|Saturday, January 8, 2000,
UNDERSTANDING 'ETHNIC' PROBLEMS
Govt has no policy on Kashmir
January 8, 1925
The clinching evidence
HOME Minister L.K. Advani has pieced together known bits of information related to the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 six days after the end of the crisis. External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and the Prime Minister's Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra had given consistent accounts in their own ways earlier. There has never been any doubt in discerning minds either in India or abroad about the conclusions being needlessly re-drawn from the narration of Mr Advani. Pakistan had masterminded the hijacking of the aircraft and used its chosen terrorist instruments to carry out the assigned mission. Photographs and tapes of recorded telephonic conversations amount to substantiating the hard evidence! Briefly, IC-814 was not given permission to land at Lahore at the pilot's request; but when the hijackers spoke to the authorities concerned, there was no delay in the coming of a positive response. Islamabad had asked twice earlier for the release of Masood Azhar incarcerated in Jammu since 1994. ISI operatives based in Bombay dutifully made their master's job easy. In spite of the Musharraf government's denials, the hijackers and the released militants have surfaced in Pakistan. The Indian media had the tendency to lie, said Chief Executive Parvez Musharraf, but what about The Dawn, Reuters, ANI, CNN and the BBC? Masood Azhar was making a thundering speech in Karachi when General Musharraf and his Foreign Minister were denying the presence on their soil of "anyone involved in the hijack drama stage-managed by India itself."
India need not worry
about the demand for "clinching evidence" by
the Clinton Administration or, for that matter, by any
foreign power. Has the USA been able to make the Taliban
yield and get Osama-bin-Laden extradited? What should
bother us most is the situation aggravated by the
endlessness of lapses and failures. For instance, if the
"recent" Pakistani plan was two (or four?)
years old, what were our intelligence agencies doing?
When Purulia happened, we called it just an incident.
When Kargil caught us unawares, we gave the enemy
(dis)credit for taking us by surprise. And when the
hijacking took place, one agency started blaming another
for the lapses. The ministries dealing with the safety
and security of the nation must collectively own the
responsibility for allowing Pakistan to strike repeatedly
and successfully. What has been detected in Bombay
or Kathmandu now should have been noticed years earlier.
We are a nation-state and not a state-nation. Mr Jaswant
Singh's foreign policy should look for its roots in Mr
Advanis home policy. Our intelligence system is
culpably lax. The Ministries of Home, Defence and
External Affairs are unable to coordinate and synergise
their activities. The often-sidelined defence services
alone will not be able to keep our territory and
frontiers secure. Mr Advani talked of
"proactivity" in Kashmir at least three years
back on some wilful assumption. Terrorism has assumed the
worst form there. We call for a thorough overhaul of the
inter-related intelligence and security network.
Samata spurns Dal suitor
LIKE a brave village girl who drives away her groom for demanding a last-minute increase in dowry, the Samata Party has spurned the agreed merger with the Janata Dal (United) complaining of the absence of a structured united party. The fiasco has not surprised anyone, although the talk of a united block of former socialists was the high point of the pre-Lok Sabha election days. The Samatas stand bristles with irony. It wants a well-defined organisation but it would not join the JD(U) and then build one. It does not occur to the party that what it wants will be possible only with the close cooperation of the other and not by staying away and raising dust. Actually it is very well aware of the hollowness of its argument but finds itself forced to resort to this contortion. Mr George Fernandes wants to head the party but his JD(U) counterpart refuses to yield. The Samata says that of the two, it is the dominant group in Bihar and expects the other to be subservient. It offers a hurting argument. In the just concluded elections it parted with just two seats to enable the two heavyweights, Mr Sharad Yadav and Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, to enter Parliament. But things were pretty different then. The Janata Dal has just split and the splinter did not know its strength; also the two were desperate to win the election. But the phenomenal success of the anti-Laloo Yadav combine has proved that the dalit following of Mr Paswan and a split in the Yadav vote engineered by the other are important elements in the electoral success. The clinching point is that the Samata is merging with the JD(U) and it is only fair that the president stays unchanged. But the other retorts that it was a transitional arrangement and a brand new party was to come into existence after the three (including the Lok Shakti) merged into one whole.
