emerging global trade has brought with it fierce competition among trading nations. With the price factor receding to the background, quality has become the main competitive edge. Good quality not only ensures greater customer satisfaction but also directly benefits purchasers by increasing productivity and effecting economy of the product.
An analysis of the growing world trade reveals that more and more countries are basing national standards on international standards insuring these reflect both domestic and international needs.
This year, the World Standards Days theme highlights the importance of international standards in the construction industry which has been one of the basic human activity. Building construction is a very crucial sector of industry in view of the ever-growing demand for more and more dwelling units and workplaces the world over and numerable buildings coming up day in and day out.
There may not be a standard for a beautiful design, but standards play a great role at all stages of construction of a building. Standards are utilised by many professionals ranging from designers, architects, civil engineers to manufacturers, regulators and contractors to companies who spend vast amounts on construction goods and related services each year.
The relevant standards range from more obvious building standards to those covering telecommunications, electrical installations, electronics and associated safety standards.
If today hundred building professionals were to come together from all over the world to build a bridge or a fly-over, they would take for granted the effectiveness of standards that provide the building block for the works, without hampering individual design or imposing unwanted features on the finished product.
The construction industry in India was one of the earliest to apply standardisation for its benefit. This is being done through central and state Public Works Department, the Railways, Defence and other constructional agencies. With the growing demand of the construction industry in India, standardisation efforts have been amply intensified at various levels through several agencies related to the construction industry.
To keep pace with the growing demand of the construction industry, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been applying itself energetically for the formulation of national standards to help the industry to assimilate the results of research and experience in building material, construction practices and safety and other related areas.
The BIS has so far published 2,100 standards in the field of civil engineering covering basic building block to multipurpose river valley projects, including aspects like housing, cyclone resistant structures, hill area development, environmental assessment and management of water resources. The BIS has also developed standards on the code of practice on architectural drawings covering a vast range of buildings.
Safety and stability of any structure is dependent on its foundation. Keeping in view this important aspect, the BIS has formulated standards for foundation use for structures other than those required for roads and bridges.
The functional requirements of any structure cover a wide range of areas to ensure comfort to users of the building. These aspects cover orientation, ventilation, lighting, noise and thermal insulation. The BIS has formulated several standards on these areas. Standards have also been published on requirements for schools, hospitals, hotels and for the disabled. The BIS has harmonised their standards with international standards for providing a solution to international trade.
The BIS has a vast range of standards on building material and components covering concrete and admixtures, stones, clay products, wood products, paints, hardware, flooring and roofing materials, water supply and sanitary appliances. Keeping in view the importance of the safety aspects, the BIS has published many standards on constructional safety which also includes fire safety, fire fighting equipment and accessories.
The building should not only be compatible from the civil engineering point of view but also safe and sound regarding electric infrastructure. The safety and reliability of the electrical network provided in the building is ensured by adhering to the electro-technical standards. There are numerous electro-technical standards covering electrical installations and their safety aspect.
The National Electrical Code of the BIS explains various guidelines regarding distribution and use of electricity in different types of buildings. The National Light Code is under preparation which would be very handy in meeting the illumination requirements of a building and light system as this code would be reliable and energy efficient.
It is beyond doubt that standards are inseparable from daily life and these provided superstructure to tomorrows civilised life. These work like our respiratory system whether or not we are aware of it. To build well, to build internationally, rationally and cost effectively, standards hold the key.
DR Beasant has done well in reminding those who have been asking during the last few days what good the Unity Conference has done by passing a number of paper resolutions, that there is no other making peace than by making a formal treaty between the contending forces.
In reality it is the most absurd of all things to ask of a conference or a public meeting that it should not pass resolutions. What else can it do?
Mrs Beasant is equally right in saying that when the machinery was provided for carrying out the provisions of the treaty and the leading provisions of the treaty and the leading men of all communities did their best to spread the principles adopted in that treaty, it would lead to the preservation of peace.
Our own trouble in this matter is that we cannot accept the view that the machinery provided by the conference is at all adequate for its purpose.
The Committee of Five
may and, as we ourselves believe, will be a thoroughly
impartial body. What we do fear is that in spite of the
presence of the Mahatma as its head, it will not be
sufficiently effective and may not prove equal to its
| Punjab | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir |
| Chandigarh | Business | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | World | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |