|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Saturday, September 25, 1999
case of flexi-time
CHINA AT FIFTY
Sonia neutralise Atal sympathy wave?
across the table
in Railway Service
A case of flexi-time
CRIMINAL cases drag on and on in India. All the reform urge which has touched other aspects of life has not changed this depressing picture one bit. Painfully aware of this, the Supreme Court on Thursday tried to prod the trial courts to speed up the proceedings but found its options very limited. If it fixes a mandatory time limit to dispose of a case, it would be a signal to setting up kangaroo courts which will go through the motions of a fair trial with both eyes fixed firmly on the calendar. It is equally unacceptable to allow the present lethargic pace of trials. So the apex court harked back to its order of last year and expressed that a three-year time frame should do to complete the prosecution part of the trial. The defence can obviously take its own time. Even this ceiling is riddled with exceptions. It refers to offences which attract a jail term of more than seven years. Even after this the prosecution can reopen its case to introduce important witnesses or re-examine old ones; the delay caused by the accused shall not be counted while computing three years as also the period of absence of the trial judge or the prosecutor (up to three months). This time limit comes into force only after the chargesheet is filed, a process which often takes a long time. This longish narration makes it clear that there is no danger of the trial courts getting an extra dose of adrenalin and punish the accused promptly. And lawyers who charge a fee for each appearance without any relation to the progress of the case will not lose out because of the new Supreme Court ruling.
The dissenting Judge has
a point when he says that only sweeping reforms can cut
down delay in dispensing justice. The Criminal Procedure
Code has to be radically simplified to free the judicial
system from the tyranny of procedures. The investigating
branch of the police has to be dragged into the modern
age; instead of two munshis spending several months to
question a witness and add a few milligrams of weight to
the case, an entire team should plunge into the task and
build the case before the trail turns cold. As it is, the
investigation is unimaginative, the quality of evidence
poor and the prosecution half-hearted. Sensational cases
become non-events within days. Remember the tandoor
murder case, Naina Sahni and Sunil Sharma? Hardly.
Compare this with headline grabbers like the O.J. Simpson
case or the Louise Woodward case (who was tried for
causing the death of a child, Eapan). Within months the
trial is over and the investigation is top class, the
evidence is painstakingly collected and the prosecution
is so spirited as to be prime time television stuff.
Indians can do it too if the colonial obsession with
procedures ends and legal fee is linked to the result and
not securing adjournment. Some will be affected but the
people will be benefited. The apex courts order on
three years for the prosecution side is less a solution
and more a reminder of the sloth which prevails in the
THERE is worldwide hue and cry over the Y2K bomb, which is set to explode after some 100 days. Surprisingly, the same concern is not there about an even bigger danger lurking close to us. On October 12, that is about a fortnight from now, the population of the world will cross the six-billion mark. What it can do to the quality of life can well be imagined - but is not! From the Indian point of view, what is even more alarming is the fact that its population has either already touched the one-billion mark or is close to doing so. That means that every sixth human being in the world is an Indian. That is a dubious distinction which this poor country can ill afford. If things do not improve dramatically soon enough, we may even replace China as the most populous country in the world. With a billion mouths to feed, the already limited natural resources will become even scarcer. The UN report on the State of the World Population has already warned that the eventual lack of water for irrigation could cut India's grain production by as much as 25 per cent. That raises the spectre of depending on foreign countries even for food. That is not all. Collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, rising temperatures and the loss and plant and animal species will all take their toll. The effect of the imbalance between human numbers and available resources is already manifest in very sphere, be it health, education or communication. Most facilities are depleted to the level of breakdown. Ironically, no leader has cared to focus on the perils of this challenge, even during these election days. They are more bothered about the Kargil victory and the origin of Sonia Gandhi than the deterioration of civic amenities.
India's record on the
population control front is hardly better than that of
some of the poorest African countries. One reason for
this apathy is the negative impact of the coercive
"nasbandi" operations of the Emergency days.
The ill-advised drive backfired so badly that today every
leader considers it wiser to steer clear of the subject.
But then ignoring the problem is not going to make it
disappear. As the United Nation Population Fund has said,
population control cannot be brought about through
coercion but only through enlightenment. That is why even
its report has been entitled "A time for
choices". Unfortunately, women do not have the
choice either in India or in the rest of the developing
world. The UN report tells us that worldwide, 300 million
women do not have access to contraceptives. Almost
600,000 die as a result of pregnancy. As many as 70,000
lives are lost every year due to unsafe abortions.
Countrywise breakdown is not given but it is apparent
that India is a major contributor. The situation can be
remedied only by wider and better dissemination of
education and faster empowerment of women.
Bigots target nun
THE report of the alleged molestation of a Christian nun in Chapra district of Bihar by unidentified miscreants on Monday should not be used by political parties to whip up communal tension. With the election process, particularly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, yet to be completed, unscrupulous politicians may be tempted to get political mileage out of the revolting incident. It is said that the nun belonging to the Congregation of Sisters of the Immaculate Heart had come from Pondicherry and had difficulty in understanding the local dialect. She boarded an autorickshaw at Gandhi Chowk for going to the main post office. Two male passengers were the only other occupants of the share taxi. She was forcibly taken to a deserted area where she was made to take off her clothes. The criminals tied her hands and forced her to drink their urine by threatening to rape her if she refused. Her hands were, thereafter, untied and the nuns tormentors before leaving said that they were against people being forced to convert to Christianity and that she should return to Pondicherry if she valued her life. No one has claimed responsibility for the reprehensible episode. But there is a disturbing similarity between the Chapra incident and the killing of Graham Staines and his sons and subsequent anti-minority violence in Orissa, the rape of nuns in Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh and the anti-Christian violence in parts of Gujarat. However, it would be premature to draw hasty conclusions about the future of communal harmony and secular values in the country. No individual or organisation can destroy the Indian tradition of positive interaction between members of different faiths so long as their religious leaders continue to speak the language of human compassion and universal brotherhood.
Such a heart-warming
spectacle of representatives of different faiths sharing
a common platform and speaking of the power of love was
witnessed in Delhi on Thursday. At a Press conference
Swami Madhavnand Saraswati of Vishwa Kalyan Parishad
spoke on behalf of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian
priests who shared the dais with him for unfolding a
blueprint for world peace. The formula they offered for
achieving the seemingly difficult goal was simple. Pit
the power of love and non-violence against the power of
war and violence. The Swami even offered to meet
international terrorist Osama bin Laden as the
shantidoot of India to make him renounce
violence. It may not be out of place to request the
well-meaning religious leaders to make a minor change in
their agenda for peace and harmony. They should spread
out in every part of the country to reassure the people
that they would not allow fanatics to divide them through
a sustained campaign of misinformation against other
religions. They are free to go and meet Osama, if they
can locate him. But reform, like charity, should also
begin at home. Their priority should be to meet leaders
of organisations who are now openly preaching the
gullible to make religious intolerance an article of
faith. The two men in Chapra may have acted under the
influence of the dangerous doctrine of religious
intolerance practised by the likes of Dara Singh. The
religious leaders who have offered to meet Osama should
first try to establish contact with Dara Singh. If they
are successful in converting him and those who share his
philosophy of religious hatred to their way of thinking
the influence of infiltrators and terrorists over the
people in India would automatically be neutralised.
COMMUNIST CHINA AT FIFTY
CHINA, the most powerful communist state of the world, celebrates its 50th anniversary on October 1. And going by the scale and style of preparations this event is being planned as nothing less than a national festival, though it remains mainly a party function and its reach, therefore, confined to Chinas major administrative centres alone. But considering that the Communist Party still controls large chunks of lives and thoughts of the Chinese masses, hundreds of projects have been geared for completion before this date and thousands of festivities have been planned to celebrate this event all over mainland China as also around the world.
Beijing the capital city obviously remains the hub of all these festivities and is bound to clearly dominate the world map around that time. Also, it is the perception of party leaders in Beijing that clearly determines the nature and content of all these festivities and this is clearly reflected in the manner in which preparations have evolved so far.
And here, apart from this apparent jubilation on the surface, much of the character of these celebrations has been dictated by a series of compulsions, fears and suspicions that have been running high, especially about ensuring the success of these celebrations. To ensure peaceful passage of these celebrations in Beijing, to turn these into a major world event and to use this occasion to further project Chinas positive profile to the world have been some of the major obsessions of Chinas leaders, for the past few months. But so far, only economic issues have obviously been at the apex of all public pronouncements.
The last two years of the East Asian financial crisis, for example, have hit China the hardest of all. This is especially so because the Chinese leadership had tried to use these financial crises to project China in its new role of being the big regional power that was to be seen taking major initiatives, providing financial aid to nations in difficulties and committing itself not to devalue its currency.
All of this was aimed at enhancing Chinas stature and goodwill amongst its Asian neighbours and world at large. But looking at their dividends, more than its falling rates of economic growth, negative trends in foreign trade, faltering banking sector, increasing unemployment and so on, it is Chinas national morale that has suffered the most. As the first confession of these difficulties and failures at the economic front have already cost Premier Zhu Rongji his popularity ratings and he has been divested of some of the key responsibilities during the ongoing session of the Chinese Communist Party.
Chinas compulsions in making these celebrations a major world event run, in fact, far deeper. Going again by the scale of preparation the 50th anniversary celebrations have been compared to Chinas two earlier epoch-making events: one when Mao had declared the birth of the new Peoples Republic of China from the rostrum of Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949 and later when Deng Xiaoping had launched his second revolution from the same place on October 1, 1984.
These trends have already ignited speculations as to whether all this is not geared to re-establish the same personality cult that has dominated Chinas political culture during these last 50 years. For one, President Jiang Zemin taking salute of the full parade that includes party, government and military, from the same seat has undisputed symbolic significance.
This may not necessarily be an attempt to launch any third revolution for Chinese nation. Yet there are various interpretations available in terms of its implications for Chinas internal and external dynamics. The most agreeable one on its role in Chinas domestic equations concludes that this event is being planned to project President Jiang as the one uncontested leader amongst his contemporaries.
Some even like to go a step further and stress that this actually means projecting President Jiang as Chinas third paramount leader, at least in-the-making. Similarly, interpretations about its projections to the outside world conclude that this event is being utilised to further push the world focus on Chinas positive profile of its achievement as also to formally launch China as the next global power of the 21st century.
Talking of Chinas general image around the world, this 50th anniversary celebrations also provide one rare occasion for the Chinese who have been engulfed by a spate of anniversaries that project Chinas actions and policies. The year 1999 has marked Chinas tenth anniversary of its Tiananmen Square incidents of 1989, twentieth anniversary of its war with former Soviet Union and the fortieth anniversary of the lost battle for Matsu and Quemoy islands.
This has also been the fortieth anniversary of the beginning of Chinas problems both with India which forever buried their Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai spirit. Besides, this is going to be followed by the 25th anniversary of the busting of the Gang of Four and the 30th year of the Lin Biao affair next year. The list can indeed be exhaustive and these events have virtually dictated the Chinese obsession with making Chinas 50th anniversary a grand success.
The reports that Chinese authorities have recently rounded off nearly 100,000 suspects and criminals or have deported over 16,000 migrant workers from Beijing as also banning entry into the capital of casual spectators clearly shows the level of uneasiness that continues to betray the apparent fear of unknown amongst Chinas current party elite. Apart from police dogs sniffing every corner of Chinas major cities and towns, party workers have been assigned to regularly check common peoples homes for ensuring cleanliness and order, though this apparently seems aimed towards ensuring that no unknown and unwanted visitors are being given shelter by its citizens which might have the potential for disruption.