Behind this word game
lie deeper causes. There is much mistrust among the
leaders and bad personal chemistry. Mr Ramakrishna Hegde,
still smarting under the denial of a Cabinet berth,
accuses Mr Fernandes of conspiring to humiliate him. On
Thursday he lashed out at him and his manoeuvrings and
manipulation to stay in power. Mr Fernandes, who first
came up with the idea of former socialists banding
together, has no use for such regrouping any more. He at
one time expected that the JD(U) will send about 35 MPs,
making him an automatic choice as Deputy Prime Minister.
If an anti-BJP revolt could be triggered, he could even
dream of the top job. In the event, the Telugu Desam
Party emerged as the second biggest block in the NDA, and
Karnataka turned its back on the JD(U). He is, therefore,
content to lord it over the old Samata. There are more
personal wrangles. Mr Nitish Kumar of the Samata wants to
be the next Chief Minister, confident that his party will
emerge as the single largest group which, under the
convention in the making, will head the ministry. But so
does Mr Paswan. This rivalry for the top job in Bihar has
complicated the merger talks. Of late there is yet
another friction point. With Mr Laloo Yadav seemingly
becoming weaker, there is much political traffic from his
RJD to the JD(U). In most districts the JD(U) units are
being reorganised and expanded. The local Samata leaders
rightly sense a danger in this and they are mounting
pressure. The brave talk of contesting at least 124 seats
is a reflection of this worry. There are two highly
interested bystanders. Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav is happy at
the possibility of the estranged parties undoing each
other at the Assembly polls in two months time and the
BJP is deeply worried that the undoing of unity may rob
it of electoral success and the plum Chief Ministerial
Powerless in N. India
IT was darkness at noon of a different kind. On a bitterly cold Thursday, when the foggy conditions had already lowered the visibility any way, the electricity department added its mite like never before. For nearly the whole day, almost the entire northern India was plunged into darkness. Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh reeled under the resultant chaos. Trains came to a halt, hospitals could not function and the industry was thrown back to dark ages. That is nothing. The real disaster was that even VVIPs had to go without power for, hold your breath, 30 minutes! It is the last eventuality which has galvanised the official machinery into action. The culprit has been found at the double quick: the lowly insulating disks that could not function properly due to the prevalent weather conditions. The quick discovery may be sufficient to deflect public criticism but the fact remains that this was a disruption waiting to happen. The foggy weather at best provided the trigger. Experts have been crying hoarse for years that the gap in demand and supply was already too large and had led to a hopeless overloading of the transmission and distribution networks. The groaning system was bound to collapse sooner or later. In fact, warning signals had been loud and clear all along. Many of the consumers in the interior areas had been complaining that they do not get power for days altogether. But since their problems are nobody's concern, things continued to move as usual at a snail's pace. In fact, the political masters continued to offer free electricity as if it was being produced by a magic wand. The result is that the situation has degenerated to a crisis level. One hopes that wiser counsel will prevail at least now, although even that may not hold out any hope for the near future because the shortage is just too large to be met soon. But surely, a beginning can be made by treating electricity as a necessity for the common man instead of an item of luxury meant only for the elite class.
There is no denying the
fact that it is the bad weather which precipitated the
power tripping. But even the atmospheric aberrations seem
to have something to do with the tendency to ignore the
warning signals. The dense fog that has enveloped the
region is only partly due to meteorological reasons. Many
man-made follies are believed to have contributed to the
phenomenon. For far too long have we tinkered with
ecology, unmindful of the consequences. Deforestation,
pollution and changes in irrigation pattern have all
played havoc with the weather. The absence of rain for a
long spell and the onset of fog have already destroyed
crops. Things can worsen further. And what happened to
North India on the power front is only a wake-up call.
This is one alarm bell which does not provide anyone the
luxury of a snooze button.
UNDERSTANDING 'ETHNIC' PROBLEMS
ETHNIC groups have existed always and everywhere. Yet it is only recently that interest in their study has turned into an obsession. Does this have to do with the way the world has changed over the past few decades, or does it have more to do with the way we have started viewing the world?
Second, given the obsession, it is not surprising that there is an ever increasing abundance of writing on the subject. What is surprising is that there is very little conceptual clarity. Ethnicity has come to mean anything and everything: race, religion, language, culture and much else, in any combination and with any of these factors dominant.