All this panic about ensuring the peaceful passage of its October 1 celebrations has at least partly been caused by responses from the outside world, a certain section of which remains equally obsessed with painting China black by launching counter-propaganda. This myopic approach of chest beating from one side and mud slinging from the other represents dangerous symptoms that only further complicate the uncertainties in the Chinese mindset, as it evolves its strategies to deal with unfamiliar waters of the brave new world.
This heightened attention on China during these 50th anniversary celebrations should perhaps provide an ideal occasion to raise some of the more fundamental and relevant questions. One such question to ask should be as to who might lose from Chinas rise as the next global power or conversely, who might gain by its de-stabilisation or disintegration. (INFA)
Policing the police
OF late, the police has received adverse notice for involvement in serious crimes, ranging, from corruption to extortion, from victims who are either innocent persons or business magnates. These disreputable members of the force deserve summary justice for even ordinary criminals would bow their heads in shame on learning that the cops have overtaken them in crime. Misdeeds by lower ranks cast a sorry reflection on seniors who cannot escape responsibility. For, though the criminal act by an officer is his individual action, the supervising officers concerned cannot escape the blame.
The policemen should understand that they are friends and not masters of the people. The causes of the unsatisfactory impression of police may interalia include misuse of powers and inaction/wilful negligence of duties by the police at times; illegal actions like instituting false cases, malicious prosecution of innocent persons, illegal searches and arrests, use of third degree methods; padding up of evidence; minimising offences and non-registration of cases; involvement of certain policemen in blatant crimes; discourteous and arrogant behaviour with citizens; raping women in police custody etc; corruption and nepotism in performance of duties; infliction of brutalities and atrocities on public and particularly to the suspects. Extensive violations of human rights by policemen at times take place at the instance of vested interests.
The above reasons are not wholly unfounded. It is the honest application of law, impartiality and efficiency that count with the people. It is, therefore, important that the members of the public and the complainants visiting police stations should be very politely, sympathetically and courteously addressed. Their reports should be correctly recorded and prompt action initiated on them.
The police has been given immense powers under law. It is essential that an effective check and control is exercised on them so that they do not transgress their limits. Misuse of powers and authority, which the police enjoy, make them corrupt. It is necessary that the policemen should be effectively controlled by seniors. Maintenance of cordial relationship between the police and the public depends on the latter being able to feel sure that any grievances or complaints that they may have against the police, will be promptly looked into and as far as possible, the behaviour of the police will not only be remedied but also suitable, corrective or punitive action taken on time. It is, therefore, imperative that complaints are looked into promptly. It should be binding for the enquiry officer to discover the faults of the erring officers quickly.
Generally, the officers posted in field have a feeling that the complaints against the officers are usually false and not much weight is given to these by them. This view is erroneous and the officers, who transgress limits of their powers, are likely to create problems for their seniors. It is, therefore, essential that the complaints should not be brushed aside summarily. The supervisory officers should take pains to guide their subordinates and even admonish them if the complaints are not serious enough to warrant disciplinary action. In case the enquiries into complaints are pursued earnestly and in the right spirit, it would not only satisfy the complainants but also enable the supervisory officers to know the malpractices of their subordinates. they would thus be able to tone up their way of functioning and administration. In the long run, the complaints would decrease and there will be an overall reduction of the workload.
The standard of efficiency, impartiality and good conduct is to be set up by the superior officers. It is the top from where these things flow. The zeal and impartiality need to be demonstrated to repose confidence in the public that their genuine grievances shall be certainly looked into. Any effort to whitewash and an attempt to save an erring or guilty person would do more harm than good. Suspicion should not be allowed to generate as it would cut at the very roots of the police-public relations.
Postings and transfers should be made on merit and not for political convenience. Uncalled transfers not only cause harassment to the officers but also leads to a peculiar prospective.
A tendency develops among the subordinates to learn how to please the people, including politicians who matter for them. Officers sufficiently experienced need to be posted to districts/crime branch with aptitude for investigation which is a difficult and time consuming job. In this context, the role of the top echelons of police can hardly be overemphasised.
THE Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, according to a national daily, has conceived and delivered a code of conduct for ministers of his Cabinet. Some of the tenets of the 34-point code make interesting reading. In fact, these would have been sad had they not been laughable.
Scan seven of them carried by the aforesaid newspaper. One asks the ministers to be punctual in attending the Cabinet meetings, as in general, it enhances the dignity of the post and confidence of colleagues.
If you think that the CM is sermonising a bunch of unruly truant school boys, you are free to think like that. The worthy CM forgets that punctuality is the virtue of a clock, not of human beings. About the confidence of the colleagues, the less said the better because birds of a political feather peck and plunder together.
The ministers are expected to conduct themselves in all seriousness and purposefulness so that officers get the right message.
Heavens! Who says ministers do not conduct themselves in all seriousness and purposefulness? Look at them having become billionaires. Only a dim-wit dare say that they do not give the right message to officers. There are as many scam-tainted officers as there are netas. Who gives them the right message? Surely, not I.
The code bans ministers from going abroad. Sophisticated health facilities being scant or near extinct (?) in Bharat, these rare and precious specimens of mankind have to go abroad for treatment, especially when afflicted with a scam. What about their spouses? They are not ministers.
The code prevents ministers from making public statements against each other. Ministers have lungs of iron and tart tongues. Who are they going to use these against? A politician who is a friend of another politician is not found even in Ram Rajya which we are struggling to establish here to fulfil Bapus desire and dream.
They must attend office regularly to dispose official work. See, the word punctuality does not figure here. A minister can be regular and yet unpunctual. He can be punctual and chronically irregular.
Ministers will not maintain any proximity with the anti-social elements and persons of dubious character. For this, the well-intentioned CM will have to go to seed as did the philosopher Diogenes whose search with a lamp in hand in day-time proved futile. What if the ministers themselves are the anti-social elements?
Ministers, eager and itching to break the shackles, can draw inspiration from George Orwells seven-point code of ethics in Animal Farm. The Pigs, when rulers of the Farm, became geniuses at distorting the Code.
There is no point in repeating all Seven. Two suffice. One read: No animal will drink alcohol. It was changed to: No animal shall drink alcohol to excess. The last one: All animals are equal. It was tampered: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
Will Sonia neutralise Atal sympathy wave?
LAST WEEKs exit poll on Star TV which gave the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies 213 seats of 344 and the Congress and its allies only 90 has thrown Delhis punditocracy into confusion.
Conventional wisdom among political pundits in the Capital was that Congress had made a dramatic comeback in the last couple of weeks. Most newspapers based this assessment on reports from Uttar Pradesh. These reports indicated that not only was Sonia Gandhi drawing massive crowds but even her daughter, Priyanka, was creating a wave of such worrying proportions that the RSS was sending its forces to Amethi in a desperate damage control exercise.
These reports were strengthened by the story that the UP Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh, was summoned to Delhi by the BJP top leadership to be castigated for not campaigning with sufficient enthusiasm. He denied any such thing had happened, as did Mr L.K. Advani but nobody believed the denials because things in UP have appeared to look bad for the BJP. It has also hardly been a closely guarded secret that the Chief Minister has been unhappy in his relations with the Prime Minister.
Kalyan Singhs Government, or lack of it, is widely believed to be the reason for disenchantment with the BJP in a state that gave them a formidable 60 seats last time. Then, of course, there is the Sonia-Priyanka-Rahul factor. Not only does this come as a charismatic package to beat all others, it is also seen by many of Delhis political pundits as the deciding factor in this election. This school of political thought believes that the only reason why the Congress got not one single seat in UP last time was because Sonia Gandhi was not a candidate.
It is also accepted that the Muslims have decided to return to the Congress after losing hope in Mulayam Singh Yadavs ability to take on the BJP. The Muslims, as we are reminded in every general election, have the capacity to change the course of nearly 30 seats in UP.