Why should social sciences be so vague about something they are so obsessed with? Or, why should they be so obsessed with something they are so vague about?
The usual answer to these questions is somewhat as follows. The obsession, it is argued, is explained by the size, scope and spread which ethnic assertions and conflicts have acquired worldwide in recent years, whereas the vagueness occurs because of the inadequacies of the tools of analysis, which is only natural given the enormity and unprecedented sweep of the phenomenon under study. In short, the world has changed and the social sciences are trying to cope with the change.
How convincing is this answer? How much has the world really changed? My own reading is that the world has not changed so much as has the way social sciences view the world. Ethnic assertions and conflicts existed even earlier, probably at the same scale as now, but they were viewed differently at different times, depending on what the sociology of social sciences was at a given time and, I suspect, also what the politics of social science was.
In this context, one can easily discern three phases in social sciences.
The first phase was in offshoot of what Edward Said describes as Orientalism. The term comes from the dominant tendencies displayed by western scholars and colonial administrators when they began to study societies of the Orient. The differences which distinguished one oriental society from another appeared to them far less significant than what they believed was common to all such societies: their marked differences from western societies. The westerners saw their own societies as rational, modern and dynamic; they saw non-western societies as irrational, primitive, parochial and static. Western societies had evolved into modern nations whereas non-western societies remained tribal, mired as they were in their ethnic identities.
It should not be difficult to see that this way of looking at non-western societies did not betray merely the arrogance and conceit of the colonial powers; it also facilitated their claim to retain colonies, or to act, under the provisions of the League of Nations, as trustees of the pre-modern (primitive) people who were incapable of governing themselves. The view therefore persisted until decolonisation was forced on these civilised countries on a world-wide civilising mission.
It is interesting to note how the understanding of the first phase was reversed in the second when the process of decolonisation was overtaken by something even more powerful: the logic of bipolarity and cold war between the two super powers. What mattered now was the ideology which a newly independent state pursued and the military bloc it joined; what mattered little was how it handled its internal dynamics.
In order to rearrange the world along the ideological, political and military lines, it was necessary to play down racial, social and cultural diversity. The newly independent states were therefore accorded the status of nation-states and made members of the United Nations.
Western social sciences of the time paved this way of arranging the world by inventing an entire new discipline of nation-building. This was a clever way of coping with what was only too obvious to the naked eye: many, even most, of these states were anything but nation-states. Social sciences then peeped into the future and declared that there was a destiny waiting for these non-nation states, the destiny of nationhood.
Henceforth they would all undergo processes of economic and technological modernisation. They were not fated to remain rural and agrarian, they would become industrial and urban. They would also become nations through political development.
Traditional identities were to dissolve and nations were to emerge. In some cases, this would happen faster than in others, depending on how favourable objective factors were and how far-sighted the leadership, but nationhood was the most natural, desirable and ultimate end for all states.
The world has now entered the third phase. In this phase, western social sciences appear only too keen to admit that they were mistaken in their belief about the inevitability of nationhood for all societies. The experience of the past 50 years has shown, they argue, that industrialisation is no melting pot for social groups, Soviet style economies do not produce nations based on proletarian solidarity, and anti-imperialsm is no ready recipe for nationhood either. Western social sciences claim today that, having learnt from their past mistakes, they now want to give to ethnic identities their rightful place in their theoretical perspectives.
We need to have a closer look, however. How rightly has this rightful place been given? Apparently, this is a result of the fact that western social sciences have shed their biases. They now see the problems which modernity and rationalism have created for western societies. They are ready therefore to admit that each society has its own cultural context which provides to it a sense of what are meaningful and valuable goals it must strive for.
Ethnic identities are thus not vestiges of the past. They may be primordial, but their relevance is perennial. Nationhood, on the other hand, is not a destiny but something which social and political forces might create at a certain stage in the history of a society, and it may not be to the good of all either.
Is this latest shift in the stance of western social sciences all that innocent? Has it merely coincided with the end of the cold war, the bipolar race of two super powers to align states behind them? Does it not have something to do with the ideology of globalisation? Is the swing of social sciences to essentialise ethnicity not a way of robbing Third World states of their nation-state status, and thereby their right to self-determine their economic destinies?
Is the essentialisation of ethnic groups not a way of addressing and approaching them over the heads of the states in which they are located, and turning them into consumers of material and cultural commodities produced by those with expanding global reach?