My own travels in the state confirm that Muslims have, in significant numbers, begun to see the Congress once more as the only party that can protect them from what they see as the evil BJP. Wherever I asked who was going to win this time got an unequivocal Congress, and discovered that the person I was talking to was a Muslim. Large numbers of Hindus, I talked to, seemed equally dissatisfied with BJP governance, at the state level, but there would almost always be equivocation. Vajpayee is a good man but we are very unhappy with the government here, said the manager of a guesthouse at my first stop in UP. It was a highway guesthouse, somewhere between Moradabad and Rampur, and my interlocutor was a man of keen political awareness.
He said the manner in which the Vajpayee Government had been made to fall was strong. He should have been given a chance to govern: what we need in this country is governance, we dont need politicians who spend their time playing political games once they get to Delhi. Even illiterate voters I spoke to in more rural parts said they had been displeased with the way the Vajpayee Government had been toppled.
It was the same story in Maharashtra. People said that they had no affection whatsoever for the states Shiv Sena Government but they thought Vajpayee was a good man and should have been given a chance to govern.
If the latest exit poll, which gives the BJP alliance more seats than any other, turns out to be correct then we may discover that we have missed the main issue in this election: the toppling of the Vajpayee Government. There can be no other explanation why the BJP and its allies appear to be doing better than the Congress even in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Karnataka, on which the UP Congress hopes of victory have rested.
Delhi is always, at election time, a long way away from the rest of the country. Most political pundits, who fancy themselves as makers of national public opinion, rarely leave the safety of their offices so they base their analyses on reports from mofussil areas. Which brings us back to UP. Since this is one of the states that has not finished voting, yet most reports in recent days have been from here and they have been almost euphoric in their description of the reception Sonia Gandhi and her children have been getting.
Let me give you a sample from the front page of one of our leading national dailies last week. But today, according to police estimates, the crowds at Sonias rally far outnumbered those who went to hear the heroes of 1998. The size of the crowd is not as important as the response. A large crowd can be manufactured but not this kind of response mused Rahul Gandhi as he gazed at the packed ground from the sidelines. A cheer went up when he climbed the podium and waved. He is the new ray of hope for the youth, your yuva neta (youth leader), gushed PCC chief Salman Khursheed, obviously carried away by the occasion.
The Prime Ministers rallies, on the other hand, have not inspired similar bursts of literary flourish. By comparison, in fact, they have barely been reported unless it is when he is answering some charge made by Sonia Gandhi. When she charged him with being a traitor (or treason, which is the same thing) and he got angry enough to question her for the first time about why it had taken her 18 years to take Indian citizenship, he got more than usual attention. Otherwise, his campaign has been reported mainly as speeches from hither and thither.
Could this be the reason why all of us have missed what could turn out to be the main issue in this election his dismissal? If last weeks exit poll turns out to be correct then the answer is yes.
Of all the political figures in this campaign he has been the most dignified. He has not been involved in the name-calling that was the ugliest facet of this most tedious general election and when he did question Sonia on her citizenship it was not seen by anyone as a personal attack.
Meanwhile, there is
general voter fatigue palpable everywhere. Not only has
this been an election that most people did not want, it
has also been one that has gone on so long that those who
voted on the first day could quite easily, if they
wanted, vote again since the indelible ink would have
vanished. Governance, across the country, has been at a
virtual standstill and it is no longer the exit polls
that people want any more but the real results.
Hands across the table
THERE used to be a delectable ad. by the Australian Airline Quantas some time ago. It showed a Koala bear fast asleep on a tree until the Qantas jet came, on the dot at the same time every day. The bear wearily opened an eyelid and grumbled: Every day and then went back to sleep I have much the same feeling every afternoon when I switch on my set for DDs News Channel after lunch and there is Kiron Kher, jabbering away with her guest of the day. A little later, and there is Mrinal Pande, jabbering away with her women guests of the day. Two of our best telecasters, whom the new DD News Channel is killing with kindness. At other times Nafisa Ali whose main speciality is smiling and laughing, jabbering away after having done such meticulous homework on her guests, sometimes even they look surprised about how many of their inner secrets she knows. Now TV critic and author Anurag Mathur also has a daily programme called Short Memories, a documented one on several recent incidents, such as area murders by a stalker, a school bus accident, where there is little follow up. Both Missing and Indias Most Wanted (now Most Fugitive) would not have been so successful if they had had this kind of overkill.