I raise these questions because we in the post-colonial world continue to exhibit the syndromes of dependency and underdevelopment not only in the economic and technological fields but also in the field of socio-political theory. It is therefore of utmost importance for social theorists in the post-colonial states to realise how uncritical and undiscriminating we continue to be in our import of concepts and perspectives.
I might be accused of reading too much conspiracy in the renewed zeal with which western social sciences now study ethnic phenomena. After all, is it not in the interests of the post-colonial states themselves that they develop an in-depth understanding of what is arguably the most destabilising factor for them all?
My response to this question would be that post-colonial states certainly need to understand the ethnic dimension of their societies and polities but from a perspective of their own. That is so because their location in the contemporary world is irrevocably determined by something peculiar to them namely, the agonising historical experience of being colonies.
When colonialism intervened, diverse religious, racial and linguistic groups had no option but to confront the forces of unified administration, integrated markets and communication networks which it created. After a long span of this confrontation, different segments of populations ended up with identities which had been hammered and twisted out of their original shape but rarely melted completely to be moulded afresh. Something of the old survived, which was then welded together rather haphazardly by the anti-imperialist movements and the post-colonial states.
Post-colonial populations today have identities which are neither national nor ethnic. Difficult to define and unwieldy to handle, they pose challenges of governance to the states they inhabit; but they must be understood in their own terms.
One thing must be clearly understood, however. There is just no way populations in the post-colonial states can go back to the comfort of their past, uncomplicated ethnic identities. No matter how uncertain and tortuous the path, there is only one way they can move: forward. It is for the intelligentsia of the post-colonial world to initiate a debate on where we go from here. We cannot keep following western social sciences which keep swinging between the mystification of ethnicity and the celebration of nationhood.
Banking blues are for real
THE private business corporates have been jolted and divided by the angry reaction of the unions of bank employees and protests of bank managements against the proposal for closure of three nationalised banks. Their culpability in the burgeoning non-performance of assets in the financial sector of the Indian economy has been exposed.
The non-performance assets, that is loans given by commercial banks and public sector financial institutions and not recovered or covered by extension of more loans for questionable motives and devious means, are estimated to have grown to as much as Rs 60,000 crore. Scared by the threat of the unions to disclose the identity of some of the defaulters, the proposal for the closure of not only the three weak banks has been withdrawn but the demand for the privatisation of all nationalised banks too has been diluted by the sponsor of the closure proposals, namely the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The corporates now seem to be anxious to cover their tracks. They have for long been milking the nationalised banks and public sector financial institutions and have been building up their assets with minimal personal investment and without improving the efficiency of their business operations. They have been recklessly taking advantage of the wider opportunity opened for them to run their businesses on this basis when official policy was shifted from planned socio-economic development and geared to market-friendly economic growth. This is what has led to enormous growth of the non-performance assets of nationalised banks in the last eight years.
The widening of the lines of credit from nationalised banks and public sector financial institutions for the private corporate business in the era of economic liberalisation and privatisation has not, however, led to a surge in productive investment and accelerated growth of the economy. Investment has been sluggish and growth unsteady and unstable.
The idea that scaling down of public investment and expansion of credit will induce private enterprise to step up productive investment was fanciful. It has been counter-productive in practice. It has encouraged private business interests to lobby for liberal and cheap credit and exposed management of nationalised banks and public sector financial institutions to their corrupting influence and pressure. The so-called flexibility and selectivity in fixing interest rates and autonomy for the management of commercial banks have been and were bound to be widely misused. Additional loans were sanctioned ostensibly to reduce non-performance assets of banks or financial institutions, for ongoing or new projects of those who had or cultivated the right contacts in the right places. This is the familiar basis for crony capitalism to flourish.
It is noteworthy in this context that bank funds have been made available to the corporates to facilitate trading in the stock markets. Commercial banks too have been allowed to invest 5 per cent of their incremental deposits for trading in stocks and shares in the secondary market. It is not surprising that speculative trading in stocks and shares in the secondary market has been gaining momentum and assuming grotesque proportions. The spurt from time to time in the prices of stocks and shares in the secondary market has not been in response to productive investment in and sustainable growth of the Indian economy.
The upmarket of the elite may tend to be frolicsome in these conditions and encourage liberal imports of goods and services of elitist interest as well as inflow of foreign capital for their production in the country. But the mass market continues to suffer from shortages even as it does not expand for want of demand. Those with subsistence incomes cannot, after all, find access to consumption loans of banks, Indian and foreign. The high and upper middle income groups, however, are offered consumption loans and take advantage of such loans.
It is remarkable too that availability of bank credit for productive investment is not the problem that Indian corporates are currently facing. The problem is with respect to interest rates. Interest rates, however, are bound to appear high to the Indian corporates when they are not able to raise capital by sale of their equity to the general public. The ordinary investor has been badly hurt by trading in shares and stocks in the primary market. He is disappointed with not only the performance of domestic private industry as efficient producers of goods and services but also with its ability, and even willingness to ensure security and adequate returns on his investment.
Banking blues are indeed for real and have to be overcome. But the solution is not that some among the nationalised banks should be branded as weak and closed and the rest privatised. There is division among even the apex bodies of corporates over the closure and privatisation proposals.
Though the Prime Minister and his coterie in the NDA government have tended to be reckless, second thoughts seem to be stirring far and wide on the implementation of the so-called economic reforms. Even the Director General of the CII has admitted in a press interview that the CII underestimated the emotional response to its proposal for the closure of three nationalised banks. There is, he said, a large issue of job loss without social security in India. Asked whether this consideration, or sentiment as he put it, would come in the way of other reform measures like public sector disinvestment and reduction of subsidies, he said that economic reform may have to stop short of the point where job losses occur. If Mr Tarun Das can so admit the need for caution in economic policymaking, popular thinking on this score is bound to be far more critical. This mood is also finding articulation in Parliament.
It is not surprising that an all-party consensus has emerged in Parliament for a change in the Bank Regulation Act which prohibits the disclosure of the identity of the corporates that have defaulted in the repayment of bank loans. The Reserve Bank of India reportedly keeps a list of defaulters, which is circulated to the chiefs of banks but is not made public. The demand for making this list public is gaining strength. Though the confiscation of personal properties to recover bank loans is not yet mooted, the pressure to deny further loans to defaulters is becoming irresistible. If the Bank Regulation Act is so changed, it will be a move towards reordering of the economic policy towards a pro-people orientation.
The chambers of trade
and industry have found it difficult to object to the
disciplining of the large corporate borrowers rather than
labour as a step for restructuring of comercial banks and
drastic reduction of the non-performance assets. The
privatisation of nationalised banks through the
disinvestment route too may not be pursued and is likely
to be questioned for even weak banks, let alone banks
that are functioning well. Handing over the nationalised
banks to either Indian business or foreign banks will not
find popular support for valid economic, social and even
Govt has no policy on Kashmir
HOW much we have heard and read about the hijacking of IC- 814 in recent days and how very little about Kashmir. Yet, without the Kashmir problem we would not have had this awful hijack and we could have begun this new century by concentrating totally on the stock market boom and the economy. There is nothing more important than India being able to eradicate the scourge of poverty in this coming century. But, it is equally true that we can only move forward slowly as long as we are forced to spend proximately Rs 3 crore a day on keeping Siachen and now another Rs 3 crore a day on keeping Kargil. Clearly, Kashmir should be at the very top of the governments political agenda but for reasons that are really hard to understand it is not.
At a wedding, in a sunny garden in Delhi, I recently met a Kashmiri Hindu businessman and a senior bureaucrat with the Kashmir Government. Both seemed equally despondent about what they described as the Bharatiya Janata Party governments complete disinterest in Kashmir until a crisis of some kind drew their attention to it. They said that in more than two years that Atal Behari Vajpayee has been Prime Minister, albeit in lame duck capacity for a few months, there has only been one moment when his government noticed that Kashmir still existed and that was during the undeclared war in Kargil. Why is it, they asked, that they have paid no attention to Farooq Abdullahs desperate pleas for financial help?
In an attempt to play Devils Advocate I tried arguing that it was, perhaps, because they felt that the good Dr Abdullah was a bad administrator and that whatever they provided by way of central assistance could get wrongly disbursed. What about the expenditure on security forces, they said, that was eating into the states meagre resources, why could it not be excused as it had been in Punjab?