Then the same programme, as in the case of the unfortunate Rajiv Mehrotras Conversations, is repeated day after day until the viewer feels so captive as to want to run away..I asked one of them that I hoped they are paid for repeats, in which case they would at least be making a fortune. But they said no such luck. Because unlike AIR, which at least used to have a clause in their contract denoting a fee for repeats, DD recognises no such professional rights for artistes. Now that its monopoly is gone, it is time some one protested.
In addition, there is a joke going around that any producer or anchor is simply not worth the name unless they have at least three programmes going simultaneously per week preferably on different channels. You are worth nothing if you have a miserable weekly single programme. You would only have arrived when you are on the BBC, Star Plus and all three DD channels every week. Or three times a week on the DD News Channel, which is the most hard up after its reckless plunge into 24-hour schedules.
Together with the numerical jump in assignments, a new breed of young women anchors has sprung up whose speciality is taking on each and everything no matter who the person or what the subject. Their main qualities are a superficial Westernized veneer an ability to talk fast and to be as bubbly as possible. It would be all right if they were only confident which is an asset for the media but the whole trouble is that they are so over-confident that they forget they are not the focus of the show but a means of communication between the star talker and the audience. Leading the pack is Mona Bhattacharya, who is here there and everywhere. Bubbling away in DDs answer to Good Morning India, with over-made up face and thick beetling eyebrows in a beauty programme on another channel, but she really reached her climax-during DDs programme on the eclipse when she almost literally snatched the microphone from two eminent scientists and told us what the eclipse was about. Now while I concede that Shivani Wazir bubbles pleasantly on travel shows she was clearly out of her depth on journalism when interviewing journalist Shoma Choudhury, but she bubbled on nevertheless. If they look up the dictionary, these bubblers will find that there is a culinary dish called bubbled and squeak. And that is how they will end up with their fast forward natter and their broad grins. In the case of anchor Shenaaz of MTV, she flashes her not too beautiful teeth non-stop and gives highly immodest replies to self-flattering letters including one she answered with: Thank you for telling me I am so beautiful. Then we had a Rohini Sharma who bouncily took on political expert Jawaharlal Mattoo of JNU on the Russian explosions. She came dressed for an afternoon slot in a black dress more suggestive of a Goan funeral and merrily bubbled away. Finally she made an athletic leap to shake hands across the table with a visibly startled Mattoo.
Tim Sebastian has
corrupted a whole generation of Indian anchors by his
across the table hand shake. Karan Thapar does it, Vir
Sanghvi does it, everybody does it. But the point is, do
Indian women shake hands with men? I thought only with
innocent foreigners because they cant refuse, but
it has been namaskars for the elderly and Hi for the
young and, at cocktail parties, a self-conscious peck on
the cheek, but shaking hands? Niet. I dont see why
a polite thank you cant suffice, as it does for
interviews on other channels. Please, can we be Indians
for a change?
AT a recent meeting of the Legislative Assembly in reply to a question regarding the employment of Indians as station masters on the East Indian Railway, a Government member stated that there were 35 stations in that line with European station masters and 466 had Indians.
These figures by themselves do not satisfy those who desire to know if the Railways in India have been appointing Indians in higher Railway employments in larger numbers every year.
Another complaint made
in this connection is that Indians are not paid the same
salary as Europeans for performing the same duty, and it
is necessary to find out if the complaint is general or
justifiable. The general impression is that the pace of
Indianisation of the Railway administration is far too
slow to be of any material advantage to the people who
pay to maintain it.
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