In Punjab, Inder Gujral allowed Rs 8,000 crore of Central Government loans to be excused on the grounds that Punjab was fighting the nations battle. In Kashmir said the businessman I think its only a matter of some Rs 600 crore and is it not the nations battle that is being fought in Kashmir?
Dr Abdullah has often come to Delhi to argue much along these lines and although he always gets a receptive hearing he never actually manages to get any money. Even the most brilliant administrator cannot provide governance and development if he has no money but somehow this does not get through to those he talks to in Delhi. According to the Kashmiri businessman, Dr Abdullah had become so frustrated in his efforts to get Central Government help that he had even, at one point, threatened to resign. Then, along came the crisis in Kargil and all attempts at political and administrative solutions were ignored while the military problem became more important. Then, came the general election and once more Kashmir was forgotten. It is interesting to remember here that Kashmir has never become an election issue. My Kashmiri friends pointed out that this was proof, if proof were needed, that the people of India were not even slightly interested in Kashmir. In any case, now that the general election has been fought and won we have the hijacking and its aftermath to deal with so peacetime solutions in Kashmir will once more be forgotten while we attempt to deal with terrorism militarily.
We can only hope that, this time round, our policy makers understand that there can be no military solution without a genuine attempt at bringing political and administrative normalcy to Kashmir as well. The hijack has made it absolutely clear that the kind of terrorism we are facing has now acquired a frightening, new dimension. We are dealing no longer with a few hundred disgruntled Kashmiri youths but an Islamic army fed, fuelled and funded in that breeding ground of Islamic terrorism that Pakistan and Afghanistan have become.
Despite the embarrassing spectacle of our Foreign Minister thanking Afghanistans Taliban Government for its help in bringing the hijack to an end he must know that it is the Taliban who, other than Pakistan, are the biggest supporters of the Kashmir jehad. Pakistan may have been directly responsible for the rise of the Taliban but it is no longer chief controller. The Taliban has its own ability to fund Islamic warriors through the drug money that has become the mainstay of that war-torn countrys shaky economy.
Pakistani journalist, Ahmed Rashid, who knows almost more about the Taliban than anyone else in South Asia wrote this in a recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine. Around Kandahar, poppy fields stretch as far as the horizon. In Herat, the Taliban have set up model farms where farmers learn the best methods of heroin cultivation. The UN Drug Control programme reports that Afghanistan produced 4,600 metric tons of opium in 1999, twice as much as in the previous year. Afghanistan now produces three times more opium than the rest of the world put together. Ninetysix per cent of its is cultivated in Taliban-controlled areas, making the Taliban the largest heroin producer in the world.
With the money they make from drugs the Taliban exports terrorism not just to India but to Central Asia, China and Iran as well. There is no way our security forces can fight this kind of global war unless Delhi starts to look for a political solution in Kashmir. This is not going to be easy, it will not happen overnight, but it will not happen at all unless our Home Minister wakes up to the reality that he does not have a political policy for Kashmir at all.
He should have learned from our experience with militancy in Punjab and the North-East that a military solution can go so far and no further. And, when it does not go side by side with a political solution it usually does not work at all. Even with the mighty super cop, KPS Gill, at the helm peace only came to Punjab when the people decided to side with the government and not the militants.
This is nowhere near happening in Kashmir because in the interests of finding a military solution Delhi has totally ignored the grievances of ordinary Kashmiris. It is not even as if they have ignored only Muslim grievances as we can see from the fact the Kashmiri Hindus are as unhappy with the fact that almost nothing has been done to bring normalcy back to their disrupted lives.
The hijack of IC-814 has
come as a tragic reminder that Mr Vajpayees
government has no Kashmir policy at all. Firefighting can
never substitute for policy and firefighting is all we
have seen happen in Kashmir in the past two years.
Rave party that never was
WHEN the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court restrained Norman Azavedo and industrialist Jeh Wadia from holding a rave party at Paraiso de Anjuna it sent shock waves to a host of tourists, both foreign and domestic, who were looking forward to a 10-day Woodstock-like festival of music and drugs. It was also probably the first time that this kind of party has been stopped. Over the years full moon and rave parties are a common feature with the cops and the powers that be turning a Nelsons eye to the event because a plethora of palms have been greased.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by journalist Peter DSouza gave an interim relief restraining the organisers from occupying Paraiso de Anjuna for holding any rave party or any other activities there. Azavedo is believed to be the front man of Wadia and this is not the first rave party organised at this site.
Efforts to contact either Azavedo or Wadia proved futile, with the latter believed to be out of Goa. The terrain has been tampered with at Paraiso de Anjuna with caves carved out to create an ambience suited for the lotus-eaters supposed to patronise it. Ironically, a board announces Save our planet.
It is only the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister that matters to me, I dont take orders from any bull.... police officers, is what journalist DSouza is attributed to have been said by Wadia. The five persons arrested by the Mapuca police in connection with the construction activities at Paraiso de Anjuna were promptly released the next day and this despite their having manhandled the cops. Government pressure from New Delhi is said to have been exerted.
My main objection to these parties is that we dont want our children to grow up in this atmosphere of drugs, says 34-year-old DSouza agitatedly. And they have not even taken the basic permissions, it is the height of corruption, he goes on.
Over three lakh foreigners and two lakh domestic tourists (most of them from Mumbai) were expected to attend the party where the entrance fee was Rs 1,000 for gents and Rs 800 for ladies, which means over a million rupees would have been made only on entrance fees. Widely advertised on the net, hordes of foreigners are said to have made a beeline for the Goa Woodstock.
The grapevine has it that the organisers wanted to introduce a new drug called California and many wanted to be there for the initiation ceremony. When asked about allegations that he stopped the party because his cousin was involved in organising similar rave parties, Peter DSouza countered: Drug parties have to be stopped, whether it is my cousin or any one else who organises them...whats sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
It is believed that most of the youth in Anjuna are dropouts because of their involvement with the drug trade. Every one seems to be taken care of and many profit by setting up shops. Maria of Fatima Stores, located near Paraiso de Anjuna, expresses the dilemma of many counterparts by saying Im happy the rave party is off, but what can we do, we get business from them.
While DSouza said the panchayat members were supportive in getting the party stopped, another source claimed that the panchayat members were demanding Rs 30 lakh to allow the party to go on. It is believed that other key personalities in the government were also being looked after for a price. One of the locals quoted Wadia as saying: If Churchill (Alemao) was still in power there would have been no problem.
School master Lovino Rebello is unhappy about the timing of stopping the party. They should have stopped it much earlier, not after all the arrangements were made, he says though he himself is not in favour of such parties. The locals have no guts to oppose them, they are making money out of it, he explains.
Rebello speaks of high-level political connections which enable such parties to go on and Wadia is not the only one to organise them. Anjuna is earning a bad name but not one of the organisers is from Anjuna, he claims. It is also believed that by now the Goans themselves are no longer hooked on drugs, they mainly peddle the drugs. A considerable section of the drug addicts are said to be from Mumbai.
Is this court verdict a precursor of a change in policy to clamp down on drugs?
It hardly seems so in
this State where governance is conspicuous by its
absence. Most of the ruling is done by the courts. But
unless the government shows some political will nothing
much is likely to happen. It is a question of supply and
demand and unless the locals are concerted in their
efforts to stop these parties money power and political
patronage will see that they continue. It is part of the
price we pay for tourism and a corrupt administration.
THE eighth Session of the Indian Economic Conference began sitting at the Arts College of the Benares Hindu University at noon today, under the presidency of the Honble Lalubhai Samaldas. There were present Sir Charles Todhunter, the President, and members of the Indian Taxation Enquiry Committee. Several well-known economists from several parts of India have come as delegates to the Conference.
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Chairman of the Reception Committee, in his speech emphasised the importance of having an Indian School of Economics to study economic questions from the Indian point of view. He acknowledged the services of the Indian Economic Society in this direction, and hoped that the Society would be able to take more practical steps in this matter.
His Highness the Maharaja of Benares pointed out the difficulty to draw a hard and fast line between Imperial and Provincial Taxation in the present liquid state of the constitution of the Government of India.
His Highness, touching on industrial development, said:- We are more prone to talking than to working, and more eager for political progress than for economic and material advancement.
He asked them to be
thrifty, to resolve their differences and meet on a
common platform of Nationality. The Honble Lalubhai
Samaldas, the President, in an exhaustive speech, touched
on the economic development of the country.
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